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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My dad was the Mafia's Grim Reaper

Suitors were beaten. Friends were scared away. And when a man tried to rape her, Linda Schiro learned the horrible Mafia truth . . .

It was 1983, and Linda Schiro, a 14-year-old Catholic-school sophomore from Midwood, smoked pot for the first time with her best friend, a boy from the Brooklyn neighborhood.

When her dad somehow found out, he, like any father, was upset.

But he wasn’t any father. He was Greg Scarpa, a top Colombo captain and one of the most feared wiseguys in history.

Scarpa flew into a rage, tracked down the boy and delivered a savage beating, pummeling his face into mush.

The father of the battered teen was no less angry. He took his son, whose eyes were grotesquely puffed up and nose was broken, to the Scarpa house and demanded an apology.

But Scarpa was still angry. Brushing off the father, he frog-marched the beaten boy upstairs — and made his daughter look at the boy’s mangled face.

“How he survived, I don’t know — it was a massive beating,” Schiro recalls. “Greg said, ‘See, this is what happens when you give my daughter drugs!’ ”

It worked: She never touched pot again.

“Little Linda” Schiro, now 42, has spent her life dealing with the guilt and turmoil of being the daughter of a mobster. She’s working on a memoir and agreed to sit down with The Post for a sneak peek of what she calls “my twisted tale.”

Her dad was a legendary character who bragged that he stopped counting his murder victims when he reached 50. Among his nicknames were “The Grim Reaper” and “The Mad Hatter.” He called himself “The Killing Machine” and signed letters to his family “KM.”

Schiro grew up seeing it all, knowing he made millions dealing drugs, running numbers and taking bets, through loan-sharking and shakedowns.

She would hear him talk about murder plots and shootouts — and learned that he worked with the FBI, doing dirty jobs for the bureau and getting a free pass on a spate of killings during the bloody internal war that engulfed the Colombos during the 1990s.

“It was like growing up with a serial killer,” says Schiro, who believes her father’s murder victims included Scarpa’s own brother, Sal, her uncle.

“He could transform himself. He could go kill someone and five minutes later he’d be home watching ‘Wheel of Fortune’ with my brother and me.”

The most brutal story, one that haunts her to this day, came the same year she witnessed the revenge on her pot-smoking pal.

Schiro had just started her sophomore year at Bishop Ford HS in Windsor Terrace when a car-service sedan pulled up one morning to take her and her younger brother Joey to school.

“My brother was sick that day,” she says. “The driver was Spanish, the same guy who drove us almost every day. He said, ‘Why don’t you sit up front, if you’re all by yourself.’ ”

Schiro, who went by the nickname “Little Linda” — her mother being “Big Linda” Schiro — had dressed for school in a buttoned-up blouse, miniskirt and leggings. She innocently hopped in.

But when the driver, Jose Guzman, pulled over at a secluded section of Prospect Park and killed the engine, an assault began.

“He ripped the buttons on my shirt and started licking my hand. He was all sweating, breathing on my neck. It was disgusting. I told him, ‘It doesn’t have to be this way. We could meet after school.’ ”

That quick lie saved her from a rape. She called her mother from the school, sobbing.

“I was hysterical crying. My mother went to the car service with a knife and threatened the dispatcher. I locked myself in my room.”

Scarpa had other plans.

He grabbed a cane, posing as a customer in need of a ride at the car service on McDonald Avenue, then demanded that the dispatcher reveal who drove his daughter — or else.

He and his crew sped to Guzman’s house in Sunset Park, where Scarpa turned on the charm, convincing the driver to come out and walk with him to the park.

That’s where the crew pounced, breaking Guzman’s nose, wrist and ribs. Scarpa hammered at him so furiously, he shattered his cane.

“I should have killed the motherf--ker,” Scarpa said, according to a witness.

Which his team later did — by calling the service for a car for two straight weeks until Guzman finally turned up behind the wheel.

He was shot dead, pleading for his life, by Scarpa’s oldest son, Greg Jr., in broad daylight in the middle of 62nd Street in Bensonhurst. Nobody saw nothin’. No one was ever charged.

When her dad got the call that the job was done, he calmly told her all would be OK.

“He said I didn’t have to worry about that guy anymore — he was gone,” Schiro recalls. “I looked at him and said, ‘What do you mean?’ ”

She soon found out.

The posse that carried out the hit gathered in the living room at the Scarpa family home on Avenue J, and she overheard them discussing how it went down.

How the driver sensed what was about to happen, sprinted from his car and was blasted in the head.

