Constantino Paul “Big Paul” Castellano was born on June, 26 1915 in Brooklyn, New York. His mother’s name was Concetta and his father, a butcher and early member of the Mangano crime family, was named Giuseppe. Castellano had a sister, Kathryn who married Carlo Gambino, Castellano’s cousin and future boss of the Gambino crime family. Castellano had another relative named General Vito Castellano who was a commander in the New York National Guard and worked as the chief of staff for Gov. Mario Cuomo.
By the time Castellano was in the eighth grade he learned more helping his father run his gambling rackets than he did through school. Before the end of the year he dropped out and began working for us father full-time.
By the time he was in the 19 years old Castellano had gained a reputation of loyalty to mob associates. He had once been arrested for robbing another man and refused to identify his two accomplices to the police and served a three-month prison sentence.
By the early 1940s Castellano who had become a member of the Mangano crime family became a capo under new Mangano boss Albert Anastasia. As capo, Castellano ran his crew like a businessman making thousands of dollars each week, and pushing much of it up to Anastasia. Castellano continued growing his rackets throughout Brooklyn and New York into the 1950s.
On October 25, 1957 Albert Anastasia’s reign as boss came to an end when he was murdered. Due to Carlo Gambino’s loyalty to the commission, he was promoted to boss renaming the family the Gambino crime family. Gambino appointed Neil Dellacroce as his underboss. However, not long after Gambino appointed Paul Castellano as a second underboss to the Gambino crime family. Castellano would control many of the unions, and business aspect of the family while Dellacroce maintained traditional mom business i.e. loansharking, extortion, etc.
Although Castellano was more of a businessman than traditional mafioso, on occasion he would show his violence I. In 1975 he ordered the murder of his daughter’s boyfriend who had compared him to Frank Perdue, the owner and spokesman for Perdue Farms. Castellano considered this an insult and wasted little time in having the young man killed. In 2004 when Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Massino turned informant, he described having received the contract to kill the young man.
In late 1975 Castellano was awarded the position of acting boss of the Gambino crime family after Carlo Gambino became ill and announced Castellano as successor. The decision to appoint Castellano as boss was not a favorable one and widely considered one of Gambino’s worst decisions as head of the most powerful crime family the United States. Much of the family was behind his longtime underboss Neil Dellacroce having had the most contact with the caporegime’s and soldiers of the family.
As a powerful crime boss Castellano continued to run the family as more of a business than an organized crime unit. Castellano took control of several non-legitimate businesses and using his business contacts and power turn them into legitimate businesses earning he and his family millions.
One such business Castellano named Dial Poultry a distribution business supplying over 300 butcher’s in New York City. It wasn’t all legitimate though, Castellano had to cut corners to make his business profitable venues extortion to force his customers to buy his product.
Another legitimate business Castellano had control of was named Scare-Mix Concrete Corporation. This company, run by his son Philip controlled all the concrete construction business in Staten Island. Outside of Staten Island, Castellano sat in the driver seat for the underworld’s “Concrete Club”, where several of the New York mob families divided the revenue from all the New York developers. It’s been said that any development needing more than $2 million in concrete would need approval from the Concrete Club before moving forward.
As if controlling Staten Island’s concrete business and sitting at the table of the concrete club wasn’t enough, Castellano also controlled the local Teamsters union chapter 282, which provided the workers that poured the concrete to all the major building projects in New York.
On October 6, 1976 Carlo Gambino died at his home of a heart attack. Castellano was now completely in charge of the Gambino crime family. Dellacroce, true to his promise to Gambino announced to all of his supporters that Castellano was boss and that the family should stand behind him as one. Dellacroce remained the underboss of the family and retained the power of the capo’s and soldiers. Castellano would continue to run the white-collar businesses while Dellacroce continue to handle traditional Mafia activities.
In 1978 Gambino associate Nicholas Scibetta was murdered at the request of big Paul Castellano. Scibetta was a known drug user and alcohol abuser and according to Castellano was bringing too much heat on the family and had to go. Castellano gave the contract to Frank DeCicco, but first DeCicco was to notify Scibetta’s brother-in-law, Sammy Gravano. Sammy was not too pleased with Castellano’s hit and some say that his decision seven years later along with John Gotti to execute Castellano and take over the Gambino family, was an easy one. Some years later in an interview, Gavano had this to say about Scibetta’s death:
“I was hoping that it would be like he just disappeared. It would be better for his mother and father. They knew he was a crazy kid. Maybe he had met somebody, some group of people, and run off. The bottom line is that I let it happen. That makes me just as guilty. I didn’t know the body would be chopped up afterwards. That’s not me.” Sammy Gravano.
Over the next two years Castellano would order the murders of at least three more men. His favorite hit man of choice? Roy DeMeo, a fearless killer for the Gambino family notorious for cutting up the victims and dropping their body parts in several locations. Over the course of five years, body parts washed up on shore, found in dumpsters, and located under bridges in one of several mafia graveyards.