|New York|  Paul Vario

Birth: July 9, 1914

Death: November 22, 1988

Paul "Paulie" Vario was a capo in the Lucchese family and was based in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was portrayed by actor Paul Servino in the 1990 blockbuster movie "Goodfellas".

Big Paulie
Paul Vario was born as one of 5 children in Brooklyn, New York and had 4 brothers: Vito , Salvatore , Thomas and Leonard. All of them would also participate in criminal activities as part of the Lucchese family. Vario listed his legal career as a florist, but aside to that he was farmost involved in gambling, loansharking, extortion and burglary. His first convictions go back to 1931 and ranged from tax evasion to rape. During the 1950's Vario headed a crew of though Lucchese gangsters, said to have been the strong-arm faction of the family.

Vario and his crew maintained a lot of influence at Kennedy National Airport, extorting shippers and airliners in exchange for labor peace. They also frequently stole from the airports cargo center. During the 1950's Vario became associated with an Irish gangster named Jimmy Burke. Burke was specialized in burglary and was known for his violent temper. Other well known members of Vario's crew were Henry Hill and Tommy DeSimone. Both were also made famous in the movie "Goodfellas".

Although Vario reputedly treated Hill like a son, he did had an affair with his wife Karen. At one point Tommy DeSimone tried to rape Karen which infuriated Vario. He went to see members of the Gambino Family and revealed to them that DeSimone was responsible for the murder of 2 of their men, one being William Devino, a made guy. In 1979 DeSimone was lured to a house with the false pretense of finally being made inside the Lucchese Family, but instead was shot through the head by Tommy Agro, a Gambino member.

Convictions and death
In 1972 the FBI placed a bug in Vario's headquarters and overheared conversations for as long as 6 months. As a result of that Vario and several others, including Henry Hill, were arrested. They were imprisoned in Lewisburg but lived like kings. They sat together in a spacious cell and had all sorts of privileges, including having their own cook. Hill was even permitted to deal drugs while in prison. He was however told by Vario to stop his involvement in the drugbusiness once they got out. Since then it would be an up and coming of convictions and trials for Vario.

In April 1973 Vario was sentenced to 6 years and fined $20.000 for tax evasion. In 1980 Hill became a federal witness out of fear for getting killed by Burke and Vario because Hill had continued his drugbusinss without their permission and also had knowledge of the Lufthansa Heist, which had been organized by Burke and was one of the largest robberies ever. Burke had gone in a killing spree after the Heist. Due to Hills testimonies Vario was found guilty in 1984 for defrauding the Government by helping Hill get out of prison several years earlier by helping Hill in getting a job in a restaurant to win his release from prison. A couple of years later Vario and 4 others pleaded guilty of extorting $1 million from trucking concerns at Kennedy International Airport. On December 10, 1986 he was sentenced to 6 years and was fined another $25.000. By then Vario was suffering from bad health and eventually died in 1988 of lung failure at Fort Worth Federal prison, Texas, at the age of 73. He left a wife and 3 sons.

(Source: "Crime Figure FacesPrisonTerm" NYtimes Februari 10, 1984; "Ex-Mob Leader Gets 6 Years for Extortion" NYtimes December 11, 1986; "Wiseguy: Life In A Mafia Family" by Nicholas Pileggi,

.:Back to American Mafia:.

2007 - 2015    |    Contact Webmaster