1992 Testimony of Gambino Underboss Salvatore (Sammy The Bull) Gravano Part 3: Murders

And we continue with the next part of our transcript series on the 1992 testimony of Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano at John Gotti's last racketeering and murder trial, the one in 1992.

Sammy the Bull Gravano
Salvatore Gravano image from Valuetainment podcast.

In December 1990, Gravano was arrested with the Gambino boss, acting consiglieri Frank (Franky Loc) Locascio, and capo Thomas Gambino.  

As the trial was about to begin in 1992, Gravano never showed up in court to take his seat alongside his former cohorts at the defense table. They formally learned he had flipped.

The centerpiece of the government’s 1992 Gotti-Locascio indictment was the assassination of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, who was slain with his driver/underboss/loyal pitbull Thomas Bilotti on Dec. 16, 1985, in front of the midtown Manhattan steakhouse Sparks.

As per his agreement, Gravano agreed to testify and plead guilty to a single count of racketeering, and debrief the Feds about every crime he ever committed. The federal government in return dropped the litany of mob murder charges against Gravano, who would end up describing a role in 19 homicides over the course of his mob career, which included a stint with the Colombo family.

In complete deadpan, Gravano delivered his testimony over nine days. His inquisitors included John Gleeson, the assistant United States attorney, who elicited direct testimony, and from the other side, Albert Krieger, representing Gotti, and Anthony Cardinale and John Mitchell, representing Locascio.

Gravano talked and walked from the Gambino family, winning a mere five-year prison sentence as per his plea agreement. 

In 1994, while in the federal witness protection program, he moved himself and his family to Arizona. 

In 1995, he exited the program and started giving television and magazine interviews.

In 1997, he wrote Underboss with Peter Maas and got his hands in the restaurant business and a swimming pool installation outfit in the Phoenix area. 

In 2000 Gravano was arrested (with his wife, daughter and son) for running an Ecstasy trafficking ring that supposedly brought in a half-million a week. Gravano pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in 2001 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. After serving most of the sentence he was released in 2017.

As for his former cohorts, John Gotti died of head and neck cancer at the federal prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri, at 61, nearly 10 years after he was convicted following Gravano's testimony.

Earlier this year, Frankie Loc was continuing to try to get out of his sentence by way of a compassionate release request. The effort stalled when Brooklyn Federal Judge I. Leo Glasser squashed it via a 12-page decision. Since then, other voices have joined Glasser's to stop Locasio's long-simmering effort, which had included assistance from Gravano himself.

See previous installments in this series:

And following is part three, which continues with Sammy the Bull still under direct questioning by John Gleeson, the then Assistant United States Attorney.

GLEESON: Was he also in that crew, Danny Wagons?

GRAVANO: I believe so.

GLEESON: Do you know whether Wagons was a nickname or real name?

GRAVANO: It was a nickname. 

GLEESON: Where was that crew? Where did that crew spend most of its time?

GRAVANO: Queens. 

GLEESON: From time to time after you met him, where would you see John Gotti? 

GRAVANO: Weddings, funerals, sometimes in the neighborhood. 

GLEESON: When you say the neighborhood, which neighborhood are you referring to? 

GRAVANO: Brooklyn, Manhattan. 

GLEESON: What was down in Manhattan?

GRAVANO: Sometimes a crap game. I was with Frankie DeCicco, and sometimes I would bump into him at a crap game. 

GLEESON: Were there particular people you saw him with regularly? 



GRAVANO: Angelo [Ruggiero], his brother Gene. 

GLEESON: Do you recall when you met “Frankie Loc”? 

GRAVANO: I don’t recall the exact day. I met him after I met John, I believe. 

GLEESON: Were you introduced to him as a friend? 


GLEESON: At the time you met him, what position did he have in the Family? 

GRAVANO: He was a made member. 

GLEESON: What crew was he in? 

GRAVANO: He was in the Bronx, someplace. I don’t know what crew. 

GLEESON: Is that where his crew hung out, in the Bronx? 


[. . . .] 

GLEESON: During that period [1976–1986] did you commit murders? 


GLEESON: Did you commit more than one? 


GLEESON: Did you commit those murders alone or with other people? 

GRAVANO: With others. 

GLEESON: Were those other people members and associates of the Gambino Family? 


GLEESON: Mr. Gravano, were there some people that you committed more than one murder with? 


