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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mob Book Has Strong Queens Ties

Author Anthony DeStefano and his new book, “Mob Killer: The Bloody Rampage of Charlie Carneglia.”
For anyone who grew up in South Queens in the latter half of the 20th Century, the mob is something we all seem to have a connection to; either through friends, neighbors, or perhaps even families. Everyone has a story about the mob in Queens.
For Newsday reporter Anthony DeStefano, the mob was an interest that just fell into his lap. While working at a news service in the 1970s, he got assigned an investigative story about the mafia in Manhattan’s Garment District, and that’s where it began. Since then, he’s been a crime reporter and become almost a mafia historian. He wrote a book called “King Of The Godfathers” about “Big Joey” Massino, former head of the Bonanno crime family. Now he’s out with a new book; “Mob Killer: The Bloody Rampage of Charlie Carneglia, Mafia Hit Man.”
Carneglia, who lived in Ozone Park and Howard Beach, is well known for his connection with Gambino family crime boss John Gotti for his brutal killings. He was convicted of four murders and sentenced to life in prison in 2009, but was acquitted of the murder of one: Albert Gelb, a court officer gunned down in Richmond Hill in 1976.
DeStefano covered the Carneglia trial for Newsday, and when it ended, was asked to write a book about it. The book required extensive, labor-intensive research, including combing through 5,000 pages of trial testimony and interviewing witnesses who often didn’t want to be quoted.
“Luckily I attended the trial so I knew the outline of what was going on,” DeStefano said. “Interviewing people, that was the really challenging part.”
For Queens natives, “Mob Killer” unearths interesting and sometimes shocking pieces of local history, some of which went on in our own neighborhoods, and fairly recently. The book takes the reader to places around the borough that Queens natives – especially those from the Italian-American neighborhoods along the Brooklyn border – are familiar with: Forest Park, St. John’s Cemetery, Aqueduct Racetrack and places locals may know like Philly’s Bait and Tackle Shop on Cross Bay Boulevard and St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church, both in Howard Beach.
The Lindenwood Diner on Linden Boulevard, where Carneglia threw the dismembered finger of one of his victims into his boss’ soup, and the famed Gotti hangout Bergin Fish & Hunt Club on 101st Avenue in Ozone Park also factor in.
DeStefano said the mafia was never really an interest to him until he became a crime reporter. His job and the mob collided as he ended up covering mafia trials and he gathered tons of information from it.
“You become almost a historian,” he said. “You keep records and files and you remember the names.”
Some of the characters in “Mob Killer” were names he recognized from his research he conducted as early as the 1970s.
DeStefano held a book discussion and signing in Queens on June 11 at the Borders at the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale. The interest in Queens was palpable, with crowds coming in and out all day, interested in a much-talked about local topic.
“People were very curious to hear what I had to say because they knew some of these people, or they knew about them,” he said.
DeStefano said the mob is a topic that interests many, even decades after the mob reached its pinnacle in New York.
“People are fascinated by the mob experience. It’s almost like folklore in a way,” DeStefano said. “How long that will go on for? I don’t know. It could be like Westerns, it could just keep going.” 



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