Ex-Genovese Bookmaker Chicky Cecchetelli Maintains "Boundless" Optimism In Face Of Pending Federal Sentencing

After years of eking a living on the streets around Springfield, Mass. via the illicit book-making business, David (Chicky) Cecchetelli has embarked upon a LEGITIMATE career (in film), but faces a significant obstacle: On an upcoming date, he will stand before a judge to be sentenced for a charge he caught following a December 2019 arrest. 

Chicky and Damian, Mt Carmel Italian Social Club.
Chicky, right, and Damian, Mt Carmel Italian Social Club. (Source: Twitter)

That pinch was as unlikely as they come. It was part of Operation Throne Down, an FBI-DEA operation that targeted the Latin Kings street gang organization. It had nothing to do with ex-mob guys—Chick was simply wrong-place-wrong-time tertiary damage.

Cecchetelli was caught up in the massive sting by virtue of the fact that his nephew (slash roommate) Michael Cecchetelli was an East Coast leader of the street gang and consequently, was the Feds' key focus. Law enforcement hit the apartment the two shared expressly to carry out an arrest warrant for Michael, aka King Merlin. While in the apartment, some cops inadvertently found a gun and some bullets in Chicky's bedroom. As he was a convicted felon, he had committed a Federal crime by having such items in his possession. He was arrested and charged.

His sentencing, for unlawful possession of ammunition is scheduled for March 17, though that date may be tweaked, we've heard from sources. Sentencing guidelines call for him to get around 12 months. Since Chicky already served more than two months, his attorneys likely will argue for time served.

Chicky is no stranger to prison. He was a convicted felon unable to lawfully own guns, etc., because back in 2005, he was pinched on a Federal case that followed from a probe into Genovese family bookmaking operations in Springfield. Cecchetelli pled guilty to Gaming Conspiracy and Conducting an Illegal Gambling Business and received an eight-month sentence. 

These days, Chicky says he is seeking to turn the page and even has some new irons in the fire, as we learned via a recent Mass Live profile by reporter Stephanie Barry, who is one of the must-read journalists we regularly follow.

The only "oath" binding Cecchetelli is to be the best damn grandfather he can be. Otherwise, he says his current goals have nothing to do with collecting a vig. Rather, he is looking to build a career in film and is seeking acting roles.

Chicky wants to go legit.

"I’m changing my life on my own terms," Chicky recently told us. "I’m not going out as a rat like so many others. I’m a proud grandfather and have been blessed with opportunities in the entertainment industry. A very positive influence in my life has been John A. Gotti (son of the late Gambino boss). We have a great friendship, and he’s helped to guide me in the right direction.”

Cecchetelli speaks highly of John Junior, telling us he has been a guest at Gotti’s Long Island home. (See Instagram post toward bottom of this story.)

Chicky's attorney Daniel Hagan (despite what we've previously written, he is actually quite eloquent—and a good guy in our book): “Most decide to change when facing decades in prison. They find Jesus, become Judas, and give up their friends for equal or lesser crimes. Our government puts them on a pedestal, gives them a get out of jail free card, and that’s called justice in America. Chicky’s making a positive change on his own, and his future couldn’t be brighter.”

Back when he was a lawbreaker, he had his fingers in some highly illicit pies, including Springfield, Mass., gambling operations, which he ran for local Genovese family bosses like Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno, who died of natural causes—natural for a mob boss. (He was gunned downed in 2003 in the parking lot outside the Society of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Club.)

When he was still but a whippersnapper, when most kids hung on their bedroom walls pictures of movie stars or athletes or maybe Farrah Fawcett Majors, depending how far back you want to go, Chicky preferred pictures of wiseguys, especially John Gotti.

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster..." 

Like Henry Hill in Goodfellas, Cecchetelli was hypnotized by the images of mob life that flashed around him while he came of age. His locale was Springfield’s South End. Springfield chief Big Al Bruno and his cohorts "dazzled" him with their pricy clothes, fancy cars, and beautiful babes, as the Mass Live report notes. (The Genovese crime family has had a crew in the Springfield area for much of the 20th century. Major leaders, aside from Bruno, include Francesco (Skyball) Scibelli, who took over the Springfield Crew after the 1983 death of Salvatore (Big Nose Sam) Cufari.)

Salvatore (Big Nose Sam) Cufari
Salvatore (Big Nose Sam) Cufari

Chicky's mother, however—like Henry Hill's mother—hated wiseguys, especially the gangster photos adorning her son's wall. When he grew into adulthood and started getting pinched for this or that barfight, the first thing he'd notice when he arrived home from jail was that his mother had torn down all the wiseguy pictures.

There's more to Chicky than bookmaking, as Ms. Barry highlights. Chicky ran a pizza shop and even earned his salesman chops, making a killing slinging knockoff designer handbags

He might have completely avoided street life if not for an accident that happened while he was a Navy officer in his 20s.

“If it wasn’t for my getting hurt on the ship, I would have stayed in the Navy and not have come back to book for Bruno,” Cecchetelli told Mass Live.

Chicky has made headway in his new career, having won a small part playing a bookmaker in a biopic about legendary boxer Willie Pep, aka Guglielmo Papaleo, the featherweight champion who fought from 1940 to 1959 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. 

The prospect of going back to prison isn't something anyone would look forward to. Still, one gets the feeling that, whatever happens, Chicky will land on his feet.
He told Mass Live that he is maintaining a "boundless level of optimism despite the new conviction."

“I’ll be fine,” Chicky told the reporter "with a boisterous laugh that matches his style."

“You don’t know me! I’ll make the best of it. I’ll go in there and get in great shape. I’ll lose a ton of weight and come out looking like a movie star!”