An Enduring Mafia Mystery: What Really Happened to Carlo Gambino's Nephew?

"One time Carlo Gambino’s nephew was kidnapped and held for ransom. I had heard the details later on. 
Sentner was a runner for Gambino gambling operation
Sentner in the old days. 

My father had been sent for by Neil Dellacroce, who brought him to Carlo Gambino’s home in Massapequa, Long Island. He had met Carlo two times before with Neil in Manhattan. On the way over, my father was filled in on the details of what Carlo wanted. The five Families had search and destroy teams out looking for the guys who had been kidnapping members of their Family. Neil had chosen my father to lead the Gambino team.

 “You’re head of the team,” he said. “Understand?”

“Understand,” my father said. “You’re not only doing this for Carlo, but for all of the families.” At the house, Neil had once again instructed my father on what was to be done, while Carlo quietly sat by. Then Carlo spoke, softly as usual.

“I want you to take care of this thing for me,” Carlo said. “It will be my honor. Done,” my father said.

 Emanuel “Manny” Gambino was kidnapped by Irish and Latino gangsters working together. This time however, after a ransom was paid for his release, it turned out that Manny had been killed. Heavily involved with the kidnap and murder was a James McBratney, a muscle bound Irish thug who had done time for armed robbery, and had the moral fiber of a cobra. Several of the kidnappers had been already dealt with by members of the Families, and McBratney, who was sort of a leader of these miscreants, would be the last to go. My father, his lifelong friend Angelo Ruggiero, and Ralph “Wigs” Galione were sent to take care of McBratney. On May 22, 1973, they found him in Snoopy’s Bar and Grill, and McBratney, after a struggle, was “brought to justice.” ....

John A. Gotti, Shadow of My Father

The story told in Shadow is pretty much how the story has been told. It's part of the legend of John Gotti that he killed James McBratney for Carlo Gambino, boss of bosses (as the FBI called him).

Yet what are we to make of this other information? The following account is based on published news reports and FBI documents. As per this "new information,"  Irish and Latino gangsters did not kidnap Manny.... It's difficult to believe that Gambino didn't know about the following: he would've read it in the newspapers.  How do we fit this together?

The body was found Jan. 26, 1973, in a shallow grave near Colts Neck Township, N. J.

Emmanuel (Manny) Gambino had been slain the previous May, when he was shot in the head. He was 29.

Before the body was discovered, Gambino's wife, Diane, had received a letter demanding $350,000 for the return of her husband.

Some $40,000 of the ransom was paid. The "kidnappers" must've been movie buffs, as they seemed to take their cue from the kind of setups commonly depicted in old 1940s gangster flicks: The ransom was allegedly thrown off the Palisades Interstate Parkway, to be later retrieved by Henry Robert Sentner, then a 37-year-old resident of Sea Girt, N.J.

Emmanuel, or Manny, was the son of Joseph Gambino, Carlo's younger brother, and nephew to the legendary Don himself. Carlo Gambino by then was quite well known among certain segments of society, primarily law enforcement and what we'll call the underworld, which was still thriving due to law enforcement's failure to use the RICO laws. The Sicilian Don seemed to regularly outwit some of the brightest minds in the law enforcement business.

The facts are that Emanuel Gambino was last seen on May 18. He was believed killed probably as of June 2, when FBI agents found his blood‐stained Cadillac at Newark Airport, where it had been sitting since May 30, according to the ticket affixed to the windshield.

The suspects were Henry Robert Sentner, 37, of Seagirt, New Jersey, and John Edward Kilcullen, 42, an ironworker, of 764 East 105th Street, in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Both had surrendered to the FBI.

They admitted to the murder but said  the kidnapping part of the story was a “hoax.”

Others were involved, according to the FBI. In the kidnapping complaint, William J. Solin and John P. Harrington were identified as accomplices, yet neither man was taken into custody.

The New York Times reported: "Federal sources said they were “available,” but refused to affirm that they were cooperating with authorities."

As for Sentner and Kilcullen, both had criminal records.

Sentner's lawyer, Richard Wynn, made a wild claim in the courtroom. His client had “fully cooperated” with the Fed's, who had promised Sentner that they would not arrest him.

“Gambino planned his own kidnapping,” Sentner had claimed. The reason? He was in trouble with his girlfriend.

Kilcullen's lawyer, Bernard Udell, offered the same argument.

The Fed's called both defendants liars. For example, Sentner claimed he'd never been inside Gambino's Cadillac, yet "(t)he inside of a window on the driver's side bore Sentner's fingerprint."

There is certainly no shortage of facts available. But as to the most intriguing part of this mystery, there's a distinct void.

The kidnapping scheme may have actually targeted another mobster. Yes, Manny may have been initially part of the kidnapping team. Prosecutors argued that the original intended kidnapping victim was Vincent C. Papa Jr.

He also was related to Mafiosi -- though lower-profile ones.

Vincent was the son of an underworld figure described by Federal authorities as the nation's biggest distributor of heroin.


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