||New Jersey| Vincent Palermo
Vincent Palermo was a member of the DeCavalcante Family in New Jersey and had a leading position during the mid 1990's as part of a ruling panel. His brother Patsy is a member of the Colombo family.
Vincent Palermo was born in 1946 and started his career working at the Fulton Fish Market in Manhattan. His nickname "Vinny Ocean" was given due to his early job and would follow him in years to come. During the early 1960's he started hanging out with gangsters in the Elizabeth faction of New Jersey and secured his place by marrying the niece of then boss Simone DeCavalcante. Through the years he involved himself in illegal gambling, hijacking trucks, extortion and drugs. He was handeled with respect and got well threatment by being close to the DeCavalcante boss. He became a made member of the family in 1976.
The Fred Weiss assassination
In 1980 Family patriarch Sam DeCavalcante resigned and appointed John "The Eagel" Riggi as his official successor. Although the dealings of the DeCavalcante family rose profits up to thousands of dollars they were still small players in comparisment with the New York families. Because the relation between New Jersey and New York was of high importance for the DeCavalcante family they were also less independant. In such case Riggi was asked (if not demanded) to murder a man named Fred Weiss in order of Gambino boss John Gotti. This gave Riggi the opportunity to do a favor towards the Gambino family. Both he and Gambino capo John D'Amico then made the arrangements.
On September 11, 1989, stock broker and suspected FBI informant Fred Weiss was murdered near his car. His killers were Vincent Palermo, Jimmy Gallo and Anthony Capo. However, when the FBI began to investigate the DeCavalcante's some became nervous. One of these men was Joseph Garafano, who was also brought in connection to the Weiss murder. Because of this some believed he lost loyalty and could easily become a witness. In the early 1990's Garafano was lured to a Brooklyn home with the pretence of arranging him to go to Florida to hide some cash. As Garafano entered the home he was shot death by hitman Virgil Alessi. However, Alessi suffered a heartattack shortly after and was rushed to the hospital. Sometime later he died of natural causes.
In late 1989 John Riggi was arrested and a new member had to step in as temporary boss. Both Riggi and the Gambino family descided to appoint John D'Amato. However, his term was short lived. Due to a big fight with his girlfriend she went to see her other lover, Anthony Rotondo, and told how she and D'Amato oftenly visited swinger clubs where he had sex with other men. Rotondo immediatly reported D'Amato's after-hour activities to his fellow capo's who descided such behavior was a disgrace and could not be tolerated. In 1991 D'Amato went missing. His body was never found. The men suspected in arranging his murder were Vincent Palermo, boss John Riggi, Anthony Rotondo, Anthony Capo, Philip Abramo and Giuseppe Schifilliti.
After D'Amato's exposal Jake Amari was promoted as acting boss. But as it was bad luck, also Amari's term was short lived as he stepped down in 1994 after being diagnosed with cancer. With these series of bad luck, and a discontent of the Newark faction, Riggi descided to appoint a ruling panel which would contain both members of the Elizabeth and Newark faction. The men appointed were Charles Majuri of Newark and Vincent and Jimmy Palermo (not related) of Elizabeth. Charles "Big Ears" Majuri, the son of former underboss Frank Majuri, on the other hand had other plans and wanted to overthrow the panel by killing Vincent Palermo. Vinny Ocean heared of the plan and ordered Majuri's killing in retaliation. The murder however never took place because the hitmen failed to do their job and Palermo eventually descided to make peace with Majuri.
Prosperity and decline
In 1994 he opened a nudie bar called Wiggles in Forest Hill, Queens. The club was oftenly used for meetings and for stashing money and drugs. He was living the good live, living in a villa worth up to $2 million and being a boss in the DeCavalcante Family, leading it's New York operations. Next to Wiggles he also owned a couple of other strip joins, restaurants and a gambling boat. He was worth millions. Also his son Vincent Jr. involved himself in day to day business with the family.
In 1998 a childhood friend and associate of Vincent, Joseph Masella, was shot to dead due to the thousands of dollars in debts he owed both families in Jersey and in New York. That same year the FBI started to use DeCavalcante associate Ralph Guarino as an informant. Guarino had been arrested for robbing an armored truck on it's way to the World Trade Center. He agreed upon becomming a witness to avoid a 20 year sentence. Because of the Masella murder earlier that year a spot had opened in the family and Guarino was promoted. Soon he started to record several meetings which gave the FBI enough evidence to start one of the few crackdowns ever on the DeCavalcante family.
In December 1999 Vincent Palermo and about 30 others were arrested. Palermo was charged with racketeering, murder, extortion, loan-sharking and gambling amongst others. Days before the arrests were made Palermo and the other heads of the family learned that there was an informant in their midst. According to Victor DiChiara, an associate-turned-witness, Palermo went furious and ordered the murder of 3 men, one being a rival and the others being possible informants. The murders however never occured. But although having such hatred for informants also he would shock the underworld and started to betray his associates shortly after his arrest.
By becomming a witness he revealed much of the mobs inner circles. For instance, he told about the committed murders on his behalve and everybody involved, he identified several men on FBI photographs, revealed a plot of killing prosecutor Rudy Giuliani, gave all the names of men being part in a ruling panel of the Genovese Family while boss Vincent Gigante pretended to be nuts, and so on. He became of great importance because of his knowledge in the 5 New York families. In 2003 he eventually entered the witness protection program.
The Witness Protection program
In 2009 Vincent Palermo eventually blew his cover and resurfaced in Houston, Texas, as Vincent Cabella. Not happy to have left his club Wiggles behind, he had started 2 new nudie bars in Houston called the Penthouse Club and All-Star Men's Club. Both clubs had frequent encounters with police because of drug abuse and prostitution. He claimed his son was running the business but the buildings were registered on his name. In either case, he was still living in luxury while being in the witness protection program and claimed everybody in Houston knew who he actually was. He had sold his former property in Jersey and now lives in a $875.000 home. However, now with his cover blown it is possible he will have to leave Houston as well.
(Source: nydailynews.com/2001/01/08; nydailynews.com/2003/05/12; nydailynews.com/2003/05/16; truecrimereport.com "Indictments Describe Reach of New Jersey Crime Family" NYtimes December 3, 1999)
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