by The Other Guy | November 21, 2020
Born in Livingston, New Jersey, back in 1930, Gerardo was reared and educated on the gritty streets of Newark, which in that era was a largely immigrant Italian neighborhood teaming with new arrivals from Southern Italy and Sicily.
He was a scrappy Italian kid prone to the fast and loose life of the streets. He fell in early with the older Italian racketeers who were operating the area and soon became an “associate” on record with a Mafia faction operating under the guidance of Genovese Family caporegime Ruggiero (Richie the Boot) Boiardo.
For many years, a young Andy Gerardo maintained a low profile, and not much ever came out about him or his racket activities. Only with his later ascension as Boiardo’s “right-arm” did Gerardo’s true significance within the New Jersey underworld hierarchy start to emerge.
From the late 1960s forward, his face was seen regularly around the Boiardo regime’s watering holes and social clubs. Andy’s name was gaining prominence. It is believed that by the mid-1970s is when the fledgling hoodlum received his “button” under Richie the Boot’s sponsorship.
As a side note, knowing the bloody reputation and psychological makeup of Boiardo, for Andy to have achieved his “button,” I do not doubt that Gerardo “worked” for it.
Boiardo was not one for handing out memberships to guys who weren’t willing, or able, to perform “work” as needed for the regime.
With his new status as a “made guy”, he was now a full-fledged mafioso. “Andy Gerard” had finally arrived!
It was suspected by local and federal law enforcement mob watchers that Andy had committed a few “pieces of work” on Boiardo’s orders, thereby qualifying him for formal induction into Cosa Nostra’s ranks.
He was now on equal footing with such mafiosi as The Boot’s son Anthony (Tony Boy) Boiardo, as well as members of other borgatas such as the DeCavalcante’s Robert (Bobby Basile) Occhipinti, Gambino’s Anthony (Little Tony) Carminati, and Salvatore (Tutti) Lombardino of the Colombo Family.
Equally important, he was now trusted by and operated in unison with, if still subordinate to, such top iconic Garden State bosses as Gerardo (Jerry) Catena, his brother Eugene (Gene) Catena, Louis (Bobby) Manna, Angelo (The Gyp) DeCarlo, Louis (Streaky) Gatto, and Vincent (Chin) Gigante.
Because of his close relationship with his capo, he became more and more trusted to handle the troops and oversee the regime’s day to day racket activities. No small accomplishment in a regime said to have included close to forty very ambitious inducted Mafia soldiers, and dozens and dozens more “associates.”
Gerardo was to rise above them all. He stood out like a shining star among them all in Richie Boiardo’s eyes, so much so that when the old capo died of natural causes in 1984, it was his wishes, and had personally preselected Andy Gerard to succeed him.
With his selection to serve as the “official” capo di decina of their Northern New Jersey faction, Andrew Gerardo became one of the most powerful racketeers in the state.
It was a position that he wore well. He was generally considered to be a sharp guy. An intelligent hood who had good instincts on the streets.
Primarily engaged in the bookmaking racket, he operated horse and sports betting rings throughout several towns and neighborhoods in both North and South Jersey. He also ran an extensive lottery operation that stretched throughout the northern sector of the state.
These “bread and butter” rackets were supported by the crew’s ancillary organized rackets of loan-sharking, various shakedowns and extortions, labor union pillaging and racketeering, business infiltration, arson, fraud, and a host of other mob activities.
And Andy Gerardo became pivotal to it all. Once in the capo seat, his minions maintained the tried and true rackets that their original boss Richie Boiardo had developed many years earlier. Under Gerardo’s stewardship they even expanded into South Florida.
While he was consolidating his position and power within the Family, Andy made sure to either purchase, partner, or infiltrate, several legitimate businesses along the way. This gave the fledgling capo an air of respectability, as well as several solid sources of legit income for both his pocket, and the Internal Revenue Service agents who periodically snooped around looking for scraps by which to try and form a tax evasion case against him.
After a major gambling investigation during which state troopers raided multiple locations and executed arrest warrants, in five residences authorities discovered boxes of gambling slips which they seized. They also seized several automobiles used to conduct the racket. In 1969, he and eighteen others were convicted in state court of operating a multimillion-dollar a year numbers-lottery from August 1966 to February of 1967.
