the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Saddle River NJ, Notorious NJ con artist and mob-associate, Thomas Giacomaro, refused to become a mafioso “made man” in the early Eighties. Why, you ask?
He didn’t want to kiss the ring.
“That’s right. Everybody was kissing Streaky Gatto’s ring,” says Giacomaro, “except me.”
That’s Louis “Streaky” Gatto he’s talking about, the one-time capo of the Genovese crime family.
Giacomaro was in the trucking business with two of Streaky’s crew and they were making so much money, Streaky wanted a sit-down. He wanted Giacomaro to join the family.
“We met at Vesuvius in Newark,” Giacomaro remembers. Streaky sat at the head of the table with sons Joseph and Lou Jr., and son-in-law, Al “Little Al” Grecco.
“Streaky was a skinny little guy who barely spoke,” says Giacomaro, “but his ego was big enough to suffocate the entire restaurant.”
While Little Al pitched Giacomaro on the family plan, “Streaky put hundred-dollar bills between his knuckles and held up his fist. The waiters came up, kissed his hand, and took the bills, saying, ‘thank you Don Luigi, thank you!’
What a freak show,” says Giacomaro, who tells the story in his memoir, The King of Con: How a Smooth-Talking Jersey Boy Made and Lost Billions, Baffled the FBI, Eluded the Mob, and Lived to Tell the Crooked Tale.
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Giacomaro was at the other end of the table with a coke-vodka-Quaalude hangover, trying not to vomit while Streaky’s crew force-fed him sausages, peppers, and pasta fagioli.
“Little Al said, ‘We wanna open up the books for youse, We got big plans for you.”
He knew that meant giving them a percentage of his earnings and letting them use his business to launder money.
“What could you possibly offer me,” Giacomaro told Little A and Streaky, “that I don’t already have?”
Time stopped for a minute. No one breathed.
“Streaky almost leapt across the pasta fagioli to stab me in the eye with his fork,” says Giacomaro.
But our “King of Con” had other plans.
“I was going to use the mob for everything they had,” he says, “but never be one of them. I planned to infiltrate that world to the top, but never be made.
The only crime boss I was going to answer to,” he says, “was myself.”