In John Alite’s days as a feared enforcer for the New York mob, the threats were delivered with blades, bullets and baseball bats.
But would any self-respecting Mafioso make someone an offer they couldn’t refuse via text message? Fuggettaboutit.
‘Anybody who sends any kind of text message is just clueless about what it means to be a gangster,’ scoffs convicted killer Alite, 59, talking exclusively with DailyMail.com.
‘It’s a wimpish move. Anyone can be a tough guy on the telephone. You don’t give someone a warning when you’re about to commit extreme violence.’
Alite’s gripe is a familiar lament among old school New York mobsters who are coming forward to blast their ‘woke’ millennial counterparts for eschewing violence and being glued to phones and social media.
Mobster John Alite, who is a former crew leader for John Gotti, tells DailyMail.com how the up- and-coming gangsters are ‘wimpish’
As a high ranking member of the Gambino crime family for 20 years, Alite was the sort of figure who commanded everyone’s respect in the underworld. By his own admission he meted out dozens of shootings, stabbings and brutal beatings on behalf of his bosses, the Gottis. Seen in his mugshots
Alite says things are far different than how they were when he was working for John Gotti (pictured with Peter Gotti). Alite’s gripe is a familiar lament among old school New York mobsters who are coming forward to blast their ‘woke’ millennial counterparts
A federal indictment revealed last month how one young wiseguy opted to shake down a union official with a text rather than his fists, writing: ‘Hey this is the second text, there isn’t going to be a third.’
The underwhelming threat ended up in the hands of law enforcement and helped Feds nab 16 members of the Colombo crime family, including longtime boss Andrew ‘Mush’ Russo, 87, who are all awaiting trial on racketeering and extortion charges.
Anthony Russo, who was jailed for driving a getaway car in the 1993 murder of fellow Colombo mobster Joseph Scopo, tells DailyMail.com the mob has gone soft
For Anthony Russo, no relation but a former Colombo captain, it demonstrates what he’s been saying since he got out of jail in 2013: the mob’s gone soft.
‘If you’re going to do that you may as well knock on the FBI’s door and tell them what you’re going to do before you go do it,’ Russo, 60, tells DailyMail.com.
‘You don’t talk on the phone, you don’t text nobody nothing. But these young guys think they’re smarter than the old timers, they think they’re smarter than everybody.’
Russo’s former cohorts from the famed but jaded Colombo clan – one of the five families that make up New York’s Italian-American Mafia – are accused of extorting a Queens construction union for two decades as well as loan sharking, fraud and drug trafficking.
Prosecutors say they terrorized officials into doling out contracts to their Mafia pals and plundered money from the union’s lucrative health care benefit fund.
‘I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids,’ Vincent Ricciardo, a 75-year-old mobster nicknamed Vinny Unions, was overheard saying about a potential victim in an FBI recording, it’s alleged.
Mafia experts say the personal involvement of aging veterans such Ricciardo and Andrew Russo in the day to day workings of the racket betray their lack of confidence in the younger generation.
And with good reason: the final wiseguy to face arrest, 66-year-old Colombo consigliere Ralph DiMatteo, was forced to turn himself in after his son tweeted a photo of him relaxing in a Florida pool.
‘How stupid are you? You know your father’s on the run and you’re posting pictures on the internet. His father should break his legs,’ adds Russo, who was jailed for 35 months for driving a getaway car in the 1993 murder of fellow Colombo mobster Joseph Scopo.
Colombo consigliere Ralph DiMatteo, 66, was forced to turn himself in after his son tweeted this photo of him relaxing in a Florida pool
Sixteen members of the Colombo crime family, including longtime boss Andrew ‘Mush’ Russo, 87, are all awaiting trial on racketeering and extortion charges
The feds have arrested a soldier for the Bonanno family, John ‘Maniac’ Ragano, who is charged with loansharking, fraud and drug-trafficking offenses. The mobsters say the millenials refuse violence, are glued to their phones and social media and send threats via texts
‘The boss is not supposed to be micromanaging everything like this, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be,’ Russo goes on.
