Joe Bruno on the Mob – Andrea Giovino – Part 4
This was a recurring theme that would endure through Andrea’s future predicaments. No matter how bad things got, and no matter if her antagonists were mobsters, or the law, Andrea knew the Silvestri family had her back.
In a few months, Andrea was back in the nightclubs, not particularly on the prowl for a man, but not nixing the idea either. To support her son, Toby Jr., Andrea had gotten a job as a waitress in a ritzy Italian restaurant in Manhattan. This led to a part-time gig as a runway clothing model, which further enhanced her income.
Then came the position she had been waiting for: a waitress at Vinnie the Frog’s illegal gambling club, where she could meet well-healed gangsters on the make.
In an episode of the Discovery Channel’s I Married a Mobster, Andrea said, “Every man in the neighborhood is a potential husband, but no one demands more respect than a mobster.”
One of her special customers, who always left her a $100 tip, was Frank Lino, then a top-ranking mobster in the Bonanno Crime Family.
Lino was one of the gangster-types Dolly Silvestri had in mind as a match for her daughter. He had grown up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, and by the time he was 17, Lino was a member of a vicious gang of young local mobsters called “The Avenue U Gang.” Lino climbed the organized crime ladder, and in 1977, at the age of 40, he was inducted into the Bonanno Crime Family. His capo was Alphonse “Sonny Red’ Indellicato, whose son, Anthony “Bruno” Indellicato, would later become a thorn in Andrea’s side.
Lino was a “short, stocky thug with a bald head that looked like a dirty tennis ball.” He was ostensibly a school bus driver for Local 181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, and working under the mob-controlled bus company: The Atlantic Express Transportation Corporation, located in Port Richmond, Staten Island. However, the only time Lino showed up at Atlantic Express, was once a week to pick up his “no-show” employment check.
Andrea was only 21, when the 45-year old Lino took a shine to her at Vinnie the Frog’s.
It started with an innocent date. Lino hired a limo and took Andrea to a Manhattan Broadway theater show. But before she agreed to the date, Andrea told Lino she was interested in a platonic relationship only, and with a wink, Lino said O.K.
After the show, Lino dropped Andrea off at her Brooklyn apartment. He departed at the front door with a simple kiss on the cheek, and a reminder from Andrea about where their relationship was headed, which, in Andrea’s mind, was basically nowhere.
All was fine and dandy, until Andrea reported to work at Vinnie the Frog’s gambling joint the following day. Before she even got a chance to say hello, Vinnie the Frog took Andrea on the side.
Vinnie the Frog told her, “Sorry Andy, but I have to let you go.”
“What do you mean? What’s going on here?” Andrea said.
Vinnie the Frog said Lino had told him he didn’t want any girlfriend of his working.
“Ask Frankie Lino,” Vinnie the Frog said. “You talk to Frankie Lino if you have a problem with this.”
Confused and more than a little pissed, Andrea contacted Lino, but Lino told her he was too busy to talk about the situation.
In a few days, Lino made an end-around attempt at securing Andrea as his arm candy. Instead of dealing with Andrea directly, Lino summoned her older brother, Frankie, who had a little drug-selling business on the side, without kicking up the proceeds to any particular Brooklyn crime family. Frankie Silvestri thought Lino was about to put the bull on him concerning his drug-dealing, but instead, all Lino talked about was Andrea.
After his meeting with Lino, Frankie sat Andrea down and told her, in no uncertain terms, that Lino wanted her as his girl, and that he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Hearing about her daughter’s good fortune, and not wanting Andrea to screw up a beneficial situation for her family, Dolly Silvestri stepped in to apply more pressure. Dolly figured, Lino wanting to keep her daughter was a wonderful thing. It would add prestige to the Silvestri family, and would also increase the family’s net worth, since it was well-known on the streets that Lino was generous with a buck.
Andrea was conflicted. On one hand, she enjoyed being an independent woman able to take care of her son. On the other hand, being Frank Lino’s girl meant better schools for her son and a much better grade of department stores to do her shopping.
“I truly felt I needed to do this (date Frank Lino), because I felt that it would help my family,” Andrea said. “I would be able to help my child. I would be able to have the finer things in life.”
Andrea, and her family, were safe under Frank Lino’s umbrella. In addition, Andrea’s standard of living took a dramatic leap. As a perk of being his girl, Lino provided Andrea with transportation and the needed cash to go on extended shopping sprees.
“I was able to go in a limo into Manhattan,” Andrea said. “Go to places like Saks Fifth Avenue.”
Lino had five children of his own, and he never pressed Andrea to provide him with more offsprings. Instead, Lino gave Andrea an education in the finer things of life; how to shop for the best clothes, and where. On their first Valentine’s Day together, Lino bought Andrea a 1978 Mercedes Benz 450 SL convertible. As further expression of his admiration, Lino bought them both matching platinum Rolex watches.
