Geraldine Gates, circa the mid 1970's. A controversial character to the DeFeo story, Geraldine's "family" ran in close circles with the DeFeo family in the early 1970's.

 

THICKERTHANBLOOD:
The "family" ties of Geraldine DeFeo-Gates

It could be said that Ric Osuna's book The Night The DeFeos Died ignited a virtual firestorm of controversy which has continued to burn strong over the last decade.

The book sparked off an ongoing debate as to whether Geraldine DeFeo-Gates, a woman allegedly married to Butch DeFeo at the time he committed the murder of his family, is in fact real. Furthermore, there is endless speculation and conjecture as to just how "connected" the DeFeo family was to the powerful underworld that was the 1970's New York La Cosa Nostra ---- the Mafia. Ryan Katzenbach, as a researcher, had no idea how interconnected Geraldine Gates and the New York Crime families were until he completed research on Shattered.

In producing the documentary Shattered Hopes, a number of documents and details emerged in the course of the 6-year production run. In most cases, these documents had never been seen by the general public before. Because of the extensive running time of the film, not all of the points made within this article are addressed within the documentary's 6-hour 3-part run time. Therefore, the producers felt that this article, and future installments posted on the website would help viewers to understand the extensive amount of material evaluated as the film effort progressed.

"It is important to understand that this film is not about the mafia, its history, or those regimes in any way excepting where they come into contact with the DeFeo story," says Ryan Katzenbach, Shattered's writer, director and producer who has spent the last decade researching the Amityville case. "Unfortunately, when people wish to debate about whether a figure like Geraldine Gates is real or not, then in a lot of ways, it does become a story about La Cosa Nostra and their far reaching powers back in this particular era. I think it is important for people to understand the history, the relationships and what is in Geraldine's background before anyone passes a judgment," adds Katzenbach.


• THAT NIGHT AT 112

The DeFeo's family ties to organized crime became evident within twenty minutes of police being summoned to the DeFeo's home at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville.

The stately DeFeo house. Cordoned off by Suffolk County Police, the house snaps to life in the glare of Identification Unit photographer's flash bulbs. Inside, a drama was playing out that had earmarks of mafia involvement.

From the house, in the minutes following the discovery of the bodies, Robert Kelske, a long-time friend of Butch DeFeo's, picked up a phone in the dining room and summoned Rocco DeFeo to the home telling him that 'something bad had happened to the family.' Rocco DeFeo was Butch DeFeo's aging grandfather who resided in West Islip with his daughter Phyllis Procita and her husband Vincent.

Vincent Procita drove his 69-year old father-in-law to the DeFeo house following the call, arriving within about 20 minutes according to logs kept by the Suffolk County Police Department. At this time, SCPD Homicide had not yet arrived on the scene. There was, however, a trickle of First Squad Detectives assuming command --- among them, Det. Gaspar Randazzo. Randazzo had barely arrived, himself, but ten minutes earlier.

Det. Randazzo was in the kitchen talking to a distraught, grieving Butch DeFeo when the young man's grandfather Rocco DeFeo arrived. Rocco immediately asked Randazzo, at 7:05 p.m., for permission to make a phone call from the dining room. Randazzo consented.

The dining room of the DeFeo home. Looking through the bifold door to the left of the picture, we see the center hallway and into the living room. Just inside the doorway to the right of the photo is the phone that is thought to have been used by Rocco DeFeo to make his first and only phone call from the house within moments of arrival on the scene.

Rocco DeFeo dialed a New York City number. He happened to notice Randazzo's watchful eye, and states Randazzo in his report "...he saw that assigned was watching him and he quickly hung up saying that he got the wrong number. He again tried to call, using the touch buttons."

What Rocco didn't realize, however, was that his effort to conceal the number was in vain. Randazzo's quick eye had scored the Manhattan number -- OR5-8497 -- which he promptly, yet discreetly, called in to his Suffolk Headquarters. Within minutes, Det. Randazzo had the identity of the number's owner. Notes Randazzo in his report, "...comes out to PETER DEFEO a/k/a PHIL ACQUILINA....known member of Genovese family. Assigned could not hear any conversation which transpired between ROCCO and other end."

