Who Fat Andy Loved; John Gotti's Other Side: Anthony Ruggiano Junior, Part FOUR

In the 1960s and 1970s, Anthony (Fat Andy) Ruggiano had one of the biggest crews in the Gambino family, and he wanted to keep it that way.

Fat Andy, Fritzy Giovanelli, sitting Lenny DiMaria, far right in gray Sonny Franzese

He had had around 70-75 guys in his crew, and out of all of them, Andy wanted to straighten out only one, Nicky Corozzo.

Fat Andy "didn’t want to make anybody his equal at one point," said Anthony Junior. "He had a big crew with him and he liked it that way. He wound up being right."

Andy and Anthony (Tony Lee) Guerrieri even got into an argument over Fat Andy's reluctance to make any of his guys.

Tony Lee had wanted to put Anthony (Tony Pep) Trentacosta up to be straightened out with Nicky. Fat Andy prevailed, however, and they both decided that only Nicky would get made.

Once Andy proposed Nicky, Nicky went out of his way to express his gratitude to Ruggiano.

"After my father proposed Nicky, Nicky went to my father's house to see him every day."

So Fat Andy wasn't pleased to learn that Gene Gotti had been straightened out first, before Nicky. Anthony Junior pegged late 1976 as when Gene had been straightened out.

“Gene got straightened out before all of them,” Anthony Junior recalled.

After learning about Gene, “(m)y father made a remark to Neil (Dellacroce) at the Ravenite, saying something like, what happened to my guy that Gene went in first?'"

About a week later, at a wedding, Dellacroce replied to Fat Andy, telling him that they would straighten out Nicky, in a week, meaning one week after the wedding.

Then, Neil told Andy that, as a favor to him, meaning Ruggiano, they would also straighten out Lenny DiMaria, too, with Corozzo.

“Nicky was my father’s guy. My father loved Nicky. He loved Lenny, too, but Nicky was his heart.”

Nicky Corozzo was Fat Andy's Heart

DiMaria didn’t have a crew in Florida. Other members of the crew included Ralph (The Fly) Davino Jr., Salvatore (Sally Botz) Pecchio, and Robert Engel.

John Gotti and Angelo Ruggiero were straightened out while on a prison furlough in 1978, Anthony Junior said.

"John and Angelo were with Charley Wagons."

Other members who Fat Andy straightened out were Mikey Gal, Tony Lee’s brother; Anthony (Tony Pep) Trentacosta; and Sonny, Tony Lee’s cousin.

Charley Wagons Fatico straightened out a lot of guys, but he had a rule:  everyone  he straightened out had to be involved in or directly commit a murder.

“Charley used to say, ‘The guys I straightened out got it the right way.' Everyone he straightened out, he made sure they did work."

“My father got straightened out after he committed a murder," Anthony Junior said.

"Today it’s about who’s making the most money."

In addition to Fat Andy, Fatico also made: his brother, Danny the Head; John Gotti; Angelo Ruggiero; John Carniglia; and Gene Gotti.

We asked Anthony Junior if he was aware of anyone who John Gotti had directly killed "with his own hands," a ridiculous question in our opinion, but one that has been asked.

"That's a gray area," Anthony said, saying he doesn't know.

Nevertheless, he said "John was a killer, whether he personally killed someone or was just standing there. Sammy the Bull said the same thing, John was a killer. You could see it in his eyes. John had shark's eyes."

In the early 1980s, before John Gotti killed Paul Castellano and took over as boss of the Gambino family, "John and my father used to drink in Richie Gotti’s cafe, which was right near the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club. It was a private club, not open to the public. They'd sit there in the winter with a fire in the fireplace and have fireside chats about how many people they killed."

"He loved me, John Gotti," Anthony Junior said. "He was good to me. We were good friends, me and his kid brother Vinny. John loved my wife and my son - he used to write us all the time when he was away. He always wrote and sent Christmas cards, until he died. And when my father died, John wrote us a beautiful letter."

At one point in the 1980s, Anthony Junior told us, "For a while I had a bit of a cocaine problem. Tony Lee told me that the guys won't put up with me. Then I went into treatment (he's been clean 31 years today)."