A few years later in 1972, the IRS stepped in to analyze those betting slips and monthly gambling records and later determined a tax deficiency of over $899,250 for the years 1966 and 1967, plus added fraud penalties of $449,624 for a total of $1,348,000 plus. In short, Gerardo got buried under the two cases and both criminal and civil penalties were lodged against him by the IRS.
With these convictions and the greater scrutiny that came along with it, Gerardo was rudely awakened to the fact that he was no longer a low-key and shadowy second string hood in the eyes of the law, he was now on front street. He knew that, and tried to take the required efforts to indemnify himself from future prosecutions the best he could.
Over the course of the next decade or so, Gerardo acquired investments and either owned stock in, or actually operated a garment firm named Antone Fashions, an electrical contracting company called Lectricians, and the TNT Contracting and Trucking Co.. These last two businesses were awarded several lucrative public works contracts through the years.
He also started spending more and more time in South Florida where he later decided to purchase a second home in Aventura. Eventually he would migrate down there for good. But for the present time Andy utilized it as a sort of retreat from the daily rigors and pressures of mafia membership. But a mafioso is always a mafioso, and within short order Gerardo quietly expanded his operations and reach into the Sunshine State as well.
For many years, the Genovese faction he headed based operations out of a nondescript little social club on Bloomfield Avenue in North Newark.
This was a typical mob hangout that boasted several card tables with chairs, a makeshift little bar, a few couches, and the ever-present Cimbali coffee machine that served up tiny cups of rocket-fueled expresso for all the boys. Across the street out front, diagonally from the club was a huge statue of Cristoforo Colombo aka “Christopher Columbus”, that most famous of Italian icons in this country.
It was an unspoken source of pride for the mobsters in this mostly Italian neighborhood, and anyone verbally (or God forbid physically) defacing or abusing that statue would immediately incur their wrath.
Among the troops of the Boiardo/Gerardo crew were some of the most notorious names of New Jersey’s underworld; Thomas (Pee-Wee) DePhillips, Anthony DeVingo, Ralph Picardo, Joseph (Joe Z) Zarro, Tino Fiumara, Silvio DeVita, and Michael (Mikey Cigars) Coppola to name but a few. In later years Fiumara would rise to helm this crew after Gerardo was released from prison and decided to semi-retire.
But during his tenure at the top of New Jersey’s mob heap, Gerardo was as capable as any. He ruled with a strong hand, and was considered a no-nonsense guy. He was thought to have utilized Ralph (Spud) Vicaro as his “acting capo”, or second in command. Vicaro was exceptionally helpful to Andy as the bosses eyes and ears in the later years where Gerardo chose to spend more and more of his time down in Florida.
January 1984: In a weird, fateful turn of events, a retired former New Jersey cop from the town of Orange named Mike Russell was driving down Bloomfield Avenue one day when he happened upon a street incident where two young black motorists were having a physical altercation with an older white-haired white man after a fender bender. He swung his pickup truck to the curb and quickly jumped out to even up the odds as the two on one fisticuffs ensued. Russell hit one guy knocking him to the pavement while the white guy hit the other black. Together they leveled the playing field enough that the two blacks ran off.
After thanking Russell for coming to his defense and introducing himself, Andy Gerardo invited his new found friend into the local coffee shop across the street for breakfast and a cup of “Joe” as a small token of his appreciation. This incident was to become the pivotal event starting a very unlikely, close friendship between the mafioso and the former policeman. Gerardo took such a liking to Mike, that he soon invited him to occupy the empty storefront next door to Gerardo’s headquarters, which was a private mob social club nicknamed “The Cage” from which he ruled over Genovese operations in the Garden State.
Russell was operating a small fuel oil truck delivery business at the time. He soon started running the oil firm from that little office, and his friendship with Andy Gerard and with numerous of his mob underlings soon began. Gerardo knew he was an ex-cop but dismissed that fact because Russell seemed so sincere (in essence he was anything but), and Andy should have understood that a cop’s a cop 99.9% of the time. Especially an Irish cop!