In pertinent part, Detective Gaspar Randazzo's report from the night of 13 November 1974.

The fact that Rocco DeFeo first called his brother Peter is curious. Rocco's wife, Nettie DeFeo, hadn't made the trek to 112 Ocean Avenue. Certainly, family would come first? Surely, Rocco, upon learning the gravity of the situation would have called his wife or other family members to notify them of the tragedy which had claimed six members of their immediate family including his own son.

In reality, Rocco DeFeo's call was to "family" when all the facts are considered.

Peter DeFeo, 72, was Rocco DeFeo's brother and Butch's granduncle. Born in Little Italy in 1902, Peter became a soldier in the Genovese crime family working closely with the boss, Vito Genovese until his natural death in 1969 when the helm of boss was handed to Philip Lombardi.

New Jersey organized crime boss Vito Genovese, a/k/a Don Vitone, who was considered by many to be the "boss of bosses." He died in 1969 and passed the reigns onto Philip Lombardi who would employ "front bosses" to shield his identity as the Boss from law enforcement.

Moving up the ranks, by the early 1970's, Peter was a well established capo in the Genovese family. His role as a "top capo," and his shadowy affiliates (including his known alias of Phily Acquilina) is verified by the United States Department of the Treasury which kept extensive files on those known to be associated with organized crime. Ryan Katzenbach, Shattered's principal, retrieved copies of these files in 2008.

Peter DeFeo's association with the mob is further documented in a later Declaration of Vincent Cafaro from The United States of America v. District Council of New York City and Vicinity of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

DeFeo, who died in April 1993, was active, it is said, in the Mafia almost to the end of his life, though there are indications that his influence was waning in the late 1980's. Public records show that, around this time,Peter DeFeo was extorting up to $10,000 a year from a trucking company associated with one of the New York airports, LaGuardia.

When the United States government, via their lawsuit, conducted an investigation into the mob rackets that controlled various construction projects in and around New York City during the late 80's, including the construction of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, Vincent Cafaro became a witness on behalf of the government and outlined his knowledge via an extensive declaration.

Cafaro had been indoctrinated into the Genovese family in 1974. "Until 1986, I was Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno's right-hand man." In 1981, Salerno stepped back and became what Cafaro called a "figurehead" boss after he suffered a stroke. In the meantime, Philip Lombardi remained the "boss of bosses" over the Genovese crime family with multiple "front bosses" deferring the attention from Lombardi. In 1985 Vincent "The Chin" Gigante stepped in, assuming the role as a "behind the scenes" boss who ultimately took control of the Genovese family while "Salerno retained control over the Genovese Family's rackets in the construction industry." Gigante stepped in when Philip Lombardi stepped back from control of the family.

For approximately twelve years, Cafaro would garner extensive knowledge into the inner mechanics of the Genevese's rackets and how their influence held sway over the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, an organization made up of finish contractors, carpenters and other skilled trades who engaged in commercial construction in and around the city. Based on the statements made by Cafaro, there was a stream of kickback money running from the District Council back to various members of the crime families, including Peter DeFeo and Tony Salerno, among others. Different families, including Lucchese and Colombo also controlled various members of the District Council. The Genovese family, in particular, controlled the hiring of District Council contractors at the New York Coliseum and then at the Javits Center.

Within his Declaration, Cafaro wrote, referencing Peter DeFeo, "DeFeo's primary representative in the Distict Councoil [sic] was Marcello Svedese, a carpenter union officer who worked out of the Bronx. When I wanted to use Svedese's influence in the District Council on behalf of Fat Tony Salerno, I first had to obtain permission from DeFeo. Salerno, Louis DiNapoli and I went to see DeFeo at a restaurant in Little Italy to seek permission to use Svedese's influence. Morelli was also present. DeFeo told Salerno that he should feel free to use Svedese."

