The Demise Of Colombo Underboss William "Wild Bill" Cutolo By Nick Christophers

The following by Nick Christophers tells the story of the relationship between William (Wild Bill) Cutolo and his son (and a wiseguy-in-progress)--as well as the the larger (and fatally consequential) story of the relationship between the two Cutolos and the Colombo crime family.

Colombo underboss William (Wild Bill) Cutolo
William (Wild Bill) Cutolo

Wild Bill was the underboss of the Colombo crime family. He was also a labor racketeer, among other things--including a father and husband who suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. He was last seen near Shore Road and 92nd Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on May 26, 1999. He was 49. Cutolo's whereabouts remained unknown for nearly a decade, until 2008, when an informant tipped off Federal agents about where he was buried.  We've detailed the story of Wild Bill multiple times -- now, we'll let Nick tell it.....Nick's story is jampacked with vivid detail that poignantly depicts, among other things, how Bill Jr. slowly came to the realization that something truly horrible --and horribly permanent--had happened to his father. 

Feeling tinges of uneasiness one evening when his father didn't show up when and where he was supposed to, Bill Jr. drove over to his father's social club The Friendly Bocce Club on 63rd Street and 11th Avenue. He noticed his father’s Ford Expedition was parked in the lot, and the simple act of seeing the car calmed him down. Until he got closer to the vehicle and was able to spot something that didn't belong -- which, under the circumstances, probably made his blood run cold. 

His father's SUV "was dirtier than usual. Something was amiss since his father was anal about keeping his car immaculate all the time. Not only that but Jr. knew that if the mechanics were fixing the truck that day, they would not have given back Wild Bill his car dirty. All his adolescent years Jr. spent a lot of his time tending to his father’s vehicles and his homes..."

The following actually is parts one and two of this story (which was originally published at the blog The Mafia). Nick is working on part three now....

It was a beautiful day as the sun creeped behind the fading clouds. Bill Cutolo Sr just exited the Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Brooklyn after an excellent sermon from Father Roselle. William Cutolo, better known to some as Wild Bill, approached the pastor.

“That was a great sermon Father.”

“Thank you and I ask that God bless you and yours,” said the Father Roselle as he placed a hand on Bill Sr’s shoulder.

“We all do whatever we can. I do not need to be thanked. I ask only forgiveness from God for any sins that I may have committed, or I may commit by accident on this earth,” Bill Sr said with a smirk.

Bill Sr hugs the priest and moves on with Bill Jr in tow. They are all soon back in their home in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. Bill Sr also had a mansion he built in Princess Bay Staten Island where he stayed at off and on. Later that day he was at his office at the Union Local 400 Production Workers on Broadway in Manhattan. While he was there his secretary Kitty, forwarded a call to him. After the call he phoned his wife and headed back to Brooklyn. He was not happy since he hated when an appointment was changed on him. That call was meant for his enemies to catch him off guard and that is what they did.

When he returned to Brooklyn, he received a call while in the kitchen having coffee with his wife, Peggy. The call was an urgent one from, Alphonse Persico, better known as Ally, on behalf of the boss Carmine Persico, also known as the Snake, a nick-name that has fit him well dating back to the 60’s.

Persico asks Bill Sr. to meet some other members for a meeting concerning a dispute with the Gambino crime family. He was an invaluable source to the family a POWER PLAYER since his *induction in 1982 (Wild Bill was a FEARED gangster. A NO NONSENSE type of gangster). He was tough and ruled in the same fashion. He began his Mafia career as a hijacker, a leg breaker and an extremely high acumen in the Mafia Life but somehow has fallen out of favor. At the time of his demise Bill Sr was the acting underboss which was a ruse by Ally when he gave him that slot to make him believe all was kosher. Jackie who was my father’s best friend turned on him. I played along with Jackie after he was killed to make him think I was on his side. I banged him later just like he backdoored my father.

