Friday, August 25, 2023

Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo - The real Tony Soprano

Vincent "Vinny Ocean" PalermoVincent 'Vinny Ocean' Palermo, 79, was a de facto boss of the New Jersey DeCavalcante crime family who became a government rat. Fictional mob boss Tony Soprano is based upon Palermo. In the early 1960s, Vincent Palermo married the niece of mob boss Sam DeCavalcante. DeCavalcante invited him to his social club. He worked at the fish markets in the morning and socialized with mobsters on afternoons. On Sept 11, 1989, Palermo, Anthony Capo, and James 'Jimmy' Gallo murdered Fred Weiss, on orders from boss Giovanni 'John the Eagle' Riggi. Weiss was associated with mobsters from the DeCavalcantes and the Gambinos. James Gandolfini - Sopranos
Weiss and his partners purchased land in Staten Island and illegally dumped dangerous medical waste. Cops uncovered the scheme and investigated Weiss, and the two mob families worried. Gambino boss John Gotti requested the DeCavalcantes murder Weiss.

Mob boss Giovanni Riggi during the trial of the 1989 slaying of Weiss.

John "Johnny Boy" D'Amato.
Palermo was 'made' and shortly after was appointed caporegime. Riggi was sent to prison in 1989, and he appointed John 'Johnny Boy' D'Amato as his acting boss. D'Amato's girlfriend alleged that he was bisexual. Riggi ordered Palermo and Anthony Capo to murder D'Amato in order to avoid embarrassment to the DeCavalcante family. In early 1992, D'Amato disappeared. His body was never found.

By the mid-90s, Vinny Palermo was the de facto boss of the family, paralleling Tony Soprano in the Sopranos. In 1998, the FBI recruited Ralph Guarino as an informant who devastated the DeCavalcante family. The FBI gave him rigged cell phones to distribute to other mafioso.

'Vito Spatafore' - Sopranos

Palermo entered the federal Witness Protection Program.
In October 1998, Vincent Palermo's trusted lieutenant Joseph Masella was shot to death, leaving an opening in the family. Guarino was promoted to made man. Palermo became a government witness. He confessed to killing Weiss and mobster Louis LaRasso and to planning the murders of John D'Amato, Joseph Masella, Charles Majuri, Frank D'Amato, and Tom Salvata. He also implicated other DeCavalcante family members.

On September 14, 2009, the New York Daily News exposed Vinny Ocean's new life in witness protection as a strip club operator in Houston, Texas. The 'Penthouse Club' and 'All-Star Men's Club' were hotbeds of prostitution and drugs. He also owned a Mexican restaurant and a car wash - all next to one another in Houston.

In 1999 FBI busted the DeCavalcante family.
On March 4, 2013, Palermo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Under Chapter 11, a person's assets and debts are not liquidated, but the filer is given court protection from creditors. Palermo put his $2.45m home up for sale in September 2015.