Anthony (Fat Andy) Ruggiano was born in August 1926 in the East New York section of Brooklyn. As a youth, he lived at 120 Bevy Court. He would later reside for many years in the Ozone Park area of Queens.
Side Note: Many prior residents of the East New York-Brownsville and Canarsie sections of Brooklyn later moved to these new South Queens areas as their original beloved neighborhoods where they’d grown up changed and turned “bad”. The wiseguys relocated right along with them but would still frequent the old neighborhood daily for “business”.
Side Note: Years after his death, his son and namesake Anthony – a mob associate – would become a federal informer, testifying in several cases.
He originally operated out of the Brownsville/East New York sections of Brooklyn and expanded into Southern Queens, Ozone Park, and Howard Beach.
By the late 1960s to early 1970s, Andy had branched out with racket activity into Long Island, as well as, the Fort Lauderdale area of South Florida.
As a kid, Andy started out as many young mafiosi do, thieving any way he could.
He was alleged to have been active in armed robberies, burglary, truck theft, and the sort.
An example of that was his arrest in 1947 for the break-in of Irving Katz & Co., a Downtown Brooklyn haberdasher along the busy business district area of Fulton Street.
Andy and two buddies were nabbed by a patrolling squad car hustling armfuls of suits, pants, and bolts of cloth right out the front door into their waiting getaway car at 4 am in the morning.
Andy got pinched along with his pals, Jerry Allicino and Lenny Daddona.
He would graduate, of course, to become active in bigger and much more important things (and bigger arrests) as the years went on.
In 1971, Ruggiano was one of 14 charged in a sweeping indictment for operating what famed Brooklyn District Attorney Eugene Gold described as a $50,000,000-a-year Brooklyn-based gambling network.
Named by Gold as the “ringleader”, Fat Andy Ruggiano was initially being sought as a fugitive by authorities as they swept through the New York metropolitan area rousting the 11 men and 3 women accused of activity in the betting ring…… Andy turned himself in shortly thereafter.
He had just laid low until he understood what the full charges were that were being lodged against him (a smart move).
By the late-1960s, he had started with legal problems.
Having put away such top names as Franzese, Vario, Tramunti, Dioguardi, and Fatico, soon Ruggiano would get more than his fair share of FBI scrutiny and subsequent arrests.
He was publicly identified by the early 1960s as a member of the Gambino Family. By the early 1970s, he was being carried in FBI files as a “captain” overseeing a crew of soldiers and associates.
He was also a close friend and associate of many noted top hoodlums of the day including:
• Aniello (O’Neil) Dellacroce – a top Anastasia Capo who would later become underboss to Carlo Gambino….. a highly-respected mafioso.
• Joseph (Joe Piney) Armone – a veteran soldier, who with his brother Steve, were deeply involved in heroin importation and distribution. Joe Piney would later rise to become acting consigliere or underboss at one point.
• Anthony (Tony Lee) Guerrieri and his brother Michael (Mikey Gal) Guerrieri – both loyal soldiers from Andy’s East New York area, Tony became a capo by the mid-1980s under Gotti. Mikey would serve in the same capacity after Tony’s death.
• Carmine (Charlie Wagons) Fatico and brother Donato (Danny Wagons) Fatico – the original boss of East New York for the Family, Charlie would reign for years with his brother as his most loyal aide. The mentor of John Gotti and many future big names of the borgata.
• John, Sr., and Gene Gotti – top East New York associates of Carmine Fatico, later proposed by him. They were always a part of this Brooklyn faction.
• Anthony (Tony Pep) Trentacosta – top moneymaker and associate who would later gain prominence after his induction overseeing gasoline rackets for the Family. A well-liked multimillionaire soldier. Died in prison.
• Salvatore (Sonny Black) Montello – a promising associate first in the Franzese crew who jumped a fence back to Ruggiano and the Gambinos, got too big too fast for his britches…. turning rat after his arrest for several large heists, testified in several trials, then disappeared into witness protection.
• Albert Maione and Lawrence (Larry Baccala) Abbandando – boyhood friends from the East New York section, the nephew and son respectively of Murder Inc., killers Harry (Happy) Maione and Frank (The Dasher) Abbandando who went to the electric chair together in 1944….Albert and Larry were long-time bookmaking partners under Franzese, who later affiliated with Ruggiano.
• Paulie Vario, Sr. – another East New York neighborhood alumni who (with his brothers) would rise to become a top Lucchese power. Paulie was Andy’s close Brooklyn-based connection to the Luccheses when Andy needed to interact with that Family.
• Bruno Facciolo – Flatlands-based Lucchese soldier, top earner, shylock, strong arm, and trusted Vario aide who was murdered as a suspected informer (he wasn’t).
