Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Contract is out on old Queens gang lair

Old Fellas in mob  social club Cafe Liberty can't pay the rent and are giving their cat named Obama up for adoption. 84-10 Liberty Ave. Members:  Sam Digristina (l.) and Raymond Castellano, (r.)

In the old days, the place was packed with wiseguys. In the kitchen, a Gambino capo would stir the gravy for men with names like Louie Gags and Sammy Piss Clams.
There was a gangland hit amid the tomato plants in the garden, and the FBI seized a picture of Curly from the Three Stooges during one raid.
But the glory — and gory — days of Cafe Liberty in Ozone Park, Queens, are long gone. The gangsters who once filled the social club are in the ground or behind bars.
The 13 remaining dues-paying members are legitimate workingmen and retirees who can’t afford the $800 a month for rent and utilities.
Soon, the club will close, like John Gotti’s Ravenite Social Club and many others — a sign of the times and the state of the prison-ravaged mob in New York.
“Nothing lasts forever,” said Arthur Giallorenzo, 83, who began commuting to the club from his home in Brooklyn after the death of his wife 12 years ago.
“Everybody's dying little by little.”
The club was founded in the mid-1960s by Gambino soldiers Anthony "Fat Andy" Ruggiano Sr. and Anthony "Tony Lee" Guerrieri.
They’re both dead now, but Guerrieri’s photo joins Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Jimmy Durante and Rocky Marciano on the wood-paneled walls.
Most of the members were regular guys who came by to play cards, watch TV and eat — but notorious figures like Dominic "Skinny Dom" Pizzonia, the sauce-stirring capo, reigned.
In 1988, Gambino associate Frank "Geeky" Boccia was whacked in the garden with approval from Gotti.
Pizzonia and associate Alfred "Freddy Hot" DiCongilio were acquitted of the slaying, vividly described by turncoat and club founder’s son Anthony Ruggiano Jr. at trial.
“He shot him first about five times and then he (Boccia) came running back into the front of the club,” the junior Ruggiano testified.
“He (Pizzonia) said, ‘This f------ guy don’t want to die,’ and he put more bullets in the gun and ran in the back and shot him,” Ruggiano Jr. testified.
Another hair-raising event was the 1992 armed stickup of Cafe Liberty by the ill-fated Bonnie and Clyde robbery duo Thomas and Rosemarie Uva.
The Uvas were gunned down in their car while stopped at a red light on Christmas Eve.
Pizzonia was acquitted of their murders but convicted of racketeering in 2007. He was sentenced to 15 years and now has cancer.
After the club closes, Digristina said, the members will probably decamp to a senior center in Howard Beach.
“The memories are all the guys that used to be here, that’s what I miss,” said Digristina, 72, who was known as Sammy Clean because he tidied up.
Giallorenzo is hoping for a miracle that will allow them to stay in the old-school lair.
“Don’t count us out,” he insisted, like he knows something no one else does.
Regina Massaro, an animal rescuer who supplied the club with its latest mascot, a soon-to-be-homeless cat named Obama, will be sad to see Cafe Liberty go.
“This is an era gone by,” she said. “When they walk out the door, it’s over. It’s a tragedy.”


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