Murdering Louie DiBono: Testimony Of Gambino Underboss Salvatore (Sammy The Bull) Gravano Part 12

One evening in December 1989, Gambino boss John Gotti and underboss Frank Locascio discussed murdering a troublesome Gambino underling who had failed to show up at a family meeting. Gotti, none too pleased, called out the name of the underling, “Louie DiBono" and added: "You know why he’s dying? He’s gonna die because he refused to come in when I called. He didn’t do nothing else wrong.”

Richard Martino, Frank Locascio, Andrew Campos
Recent pic of Frank Locascio, middle.

Locascio replied by offering the then Gambino boss a prediction. 

The very next day, DiBono would hand Gotti a fat stack of greenbacks to compensate for things, Locascio said.

"But I wouldn’t take nothin',” Gotti replied, then used colorful language to highlight that DiBono was not long for this world.

The taped conversation about DiBono, plus Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano's testimony (presented via this ongoing series) were enough to convict Locascio of conspiring to murder DiBono, who met a violent end in a parking garage about 10 months after Gotti and Locascio had that discussion in the apartment above the Ravenite, the Gambino family headquarters in Little Italy during the Gotti years.

Locascio, for more than three decades, has been serving a life sentence for the 1990 DiBono murder. (Gotti also was convicted following the same trial and was serving a life sentence when he died in 2002.)

Locascio has been trying to get out from under this sentence ever since 2010, when he supposedly had a sudden revelation. 

“(Locascio) remembered an important detail about a 1989 tape-recorded talk he had with John Gotti,” as Jerry Capeci reported on the Huffington Post “The good thing about this sudden recollection is that he says it totally exonerates him and should set him free.”

Locascio basically has been claiming that he tried to talk Gotti out of killing DiBono, alleging that he had tried his damndest to broker a deal that would have involved DiBono paying Gotti $50,000 to smooth over any lingering animosity about his absences from the Ravenite.

Locascio contended the same audiotapes used to convict him, if enhanced with modern digital techniques, would prove he was right. 

Gravano had even sought to provide his ex-cohort with an assist. 

The former underboss—the Bull got the underboss title after John Gotti, pissed off at Frankie Loc for airing the view that the Dapper Don should pocket DiBono's payment instead of killing him, promoted Gravano over Locascio, who then was knocked down to acting consiglieri—signed an affidavit in November 2018 that noted Locascio had nothing to do with DiBono's murder in 1990. (The effort didn't succeed.)

In his affidavit, Gravano says he was never asked at trial whether Locascio agreed with the decision to kill DiBono. Nor was he asked if Locascio approved the hit.

“Frank had no role in the planning of, nor did he participate in any way in the murder or conspiracy to murder Louis DiBono,” Gravano noted. “… LoCascio’s role as a member of the administration did not require him to agree with the ‘boss’ in every situation. Clearly, Gotti, as the boss of the family, had the sole authority to make the decision to kill DiBono.”

(Frank Donnelly of the Staten Island Advance recently reported on the text of the affidavit, as well as Judge Glasser's reply to Gravano.)

“(One of the recorded discussions) shows that Frank tried to save DiBono’s life, and he did not agree with nor approve the decision to kill DiBono,” Gravano wrote.

Gotti told Gravano he “strongly resented” Locascio suggestion that he take the cash and spare DiBono’s life, Gravano noted.

Gotti was so pissed off that he promoted Gravano to official underboss and demoted Locascio to acting consigliere, Gravano noted.

Brooklyn federal court Judge I. Leo Glasser has questioned the validity of Gravano’s statements.

Gravano, he noted, was not present during the intercepted conversation between Gotti and LoCascio.

Yet Gravano interpreted the meaning of LoCascio’s words without having heard his tone of voice or seeing his face, said the judge. Nor had he discussed the conversation with LoCascio.

“It is, remarkably, the reading of his mind or divine enlightenment some 30 years later, that ‘shows’ him what his words meant,” Glasser noted.

“Frank LoCascio was not trying to save the life of Louie DiBono. He predicted that DiBono would try to save his own,” the judge said. “Throughout the (trial) transcript, one becomes aware that going against, disobeying, or disagreeing with Gotti is fraught with danger, and Gravano and LoCascio knew it.”

LoCascio’s “utter silence” on Gotti’s “stark pronouncement” to murder DiBono “bespeaks a wordless assent,” opined Glasser.

Louie DiBono
Louie DiBono "refused to come in when (John Gotti) called."

Then again, the Frankie Loc story is still ongoing. About a month ago, Frankie Loc got some possibly good news via the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which said that it would consider whether the longtime Gambino mobster is entitled to an evidentiary hearing to determine if he was wrongfully convicted.