Circling back to the DeFeo crime scene and the evening of November 13, 1974: why would Rocco DeFeo call his brother first? It's a speculative answer, but likely safe to assume that Rocco, knowing his brother was high in rank with Genovese, wanted answers as to whether or not the family had anything to do with the massacre at his son's home...or, possibly, to seek his brother's help in finding out exactly WHO was involved.

Geraldine DeFeo-Gates' cousin, a New Jersey Lombardi, who goes by "Joe" agrees with the conclusions reached by Shattered producers, and has, over the past year, explained a great deal of the connections that even Geraldine herself was apparently unaware of. Even today, 42 years after Philip Lombardi tooks the reigns of the Genovese family from Vito Genovese, the Lombardi name is still prominent. In fact, there are several Lombardi's from "Joe's" family that are under indictment as a result of an FBI shakedown in January 2011 wherein 126 organized crime figures were brought up on racketeering and other charges.

The phone call from Rocco DeFeo to Peter, in examining all the documents and evidence, must have sent a ripple through New York's organized crime families. Shortly thereafter, another phone call --- this one incoming to the DeFeo house from a Gambino associate --- would raise the brows of Sgt/Det. James Barlyski of the Suffolk County Police. Barlyski immediately alerted his fellow detectives that there were, potentially, Mafia fingerprints all over the DeFeo family. And this phone call wasn't the only call that would prompt SCPD to bring in their Organized Crime Unit before the night was over. (More on this in future articles.)


• GERALDINE'S FAMILY

Scholars of the Amityville case, and particularly those who have read Ric Osuna's book, already know the back-story behind Geraldine Gates. The story is a relatively simple tale of the mob eliminating an identity through influence, corruption.

Geraldine and Butch DeFeo met in 1969 while Geraldine was signing in the New York bar scene in and throughout Greenwich Village. They began a courtship and eventually married with Geraldine becoming pregnant with their daughter in the early part of 1974.

In the time after the murders, Geraldine was told by certain figures, including Butch DeFeo's maternal grandfather Michael S. Brigante, that she could no longer use the name DeFeo or assert that she and Butch were married.

Michael S. Brigante Sr., on the occassion of his 50th wedding anniversary party with wife Angela.

Accordingly, Brigante was told by certain informants that, as the trial of Butch DeFeo approached, the Suffolk DA's office was looking at the possibility that there was a female accomplice involved in the killings with Butch. Brigante believed that Geraldine was the "female" that they were going to wrongly focus on. (NOTE: Shattered explores this extensively, and through interviews, recounts what was going on at the SCDA's office. Suffice to say, there is validity in what Geraldine Gates claimed in Ric Osuna's book, and only those who were there would be privy to these details.) Therefore, the mob families erased Geraldine's marriage records and any indication that she and Butch had been legally connected in an effort to protect her from wrongful prosecution.

The story, admittedly, sounds crazy when we think in contemporaneous terms. Today, it would be virtually impossible to erase someone's identity given the widespread informational permeation across international and interstate fiberoptic lines. But, the 1970's were an entirely different era and one must think in terms of the period. The Italian-American mob was quite large, influential and had their hands in a number of things. It was an era where New York drug dealer Frank Lucas ran a billion-dollar heroin trafficking operation from Vietnam right to his front door in Harlem --- something made feasible by simply putting cops and D.E.A. agents on his payroll. It's almost an understatement to say that Geraldine, the Brigantes, and DeFeos lived in a much different time than we do today. If Frank Lucas could buy half a New York police force, across multiple agencies, and thus take them down when he rolled, how difficult would it have been to erase or alter a marriage license....a driver's license? Answer: Easy. It only required a corrupt clerk, a modest payoff. It, factually, happened every day back then, another conclusion that Joe Lombardi, Geraldine's cousin, agrees with.

