Fear City: Netflix Doc Highlights When Mafia Commission Ran New York

Unless you've been lost on a deserted island the past week, you probably know that Netflix dropped a trailer for Fear City, the streaming platform's three-part docu-series on the New York Mafia that will premiere in a couple of days on July 22 (SEE TRAILER BELOW).

Paul Castellano, Carmine (The Snake Persico), Phil (Rusty) Rastelli, Anthony (Tony Ducks) Corallo, Fat Tony Salerno.
Paul Castellano, Carmine (Junior) Persico, Phil (Rusty) Rastelli, Anthony (Tony Ducks) Corallo, Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno.

Fear City (a riff on New York's "Fun City" nickname—though Fun City itself was meant to be sarcastic) focuses on the Mafia Commission Case (aka, United States v. Anthony Salerno, et al, a 22-count Manhattan-based indictment that was handed down in February 1985), which was the Feds attempt to destroy the New York Mafia by taking out its "brain trust," in one fell swoop. (They were successful to an extent.)  Fear City is produced by RAW, the company behind Don’t F**K With Cats (an excellent documentary on Netlix right now: watch it immediately), and Brillstein Entertainment.

Fear City includes interviews with dozens of law enforcement officials and ex-Mafia associates (one of them is John Alite, according to sources.) The limited series will detail the Mafia’s control of New York City's unions, including the high-rise construction (concrete) industry and others, which put BILLIONS* in the pockets of key organized crime figures in the 1970s-1980s. Fear City also includes "previously unheard surveillance recordings" along with news footage,archival material, new interviews, and reenactments.

The indictment charged the defendants with conducting the affairs of ''the Commission of La Cosa Nostra'' in a racketeering pattern that included murders, loan-sharking, labor payoffs, and extensive extortion of New York City's concrete industry.

The indictment alleged racketeering acts related to a trio of general schemes: The Concrete Club, an extortion and labor bribery operation that was arranged between the Commission, several concrete construction companies, and unions (mention of President Trump's real estate mogul role in Fear City seems inevitable). Second: the Staten Island-based Luchese family-run loansharking ring that operated on Gambino family turf  without Gambino family permission. The third scheme was the triple homicide of Carmine Galante and two luncheon companions on July 12, 1979.

At the end, on January 13, 1987, all the Commission Case bosses were convicted -- and would receive 100-year prison sentences, the maximum RICO allows for.

Receiving 100-year sentences:

The three defendants convicted for being bosses (only two were actual bosses) were Genovese boss Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno (who wasn't the official boss; he was front boss biting the bullet for Vincent (Chin) Gigante, as  Colombo capo Greg Scarpa tried telling the FBI, to no avail), Luchese boss Anthony (Tony Ducks) Corallo (this conviction allowed for the eventual grizzly rise of Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso and Vic Amuso as underboss and boss, respectively), and Colombo boss Carmine (Junior) Persico (who acted as his own lawyer--and though he was ultimately convicted, Junior didn't do as bad a job representing himself as some had expected him to).

Also sent upriver for the Commission Case: Salvatore (Tom Mix) Santoro and Christopher (Christie Tick) Furnari were convicted as the Luchese crime family's underboss and counselor, respectively.

  Though, in a manner of speaking, depending on certain viewpoints, it could be said that, in the end, Christy Tick beat the Feds. In October 2014, as we noted in a COSA NOSTRA NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Christie Tick Furnari, Sr. walked out of prison "without a peep." 

Other than Perisco, the Colombo mobsters convicted were Gennaro (Gerry Lang) Langella, acting boss/underboss, and Ralph Scopo, who had been president of the District Council of Cement and Concrete Workers.

Anthony (Bruno) Indelicato, Bonanno soldier, was found to have participated in the 1979 slayings of Carmine Galante (and Leonardo Coppolla and Giuseppe Turano). A palm print discovered on the getaway car was identified as Indelicato's. Also incriminating: The infamous surveillance footage of him and others meeting Gambino underboss Neil Dellacroce in front of the Ravenite like minutes after Galante was blown away on the back patio of an Italian restaurant. (Bonanno consiglieri Stefano (Stevie Beefs) Cannone also was spotted that day at Bruno's curbside coronation to capo outside Dellacroce's Lower Manhattan headquarters.)

Indelicato received a 45-year sentence.