“We are pleased the Second Circuit recognized that there are substantial issues in Mr. LoCascio’s case,” his lawyer William W. Fick of the Boston-based firm, Fick & Marx, said. “We look forward to proceeding with the appeal and eventually convening a hearing where Mr. Gravano can testify.”

No date has been set for the proceeding. 

A Brooklyn Federal prosecutor spokesman declined comment.

GLEESON: Did you talk to Louie Milito’s wife and daughter after he was murdered?

GRAVANO: Yes, I did.

GLEESON: Can you describe the circumstances that led to your speaking to them?

GRAVANO: I was a close friend of the family for a long time and there was about fifteen, twenty thousand dollars’ worth of construction work that had to be finished in his house that wasn’t done. I brought my companies in to finish it. I gave his wife some money. I spoke with his daughter, that I would inquire as far as her father was concerned, whatever their needs or problems were I would take care of. If anybody was to bother them, I would help, and I would look into it the best as I could.

GLEESON: Did you know a Louie DiBono?


GLEESON: When did you first meet him?

GRAVANO: Early ’80s.

GLEESON: What was it that led you to meet Louie DiBono?

GRAVANO: Construction interests. 

GLEESON: Who was he?

GRAVANO: Who was he?

GLEESON: Yes. Was he a businessman?

GRAVANO: He was a businessman.

GLEESON: Did he have a position in the Gambino Family?

GRAVANO: He was a made member of the Gambino Family.

GLEESON: Whose crew was he in?

GRAVANO: Patsy Conte.

GLEESON: In the early ’80s, did you have any business relationship with him?


GLEESON: Did you have construction interests at that point?

GRAVANO: Yes, I did.

GLEESON: I believe you testified you had a drywall company, correct?


GLEESON: Could you tell us what the nature of your business relationship was with Louie DiBono in the early ’80s?

GRAVANO: He did large drywall jobs in the city, union jobs. I would come in and lump them. I was a nonunion company. I would come in and do the actual physical work.

[. . . .]

GLEESON: Did the business relationship go well?


GLEESON: What happened?

GRAVANO: Louie DiBono was like a swindler type of guy and he tried to hold up payments and beat us, connive, whatever he—corner every angle.

GLEESON: Did you think he was robbing you?

GRAVANO: Yes, I did.

GLEESON: Did you have a confrontation with him?

GRAVANO: Yes, I did.

GLEESON: This is back in the early ’80s, correct?


GLEESON: Where did the confrontation take place?

GRAVANO: In his office, in Long Island.

GLEESON: Was anyone else present?

GRAVANO: There was a bunch of people present. His secretary, a few workers, my brother-in-law Eddie. Five, six people.

GLEESON: Can you tell us what the confrontation, what happened at the confrontation?

GRAVANO: We argued about the monies. Finally I assured him that if he robbed us, he wouldn’t enjoy the money. I would wind up killing him.

GLEESON: Did you say that in front of anybody?

GRAVANO: I said it in front of a few people.

GLEESON: You mentioned a rule yesterday, a rule that—against raising your hand against another member of the Family. Do you recall that testimony?


GLEESON: Was this threat to Louie DiBono a violation of the rule?

GRAVANO: Similar.

GLEESON: Similar?


GLEESON: Did anything happen as a result of the threat? 

GRAVANO: He went to his captain, which was Patsy Conte. They went to the administration, and they put up a book. 

GLEESON: When you say “put up a book,” what do you mean? 

GRAVANO: They put up a beef that I threatened him and they were asking to have me killed.

GLEESON: Did anything happen as a result of that request they made? 

GRAVANO: Frankie DeCicco reached out for me and told me that they were scheduling an appointment in Staten Island in a house—in a diner—and advised me that when I went to the meeting, that if they asked me if I had threatened him, that I should lie and say no. 

GLEESON: That was advice given to you by Frankie DeCicco? 


GLEESON: Was an appointment set up? 


GLEESON: How did you find out about it? 

GRAVANO: Frankie DeCicco told me about the appointment. 

GLEESON: Did he tell you where to go? 

GRAVANO: He told me to go in the diner in Staten Island, Country Diner. 

GLEESON: Did you go there? 


GLEESON: Alone or with other people? 

GRAVANO: I was told to bring my brother-in-law Eddie along with me. 

GLEESON: And when you got to the diner, what happened? 

GRAVANO: Tommy Bilotti pulled up with a—with a Lincoln, with tinted windows. Told me and Eddie to get in the car, that the meeting was at the house, some house in the basement. 

GLEESON: Did you get in the car? 

GRAVANO: Yes, I did. 

GLEESON: Did you go to a house? 


GLEESON: Where was the house? 

