Here is a quick question for you: Have you watched the movie Goodfellas before? It is an American crime film released in the late 90s and featured interesting characters like Henry Hill, Jimmy Conway, Tommy DeVito, Billy Batts, etc.
These characters indeed had their own fictional lives, but did you know that Billy Batts's murder is based on a true story?
While the entire story of Goodfellas may not be true, there are a few pieces of accurate information in there that act as hidden gems to the movie. These elements are what make the movie a true classic.
The Early Life Of Billy Batts
Also known as William Bentvena or William Devino, there is not much information about Batts's early life. But here is what we know: he was born on January 19, 1921, in Brooklyn, New York, where Tommy and Hill resided as well.
In 1959, Billy Batts started to work with one of New York's most prominent crime families, the Gambino crime family. He later became a dedicated member of this family in 1961.
Billy also got involved in a large heroin smuggling group called The Ormento Group during his starting years. During this time, he met Carmine Fatico and John Gotti and started to act as their protégé street soldier.
The Arrest Of Billy Batts
While working with The Ormento Group, Billy Batts started to distribute drugs in and around New York.
However, on February 14, 1959, things took a turn for the worst. This was when Batts was on his way to deliver a batch of drugs for "Joe The Crow" (a.k.a Joseph), "Ernie Boy" (a.k.a Oreste Abbamonte), and DelVecchio in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
When he reached his destination, he was arrested by the undercover policemen who were stationed there. Batts was charged with possessing, exchanging, and smuggling drugs and narcotics like heroin during his court trials.
This got him into a lengthy jail sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, for 15 years.
The Release Of Batts
Nicholas Pileggi interviewed Henry Hill for his book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family. The drug rings and crime families usually hosted a welcoming party when any of their boys were released from prison.
And as per Hill's story, Billy Batts also had his welcoming party, which happened in 1970. However, during this party, Batts made a snarky comment to Tommy DeSimone where he asked him to shine the shoes on his feet.
Now, Tommy himself was known to be a loose cannon who is hypersensitive about his ego. Therefore, this comment from Batts blew a fuse for Tommy. However, there was no way he could lay a finger on him as Billy Batts was one of the most trusted members of the Gambino Family.
Hill also mentioned that Tommy would have been a dead man if he were to take a slap at Batts.
Therefore, Tommy kept the anger to himself and started plotting for ways to take revenge on him. A few weeks later, Tommy saw a new opportunity come up at a Suite run by the Lucchese family.
The Brutal Murder Of Billy Batts
During Nicholas Pileggi's interview, Hill said that he remembered Burke was holding down Batts while Tommy stood over him and screamed, "Now shine these f*****g shoes!" and shot him in the head.
The other gang members started to panic and fled from the scene, knowing well that there would be brutal retribution for Batt's death.
Some members stayed back to stuff his body and planned to bury it without a trace.
However, during this time, Billy Batts was not completely dead, which was unfortunate for Tommy. Therefore, they opened the car's trunk again and hit him with a tire iron and a shovel.
But in the Goodfellas movie, a kitchen knife portrays this notorious scene instead of the shovel.
The Fate Of The Killers
Undoubtedly, Tommy and the other members involved on the night of Billy Batts's murder did not escape the power of justice.
However, people did not uncover the true story of the murder and other gruesome details for at least 30 years. This is because Hill had previously learned how to keep gang activities a secret even when being questioned.
Therefore, even during his interview with Pileggi, he withheld all the sensitive details for fear of payback from the other members.
As per the story that Hill speaks of, the Gambino Crime family started to grill the whereabouts of Tommy to their other gang members, including Ronald Jerothe (a.k.a "Foxy").
Eventually, things became crystal clear when Gotti got the news that Tommy would become a trustworthy member of the Lucchese family. This is why he arranged for a meeting with Paul Vario, the head of the Lucchese family.
Of course, Vario wanted to get his hands on Tommy for other reasons. However, by using the Lufthansa heist, Vario had put together his little jeopardy and even tried to rape Hill's wife.
That is why Gotti spoke to Vario and agreed to work together.
In short, Vario gave him the green light, Gotti shot the gun, and Tommy hid behind the Italian restaurant right from the moment he first stepped into it in 1979.
What Happened Next?
According to Goodfellas, Bates's body had to be relocated. Initially, it was dumped on the site of a dog breeder's ground in New York. However, since the land had to be sold for further development, the body was shifted to other grounds.
And this is just what happened in real life as well. Undoubtedly, the life of Billy Bates ended tragically. However, you can now rest easy knowing that justice was served for Bates's actual killers.