Lowdown on Life of an Underboss: "Nicky Mouth" Santora

Interview with Belinda Rossetti 
Belinda, give us a shout if and and when you see this!

These men who hold high-level positions in Mafia crime families... what are they like?

Because they do exist - they are not a figment of David Chase and Jerry Capeci's imaginations.They are not characters on TV shows or in films. Men who hold rank -- bosses, underbosses, consiglieris, either official or acting -- are human beings who get out of bed one foot at a time.

Frequently, they go to prison and die there. Sometimes they die in their own bed of natural causes....

Belinda Rossetti (message to her: Belinda, get in touch with me when you can...)

 What are they really like, these man who must be as wise as a fox and as strong as the lion, who must balance a strong business sense with the primal capacity to order the deaths of men.

We met recently with Belinda Rossetti, a lovely dark-eyed bella donna who works as a paralegal for a high-powered attorney.

Quite easy on the eyes, she is also a hotblooded New York Italian who has met a cadre of wiseguys, some of whom she has gotten to know, er, quite well. (She is publishing a book soon; thought I'd toss that out.)

Among the wiseguys she knows is Nicky "Mouth" Santora. Belinda was willing to tell us about him -- meaning her personal experiences with the man. What's more, she did so on the record, not hiding behind anonymity.

First, some background on Nicky "Mouth" Santora. He was underboss of the Bonanno family when Belinda was with him; he may have since lost the title. Capeci, for one, refers to him as "former underboss."

Santora was born on June 21, 1942, in New York, the son of Modesto Santora, a soldier for Colombo underboss Joseph Magliocco. Santora became a made man along with mobsters Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero and Joseph "Big Joey" Massino in the mid 1970s.

In time Santora became capo of Napolitano's old crew, when "Sonny Black" was taken out for bringing "Donnie Brasco" into the family. Santora was just settling into his new promotion when he was thrown under indictment due to testimony provided by undercover Fed Joe Pistone. About 100 Bonanno mobsters in all went on trial and were convicted. Santora, along with "Lefty" Ruggiero, Antonio Tomasulo, and Anthony "Fat Tony" Rabito, would be convicted for illegal gambling racketeering, distribution of narcotics and conspiracy to distribute narcotics in the mid 1980s, receiving an 8- to10-year prison sentence. Joseph Massino took over as boss in August 1991.

Upon Santora's release in 1992, he created a partnership with newly promoted Bonanno acting consigliere, Rabito, to pull in funds from extortion, loansharking, illegal gambling, drug trafficking and money laundering operations in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, throughout the mid 1990s.

Longtime Bonanno consigliere Anthony "Tony" Spero was indicted in 2001 for assorted mob mayhem and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Toward 2003, indictments were again handed out, this time to both Massino and Vitale. Because of this, Santora got another bump and was promoted to acting underboss in 2003.

A thousand stories have been written about the fates of Vitale, Massino, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano and other members of the Bonanno family.

Despite the testimony of Joseph Massino in 2005, Santora was not touched and managed to slip under the government's radar -- until he was indicted along with Rabito, and 17 others in a loansharking and illegal gambling operation that stretched from Brooklyn to Queens, Manhattan to Staten Island, bringing in a smooth $210,000 a week from January 2003 to July 2004.

Since February 13, 2007, Santora has been the reputed underboss of the Bonanno family (although, as noted, Capeci calls him the former underboss). Vincent Basciano remains the reputed boss, and Rabito the reputed consigliere. Santora was released from the Loretto Federal Correctional Institute in southwest Pennsylvania on September 16, 2009.

Then last December Santora, now 70, got 20 months behind bars for extortion, plus associating with mobsters while on release for a prior conviction.