GRAVANO: Someplace in Staten Island. 

GLEESON: Do you know whose house it was? 


GLEESON: When you got there, was anyone else there? 

GRAVANO: When we got in, there was the entire administration. There was Paul Castellano, there was Neil, there was Joe Gallo, there was Patsy Conte, there was Louie DiBono, there was my captain, Toddo, there. There was Frankie DeCicco, Tommy Bilotti, and I believe Di B might have been there. 

GLEESON: What happened when you got there? 

GRAVANO: Paul spoke a little while and then they made Louie DiBono explain what went on, what I had said, that I made the threat. And they told about the entire situation. 

GLEESON: You mentioned that before the meeting Frankie DeCicco had advised you to deny making the threat? 


GLEESON: Did you follow his advice? 


GLEESON: What happened? 

GRAVANO: I agreed with—that I did threaten him, and I had told them that I never done that with a friend of ours, that this guy was a liar, a cheat, and he was robbing us. I explained how and why I made this threat, and I had asked for permission to kill him right—right at the table there, right in front of him.

GLEESON: What happened when you asked for permission to kill him?

GRAVANO: Paul got a little excited, Neil stopped him, jumped in, said that by me making the admission, that I couldn’t—should be killed right on the spot but gave more than reason that Louie was a liar and swindler and he should have been killed years ago.

GLEESON: Who was saying this?

GRAVANO: Neil. He just took over the conversation. 

GLEESON: Did Neil take your side in the conversation? 

GRAVANO: It seemed like it, yeah. 

GLEESON: What was the result?

GRAVANO: They made us shake hands, they made us forget about it, and they made me promise that I would never hurt him. 

GLEESON: Did you make that promise? 


GLEESON: At that point, that’s back in the early ’80s? 

GRAVANO: Back in the early ’80s. 

GLEESON: Do you recall how long before the murder of Castellano and Bilotti that took place? 

GRAVANO: Quite a while. 

GLEESON: At that point, did you stop doing business with Louie DiBono? 

GRAVANO: That was another thing. We were to stop doing business with one another. 

GLEESON: That was part of the resolution? 


GLEESON: Did you stay in the drywall business? 


GLEESON: Did you ever go into business with Louie DiBono again? 

GRAVANO: When John was the boss and Paul was gone and John was in jail, “Joe Piney” told me that it would be nice if we started something for the boss, especially with Louie, that he was a big contractor. I told him about the problem. He was a little bit aware of it. 

GLEESON: I’m sorry? You told “Joe Piney” about what? 

GRAVANO: About the problem. I didn’t think we would run into the problem again because of different circumstances, the different situation, so I had agreed that as long as “Joe Piney” spoke with him and I spoke with him, that we would put my business interests in the drywall business with his. We had a meeting with him. We talked to him. I told him the past was the past. We put our interests together. I told him he would run it from his office. He would run the books, the records, the business. I would literally get out of business. I would give him Joe Madonia, who is a top supervisor in the drywall business. I would give him my entire labor force. He could pay them direct. I would just be on paper as a figurehead. I wouldn’t run the business. He could run the business with his payroll department, his—all his own people, his lawyer, his accountant, and just so that we had a percentage of the business, where we would be able to make the boss something. 

GLEESON: Did Louie DiBono agree? 

GRAVANO: Yes, he did.

GLEESON: When you discussed this with “Joe Piney,” did you discuss what piece of the business, if any, would go to the boss? 

GRAVANO: Yes. We discussed forty-five percent for me, forty-five percent for Louie DiBono, ten percent for John. A thousand a week for me as far as salary, being I was giving up the company. A thousand a week for Louie DiBono, being he was giving up a company. And that was basically the first agreement. 

GLEESON: Did there come a point—by the way, when that was first discussed, where was John Gotti? 

GRAVANO: He was in jail. 

GLEESON: Did anybody send word to him about this?

GRAVANO: “Joe Piney” could have. I don’t know. 

GLEESON: You don’t know? 

GRAVANO: I don’t know for sure. I didn’t. 

GLEESON: You say that was the first agreement. Did it subsequently change? 

GRAVANO: He told me, being I was gonna have John Gotti’s percentage under my name, I would have fifty-five percent of the company and he would have forty percent. His lawyers advised him it should be fifty-fifty. So, the deal had changed. After a series of meetings I had with him, it was fifty percent for Louie DiBono, fifty percent for myself. My fifty percent, I would pay taxes and would be partners with John fifty-fifty on whatever I took out, and we would raise our salary from a thousand a week to fifteen hundred a week, after taxes take two hundred and fifty each, give to Johnny five hundred a week, and I would wind up with about eight hundred clear, Louie DiBono would end up with eight hundred clear, and John five hundred clear, but me and Louie DiBono were actually chipping it in.