Bill Sr. agrees as it is standard protocol. Bill Sr’s mechanic dropped him off at Shore Road where he was to meet Ally. Ally does not show where he was to be picked up and driven to his appointment. He was to (SECRETLY) meet Ally and a few other Colombo guys. It is said that Cutolo was picked up by Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli and Dino Calabro and driven to the appointment. The appointment he was told was to be held at the house of mob wannabe Dino Saracino. Wild Bill did not care for the guys from the “Long Island Faction” of the Colombo Family, we will delve into that more in the coming chapters. As it turned out that appointment is all they would need to erase Wild Bill from the streets. Colombo members Gioeli, Calabro and mob wannabe Saracino would be the last faces Wild Bill would see. At the home of Saracino’s mother Wild Bill was shot twice in the back of the head as Saracino emerged from the basement closet. (His last words I was told were, “Whoa,” as he fell backwards into the closet.)

As a footnote the following day after his father’s demise Gambino member Michael “Mickey Scars” DiLeonardo was supposed to meet Bill Sr. But instead Ally and Jackie show up. Scars asked, “Where is Billy?” and Jackie DeRoss answers, “Wild Bill ain’t around and he may not be around for a while….”Which basically in “the life” that means he is dead.

Back track to the initial call, Bill Jr. who is also a member of the Colombo family is not fond of the call but knows it is not rare that a boss calls for a meeting. He goes about his day as he normally does. Yet within his typical “club day” he would normally meet up with this father for certain errands and habitual things they always do. Bill Jr was running around with Brian, a buddy of his, making some collections based on the phone card business they had going. Brian was always the driver, and, on this day, they happened to finish their runs early and he dropped Bill Jr off at Bruno’s on 86th St and 19th avenue. They arrived there around 4:30 pm. Bill Sr. left at 2:30 pm.

At this point Bill Jr. beeped his father from a pay phone across the street from Bruno’s using the code 08. Yet as the day progressed his father had not shown up yet where he normally would. While Bill Jr. was there two other members came in Frankie and Joe Joe. Bill Jr. noticed how nervous Frankie was acting, especially towards him. He paged his father a few more times but still no answer. On the last page he punched in the code 911 followed by “08”. Typically, his father would answer quickly but no reply.

Bill Jr. waited another twenty minutes and tried him again from a beauty salon he was at. He already had gotten a haircut, a manicure, and a pedicure. Jr paged him with the same code 911. On club days Jr., his father and a “select” few would meet up at the salon then head to Alba’s pastry shop and bakery to bring the bread and desserts to the club for dinner. At this point obviously Bill Jr was getting nervous and bad thoughts began to formulate in his head. Thoughts he wished he can wash away. After visiting all the typical locations, he would go to with his father and learning he had not shown up those thoughts began to become all too real.
Bill Cutolo Junior, left, Wild Bill Cutolo
Father  and son: Billy Fingers, right, and Billy Jr.

When he arrived at his father’s club “The Friendly Bocce Club” on 63rd Street and 11th avenue he entered the parking lot. In the lot was his father’s car the Ford Expedition a bit of calm arose in him. He entered the club and asked the cleaning boy Eugene if he had seen his father, but Gene simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “No Jr. His truck was here when I opened up.” Bill Jr went outside to look at the truck and noticed it was dirtier than usual. Something he knew was amiss since his father was anal about keeping his car immaculate all the time. Not only that but Jr. knew that if the mechanic were fixing the truck that day, they would not have given back Wild Bill his car dirty. All his adolescent years Jr. spent a lot of his time tending to his father’s vehicles, his homes, and gardens.

Billy then started his rounds looking for his father on 11th Ave. He checked in at Secrets, a lounge that they owned on the corner of 11th and 62nd St. He learned nothing.

He returned to the club as it was beginning to fill up but many of the guys kept their distance from him. That alone was odd. The only one that approached him was John “Jackie” DeRoss who was not only the best man at his father’s wedding but his closest friend. Jackie approached Bill Jr and asked the cryptic words that still burn in him till this day were said to him from DeRoss. ‘Didja speak ta’ ya’ old man today?” Bill Jr found that to be an odd question as he watched as Jackie went to sit in the very chair his father always sat at. At that very moment other men began approaching Jackie and whispering in his ear and shaking his hand. Mind you just a week prior Billy was posing the question to his old man. “Pop, what the fuck is going in with Jackie?”

