By The Other Guy | October 10, 2020
Anthony (Tony Higgins) Castaldi was born on January 1, 1913 in the East Harlem section to parents of Neopolitan decent.
Tony was one of eight children. He had an older brother named Samuel, aka “Sammy Bones” – NYCPD # B-254905 – who also became a mafia soldier.
He had another brother named John who was the upfront owner of a notorious mob hangout named Jennie’s Restaurant at 2036 Second Avenue, in East Harlem. Although he only listed himself as a worker and bartender, Tony Castaldi was believed by authorities to be the true owner of this establishment.
A product of East Harlem born and bred, Castaldi was raised next door at 2037 2nd Avenue.
By 1954, he was residing at 15 Princeton Avenue up in Yonkers, NY. By the 1960s, he had moved his wife and children again to 1304 Hollywood Avenue, in the Bronx.
He had married Jean (nee’ Penosi), the sister of an interstate drug trafficker and future Gambino mafia member named Guido (The Bull) Penosi.
Likewise, Lucchese soldier Anthony (Tony Moon) Ciccone was married to Castaldi’s sister.
NYCPD # B-101443, FBI # 546748, FBN # 42
Castaldi’s known aliases included: Vincent Castaldi, T.H., Tony Bones, Jimmy Bones, Antonio Angelo Castaldi (TN), and James Higgins.
He stood at 5-feet 11-inches tall and weighed a solid, husky 210 pounds with black hair, an olive complexion, and dark brown eyes. He liked to smoke cigars and was rarely caught without a stogie in his mouth.
Among his favorite hangouts was the Silhouette Lounge located at 49th Street and 3rd Ave., the Fontainebleau Bar on Lexington Avenue., both of which were well-known mob watering holes, and the local racetracks (he was known as an avid bettor). He was a fixture at the old Yonkers Racetrack and could be seen there unfailingly for years.
Castaldi’s police record started in 1932 and included such serious charges as:
-1932 – assault and robbery
-1932 – robbery with a gun
-1933 – extortion
-1933 – armed robbery (3.5-7 years)
-1941 – reckless driving ($10 fine)
-1945 – bookmaking ($100 fine)
-1950 – sale of narcotics
-1950 – possessing counterfeit revenue stamps
-1950 – conspiracy to sell narcotics (40 years in federal prison)
Local and Federal law enforcement officials named Castaldi as a longtime, trusted member of the Lucchese Family, who by the late 1960s was elevated to serve as a Capo di decina.
As clearly documented by his criminal record and closest associates, he was a prolific narcotics trafficker as well. Authorities alleged that he was one of the largest interstate distributors, using his mafia connections to buy heroin wholesale after it was smuggled into the country by other mafia traffickers.
Over the years he worked in tandem with such iconic narcotics smugglers and wholesale distributors as the thrice-convicted capo John (Big John) Ormento and his longtime partner Salvatore (Tom Mix) Santoro, Peter and Carmine (Willy the Wop) Locascio, Rosario (Saro) Mogavero, Sammy Kass, and Samuel (Big Sam) Cavalieri in the drug trade.
Likewise, he exchanged narcotics with his brothers-in-law Penosi and Ciccone for further interstate distribution.
“Tony Higgins” was also known to run numbers and operated floating dice games throughout the Harlem and Upper Manhattan areas. As a captain, his brother Sammy was thought to serve under Tony in his brother’s regime.
Despite his propensity for blowing huge amounts of his racket income on the ponies, with his mounting drug profits at one point Castaldi was also thought to have invested in the Harlem real estate market.
On September 11th of 1958 Castaldi came under the scrutiny of Labor Department Investigators probing Teamsters Local #239 of Bayside in Queens, which mostly organized automobile dealerships and the related auto industry services.
The Senate Select Committee of Investigation discovered that on the very day iconic capo Anthony (Tony Ducks) Corallo resigned his post as Vice President of the local, Castaldi and another mob minion named John Spada was installed as “organizers”to the Local’s payroll at salary and benefits totaling $400 weekly, a sum that perfectly matched Corallo’s former salary on the day he resigned to the dollar.
Tony Higgins remained on the union’s payroll for over a year, later being replaced by another Lucchese hood and known gambler from the Jackson Heights area named Joseph (Whitey) D’Auria.
Anthony Castaldi died in 1981 at 68 years old. His older brother Sammy outlived him by many years, passing away in 1998 at age 89.
This article was originally posted “here“