Furthermore, Mike Brigante was well connected to the mob with his ties dating back into the 1940's when he was an associate of Kings County Buick in Brooklyn, which is something that is extensively explored in Shattered. Brigante also had intimate ties to law enforcement, supporting various Police benevolent causes in and around New York and Long Island. When Geraldine claims that Mike Brigante had an open channel, it was likely true that he did. Brigante, clearly, had an open channel of communication with figures of the mob. This is evidenced by the transcripts of his wiretapped conversations. In these conversations, Mike Brigante openly, candidly talks about his numerous discussions with Peter DeFeo. Secondly, Suffolk County was not a kind place in the 1970's --- a documented confession rate in the ninety-percentile versus Brooklyn's thirty. If Mike Brigante believed that Geraldine was in peril, based on the reputation of SCPD and the inner workings of the District Attorney's office, then Brigante, as well as others, knew they had to do something to intervene.

According to Geraldine's cousin, Joe Lombardi, the "erasing" of Geraldine's marriage records was "handled personally by Pete DeFeo." Interestingly, Geraldine has asserted throughout the making of this film that she never, during the course of her relationship with Butch DeFeo, ever met Butch's granduncle.

Michael S. Brigante Sr. recounts his conversation with Genovese Capo Peter DeFeo to another family member via telephone. This is from a wiretapped conversation in April 1975, and it is but one passage among numerous pages of transcript wherein Mike references discussions with Pete DeFeo. Michael Brigante's statement is interesting: "...you understand my language, and I understand you're [sic] language."

Geraldine, in TNTDD, states that both families --- Brigante's Gambino and the DeFeo's Genovese --- came together to erase her. Of course, there are those who claim it never happened; there are those who will claim that rival families would never work together. But, after a rudimentary study of the mob, it's clear that this is not true.

In just examining Vincent Cafaro's declaration alone, it is easy to see that various members of any given family crossed faction lines and cooperated with their own different regimes when they needed to do so (i.e., Cafaro reaching out to Peter DeFeo on behalf of Tony Salerno to secure the connection of Svedese.). However, factually, the individual families often met and cooperated with each other where it was vital to the health, growth of the Mafia overall. The five New York families--- Lucchese, Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino and Genovese----formed what was called The New York Crime Commission. Meetings between the heads of each family were regularly conducted wherein business was sorted out; discussions of hits took place with hits being ordained where a boss would deem necessary. The heads of state discussed various rackets for which they were engaged in, and often tried to clear up "turf" wars before they could evolve into such --- i.e., where one family was involved in a racket in a geographic area that might overlap another family, discussions were undertaken to reach a peaceful understanding of which family would control what area, what racket. There was a reason, after all, this was referred to as "organized" crime. Therefore, it becomes entirely feasible to believe that two families --- Gambino and Genovese---would hold a meeting to discuss the well-being of one of their own, in this case, Geraldine.

What many people don't realize is just how much Geraldine was "one of their own."

•GERALDINE'S ORIGINS

Geraldine Gates was born on July 5, 1946 to an out-of-wedlock mother who gave her up for immediate adoption. According to Geraldine, she later heard that her biological birth mother was a woman by the name of Carol(yn?) DeCarlo, though she has nothing in writing for which to base this upon. Her reliance comes from the statements of her adopted mother, Ann Rullo, who divulged these details to Geraldine later in life. DeCarlo, allegedly, had become pregnant by a man purported to be an associate with the Genovese crime family, and thus decided that she could not keep Geraldine.

"I was taken by my [adopted] parents at just 10 days old," says Geraldine. "Uncle Dick (Geraldine's Godfather Richard Lombardi) was supposed to adopt me because he had nothing but sons, and wanted a daughter, but my mother supposedly couldn't have any kids so the decision was made that I go with Ralph and Ann." Thus, Ralph and Ann Rullo became the only parents that Geraldine ever knew, taking her to live with them at their 54 Cottage Place home in Long Branch. Geraldine Rullo's adoption was never fully legal, however, and Geraldine has never had a legal birth certificate.

"Adam Alvine (spelled phonetically) was my father's attorney out of Newark, and Adam started the formal adoption paperwork and the process, but then he died before it was completed," says Geraldine, "and my father never went to another attorney to finish it up. And he would never talk about it, and when I brought it up he said [translating Geraldine's old Italian] "ah shut up," and that I was his and that was it."