GLEESON: When you were doing this stuff, being involved in murders, was there an expression that you and the people who you associated with used to describe a murder? 

GRAVANO: Yes. To do a piece a work or whack somebody out. 

GLEESON: Did you and the people in your crew, a crew you were a member of, become skilled at this kind of work, as you put it? 


GLEESON: Were you known for that? 


GLEESON: Were there other people, other made members of the Gambino Family, who were also known for that? 


GLEESON: Are any of them here in the courtroom?



GRAVANO: John, Frankie, myself. 

GLEESON: Did people rely on you to commit murders? 



GRAVANO: Paul Castellano, John. 

GLEESON: During that period between when you became a made member of the Gambino Family and when you were made a captain, shortly after the murder of Paul Castellano, you were involved in eight murders, correct? 


Paul Castellano
Paul Castellano  moves through media as he departs courthouse.

GLEESON: And did you commit those murders with other members and associates of the Gambino Family? 


GLEESON: Are those among the murders you told the government about after you decided to cooperate?


GLEESON: Now, you testified that you were involved in labor racketeering, correct? 


GLEESON: Mr. Gravano, over how long a period were you involved in that activity, beginning approximately when? 

GRAVANO: I’ve been in the construction industry, on and off, all my life. 

GLEESON: In the early ’80s, did you have your own business? 


GLEESON: What kind of business was it? 

GRAVANO: Drywall business, plumbing business. 

GLEESON: By drywall, you mean like Sheetrock? 


GLEESON: Were there other people who you were in that business with? 

GRAVANO: Yes, there was. 


GRAVANO: Joe Madonia and my brother-in-law Eddie Garafolo. 

GLEESON: Now, were you, yourself, skilled at hanging drywall? 


GLEESON: Were either of the other two people you mentioned skilled at that? 



GRAVANO: Joe Madonia.

GLEESON: How about your brother-in-law Eddie? His last name is Garafolo, correct? 

GRAVANO: I don’t think he could hang it, drywall. 

GLEESON: Was he in the construction business? 


GLEESON: During that period in the early ’80s, did you become familiar with various labor unions and union officials? 


GLEESON: Did you—what was your role with respect to the drywall company that you had with Joe Madonia and Eddie? 

GRAVANO: I would go out and solicit and get work for the company and take care of the union problems, some of the union problems. 

GLEESON: Did you make payments to union officials? 

GRAVANO: Yes, I did. 

GLEESON: Was that illegal? 


GLEESON: During that period, did you become familiar with Gambino Family control over particular unions? 


GLEESON: Did you, yourself, use that control in order to make money with the drywall company? 

GRAVANO: Yes, I did. 

GLEESON: Were there particular unions in the construction industry that were controlled by the Gambino Family? 


GLEESON: Which ones? 

GRAVANO: 282 the Teamsters, Mason Tenders Union Local 23, and a few others. 

GLEESON: Now, Teamsters 282, back in the early ’80s, was there a particular official at 282 through whom the Gambino Family exercised control?


GLEESON: Who was that? 

GRAVANO: Cody. John Cody. 

GLEESON: What was his position? 

GRAVANO: He was the president of the union. 

[. . . .] 

GLEESON: Now, Mr. Gravano, can you give us an example of how you used the control over Local 282 to make money? 

GRAVANO: We would talk with contractors and if they had to hire a Teamster foreman or two Teamster foremans, we would like let the Teamster foreman come in late, rather than start the job right away, come in a couple of months later and leave the job a couple months early, which would save the contractor money and, in turn, we would get some money and share it with the union. 

GLEESON: And for that example who would you get the money from? 

GRAVANO: The contractor. 

GLEESON: The contractor gets a break by not having to have a Teamster foreman on the job? 


GLEESON: Did you ever use the union to get work for companies? 

GRAVANO: Yes, we did. 

GLEESON: How did you go about doing that? 

GRAVANO: We would have the union ask certain companies, when jobs were coming out, to recognize us and our companies and give the work to our companies.

GLEESON: When that happened, when the companies—did the companies pay any money to the Family? 


GLEESON: Was that money shared with anyone? 


 GLEESON: With whom? 

GRAVANO: With me and the administration. 

GLEESON: Did the union officials get any of that money? 

GRAVANO: Sometimes. 

[. . . .] 

Next in testimony, Gravano will discuss the plot to kill Paul Castellano....