What Did Johnny Gammarano Have To Do With Louis Milito's Fate? Testimony Of Gambino Underboss Sammy The Bull Gravano Part 11

"I told him that we knew. We found out exactly what he did (and) why he did it..."
--Sammy The Bull on Louie Milito

In one of the more (darkly) humorous installments in this otherwise grim series, Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano testifies about disarming and setting up Liborio (Louie) Milito to be killed by telling him the falsehood that “we were going to kill Johnny Gammarano, that was basically our plan.”

Louie Milito
Gambino mobster Louie Milito was decidedly unlucky.


Why tell Milito that? For one thing, he would believe it ---  because he knew that John Gotti hated Johnny Gammarano. As Gravano said, “John was always talking, bad-mouthing Johnny Gammarano, talking about him, and Louie believed it right away, that he was going to be killed.”

What got Louie in trouble in the first place was spectacularly bad timing. He apparently had cozied up to Tommy Bilotti and Paul Castellano at the worst possible moment -- right before John Gotti killed the both of them. (Milito himself missed the violent transition to the Gotti regime by being in prison during December 1985.)

Gravano explained of Milito, "We found out through Frankie DeCicco that he was partners with Tommy Bilotti." 

Milito "broke up with me. He went partners with Tommy Bilotti in shylock business, and what he basically did was he betrayed us. He went behind our back and went partners with Paul and Tommy." 

The new Gambino regime seemed to have incontrovertible proof as well. "When Tommy (Bilotti) had died, we went into his interests—what he had, what he didn’t have, what they were doing." They apparently were able to uncover the Milito-Bilotti partnership.

Paul Castellano chief betrayer Frank DeCicco had an especially difficult time swallowing Milito's betrayal. 

"Frankie was upset. I told Frankie that when Louie came out, I could talk to him, tell him that we know what he did. Put him on the side, and that I could live with it. Frankie responded that he betrayed us. It was something he couldn’t live with, and the minute Louie got out he was going to get killed."

But Frank would be killed before Milito got out of prison.

Murder wasn’t Gravano’s first choice for dealing with Milito, his longtime partner on the street. Sammy testifies that his initial thought was to give the guy a pass -- but also do something that sounds like the wiseguy version of house arrest. It was a less drastic solution than shelving Louie. 

He told Milito to "stay in his small little circle and mind his business and he had nothing coming. He couldn’t expand. He would just stay in a small little area and just do his business, shylock or whatever ... and he was to stay in Staten Island, mind his business, be low-key, and he would be all right. I was going to give him a pass. I gave him my word I wouldn’t hurt him."

On cross examination, Gotti lawyer Albert Krieger tried to show that Gravano, not Gotti, profited from the murder of Milito, who was after all a  longtime business and criminal associate of Gravano’s.

After Milito’s 1988 murder, Gravano quickly took over Milito’s company, Gem Steel, and drained it of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Krieger asserted.

Also, Gravano’s and his wife’s tax returns indicated Gravano took more than $1 million from the company during the 18 months after he took over Gem.


Beginning of Part 11:

GLEESON: Over the years, did you commit murders with Louie Milito?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: More than one?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: When you were released in 1972, in or about 1972, to Toddo’s crew in the Gambino Family, who was Louie Milito with?

GRAVANO: He was with the old man Johnny Rizzo. He was a made member in that crew.

GLEESON: Were you both in the same crew?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Did you continue to commit crimes with him even going back that far?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: What types of crimes did you the with Louie Milito?

GRAVANO: Murder, shylock, we ran games, auto-theft ring.

GLEESON: When you got made, was he already made?

GRAVANO: No.

GLEESON: Did there come a point after you became a made member that he did?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Did you have anything to do with that?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: What?

GRAVANO: I actually pushed it. He became made through me.

John Gammarano
John Gotti hated John Gammarano, above, Gravano said.



GLEESON: Was he a friend of yours?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Did you know his family?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Did you know his son and daughter?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Before the murder of Paul Castellano and Tom Bilotti, did you have any construction interests with Louie Milito?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Could you tell the jury what they were?