Anthony got out of treatment in 1988, when John Gotti was boss and on the street.

Anthony went to see John Gotti at his office next door to the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club. (The Gambino family abandoned the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Ozone Park in January 2005, after about 40 years as a base of operations for John, then Peter Gotti.)

The two of them, Anthony Junior and John Gotti, went for a walk-talk, and John asked him how he was.

"He asked me if there was anything he could do for me, and I told him that I was broke and that I needed a car. He pulled out $2,000 and counted it and handed it to me and said, here’s $2,000, bring me $100 a week and don’t disappoint me.

"We went back to his office next to the Bergin. He had a desk there and he'd get haircuts. He made a call and then gave me directions to get to a car lot on 84th Street and Atlantic, where he told me to ask for Anthony; 'he’ll give you a car.'"

Gambino boss John Gotti

"Tony Lee drove me and I went to the lot and asked for Anthony and I got a white four-door Bonneville."

Anthony Junior began showing up at the Bergin every Saturday to have lunch with John Gotti and the crew.

"Every Saturday John Gotti and his guys had lunch. John had a guy cooking pasta and everything."

The first week, Anthony handed over $100, as he'd been told. The next week, he handed John another $100. The third week, John told him, "let's go for a walk."

"We went around the block again and that time John held my arm. He asked me, 'think you got it beat?'" referring to the cocaine.

"I said that I wanted to be around him and my father, that I wanted to progress in the life. John asked how much I owed him."

Anthony Junior told him that he still owed him $1,700.

"He said, 'keep it as a gift.' John was always good to me."

John Gotti would reprimand Anthony Junior when he believed Anthony deserved it, but he always did so "calmly and compassionately, " Anthony Junior told us.

And "he always gave me money. I even told the FBI that too. John Gotti was always good to me and my family. Oh my god, he loved my mother, even though my father and him had had beefs when they were younger. In adulthood, they let that go. And John never took any of that stuff out on me."

We asked him to explain one of the beefs between John Gotti and his father.

"My father had to take Nicky back, and John understood that.

"My experience with John was, what was right was right, and what was wrong was wrong."

We asked him to tell us about when John Gotti reprimanded him.

"We had a big numbers business me and my father's crew, a big numbers business out of Jamaica, Queens."

"The numbers business brought in about $90,000 a day. We needed a bank so I went to (Genovese wiseguy Federico) Fritzy Giovanelli, who was a banker. We brought him the business and John found out about it. It was my idea to go to Fritzy. John found out about it.

"He was blasting Tony Lee, why you giving Fritzy all our fcking business? Why’d you go to him?

"Fritzy was very good friends with my father and Tony Lee. But John was boss. Everybody got yelled at but me."

Another time Anthony saw Gotti truly furious, in a "kill that motherfucker" mode, was when he found out that Lou Albano had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. The problem was that at the same time he'd gotten his cumare pregnant, Lou Albano was married -- to John Gotti's daughter Angel. Lou Albano also was Tony Lee's cousin.

"Lou had cheated on Angel and had baby with another girl, and John wanted to kill him. Tony Lee saved his life."

"John said he was going to kill Lou, his brother Anthony, and their father Sammy -- kill the three of them and then bury them all on top of each other.

"'I'm gonna make a fckin triple-decker sandwich!' John said. 'This kid is a fcking idiot! Why didn’t he get a girl in Florida? I would have paid him to! Why does he do this shit in Howard fcking Beach?! That's my daughter!'"

"Tony Lee was like, c'mon that's my cousin, you ain't gonna kill my cousin."

"Sammy had been one of biggest fireworks dealers in New York and they broke him. Lou and his brother went to Los Angeles and opened up a pizzeria."

Read The Charley Wagons Days: Anthony Ruggiano Interview, Part One

Getting Made By Anastasia In 1953: Anthony Ruggiano Jr. Interview, Part Two

In The Street Robbing, Pillaging, Plundering: Anthony Ruggiano Jr. Interview, Part Three