Tony Muscles' Love Life More Violent Than His Mob Life

In December 2006, a jury found Anthony (Tony Muscles) Guardino, boss of New York City’s Brooklyn-based Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local 8, guilty of enterprise corruption crimes.

Tony Muscles, loverboy....

Guardino, connected to the Genovese family, was part of the union's corrupt leadership, which shook down contractors all over New York City to the tune of more than $2 million.

Prosecutors used Guardino's Mafia links as a lynchpin of the case against him.

Brooklyn-based Local 8 represents about 700 roofing and waterproofing workers in New York City.

The 2004 indictment that named Guardino was the second time ever that a union itself was charged with racketeering under New York's Organized Crime Control Act of 1986.

It was the first labor union in US history to plead guilty to racketeering and corruption charges -- though let's be perfectly clear here; the crimes were committed by the leadership, not the union's rank and file, who were also screwed over by these wiseguys (my preferred term for mobsters).

A fascinating story was detailed in testimony delivered at his two-month-long trial. A scorned woman took the stand. (As did a Genovese capo...)

The story also heralds back decades, to the 1970s, when Local 8 was looted by a Genovese-linked boss named Michael Crimi.

Crimi and Guardino had something else in common in that both had married into a Mafia pedigree. Crimi's wife was Genovese street boss Frank (Funzi) Tieri's niece. Guardino's wife, Connie Billotti, was the niece of Thomas (Tommy) Billotti, the one-time Gambino crime family underboss killed with Paul Castellano in midtown Manhattan outside Sparks Steak House in December 1985.

Crimi walked between the raindrops.

"He led a charmed life," as a National Legal and Policy Center report noted.


Crimi faced charges of murder and loansharking. The evidence against him was seemingly as solid as it gets: his own voice caught on wiretap holding forth on various matters Cosa Nostra, payoffs and shakedowns with Genovese wiseguys.

Yet he skated to freedom and retired.

Funzi Tieri - read about him here.

Luckless Corrupt Union Boss
Guardino had a decidedly less charmed life.

By the time of John Gotti's rise, he and Connie were locked in the proverbial "bitter divorce."

Of the two main relationships in his life -- one to a crime family, the other to a loveless marriage in dissolution -- it was the latter that seemed to hold the larger potential for violence.

One tape played for the jury depicted the union boss's more romantic side:

"I'll kill her." 

Guardino said that of his soon-to-be ex-wife in a recorded in conversation with Donna Catalano, a girlfriend. He was bemoaning the pending alimony payments -- as well as seeking ways to minimize these payouts. He and Ms. Catalano had split by the time Guardino was in the courtroom. But she was likely never far from his heart, especially when she was on the witness stand testifying for the prosecution.

(It may strike some as unfair to highlight such apparent hyperbole before a jury. After all, most married men and women probably speak of their spouse using similar language, ie., "I'd like to murder that son-of-a-btching bstard," etc. and so forth on a weekly, if not daily basis. But then most married men don't get into bed with the Mafia.)

On December 3, 2002, the union boss and Donna Catalano spoke of how he could hide some of his assets from the estranged Mrs. Tony Muscles. Catalano apparently kept the heat turned as high as possible on Guardino, telling him he'd better wrap things up quickly because the longer the proceedings went on, "the more she gets."

Which is when Tony Muscles blurted out: "I’ll kill her. And then she’ll get nothing. And that’ll be the end of that."

Though that thought was never acted upon, there was violence. Guardino didn't hesitate to use brute force against the woman.

We're talking about Ms. Catalano though.

"There were several incidents of physical violence – inflicted by Guardino against Ms. Catalano; that relationship, too, ended badly. And that prompted Catalano to take the witness stand against her former boyfriend."

She told the jury about several beatings Tony Muscles had administered to her as the relationship began to sour. This didn't make Guardino look better in the jury's eyes -- but it probably wasn't as incriminating as the hours and hours of audio and video surveillance of Tony Muscles and Johnny Sausage between April 2002 and May 2003.

John (Johnny Sausage) Barbato was a Genovese capo who copped to a plea in the case, getting two to six years in prison and a $200,000 forfeiture.

Johnny Sausage even testified for the prosecution -- and, boy, do we wonder how that went down with the Genovese crime family! (Jerry Capeci wrote that Sausage's move was "a break with his old-school background — and a testament that the rules that wiseguys once lived and died by have changed...")

Sausage revealed that he was a member in good standing (he never named the crime family to which he belonged).

He revealed he was part of a criminal organization that "was part of a nationwide criminal organization that operated through entities called families. During the relevant period, I was a member and high-ranking official of one such family. I influenced and controlled the Local 8 labor officials, and Local 8, and benefited financially from the criminal activities of the Local 8 group."

Jerry Capeci reported additional information about his testimony: 

"Without identifying any of his codefendants by name, Johnny Sausage said he rigged Guardino's election to his union post, took regular payoffs from him, and said they were aided in their criminal activity by Donna Catalano, 49."

Evidence bolstered the key allegation that Guardino and his associates had extorted -- on average -- more than $110,000 per month from 20 roofing contractors for most of 2002 and 2003.

Contractors who played ball with Local 8's bosses benefited from the relationship as per your basic Mafia-organized cartel: roofers who paid were allowed to play fast and loose with costly union rules. They were able to use nonunion roofers, as well as power tools and other equipment union rules had prohibited.

If a contractor actually refused (there were some -- well, one at the very least) the union would threaten to shut the site down.

One example offered by Manhattan district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau when the indictment was first released was the following: On a Brooklyn work site, a contractor was first told by a Local 8 official that he could use nonunion workers.

Then the same official ordered Local 8 members to shut down the site until the contractor made his monthly payments.

Nothing like a bullet to the back of his head, but just as effective.

In 2007, Tony Muscles was sentenced to 6 to 18 years in prison.