• Leonard DiMaria and Nicholas (Little Nicky) Corozzo – Canarsie-based sidekicks/boyhood friends who partnered up as top Gambino figures. Corozzo would later rise to top capo status and was a contender for the boss seat.
• Dominick (Skinny Dom) Pizzonia – another Brooklyn born Gambino member, rose to top Capo status, later based in Howard Beach.
• Ciro Perrone – longtime East New York-based Genovese soldier (had a brother Mike – also a member), a subordinate of Mike Miranda and Anthony Carillo, Acting capo for Matty the Horse Ianniello, later settled in Howard Beach.
…. and many others, mostly Brooklyn hoods, through the years.
Fat Andy’s widely diversified racket activities over the years included bookmaking and policy, shylocking, truck hijacking and the fencing of hijacked/stolen cargo, extortion and strong-arm enforcement, labor rackets, and business infiltration.
It was also suspected, but never proven, of his dabbling in narcotics activities through approval of his minions activities.
Fat Andy was considered a well-respected and well-liked mob guy.
By the mid-1960s into the late 1970s, he’d became high profile in the streets. Active in many things, his exposure would eventually bring him headaches like he’d never seen before.
He was soon on law enforcements radar.
Ruggiano was a nightclub hound and enjoyed a bouncing nightlife in both New York City and the Hallandale/Fort Lauderdale sections of Florida.
He always had a large and varied crew.
An example of this was one man alleged to have been a close associate of Andy, a 300-lb. obese hoodlum named Albert (Albie) Somma. Within a few years he came to he attention of Long Island authorities for his activities as a loan shark.
After an intensive investigation it was determined by the Suffolk Rackets Squad that Somma was under the supervision and control of Ruggiano, who was alleged to be the source of the funds for his usury “book”.
Somma was said to have borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars from Andy for re-loan out to Albie’s own borrowers.
Considered a “loanshark’s loanshark”, Somma was said to borrow money at 1% a week interest from Fat Andy, and push it out “on the street” at from 2 to 4% weekly “vigorish” to literally hundreds of loan customers
This arrangement gives the reader insight into the size of Albie’s shylock book, but more importantly, the prominence of Fat Andy Ruggiano to have been in a position to be able to loan that large of an amount of money out to one person, and at that relatively low rate of interest he did, no less.
In 1982, homicide detectives and federal authorities made this intelligence public knowledge after Somma, a 39-year old resident of Smithtown on Long Island was found shot dead in Upstate New York.
Somma had just been paroled from Raybrook Federal Prison after serving a 2.5-year term for extortionate credit transactions.
He had previously served a three-year bid up in Lewisburg for loansharking.
It was said he was executed the very same day as his release.
Side note: [a local Rosedale, Queens small-time hood named Patrick Boccio was almost immediately grabbed in Upstate NY and charged with the Somma murder. No motive was given]
At the time of Somma’s loanshark arrests and indictment, police reported that he was a member of the Carlo Gambino Family and a Anthony Ruggiano minion.
During this time period, the early 1980s, Ruggiano had been subpoenaed to testify before a Suffolk rackets grand jury that was investigating a $1,000,000-a-year loanshark operation.
Andy was predictably hit with criminal contempt charges after he clammed up before the jury panel when asked about his knowledge and involvement in the usury ring.
In another police probe and subsequent gambling takedown during the 1980s that was indirectly linked to Andy was when his son and two mob associates were pinched in the Little Italy section of Manhattan for running what was called a $7,000,000-a-year policy-numbers operation.
One of his more prominent high-profile arrests happened after getting tied into a major joint NY-Florida probe by the FBI in the 1980s of the borgata’s push and attempted expansion into the South Florida rackets.
Gambino members Tommy Agro and Joseph (Joe Piney) Armone also figured into this case.
Ruggiano had actually been “on the lam” for another case.
He’d grown a beard and changed his mode of dress, trying to lay low.
I’m not sure of the specific circumstances, but he was eventually nabbed on RICO charges and jailed. I believe he did a lot of time on that case.
Joseph (Joe Dogs) Iannuzzi – a longtime Agro associate who became an FBI snitch after receiving a vicious beat down from Agro and a few of his henchmen in a desolate South Florida Italian restaurant’s kitchen one evening, would help draw Ruggiano and many others into the authorities’ net.
As a later tie-in to this case, Nicky Corozzo and still later Anthony (Tony Pep) Trentacosta, early associates of Andy’s from his East New York days, would be drawn into these and future mob probes.
It was alleged that Corozzo, and later Trentacosta, had been assigned to “take over” Gambino territory previously governed by Ruggiano.
After being paroled, Ruggiano returned back home, settling into the Queens mob landscape again.
Unfortunately, he lived only a few years more, before suddenly dying in 1999 at the age of 72.
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