Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso (born May 21, 1942) was a New York money machine mobster and the former powerful Underboss of the Lucchese crime family. Later he became a government informant.
See also: ADX Florence
Born in Brooklyn, Casso was the youngest of the three children of Michael and Margaret Casso (née Cucceullo). Each of Casso's grandparents had emigrated from Naples, Italy, between 1896 and 1898. His godfather was Salvatore "Sally" Callinbrano, a Capo in the Genovese crime family, who maintained a powerful influence on the Brooklyn docks. Casso dropped out of school at 16 and got a job with his father as a longshoreman. As a young boy, Casso became a crack shot, firing pistols at targets on a rooftop which he and his friends used as a shooting range. Casso also made money shooting predatory hawks for pigeon tenders. Anthony stands at 5'6 and weighs 185 pounds. He was a violent youth and street gang member of the infamous 1950's gang, the South Brooklyn Boys. He is the father-in-law of Genovese crime family mobster Paul (Slick) Geraci. Casso soon caught the eye of Lucchese capo Christopher "Christie Tick" Furnari. Casso started his career with the Cosa Nostra as a loanshark. As a protege of Furnari, Casso was also involved in gambling and drug dealing, in addition to loansharking.
Over the years, there have been various stories of how Casso got the nickname "Gaspipe" - Casso himself claims it is from his father, a mob enforcer who used a gas pipe to threaten union dissidents and other victims, however others say it is because his father hooked up illegal gas connections. Even though Anthony detested the nickname, it stuck to him for life and though few would say it to his face, he allowed some close friends to call him "Gas". He married Lillian Delduca around the same time and had a daughter and son. In the 1970s, Casso murdered a drug dealer who was suspected of cooperating with the government. In 1972, at age 30, Casso became a made man, or full member, of the Lucchese family.
Casso and another young soldier, Vittorio "Vic" Amuso, soon started a criminal partnership that would last for years. They committed scores of crimes, including drug trafficking, burglary and murder. When Furnari became the Lucchese consigliere, Casso's influence also increased. Casso and Amuso were chosen to handle the assassination of Gambino boss John Gotti, but the attempt failed. Lucchese boss Anthony Corallo, seeing a guilty verdict coming in his trial, picked Casso as new Lucchese boss. Casso refused and instead suggested that Amuso become new boss.
Under new Lucchese leader Amuso, Casso became the family underboss replacing Mariano Macaluso who retired in 1989. Although he wielded as much influence as Amuso. During this time, Casso maintained a glamorous lifestyle, wearing expensive clothes and jewelry (including a diamond ring worth $500,000), running restaurant tabs up to thousands of dollars, owning a mansion in an exclusive Brooklyn neighborhood and going on huge spending sprees. While at the top of the Lucchese family, Amuso and Casso shared huge profits from their family's illegal activities. These profits included: $15,000 to $20,000 a month from extorting Long Island carting companies; $75,000 a month in kickbacks from eight air freight carriers that guaranteed them labor peace and no union benefits for their workers; $20,000 a week in profits from illegal video gaming machines; and $245,000 annually from a major concrete supplier, the Quadrozzi Concrete Company." Amuso and Casso also split more than $200,000 per year from the Garment District rackets, as well as a cut of all the crimes committed by the family's soldiers.
In one instance, Casso and Amuso split $800,000 from the Colombo crime family for Casso's aid in helping them rob steel from the construction site at the West Side Highway in Manhattan. In another instance, the two bosses received $600,000 from the Gambino crime family for allowing them to take over a Lucchese-protected contractor for a housing complex project in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Casso also had a close alliance and received tribute from Ukrainian gangster Marat Balagula, who operated a gasoline bootlegging scam headquartered in Brighton Beach. Casso also controlled Greek-American gangster George Kalikatas, who gave Casso $683,000 in 1990 to operate a loan sharking and gambling operation in Astoria, Queens.
Following the imprisonment of Amuso in 1991, which it has been suggested that Casso played a part in luring Amuso to the meeting place where he was arrested, Casso became the de facto boss of the family. In Ernest Volkman's book "Gangbusters", it is theorized that while both Casso and Amuso were on the run from the law, Casso wanted complete control of the family and set up Amuso to be taken down by the FBI, at a mall where he was supposed to meet Casso. While evading authorities for over three years, Casso maintained control over the Lucchese family, reportedly ordering 11 deaths as well as conspiring with Genovese leader Vincent "Chin" Gigante to retaliate against Gambino leader John Gotti.
In another incident toward the year of 1993, Casso used the Brooklyn faction-leaders George Zappola, Frank "Bones" Papagni as well as the family Consigliere, Frank "Big Frank" Lastortino, to try and take over the Lucchese crime family by hatching a plot to kill Amuso's Underboss and Bronx faction leader Stephen "Wonderboy" Crea, but due to the massive indictments at the time, all members of the plot were eventually incarcerated on various charges, including Casso, who was arrested at a girlfriend's home in Mount Olive, New Jersey, in 1994.
Several high ranking members of the Luchesse family had defected, mostly due to the erratic actions of Amuso and Casso. Among them was a former captain whom Casso had tried to murder, Pete "Fat Pete" Chiodo. Chiodo had committed numerous murders for Casso and had survived an assassination attempt, soon turning informant . Once Casso was caught by the FBI he realized that there was an enormous amount of evidence against him, not to mention that Vic Amuso had been convicted on many of the same charges as Casso. Knowing that he may well spend the rest of his life in prison, he then agreed to become a government informant.
Casso disclosed that two NYPD detectives were on the Lucchese payroll. These detectives were later determined to be Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who committed eight of the eleven murders Casso has ordered, and gave Casso information of others as well, either if they were potential informants, or considered rivals. It is also proven that Casso used Caracappa and Eppolito to put pressure on the Gambino crime family by murdering several of their members, because Casso, along with the imprisoned Victor Amuso and Genovese crime family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, wanted their rival John Gotti out of the way. Caracappa and Eppolito are now seen as two of the most important reasons for why the war between the four bosses continued so long. However, the government determined that Casso was an unqualified witness.
Casso was dropped from the Witness Protection Program. As of October 2008, he is still serving a life sentence without parole at the Supermax ADX Florence prison in Florence, Colorado.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, as of March 2009, Anthony Casso was located in North Carolina at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) for the treatment of prostate cancer. The FMC is part of the Butner Federal Correctional Complex. However, by July 2009, he has been returned to ADX Florence.
* "Most all men in my life, everyone I know, had girlfriends. It goes with the territory. Women are drawn to us, the power, the money, and we're drawn to them. But only in passing. Some guys treated their mistresses better than their wife, but that's a f---in' outrage. No class. Only a cafone does that. I never loved any woman but Lillian. She and my family always came first."
* "I truly feel sorry for the younger generation that wants to belong to that life. It's sad for them. There is absolutely no honor and respect today. Little do the newcomers know that there are many made members in the Mafia that wish not to be there and would like nothing better than to walk away from it. So they do the next best thing: stay low key if possible. The young newcomers will never see the kind of big money that was once made. That's long gone. They don't realize what it means to be free and have peace of mind until its taken from them."