Police Arrest U.S. Mob Boss in Rome Clinic

Rosario Gambino, a distant blood relation
to Carlo and part of  the Gambino family,
was made on "both sides." He sold drugs
from pizzerias and was, apparently, quite tall. 
Police in Rome (as in Rome, Italy) arrested a Gambino family mobster who had been convicted in the infamous "Pizza Connection" case, in which Mafiosi sold Sicilian-imported heroin from pizzerias in the U.S. So reports the AP in the San Francisco Chronicle

Rosario Gambino was picked up "surprised" while having a checkup in a Rome clinic early Thursday. (Let's hope it wasn't a prostate exam.)

Gambino, who had been convicted by U.S. courts in the Pizza Connection heroin probe and sentenced to 45 years, was deported two years ago to Italy. While there he was convicted of "criminal association" and sentenced to 20 years. Two dimes is a lot of time in the joint for having an espresso with an old pal.

Rome police say that the 69-year-old Gambino had had a "long career" in the U.S. Cosa Nostra.

An Italian tribunal ordered him released from jail earlier this week while he awaits a top appeals court ruling. But police say they arrested him on a warrant from a different appeals court, in Sicily, which reportedly deemed him a "flight risk."

A distant relation to Carlo Gambino, progenitor of the family that still bears his name (once he cunningly had predecessor Albert "The Mad Hatter" Anastasia whacked in what was to become an iconic 20th century mob hit: in a barbershop. The hulking, lumbering former CEO of Murder Incorporated, pumped full of bullets by a trio of assassins, lunged at the mirror, mistaking their reflection for them in his dying breaths.)

Rosario along with his two brothers Giuseppe and Giovanni Gambino, became a made man in the Sicilian Mafia. The brothers and their families all moved illegaly to the United States in 1962.

Rosario and his clan eventually moved to New Jersey and were reportedly granted permanent residency in 1966. The brothers later joined the Gambino crime family in 1975, having been formally inducted by Paul Castellano. Older brother Giovanni (who Americanized his name to John) was named a capo in the crime family; Rosario and Giuseppe (who Americanized his name to Joseph) were his top lieutenants. Together the brothers formed a crew known as the "Cherry Hill Gambinos", named after their city of operation, Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Rosario's own sons, Anthony and Tommaso, would go on to become Mafiosi in the U.S. Cosa Nostra.

Together Rosario and Joseph ran a chain of restaurants called "Father and Son Pizza," which had shops in Philadelphia and Camden, and as far south as Dover, Delaware.

The two brothers were also suspects in a string of arsons in the 1980s.

Rosario reported little money on his income tax return. According to government reports:

"...one finds a financial picture which is simply not credible. His own attorney was unable to identify his occupation when asked to do so by the court. During the last few years, he has reported moderate amounts of income, approximately $20,000 in his 1982 U. S. Individual Income Tax Return and approximately $21,000 in his 1983 Income Tax Return. Yet he lives in a lavish home which is insured for $150,000 and for which he makes mortgage payments of $1,087.00 each month. Moreover, during the calendar year 1983, he made deposits totaling just under $35,000 in his checking account. He testified that he was unemployed from December 31, 1983, until his arrest on March 16, 1984. Although he allegedly had no source of income, he stated he left untouched the $20,000 in cash he had accumulated from his pizzeria. Still he was able to meet his living expenses, gamble in the casinos and pay $1,697.00 in cash to have fountain lights installed in front of his house during this time period."

In 1983, Louis Eppolito – the "Mafia Cop," as he is known today – was suspected or providing NYPD intelligence reports on to Rosario. Rosario was also linked to the Pizza Connection for selling dope from his stable of pizzerias.

The Cherry Hill Gambinos smuggled an estimated US$600 million worth of heroin into the U.S. every year during their run in the 1970s to early 1980s. A lot of this money was sent back to Italy to be invested in legitimate businesses. By 1982 Gambino and two associates supposedly had holdings of about $1 billion in Palermo alone.

In 1980, Giovanni Falcone signed an arrest warrant in Italy for the three bothers on drug trafficking charges. The brothers never went back to Italy and the United States did not grant extradition, so they went on trial for drug trafficking in absentia. In 1984 the three brothers went on trial on drug charges in the United States. While John and Joseph were acquitted, Rosario was found guilty of selling heroin to undercover police officers and sentenced to 45 years in prison. He was then sent to Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island, in Los Angeles.

Gambino made headlines again in 2001 when reports surfaced that in 1995 President Bill Clinton's half-brother Roger Clinton, Jr. had allegedly accepted $50,000 and a Rolex watch from Gambino's children. According to reports, in return Roger said he could guarantee Anna and Tommaso, Rosario's children,[14] a presidential pardon by President Clinton. Ultimately, the president did not grant Gambino a pardon.

While in prison Gambino remained in good contact with the Los Angeles crime family members Jimmy Caci, Kenny Gallo and his own son, Tommaso. The Italian government attempted to extradite Gambino in 2001, based on an in absentia conviction for drug trafficking. The U.S. District Court in California denied the request because Gambino had already been acquitted on similar charges in New York.In 2006, Gambino was released from prison after serving 22 years and transferred to an immigrant detention center in California to await expulsion to Italy.

On May 23, 2009, Gambino arrived at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, where he was taken into custody. He was released while his lawyers pursued an appeal with the Court of Cassation, Italy’s top criminal court.

However, shortly after his release from prison, the Palermo Appeals Court issued an arrest warrant for Gambino on Oct. 27, 2011. That was when he was nabbed in the clinic.


  1. The last time I saw Sal was at FCI Springfield MO in 1986 although we never spoke. I was a friend of one of his co defendants who was partly responsible for his downfall. He was a very intense guy who didn't exactly have a charismatic personality and has been in prison all these years. It makes your head spin when you think of all the time he's done and after all these years I see he's back in Palermo probably a guest at Ucciadone prison.


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