Ralph Rullo had come to the United States as a young boy from Italy. "My father was related to the Lombardi's from Abruzzo, Italy, and my mother was Neapolitan," says Geraldine. The Lombardi's, who also immigrated to the United States, were his father's birth cousins from his mother's side of the family. Ralph Rullo went on to serve in World War I with the United States Navy.

Geraldine Gates' adopted parents, Anna and Ralph Rullo of Long Branch, New Jersey. The couple is pictured on a cruise, date unknown.

Ralph Rullo earned a living as a partner in R&L Plumbing Company in Long Branch, New Jersey which he founded with his Abruzzo cousins.

"The 'R' stood for Rullo, the 'L' for Lombardi," says Joe Lombardi, "Ralph was a master plumber and proprietor of that business along with our family."

But plumbing wasn't Ralph's only successful enterprise, which is another fact known by Geraldine and confirmed by Joe Lombardi.

Ralph Rullo's secondary "career" was no less successful than his plumbing business, though it was far less "legitimate." Says Geraldine, her father became involved with the Genovese crime family at a fairly young age.

"It is a fact that Ralph was involved in truck hijackings with Joe [Mellillo]," says Joe Lombardi. Mellillo was the husband of Ralph Rullo's sister, Clara.

"I remember each year when it came time to get new school clothes for the new school year, we would go shopping in Uncle Joe's living room or his garage," says Geraldine, "and even as a young kid, that struck me as funny that we didn't go to the store." The clothes that Geraldine would wear to school each year had been part of cargo stolen from hijacked trucks.

There were Genovese connections to Ralph Rullo's brother as well. "When my father's brother got started in the business....in the beginning, his brother Jerry was a trigger happy nutjob that robbed gas stations, and then he got into the mob working with the Bonanno crew in the 1930's or somewhere around there, and at some point, I think it was around '36, he was shot and killed in a robbery shootout," Geraldine explains. She also states that her adopted mother, Ann, had been married to another man before Ralph Rullo. Ann was widowed when her husband, Tito Paparozzi (spelled phonetically), from Bloomfield, New Jersey, was shot and killed. According to Geraldine, he was also involved extensively in organized crime.

Growing up, like most young children, Geraldine had no idea as to her father's business or the identities of the "business associates" who often came to their Cottage Place home adjacent the Atlantic Ocean. They were, however, familiar, friendly and kind to her as a child. It was as she grew older that she became wiser to her heritage. Men whom she only knew via their given nickname frequented her father's Long Branch home --- men with names like "Dapper" and "Uncle Tony." Also frequenting the house -- the Russo brothers, known as "Big Pussy," "Little Pussy" and "Middle Pussy."

It is rumored and speculated that reputed mob enforcer-hitman Anthony DeVingo later killed Little Pussy because he was embezzling from the Genovese family. (See extensive article on DeVingo by clicking here.)(Note: Paulie Walnuts from the HBO series The Sopranos was allegedly, according to Joe Lombardi, and other sources, modeled upon hitman Anthony DeVingo.)

"The Russo's nicknames weren't intended to be derogatory at all," Lombardi explains, "the reason they had these names was because when they started [with the Mafia], they began as cat burglars."

"I remember my father would tell me how to address these men when they came to visit, and he would tell me to address them a certain way because these were men of respect, or men of honor, however he put it," Geraldine recalls, explaining how this made an impression on her young memory.

As Geraldine was growing up, there were the subtle hints of mob violence around her.

"One day I was home alone when my parents when to a mob man's funeral...all I know is this was a guy they referred to as Johnny Boy, and my dad had this shed, and he always told me he kept plumbing parts out there," says Geraldine, "so I went in there and there were all kinds of plumbing parts, faucets and stuff like that. But there was this whole box of National Geographic magazines, and I started looking through them, and inside them were loose pictures of dead people in coffins, dead people in the street, and I remember this really made me curious as a kid. So when mom and dad got home, I went to my mother because I figured my father would be mad that I was out in his shed and I asked her about it and she said [translating from Geraldine's old-country Italian] 'OH, JESUS CHRIST ALMIGHTY,' don't you ever bring this up again and don't you ever go in there again and don't you ever tell your father you saw that,'" Geraldine recalls.

