The order came down, “Whack Jersey.” It was as unprecedented as it was insane. But from the New York side at the time it was expected. From all accounts Vittorio “Little Vic” Amuso and “Gaspipe” Casso were madmen. Power hungry and ready to murder anyone who they thought was standing in their way. Both paranoid and violent. Killing friends and enemies in equal turns. They put the murder in Mafia.
“Anthony ‘Gaspipe” Casso was extremely cunning ,” Philip Carlo, author of Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mob Boss, says. “Who was in a very real sense, born into Mafia culture, (absorbing the) mindset and belief system in a neighborhood in South Brooklyn where a lot of Mafioso come from.”
Little Vic and Gaspipe, the new kids on the block were steeped in Mafia culture, old enough to know the glory years but young enough to be enamored with the romanticism of the mob that Hollywood infused. They took over when Tony Ducks Corallo, the Don of the Lucchese family, went to prison. Weirdly enough they were handpicked to lead the Lucchese family by the highly respected and smart Tony Ducks, who was sentenced to 100 years in the famous Commission case.
The mob’s history is one filled with violence and murder, but Casso and Amuso stand out as being among the most bloodthirsty and ruthless gangsters ever to have their finger pricked and become a made guy. After Corallo went away, the family descended into bloody chaos. Lucchese mobsters ended up dead all over the place. Based on rumors and innuendo, Casso and Amuso ordered dozens of mobsters whacked and then they turned their attention to the Jersey crew.
New York wise guys have always thought of the Jersey guys as farmers and when Anthony “Tumac” Accetturo, a Lucchese old-timer running the show in the Garden State, refused to up his tribute to the New York faction’s new bosses, it was on and popping. These guys were going to the mattresses. It was death before dishonor.
Tumac was an old-fashioned Mafioso. He believed in Omertà, the Mafia’s oath of loyalty and the code of honor. He’d come up in the Mafia’s heyday and was a man’s man. Equally apt to shoot you and kill you as well as fight you. He was raised a street fighter that took care of business. Earning his nickname, Tumac, from the caveman in One Million BC, a film from the 1940s.
He was an earner too. He had houses in both New Jersey and in Florida, he had multiple rackets going on in both states and Tony Ducks loved Tumac. They’d been in business for a long time. Their relationship stretched over 30 years because basically Tony Ducks let Tumac run Jersey for the Lucchese’s.
“The New Jersey faction, at that time, was led by Tumac. He ran rackets in the Garden State and down in Florida, everything from unions and gambling to drugs. Accetturo had, as he called it, a great relationship with Tony Ducks enabling him to kick up just a small percentage of the crew’s earnings to the family leadership.” David Amoruso, a mob expert who runs http://gangstersinc.ning.com, tells Real Crime.
But when Little Vic and Gaspipe took over it was a different story. They wanted their money and they weren’t going for the same arrangement that their boss Tony Ducks had with Tumac. The Jersey gangster was making several million a year from his rackets, he had a stake in numerous legitimate businesses and he was into narcotics, extortion, loan-sharking and gambling- all Mafia mainstays. The new New York bosses saw all this money and wondered why they weren’t getting their cut. They wanted in on the action ASAP.
But Tumac was an old school gangster raised in the neighborhood. Jersey was his turf, as was Florida. He had worked from the ground up and established himself in the criminal underworld. He wasn’t giving up what he’d earned. Not to what he considered violent upstarts. Tumac was old-school. He wasn’t going for all the woofing. He’d been in the game too long. He wasn’t a rah-rah type of mafioso and he considered Little Vic and Gaspipe cowboys.
Tumac grew up with another local tough guy, Bobby Buccino, who became first a state trooper and would later end up connected to the State of New Jersey’s Attorney General’s office. His speciality was supervising cases against New Jersey mafioso. Buccino had grew up in the neighborhood and knew what the score was.
“I grew up with Tumac. Tumac was a year younger than me. His older brother Rocco was a good friend of mine and I grew up with him. He was in the neighborhood and I used to kick his ass.” Buccino, who has a book coming out, says. “Back in time when Tumac first came to view – when I heard he was involved in organized crime I figured he had to be a laborer or something.”
The future top Mafia cop in New Jersey wasn’t very impressed with Tumac as a kid. He never thought he would rise in the ranks of La Cosa Nostra but Tumac proved that he was super capable when it came to crime and running a LCN crew.
