Church-Going 'Beach' Depiro No Match For Profaci

Joe Profaci had a chapel built
into his New Jersey estate.

Stephen "Beach" Depiro is a major player in the New Jersey underworld, a veteran mobster who oversees the highly lucrative rackets along the North Jersey waterfront--and a man who goes to mass every day, according to an article on

"The balding, 5-foot-7 Union County resident is, according to one underworld source, a "flashy" wiseguy out of the John Gotti, celebrity gangster mode, favoring fancy cars, nice clothes, and a manicured look," the article added.

"But court documents filed by his lawyer as Depiro, 55, tries to win release on bail after his arrest last month offer a different picture of the man the FBI has listed as one of the highest-ranking Genovese crime family soldiers in the state.

"Depiro, according to his lawyer, goes to Mass every day. But authorities allege that he has used violence and intimidation to enforce the mob's control of gambling, loan-sharking, and labor racketeering along the waterfront."

In a letter to the court supporting Depiro's request for bail, three priests and a deacon at his church - St. Theresa's in Kenilworth - cited "his sincerity" and his "participation in pastoral programs" and added that "some of our parishioners . . . told us they are inspired by his prayerful attitude and kindness."

Going to mass is something a lot of mobsters do, and some took it to a greater extreme than Depiro. Wild Bill Cutolo, for one, was known to have attended mass every week, and was highly active on the fundraising front. But the "holiest" mobster has got to be Joe Profaci.

Profaci was a devout Catholic; charities run by the Roman-Catholic church received generous donations from the Olive Oil King. (Mario Puzo's Godfather, Vito Corleone, was a composite of all the historic heads of New York's Five Families, it can be argued).

 the who made generous cash donations to Catholic charities. His New Jersey estate contained a private chapel; Profaci would invite priests to the house to celebrate mass. On one occasion, two thieves stole a relic from a New York church. Profaci mobsters recovered the relic and reportedly strangled the two thieves with rosaries. In 1949, a group of New York Catholics, including several priests, petitioned Pope Pius XII to confer a knighthood on Profaci. However, when the Brooklyn District Attorney complained about the move, theVatican denied the petition."

"Wild Bill" Cutolo also was

known as a devoted churchgoer at Our Lady Help of Christians on Staten Island. An article in the New York Daily News related

, "I sat behind him and his family every Sunday," said a parishioner, who recalls shaking the mobster's hand during the exchange of peace during Mass. "He was very nice." Cutolo took it a step further and was also a fundraising chairman for the National Leukemia Research Association in Garden City, New York, along with his son. He sat on the Medical Advisory Committee as Chairman of "Team Leukemia", and was associated with the New York chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He helped raise $400,000 for Local 204 as well as many other locals over the years. In 1988, Cutolo was honored as the National Leukemia Association's Man of the Year. William paid for their holiday parties and dressed up every year as Santa Claus for the National Children's Leukemia Association as his son handed out gifts and posed for pictures with the stricken children.