In about 30 years, Frank DeCicco was one of the first mobsters to go against the boss of the Gambino crime family. Gambino is one of The Five Families, the original Italian-American mafia crime family, involved in organized crime in the United States since 1931.
With the support of John Gotti, Frank DeCicco managed to organize a successful murder plot against Paul Castellano, the reigning boss of the Gambino Crime Family.
Unfortunately, even after helping John Gotti get to the top, other mobsters still had a grudge against DeCicco. This led to his death four months later.
His death has gone down in history as one of the most shocking mob hits in history.
Frank DeCicco Joined His Father In The Gambino Crime Family
Frank DeCicco, who also went by the name Frankie Cheech, was born in Brooklyn on November 5, 1935. He had a brother called George DeCicco, a soldier for the Gambino crime family.
DeCicco was a physically imposing man who had a thick neck with thick visible arteries when he was angry. He liked dying his hair black.
His father, Vincent "Boozy" DeCicco, was already part of the Gambino crime family when he joined the criminal enterprise, and so was his uncle.
Frank was also the owner of a social club in Bensonhurst in Brooklyn.
As an adult, he lived on Staten Island. He had two children, Vincent and Grace. Vincent passed away in 2008 after suffering from lung cancer.
DeCicco joined the Gambino crime family in the late 1960s as a soldier. Over time, he rose through the ranks to become the second in command, but that final promotion cost him his life.
Before Castellano's death, he was DeCicco's friend. Castellano even managed to get DeCicco into his labor racketeering scheme.
Paul Castellano was Carlo Gambino's cousin, and he took over as boss when Gambino passed away in 1976.
Frank DeCicco Was A Brilliant Man And An Asset To The Gambino Crime Family
DeCicco stood out for his brilliance, although he still chose to live a life of crime like his father. His ability to remain calm earned him a lot of respect among his criminal peers.
Frank DeCicco was a successful gambler who loved playing craps and roulette. He regularly enjoyed these games at illegal gambling establishments in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
There is one other thing Frank DeCicco also knew to do, and that's executing a plan. This is what won him the admiration of Paul Castellano, known as the boss of bosses or Big Paul.
In 1978, he convinced Gravano that a hit ordered by Castellano on Gravano's brother-in-law, Nicholas Scibetta, was justified. Initially, Gravano was quite furious to hear there was a plan to kill his brother-in-law, and he had declared that he would kill Castellano before he had a chance to kill Scibetta.
In 1983, Castellano ordered the death of DeMeo, a Gambino soldier who was under serious investigation by law enforcement and likely to become a state witness.
Despite DeMeo's fearsome reputation as the head of a group that had killed over 200 people, DeCicco managed to get him killed on January 10, 1983.
DeCicco Was Castellano's Friend
By 1985, Castellano was making a lot of money as Gambino's boss, thanks to his deals with gamblers, loan sharks, and labor unions. His only problem was taking most of the money these schemes made, which antagonized many of his family members.
John Gotti was among the mobsters who found Paul Castellano's leadership intolerable. Gotti was a hothead, hungry for more money and power.
Gotti also started dealing heroin on the side, which he knew was strictly against Castellano's wishes. He did not want to get involved with drugs.
Eventually, the police started to crack down on the drug dealings Gotti was involved with. Gotti knew that his end was near.
At this point, Gotti knew he had to make a move before his boss got him killed. Gotti enlisted Frank DeCicco's help in creating Castellano's murder plot.
Castellano Died On The Streets
As close as Frank DeCicco was to Castellano, who was 70 at the time, he was still close enough to John Gotti to help him come up with a plot to murder the elderly mob boss.
In any case, DeCicco was promised that he would be second only to Gotti once Castellano was out of the way.
Days before Castellano met his end, DeCicco told Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, a fellow mobster, that they were giving Gotti a shot to be boss. If that didn't work, the two would get rid of him, and DeCicco would become boss while "The Bull" would be the underboss.
