Ianniello Was a Huge Earner; with Son's Euology

Matty the Horse died at 92.

UPDATED: Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello (June 18, 1920 – Aug. 15, 2012), who recently died at the age of 92, had pretty much seen and done it all. He was a New York mobster with the Genovese crime family who was more known for earning than killing, and was also a decorated WWII vet.

He's probably one of the few Mafiosi to have assisted the FBI -- not in mob matters but in the Feds' manhunt for the perpetrator of the most infamous child abduction in New York City history, that of 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979. The killer was finally arrested this year -- as if Matty had to hang around to see that that piece of unfinished busines was taken care of.

His well-known, not very flattering sobriquet, “Matty the Horse,” is believed to have resulted from a childhood brawl on a baseball field in which Ianniello, who was at bat, charged the pitcher, a much larger child, knocking him flat on his ass. Someone remarked: “This kid is as strong as a horse.” It stuck.

In 1940, Ianniello started working as a waiter in a restaurant in the Brooklyn dockyards for his uncle. In 1942, the future Mafioso enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in World War II. He went to the South Pacific, where he got a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, not for charging a Japanese machine gun nest, as we originally wrote, but resulting from an episode of friendly fire, according to his son's eulogy (and thanks to our friend Sonny Girard for alerting us to his possession of it). In 1945 Ianiello returned home and went back to work at the restaurant, partnering with his uncle in a second restaurant, Matty's Towncrest, by 1949.


BY Matthew Ianniello, Jr., 8/15/2012
In 1960, Ianniello partnered with Edward L. DeCurtis, a longtime mob associate who ran secret nightclubs for homosexuals, a racket Carlo Gambino was also into and one that afforded limitless opportunities to extort patrons who had something to hide. Ianniello eventually owned a number of dance clubs and nightclubs, for both gay men and the straight crowd.

Around the same time Ianniello joined the Genovese crime family, then run by imprisoned boss Vito Genovese. Frank Tieri, known as "the Old Man" and "Funzi", a New York mobster who eventually became front boss of the Genovese crime family, was Ianniello's sponsor.

Ianniello went on to gain control of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters bus drivers Local 1181, which empowered him to extort payments from school bus companies in New York as well as from union drivers.

By the beginning of the 1970s, Ianniello, now promoted to capo, controlled over 80 restaurants and sex clubs in New York, with many of the porno palaces and topless dance clubs located in Times Square, the seedier version of the time.

Ianniello secretly owned the Little Italy restaurant Umberto's in which Joey Gallo was shot to death in 1972. Matty the Horse supposedly was in the kitchen at the time, and said he didn’t see anything. He claimed no prior knowledge of the hit.

In 1979, Ianniello, despite his Mafia oath, saw nothing wrong with attempting to help law enforcement in the investigation of the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz. As Wikipedia notes: "[Etan] is arguably the most famous missing child of New York City. His disappearance helped spark the missing children's movement, including new legislation and various methods for tracking down missing children, such as the milk carton campaigns of the mid-1980s. Etan was the first ever missing child to be pictured on the side of a milk carton."

A letter written in 1989 by a former federal prosecutor and later filed in federal court stated that during an FBI investigation of the disappearance, Ianniello helped put investigators in touch with a former employee of his whom the FBI wanted to interview. The letter doesn’t describe the results of the interview.

In May of this year, the NYPD finally arrested Pedro Hernandez of New Jersey after he confessed to killing Patz in the basement of a Prince Street store in Manhattan.

On Feb. 28, 1985, Ianniello was indicted in federal court in New York on racketeering charges involving several restaurants, bars and carting companies. Through the use of a wiretap, FBI agents collected evidence that Ianniello was skimming profits from several places that he secretly owned. On Dec. 30, 1985, Ianniello was convicted on numerous counts; on Feb. 16, 1986, he was sentenced to six years in federal prison.

Another indictment followed: on May 17, 1986, Ianiello was indicted on new charges of labor racketeering, construction bid-rigging, extortion, gambling and murder conspiracies. On May 18, 1988, Ianniello was indicted again in Newark, N.J., on racketeering charges involving the 1984 Genovese takeover of a gravel company in Edgewater. On Oct. 13, 1988, Ianniello was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison after being convicted of the 1986 bid-rigging racketeering charges.

In 1995, Ianniello was released from prison, just in time to assume the mantle of acting boss as Genovese boss Vincent Gigante had been sent to prison. By 1998, Ianiello was deeply involved in his old Teamsters Union Local 1181, extorting whomever he could, left and right. It caught up with him, however.

On July 27, 2005, Ianniello was indicted on racketeering charges in New York involving extortion and loansharking. Reportedly, when agents arrested Ianniello at his home he was watching the Godfather III.

And on June 10, 2006, Ianiello was indicted in federal court in New Haven on charges of racketeering involving trash hauling in Southwestern Connecticut. In September 2006, Ianniello pleaded guilty to the New York racketeering charges and received an 18-month prison sentence.

In 2006, Ianniello also pleaded guilty in Connecticut to two racketeering charges for extorting the trash hauling industry. On May 9, 2007, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison on the Connecticut charges, to run concurrent with the 18 month New York sentence. Ianniello’s attorney had ask for leniency, saying Ianniello had cancer and was in general poor health.

On April 3, 2009, Ianniello was released from the Federal Medical Center (FMC) for prisoners in Butner, North Carolina.

Ianniello died Aug. 15 at his home in Old Westbury. He was 92.