Sunday, May 21, 2017

Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo - The Real Tony Soprano

Vincent "Vinny Ocean" PalermoVincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo (born June 4, 1944) is a former de facto boss of the New Jersey DeCavalcante crime family who eventually became a government witness. Fictional mob boss Tony Soprano is based upon Palermo.

In the early 1960s, Vincent Palermo met and married the niece of mob boss Sam DeCavalcante. DeCavalcante took a liking to his son-in-law and began inviting him to visit his social club in Kenilworth, New Jersey. He worked at the fish markets in the early morning hours and hung out with mobsters on Sunday afternoons.
James Gandolfini - Sopranos

Local authorities uncovered the scheme and started investigating Weiss, and the two mob families became nervous. Gambino boss John Gotti requested that the DeCavalcante family murder Weiss.
On September 11, 1989, Palermo, Anthony Capo, and James "Jimmy" Gallo murdered Fred Weiss, on orders from DeCavalcante boss Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi. Weiss was associated with mobsters from both the DeCavalcante family and the New York Gambino crime family.

Weiss and his mob partners had purchased a vacant property in Staten Island and illegally dumped large amounts of dangerous medical waste there.

Mob Boss Giovanni Riggi during the trial of the 1989 slaying of Weiss

John D'Amato
Palermo was quickly 'made' and shortly after was appointed caporegime and given his own crew. Riggi was sent to prison in 1989, and he appointed John "Johnny Boy" D'Amato as his acting boss. However, D'Amato's disgruntled girlfriend alleged in 1992 that he was bisexual. Riggi ordered Palermo and Anthony Capo to murder D'Amato in order to avoid embarrassment to the DeCavalcante family. In early 1992, D'Amato disappeared and his body was never found.

By the mid-90s, Vinny Palermo was the de facto boss of the family, paralleling Tony Soprano in the Sopranos, and John Riggi was the boss in absentia from jail.
'Vito Spatafore' - Sopranos

After testifying for the government, Vincent Palermo and his family entered the federal Witness Protection Program.
In 1998, the FBI recruited DeCavalcante associate Ralph Guarino as a mob informant who devastated the DeCavalcante family. The agency gave him cell phones rigged with surveillance equipment to distribute to other family members. In October 1998, Vincent Palermo's trusted lieutenant Joseph Masella was shot to death, leaving an opening in the family. Guarino was promoted to made man.

In 1999, the FBI moved in on the DeCavalcante family. Palermo decided to become a government witness. He confessed to killing Weiss and mobster Louis LaRasso and to planning the murders of John D'Amato, Joseph Masella, Charles Majuri, Frank D'Amato, and Tom Salvata. He also implicated other DeCavalcante family members in various crimes.

Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo
On September 14, 2009, the New York Daily News exposed Vinny Ocean's new life in witness protection as a strip club operator in Houston, Texas. The 'Penthouse Club' and 'All-Star Men's Club' were hotbeds of prostitution and drugs according to police. He also owned a Mexican restaurant and a car wash - all next to one another in a gritty section of Houston.

On March 4, 2013, Palermo filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Under Chapter 11, a person's assets and debts are not liquidated, but the filer is given court protection from creditors.

Palermo put his $2.45 million home up for sale in September 2015.