“And I knew it was true,” she says. “It was in the papers the next day.”

And though she believes Guzman would have come after her again, she can’t shake the knowledge that it was her complaint that sealed his fate.

“It was because of me,” she says. “I went through a lot of guilt. I didn’t want him to be killed. But what was I supposed to do, not say anything?”

Others in Linda’s life felt Scarpa’s wrath for lesser transgressions, including one unlucky suitor who made the mistake of stealing a kiss on the street. Scarpa’s gang spotted this act of puppy love and gave chase.

“They went into a club and they beat him bad, and for what? I was kissing him.”

She’d had enough — and wanted out of the house.

Scarpa, after all, was only her stepfather, she believed.

Her mother was still married to Charlie Schiro, though the two had long ago separated. He had a new life in New Jersey, and Big Linda became a sort of common-law wife to Scarpa and confidante in all things Colombo.

“So I called up Charlie and told him, ‘I want to come live with you,’ ” Little Linda says. “Greg, when I told him, he broke down. He cried. I told him I hated him, and I wanted to live with my father.

“He said, ‘No, you can’t. I’m your father.’ I said, ‘How could you lie to me all these years?’ ”

The reason: Both Greg and Big Linda were still married and had to abide by strict Mafia codes. Divorce was not an option. Having children out of wedlock was out of the question, even though that’s what was going on.

After that, Little Linda, then 16, came straight to Greg with any concern or complaint.

“Before, whenever I would get into trouble, I went to my mother and she’d tell him. So I cut her out. That’s how my relationship with my father became the way it did.”

Her big secret? Nobody liked her, she told him. Even though she was an attractive 16-year-old.

“I said, ‘What’s wrong with me? Am I ugly?’ I told him no one wanted to date me. He laughed. He said, ‘Do you know who I am?’ ”

She didn’t. But within months, she learned — and came to see her father in a new light.

“My father was a different type of gangster. He let us know what was going on — street business, if they need to hit someone. It made me fear telling him things. But I was so much of a daddy’s girl. And he was extremely loving and caring towards us. He was my best friend.”

During the height of the Colombo war, when Scarpa and his crew spent day and night searching for enemy soldiers to kill, the Grim Reaper burst into the house beaming with pride.

They’d just rubbed out a major figure from a breakaway faction headed by Vic Orena, a consigliere named Nicholas “Nicky Black” Grancio.

“When he killed Nicky Black, he was so excited. That was his trophy. He said, ‘I blew his nose off his face!’ ”

But dad was harboring a secret — he also worked for the feds.

“He used to tell us he was James Bond. So I asked, ‘What do you mean, you’re an agent?’ He loved those movies. He’d say, ‘I’m Bond, Greg Bond.’ ”

A frequent guest of their home was FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio. Once, when he called, she answered. “I said, ‘Lin’s on the phone!’ And Greg said, ‘Next time, just come get me. Don’t yell his name.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘You ask a lot of questions.’ ”

Eventually he came clean:

“He said, ‘He’s my boss.’ I said, ‘I thought you were the boss.’ He said Lin was the big boss and that I should never mention his name outside of the house.”

Years later, DeVecchio would be tried for murder — for allegedly helping Scarpa carry out assassinations. Big Linda took the stand against him, but her testimony was rocked by a recorded interview years earlier in which she claimed the agent was not involved. Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes abandoned the case.

Little Linda eventually got married, at age 21, to a banker from Long Island. Scarpa intially supported the marriage, but came to believe the husband was a threat.

“He said, ‘I want to kill him, but I need your permission. I don’t want you to live with the guilt.’

“I said, ‘You can’t do that!’ But ultimately, he was right. My husband tormented me.”

Scarpa caught AIDS during a blood transfusion, then had his eye shot out during a gangland firefight in 1992. Gaunt from illness, he went to jail after pleading guilty to three murders. In 1994, he died in federal prison in Minnesota.

Schiro calls herself a survivor, having endured abusive relationships and now caring both for her mother, an 11-year-old son and twin 9-year-old girls. Scarpa’s millions vanished.

They live in a modest apartment on Staten Island.

“I went from being completely protected to being a victim of domestic violence,” says Schiro, who recently lost her job as a liquor- and beer-sales rep.

Her supporters include her agent, Jane Dystel, who is shopping her book, and former detective Tommy Dades, who worked on the DeVecchio case and arrested 11 people involved in Joey’s murder.

“The book has been very hard for me,” she says. “I don’t want to hurt people and I don’t want to glorify this life. This life destroyed my family.”



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