“I don’t think he passed the third grade in school, but the fact of the matter was he was a very wise guy, a very smart guy and he was meeting with the bandits from all over the country. He started with the Indian Bingo and he started doing things and he was smart enough to share his profits with other families, so he was really testing to be the new boss. “ Buccino shares with Real Crime. “Matter of fact he took care of Ducks Corallo on his death bed. Tumac was a pretty smart and tough guy. He was also very demanding of money. He liked green. He made sure that he got a ten no matter what happened with the New Jersey faction.”
Buccino was a lawmen’s lawman. He’d worked his way up the ranks just like Tumac. Though polar opposites they had that connection from their youth. A tie that Tumac would ultimately utilize when the homicidal antics of Gaspipe and Amuso multiplied exponentially.
When Casso and Amuso assumed control they were utterly disgusted with what Accetturo kicked upstairs. They demanded a 50% cut. Accetturo refused. Tensions were already high. Lucchese gangsters were dropping like flies at the hands of their fellow brothers, and when Accetturo refused to attend a meeting with Casso and Amuso the fuse was lit.
“The story behind the so-called ‘whack jersey’ directive was revealed to the public during the trial of Lucchese crime family boss Vittorio Amuso.” Christian Cipollini, author of Lucky Luciano, tells Real Crime. “Alponse D’ Arco, who became acting boss in early 1991, struck a deal with the government that same year. Amuso and his underboss Gaspipe had gone into hiding mode, which put D’Arco in the top position, but really only as an ‘acting’ boss or figurehead. Amuso was calling the shots. By 1992, Gaspipe was still on the run, but Amuso had been caught and brought to trial, whereby D’Arco spilled the details on, among many other sinister activities, who and why the New Jersey faction was being targeted during the 1980’s.”
The New Jersey faction of the Lucchese family had a chronic problem of paying the New York based boss, Amuso, on time or in full. Little Vic and especially his underboss Gaspipe were not known for having good temperaments. Their MO was shoot first and ask questions later. They’d killed people frequently and for less; Casso was a hands-on kind of guy. Seemingly obsessed with murder.
The Jersey crew was made up of approximately fifteen mobsters, led by Tumac. Sometime in the late 1980’s, when the payment lag situation began, Amuso’s hatred for Tumac and his son in particular grew. He viewed both as disrespectful. He was the boss and they weren’t paying their proper respects. Eventually that disdain turned into an edict – to kill all the Jersey crew guys. “Whack Jersey” was in effect. The first time a whole Mafia family had been green lighted.
Some of the Jersey crew members, including Tumac and his son, were invited to discuss the problem with the New York guys, but if the meeting location was suspicious, like a basement, etc. – the Jersey guys would refuse or back out of meeting for fear of being set up to be killed. They knew what was up when it came to Little Vic and Gaspipe.
“The vicious bosses put out contracts on Tumac and his son, who was also a made member.” Amoruso tells Real Crime. “Other members of the Jersey crew became anxious as well. When they were summoned to a meeting, they talked outside and voiced their fears of a set up. Within minutes all men were driving their cars back towards New Jersey. When that happened it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Casso exploded and yelled, ‘That’s it! Kill them all!’”
With his crew loyal to him Tumac and his son went down to their Florida haunts. He had a couple of street bosses run New Jersey for him. The Taccetta brothers were adept at both avoiding Gaspipe’s hitmen as well as running the New Jersey crews rackets and keeping Tumac’s fingers in every pie.
“Michael and Marty Taccetta fell under Tumac’s wing,” Buccino shares. “From when they were young punks robbing vending machines. Tumac had gone to Florida and his headquarters was at the Marco Polo Lounge in Fort Lauderdale. The Taccetta’s worked for him and they start becoming his muscle and one thing lead to another they got made and they started to bring back the New Jersey faction Lucchese crime family.”
Through the Taccetta’s, Tumac remained in control of the numbers rackets, sports betting, and the loan sharking business. The Taccetta’s were very well respected and serious mobsters. Their loyalty to Tumac was unconditional. Overtures from Little Vic and Gaspipe, who tried to get them back in the Lucchese fold, were rebuffed.
