||New Jersey| Rosario Gambino
Birth: January 12, 1942 - Palermo, Sicily
Rosario Gambino is a nephew of Carlo Gambino and operated in the New Jersey faction of the Gambino Family. Together with his brothers he became heavily involved in the Pizza Connection during the 1970's and early 1980's.
The Cherry Hill Gambino's
Rosario Gambino was born in Sicily where he grew up to become a man of honor. In 1962 he moved to America to join his cousins criminal empire. Together with his brothers Giuseppe and Giovanni he settled down in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. During the 1970's they became involved in smuggling heroin, arson and loansharking. As being part of the massive "Pizza Connection" drug network they became good earners inside the Gambino Family.
The Gambino brothers opened a cafe in Brooklyn not far from cafe Viale, which was owned by Bonanno capo Salvatore Catalano. The men were good friends and often visited eachother. Sometime later they also opened a restaurant in New Jersey called Valentino's. Philadelphia boss Angelo Bruno, who recieved weekly tributes from the Gambino brothers, also frequently held meetings with Paul Castellano at the restaurant. They grew to become known and well liked within Mafia circles. During the early 1980's they also helpded their old associate Tommaso Buscetta in hiding his wife and daughter during the violent Mafia wars in Sicily.
Frictions with the Philadelphia Family
In March 1980 Angelo Bruno was murdered in orders of his own consigliere Antonio Caponigro. One of the main reasons was that Bruno forbade his own members to be part in the drugbusiness, while in the meantime he gladly accepted drugmoney from the Gambino brothers. That same year the brothers were arrested at the Valentino's Supper Club after the police in Milan detained 91 pounds of heroin which were about to be sent towards the United States. The first arrest warrant against Gambino was handed out by anti-Mafia judge Giovanni Falcone. Due to lack of evidence the brothers were soon released again.
In 1984 a sitdown between the Gambino family and Philadelphia family was needed to settle a beef. Philly boss Nicodemo Scarfo was angered at Rosario and Giovanni Gambino because they and their thugs had beaten up several bouncers in a club owned by an associate of Scarfo. One one account a witness said that Rosario Gambino jumped on a table holding 2 guns in his hands and ordered the men to go stand in line while the others gave them constant beatings. The brothers claimed they did it as a revenge because one their own men had been assaulted by some of the bouncers. During the meeting, in which men such as Paul Castellano, Aniello Dellacroce, Nicodemo Scarfo and Ralph Napoli were present, the peace was restored.
Arrest and convictions
In March 1984 Rosario was arrested again for drug related charges. When the police entered his house to arrest him they also discovered he owned a copy of his own criminal file, which was offered to him by a corrupt member of the NYPD, later identified as Louis Eppolito. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison, his brothers were arrested 4 years later. Much of the evidence used against Rosario came from the Pizza Connection trials which followed after the FBI crackdown in the mid 1980's. Also during the 1980's the Italian court had sentenced Gambino to 14 years in prison, but Gambino himself was in absentia at the time. In 1995 a first parole hearing was held, but was denied.
In 1999 the half-brother of former US President Bill Clinton was approached by a man who handed over an expensive Rolex watch and told him "We will take care of you" if he would succeed in releasing Rosario Gambino. The man who approached Roger Clinton was Tommy Gambino, Rosario's son. During an interview that same year Roger Clinton said he felt sympathy for the young Tommy, then in his 20's, because he was a struggling youngster who was unlucky to bare the "Gambino" name. A list of pardons was then given to President Bill Clinton with on top Rosario Gambino, but the pardon was not granted. On May 23, 2009, Gambino was eventually handed over to Italy to face his long delayed prison term.
(Source: State of New Jersey Testimonie by Phillip Leonetti; "Roger Clinton's Dogged Effort for Drug Trafficker" NYtimes August 26, 2001; www.earthtimes.org)
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