Pittsburgh Mob's "Nick the Blade" Drops Dead; Was Once "Fearsome Drug Kingpin"

Eugene "Nick the Blade" Gesuale, 73, dropped dead less than two years after serving a long prison sentence.
"Nick the Blade" had "absolutely no redeeming qualities" one FBI agent said of him.

A Pittsburgh mobster who wasn't even two years out of prison, where he'd served a near-three-decade stretch, dropped dead of a heart attack while enjoying his usual glass of Pinot Grigio.

Eugene "Nick the Blade" Gesuale, 73, was at Past Times Restaurant and Bar, "when he suddenly fell over" this past Thursday night, bar manager David Ruiz told The Daytona Beach Journal Online.

Ruiz was quoted saying yesterday afternoon: "He was on his cellphone and it looked as if he was having a seizure. I called 9-1-1." (Hear the 9-1-1 call, which runs five minutes.)

Gesuale was a regular at the S. Nova Road bar, which opened this past May.

He was released from federal prison on Halloween Day 2014 following a 28-year prison stretch for racketeering and drug trafficking.

Gesuale usually arrived at the bar alone, according to Ruiz of Past Times. The former mobster may have had a local relative. Gesuale's residence is listed in The Falls community off of Clyde Morris Boulevard in Ormond Beach, the police report noted.

Gesuale was described as friendly and talkative. Ruiz said he'd always set up a glass of his preferred wine whenever Gesuale entered the bar.

The incident report, as the Journal Online noted, described how "while police were on scene and he was being given CPR by another bar patron, his cellphone rang and it was a Facetime call from a cousin who identified himself as "Geno."

The cousin, once informed of what was happening, asked that Gesuale's car keys and phone be given to the bar's owner.

In a Post-Gazette story published in November 2000, an FBI agent mentioned how "Nick the Blade" had once fit into the Pittsburgh organized crime landscape at a time when the FBI was readying to deliver what would be a crippling blow to the region's crime family. Today it can best be described as moribund.

FBI agent Roger Greenbank, who by then had departed the Pittsburgh office after 25 years, told the story of how, in 1990, he and a squad of federal agents and prosecutors convicted underboss Charles "Chucky" Porter, top lieutenant Louis Raucci Sr. and seven associates.

But when the 2000 article was published it must've delivered quite a jolt to anyone interested in the region's Mafia entity. The U.S. Attorney's Office revealed that Porter, then-66, had from his prison cell  been conducting an eight-year dialogue with agent Greenbank.

The then-underboss had provided information about additional mobsters.

"The relationship between agent and inmate has led to FBI investigations of the mob across the United States."

Porter's information "averted mob slayings in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, according to a motion filed by the U.S. attorney's office to cut short Porter's 28-year sentence."

Pittsburgh Mob from 1967-1990

For five months in 1990, Greenbank and other federal officials discussed mob happenings from 1967 through 1990 while designing their probe.

They'd been investigating the mob for the previous decade. Gary Golden, a mob associate in New Kensington, was their first target.

While conducting surveillance from a van in 1979, FBI agents spotted Golden among the attendees of the funeral for the brother of Thomas "Sonny" Ciancutti, a mob heavyweight seen accompanying Pittsburgh boss John LaRocca and capo Gabriel Mannarino to New York in 1969, the year Vito Genovese died in a prison hospital.

Golden brought the agents to Arizona, where they watched him meet with Porter and drug dealer Eugene "Nick the Blade" Gesuale of East Liberty.

Federal officials eventually landed their first major conviction, of Gesuale, "a crude and fearsome narcotics kingpin" whom FBI agent Greenbank described as the only mob associate known for having "absolutely no redeeming qualities."

A 1986 Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel report noted that Gesuale was indicted in Pittsburgh on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, among other charges. On Jan. 4, 1985, a fugitive warrant was issued for his arrest following his failure to show up for trial.

He landed on the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 most-wanted list and was finally arrested in July 1986 in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Feds had tipped off local police.

Gesuale was known for being a tough guy at a young age. While still a youth, he attacked two people with a knife twice, which earned him his nickname.

He served a 28-year prison stint before his October 31, 2014, release.