“I was deeply involved with them taking over businesses,” Buccino tells Real Crime. “I would hear that there was a business in trouble, you know, I would go out and meet with the business people and tell them I could take care of that problem by locking the mobsters up. Michael Taccetta was always very respectful to me, always respectful. He hated my guts, but he also respected me. I once served a subpoena on him I I said to him, ‘You’re a mob guy and I’m a cop, but you can’t bribe me or anything.’ Taccetta goes, ‘Oh, no, we would never try to bribe because you’re no phony.’”
As Buccino and New Jersey state officials investigated Tumac’s operations Gaspipe gave New York based hitmen photos, names and addresses of all the Jersey mafioso that were loyal to Tumac. The war was on. But it was a hurry up and wait situation as the New Jersey guys stayed under the radar and out of sight from the Luccsese hit squads sent into Jersey and Florida to kill them.
“The New York guys referred to them as country boys. They never accepted them as a viable crew.” Buccino tells Real Crime. “There was always friction between them. Tumac did nothing but provide services for the family, so he always had that problem, big boys with the little boys, you know. And in the meantime the New Jersey boys were doing pretty well financially. They were doing some good operations.
“There was always problems coming up between the New Jersey faction and the New York faction. Prior to Whack Jersey statement, the New York guys came over and opened up a company, it was a trailer in the Jersey area. They were organizing the transportation of garages from New York and New Jersey to Ohio and Pennsylvania. They didn’t let the New Jersey faction in on it, just moved over. That created friction, but it was a continuous thing between them. And then, New York as everybody knows started killing everybody, even their own soldiers.”
It was a tense situation in mob land between the Lucchese’s. As the feud escalated the mobsters focused more on killing their comrades then their business operations. Law enforcement was getting a lot of info on the crews at this time as their interests were focused more on each other instead of on staying out of law enforcement’s way. The hit teams were running rampant. Dropping bodies and causing problems, even if they weren’t whacking Jersey as ordered.
“Tumac actually made a statement about that, he said, ‘What kind of army kills its own soldiers.’” Buccino tells Real Crime. “So it became very violent in the New York end and they were demanding that the New Jersey faction declare all the businesses that they had some influence on and New Jersey didn’t want to do that, didn’t want to give that up. And so it came upon a time, I don’t remember exactly the date, but Tumac’s crew were called into New York. They were supposed to meet at a meeting with the New York faction to solve the problem.
“When they went over to New York and they met at a location they were supposed to meet at they said as soon as they saw the car pull up, it was an old car and they realized then that they were going to get whacked, so they just left. They turned around and went back into New Jersey. They didn’t go to New York no more. That was it and that was really the break between the factions.
‘When they came back to New Jersey they armed – from the vending machines that they had control over they got the money to buy all kinds of weapons in preparation to fight the New York faction. It didn’t cop out; nobody got arrested, nobody cooperated, that’s the best of my recollection of it.”
The war was on. The Jersey crew was arming for war. Anybody in their right mind would if dealing with Gaspipe and Amuso. They were capable of anything. Not only were they power mad and brutally violent, they were legitimately crazy. Ready to kill off their whole family if necessary. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
“Yeah, we felt there was going to be some action. We also had informants in place. It got to a point where everybody was cooperating, so we were getting in a lot of intelligence on it, a lot of information.” Buccino tells Real Crime. “We also realized like Tumac had said that they’re killing their own soldiers. We all could have just sat back and watched. They were doing it. The Colombo Family was doing it. The Bruno Family in Philadelphia, they were all killing their own people, so they really weakened their whole operation and when they all start cooperating I realized at that time it was coming to an end.”
While Lucchese mobsters were hunting their colleagues, many mobsters began questioning their loyalty. Why would they remain loyal to bosses who were trying to kill them over petty bullshit? Why would they remain loyal and risk ending up in one of Casso’s paranoid thoughts? With two serial killers at the helm of the family everyone was at risk of getting whacked at any moment. It all resulted in countless mobsters flipping to the government’s side and becoming a witness against the Mafia.
The beef and the crazy antics of Gaspipe and Little Vic had Tumac and other made men questioning the hierarchy as they kept their heads low and tried to avoid their bosses and law enforcement.. A lot of Tumac’s crew were in Florida where a New York hitman couldn’t creep up on them like he could in Jersey. The Jersey side weren’t scared, they were just cautious. War is war. When someone yells, “Whack Jersey” and its the infamous Gaspipe, you get ready.