GRAVANO: We were partners in a company named Gem Atlas Steel. We handled them together.

[. . . .]

GLEESON: Did there come a point when your partnership ended? 

GRAVANO: Yes, it did.

GLEESON: Who ended it?

GRAVANO: He did.

GLEESON: Is this before or after the murder of Castellano and Bilotti?

GRAVANO: Before.

GLEESON: Did he tell you why?

GRAVANO: No.

GLEESON: Did you find out later why Louie Milito ended your shylock business with him?

GRAVANO: Yes, I did.

GLEESON: What did you find out?

GRAVANO: I found out that he spoke with Paul and in a conversation with Paul he became very concerned and broke up partnerships.

GLEESON: What did he become concerned about?

GRAVANO: Paul was angry about a discotheque that I was involved in and that he wasn’t used to dealing with Paul. The conversation obviously scared him, and he broke up the conversation, the partnership.

GLEESON: Who wasn’t used to dealing with Paul, Milito?

GRAVANO: Milito.

GLEESON: Did he tell you that that was the reason he was breaking up the partnership?

GRAVANO: No. 

GLEESON: After the murders of Paul and Tommy, did you find out anything about Louie Milito?

GRAVANO: We found out through Frankie DeCicco that he was partners with Tommy Bilotti.

GLEESON: That Louie Milito was?

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: How was that found out? 

GRAVANO: He had broke up with me. He went partners with Tommy Bilotti in shylock business, and what he basically did was he betrayed us. He went behind our back and went partners with Paul and Tommy. 

GLEESON: How was it found out that he had gone partners with Tommy Bilotti? 

GRAVANO: When Tommy had died, we went into his interests—what he had, what he didn’t have, what they were doing. 

GLEESON: Did you go into those interests for the same reason that you had gone into Di B’s interests? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: After you found out that Milito had become partners with Tommy Bilotti, did you have any discussions with Frankie DeCicco? 

GRAVANO: Yes, I did. 

GLEESON: Can you tell the jury the nature of those discussions? 

GRAVANO: Frankie was upset. I told Frankie that when Louie came out, I could talk to him, tell him that we know what he did. Put him on the side, and that I could live with it. Frankie responded that he betrayed us. It was something he couldn’t live with, and the minute Louie got out he was going to get killed. 

GLEESON: Got out of where? 

GRAVANO: He was in jail.

GLEESON: Was he in jail when Castellano and Bilotti were murdered? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: What was your response to DeCicco’s stated plan to kill Milito when he got out of jail? 

GRAVANO: I didn’t have any at that point. 

GLEESON: Did you agree with it? 

GRAVANO: Not really. 

GLEESON: Did there come a time when Louie Milito finally got out of jail? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: At that point was Frankie DeCicco still alive? 

GRAVANO: No. 

GLEESON: When he got out of jail, whose crew was Louie Milito in? 

GRAVANO: He was in my crew. 

GLEESON: Did you have a discussion with him when he got out of jail about the fact that according to you he had betrayed you? 

GRAVANO: Yes. I told him that we knew. We found out exactly what he did, why he did it, and he was to stay in Staten Island, mind his business, be low-key, and he would be all right. I was going to give him a pass. I gave him my word I wouldn’t hurt him. 

GLEESON: When you say “gave him a pass,” you mean you weren’t going to kill him? 

GRAVANO: Right. 

GLEESON: What was Louie Milito’s response to that when you had that conversation? 

GRAVANO: Fine. He understood at that point. 

GLEESON: When you told him to stay in Staten Island, could you explain to the jury what you mean by that? 

GRAVANO: Just stay in his small little circle and mind his business and he had nothing coming. He couldn’t expand. He would just stay in a small little area and just do his business, shylock or whatever.



[. . . .] 

GLEESON: Did you have any problems with Milito after that conversation? 

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Could you tell us what the nature of the problems were? 

GRAVANO: Milito didn’t believe the conversation, so what he was doing was going behind my back, going to people who were close to me to try and find out what I was thinking, what my attitude was when he left. Different things like that. 

