By Scott M. Deitche
Scott M. Deitche is the author of five books on organized crime including Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld and The Silent Don: The World of Santo Trafficante Jr. He also has written dozens of articles on organized crime for national magazines and newspapers. Dietche has been featured on The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, A&E, C-SPAN and national news and radio shows. Dietche will be writing blogs for The Mob Museum on a regular basis.
One of the last Gotti-era Gambino family capos, Joseph “Joe the Blonde” Giordano, died at age 64 from lung cancer on Sunday, September 29, 2013 in an Albany prison hospital ward (though other sources state he was serving time at the Adirondack Correction Facility in Ray Brook, New York). The Blonde’s death comes just a few months after another Gambino capo, Bartolomeo Vernace, also 64, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in a 1981 murder.
Joe the Blonde had a long and storied history with the New York Mafia and the Gambino family. His uncles were Joe “Piney” Armone (d. 1992), one-time underboss of the Gambino family during John Gotti’s reign, and Stephen Armone (d. 1960), known for involvement in narcotics in Florida. Joe the Blonde’s brother was the late mobster “Handsome Jack” Giordano. Handsome Jack was shot and paralyzed on April 10, 1995 in front of the Lennox Hill hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
The Blonde was in prison serving a three-year sentence for extortion. He was indicted in September of 2012. The indictment read that “from on or about March 2009 through June 2009, GIORDANO threatened, punched, kicked, and slapped a victim in order to extort approximately $50,000 from that victim.”
Giordano’s family gave exclusive quotes to the New York Daily News, asserting that prison officials were negligent in supplying treatment to Giordano, even though it was apparent he was suffering serious health complications form the lung cancer. Giordano was sentenced to a three-year prison term in March. His son told the News that “My father went into jail coughing up blood and they ignored it.”
Other Mob Deaths
September also saw the deaths of Colombo mobster Richard “Richie Nerves” Fusco, and Bonnano wiseguy Joseph “Joe Saunders” Cammarano.
Fusco is probably best known as one of the mobsters pictured with Frank Sinatra in the infamous 1976 photograph backstage at the Westchester Premier Theater, also featuring Carlo Gambino and Jimmy “The Weasel” Frattiano. Fusco died suddenly at age 77, having recently been released after serving a four-month sentence for extortion.
Cammarano, also 77, was a Brooklyn-based capo in the Bonnano family. He died in a Federal prison hospital serving a 15-year sentence for the 1990 murder of associate Anthony Tomasulo, the owner of a successful video poker business.