‘If you’re the boss you’re supposed to sit back and delegate, then the underboss tells you everything that’s going on. So for a boss to be out there, involving himself in everything, it shows he has no faith in the people below him.
‘This sloppiness, greediness, stupidness would not have been allowed to happen when I was there.’
It’s not just the bad guys who are watching standards slip.
Professor James B. Jacobs of New York University School of Law noted in a 2019 paper that the ‘Cosa Nostra crime families are shadows of their former selves’.
Jacobs said the gentrification of New York’s working class Italian-American neighborhoods meant bosses had far fewer potential new recruits.
He also pointed to the growing number of Mafia members willing to rat on their cohorts and the lack of consequences for many of those that did.
That ‘breakdown of Omerta’ – the Mafia code of silence – meant that ‘the current generation of members and associates may have less loyalty,’ Jacobs concluded.
Retired FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio knows a thing or two about informants.
He was once accused of getting so close to Colombo snitch Gregory Scarpa that he was charged – but later cleared – with feeding him information that led to a string of murders.
‘In my time you could go and talk to the older guys,’ DeVecchio tells DailyMail.com. ‘They didn’t necessarily like you but they knew you had a job to do, they would say, ok you do what you have to do, if you catch me, fine.
‘But I noticed when I was retiring and getting out of the business that the younger generation were become nastier. They didn’t seem to have respect for any of the old rules.’
As a high ranking member of the Gambino crime family for 20 years, Alite was the sort of figure who commanded everyone’s respect in the underworld.
By his own admission he meted out dozens of shootings, stabbings and brutal beatings on behalf of his bosses, the Gottis.
Alite says the rot started when the foot soldiers saw superiors such as Gambino underboss Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano shamelessly cooperating with the Feds. Fravano is seen with Gotti in 1986 entering a Brooklyn courthouse
That ‘breakdown of Omerta’ – the Mafia code of silence – meant that ‘the current generation of members and associates may have less loyalty,’ said Professor James B. Jacobs of New York University School of Law. Bonanno crime family ‘capo’ Vincent Asaro (center, with white shirt and sunglasses) is pictured surrounded by mobsters in Queens
Alite doesn’t pull his punches when it comes to the ‘fake’ gangsters of today who are more interested in shooting steroids, working out and posting on social media.
‘Back when the mob was the mob there were serious consequences if you didn’t watch your tongue. Now you can just talk – or type – away and nothing happens,’ he tells DailyMail.com.
Today Alite is a successful author and a motivational speaker who aims to scare ‘kids straight’. His latest book, Mafia International, was published in July
‘They’re projecting an image of gangsters but without the killing. There’s hardly any violence in it anymore and that’s why they don’t get results.
‘That’s why you have Andrew Russo still doing what he’s doing. He’s an old time gangster, he was around for the wars, but imagine being 87 and still doing what he’s doing. And it’s all petty stuff, he’s not making millions.’
Alite says the rot started when the foot soldiers saw superiors such as Gambino underboss Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano shamelessly cooperating with the Feds.
He cut his own deal in 2008, pleading guilty to two murders and four conspiracies to murder while agreeing to testify against John Gotti Jr, who has similarly admitted to talking to the FBI although he insists he never gave anyone up.
Today Alite is a successful author and a motivational speaker who aims to scare ‘kids straight’. His latest book, Mafia International, was published in July.
‘These guys don’t understand a word of Italian, they’ve never been overseas, many of them have never left their state or even their neighborhood.
‘So how can they understand the origin of the Mafia? It’s impossible for them to understand how f*cking violent it was for our generation,’ Alite says.
‘But I tell them the truth: 90 percent of the guys on the street now are a joke and that’s why they don’t get any respect.
‘Any dummy can do that but can you cut it as a businessman, a lawyer or the CEO of your own company?’