GLEESON: Did that eventually happen, that arrangement you just described? 


GLEESON: At that point, did you continue—did you go ahead with this relationship with Louie DiBono? 


GLEESON: Did you become, on paper, part owner of any company as a result of that?

GRAVANO: I became part owner of Mario and DiBono Drywall, one hundred fifty percent and Mario and DiBono Fire-proofing, I owned fifty percent. 

GLEESON: Did any problems develop with that relationship after it was created? 


GLEESON: Over how long a period of time? 

GRAVANO: It took a little bit of a while, but I don’t know how many months, but so many months we wind up with a problem with that. 

GLEESON: What were the problems? 

GRAVANO: … Some of the jobs I gave were getting in touch with me complaining that the jobs weren’t being manned, the taxes weren’t being paid, the suppliers weren’t being paid. The unions got in touch with me, and they weren’t being paid. They were the pension and welfare, and I tried to make appointments with Louie DiBono in his office to find out what was going on, and he wouldn’t show up at the appointments or make any of the appointments, for some reason. 

GLEESON: Did you discuss these problems with John Gotti as they were happening? 

GRAVANO: As they got serious, I started discussing them with John.

GLEESON: Was there a particular reason you discussed them with him? 

GRAVANO: Two reasons. One, he was my partner and, secondly, he was my boss. 

GLEESON: Did you accuse Louie DiBono of anything?

GRAVANO: I accused him of what I accused him of in the early ’80s. He robbed us, he started swindling again, and we lost control of him. 

GLEESON: When you say you lost control of him, can you describe to the jury how you lost control of him? 

GRAVANO: He went completely nuts, this guy. He was staying away for long periods of time, he wasn’t coming in. We understood he started taking drugs. He was staying with some girl in Atlantic City or something. 

GLEESON: You say he wasn’t coming in, coming in where? 

GRAVANO: To his business, to us, to anything.

GLEESON: Did there come a point when you proposed a solution to the problem? 

GRAVANO: Yes. I wanted to break up my partnership with Louie. 

GLEESON: Did you tell that to John?


GLEESON: Did you ever suggest killing Louie?

GRAVANO: Very early, as soon as we had the problem, and I was frustrated. I suggested that I would like to kill him. 

GLEESON: What was John’s response to that? 

GRAVANO: No, to take it easy, relax, and just check out what was going on. 

GLEESON: Did you take any steps to end your relationship with Louie DiBono? 

GRAVANO: Yes. I had a lot of phone calls, I met with his wife. We ultimately met when his lawyers, had a meeting with my lawyers, and we had a written agreement that we broke up our partnerships, the taxes were paid. I was concerned with the taxes because my name was all over the companies and I could be responsible for them. I made sure the taxes were paid, the unions were paid because I gave my word that they wouldn’t get hurt. Some of the suppliers got paid, and a contractor whose job was abandoned, I told him that I would go in and finish the job. 

GLEESON: Did you have any difficulty, Mr. Gravano, in terminating your relationship, your business relationship, with Louie DiBono? 


GLEESON: What difficulties did you have? 

GRAVANO: He wasn’t showing up. 

GLEESON: Were there particular people you were in contact with in an effort to get him to show up? 

GRAVANO: Yes. We were contacting Patsy Conte and Paul Graziano. 

GLEESON: Why those two people? 

GRAVANO: Patsy Conte was his captain and Paul Graziano was the acting captain, and they were close with him. 

GLEESON: Did you, at any point, reach the conclusion that Louie DiBono was afraid to meet with you? 


GLEESON: Did you provide any assurances to anybody to get him to meet with you? 

GRAVANO: I provided assurances to them that we would meet in the lawyer’s office, or wherever he wanted, with as many of his people, I would meet him alone with my lawyer, and I provided him with whatever assurances he wanted. 

GLEESON: Did that eventually take place, that meeting? 


GLEESON: How long a period of time did it take you, between the time you decided you were going to terminate the relationship and you met in the lawyer’s office to sign the documents? 

GRAVANO: Say that again? 

GLEESON: How long did it take you to finally get him to come in and sign the documents to end your relationship? 

GRAVANO: About five, six, seven months. A long time. 

GLEESON: During that period, did you discuss these problems with John Gotti? 


GLEESON: Was a decision made as to what would happen with Louie DiBono after you terminated your relationship with him? 

GRAVANO: John just said I was to break up my partnership with him, and after it was legally broken up, the taxes and everything was paid, I was to stay away from Louie and John would handle him himself. 

[. . . .] 

GLEESON: On November 16, 1989, you signed papers that ended your business relationship with Louie DiBono, correct?