Gravano suggested that DeCicco becomes the boss and not Gotti. DeCicco argued that Gotti could be a good boss and deserved a chance.
Frank DeCicco was quite motivated to carry out Castellano's murder plot.
Castellano was lured by DeCicco on December 16, 1985, to a meeting in Midtown Manhattan at Spark's Steakhouse. John Gotti joined him, but he was in a nearby car to make sure everything would go as planned.
Castellano and his underboss Thomas Billotti did not even make it to the restaurant. As they headed into the establishment from their limousine, four men wearing trench coats and Russian fur hats started shooting at them.
The mob boss died right there on the streets, and 45-year-old John Gotti replaced him. As promised, Frank DeCicco was given the role of the underboss.
The Deadly Revenge On Frank DeCicco
As determined as John Gotti and DeCicco were to kill Castellano, not everyone thought getting rid of the money-loving mobster was the right move.
Additionally, the hit had not been carried out according to the rules. Only the top mobsters could order a hit like that, which means Gotti had done this without their approval.
The revenge was set in motion by Castellano's old friend, Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, the head of the Genovese crime family.
Anthony Casso, a mob underboss, was asked to plan John Gotti's murder. He also involved Herbert Pate in carrying out the hit.
Pete created plastic explosives and used a remote-controlled toy car to attach the bomb under DeCicco's car.
On April 13, 1985, Pate identified DeCicco's car outside Veterans & Friends Social Club in Brooklyn. He was having a meeting with his boss John Gotti.
Pate deliberately dropped the bag of groceries he was holding close to DeCicco's car and attached the explosive to it while pretending to pick up his things. Pate left without anyone realizing what had happened.
By the time DeCicco left the club, Pate was ready. He set off the bomb as soon as the underboss was close to his car, and it turned into a ball of fire while shattering nearby windows.
DeCicco died instantly. Sammy Gravano, who was close to where the hit happened, recalled the horrific incident:
"I saw Frankie DeCicco laying on the ground beside the car. With the fire, it could blow up again. I tried to pull him away. I grabbed a leg, but he ain't coming with it. The leg is off. One of his arms is off. I got my hand under him and my hand went right through his body to his stomach... I was wearing a white shirt. I looked at my shirt, amazed. There wasn't a drop of blood on it. The force of the blast, the concussion, blew most of the fluids out of Frankie's body. He had no blood left in him, nothing, not an ounce."
Soon after the bomb went off, a police officer who was close by tried to pull away the two men who had been hit and put out the fire in their clothes. He also rushed them to the hospital, where Frank DeCicco was pronounced dead.
The 69-year-old man beside DeCicco, when the bomb went off, survived. His name was Frank Bellino.
Gotti was also a target in the hit, and the man who was with Frank DeCicco was mistakenly assumed to be Gotti, despite being a Gambino crime family boss.
Nevertheless, the hit was still considered a hit as it told Gotti that many people were quite dissatisfied with his leadership.
Life After Frank DeCicco's Murder
DeCicco's death was a massive blow to the Gambino crime family. Due to fear of the wrong crowds attending his funeral, DeCicco did not get a funeral mass before he was buried.
Castellano had gotten the same treatment for the same reasons.
Life went on after Frank DeCicco died. John Gotti got another underboss, Joseph Armone. Gotti was pretty upset with Frank DeCicco's murder and even promised that he would revenge the killing.
He remained at the helm until he was convicted of murder in 1992. Sammy Gravano testified against him at the hearing, and he was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Pate ended up in prison, serving a 12-year prison sentence for unrelated charges.
Pate had been chosen because he could not be linked to the Gambino crime family. For that reason, he could not be easily be identified while trying to stake out DeCicco.
Since the bombing, the American Mafia has banned the use of bombs as they put innocent civilians at risk.
Frank DeCicco has been depicted many times in films, such as the 1996 film, Gotti. He also appeared in the 1998 film Witness to the Mob, and the 2018 movie, Gotti.