Thomas Gambino

Thomas Francis Gambino (Italian: [ɡamˈbiːno]; born August 23, 1929) is an Italian-American New York City mobster and a longtime caporegime of the Gambino crime family who successfully controlled lucrative trucking rackets in the New York City Garment District. He is the son of Carlo Gambino and nephew of Paul Castellano.

Thomas Gambino
Thomas Francis Gambino

(1929-08-23) August 23, 1929 (age 91)
Other namesTommy
Frances Lucchese
(m. 1962)
Parent(s)Carlo Gambino
RelativesPaul Castellano (uncle)
Joseph Lucchese (uncle-in-law)
Tommy Lucchese (father-in-law)
AllegianceGambino crime family
Conviction(s)Racketeering, conspiracy (1993)
Criminal penalty5 years' imprisonment

Early lifeEdit

Gambino was born on August 23, 1929, to Carlo and Kathryn (née Castellano) Gambino. He had four brothers, Joseph, Carl and Phyllis Gambino Sinatra.[1] His father joined the original Mangano crime family during the 1930s, rose to capo and later to underboss. In 1957, Carlo Gambino became boss of what is now called the Gambino crime family. Carlo Gambino became one of the most powerful mobsters in Cosa Nostra history.

Thomas Gambino graduated from Manhattan College in the Bronx and then started working for the Gambino family. In 1962, Gambino, married Tommy Lucchese's daughter Frances.[2] Over 1,000 guests attended the wedding, at which Carlo Gambino presented Lucchese with a $30,000 gift. In return, Lucchese gave Gambino a part of his rackets at Idlewild Airport (now called John F. Kennedy Airport).[3] Lucchese exercised control over airport management security and all the airport unions. As a team, Lucchese and Gambino now controlled the airport, the Commission, and most organized crime in New York City.[4][5][6] When Tommy Lucchese died in 1967, his interests in the garment industry were passed to Thomas Gambino, forming the basis of Gambino's wealth.[7]

By the 1990s, Thomas Gambino owned three homes; one in Florida, another in Lido Beach, New York, and a third on Manhattan's exclusive Upper East Side.[8] Thomas Gambino also headed the Gambino Medical and Science Foundation, which in 1991 financed a $2 million pediatric bone marrow transplant unit at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Thomas Gambino's personal wealth was estimated to be around $75 million in 1992.[9]

Castellano regimeEdit

After Carlo Gambino died in 1976, his designated successor, Paul Castellano, became the new family boss. Many family members were angered by Castellano's ascension, preferring underboss Aniello "Mr. Neil" Dellacroce instead. However, Dellacroce insisted that his supporters support Castellano for the good of the family. This move temporarily quieted the dissension in the Gambino ranks.

In contrast, Thomas Gambino, who was Castellano's nephew, enjoyed a strong relationship with the new boss. Gambino epitomized the low-profile, well buffered, successful businessman image common among second generation members of the Cosa Nostra. Given his college education, Castellano gave him responsibility for the family finances and running the trucking at the Garment District in Manhattan. Gambino and his allies in the Lucchese family were successful at infiltrating several legitimate businesses, especially the garment industry. This was due to Gambino's strong influence on the garment trucking business in New York and New Jersey.[10] In 1981, the garment industry honored Gambino as its Man of the Year.[11] Castellano quickly rewarded Gambino by making him a full family member, or "made man" and later a capo of his own crew.[12][5][13]

In December 1985, the death of underboss Dellacroce brought the simmering dissension in the Gambino family to a head. Instead of selecting an established and respected capo to be the new underboss, Castellano instead chose his driver, Thomas Bilotti. At this point, capo John Gotti and Frank DeCicco saw the opportunity to capitalize on this discontent to kill Castellano and take over the family leadership. On December 16, 1985, both Castellano and Bilotti were murdered by Gotti gunmen in a restaurant ambush. Gambino, who was not part of the conspiracy, arrived at the restaurant moments after the killing, to be turned away by DeCicco.[14] Gotti was then elected the new boss of the Gambino family.

Gotti regimeEdit

Although Gambino had been a Castellano loyalist, he quickly paid loyalty to Gotti and was able to preserve his position within the family. Since Gambino was such a strong earner for the family, Gotti did not want to replace him. In a conversation with Gambino mobster George Remini, Gotti had this comment about Gambino:

I mean it sounds crazy, Georgie, but I was telling Frankie and Angelo, I'm gonna suggest to Tommy, we're gonna beef up his regime, Tommy Gambino, but we're not giving him no (expletive deleted) hotheads.