Interestingly, not every Mafia underboss of today lives the kind of life you'd expect. Indeed, Santora certainly doesn't. According to Rossetti, he sounds more like a brokester, if you ask me. [UPDATE: I found confirmation for my speculation on this point. None other than Joe Massino seems to agree. According to a New York Times article: "At another point in the conversation, Mr. Massino called Nicky Santora, a Bonanno underboss, a 'brokester.' He testified that that meant he 'ain’t got any money,' would borrow from people and 'just forgets to pay.'"]

Lacking a basic fashion sense, broke enough to have to borrow money from his lover, he was certainly no John Gotti -- but then no one was, except John Gotti.

Santora is almost a comical, tragic figure as Rossetti recalls moments with him.

"For an underboss, Santora didn't fit the bill," Rossetti told me. "He wore cheap suits, pants that were about two sizes too small and cheap jewelry. One time he was at my home and we were talking -- and his waist was so tight the button popped off his pants. I started laughing. He says, "I don't know how that came off.'"

She added: "He'd wear an old, velour sweater under a suit jacket - it just didn't go. In one of the photos from his arrest, he's wearing a jogging suit. You can see the same velour shirt with a V-neck under the jogging suit...it doesn't go."

One evening at dinner he wore a baby blue plastic watch. "Something you'd see at a Walmart or Kmart on those tables for $10," Rossetti said. "It had huge 'diamonds' all around the face. I wondered when I saw it, why he would do that? Did he think it looked like real diamonds? It actually wasn't funny.

"I felt bad for him. That's all he knew...hustling. But he had no money. He still owes me $1,000. The only think Nicky had was his name associated with the Bonanno family, and Donnie Brasco. People fear Nicky but he's nothing without a gun or some uneducated Knockaround Guy standing beside him.

"He lived with a 'girlfriend' and supposedly they were engaged for years. He lived off her. Nicky told me her ex-husband is a doctor, hence the money."


  1. She's detailed information of murders (by her Genovese associate Ex-BF) OF 2 men, including a made member of the Genovese family in her book. The Feds will have a field day with it, as most of the book's contents weren't known by FBI. I would imagine, those mentioned in her book must have really pissed her off. I read somewhere once that a former LA Dodger once referred to her as a "Sicilian Terror". What does that say?

  2. Yet she still slept and went out on the town with him. He must not have been that much of a brokester.

  3. Does she have a death wish? I mean I ain't sayin' nuthin' 'bout no mobsters and I don't even know any!

    Like "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

  4. I read this story twice but I didn't see where they went "out on the town". I guess "one evening at dinner" means "out on the town" these days. I also like the comment putting his girlfriend down for sleeping with a guy with no money. I would imagine "some" have rules to sleep only with somebody with money, like the comment implies. Well, I'm going to take my poor butt out for an early dinner with my entire family, and hopefully my wife will still sleep with me although I am not rich. ha, what has this world come to? I came to this country with $14, my wife met and married me and we lived in a tiny house. Made a respectable life for us and our children, put one through college so far. Am I wealthy? Not by far. Hopefully, my family still "tolerates" my being around.

    1. Are you a mob boss? What're you talking about?


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  7. This chick has some balls -- if she was dating Santora she must have met a lot of fellas -- she's too hot for Nicky to not want to show her off. To the person above me - you seem to know her.... are you a friend of Nicks? You "gannected" and accidentally give yourself away? Why you reading this blog? This story is why a lot of us are here -- to get the gossip the Post and News don't have guts to run....Capeci ok - but all his stuff is from the latest indictments .... he prolly pays off the court reporters for the transcripts ...and he doesn't run pics of hotties.... I bet she dated others in Bonanno fam...wonder if she knows the new boss! Scarpo - check it out!

  8. The person above you doesn't know her. I'm guessing it's another chick. She used to post hate comments all over the sites Rosetti was commenting on. We have fun reading them. Every time there's something in the paper about Santora's girlfriend that person let's the world know how much she hates her. The posts even confirm he or she doesn't know her. It has to be another chick.

  9. She's with another highranking guy now. Wonder what will come out of that.

  10. She dumped him for another wiseguy friend of his. against the rules if you ask me.


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