Purple Gang Alumnus Mikey Nose Mancuso, Bonanno Boss, Will Be Back On The Street In March

This Christmas should be merrier than usual for reputed Bonanno crime family boss Michael (The Nose) Mancuso, who moved into a halfway house in Brooklyn earlier this year.

Back in the Purple Gang's day....Angelo Prisco, left, Michael Meldish, right.
Mancuso had it in for Michael Meldish, but then so did lots of people.

Mancuso is now less than three months away from his March 12 release date from Brooklyn's RRM, or Residential Reentry Management field office. Mancuso was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the December 1, 2004, murder of Bonanno associate Randolph Pizzolo, whose bullet-riddled body was found face down in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.

Mancuso was lucky: he had faced life in prison under the original indictment, but following his plea deal, Judge Nicholas Garaufis had to max out the sentence at 15 years. (Originally, the Pizzolo murder almost marked Mancuso's end as he and former Bonanno acting boss Vincent Basciano were both declared to be eligible for the death penalty.)

Mancuso is a veteran at doing time; and being convicted of murder. He served a long stretch in the 1980s for killing his wife. (Yes, killing his own wife. He left her body on a bench outside a hospital and later had his lawyers argue it had all been an accident.) Mancuso was arrested after stepping off a plane in Las Vegas in February of 2006 for the Pizzolo hit.

Who was Randy Pizzolo? 

The jury at Basciano's 2011 trial heard a recording of Basciano telling former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino that Pizzolo was a "dangerous kid" who had to go -- and that the murder would be "a good wake-up call" for other wayward gangsters.

When his body was found in a desolate part of Brooklyn, it was quite evident that a mob hit had gone down...  Pizzolo still wore an expensive wristwatch and pinkie ring, and had about $1,000 in his pocket. (He even still held a cigarette lighter in one hand.) And not far from the body, parked at the curb with the engine still idling was Pizzolo's BMW 545i...

"I told him his mouth was going to get him in trouble one day," retired undercover FBI agent Jack Garcia once said of Pizzolo.. Garcia also recalled how one night Pizzolo had strutted into a Manhattan restaurant and offered to buy drinks for everyone -- "except the fed" after he was pointed out.

Anthony (Ace) Aiello, who admitted to being the gunman, was sentenced to 30 years. As part of the same case, Anthony (Bruno) Indelicato (who was accused of plotting to kill a rival by masquerading as a police officer) and Anthony (Little Anthony) Donato were sentenced to 20 and 25 years, respectively. Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano was sentenced to life.*

Pizzolo wanted to become a made member of the Bonanno family more than anything else in the world. "He [Pizzolo] was what you might call a 'wanna-be,'" Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri told the jury at Basciano's 2011 trial.

Mancuso has been in prison for the murder of Randolph Pizzolo.
The car parked on the right was still running when Pizzolo was found.

"What Randy Pizzolo wanted to be more than anything was an inducted member of organized crime, a made man in the Mafia."

Ironically, Basciano initially was fond of Pizzolo and had even proposed him for membership. Then he must have realized his assessment of Pizzolo had been incorrect. Still, it seems he gave the man opportunities to change his ways. When Pizzolo shot someone outside Caffe on the Green in Queens, Basciano decided to give him a second chance.

(I remember the Caffe on the Green shooting. I lived in Bayside at the time, and there was a lot of buzz about the incident, which was in all the newspapers too. Only just now, while researching this, did I learn Randy Pizzolo had been the shooter...)

Eventually, Basciano reached his limit. One of the last straws is believed to have been when Pizzolo, while idling time in another Queens eatery, began drunkenly boasting aloud that he was the only real killer in the Bonanno crime family.

Michael Nose was named official boss of the Bonannos

Mancuso was allegedly crowned to the top slot in 2012-2013 while behind bars serving this sentence.

"Mancuso’s the boss and he’s running the family from jail,” a law enforcement source said at the time. 

Mancuso may have tried to stretch his muscles as Bonanno boss from behind bars by ordering the beating of a Luchese associate, something that helped make him an early suspect in the 2013 murder of Luchese associate Michael Meldish. Michael Nose allegedly ordered the beating because Meldish  had refused to cease a relationship with a former girlfriend of Mancuso's.

What must've really humiliated Meldish, though, was that he would've remembered when he was the boss of Mancuso when the two of them were members of New York's notorious Purple Gang.

The Color Purple
The violent East Harlem-based Purple Gang, which reportedly boasted more than 100 members at one time, dealt drugs, sold firearms, and killed people back in the 1970s and 1980s. Members, who reportedly spent their youths running errands for drug dealers, were linked to the Bonanno, Luchese, and Genovese crime families.

By the 1980s, members increasingly were apprehended in drug busts. Some of the remaining members then joined the 116th Street Crew, with some landing buttons in crime families. For one, Purple Gang member Angelo Prisco, see picture at top, rose to capo in the Genovese crime family.

Some, including Mancuso, rose to management positions. Daniel Leo, who was a member of the Purple Gang (during his time with the crew he was suspected of participating in at least two homicides in the 1970s) was outed by Jerry Capeci as acting boss of the Genovese crime family in November 2006. Leo was living in a $2 million home in Rockleigh, N.J., a town on the Palisades at the time.(In May 2007, members of the FBI's Genovese squad cornered and arrested him there on federal loan sharking and extortion charges.)

Mikey Nose ordered a Bonanno mobster to administer a beating to Meldish "for what Mancuso considered disrespectful acts toward Mancuso on Meldish's part," according to a court filing by Manhattan prosecutors against nine Bonanno family mobsters and associates hit with state racketeering charges in July of 2013.

An unidentified informant told the feds that Bonanno acting capo Ernest Aiello caught up with Meldish in August of 2012 in uptown Manhattan, outside East Harlem's infamous Rao's restaurant. Making things worse for Meldish, he was reportedly beaten right amid the annual Pleasant Avenue Festival that honors Saint Anthony of Padua.

Even in the years since many Italian-Americans moved out of the neighborhood, they have gathered in East Harlem for the festival every year for more than 100 years. Each year, hundreds of members of the Giglio Society of East Harlem -- a group of men who have dedicated their lives to honor San Antonio, their beloved saint -- build and lift a large tower in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. That means plenty of bystanders and very possibly more than a few wiseguys stood on the street and watched Meldish get his ass kicked -- possibly while biting into zeppoles.

The Feds provided a thumbnail sketch of Mancuso in a 5K document written for another former Bonanno member: "Mancuso has a long history of involvement in crimes and acts of violence...As the Court knows, Mancuso has a serious criminal history including a 1978 New York state felony conviction for criminal possession of a weapon, a 1986 New York state felony conviction for manslaughter (for the killing of his wife), and various 1996 New York state misdemeanor convictions for menacing, assault, resisting arrest, and attempted assault."

* The Pizzolo hit was one murder in a larger indictment (United States v. Basciano/Mancuso, 05 CR 0600 (NGG). Beginning in 2005, a grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned a series of indictments charging Basciano (who faced additional charges separate from the ones in these indictments), Mancuso, Bonanno captain Dominick Cicale (who became a turncoat and testified and wrote a book with your truly), and Bonanno soldiers Indelicato, Anthony Donato, and Anthony Aiello, among others. These defendants were charged with a variety of racketeering-related crimes including the February 15, 2001 murder of Frank Santoro and the Pizzolo murder.