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Anthony Casso is a member of the Lucchese crime family who was the first major crime boss to be kicked out of the witness protection program.
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In the 1980s, Anthony Casso was second in command of the Lucchese crime family. He had built his wealth through drugs and various money-making schemes. Eventually in the 1990s when he was acting boss, he was apprehended by the authorities and is currently serving several life sentences.
The youngest child of a dock worker and a homemaker, Anthony Salvatore Casso was born on May 21, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York. Both sets of his grandparents had emigrated to the United States from Naples, Italy. Casso grew up in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, then a largely Italian American community. There he saw firsthand the wealth and power of La Cosa Nostra, or the Mafia.
Casso's godfather, Sally Callinbrano, was a capo in the Genovese crime family. Casso's father, Michael, while not in the Mafia himself, enjoyed friendships with a number of connected individuals, including Callinbrano. Michael earned the nickname "Gaspipe" because he was known to carry a piece of lead pipe with him wherever he went. Anthony Casso inherited his father's nickname -- but had a different weapon of choice.
Casso developed a love for guns and hunting early on. His father often took him hunting and for target practice, teaching him how to handle a .22-caliber rifle. By his teens, Casso had become a skilled marksman. Casso, a poor student, started hanging out with a gang of neighborhood kids who called themselves the "South Brooklyn Boys." He had his first run-in with the law in 1956, when he and his fellow gang members were arrested during a fight with a rival Irish gang.
At 17, Casso received a special gift from his godfather -- a "no-show" job down on the docks. This was the first of several such jobs he got because of his mob connections. A high-school dropout, Casso soon found other ways to fatten his wallet. He became a partner in an after-hours club, and started robbing loads from trucks on the docks. As Casso prospered, he always tried to look the part of a made man, or Mafia member, wearing expensive suits and usually carrying a gun.
In May 1968, Casso married Lillian Delduca. The two had known each other for years. In 1971, the couple welcomed a daughter, Jolene. Their son Anthony, Jr. arrived in 1974. Casso made sure that his wife and children had the best of everything.
Ruthless and cold-blooded, Casso publicly displayed his penchant for violence in 1961, according to Philip Carlo's Confessions of a Mob Boss: Gaspipe. Known to carry a gun, he engaged in an altercation with a local junkie after the junkie bothered a girl from the neighborhood. Casso became incensed and ended up shooting the junkie several times and seriously wounding him.
The following year, Casso was convicted of bookmaking. He only spent five days in jail for the crime. In his early criminal days, Casso focused much of his energies on theft. He paid off truck drivers to steal their goods and sell them on the street. Eventually moving on to bigger jobs, he and his crew started robbing banks and jewelry stores.
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Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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