GLEESON: Was that upsetting to you? 

GRAVANO: Checking on me was a little upsetting to me, yes. 

GLEESON: Why? 

GRAVANO: Louie was relatively dangerous. He would be somebody I would pay attention to. 

GLEESON: Had you committed multiple murders with him in the past? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: When he came out of jail, you said you were a captain, correct? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: During this period, where you found out that Louie was talking about you, did you change position in the family? 

GRAVANO: Yes. I became the acting consigliere of the family. 

GLEESON: Who replaced you as captain? 

GRAVANO: Big Louie. 

GLEESON: Who is Big Louie?

GRAVANO: Big Louie Vallario. 

GLEESON: Was he a member of your crew when you were captain? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Did Louie Milito have anything to say about the selection of Big Lou Vallario to take over your crew?

GRAVANO: At that time Big Lou came to me, he was bad-mouthing Big Lou. He felt that he should be the captain in that crew, and then he was bad-mouthing our administration, our judgment, and what we were doing. 

GLEESON: Who is doing the bad-mouthing? 

GRAVANO: Louie Milito. 

GLEESON: During this period, how regularly did you see John Gotti? 


Louis Milito
Gravano considered Milito a dangerous enemy he had to watch.



GRAVANO: Five days a week, six days a week. 

GLEESON: Did you keep him apprised of these problems with Louie Milito? 

GRAVANO: In the beginning, it wasn’t a big problem. Toward the end, it became a big problem, and I started to talk to John about it. 

GLEESON: When you talked to John about it, did you describe to him the problems that you have described to the jury? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Did there come a point when you made a decision as to what to do about Louie Milito?

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: What was your decision? 

GRAVANO: My decision was to ask John to kill him, that he couldn’t live with the earlier decision that I had given him. 

GLEESON: That Louie Milito couldn’t live with the decision? 

GRAVANO: Right. 

GLEESON: Did you have a discussion with John Gotti about that? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Can you tell us what the substance of the discussion was? 

GRAVANO: Just what I said, that he couldn’t live with it, that at that point I asked permission to kill him. I told him he was talking about us, the administration, the move we made by putting Big Louie as a captain, and he was talking behind Big Louie’s back, it came back to Big Louie, it came back to me. He was talking behind my back, trying to scheme.… 

GLEESON: What was John Gotti’s response? 

GRAVANO: He thought I was right. He gave me permission to take him out. He said the only thing is, is he wanted me to use Genie [Gotti] and his crew. 

GLEESON: Genie, his [John Gotti’s] brother? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: At that time what was Genie’s position? 

GRAVANO: He was a captain. 

GLEESON: After that conversation—do you recall, by the way, where you were when you discussed that with John Gotti? 

GRAVANO: Down in New York. 

GLEESON: Do you recall specifically where you were? 

GRAVANO: We were walking in the street. 

GLEESON: Did you have a conversation after that with Gene Gotti?

GRAVANO: Yes, I did. 

GLEESON: Do you recall where?

GRAVANO: In New York. 

GLEESON: Inside or outside? 

GRAVANO: Outside on the street. 

GLEESON: Was anyone else present when you discussed it with Gene Gotti? 

GRAVANO: No. 

GLEESON: Can you tell us what that discussion was about? 

GRAVANO: We discussed what we would do. He told me that I would be responsible to get him in and the place. He would be responsible for the shooter and getting rid of the body. 

GLEESON: You say your responsibility was to get him in? 

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: What do you mean by that? 

GRAVANO: Bring him into a location so they could kill him. 

GLEESON: Sorry? 

GRAVANO: Bring him into a location so they could kill him. 

GLEESON: Did he tell you what arrangements he was going to make for the shooters and disposing of the body? 

GRAVANO: No. 

GLEESON: Did you make arrangements to get Louie Milito in? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Did you come up with a plan? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: What was the plan? 

GRAVANO: I got in touch with Big Lou in his club. He sent for Louie Milito and told him that we were going to kill Johnny Gammarano, that was basically our plan. 

GLEESON: That was the way you were going to get Louie Milito to come in? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Was there a particular reason you chose that plan? 

