When John Gotti and Sammy Bull Visited Brooklyn...

Gotti, left, Gravano, back in the good
old days of "La Cosa Nostra."
John Gotti and Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano drove into Bath Beach in Brooklyn to visit Tommy "Karate" Pitera.

At a diner, the trio -- the Gambino boss and underboss, and a soldier in the Bonanno crime family -- discussed a mob hit. (Why they'd enjoy a meal in a diner in the midst of so many delectable Italian restaurants, this writer doesn't know. This writer does have a strong notion what the agenda was, however. Read on, please...) 

The Bath Ave. Crew noticed the three men seated at a table in the eatery and "showed their respect" with a bottle of bubbly."

We know this because a former crew member revealed details of the event at the March 2001 trial of Bonanno consigliere Anthony Spero.

"We sent over a bottle of champagne from the boys on Bay 23rd," the turncoat testified.

The turncoat later learned that Pitera had been "loaned" out by the Bonannos to Gotti's Gambino family to help with the hit.

As noted on this blog, Thomas "Tommy Karate" E. Pitera (born December 2, 1954) had a peculiar reputation within the mob. He was known to be a fiendish, bloodthirsty homicidal maniac having more in common with Roy DeMeo than a typical mafioso.

Tommy "Karate" Pitera, following his nose-busting arrest
at the hands of aggressive DEA agents.

Pitera is in the minority of American Cosa Nostra in that he derived pleasure from torture, killing and his body-disposal method, which mimicked in many ways the DeMeo crew's "Gemini method."

He is suspected by law enforcement of as many as 60 murders. His nickname is derived from his love of martial arts, including karate -- a skill which he learned at a young age and practiced with great skill for the rest of his mob life. Pitera's love of being able to defend himself with his hands likely had more to do with insecurity stemming from years of being bested by high school bullies than from any desire having to do with competition or athleticism.

Perhaps fueling the insecurity: "He had a particularly high pitched effeminate falsetto voice that was compared by biographer Philip Carlo to Michael Jackson's but having even more falsetto. Mob associate Frank Gangi thought Pitera sounded more like Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse."

According to Carlo, Pitera, whatever his motivation, took martial arts very seriously, spending more than two years training in Tokyo under one Hiroshi Masumi. During this time in Japan, he even grew his hair long to emulate his hero, Bruce Lee.

After returning from Japan, Pitera hooked up as an associate with the Bonannos and quickly evolved into one of the most feared connected guys on the streets, made or not.

Pitera belonged to a family faction headed by captains Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone, the three capos who ended up murdered in the infamous basement triple-whacking planned out by Massino and Dominick Napolitano, who were protecting themselves as well the family's imprisoned boss, Philip "Rusty" Rastelli, with full commission approval to "defend yourselves," as then-Gambino boss Paul Castellano informed Joe Massino when Massino sought out his approval.

During the 1980s Pitera became a made man with the Bonannos for Anthony Spero, who put him with Frank Lino (a survivor of the three-capo takedown, quick thinking enough to sprint out of the basement room before a bullet could find him).

It is alleged in the Carlo book that Pitera shot to death Wilfred "Willie Boy" Johnson as he walked to his car. Johnson had been a close associate of Gambino crime boss John Gotti since the days when the two of them had been petty burglars and thieves. The two men indeed were very close. But in 1985, Gotti discovered that Johnson had been a government informant since 1966. Pitera murdered Johnson as a favor to Gotti (who at the time was close friends with then-Bonanno boss Joe Massino, who would later claim that Gotti wanted him, Massino, dead, but that is another story).

It is this writer's belief, based on research confirmed by a source, that on that night in Brooklyn, the trio were discussing the murder of "Willie Boy" Johnson...


  1. I'd thought it had been already established that the whole "high-pitched" voice thing was an invention of Carlo's as retaliation against Pitera who refused to cooperate with him on the book?

  2. No , it's true. I spoke to someone who knows Pitera, first thing I asked....

  3. Funny you should ask! Waiting for reply. I have to think they were trying to keep a low profile....

  4. There was a gentleman commenting on the "high-pitched" voice thing on another forum who said he'd done time in the same facility as Pitera. Said nothing high pitched about his voice. Said he talked to himself a lot, but otherwise said he'd give you the shirt off his back.

