Even in the Mafia, policy is personnel. And the Gambino crime organization takes its time before hiring someone for the job of CEO. The word on the street is that there’s a new boss: John “Jackie Nose” D’Amico. Jerry Capeci, editor of the Web site, ganglandnews.com, was one of the first of many news sources to break the story. A longtime family capo, D’Amico isn’t far removed from the two-decade succession of Gottis that ran the family business. Yet he denies being in charge. “I’m insignificant,” he told the New York Daily News. “I’m not important. I take the 4 train, the 5 train, the 6 train. That’s the only way I travel. I don’t have a chauffeur-driven car.”
So who is this guy anyway? John D’Amico, 69, was a trusted right-hand man of John Gotti until the Teflon Don’s conviction in 1992 on more than a dozen counts of murder and racketeering. D’Amico often could be seen accompanying Gotti on his “walk-talks” around Little Italy in Lower Manhattan. After Gotti went to federal prison (where he died of cancer in 2002), D’Amico proved to be an ally of Gotti’s son, John “Junior” Gotti, and John Sr.’s older brother, Peter, both of whom held down the boss’s job prior to their own convictions.
John D’Amico is a classic Mafia “man of respect,” a leader viewed by friends and rivals alike as able to quickly resolve territorial and personal disputes. When he talks, people listen – even if they aren’t part of the family. He learned many of his lessons from the elder John Gotti. During one of Gotti’s trials – it took four to convict him – D’Amico told reporters: “He (Gotti) was loved and feared. He’s the only person I have seen with both. You call it charisma. He has that. But love and fear was what counted. People don’t cross a man they love and fear.” Think of that as a mission statement.
D’Amico may not have amassed the criminal record of his mentor, but he’s not risk-averse either. He began in the Gambino organization as a bookmaker, but rose up its ranks once John Gotti took over. D’Amico was arrested in 1999 for racketeering, eventually pleading guilty to illegal-gambling; he received a sentence of 17 months in prison followed by three years of federal supervision (lifted last year). D’Amico’s close ties to the Gottis are also manifest in his reported choice of underboss, Dominico “Italian Dom” Cefalu. Cefalu, 59, was “made” by Gotti some 15 years ago.
Whether D’Amico’s rise to the top will result in an upsurge in union corruption remains to be seen. But given the legacy of control the Gottis managed to exert over New York-area Longshoremen, Teamsters and Operating Engineers locals, police and prosecutors should be kept busy trying to find out. (New York Post, 12/16; UP1, 12/26; other sources).