In April 1989, Gambino was indicted for obstruction of justice by lying to a grand jury about Gambino racketeering activities, but was acquitted later that year. On October 18, 1990, Gambino was indicted again on charges of extorting the garment industry. Through their ownership of four trucking companies, the Gambinos were able to charge shipping rates 40% higher than smaller non-mob shipping companies.[15] Some of the strongest evidence in this case came from wiretapped conversations six years earlier between Gambino and Castellano at Castellano's Staten Island home. The conversations proved that the Gambinos and two other crime families exercised strong control over the Garment District.[16] The government also set up a small garment factory in the Chinatown section of Manhattan, with New York State Police officers posing as supervisors, to gain evidence against Gambino's trucking monopoly.[17]

The government offered Gambino a plea bargain that included a guilty admission, a $12 million restitution payment, and a promise to leave the garment trucking business. In February 1992, Gambino accepted the plea bargain and avoided prison.[18] Prosecutors would remark that a "terrifying fear of prison" helped motivate Gambino to accept the government deal.[19]

Indictment and prisonEdit

In 1991, Gambino, Gotti, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano and other Gambino mobsters were indicted on charges of racketeering, loansharking, extortion, illegal gambling and 11 counts of murder.[20] Soon after the indictment, Gravano decided to become a government witness and testified against his former colleagues, including Gambino.

On May 11, 1993, Gambino was convicted of two counts of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. Prosecutors claimed that Gambino had been supervising illegal gambling and loansharking activities in Connecticut since 1985.[21] In January 1996, Gambino started serving a five-year prison sentence.[8]

In May 1999, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed fraud charges against Gambino's stockbroker, Mohammed Ali Khan. While still in prison, Gambino had sued Khan for defrauding him out of approximately $2 million.[22]

On May 10, 2000, Gambino was released from prison.[23] He has moved to Florida and is now believed to be retired.

Popular cultureEdit

Thomas Gambino is portrayed by Tony Sirico in the 1998 made-for-television movie Witness to the Mob about Gravano and John Gotti.


  1. ^ Markham, James M. (November 4, 1981). "Gambino Termed Too Ill to Quit U. S." The New York Times. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  2. ^ The Gambino Crime Family — A Squirrel of a Man — Crime Library on Archived 2013-05-20 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Raab, Selwyn (March 20, 1990). "Police Say Their Chinatown Sting Ties Mob to the Garment Industry". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (February 5, 1992). "Gambino Gained 'Mob Tax' With Fear, Prosecutor Says". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Barron, James (December 2, 1992). "Thomas Gambino: It's All in the Name". The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  6. ^ "Jailed Capo Out 2m Stuck In Stock Scam, Gambino Charges". New York Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on June 8, 2009.
  7. ^ "New York" Archived 2010-12-12 at the Wayback Machine American
  8. ^ a b Fried, Joseph P. (January 4, 1996). "A Gambino Goes to Jail In 1993 Case". New York Times.
  9. ^ Gottlieb, Martin; Baquet, Dean (May 3, 1992). "Bare-Fisted Violence or Subtle Threats?". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "The Gambino/Gotti Family New Jersey Operations" State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation 1989 Report
  11. ^ "Garment District" Apparel Search
  12. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (February 5, 1992). "Gambino Gained 'Mob Tax' With Fear, Prosecutor Says". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Arena, Salvatore (May 6, 1999). "JAILED CAPO OUT 2M STUCK IN STOCK SCAM, GAMBINO CHARGES". New York Daily News. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  14. ^ Lubasch, Arnold H. (March 4, 1992). "Shot by Shot, an Ex-Aide to Gotti Describes the Killing of Castellano". New York Times. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  15. ^ Raab, Selwyn (October 19, 1990). "7 Held in Mob Extortion of Clothiers". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Raab, Selwyn (April 30, 1989). "Wiretap Evidence in Gambino Case Links Garment Group to Mob". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Jacobs, James B.; Friel, Coleen; Raddick, Robert (2001). Gotham Unbound: How New York City Was Liberated from the Grip of Organized Crime. NYU Press. ISBN 0814742475.
  18. ^ "The Attorney General Goes to War". The New York Times Magazine, June 16, 2002
  19. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (February 27, 1992). "GAMBINOS TO QUIT TRUCKING BUSINESS IN A PLEA BARGAIN". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  20. ^ Raab, Selwyn (December 12, 1990). "Gotti and 3 Top Aides Arrested On Federal Racketeering Charges". The New York Times.
  21. ^ "Thomas Gambino Is Guilty of Racketeering". The New York Times. May 12, 1993. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  22. ^ "METRO NEWS BRIEFS: NEW YORK; S.E.C. Sues Broker Accused of Theft". The New York Times. May 18, 1999.
  23. ^ Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator

Further readingEdit

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