Paulie Walnuts' Colombo Crime Family Ties

Tony Sirico, who played Paulie "Walnuts" Gaultieri on HBO's The Sopranos, was dragged into the media spotlight, his mob past highlighted thanks to a crime docudrama that pops up every few months.

His inclusion in the show centers on his involvement as a “witness” in the murder of a 1970s B-movie actress. (Not suspect. See the difference?)

Who doesn't know about Sirico's mob-related past by now?

Tony Sirico -- aka Paulie Walnuts....

Sirico was born Genaro Anthony Sirico Jr. in 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. He has played gangsters in numerous films, some poorly made, some pretty decent, including Fingers (probably his earliest mob film worth watching), Goodfellas, Innocent Blood, Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, Gotti, Cop Land, and Mickey Blue Eyes.

Before turning to acting, Sirico was reportedly an associate of the Colombo crime family serving under Carmine "Junior" Persico -- and was arrested an amazing 28 times, according to court documents.

There is even a Sopranos reference to Tony’s real past, when in one of the last episodes in the series, Paulie casually notes:

"I lived through the '70s by the skin of my nuts when the Colombos were goin' at it."

Indeed they were: The Colombos shot one another up during three family wars, the first two in the 1960s and 1970s courtesy of the Gallo brothers taking on boss Joseph Profaci, when the family had his name, and then Joseph Colombo, after whom the family was renamed once the Commission realized the extent of the mess Profaci left behind when he died.

See Tony Soprano Died in Finale, Here's Why.

Profaci successor Joseph Magliocco, who had been underboss, and Joseph Bonanno had plotted to wipe out the Commission and take over all the New York families.

Paulie Walnuts, aka Tony Sirico?

In 1967, Sirico was sent to prison for robbing a Brooklyn after-hours club but was released after serving 13 months. In 1971, he pled guilty to felony weapons possession and was sentenced to an "indeterminate" prison term of up to four years, of which Sirico ended up serving 20 months. In was during that stint in the can that Sirico got interested in acting – and gave up a life of crime for a life of playing criminals -- a wise move, safer and probably better paying.

His past was dredged up when 48 Hours Mystery: The Last Take (see episode below) did a special on the 1977 murder of Christa Helm, who was murdered late one night in a posh area of LA. It happened in front of her agent's house.

Sirico was involved somehow – but only as a witness wanted for questioning, police said.

At the time of her murder, Helm was a gorgeous "B" movie starlet who hung around with the likes of Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Frankie Crocker. When she died, she left behind a sordid past filled with suspects and "persons of interests."

Sirico knew Helm and was apparently dispatched by someone the day after her murder to "look after" her roommate. According to the show, he may also have taken away some of Christa's belongings, including incriminating sex tapes, diaries (which are still missing), furs and other personal belongings.

When recently questioned in tandem with the 48 Hours segment, Sirico reportedly told detectives that he "didn't know she was killed" and that he "hardly knew her." This was about 40 years ago.

Sirico was never a suspect, and his involvement appears to be limited to the missing tapes and diaries, which may have been weapons in Helm’s blackmail arsenal. She had the goods to nail the Shah of Iran and several of the hottest celebs of the day.

The tapes could have been taken to protect them – or to protect her reputation.

Sirico, a proud member of the USO (who spent a few years in the US Army himself), is an Italian-American of Sicilian descent. Interestingly, in a minor—very minor, blink and you’ll miss him—role in Goodfellas (1990), he played a mobster named Tony who reported to a boss named Paulie. In The Sopranos (1999), he plays a mobster named Paulie who reports to a boss named Tony.

See Tony Soprano Was Whacked in Final Scene.

Anthony Borgese plays another Sopranos alumnus named Larry Boy Barisi.

Borgese really had his pair in the ringer when he pleaded guilty to extorting a debtor who was beaten by mob goons.

"I used extortionate means to collect a debt from a person who lived near Monticello," Borgese, 72, said in Brooklyn Federal Court.

The unidentified victim owed money to an upstate car dealership whose owner had sought Borgese's help in collecting the debt. The victim ended up with a broken jaw and broken rib.

What were the car dealer and Mr. Borgese thinking? Or were they thinking? Who'd find a 72-year-old man who played a mobster on TV as intimidating as a real-life mobster?