“Yeah, they were very concerned about that,” Buccino says. “Because that would have been an all out war between the two crews. I bet they didn’t go to mattresses or anything like that, like you see on television. They were around, but they traveled together and had some heavy arms.”
At the same time the Jersey crew was fighting indictments. The whole New Jersey Lucchese faction had already been to trial once against the feds and famously won. Vin Diesel made a film about the case, portraying Lucchese mobster Jackie DiNorscio in the 2006 movie, Find Me Guilty.
“It was the one where they took out the whole family. They tried them. It was a racketeering charge, but it went on for over a year at trial and they won their case. They were all acquitted.” Buccino tells Real Crime. “They did a HBO special on it. They didn’t have the evidence on them, but later on when we flipped Tumac, Tumac said one of the jurors were blood. We turned that information over to the FBI and they ended up arresting the juror. I believe he did time. One juror doesn’t make it an acquittal, you know what I mean.”
Tumac, the old school gangster, was tired. With the feds and state police hounding him relentlessly and his name on a hit list he was getting sick of the gangster life. Law enforcement was in disbelief that the Jersey mobsters beat the feds, but the state was already preparing another case against them. It was a race to see who would get the Jersey crew first, law enforcement or Gaspipe.
Old, overweight and suffering from medical problems, Tumac considered doing the unthinkable. He would turn rat and betray his Mafia oaths and all that he stood for. It was a big step for the career gangster to even be considering that option but the thing that really turned him was when he found out that Gaspipe and Little Vic had given a hitman a photo of his wife and put a contract out on her. To Tumac that was crossing the line. It was one thing to green light him, but his wife? Where was the honor in that?>
It seems that Amuso and Gaspipe really messed up their Mafia careers by first taking on Tumac with the “Whack Jersey” order and then putting a hit out on his wife. Enough was enough Tumac decided. He was going to turn against the organization that he had devoted his life to. Tumac broke with the Mafia and turned snitch. He went straight to his childhood friend, Bob Buccino, to make the deal.
Gaspipe had Tumac in a corner and the only way Tumac could get out was by becoming something he detested. He had one escape from his predicament, life in prison or death, and he used his wild card. Gaspipe should have killed him while he had the chance. And he wasn’t the only one. Casso and Amuso had ratched up the climate of fear so drastically in their reign as bosses of the family that they had three Lucchese capos turning on them- D’ARco, Pete Chiodo and Tumac.
“They cooperated, they gave up all those homicides,” Buccino says. “And Tumac was too smart. When he was in Florida and he was tried he came out with Alzheimer disease defense, so they didn’t prosecute him. When he comes back to New Jersey and we convict him under first-degree racketeering he wants to cooperate and I met with him and I said, Tumac, we can’t use you, because in Florida you said you had Alzheimer disease, so how could we use your information?
“He goes I was taking a shower and I slipped and fell and hit my head and I no longer have old timer’s disease. He’s funny. He was smart enough he gave us the businesses that he had penetrated. One was ECD Wiring in Hillside. The state got a lot of money out of it. He really knew he could not testify in a criminal case against other people, but on the civil end, giving the state money makes them happy. He was smart enough to do that, so he really didn’t do much time either.”
Whack Jersey never became a reality because everyone ended up turning on Amuso and Gaspipe, and Gaspipe even turned snitch himself. Though he lied to the feds so much they reneged on their deal with him. He sits in ADX Florence, the Bureau of Prisons supermax facility. A fitting place for the vicious mob enforcer. In essence the legend of Whack Jersey has become more pop culture legend then real fact.
“What’s most intriguing about Amuso’s ‘Whack Jersey’ order due to Tumac’s refusal to share his NJ-FLA rackets with Lucchese crime family administrators, is that the edict’s portrayal in pop culture far exceeds its impact in real life.” Scott Burnstien, who runs gangsterreport.com, tells Real Crime. “The Soprano’s TV show depicted a ‘Whack Jersey’ storyline in its pivotal final season, where top members of protagonist Tony Soprano’s New Jersey mob crew were targeted for murder by fictional New York mafia don Phil Leotardo. The storyline was inspired by Amuso’s desire to off Tumac’s whole Jersey faction. But unlike in the show, where the Soprano crime family is thrown into chaos, in real life, nothing happened and nobody was harmed. Instead, in an ending more realistic than ‘made-for-film’ conclusions shown in The Godfather movies, everyone went to prison. Pretty fitting if you ask me.”