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 1997 "Quiet Dom" Cirillo

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vinny nip

vinny nip

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Join date : 2009-01-31

1997 "Quiet Dom" Cirillo Empty
PostSubject: 1997 "Quiet Dom" Cirillo   1997 "Quiet Dom" Cirillo Icon_minitimeSat Feb 14, 2009 7:55 am

'Quiet Dom' Is Seen as Heir to Gigante as Crime Family Boss

Published: September 15, 1997

For decades, Dominick V. Cirillo has thrived on obscurity, shunning the trappings of wealth and influence. He lives in an attached house in the Bronx, drives himself around town in modest cars and has told neighbors that he turned to construction work after flopping as a professional boxer.

Now, law enforcement officials say, Mr. Cirillo -- known as Quiet Dom -- has vaulted to the summit of organized crime in America after studiously maintaining a low profile for four decades in the mob.

The officials say informers' reports and electronic eavesdropping show that Mr. Cirillo has emerged as the heir to Vincent Gigante as the head of the Genovese crime family, America's largest and wealthiest Mafia group.

Mafia experts say they believe that Mr. Cirillo, 67, took command of the family with some reluctance because his ascension makes him a primary target for Federal and state law enforcement agencies.

''As boss, he automatically gets more money and a piece of everybody's action in the family, but today there is one major disadvantage,'' said Frederick T. Martens, a Mafia expert who has tracked Mr. Cirillo for 30 years. ''You may be at the pinnacle of power, but the top echelons of law enforcement gear up and turn their sights on you.''

In July, Mr. Gigante, 69, who is known as Chin (a nickname derived from his Italian name, Vincenzo), was convicted of racketeering and conspiring to kill John Gotti, the boss of the rival Gambino crime family. Mr. Gigante's relatives, asserting that he has been mentally incompetent for 20 years, deny that he is a mobster. But defense lawyers failed after a six-year legal battle to block the trial of Mr. Gigante, who is awaiting sentencing in a Federal prison hospital in Butner, N.C.

Federal and state law enforcement officials say the convictions of Mr. Gigante and three other members of the Genovese hierarchy earlier this year catapulted Mr. Cirillo abruptly from his rank as a capo, or captain, to acting boss.

''He is an influential figure and he has been running the family's day-to-day operations for some time,'' Lewis D. Schiliro, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Criminal Division in New York, said of Mr. Cirillo.

F.B.I. agents and state investigators say Mr. Cirillo controls 200 to 250 made, or initiated, soldiers and capos, mainly in the New York City region, and about 1,000 associates, people who knowingly work or cooperate in the gang's rackets. Under Mr. Gigante's reign, the Genovese family supplanted the Gambino group as the nation's largest and most powerful Mafia faction, investigators say.

The Genovese family's financial bedrock is illegal gambling and loan sharking, which bring in hundreds of millions of dollars each year, according to Federal, New York and New Jersey law enforcement officials. Other illegal activities in which the family is said to be entrenched include extortion for labor peace in the construction industry and from businesses at Port Newark and Port Elizabeth in New Jersey.

In the last five years, indictments and city regulatory crackdowns have weakened the Genovese family's strangleholds over businesses and unions in the region's private garbage-removal industry, the Fulton Fish Market, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and the Feast of San Gennaro.

State and Federal investigators say Mr. Gigante appointed Mr. Cirillo as the family's acting boss last year, pending the outcome of his Federal trial, and has sanctioned Mr. Cirillo's takeover of the top spot.

''Cirillo may not like the problems and attention thrust on him, but he knows more about the family's operations than anyone else and is the last surviving member of Chin's inner circle,'' said a senior state official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Cirillo, who has an unlisted telephone number, did not respond to requests for an interview in letters mailed to his home and left with his son, Nicholas. Mr. Cirillo, his wife, Bella, and their son live in a two-story house in the largely blue-collar Country Club section of the northeast Bronx, near Pelham Bay Park and Eastchester Bay.