Several years later, from her bedroom window on Cottage Place, Geraldine witnessed what she believes was her first mob "hit." She had a view of the Paddock Lounge, which was a restaurant/bar that had a heavy Italian-American clientel which frequented the establishment, which was just adjacent their home. "I was about 15 I would guess," Geraldine says, "and it was the dead of summer, and my bedroom window was open and it was hot, so I was sitting by the window when all of a sudden, I heard this woman start screaming her ass off, and then I heard POP! POP! POP! and there was all this noise."


•GROWING UP MAFIA

Before this, when Geraldine was 13, she took off to New York City, her adventurous streak first emerging. Geraldine had been smitten with a particular band that had played in Long Branch, and hearing they were from New York, she went to find them.

"I went to find the band that had been playing on the boardwalk in Long Branch, and I found a member of them, but I did manage to find them. I started singing with them and my mother and father found me and had me drug home. And then I ran away again....and again, and again," she says, recalling a life that led her to find her talents in music.

In 1963, when Geraldine was but 17, and after numerous outings from her parent's rule, she met and married Fred Corey. "This was mainly to get away from my mom and dad," she recalls. "I thought that being married would allow me to do whatever I wanted."

The marriage did not over well with Geraldine's parents, particularly her father.

"Daddy went to Fred and basically threatened his fucking ass, and Fred who was Military Police in the Army was forced to stay at my house in Long Branch," recalls Geraldine. But, as she became pregnant with their first child, Stacy, Geraldine was able to lobby her father for the couple's independence and privacy, and thus the Corey's were able to get their own residence outside of Rullo rule.

Sometime after the couple moved out, the beatings began at the hands of Fred Corey, asserts Geraldine. "Just before my father died, sometime around 1967, he became aware of the beatings. He didn't know the details, but he knew what was going on," recalls Geraldine, "and that's when he told me that he was going to take Fred to the cemetery, line him up in front of a tombstone and kill him...and I begged and screamed about my girls and for him to not do this for their sake."

The screaming and begging paid off, and Ralph Rullo, according to Geraldine, relented. "He told me that if he ever laid another hand on me or did this again, or if 'I ever see a mark on you or anything on those kids I don't like, it's a done deal.'"

Shortly after this, Ralph became ill and his health began to slide. He was in and out of a private hospital in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey.

Fred and Geraldine were married for a tumultuous period of about 5 years, wherein she had daughters Jill and Stacy with Fred. The relationship, says Geraldine, was abusive, and she tolerated it as long as she could. By late 1967, she and Fred had separated with Geraldine and her girls moving home. Eventually, Geraldine was "given" a house to live in on Cummings Avenue in Long Branch. "Myself and the girls moved to this house which my father had just told me 'go live there.'" Explains Geraldine, the house was owned by her father and several other parties, though she never knew the identity of who actually owned the house. What she does recall is that she never paid rent to live there. The house on Cummings would become the house that she and Butch would reside in later in the early 1970's, as well as the home Geraldine lived in when the DeFeo murders transpired.

Christmas on Cummings Avenue, circa 1977. Though the exact date is unknown, this photo is from a Christmas spent at the Cummings Avenue house.

In March 1968, Ralph Rullo, 75, passed away. A self-described "daddy's girl," the death of her father devastated Geraldine who was in the process of divorcing Fred Corey and moving on with her life. The obituary of Ralph Rullo, published in the March 26, 1968 Daily Register newspaper of Monmouth County, New Jersey gave reference to Ralph Rullo's surviving daughter, Geraldine Corey, (and two grandchildren) though it misspelled her name as "Carey." The obituary properly stated that Geraldine resided in Long Branch, where she had moved after she became estranged from Fred Corey.


