June 10, 2022 — The Greek mafia don of Queens, New York, Spyredon (Spiro the Greek) Velentzas was convicted of ordering the gangland slaying of Lucchese crime family associate Sorecho (Sammy the Arab) Nalo, but others point the finger at bosses in the Lucchese clan. Nalo, a world-famous thief and racketeer from Detroit, was gunned down in his travel agency on October 25, 1988, while talking on the phone to Velentzas.
The 86-year old Velentzas has been in federal prison serving a life sentence since 1992 for Nalo’s murder. This past week, he filed a motion for a compassionate release because of an increasingly bothersome series of health maladies.
Hailing from Iraqi descent, Nalo came to New York from Detroit in the 1960s and hooked up with a Lucchese crime family crew led by Christopher (Christie Tick) Furnari, a future consigliere of the organization. Partnering with Rochester (NY) mob associate Bobby Comfort and with the help and protection from Furnari’s regime, Sammy the Arab’s burglary unit pulled off the biggest hotel robbery in history when they stole more than three million bucks from The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan in January 1972.
Nalo owned a popular Middle-Eastern themed nightclub called Port Said, which catered to a gangster crowd and became a known hot spot for Lucchese and Genovese crime family bigwigs. He began doing drug deals with other Iraqi mob figures in his hometown of Detroit in the late 1970s and by the mid-1980s, had established a Colombian cocaine connection through Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel, according to DEA records. His gambling affairs began pushing into the Astoria, Queens neighborhood overseen by Spiro Velentzas, a Boston transplant that ruled Astoria’s rackets.
Federal prosecutors convinced jurors that Spiro the Greek reacted to Sammy the Arab’s infringement onto his turf by placing a murder contract on his head. Velentzas has long claimed he was merely a pawn in a power play launched by Lucchese boss Vittorio (Little Vic) Amuso and then-Lucchese capo Peter (Fat Pete) Chiodo. Sources inside the Lucchese organization, both current and former, support Velentzas’ claim. Chiodo was Amuso’s liaison to Spiro the Greek’s crew and turned government informant.
This article was originally posted here