||New York| Harvey Rosenberg
Death: May 11, 1979
Harvey "Chris" Rosenberg was a notorious member of a crew run by Gambino Family soldier Roy DeMeo that is suspected of 75-200 murders in the mid 1970s to the early 1980s. He was murdered by DeMeo and crew member Anthony Senter in 1979 after he attempted to scam a group of drug dealers associated with a Colombian drug cartel and nearly brought about a conflict between the Colombians and the Gambinos.
Early Criminal Career
Harvey Rosenberg grew up in Canarsie on a block dominated by Italian-Americans. He allegedly despised his Jewish heritage and at an early age insisted that he be called "Chris" instead of Harvey. Despite the Mafia rules that only Italians could be made, or officially inducted into the organization, Rosenberg reportedly believed that his earning abilities and willingness to murder might eventually lead to his becoming a member of Cosa Nostra.
Rosenberg's criminal career began at the age of 13, when he began dealing in narcotics. His first arrest was in 1970 for car theft, which started out as a felony case but was reduced to a misdemeanor. He was given probation rather than jail time. He was arrested again in 1971 for possession of the drug hashish, then again in 1972 for the attempted stealing of a snowplow. Both cases were dismissed.
The Cuban Crisis
By the late 1970s, Rosenberg's continued involvement in the drug trade as well as his business with the DeMeo Crew had given him a prosperous lifestyle. He was living in an affluent neighborhood and when not working was training for his pilot's license. He also owned a number of businesses, including a pizzeria and his bodyshop. His heavy involvement in drug trafficking included importing marijuana from Colombia and dealing in large quantities of cocaine. He was his superior Roy DeMeo's 2nd-in-command and when conducting drug deals sometimes referred to himself as "Chris DeMeo".
In 1979 he visited Florida to set up a cocaine deal with a loanshark customer of Roy DeMeo's who had entered the drug business in an attempt to pay off his debts. This man, Charles Padnick, was acquainted with a Cuban man named William Serrano. Serrano had connections with a Colombian drug cartel and was informed by Padnick that a group of Italians were interested in purchasing a large quantity of cocaine. After he met with Chris, who again introduced himself as Chris DeMeo, Serrano then told his Colombian associates and a deal was set up, although Rosenberg was never informed of Serrano's source of the drugs. A group of four, comprised of Charles Padnick and William Serrano as well as the cousin and girlfriend of Serrano's Colombian drug connection, flew to New York to facilitate the deal. Within hours of landing, they were shot to death, dismembered and disposed of by Rosenberg and other members of the DeMeo crew. That same night Rosenberg visited a hospital with gunshot wounds on his hand and on the side of his head, suggesting that at least one person of the four was able to fight back before being killed.
When the Colombian Cartel acquaintance of Serrano's did not receive a phonecall from his cousin or girlfriend that night to ensure that the sale had been completed, he contacted Charles Padnick's son Jamie in an attempt to get more information. Jamie flew to New York shortly after and disappeared as well after being murdered and dismembered by Rosenberg and his fellow crew members.
With the only information available being the location of New York City and the name "Chris DeMeo", the Colombian had contacts there inquire and eventually the situation led to Roy DeMeo and the Gambino Family. Dominick Montiglio, the nephew of Roy's superior Anthony Gaggi, became a government witness in 1983 and claims that he was in charge of delivering messages back and forth between the Colombian's contact in New York and the Gambinos. The Colombians stated that if Chris Rosenberg were murdered, there would be no further conflict. The murder would have to be in the newspapers otherwise they would not believe it had actually occurred. After being ordered to kill Chris by his superiors, Roy stalled for a number of weeks, reportedly due to the close relationship he and Chris had. After a period of inaction on the part of the Gambinos, the Colombian sent a group of enforcers to New York and threatened violence if Rosenberg were not murdered soon.
During this situation between the Gambino Family and the Colombian cartel, Roy DeMeo committed his most public murder after mistaking a man for a Colombian assassin. The victim, Dominick Ragucci, was actually a 19-year old paying his way through college by selling vacuum cleaners door to door. After Roy saw him parked in front of his house, he mistook him for a Colombian hitman and ended up pursuing the young man in a car chase that ended with Ragucci being shot to death by Roy after his vehicle became too damaged to continue driving. After this Anthony Gaggi met with Roy and ordered him to stop stalling and kill Rosenberg before there were any other innocent victims.
Chris Rosenberg was reportedly never informed about the Colombian situation and thus had no indication that his life was in danger. On May 11, 1979, he went to the regular nightly meeting with Roy and crew. As he sat at the table with his associates, DeMeo pulled a pistol out of a brown bag sitting on the table and shot Chris in the head, wounding but not killing him. When Rosenberg got up off the floor and stumbled onto one knee, Anthony Senter stood and shot him four more times in the head.
Rosenberg's body was then placed in his car, which was driven and left parked on a street near the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City. Crew member Frederick DiNome then drove by the vehicle while Henry Borelli raked it with machine gun fire, to ensure the murder was a blatant enough assassination to guarantee that it would be mentioned in the local newspaper. This gave the Colombians proof of the killing and diffused the situation, although government witnesses claim that for years afterward DeMeo expressed genuine regret at having to kill Chris.
Members of the DeMeo Crew were suspects in the murder but there was not enough evidence to formally charge them. Years later however, the murder would be among many others charged in a 1984 indictment against the surviving crew members after cooperating witnesses for the government provided a great deal of information on the crew's activities. At the trial in 1988, testimony was given by Dominick Montiglio and Vito Arena linking the remnants of the DeMeo Crew with Rosenberg's murder. In 1989 the defendants were convicted of all charges and Joseph Testa and Anthony Senter, the only core DeMeo Crew members who had not been murdered or already imprisoned, were sentenced to life in prison.
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