Why the Decavalcantes Hit "Johnny Boy"

Riggi made Johnny Boy acting boss, then made him dead after D'Amato's
mistress began discussing what happened in the bedroom.

New Jersey mobster John "Johnny Boy" D'Amato was murdered in 1992 while holding the title of acting boss of the Decavalcantes, a position he supposedly won thanks to some secret maneuvering by Gambino boss John Gotti.

D'Amato's gumare, or mistress, told the wrong people that Johnny Boy was a homosexual and they killed him in a hit that supposedly inspired Sopranos creator David Chase to create the Vito Spatafore story line realized towards the end of the series.

Described as a member of the fictional DiMeo crime family -- the crime family Tony Soprano was boss of --  Spatafore (played by   Joseph R. Gannascoli) was married with two children and was a closeted homosexual close to the fiction New York mob boss, Phil Leotardo, played by Frank Vincent.

The Spatafore murder storyline played out in the show's fifth and sixth seasons.

Many crime families and crews were said to have inspired Chase's HBO series. But New Jersey's only homegrown Mafia family seems to best fill the bill.

Fictional mob boss Carmine Lupertazzi said in one episode: "They are not a family; they're a glorified crew," charges actually levied against the Decavalcantes, although the founder, Sam the Plumber, is considered a key Mafia innovator.

After being promoted to capo during the 1980s D'Amato became heavily involved in large labor and construction racketeering operations with some prominent New Jersey mobsters. D'Amato belonged to the then-powerful Elizabeth, N.J., faction of the Decavalcantes.
After longtime boss Giovanni "John" Riggi was indicted for labor racketeering and extortion charges in late 1989, Gambino boss John Gotti attempted to expand his reach by taking over the Decavalcantes through the promotion of D'Amato to boss.

The New Jersey family was eager to do anything for New York to rid them of the stigma of being the family for rejects -- guys who couldn't make it into one of New York's Five Families had only to take Tony Soprano's famous opening-credits commute south to become made, because, as the saying went, anyone could get made in the Jersey family.

Amid a  major Decavalcante trial, which included many turncoats' testimony, it was revealed that the family gunned down a former newspaper editor in the street to try to win Gotti's respect.

They killed quite a few to show their commitment to Cosa Nostra. Among the murdered was their own acting boss, believed to have been a homosexual.

"'Nobody's going to respect us if we have a gay homosexual boss sitting down discussing business with other families,' Anthony Capo, a mob soldier- turned-informant, explained in court.

So many guys were getting whacked that, according to another mob turncoat, "the family had to call in... a guy known as 'the Undertaker' who would pick up dead bodies and take them to his property in upstate New York."

Riggi himself designated Johnny Boy as acting boss when the Eagle was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in 1990. (While serving the sentence, he copped to another murder and had 10 years added to his prison term.

But D'Amato's reign was short once it was learned he had conspired with the Gambinos for his position and had considered killing other Decavalcante candidates for the top spot (winning the favor of New York bosses was one thing; killing your own was quite another thing entirely). What screwed D'Amato, however, was the constant arguing he and his lady friend engaged in on an ongoing basis in1991; it so happens she was the very same lady that Decavalcante captain Anthony Rotondo was also involved with.

It was Rotondo she informed about the times she and D'Amato visited swingers' clubs, where D'Amato "would... have sex with other men," it was reported.

'Vinny Ocean' Palermo, pictured here while in witness protection,
 had a hand in whacking D'Amato -- primarily for his being gay.

Once his sexual proclivities became public knowledge, Giacomo Amari, underboss, and Stefano Vitabile, consigliere, decided to have D'Amato murdered, getting a thumb's-up from the incarcerated Riggi.

Ganglandnews.com writer Jerry Capeci provides some details about the D'Amato hit: "After D'Amato's girlfriend lodged her complaints, Capo, 42, reported them to his mob superiors who satisfied themselves they were true and 'that he had to go,' said one source. 'The order came down. It was open and shut. If a New York crime family ever found out, they would have lost all respect.'"

Capeci adds: "The family had learned from his girlfriend that D'Amato was a 'swinger' who was cheating on her and attending 'wild parties' where he engaged in homosexual activity with other men, sources said."

In January 1992, D'Amato was reported missing. His body has never been found, although U.S. law enforcement recovered his car, which was splattered on the inside with what was determined to be D'Amato's blood. He was killed for being gay, although as stated, D'Amato was also in hot water for planning to murder members of his own family at the behest of Gotti, which at least raises the question of whether the homosexual angle was concocted, or possibly exaggerated, so as to not piss off Gotti. This blogger raises this question, anyway.

It took 10 years for the wider world to learn that Riggi was the main conspirator in D'Amato's murder, as well as capos Philip "Phil" Abramo, Giuseppe "Pino" Schifilliti and consigliere Vitabile.

Turncoats Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo, Anthony Capo and Anthony Rotondo would later testify about D'Amato's murder to curry favor with the Feds (here is how the Feds help effective turncoats).

In 2006, Abramo, Schifilliti and Vitabile were sentenced to life imprisonment. Riggi had an additional eight years added to his sentence. He's due out sometime this year.


  1. I'm not going to read the rest of this post. I'm only into the first half of Season 4 of the Sopranos and *I think* I see whats coming. IRL, if I recall, the dubiously named Anthony Capo was the trigger man that did him in, he just dying recently in prison. I know it's a stretch weaving the reality with the fiction, but after not having watched television for the better part of 8 years and counting, I am enjoying the eerie parallels playing out in the fictional work of that N.J. famiglia versus the facts as little as we know. When the last disc of season 6 plays out - off goes the TV. Again. No. No Mob Wives for me.

  2. the boss is phil leonetti that says they are a glorified crew.. he is boss of the lupertazzi crime family.

  3. I think it was Fishlips Lupertazzi himself who said it first, to his son and Johnny Sac on a golf course


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