Some mobsters do the work required of them but only because they have to as part of The Life, but others enjoy the violence. Roy Albert DeMeo got off on the violence and would lead one of the most brutal murderous teams in mob history.
DeMeo was born on September 7, 1940, in Bath Beach, Brooklyn. He was drawn to the street life at an early age and began assisting in loan sharking operations while still in high school. He would later be brought into the Gambino crime family by Mini Gaggie.
Roy DeMeo started building a specialized crew. Each member had their specialty, and together they made a ruthless team. When they turned to murder, the team was nearly unstoppable. The DeMeo crew became infamous for the number of murders they committed and how they disposed of the bodies. It became known as the “Gemini Method.” They would take the target into the Gemini lounge, kill them, cut them up and dispose of them. The authorities claim they allegedly committed an excess of 100 murders with the majority carried out by DeMeo himself. The crew also became famous for car thefts across the city.
DeMeo joined a Brooklyn credit union in 1972 and gained a position on the board of directions shortly afterward. He utilized his position to launder money earned through his illegal ventures. He also introduced colleagues at the credit union to a lucrative side-business, laundering drug dealers’ money. DeMeo also built up his loansharking business with funds stolen from credit union reserves. DeMeo’s collection of loan shark customers, while still primarily those in the car industry, soon included other businesses such as a dentist office, an abortion clinic, restaurants, and flea markets. He was also listed as an employee for a Brooklyn company named S & C Sports Wear Corp. and frequently told his neighbors he worked in construction, food retailing, and the used car business.
In late 1974 a conflict erupted between the DeMeo crew and Andrei Katz. Katz was a young auto repair shop owner who was partners with DeMeo in a stolen car ring. In May 1975, DeMeo was informed by a crooked police officer that Katz was cooperating with authorities. In June, Katz was lured to a place where he could be confronted. After being abducted, he was stabbed to death and dismembered. An accomplice who helped bait Katz later confessed to her role. Joseph Tested, and Henry Borelli were both arrested, but they would secure an acquittal at trial in January 1976. This hit was his 1st known murder committed by the DeMeo crew, and for years it was thought to have been the 1st occasion where DeMeo or members of his crew had dismembered a body for disposal. In 2003, however, new information was provided to the FBI by Bonanno underboss Salvator Vitale. Vitale claimed that in 1974 he was ordered to deliver a corpse of a murder victim to a garage in Queens so it could be disposed of by DeMeo.
In 2011 former Gambino associate Greg Bucceroni alleged that during the late 1970s and early 1980s, DeMeo utilized his henchman Richard Kuklinski on behalf of Robert “DB” DiBernardi & the Gambino family’s pornography establishments in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Here Kuklinski would traffic illegal pornography, collect debts, and carry out contract killings.
In the latter half of 1975, DeMeo became a silent partner in a peep show/ prostitution establishment in New Jersey after the business owner was unable to pay his loansharking debts.DeMeo also began dealing in illegal pornography. When Gaggi found out about DeMeo’s involvement in such taboo films, he ordered him to stop. However, DeMeo defied Gaggi and continued the practice. Gaggi didn’t retaliate. According to his nephew Dominick Montiglio, the subject was never brought up again as long as DeMeo continued making payments to Gaggi. DeMeo also dealt in narcotics despite the Gambini family strictly forbidden such activity.
As 1975 drew to a close, DeMeo was the subject of IRS investigations into his income. Months earlier, the Boro of Brooklyn credit union had been pushed insolvency due to DeMeo’s plundering of its finances. Before an indictment could be handed down against him, he uploaded false affidavits from businesses owned by friends and aquaintances claiming he was on their payroll as an employee. These affidavits served to account for some of his income, allowing him to settle with the IRS.
DeMeo’s sources of income, as well as his crew, continued to grow. By July 1976, he added and automobile firm by the name of Team Auto. Mathew Register also purchased stolen vehicles from the crew and sold them at a New Jersey car lot he owned. He also involved himself in hijacking delivery trucks from the JFK national airport. His team now included Danny Grillo, a hijacker who had just been released from prison. In the fall of 1976, the Gambino family went through a massive change when it’s boss Carlos Gambino died of natural causes. Paul Castellano was named the boss, with Aniello Dellacroce retaining the position of underboss.
