If you’ve ever wondered where David Chase got all those fan tastical ideas for “The Sopranos,” maybe he, like the feds, had his own mob informants. Or maybe the feds were his informants.
This is the story of the rise and fall of New Jersey’s DeCavalcante crime family, New Jersey gangsters who bear more than a passing resemblance to “The Sops.”
The DeCavalcantes were always, by mob standards anyway, minor players in the estimated $50 to 90-billion-a-year, ah (what the hell do you call it?), industry. In fact, the five families of New York called them “the farmers” and thought of them as country bumpkins.
In fact, when the NY families started to break down, the DeCavalcantes took over.
But in 1998, in an attempt to impress the DeCavalcantes, a wannabe named Ralph Guarino robbed Bank of America of $1.6M in broad daylight. The moron and his co-morons in crime, however, made two fatal mistakes: They took the wrong bags from the bank and ended up with foreign currency. They also forgot about security cameras which videotaped the whole thing.
Guarino cut a deal and wore a wire. For years he rode around with the soldiers of acting DeCavalcante boss Vincent “Vinny Ocean” Palermo. Like the mugs on “The Sopranos,” most of the underlings whined and complained to Ralph constantly while spilling secrets as the feds collected stories of murder, extortion, gambling, prostitution and you name it.
After a while, the DeCavalcantes wanted to make Ralph one of their own. Unfortunately, to be “made” he’d have to kill someone, so the feds had to call a halt to it all.
Vinny was arrested and immediately turned rat. For his cooperation (he brought down his entire family), he got two years. He now lives in the not-so-secret Witness Protection Program in Texas. In a giant mansion. In a gated community.