  5. I don't know about shirts. I know a guy who knew Pitera on the street and he did an impression for me.... Mickey Mouse all the way.... I am certain he will see this and respond himself... Do you know the jailbirds bona fides?

  6. mickey mouse voice or not,definetly a MAN to FEAR & RESPECT.Case closed.

  7. Charlie's retaliation? Do you think an author would resort to that kind of chicanery to punish a subject who won't speak to him??

  8. Not to low of a profile as they were in a very public place such as a diner and having bottles of champagne sent to them!

  9. True! Maybe Gotti's version of low profile!!

  10. Okay, I confirmed it. Definitively.

  11. for someone who said they were gonna focus more time on other jobs, you have been doing some great writing lately, Ed! Keep up the good work!

  12. Lol you obviously do not know too much about Phil Carlo if you think it was beyond him to make stuff up out of thin air...

  13. Anyone who thinks Carlo would not make shit up should look into Tommy's alleged karate master in "The Butcher."

  14. so you know this.... how? How do you know Carlo made stuff up out of thin air, and give us an example of something he made up out of thin air....

  15. I know because I talk to all sorts of interesting people and do my own independent research. Things Carlo made up...::deep breath:: The name of Tommy's, karate teacher, the name of Tommy's son, the name of Tommy's first wife (this is more of sloppy researching/reporting then make believe) Tommy, Anthony Senter's non Italian heritage in the Casso book, Tommy dressing as a woman/rabbi...fuck there is too much lies to cover in the Butcher book to cover. Hell even Gangi who says Tommy sounds like "Michael jackson but more falsetto" also even said Carlo "wrote what he wanted." And I don't know if this counts as "made up out of thin air" but portraying Jim Hunt and Group 33 as honest, noble cops instead of the rogue unit they were is pathetic. Use the cutting edge tool known as "Google" if you do not believe me about Group 33, frankly I didn't know about it either until a forum poster pointed me towards it not too long ago. Then there is all the stuff he made up in "Iceman" with Kuklinski. Even noted child rapist Richard Ramirez called Phil Carlo a sleaze in a phone call with Eric "Gein" Holler that is floating around out there somewhere. Oh and I almost forgot in Carlo's work there is dialogue he could never have known. Anyway it is too bad he felt the need to exaggerate so much about Pitera...the true story would have been fascinating enough.


    (Read the above article and have a good laugh at how Carlo paints Hunt and co. as heroes and repeats his story of how Pitera's nose got broken unchallenged)

  16. Oh and Carlo/Gangi says he sounds like Michael Jackson or Mickey Mouse but with an even higher voice, some cops said he sounds like Tommy Udo...really it's more like Joe Pesci....or perhaps Jim Breuer impersonating Joe Pesci. Not a baritone voice by any means but not a freak show voice like others claim by any means. The guy who posted on BB about doing time with him in Allenwood was legit...sadly he got sent back to prison not too long ago so we cannot bring him into this convo.

  17. Thank you. I truly appreciate your input. I am definitely going to read this. Carlo obviously thanked the people who helped him write the book; without Hunt he had no book. But I have been rereading The Butcher and I see he tends to put himself into the mind of some characters who he never spoke to. I did Google the karate teacher, couple of years ago, and found not a single reference, which does not mean he doesn't exist. I will go through that article, etc. I hope you comment more; I appreciate serious critics who know what they are talking about. Carlo got a lot of other stuff wrong, I agree. I know a lot more about this than I did six days ago; I tended to think Carlo based what he wrote on some kind of evidence v. making it up. But honestly if you consider -- you got a huge advance, a deadline.... I wouldn't put it passed him... I started this blog because of the errors I found in his Gaspipe book....

  18. I also am aware of Group 33; I have a source who worked with them on the Gus Farace investigation. Let me put it this way: I dedicated the story to them.

  19. Have you read any of Carlo's books? They read like fiction.

  20. If anyone sees a closed thread anywhere on this blog and wants to comment, alert me and I'll open it.

  21. Ed, anything on Gotti wanting Massino dead then?


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