About That Rivalry Between John Gotti and Nicky Corozzo: Ruggiano Interview, Part 5

UPDATED: The Interboro Parkway opened in June 1935 -- and was renamed the Jackie Robinson Expressway in 1997.

Paul Vario.
Junk(yard) boss: Luchese capo Paul Vario.

It cut through cemeteries and residential real estate, requiring the relocation of burial sites and the razing of homes. The parkway's tricky route is why it reportedly took much longer to build than other New York City parkways. It also has many curves -- because the planners and builders had sought to minimize the number of burial plots that had to be relocated.

Like many places in New York, that parkway has secrets....

The Interboro was the favorite parkway of savvier New Yorkers who, once upon a time, knew it was the city's least-trafficked major artery, and that even at rush hour, traffic rarely clogged it. (Cab drivers generally didn't know it existed.)

The parkway runs through Brooklyn and one of the entrances is near Fulton Street (the Fulton Street in Brooklyn, of course, not the one in Manhattan), which brings us to another secret.

One night in the 1960s, on Fulton Street near the entrance for the Interboro Parkway, an afterhours club above a car wash opened.

"When they were all kids — they had a fight in that after-hours club (on that opening night). John Gotti jumped out a window on the second floor. Nicky (Corozzo) had been hitting him with a payphone receiver. John thought they were gonna kill him," Anthony Ruggiano said recently.

"My father was the original one who they all wanted to be. John and Gene Gotti, Nicky and Jojo Corozzo, Lenny DiMaria, Angelo Ruggiero -- Angelo used to tell my father everything.

"Gene Gotti used to tell me, 'When me and my brother came across your father we didn’t know if we should shake his hand or duck (as in, for cover).' All those kids in East New York looked up to my father."

"Nicky Corrozzo was going to take over. Nicky was on the (Gambino family's leadership) board. My father had proposed Nicky and had gotten him straightened out.

"Nicky is a carbon copy of my father. Nicky stood at my father’s side “at attention” like in the army..."

Fat Andy Ruggiano was in prison the entire time John Gotti was on the street as boss of the Gambino family.

Ruggiano went away in 1984 and got out in 1997. He served 13 years of a 40-year sentence. That was the sentence tied to the case Fat Andy initially tried to duck by growing a beard, hopping on a motorcycle, and riding off with the Hells Angels....


"It was a biker's club, it wasn't the Hell Angels MC. My father grew a beard and he hung out at a biker bar. They let him hang out there; they understood what was happening. My father bought them drinks and they brought him drinks. They let him be."

Fat Andy went on the lam in 1983 to escape a slew of arrests made by the FBI. The arrests resulted from 11 indictments that followed a probe into some of the loan sharking, extortion, and gambling that had been going on in Palm Beach County. Indicted with Fat Andy were John DeNoia, Robert DeSimone, Ronald Pearlman, Paul Principe, Salvatore Reale, Tommy Agro, Gerald Allicino, Frank Russo, and Frank Abbandando. (Also part of the case was William Darden, the then-retiring police chief of Riviera Beach., Fla.)

"My father went to trial - and got a hung jury with Tommy Agro. Then Tommy proffered and went home (he was critically ill and died)

"My father went on trial a second time and we fixed the jury -- we got to a guy who was a friend of one of the jurors. Then the third trial (which led to Fat Andy getting convicted). He got 40 years, but it was on the old guidelines, so he got out after 13."

After he was convicted and sentenced in that case, he developed cancer while behind bars. He had to have his larynx removed, then was sent to the prison in Springfield, Missouri, where they had the facilities to help him relearn how to speak.

Luchese capo Paul Vario was also in Springfield.

"My father was very close to the Varios. Babe's kids (Babe was one of Paul Vario 's four brothers) used to come over my house all the time."

"We would fly out there to visit my father and Paul."

"Henry Hill used to shit his pants with my father," Anthony said.

Wiseguys for decades lavishly praised Fat Andy for his legendary proclivity for sniffing out rats.

In November 2006, Gang Land News reported that Ruggiano's invectives against so-called mob "rats" were still evoking rave reviews from his old buddies in Queens, noting that during a tape-recorded tirade by some of Fat Andy's cohorts that was played during the then-recent mistrial of Genovese capo Ciro Perrone, an old Ruggiano buddy, Gambino soldier John Ambrosio, spoke glowingly about Fat Andy, and concluded his anecdote with the late mobster's oft-repeated wisdom about mob turncoats:

"You're born that way, my friend," said Ambrosio. "'You're born a rat, you're not made a rat,' Fat Andy always used to say. 'You're born a rat, you're not made a rat.'"

Henry Hill, left, makes an appearance in this story, Jimmy Burke, on right, doesn't.

"My father really never liked Henry Hill. When we used to go to Missouri to see my father-- him and Paulie Vario, my father used to tell Paulie, Didn't I tell you about Henry?"

"Will you cut it out," Vario would reply, laugh, and quip: "Every fcking time with this guy!!"

As depicted in the film Goodfellas (and Nick Pileggi's book on which the film was based), Henry Hill was 11 years old when he wandered into a cabstand in the Brownsville-East New York area of Brooklyn looking for a part-time, after-school job. (This was in 1955, two few years after Albert Anastasia pricked Fat Andy's finger.)

The Euclid Avenue Taxicab and Limousine Service was the unofficial headquarters for Paul Vario, who at the time ran most of the rackets in the area for the Luchese family. Vario had ruled over Brownsville-East New York like an "urban rajah." The Luchese boss had controlled much of the illegal gambling, loan-sharking, labor rackets and extortion in the area. He also maintained order, keeping things nice and quiet, which required Vario (who used his brothers as emissaries) to occasionally soothe grievances, defuse vendettas, and settle beefs. Vario also had secretly controlled several legitimate businesses including the cabstand.

What happened to Tommy DeSimone?
"I heard from my father that the reason he got killed was Foxy."

An early protege of John Gotti, Ronald Jerothe, aka Foxy, was killed by Tommy DeSimone on December 18, 1974. 

"Foxy kept hitting on Cookie (Angelica Spione, Tommy DeSimone's then wife)."

"Paulie Vario told my father that John Gotti wanted to do it, but Paul Vario told Gotti, 'John, we clean our own dirty laundry.'"

According to Anthony's information, DeSimone was not killed at all over Billy Batts, as was famously depicted in Goodfellas. 

"Paul Vario's crew killed Tommy, who thought he was going to get made. I heard that Tommy's mother even bought him the suit to wear for the ceremony."

Anthony Junior knew Tommy DeSimone quite well, he told us.

"I used to get high with Tommy - he used to come and get me when I was a kid. My father used to tell him, 'Don't get my son into any trouble!' Tommy was tall and handsome. He once had an affair with a movie star."

We pressed Anthony on her name, but except possibly for the first name, he couldn't remember with certainty.

"Connie Stevens or Connie Francis? I can't remember who."

Tommy DeSimone's old squeeze...

John Alite  tells us it was Connie Stevens; 
he used to see her daughter, Joelie, frequently-- and Joelie told John  A. that her mom once dated one of the guys portrayed in Goodfellas...

Read The Rest Of This Series:

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

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