GRAVANO: John was always talking, bad-mouthing Johnny Gammarano, talking about him, and Louie believed it right away, that he was going to be killed. 

GLEESON: Louie Milito? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Believed who was going to be killed? 

GRAVANO: Johnny Gammarano was going to be killed. 

GLEESON: As part of your plan, did you have a place in mind to commit the murder? 

GRAVANO: We were supposed to meet at Big Lou’s club to discuss killing Johnny Gammarano, and when we were going to go to that club to meet we were going to kill him right then and there

GLEESON: Kill who? 

GRAVANO: Louie Milito. 

GLEESON: Where is Big Lou’s club? 

GRAVANO: Seventeenth Avenue and 77th, in Brooklyn. 

GLEESON: Did Big Lou reach out for Louie Milito to get him to come to the club? 

GRAVANO: Yes, he did. He made an appointment on a Tuesday night. We all met on a Tuesday night in the club. Louie Milito came down. Big Lou was behind the counter. Me, Genie, a guy named Arnold, was sitting playing cards. Johnny Carneglia was sitting on the couch. Lou came in. Said hello. He was walking back over to the counter. Johnny Carneglia went in the other room. Had a gun with a silencer on it. Came out. Shot him one time behind the head. When he fell down, he put the gun under his chin, pulled the trigger again. Arnold went, got a car, pulled up in front of the club. We put the body in the trunk. Johnny Carneglia and Arnold pulled away with the body. Eddie and Huck were at two different intersections watching the street, the avenue, me and Genie went on the street with Big Lou and we waited for them to come back.

GLEESON: Okay. Back up a little bit. You say when Louie Milito came to the club, Big Lou was behind the counter?

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Is the club on street level?


Frank DeCicco
Frank DeCicco mugshot.


GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: That’s the level that you were at when this happened? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Before Milito came to the club, were the people who had—people from Genie’s crew who were going to be the shooters, were they already there? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: When did you find out who Genie had selected?

GRAVANO: Then. When we met in Big Lou’s club.

GLEESON: And did Genie come with them?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Who were they?

GRAVANO: Arnold Squitieri, Genie, Johnny Carneglia, myself, and Big Lou.

GLEESON: And you mentioned two other people, Huck and Eddie. Were they already there?

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: And where were they when the murder took place?

GRAVANO: They were on two separate blocks, a block, a block and a half away from the club on both sides. 

GLEESON: Eddie is your brother-in-law?

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Huck is Thomas Carbonaro you testified about this morning?

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: What was their job on either block?

GRAVANO: Just to watch the traffic and see, make sure that there was no police cars or know anything like that. 

GLEESON: Who brought the gun?


GRAVANO: They did. 

GLEESON: You mentioned that Squitieri—Arnold Squitieri—and John Carneglia drove away with the body? 

GRAVANO: Yes. 

GLEESON: Were you still at Big Lou’s club at that point?

GRAVANO: Yes, I was.

GLEESON: Inside or outside?

GRAVANO: I was inside for a while and then I went outside.

GLEESON: Who was with you?

GRAVANO: Genie was with me. And Big Lou was with me.

GLEESON: Did there come a point when Squitieri and Carneglia returned?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: What happened at that point?

GRAVANO: Everybody left. Me, Big Lou, Eddie, and Huck went to Tali’s on Eighteenth Avenue and all the other people left.

GLEESON: You mentioned earlier that you did it on—you made an appointment for a Tuesday night?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: Was that done at random or was that done for a particular reason?

GRAVANO: We did it on purpose because we knew that there was surveillance by Tali’s watching us every Tuesday night, so when we walked in about eight, eight-thirty, we looked normal and we would have the government as our witness.

GLEESON: Is that what you did?

GRAVANO: Yes.

GLEESON: When Squitieri and Carneglia came back, I take it they no longer had the body. Correct?

GRAVANO: No. They didn’t have the body, no.

GLEESON: Did you ask them where they took it?

GRAVANO: No.

GLEESON: Did they tell you?

GRAVANO: No.

To be continued....



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