Excerpt: 'Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss'

It's one the of country's most high-profile, unsolved crimes -- what happened to union boss Jimmy Hoffa? Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, the former underboss of New York's notorious Lucchese crime family, reveals shocking insider details about the inner workings of the Italian mafia to author Philip Carlo in "Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss," including who he thinks was behind Hoffa's infamous demise.

Click on the video to the left of this text to hear Carlo's account of "Gaspipe's" long list of crimes and bodies he left in his wake.

You can find an excerpt from the introduction of "Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss" below:


The Eye of the Storm

Anthony Casso's story began in lower Park Slope, South Brooklyn. During the turn of the twentieth century, this area was a tough, violent Italian American enclave filled with coarse, Italian immigrant dockworkers and laborers. Bordered by Atlantic Avenue to the north and the sprawling hills of Greenwood Cemetery to the south, Prospect Park to the east and the docks of Red Hook to the west, South Brooklyn produced numerous Mafia luminaries. Al Capone came from this place. Both Carmine and Alphonse Persico also came from this neighborhood, as did Albert "Kid Blast" Gallo and "Crazy Joe" Gallo. Albert Anastasia, Harry Fontana, and Joe Profaci all hailed from this four-square-mile area.

Elia Kazan's immortal On the Waterfront was an in-depth study of the New York harbor docks, the stranglehold the Mafia had on the waterfront. The film garnered Oscars for Best Director and Best Film as well as an Oscar for Brando's brilliant performance. Who can ever forget his classic line in the film, "I coulda been someone, Charley—I coulda been a contender."

In a sense, to some Italians, becoming a member of the Mafia was all about "being someone," being "a contender" in life. The Mafia was an opportunity to become wealthy and treated with respect without a formal education, without having to walk the straight and narrow or follow the rules and regulations mandated by a hostile society.

To some degree, much of that had to do with the fact that society's rules and regulations were unfair, outright corrupt, specifically geared toward excluding Italian immigrants.

Italians, perhaps more than other immigrant groups before them, were marginalized and put upon. They were thought of as an uneducated gruff people who could not speak English, ate spaghetti, drank too much wine, and were oversexed. They were not, for instance, allowed in trade unions; they were outright shunned by American society.

For example, when the Central Park reservoir was being dug in 1904, an advertisement was posted in the New York Times, seeking men to dig the huge hole and lay the stone the reservoir required. The amount of pay was offered in three different ways—for "whites," for "blacks," and for "Italians." The Italians were paid the least.

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