No sooner had he left Gerardo after breakfast with him that fateful morning, Russell got on the horn with an old friend of his (Nick Oriello) from the New Jersey State Police asking about who this guy with the name Andrew Gerardo was?
This white haired guy seemed very important because during that cup of coffee numerous other Italian looking men, serious guys, would stop by their booth and say hello and converse. Once told that indeed this man was the kingpin of the Jersey branch of the Vito Genovese Mafia Family, Russell thought he had hit the lottery and envisioned super-plums and law enforcement stardom potential.
The NJSP soon outfitted him with a body-wire, his new make believe oil company office – “Premium Petroleum”, and his home with mini-cameras and microphones, as well as tapping all phone lines coming in and out of those locations. With only a single wall now separating the State Police from New Jersey’s mob, they commissioned Mike Russell to work “undercover” gathering evidence against Gerardo and his associates… It was a cops wet dream! Mike Russell was also soon back on New Jersey’s payroll in an undercover police capacity, earning a government paycheck weekly.
Some of the secrets he discovered was that the crew ran an active illegal casino several nights a week next door. They also controlled one of the largest sport-betting networks in the whole state. Russell had gained the trust of Gerardo to the point that he was soon involved in their garbage hauling rackets, toxic-waste dumping, and bookmaking. Equally important was the fact that the wiseguys started talking less guardedly when Russell was present…. It was to become a big problem for the Jersey crew.
Fourteen months later in 1986, prosecutors and state law enforcement authorities announced sweeping indictments against 41 alleged crime figures as a result of this massive undercover probe that had been named “Operation Intrepid.” Included in the arrests were Gerardo, DePhillips, Picardo, Zarra, and many of the crew’s other top figures. The end result were either guilty pleas or convictions after trial of nearly all defendants. It was a major blunder on the part of Andy Gerard, and a rare misjudgment of character for the otherwise street savvy capo. Unfortunately, his lapse of good judgment dealt a severe blow to the Newark based crew.
In a back to back 102-page indictment the following year in 1987, which was directly tied to some of the same evidence gathered during Operation Intrepid, Andy was among 16 of his crew indicted a second time on charges coming out of Trenton prosecutors office alleging the “Gerardo Regime” raked in a whopping $20 million a year through arson, gambling, loan-sharking and racketeering under the direction of Gerardo, who by this time was already in state prison serving his previous sentence for bookmaking.
The indictment also spelled out charges of embezzling over $3 million dollars from a mob-operated, union-sponsored health care plan that involved a corrupt dentist and land developer. These mafia operations were so well entrenched and pervasive throughout Northern New Jersey that the New Jersey State Attorney General filed a forfeiture and return order of $31 million dollars in illegal racket profits in either cash or assets.
They were accused of running several separate, but interconnected gambling and loan shark rings in Newark, and sections of New York City. Soldier Anthony DeVingo allegedly controlled Local # 262 of the Wholesale and Retail Department Store Workers Union of West Orange for the crew, that was later drained of the $3,000,000 from their union slush fund.
In short order, Gerardo and the others ended up getting buried. They all went to prison, with Andy serving several bids consecutively. Upon their release the crew had lost a lot of their tight grip over what had once been an ironclad hold over much of Northern New Jersey’s underworld and its related legitimate industries.
After his release from prison Andy chose to more or less semi-retire from the day to day activities of New Jersey’s Cosa Nostra. He stayed more and more down south, and only came north for personal family functions or when absolutely necessary. He had had enough. And it was time to kick back a bit and enjoy his senior years.
Andrew (Andy Gerard) Gerardo passed away Sunday, January 29, 2012 at the comfortable age of 81 years old.
He had long retired down to the Sunshine State as much because he really liked the area, aside from the obvious benefit of being able to avoid the prying eyes of New Jersey law enforcement. His body was flown back to New Jersey for a traditional wake and burial. It was attended by all his old “brothers” and “compare” who were still erect and breathing themselves.
In his life, he had been through it all. The blood and guts, all the mob intrigue, and the state and federal indictments that came along with it. His last years were quiet by comparison. He was still a highly respected guy. When by chance he bumped into a fellow mafioso at a restaurant or on the street, he was warmly greeted.
Until the next time….”The Other Guy!”
This article was originally posted “here“