Constantino Paul "Big
Paul" Castellano also known as
"The Howard Hughes of the Mob" and "Big Paulie", succeeded
Carlo Gambino as head of the Gambino crime family, then the nation's largest
Cosa Nostra family.
Castellano was born in Brooklyn
in 1915, to Giuseppe Castellano and Concetta. Giuseppe was a butcher and an
early member of the Mangano crime family, the forerunner of the Gambino family.
Paul Castellano dropped out of school in the eighth grade to learn butchering
and collecting numbers game receipts, both from his father.
In 1975, Castellano became
acting boss for the aging Gambino.
As Castellano became more
powerful in the Gambino family, he started to make large amounts of money from
construction concrete. Castellano's son Philip was the president of Scara-Mix
Concrete Corporation, which exercised a near monopoly on construction concrete
on Staten Island. Castellano also handled the Gambino interests in the
"Concrete Club," a consortium of mob families that divided revenue
from New York developers. No one could pour concrete for a project worth more
than $2 million without the approval from the Concrete Club. Finally,
Castellano supervised Gambino control of Teamsters Union Local Chapter 282,
which provided workers to pour concrete at all major building projects in New
York and Long Island.
The December 2, 1985, death of
Dellacroce from lung cancer started a chain of events that 14 days later led to
Castellano's murder. Several factors contributed to the conspiracy to kill
Castellano. Castellano failed to attend Dellacroce's wake, an insult to the
Dellacroce family and his followers.
However, the most immediate
concern was a set of government surveillance tapes that featured mobster Angelo
Ruggiero discussing heroin trafficking. When the government released a set of
these tapes to Ruggiero's attorney, Castellano demanded that Ruggiero provide
him with copies. With the tapes providing proof of Gotti's involvement in
narcotics trafficking, Castellano would have enough proof to murder Gotti.
Gotti had his views on
Castellano and his eye set on the position of Boss. He assembled a group of high
level conspirators with a plan to kill Castellano.
On December 16, 1985, both
Castellano and Bilotti were murdered. That evening, Bilotti drove Castellano to
the prearranged meeting at the Sparks Steak House in Midtown Manhattan. Gotti
and Gravano observed the scene from a car across the street.