In Borgese's case, it seems the line between fiction and reality was more than blurred.

Borgese was allegedly involved with the Gambinos, who supplied the enforcers who broke the victim's ribs and jaw.

In Goodfellas, Borgese played the luckless owner of the Bamboo Lounge, a successful restaurant/nightspot that the mob got their hands on and sucked every dime out of before setting it ablaze.

Page one of Sirico's sentencing transcript....

Borgese faces up to 41 months in prison when he's sentenced sometime in late summer so as to not interfere with a charity golf tournament he hosts every summer to raise money for United Cerebral Palsy.

He should leave the gangster stuff for the movies like Tony Sirico is doing.


  1. He played in Casino film also...he is the best mob actor i have ever seen

  2. Casino? Not sure about that one...

    1. No, he fought at Mounty Casino, an Indian Reserve in WW2.

  3. Magliocco.. My mothers side of the family in Bay Ridge was very close with Mr. Magliocco and his family, my Grandparents were best friends with Joe and his wife. I used to get blazers handed down to me with the name 'Magliocco' on the collar(Not from Joe himself but probably his grandson).

  4. He actually appears several times throughout Goodfellas, which while not a prominent role as such, is hardly a 'blink and you'll miss him' either. The article omits to mention his appearance in The Godfather part 2. Now that really is a blink and you'll miss him role...

  5. I claim " artistic license." He is in the background of a few scenes with one closeup. He's thin with black hair - I never even realized it was him. But GF2? I am skeptical... what scene?

  6. Well he does have that memorable scene where he kidnaps the postman and bundles him into the car and gets to speak a line or too as well! As for GF2 it really is a case of pausing the DVD, but he is there unmistakably, fresh faced, as a bodyguard, one of Frank Pentangeli's if I remember rightly, stood outside in the snow. I believe he is also credited too.

  7. All these guys are just glorified animals fit for the cages that they usually end up in. They make all honest Italians look like hoodlums themselves.

  8. Dionisios MitropanopoulosJun 19, 2014, 6:43:00 AM


  9. I know... it's not possible because if news leaked that Paul was ratting or thinking of ratting, the Chin wouldn't have launched the vendetta against Gotti. But I like to play devil's advocate -- remember Casso made claims about Sammy Bull lying about drugs and that was the real reason they wouldn't use him as a witness? Casso probably was right, Sammy was dealing drugs afterward as we all know. So I think, was Sammy lying about something else? I agree with you, the hit is too well-documented to be cracked. At the same time I am intrigued by outside pieces of information that don't fit the narrative. It just interests me to note these things. Paul very well may have started to at least think about reaching out (Lonardo, a pretty violent dude and high-level, flipped around that time) but his fate was already sealed anyway. I can't explain why I write some stories. I read a book and I get this flash of a story in my head and have to let it out....

  10. And yet Big Paul had DeMeo killed because he feared he might flip. Anyways, didn't Carlo Gambino control most of the the Zips, who, in turn, controlled the heroin supply into the US? If so, then the pretext that Castellano wasn't "involved" in the drug business seems almost laughable.

  11. Yeah, I think Zion and Cohn would know that but Cohn was a defense attorney and the "myth" was the whole basis for his efforts to get Rudy to dump the charges. As for Zion, he was used by the Feds when they framed Sonny Franzese. He probably liked the mob guys better...just speculating here. They were too plugged in not to know the truth, but knowing it and dumping it into a book are different things. Zion is a fascinating character from a bygone age.

  12. A&E many years ago did pice about Roy demeo ,were Dominic M did most of the talking .how can this be located or found

  13. We all know that all the bosses took drug money.Can't imagine them saying no to their biggest money maker.As long as they were 10 times remove from the transactions, all was good.Once "Rico" came into the equation it didn't matter how far away from the deal you were. you were gonna get got.It's hard to envision Castellano joining team america but stranger things have happen in the cosa nostra.As far as Mr.Cohn,what came out of his pie hole was,well lets say you would not take to the bank.

  14. The Roy DeMeo episode of Mobsters is still up on YT. It's one of the better episodes, imo.

  15. Eleftheria I Thanatos!


Post a Comment