Skip navigation

Tag Archives: five Mafia families

 Gunned down  Gangster  Carmine “Lilo” Galante 

When Mafia bosses Carmine Galante and Paul Castellano met their violent ends, Joseph Wendling was one of the investigators at the scenes.

Wendling, 65, is currently a private investigator checking into residency violations of students who go to Herricks and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park district schools.

But at one time he was a detective in an elite unit of the New York City Police Department focused on the illicit activities of the five Mafia families that ruled the city’s underworld.

“It was called the Pizza Squad,” Wendling recalled.

His participation in the investigations of the Galante and Castellano hits is chronicled in a documentary about the 10 greatest Mafia hits slated to be released by a British production company in January.

Galante, head of the Bonnano crime family, was assassinated while having lunch in a garden restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn on July 1979. Castellano, who succeeded Carlo Gambino as the head of that family, was gunned down on the street outside of Sparks Steak House in midtown Manhattan in December 1985.

Wendling recalls that his unit was caught flat-footed by the hit on Galante, whose assassination was reportedly sanctioned by the five Mafia families commission because he was dealing in drugs and not sharing the profits.

“That was a big surprise to us. He was well-respected in terms of being feared,” said Wendling, who said members of the Gambino family carried out the hit with the cooperation of Gambino’s chauffeur, Baldassare “Baldo” Amato.

“He wouldn’t talk,” Wendling said, who noted that Amato subsequently committed a parole violation and was sent back to prison.

“We assumed that was his way not to get whacked,” Wendling said.

Federal officers told the Pizza Squad they didn’t know it was coming – but Wendling doubts that.

“There were 10 shooters on the street. When you have that many shooters, there’s going to be some chatter. They knew something,” he said.

The Castellano hit was engineered by John Gotti, who thought that Aniello “Neil” Dellacroce, a Gambino capo, should have been made head of the family. Dellacroce died of lung cancer before the hit, and Gotti became the foppishly infamous “teflon Don.”

The Pizza Squad immediately pegged – and eventually helped convict – nine of the 10 Castellano assassins, thanks to a witness who was convinced to cooperate.

“We identified every shooter within a day. There was a Jewish rabbi with a hooker who saw the whole thing,” Wendling recalled.

Not long before, the Pizza Squad learned one of their own was liable to be whacked because of their constant surveillance of the Gambino crews.

That was the idea of Antonio “Nino” Gaggi, a Gambino capo who headed a notorious crew that included the infamous Roy DeMeo, whose crew is believed to have killed as many as 200 people.   read full story Click here: From fighting mob to illegals in Herricks – The Island Now: Williston Park