Our Take On New ID Podcast That Revisits Story Of Murder Machine's Dominick Montiglio

True-crime network Investigation Discovery (ID) has launched a new podcast called "Mafia Tapes," which focuses on the life and crimes of Murder Machine’s Dominick Montiglio, the former Gambino associate who joined Team America and who died on June 27, 2021.

Dom Montiglio, Celia Aniskovich
Dom Montiglio, left, who died last year, and Celia Aniskovich. (Source: Deadline)

The Mafia Tapes, produced for ID by Gigantic Pictures, features never-before-released recordings of Montiglio and highlights his personal struggles. (The "twist" ending is that Montiglio died during the making of the podcast, days after suffering a stroke, as per Deadline.) The series launched on January 17 with episodes released weekly.

Montiglio's story was told, famously, in the true-crime book Murder Machine by Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci—though the book missed "a helluva lot," Dom once told us as part of a brief Q&A that was to prelude a larger story. (See story here.) Truthfully, we never took that literally. Of course, Murder Machine was published in 1993, and Montiglio had decades of living left and certainly could have gotten into all kinds of trouble (before finding the solace of art). Still, Murder Machine became an iconic book about an epochal period in organized crime history. It is a story that would be hard to top with a sequel. (Oddly, the Mafia Tapes podcast doesn't seem to reference Murder Machine, at least in interviews and online materials. We have not yet listened to any episodes.)

Gambino soldier Roy DeMeo helmed what's considered to have been one of the most prolific crews of mob killers ever assembled. The crew was suspected of murdering as many as 100-plus people between 1973 and 1983.

"Murder Machine became an iconic book about an epochal period in organized crime history"

After working for years as an understudy to his uncle, Gambino capo Nino Gaggi—who supervised DeMeo and his crew, which operated a massive, highly profitable stolen car ring—Montiglio became a government witness in 1983 following his arrest for extortion. Years later, Montiglio returned to Brooklyn to become an artist.

Celia Aniskovich, the host and producer of the podcast, previously worked on Netflix documentaries, including Fear City. She recently gave Fox an interview to discuss the Mafia Tapes. 

"If Dominick was known for anything, he is known for helping to bring down the Gambino mafia family," she told Fox. "And some people will say that was a courageous decision. And other people will say Dominick Montiglio was a rat. And he is nothing more than a rat. And we have people saying both things in the series, and giving both opinions."

While Dom was an interesting figure who seemed to be a good guy, how anyone could think he helped to bring down the Gambino family is quite baffling. And though we believe it is possible there was more to his story, we seriously doubt Gang Land would be capable of missing much. Bottom line, we think the ID podcaster needs to better research the story. We offer this comment after digesting the following quote she gave Fox: "If Dominick hadn't come in, if he hadn't testified, would Paul Castellano have been where he was, would he have been killed? Would we have gotten to Gotti. Is it possible that we wouldn't be talking about some of these things? If it wasn't for Dominick, I think we probably wouldn't. And I think the course of Mafia history may have looked very different."

Getting right to the heart of the matter, we fail to see how Dominick's actions relate, on any level at all, to the rise of John Gotti within the Gambino crime family. They don't. As for the impact of Dom's testimony against Castellano, it was completely mooted—Big Paul was slain before the car-theft case even went to the jury. As for Dom himself at that trial, he was effectively dismissed by Castellano's defense attorneys as a drug addict overly hyping a lowly position that kept him a distance from Castellano. (We say all this as nurturers, not haters. We are more than willing to help anyone, and this podcaster most definitely needs to better understand her topic.)

According to Deadline,"In Mafia Tapes, Aniskovich dives into a set of cassette tapes of Dominick’s life’s story: his life working with the infamous DeMeo crew, his crimes, his arrest, and his choice to testify against the mob. But are the tapes the whole story? Now, Aniskovich searches for the truth about human nature and family ties, all wrapped up in Dominick Montiglio telling of his life."

After Carlo Gambino died of natural causes in 1976, the ruling members of the Gambino family, including Gambino's loyal underboss Neil Dellacroce, met at Nino and Dominick's Brooklyn home ("the bunker") to name a new boss. As per Murder Machine, before the meeting began, in case things didn't go Big Paul's way, Gaggi taped a gun under the kitchen table and sent Dom upstairs to watch the front of the house from an upper-story window armed with a machine gun.

