A look at Paul Castellano's underboss, Tommy Bilotti, a man who struck fear in New York City.
by Allan May
Tommy Bilotti lay spread eagle in the middle of the cold, wet Manhattan street like he was snoozing on a king-size bed. But Tommy Bilotti was not asleep, he was dead, and blood was streaming from the six wounds he suffered to his head and body. Bilotti was not the main focus of the police, the media and the morbidly fascinated who gathered in front of Sparks Steak House on this mid-December evening in 1985. The focus was Paul Castellano who was lying several feet away, just outside the passenger side door of Bilotti’s black Lincoln Continental. "Big Paulie" was the head of the Gambino Crime Family, which at the time was the largest and most powerful organized crime family in the United States. Bilotti was the newly named underboss of the family.
Who was Tommy Bilotti and how did he rise to the position of second-in-command of this infamous crime family? In "Boss of Bosses," FBI agents Joseph O’Brien and Andris Kurins describe Bilotti:
"He was basically a pit bull with shoes on. If he had a business ability beyond choreographing a shakedown or calculating the interest owed on shylock loans, it didn’t show. In a milieu not known for its conversational finesse, Bilotti distinguished himself by spluttering inarticulateness."