Dellacroce Linked to Notorious '56 Acid Attack on Journalist?

"Dellacroce was one of the scariest individuals I've ever met in my life. Dellacroce's eyes were, like, he didn't have any eyes. Did you ever see Children of the Damned? His eyes were so blue that they weren't even there. It was like looking right through him."
The late New York mob-buster Joseph Coffey
"Of all the gangsters that I've met personally, and I've met dozens of them in all of my years, there were only two who, when I looked them straight in the eye, I decided I wouldn't want them to be really personally mad at me. Aniello Dellacroce was one and Carmine Galante was the other. They had bad eyes, I mean, they had the eyes of killers. You looked at Dellacroce's eyes and you could see how frightening they were, the frigid glare of a killer."
Ralph Salerno, NYPD officer, leading Mafia authority; author of The Crime Confederation

"His eyes had no color... as if his soul (were) transparent,"
Newspaper reporter writing of Aniello "Neil" Dellacroce

Neal, Neil, The Tall Man, Father O’Neal

Aniello "Neil" Dellacroce was born on March 15, 1914, and died on Dec. 2, 1985. (NOT Neal, as originally written, Michael DiLeonardo confirmed.)

He was a lifelong New Yorker first arrested at age 16.

Did Dellacroce Blind Victor Riesel?

Dellacroce's media debut was linked to the 1956 attack on nationally renowned newspaper columnist Victor Riesel, who dedicated his reporting to labor issues in stories syndicated in 350-plus newspapers across the U.S. 

By April 5, 1956, Riesel had severely pissed off certain underworld figures involved in labor racketeering. 

On that day, the newspaperman departed Manhattan's famous Lindy's restaurant (located at 825 7th Avenue, near the 53rd Street intersection -- a single block away from where the former Park-Sheraton hotel once stood with a barbershop that provided quality shaves and haircuts). 

A man approached and tossed sulphuric acid into the reporter's face. Riesel was permanently blinded and the incident made national headlines for nearly a full year.

Dellacroce's eyes are his most-often described feature.

Giovanni Ignazio Dioguardi, aka John Dioguardi and Johnny Dio, was the key mob figure charged and convicted for the attack. At the time he was among the country's most powerful labor racketeers. (Dio helped James R. Hoffa rise to the presidency of the Teamsters using any and all means -- including by hook or by crook.)

Dioguardi ordered the attack on Riesel and the national media, including Riesel himself, who continued his crusade via his column, reviled the mobster to the point his position within his crime family was severely weakened. In fact, this was around a year prior to the Anastasia crime family's regime change.

Not even two years after the attack, Dioguardi went to trial (which led to revelations of ties to Hoffa) and was convicted on charges of labor extortion and conspiracy -- and sentenced to 15-30 years.

He was repeatedly slammed with more time -- and finally died on Jan. 12, 1979 in a prison hospital.

Neil Dellacroce may have been involved in the attack on Riesel, as the Times obliquely noted at the end of a 1956 Riesel-related story:

"In a development possibly related to the Riesel case, Police Commissioner Stephen P. Kennedy's personal squad early today arrested three men with criminal records after following them for three hours around the Lower East Side. They were charged with vagrancy and consorting with known criminals."

The three arrested men were Ralph DiPaloa, Apifanio Orio and Neil Dellacroce.

Knights of Alto 

The Knights of Alto Social Club, founded in 1926, was a "regular den of thieves" patronized by such underworld luminaries as Charles (Lucky) Luciano, Carlo Gambino, Albert Anastasia and Aniello Dellacroce.

"Tzar of the Brooklyn docks, Albert Anastasia operated the Knights of Alto social club as his Manhattan outpost and drop-off point for payoffs," a knowledgeable source noted.

Dellacroce actually was a Murder Inc. hitman believed to have "made his bones" with Anastasia during the heady, wild days of Prohibition. 

The Tall Guy lived across the street from the Knights of Alto (the club was eventually renamed the Ravenite in 1957 by Carlo Gambino, after his favorite poem, Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, quoth the New York Daily News.). He had a bevy of nicknames -- ranging from O’Neil, to The Tall Guy to the most interesting (and sinister -- okay, interestingly sinister) nickname: Father O’Neil.

The mobster committed Murder Inc. hits dressed in the traditional garb of a Roman-Catholic priest. That is, wearing the iconic clerical shirt with tab collar inserted. See picture:

The 1963 Organized Crime and Illicit Traffic in Narcotics hearings said of Dellacroce:

"He is in gambling, shylocking, and extortion and strong-arm (work). He has 10 arrests, 5 convictions…he has been involved in floating dice games, gambling, shylocking. He was involved with Al Anastasia in Cuba in gambling and dice."

Dellacroce lived across the street
from the Ravenite in this tenement.

One strain of thought holds that after Carlo Gambino and Vito Genovese toppled Albert Anastasia, Gambino purchased 247 Mulberry Street, renamed the club the Ravenite and installed Dellacroce there as his underboss. 

The relationship was a win-win, seemingly, with Gambino acting as the operation's brains, Dellacroce the muscle.

Then there's the excellent Dellacroce bio on Tom Hunt's site, which notes:

Upon the 1957 assassination of boss Albert Anastasia, the large Brooklyn-based crime family divided into two camps. A Gambino-Castellano faction elevated Carlo Gambino to the position of boss, a move contested by a faction led by Armand Thomas Rava and Dellacroce. (Dellacroce's affection for Rava possibly influenced the naming of his son Armond, born in 1955.)  
The succession dispute likely was on the agenda at the ill-fated Apalachin convention in November 1957. It eventually was resolved with Rava's disappearance in 1958 and Dellacroce's subsequent elevation to the position of underboss. 

I don't believe the first strain; I note that this has been reported.

As for Tom Hunt, he's basically got the dynamics in proper alignment but based on information I have found, the situation wasn't likely resolved until years later. In all fairness to Tom, some information may not have been available when he wrote the piece. His Mafia site is among the best there is.

This profile may be continued in a separate post or completed in a revise of this .....

Bottom line: I now have 1,000 additional pages to wade through)....