The implications of this were twofold for DeMeo. Gaggi was elevated to the position of caporegime, taking over the crew of men Castellani previously headed. This promotion was beneficial to DeMeo who’s mentor was now even closer to the family leadership. Another advantage was that new associates would be eligible for membership in the family. Castellano didn’t immediately “open the books” for new members, opting to promote existing members and shuffle around the crew’s leaders. He also allegedly opposed the idea of DeMeo being made.
Castellani involved himself in white-collar crime and looked down on street level members such as DeMeo. Additionally, Castellano felt DeMeo was uncontrollable. Gaggi’s attempts at persuading Castellano to make DeMeo were continually rejected. By 1977 DeMeo became distraught by this and searched for opportunities to ensure larger returns for his superiors.
The Westies Alliance and Rosenberg:
DeMeo secured his induction into the Gambino family by allying with the Irish-American gang known as the Westies. The leader of the Westies, Mickey Spinner, was causing delays for the construction of the Jacob K Javits Convention Center, much of the frustration of Gambino boss Paul Castellano who had a part in the project. After the unsolved murder of Spillane in May 1977, James Conan assumed control of the gang.
Shortly afterward, Coonan and his second-in-command Mickey Feather stone were called to a meeting with Castellano. They agreed to become a de facto arm of the Gambino family and share 10% of all profits. In exchange, the Westies would be privy to several lucrative union deals and take on murder contracts for the family. It was the pivotal role in the Westie/Gambino alliance that reportedly convinced Castellano to formally induct DeMeo into the family.
He was ordered to get permission before committing murder, and he was told to avoid the drug dealing scene. The DeMeo’s crew didn’t obey and continued to commit unsanctioned killings. One such case was the homicide of Johnathan Quinn, a car thief suspected of cooperating with law enforcement, and Cherie Golden, Quinn’s 19 yr old girlfriend. DeMeo’s crew dumped the bodies in locations where they would be discovered to serve as a warning against the cooperation with authorities.
In 1978 Frederick DiNome, previously DeMeo’s chauffeur, joined the crew. November 14, 1978, Edward Grillo was killed. He had fallen into massive debt with DeMeo and was believed to be becoming susceptible to police coercion. Grillo, who was dismembered and disposed of like many other victims, was the 1st known internal crew discipline occurrence. The next member to be killed was Rosenberg, who set up a drug deal with a Cuban man living in Florida, and then murdered him and his associates when they traveled to New York to complete the sale.
This murder raised the possibility of violence between the Gambino family and the Cubans unless Rosenberg was taken out. DeMeo was ordered to kill Roseburg and stalked him for weeks during this period. In a fit of paranoia, DeMeo committed his most public murder. The victim was an innocent college student named Dominick Ragucci, who was paying for his tuition by working as a door to door salesman. DeMeo saw him parked outside his house and assumed he was a Cuban assassin.
DeMeo and crew member Joseph Guglielmo pursued Ragucci and then shot the student. After returning home and gathering with his family, DeMeo drove them out of New York and left them at a hotel for a short time. According to DeMeo’s son Albert, he started crying when he discovered he had murdered an innocent boy. Gaggi was infuriated by the murder of Ragucci and ordered DeMeo to kill Rosenberg before there were any more innocent victims.
On May 11, 1979, Rosenberg reported to the Gemini clubhouse for the crew’s usual Friday night meeting. Shortly after his arrival, DeMeo fired a bullet into Rosenberg’s head. The usually ice-cold DeMeo hesitated when the still living Rosenberg managed to rise off the floor to 1 knee, but Anthony Senter moved in and finished him off with four shots to the head. Unlike Grillo, Rosenberg’s body was not dismembered or made to disappear.
The Cubans demanded that his murder make the papers. DeMeo’s men placed his body in his car on Cross Bay Boulevard (near Gateway National Wildlife Refuge) to be found. Albert DeMeo later recounted that Rosenberg’s murder affected his father profoundly and that when DeMeo came home after the killing, he went to his study room and didn’t come out for two days. TO BE CONTINUED.
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Recommended Reading:Murder Machine (Onyx True Crime)
For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life
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