Lino even went so far as to bring Andrea into his confidence. Whenever his cronies came to a meeting in Lino’s Marine Park home, Lino insisted that Andrea stayed in the room while the mobsters discussed family business; including the sale of drugs. If anyone said they were uncomfortable with that arrangement, Lino would give them the dead-fish-eye look and say, “Don’t worry, she’s with me.”
Even if Andrea wasn’t in love with Frank Lino, her life was wonderful in very other aspect. That is, until Anthony “Bruno” Indelicato, also known as “Whack-whack” entered the scene. Indelicato’s father, Alphonse, was Frank Lino’s boss, so Frank Lino had to deal with the cocaine-addicted Bruno with kid gloves.
One night, Bruno paraded into Lino’s second-floor club on Avenue U with one of his mob associates. The two pals were banging down the drinks pretty good (and periodically absconding to the bathroom to do a little coke), when two broads entered the club; one of them sobbing like a two-year-old child. The crier hovered over Bruno; giving him the business. Bruno just ignored her, and finally a waiter came over to Bruno’s table and dragged the young lady away.
However, the female sobster was not finished.
The girl stormed Bruno’s table again, hurling invectives.
Bruno‘s face turned red and the veins bulged in his neck. He jumped from his seat, grabbed the girl by her coiffured hair, and dragged her to the front door of the club. Like a farmer disposing of a sack of wheat, Bruno’s flung the girl down the flight of stairs. She tumbled to the bottom and lay there, whimpering. Luckily, she didn’t break her neck.
Andrea rushed to the front door, and she saw the girl crumpled on the floor one flight below. Andrea had mixed emotions. On one hand, the girl had done something very stupid: she had bad mouthed a known psycho in front of people. On the other hand, Bruno had reacted like a lunatic, and Andrea had seen first hand what could happen to a girl on the fringe of the mob if she misbehaved, even one time.
For Andrea, it was a lesson well learned: if you want to stay alive and healthy around wiseguys, always be on your best behavior. One mistake, and it could be curtains.
From this point on, Andrea tried to avoid Bruno like he had bad breath. However, that was impossible, since Bruno and Lino were in the same crew, and Bruno and his skinny wife, also a big-time nose-candy Hoover, were constantly in her and Lino’s presence.
The situation came to a head one night when Andrea was in Florida, staying at Lino’s vacation home. Also along for the trip were Bruno and his wife. In the midst of their vacation, Andrea became sick with the flu. As a result, Lino hit the Florida nightspots without her.
While Andrea was sleeping, Bruno stormed into the house; desperately seeking cocaine. Bruno dashed upstairs into Andrea’s bedroom and began ransacking the dresser drawers, searching for a stash of the white powder. After coming up empty, Bruno accosted Andrea, who had just awakened from a deep sleep. Bruno demanded Andrea tell him where the coke was hidden.
“He was on top of me. I picked up the phone and bashed him in the fucking head,” Andrea said in Discovery Channel’s I Married a Mobster. “I started fighting like a wild tiger. Thank God my girlfriend Julia came back at that time. He heard her and he jumped off of me and ran out the back door of the house through the sliding door. I never, ever told Frank Lino what happened, till this day, in that room. Never.”
(This statement is in direct opposition to what Andrea said in her book Divorced From the Mob. In her book, Andrea claimed she told Lino about Bruno attacking her in bed.)
After this frightening incident, Andrea decided she had had enough of the mob. Being escorted around town in a limo and shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue was just not worth the aggravation.
Andrea struggled with how to break the news to Lino. An to further muddle things, Andrea had met another man named Michael, who was a legitimate businessman with no mob connections.
(Another contradiction from Andrea’s book versus her appearance on television. In her book Divorced From the Mob, Andrea calls this man “Michael.” But on Discovery Channel’s I Married a Mobster, she refers to the same man as “Carmine.” In either case, his last name was Giovino. For the purpose of this book – we’ll stick to “Michael”)
Andrea figured if she broke up with Lino, Michael’s financial status was on par with Lino’s, which would allow Andrea to live the same life financially; using clean money rather than polluted cash.
However, before she broke the news to Lino, Andrea sought counsel with her mom, which did not turn out too well.
Dolly demanded an explanation, and all Andrea could come up with was that she was not in love with Lino. Dolly looked at her daughter like Andrea had three eyes.
“What’s love got to do with it?” Dolly said.
Andrea told Dolly her mind was made up, and that was that.
Andrea approached Lino with the only logic she knew: the truth.
She told him. “You told me one time you had 500 guys under you. Do you want me to cheat on you and then I’m going to wind up dead? Do I deserve that?”
Frank Lino shrugged his shoulder and reluctantly cut her loose.