One thing that Bill Jr’s father always told him, “never wear your heart on your sleeve and don’t show your thoughts.” Sitting in the club the very night his father was killed was the hardest thing he ever had to do. Other made men kept coming up to him offering their phones to try and reach his father. He tried four of five different times but no luck. After they had dinner which Bill Jr hardly partook, he was boiling inside. He was not afraid he was angry and after playing some Gin Rummy with a close friend of his and his father’s , Joe “Joe Smash” Gambale, Billy decided it was time to call it a night. So, he motioned to Vinny it was time to leave. Jr. and Vinny departed, and Billy knew he would have to go see his mother and try to piece this day of infamy together. This would be the most difficult thing to attempt to explain to her. The only woman to be with Billy’s father since they were both fifteen years old. He was filled with nausea.

“Vinny” was a retired correction officer. He seemed nervous when he was driving Bill Jr back to Staten Island. “Vinny” was close to his father since every Sunday they would have dinner together. Sr. was very tight with Vinny for they were neighbors and friends for over 20 years and on the plus side Vinny had his carry permit, so Sr. always felt secure with him. As they made their way over the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island, Jr asked “Vinny” to turn back and go to the club. “Vinny” did not understand why but did as he was told. When they circled back Bill Jr realized the club was already closed which seemed odd since the guys would normally play cards till 4 am.

As Billy and Vinny circled back to 11th Ave, they drove down 63rd Street. On the corner which was completely dark all he could see in the distance was the orangey glow of cigarettes and cigars. As he drew closer Jr was able to make out the faces of Jimmy Laforte on the lookout as Richie (Dick) Fusco was just listening. Richie’ sons were close with Billy and his father. There were a few more guys there at the time but Billy was pissed and did not give a fuck to even bother to look to see who the rest of the guys were. At that point Bill Jr jumped out of the car and walked towards the men. “Vinny” warned him not to get out, but Jr. could not and would not listen. As he drew closer to the corner there was Jackie DeRoss with his right-hand man Jimmy Laforte. He quickly asked the men that at that point were his sworn enemies. “What’s going on?” Jr. asked. “Wattas ya’ up to?” The men stumbled to answer.

Jackie walked over to Bill Jr and replied to him with a question. “Hey, buck, I thought you went home?” Billy could see and felt the nervousness of Deross. Jr. answered rather quickly, “I figured I’d come back around and wait a little longer to see if my father shows up. I don’t feel comfortable leaving his truck here.” Deross chomping on his cheap cigar replied, “Nah Buff let’s leave it here in case he shows up he’s gonna need his car.” Jr. knew his father used to keep 50k in his truck hidden in secret compartments. He did not want to leave the truck, but Jackie kept insisting. Finally, they agreed upon taking the truck to Sr.’s auto body shop that he owned with their cousin Frankie (Frankie Teeth) Tormenia. A low-down no-good type of flea that his father always kept a close eye on. Jr. agreed and decided he had pressed his luck enough that night.

Tomorrow was going to be even more hellish. He knew it but again there was nothing he was able to do about it until he was able to strategize and see who would be on his and his father’s side. Jr. told him he was good and returned to the car. As they gently pulled away, he rolled down the window and called out to Jackie and said, “Hey if you see or hear from him before me let my father know I’m looking for him.” Jackie returned with a confirmation that he would.

At that point Bill Jr knew he needed to go see his mother. When he got to his mother’s home he went directly to her bedroom. At first his mother thought he was his father. He shook her awake and asked her when the last time was, she spoke to him, she was not sure if it was 1 or 2 pm in the afternoon. Bill Jr explained to her that his father never showed up at the club and that he has been trying to reach him all day. Peggy was groggy and his news did not seem to penetrate. He did not want to push her any further. He figured let us just leave it until the morning and so he did.

His mother trying to find some explanation offered the idea that maybe he was caught up in a meeting. Yet Bill Jr, replied that he would have known if that were the case. Letting his mother go back to sleep he knew the following days were going to be agonizing so he said goodnight to his mother and kissed her on the cheek which was wet with a tear.