''How can they say things like this about my father, that he's a Mafia boss?'' Nicholas Cirillo, 37, said in a recent impromptu interview in the narrow driveway of the Cirillo home. Pointing to the red-brick building with white shingles, he said the house was sorely in need of repairs.

''We don't have money to fix a drain pipe or the roof, and the washing machine in the basement leaks,'' Mr. Cirillo said. ''If he had money and was such a big shot, would we be living like this?''

Nicholas Cirillo said that his father bought the house for $40,000 in 1974 and that the mortgage was fully paid. His father, the son insisted, is a retired construction worker and survives mainly on $510 a month from Social Security.

Investigators who have tracked Dominick Cirillo for years say he has recently become more reclusive and has not been seen in restaurants and social clubs where he usually met with suspected underworld allies.

''In the past, he was occasionally seen at the wakes, weddings and christenings of wise guys,'' an investigator said. ''Since Chin's conviction, he appears to have gone underground.''

Asked recently about his father's whereabouts, Nicholas Cirillo said he was ''at the beach,'' declining to be more specific.

Dominick Cirillo, according to court and Federal prison records, grew up on East 117th Street in East Harlem and as a teen-ager dropped out of Benjamin Franklin High School.

Fast with his fists, he fought in amateur boxing matches at neighborhood youth clubs and, like Mr. Gigante, briefly turned professional. But Mr. Gigante won 21 of 25 bouts; the young Mr. Cirillo's ring career ended in quick failure. In 1949, Mr. Cirillo, a 20-year-old welterweight, was knocked out in three bouts and had one draw before retiring from the ring.

Mr. Cirillo's only significant conviction occurred in 1953, when, at the age of 23, he pleaded guilty to state and Federal charges of running a heroin trafficking ring in East Harlem that grossed up to $20,000 a day.

He served almost four years at the Federal penitentiary in Milan, Mich., before returning to East Harlem. Between 1958 and 1965, he was arrested four times on charges of consorting with known criminals, a misdemeanor, used in the past by detectives to harass suspected gangsters. All the consorting charges were dismissed.

''After the narcotics arrest, Cirillo maintained a very low profile for decades,'' said Mr. Martens, a former director of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission and former chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the New Jersey State Police. ''He must have been very adept at political infighting because the Genovese, like most families, will not advance anyone with a drug record.''

Mr. Martens said mob leaders were reluctant to associate with convicted narcotics traffickers because they attract additional law enforcement surveillance.

Mr. Cirillo came to the attention of the F.B.I. in the mid-1980's, when the bureau began an intensive investigation of Mr. Gigante, who was then the undisputed Genovese boss.

''We got on to Cirillo because he was always around the Chin and had direct access to him,'' said John S. Pritchard 3d, the supervisor of the F.B.I.'s Genovese squad from 1983 to 1987. ''Even back then,'' said Mr. Pritchard, now the Public Safety Commissioner in White Plains, ''you could tell from the deference given him by other mobsters that he was a comer and clearly an important player.''

Mr. Pritchard described Mr. Cirillo, a husky 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds, as an elusive prey who relied on ''walk talks,'' whispering with associates while strolling on noisy streets, rather than talking on the telephone or inside social clubs, where Federal agents could secretly record their conversations.

''He would leave his home in the Bronx every day,'' Mr. Pritchard said, ''make a stop in East Harlem to visit relatives and then drive downtown and park his car on the East Side or in midtown.

''On foot, he usually had an escape hatch. He would go into a building or a restaurant that had more than one entrance and try to lose us.''

Mr. Cirillo is adept at spotting surveillance cars, Mr. Pritchard said. ''He would drive onto a highway and abruptly pull over to the side,'' Mr. Pritchard added. ''If we stopped or slowed down, he had us made and he was behind us -- on our tail.''

Mr. Martens noted that the Genovese family has long been the dominant force on the Mafia's commission, the body that resolves major disputes among mobsters.

''As the Genovese godfather,'' Mr. Martens said, ''Cirillo in effect is the most important crime boss in America -- the leader of the commission that oversees all Mafia families.''
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