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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Former gangster details life growing up in the mafia in new book

Frank DiMatteo witnessed his first mob murder at the age of 5.

It took place on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Union Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn, 20 feet from where he was standing. In 1961, brownstone Brooklyn was a different place than today.

Carroll Gardens hood Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo kept an actual lion to scare those who owed him debts. The Profaci crime family was famous for loan-sharking. And DiMatteo’s father, Ricky, provided gun-toting enforcement for the ultraviolent Gallo crime family.

DiMatteo learned that killing “is just business.” He tells his story in the memoir “The President Street Boys: Growing Up Mafia,” out Tuesday from Kensington Publishing.

He was raised on Sackett Street in Carroll Gardens, where celebs crossed the East River to rub elbows with thugs. “Lauren [Bacall] would come down to a neighborhood wiseguy place, Ju Ju,” DiMatteo recalls. “She was close to Frank ‘Punchy’ Illiano” — one of Gallo’s lieutenants.

DiMatteo, now 60, worked for Gallo. As a teen, he drove getaway cars for armed robbers — with his father’s blessing.

“We did a diamond heist,” he tells The Post. “Two Hasidic Jews in the shop refused to give up the diamonds. Then one got hit across the mouth and they went along. The score was $100,000 and I got $5,000.”

He got arrested 11 times, for crimes that included assault, gun possession and hijacking, but beat all charges. After breaking from the Gallos — for selling drugs, against their rules — he joined the DeCavalcante family.

“I was supposed to be made by them” in 1999, he recalls. “Then everyone in the family was suddenly in jail for . . . murder and extortion. There was nobody to work with. It was like a snake with no head.”

‘I’d rather live among yuppies than wiseguys. With the wiseguys there is too much drama.’ - Frank DiMatteo

It effectively ended his lifelong crime spree, but DiMatteo landed on his feet. He already owned an Italian eatery that doubled as a stash-house for hot jewelry, and he began helping distribute the pornographic newspaper Screw.

“They had trouble getting onto newsstands” because of the content, he says. DiMatteo’s confederates solved that problem by telling retailers, “If you don’t put it on your newsstand today, you won’t have a newsstand tomorrow.”

These days, he lives in Gerritsen Beach with his wife, Emily, the mother of his three children. Life is quiet — though DiMatteo does mention a recent shipment of 100 illicit Cuban cigars that he is looking to move.

Expressing no remorse for his transgressions, he says, “I did not hurt anybody who didn’t deserve to get hurt.”

As for Carroll Gardens’ current stroller-pushing residents, he says, “I’d rather live among yuppies than wiseguys. With the wiseguys there is too much drama.”


Post a Comment