Bonanno boss Philip Rastelli also was initially indicted in the Commission Case but was severed to face a separate Brooklyn indictment for running a massive labor racketeering conspiracy from 1964 to 1985. Gambino boss Paul Castellano and underboss Neil Dellacroce also were charged in the Commission Case but died before the prosecution commenced -- Dellacroce of cancer, and weeks later, Castellano of lead poisoning, via shooters sent by John Gotti to Sparks Steakhouse. (Bonanno consiglieri Cannone also was originally part of the case but died before it began.)

As for Rastelli: In 1987, prosecutors said the Manhattan Commission Case indictment against Rastelli was dropped for ''reasons of judicial economy'' -- plus they were certain that Rastelli was going to be put away for 61 years. But Rusty fooled them: He and eight other Bonanno wiseguys (one of whom was Joseph Massino, who was ID'd in press reports then as Rastelli's ''apparent successor as Bonanno family boss") faced the indictment. In the end, Rastelli was sentenced (the same week the Commission Case bosses were sentenced, as fate would have it) to "only" 12 years (Massino got 10 years; others convicted in the Rastelli Brooklyn case received as little as two years in prison.) The light sentence doled out to Rastelli prompted Judge Charles P. Sifton in United States District Court in Brooklyn to say that the Government's decision to drop Rusty from the Commission Case might have been ''ill-advised.'' Rastelli died of liver cancer at Booth Hospital in 1991. Read about Rastelli in detail here.

The Commission Case, relied heavily on "bugs" that provided crucial evidence for the prosecution's case. The first bug, placed in the home of Gambino Boss Castellano, revealed many of the Commission's criminal operations, such as the "Concrete Club" in which New York's five families controlled the companies and bidding for all construction contracts involving the use of cement/concrete worth $2,000,000 and over.

The Bensonhurst, Brooklyn-based Casa Storta restaurant housed another bug, placed in the ceiling above the table where Colombo mobsters, including Langella, sat, also gave the FBI sufficient cause to have a judge order the fifth and final bug, which was placed inside the union office of Colombo crime family soldier Scopo where much of the Commission's "Concrete Club" business was discussed between Scopo and several construction company executives and union representatives. On all the bugs the Bosses and their underlings could be heard discussing their individual crime family rackets such as extortion, loansharking, gambling, labor racketeering and also hits that had taken place or been recently ordered.

Other bugs used in the Commission Case: the "Jaguar Bug" was placed in the car driven by Luchese crime family capo Avellino, who drove family boss Corallo on a daily basis. From the car, Corallo conducted and spoke about Cosa Nostra business.

A bug was placed in the East Harlem Palma Boys Social Club that served as home base--literally, as he lived next door--for Genovese "front boss" Salerno. Salerno was the overseer of many the Five Families joint construction projects.

In April of 1998 newspaper reports declared the once-mighty Mafia Commission, which for decades was charged with overseeing inter-family issues, was defunct.

"The Commission's demise," said one report, "is another sign of the Mafia's continuing decline. Most investigators say that without the planning and oversight the commission provided, the Mafia will have trouble rebuilding the interfamily rackets that from the 1940s to the 1990s siphoned huge payoffs from vital city industries like construction and garbage collecting."

But in a 2011 appeal, we learn from an authoritative court document that that couldn't possibly be true. This is because the Commission was active in 1998, when it imposed its will on the two factions comprising the Colombo family....The Colombo civil war ended in 1992 or 1993 because so many family members had been killed or arrested. But the two factions remained in place for years after the war, (To this very day, when Skinny Teddy Persico may by the top man, None of those guys forget which side they fought for.)

"The Commission would not allow the Colombo Family to induct new members until the family got itself in order. [Jackie] DeRoss, [William] Cutolo, and several others got together and decided to attempt a reconciliation, operating with Persico as their captain. In about 1998, the Commission decided to back the Persico faction; Persico became the family's acting boss, and Cutolo became the acting underboss."

Created in 1931 under Charlie “Lucky” Luciano’s auspices, the Commission provided planning and oversight for the Mafia’s “inter-family rackets.”

Colombo capo Gregory Scarpa, aka The Grim Reaper, made an enormous contribution to the Fed's effort to convict the Commission. See here.

* We don't believe the billions figure we've seen trotted out... Millions, we could quite easily believe...