Joe Bruno on the Mob – Are Italian/Americans Treated Differently in American Prison Than Other Ethnic Criminals?


It’s been a well-kept secret for years, except in the Italian/American Mob community, that if you get sick while you’re doing time in jail, good luck to you.

The three cases below written by my friend, author Sonny Girard, are just the tip of the iceberg. John Gotti, much-maligned by the law enforcement community, was diagnosed with throat cancer in September 1998 while he was in solitary confinement serving a life sentence in the maximum-security prison in Marion, Ill. Despite the fact that his face, neck and throat were ravaged with cancer, it wasn’t until two years later that Gotti was transferred to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo. According to published reports, people close to Gotti were quoted that Gotti was only given cursory cancer treatment, much less than he would have received had he been not such a pariah with law enforcement. Some people even said the way Gotti was treated in prison, after he was diagnosed with cancer, was barbaric.

Would Gotti have lived a longer and better life if he had been given suitable treatment? Who knows, but the answer is irrelevant.

In April of 1988, Gambino family captain Nino Gaggi, incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Park Row awaiting trail, complained several times to the prison guards that he had severe chest pains. Did Gaggi get immediate medical attention?

Not even close.

Gaggi was handcuffed to a chair until the prison guard felt good and ready to let a physician’s assistant look at Gaggi. Too late, Gaggi had a massive heart attack while handcuffed to the chair, and he died soon after in a prison hospital.

Some people might say, so what? These were all hardened criminals, possibly even murderers, and they got what they finally deserved. But even the worst of criminals deserves the best medical attention a prison can possibly provide.

Want to bet if either Gotti, or Gaggi had been a Muslim terrorist, the prison guards would have been falling all over each other to make sure proper medical attention was administered quickly? Don’t want to get the terrorists angry, or maybe another bomb might get detonated in a crowded area.

Like I said up top, this is a well-kept secret. And you won’t read about the atrocities perpetrated in prison against Mafia figures in any traditional publication.

That’s why you’re reading it here. And on Sonny Girard’s website.

The article below was written by author Sonny Gerard. The link for his website “Sonny’s Mob Social Club” is below.

Reputed mob boss Andy Russo was shot in the back eight times. Mob war? No, he was shot by Metropolitan Detention Center guards while on the phone during last week’s New York earthquake. Since he was the only one who got hit with those eight non-lethal bullets, it begs the question, “Was it a hit by the prison guard mob against a well known street guy?” Seems absurd, but eight? Andrew is in for a very serious crime too. When a friend of his got stabbed by a guy linked to the Gambino’s, he met with the Gambino rep to work out a deal so that their friend paid for the damages. The charge by Eric Holder (yes, the same AG who dropped voter intimidation charges on the New Black Panthers AFTER they’d been judged guilty), is that Russo “extorted” the Gambinos. Sound stupid? Yes, it is.
With any luck, the 77 year old Andrew will receive a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for not bringing a lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons. That is not uncommon. “Little Dom” Cataldo earned one by having boiling water accidentally spill on him while working in a prison kitchen. He filed suit, but got an offer he couldn’t refuse: “Drop the suit and go home.” Dom did exactly that…that time. He wound up back on another case and died there of natural causes. The Russo incident also brings up the issues of other mobsters harmed or killed in prison by staff.