• CONNECT THE DOTS

Ralph Rullo's March 1968 obituary referenced the fact that Ralph Rullo had a surviving sister -- Clara Mellillo of Newark, New Jersey. Mellillo was the wife of Joseph Mellillo, or "Uncle Joe," whom Geraldine asserts was also involved in the Genovese family.

Geraldine asserts that reputed mob enforcer Anthony DeVingo was a staple in the Rullo home, among others, such as the Russo brothers. But what is not generally known is that DeVingo was family, and by family, not just in the way of organized crime. DeVingo was related via marriage, which substantiates Geraldine's claim that he was in the Rullo house regularly and "worked" with her father in and around Long Branch. DeVingo was, factually, Geraldine's cousin by marriage.

Joseph and Clara Mellillo had two daughters, Annette and Emily. Annette, who came to be known as Nettie (Nettie died in New Jersey in the summer of 2010.) married Anthony DeVingo. Anthony DeVingo died in 1989 of a heart attack. DeVingo, in addition to being the prime suspect in the killing of Anthony Russo, was indicted for murder in the late 1970's. The charges didn't stick and DeVingo beat them even despite statements from a mob informant that he was physically in the car when DeVingo shot the marked man in the head. DeVingo is described as a fierce, coldblooded killer who was an understudy of Jersey mobster "Richie The Boot" Boiardo.

As an interesting sidenote, the apartment at Harbor Island Spa where Anthony Russo was hit in 1979 was just down the street from the Rullo home. The 4-story building, one of the first "high rise" structures along the Long Branch waterfront was torn down in 1997.

"When Geraldine says that "Uncle Tony" often came to her father's house, this was Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno," says Joe Lombardi. The record supports this. When researching the deeds for the house on Cummings Avenue through Monmouth County, New Jersey, the deed for the property came back, as of 1976, to Catherine Salerno, a woman that Geraldine maintains she knew as "Kitty." Catherine Salerno is reported to be a relative of Anthony Salerno, and though unconfirmed, possibly his wife or his sister, thought the relationship is not entirely clear.

"Back then and even now, they put houses and property and other stuff into the names of other people, like their wives, associates, or whomever, to conceal the identity of who actually owned a piece of property," says Geraldine's cousin, Joe Lombardi.

"My parent's house on Cottage Place was in my mother's name, this I do know, and to my knowledge, my father had nothing in his name. All I know is that my father told me that this was HIS house [Cummings Avenue] that he owned with other people," explains Geraldine.

Today, she believes, and her cousin confirms, that it was likely her father and Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno who owned the property she lived in through the early part of the 1970's.

Tony Salerno, born in 1911, was brought into the Genovese family by Michael Coppola. Salerno served under Coppola until 1962 when Coppola went to prison (where he later died in 1966.) Like Peter DeFeo, both men served under Vito Genovese, the boss of the family, until he passed in 1969. At that time, another member of the old crew, Philip Lombardi, rose to power and succeeded Vito Genovese as the boss of the family. Lombardi would employ the tactic of creating "front bosses" to conceal his identity as the head of the family, and as a result he stayed out of prison. He died a free man in 1985 when he was succeeded by Vincent Gigante.

Throughout the late 1970's and into the early 80's, the Mafia had made Salerno a very wealthy man. When Vincent Cafaro testified that figures like Peter DeFeo and Anthony Salerno had their hands in the construction of the Jacob Javits Center and the New York Coliseum, it was also revealed that Salerno was a co-owner of S&A Concrete Company. S&A had gained the contract for all the concrete work at the Javits Center. This enterprise was in addition to Salerno's loansharking, his number rackets, and the skimming of profits from Nevada casinos.

Through an understanding of this history, we can now connect the dots.

Vito Genovese was the "boss of bosses" over the New Jersey Genovese crime family. When he died in 1969, control of the family was passed to Philip Lombardi, who was direct relation to the Long Branch Lombardis who owned half of Ralph Rullo's R&L Plumbing.

