Gregory "The Grim Reaper" Scarpa Blew Whistle on Whitey Tropiano's Brooklyn Murder Spree

Part two of Ralph (Whitey) Tropiano story in Gangsters of New Haven series... 

Greg Scarpa told the FBI who was behind a years-long killing spree.

In 1946, the bullet-riddled bodies of small-time hoodlums started turning up on the streets of Bath Beach and Borough Hall, Brooklyn.

Over the course of 16 months, 10 (or 12, no one really knows for certain) victims would be wheeled into the morgue on the slab.

New York City investigators were convinced that the same killers were responsible.

And they were correct though no one would know that until May 1964, when Gregory Scarpa told the FBI what happened. (Note that this was a year after Joseph Valachi started singing for the world.) In 1950, Gregory Scarpa was inducted into the family of Joseph Profaci (boss of one of the original Five Families, which today is known as the Colombos), and mainly was a soldier who cracked heads for Calogero (Charlie the Sidge) LoCicero, Profaci 's consigliere. LoCicero plays a key role in our story. By 1960, Scarpa was made capo. He'd already flipped, before his promotion, when he was nabbed for hijacking liquor. LoCicero was gunned down in Borough Park in 1968 -- very possibly by Greg Scarpa, who himself died of AIDS-related complications in 1994.

In August 1947, John Tufariello, 27, an auto mechanic with a minor record (he was also a married father of two), was shot six times with a .38 in the head and chest. He was found 10:30 at night in front of 1171 61st Street. Faye de Maddis, 28, who lived at that address, told police she'd heard several shots and had watched as a dark sedan sped away from the body, which had collapsed near the curb.

Detective lieutenant Arthur Giddings, Borough Park detective squad commander, said three men were wanted for the crime. He also remarked that the murder may have been linked to an auto-theft ring.

Tufariello was known to police. In fact they had last spoken to him only a month prior, on July 27 about the murder of Alfred (Socks) Loffredo, 34, "also a small time hood" who was found, shot to death, at Harway and 25th Avenues about a year prior.

Others killed in the series included Carlo Zarcone, 27, an ex-con found shot in the head in a parked car; Emanuel (Turl) Montalbano, 32, the "swaggering small-time gambler and racketeer" had been found slain behind the wheel (two weeks prior, he'd survived at attempted hit when someone riddled his car with bullets); and Anthony Imperiale and Angelo Esposito also were named in reports as among victims of this "Bath Beach gang war."

Carlo Zarcone, 27, was shot in the head while sitting in this parked car.

Whitey -- who earned the nickname because of his penchant for wearing white ties -- was arrested for the Loffredo murder and was released on $50,000 bail. While out on bail, he was again arrested, for killing Tufariello. (Whitey and Tufariello had previously been linked when the two were arrested together in 1942 on suspicion of robbing mob bookies.) Whitey had earned another nickname around this time: Golden Key, because he was considered the key to solving an awful lot of murders.

Prosecutors declared the crime solved. Whitey Tropiano would fry in “the chair."

Back then, mobsters were actually executed... Louis (Lepke) Buchalter, Louis Capone, and Mandy Weiss all met the executioner one after the other at Sing Sing prison on the same night in March 1944. Capone went first flanked by two guards, with a Roman Catholic priest praying for his soul. When he was juiced, some 36 witnesses were there to watch the Murder Inc. murderer die at two minutes past 11 p.m. Weiss was the only one who offered last words, which were: "Can I say something? I’m here on a framed-up case. And Governor Dewey knows it. I want to thank Judge Lehman, he knows me because I’m a Jew. Give my love to my family and everything.” They were "put to death by the State of New York.... in the first Saturday night execution here since 1917," as the New York Times detailed (PDF)..

Only Whitey had more in common with mob boss Albert Anastasia, it seemed, in that he wasn't executed but the witness was...

Nine days later, the authorities dropped all charges and released Tropiano and no one was charged again for any of the murders.

On March 12, 1964, Greg Scarpa told Special Agent J.L. Martin, of the New York office, what happened.

Ralph Whitey Tropiano
Ralph Whitey Tropiano. Notice the color of his necktie.

Whitey Tropiano and Patsy Guariglia and 10 or 12 other individuals had formed a freelance gang that "did not respect other "button guys."

The group robbed wiseguys and mob-run crap games.

The rest of this is so unbelievable, we're quoting directly from the 302 -- this is the plot of the greatest mob film never made right here:

"As a result of their activity, Charles LoCicero was assigned to investigate the gang and make recommendations concerning what disposition would be made of the gang.

"Informant stated that LoCicero was actually able to penetrate the gang and win their confidence while making them believe he was in with them. As a result of his association with the members of this gang, LoCicero decided that all members with the exception of Tropiano and Guariglia should be killed. LoCicero's recommendation and the job of killing the other gang members was accepted and was handled primarily by Tropiano and Guariglia.

"The informant related that they were successful in killing all the other members in a short period of time with the exception of one who was picked up and sentenced to a term in prison.

"He stated that this member while in prison made statements to the effect that upon his release he would get Profaci, LoCicero, and others. Informant related that within three or four days after this individual was released from prison he was killed and his body dumped in a field out near Floyd Bennett Naval Air Station. (NOTE: Floyd Bennett Field was New York City’s first municipal airport. Located in south Brooklyn, it was completed in 1930. JFK and LaGuardia pretty much consigned it to oblivion.)

"Informant stated that as a result of the killing of these gang members that Tropiano and Guaraglia were almost grabbed on a murder charge. He explained that one member of the gang was with his girlfriend in the Rex Bar and Grill and that he left his girlfriend telling her that he had an appointment with Tropiano and Guaraglia.

"He stated that this individual was killed and that the police department was able to obtain the testimony from the girlfriend that he left her for an appointment with Tropiano and Guaraglia. Informant advised that the girlfriend was placed in protective custody by the police department and that other members of the organization were unable to get her in order to silence her. He stated that as a result of this a contract was made with a Captain in the Homicide Squad for $20,000.00 and that this Captain killed the girl to keep her from testifying against Tropiano and Guaraglia."