Nino Gaggi was a well known Gambino captain. He became famous or infamous, depending on whether or not you lived that life, off the media exposure of his underling, “Fat Roy” DeMeo, in the book “Murder Machine.” DeMeo, who was himself murdered, was supposedly a bloodthirsty fiend who killed on orders given him by Gaggi, who, in turn, got them from Paul Castellano. In the interest of full disclosure, Fat Roy was a long time friend of mine, and was no bloodthirsty fiend. Fat Roy woke up in the morning focused only on getting a pat on the head from those higher up in his crew. Back to Gaggi. Nino was in Metropolitan Correctional Center, on Park Row, Manhattan, awaiting trial on multiple murders with Paul Castellano et al, when he was struck by chest pains that signaled more than just indigestion. He complained to the guard on duty several times, and insisted that he see some medical practitioner (most times there are no doctors on premises, but physician’s assistants). The sicker Nino felt, the more insistent he became that he get medical attention, the more irritated the hack became. Finally, the guard had a solution. He handcuffed Nino to a chair so he wouldn’t bother him until such time as he was good and ready to take care of the situation. Nino Gaggi had a massive heart attack in that chair, and died in the prison hospital.
However, there is a truly dark side that is always an underlying thought to inmates of prisons, but never spoken about in public. That is the rumor that in case of a nuclear attack on the U.S., prisoners in penitentiaries would be immediately killed; probably gassed. True? I have no idea. But it is a plausible rumor and has never been addressed in any open forum. Does anyone care if convicted thieves and murderers incarcerated in New York State’s Dannemora or Attica will be eliminated to avoid them roaming the streets? Or terrorists in the Feds’ Super-Max prison in Colorado that also housed John Gotti and is the current home to Vinny “Gorgeous” Bascione? But what if anyone in those facilities is a relative? Shouldn’t we know for sure?

Case three: Allie Romano was a relative of mine through marriage. Allie was one of the longest running drug kingpins until drugs were outlawed for most families in 1957, and also a captain in the Gambino Family. He was a connection to the French Connection, and had brought narcotics in from France and Corsica since the 1920s. According to the paperwork in the thirteen year old indictment Allie was arrested on (yes, five year statute of limitations, but was renewed after the first five years then again after ten), a single load brought in by ship consisted of more than three hundred kilos of pure heroin. Okay, so Allie made a shitload of dirty money and eventually was sentenced to thirty years in prison in his later years for it. An older, sicker man when he entered the penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, Allie had already had a major operation on his lungs. One night, his chest felt like it would explode. His younger brother, Dominick, who was his innocent co-defendant (that’s another story for another day) and cellmate, screamed for help. It wasn’t long before Allie, in the throes of an attack, was wheeled into the infirmary, where a physician’s assistant (remember, no doctors), rushed to take care of him. Had he thoroughly gone over Allie’s medical history, he might have guessed that it could be a collapsed lung that merely had to be blown up. Instead, he assumed it was a heart attack and pounded on Allie’s chest. Allie Romano died on that table.


4 Responses to “Joe Bruno on the Mob – Are Italian/Americans Treated Differently in American Prison Than Other Ethnic Criminals?”

  1. You’re right on the money. But let me tell you what happened with Allie – he was playing handball, and collapsed because it was really hot that day. When the MTA’s (medical technical assistants) came and brought him to the prison “infirmary”, they should have just let him rest, and catch his breath eventually. No doctor on duty – close to 3000 guys back then – ( the doctor came twice a week) – so these assholes gave him oxygen that caused his lung to literally expand and explode. They killed him. His wife Evelyn (one of the Motta sisters Mott St. (, Catherine, and Joanie)) never got a dollar, and they gave her a bill afterwards. This has always been, and probably will always be. Allie had a daughter Linda, our age, who lived on Mott St. (Kenmare/Broome). Allie’s other brother was Tommy, who had a jewelry business in the Bowery exchange.

  2. So Pat Gigante, the son of Patty Cha-Cha and Catherine (the only sister alive) is your cousin too? You’ve got a lot of cousins. By thw way, Allie was never a captain. Joe Piney’s older brother Steve was the long time skipper of that crew. The “Old Man” ( forgot his name) was from that neighborhood, was the Underboss, but they shelved him after he got caught robbing Carlo Gambino (the boss), and they replaced him with O’Neil. Luckt they didn’t kill him, but he was an old timer, and Carlo had a good heart. Do your research Joe!

  3. where is andrew russo now. is he alive? doing time or what?

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