Anthony Salerno served under Genovese and later Lombardi through the 1970's. Salerno, through the documentation revealed in The United States v. District Council of New York City, we see that Salerno was tied to Peter DeFeo whom we know, factually, was the brother of Rocco DeFeo who was the grandfather of Butch DeFeo. We also know, via the wiretap conversations that Peter DeFeo and Butch DeFeo's maternal grandfather Michael Brigante Sr., often had conversations----conversations which Brigante vividly recounted while he was unaware that he was being recorded. The demeanor by which Mike Brigante speaks to and of Peter DeFeo throughout the transcripts is candid and often blunt as he recounts his discussions. Knowing Peter DeFeo's reputation, the discussions seem to suggest that Michael Brigante, himself, was well connected to the syndicate because, otherwise, it is doubtful that Brigante would speak to DeFeo in the manner he recounts.

Anthony Salerno's connection to Geraldine's father, Ralph Rullo, was through mob boss Philip Lombardi confirms Joe Lombardi. Based on the documentation, Salerno's business interests reached far and wide, and based on Geraldine's assertions that Tony Salerno frequented their home, it becomes entirely plausible that he and Ralph Rullo could have jointly owned property together, thus placing it in the name of Catherine Salerno.

By understanding these connections, we can see that it was a rather small world. When Geraldine and Butch DeFeo met for the first time, even they likely did not realize that they ran in virtually the same circle.

Even 37 years later, it was Geraldine Gates who did not realize how small the circle was until she had a conversation with her cousin Joe following the death of Nettie DeVingo.

"Peter DeFeo came up in our conversation, and I mentioned that I never met Pete," Geraldine recalls, "in all the years that I was with Butch. And my cousin says 'of course you did,' and I argued with him. At that point, he says to me 'who do you think so and so was?' describing a little man with glasses. I said 'well of course I know who that is, that was Uncle Phily,'" Geraldine recalls. "And my cousin says to me 'and just the who the hell do you think Phily was?"

It was around this time that Geraldine's cousin, who had been aware of the Shattered endeavor for some time, began speaking to Katzenbach and filling in details that even Geraldine was unaware of.

"Geraldine had known Peter DeFeo all along, and well before she even met Butch DeFeo," says Joe Lombardi, "and she was never privy to what his real name was because there was no reason for her to know, until now, after you [Ryan Katzenbach] and her went digging."

"When Geraldine found out that Peter DeFeo was, factually, Phillip Acquilina, she called me first thing on a Sunday morning. We knew of Peter, but we never paid any attention to Pete because we didn't know he was significant to the case...there were rumors that he had been Mafia, and Geraldine and I had discussed it and believed he was Gambino and likely low level," recalls Ryan Katzenbach. "When Gerri called me she's pissed that all of these years she never knew that Peter had operated under the Acquilina alias, so she says 'do you have your FBI file or whatever it is handy?' I just happened to have these documents at home that weekend, and I had never really looked up Peter before in the file, but sure enough, he had a rap sheet with the Department of the Treasury, and right there, in black and white, it listed his alias and stated that Peter DeFeo had been a "top capo" in the Genovese crime family," recalls Katzenbach. "It states in black and white he was a close associate of Vito Genovese."

When new documents began to then emerge as to Peter DeFeo's rather ancillary role in the story, DeFeo became the puzzle piece that, when locked in place, established the clear connection between Gambino and Genovese and brought Geraldine's claim that the two families had worked together to conceal her marriage to Butch DeFeo into focus.

Geraldine has repeatedly asserted that she was scrubbed from the DeFeo story in a cooperative effort between Mike Brigante and the Gambino family and her family, the Genovese organization. There are many who claim it could have never happened --- but when you examine the record, her family's connection to organized crime is pristine and the fact that they could have removed any record of Geraldine and Butch DeFeo's marriage suddenly becomes more culpable.

(Note: In the next installment, we will explore further documentation and details of family connections, including their reach into upstate New York wherein it is believed that certain records were altered and fabricated in an effort to create a smokescreen)

The producers of KatcoMedia and Ryan Katzenbach very respectfully wish to thank Joe Lombardi for his input, facts and historical information.

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