He then sped off for his home in Brooklyn to be with his wife and their two-year-old son Wild Bill’s namesake, “William.” When he got home, the only words he was able to muster up while he hugged his wife tightly as he began weeping were, “they got him….they finally got him.” Nahla responded, “Who? Bill, what are you talking about?” “Daddy” he said. He told her straight out as he slumped himself onto the couch. Nahla knows her husband better than anyone. She knew that things were going to get a lot worse. She just sat with her husband and just listened. Before long, the sun was rising. Another beautiful day but this new day would be the first of many long days and nights to come.

Bill Jr’s fear was soon realized and the way it played out was a painful reminder of how treacherous “the life” can be. Bill Sr came from mob royalty. He was born here in the states right on the very corner in which he grew up, 63rd St and 11th Ave “The Friendly Bocce Club” was Jr.’s grandfathers charter. Wild Bill used it to open their club, a Private club that Only members could enter.


His father’s 1st cousin was one of Italy’s most feared gangsters, Camorra Boss Rafaelle Cutolo. Rafaelle, was the boss of the Nuova Camorra Organizzata and in the early 80’s was in a war with the Nuova Famiglia. He created the NCO to prevent an invasion from any other group around the Naples and Campania areas.

His organization specialized in extortion and on an occasion cocaine dealing. The war that erupted between both the NCO and NF was based on government funds that were funneled into the reconstruction of Campania which suffered an earthquake. The toll in the war hit 500 lives lost. It turned out that a combined police force arrested eight hundred members with three hundred being convicted. Rafaelle’s sister Rosetta, offered her hand in keeping his power afloat while he was in prison. She was arrested in the 90’s for managing a criminal empire. Rosetta took over and ran the Camorra Organization. She went on the run for 13 years and was apprehended at the town of Ottaviano near Naples. It was on February 8, 1993 that the authorities caught up with her.

Wild Bill was uncovered near the All County Flooring Supply store on Long Island.
The Feds dig up the grass outside the All County Flooring Supply store on Long Island.

Rosetta orchestrated a war against the enemies of her brother. One such target was the deputy chief of the Poggioreale prison in Naples. She waged the war with the help of Raffaelle from prison. Until 1980 she ran the familia then vanished to what some believe South America. Even though this may have been the case she was determined to assist her brother on keeping the NCO active and to assist him in breaking out of prison. One attempt was to blow up a wall of the prison so he can escape. After she was apprehended in 93, she claimed that she was planning to turn herself in but was worried about being assassinated.

They called Rafaelle the “Professor” who began his criminal career in 1962 for killing a man who insulted his sister. While he was in prison for the murder, he founded the NCO. The purpose of the new organization was to set-up a more efficient trafficking of drugs. He controlled the cigarette and drug trafficking market in Naples. It ended up that the Cosa Nostra and the N’ drangheta made deals with Rafaelle to use the port of Naples for their drug pipeline. Yet other clans did not see it the same way and formed what was called the Nuovo Familia (New Family). The war between NCO and NF ended with Rafaelle losing control.

Rafaelle, like Luciano before him assisted the Italian government in using his power to convince an extremist group who kidnapped regional councilor, Ciro Cirillo to release him. Rafaelle was soon arrested again in 2005 and is serving multiple life sentences. To say Bill Sr and Jr do not have mafia pedigree would be an insult.


After the call Bill Sr. received, he got himself ready in his tailored Italian suit, shiny shoes and his signature watch and waited for the 3 pm meet with Ally Boy and Jackie. When that time came, he was driven to the pick-up spot by his mechanic. He was meet there by Tommy Shots and Dino Calabro.

Right off the bat, Bill Sr. asked what the sudden meeting was for and to fill him in so he can be prepared. They explained that there was some kind of beef with the Gambino family and that he can mediate. Bill Sr. responded that he has overseen meetings like this before and can manage it. Eventually after an hour of driving Bill Sr. noticed a sign that said Patchogue. He began to realize something was off. As we explained earlier, he entered the home of Dino Saracino’s relative and was shot before descending the steps. After it was said and done Jackie was tempted to ransack Bill Sr.’s home that allegedly had millions for the taking. Bill Jr. was about to take on a different and extremely dangerous road in his life with no point of return….