If there was shooting, he told Dom, take out anyone who departs through the front door.

Dom was prepared to carry out his uncle's orders, even speculating how he'd be on the run for the rest of his life.

Despite the tense build up, there was only a brief, somber discussion. Castellano was named new Gambino boss. In turn, Dellacroce remained underboss (by rights, many believed, Dellacroce should have ascended to the top spot).

Gaggi was promoted to capo of Castellano's old crew and remained close to Castellano, hoping to become underboss eventually. However, the trouble that Roy caused Castellano (after ordering DeMeo's murder, Paul was later indicted because of Roy's massive car-theft ring) precluded Gaggi from ever assuming the position. Gaggi died in prison of natural causes in1988.

As for Roy, in our Q&A, Dom told us: "Roy was a man who after a murder, would be in a rush to bleed the body out & chop it up so he could go home & eat dinner with his family, make love to his wife & then sleep like a baby! I mean that's how detached he was from killing people. It didn't bother him in the slightest & I think murder ended up becoming an adrenaline rush for him, he needed it. But when it came to family & friends he was fiercely loyal.

"After my uncle Nino ordered him to murder his protégé Chris Rosenberg, he locked himself in his office & cried for 2 days cause he loved him so much. So he truly had two sides absolute remorseless killer & then absolutely 100% caring family man who would do anything for his family. Although I know that he got his son Albert to do a few things that really messed him up, I mean the kid wasn't cut out for that life & I think he ended up in a mental asylum."

Roy’s son Albert wrote about his struggle coming to terms with the reality of having Roy DeMeo for a father in his riveting memoir For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life. (Did ID seek Al DeMeo's participation in the Montiglio project? We'd hope...)

Gemini Twins Joseph Testa and Anthony Senter.
Gemini Twins Joseph Testa, left, and Anthony Senter.

Members of the DeMeo crew included Joseph (Dracula) Guglielmo (a DeMeo cousin); the “Gemini Twins,” a nickname for Joseph Testa and Anthony Senter; Joey Testa's younger brother Patrick; Freddie DiNome (who previously was Roy DeMeo's driver); Henry Borelli; and Chris Rosenberg.

The Gemini Twins killed for Roy DeMeo, then probably killed Roy DeMeo, and then went to work for the Luchese family in the mid-1980s. In 1989 prosecutors in Federal District Court in Manhattan won “a sweeping victory” against the Gemini Twins in the second of two trials stemming from a 1984 indictment that originally included charges against then-boss Castellano. The cases included evidence of 25 murders; Senter and Testa got life sentences after being convicted for 10 of them. They were sent to different prisons to serve their terms. Today, Senter, 66, is at Allenwood USP. in Pennsylvania and Testa, 67, is at Terminal Island FCI in California. 

Another DeMeo crew heavy hitter, Borelli, 73, is at Gilmer FCI in West Virginia with a release date of October 15, 2083. (In an earlier draft of this story, we idiotically misspelled Borelli's name as Borrelli--thanks to "liberty" for the comment).

The Murder Machine crew's MO was to first lure the intended victim inside the little apartment behind the Gemini Lounge on Flatlands Avenue in Canarsie, which was the crew’s main hangout. The victim would be shot in the head — and in quick succession, they were “turbanned” (a towel was wrapped around the head) and stabbed once through the heart. Both efforts were attempts to minimize blood flow.

The crew would then chop the body up, package the pieces, and toss the pieces in city dumpsters. More often than not, those packages vanished forever in the ever-rising mounds of garbage comprising the Fountain Avenue dump (which will be a park one day?)

The authors of Murder Machine documented 75 Murder Machine murder victims, while the FBI suspects the crew committed between 100 and 125 slayings.

DeMeo was last seen wearing a leather jacket over a shotgun when on January 10, 1983, he went to Patty Testa's house for a meeting. That night, he failed to attend his daughter Dione's birthday party. Exactly 10 days later -- on January 20, DeMeo's Cadillac was found in the parking lot of the Veruna Boat Club in Brooklyn. Shot in the head, Roy DeMeo's partially frozen body was in the trunk. In an odd twist, a chandelier had been placed and left on top of his body.

Theories abound regarding who killed Roy DeMeo. Gambino boss Paul Castellano likely ordered it, according to Sammy the Bull Gravano.