August 9, 2020 – It hasn’t been a great few years for longtime Springfield (MA) mob figure Amedeo Santaniello. A shelving by Genovese crime family bosses in New York due to a photo that surfaced on-line of him posing beside black-listed informant mob soldier Felix Tranghese, a beef with his nephew, reputed Springfield mafia crew skipper Albert (The Animal) Calvanese and now implication in a cold-case gangland murder conspiracy from nearly a half-century ago.
In a meticulously-researched two-part investigative piece by Springfield’s resident mob expert Stephanie Barry posted on MassLive last week, it was reported that Santaniello summoned his close friend, fellow hood and bar co-owner Victor DeCaro on the night he disappeared in the spring of 1972. The 29-year old DeCaro’s slaying is one of the most infamous unsolved crimes in the history of the region. He was found floating in the Connecticut River two months later, his body riddled with bullets.
DeCaro was married to the daughter of Springfield mob underboss Frank (Frankie Skyball) Scibelli and rumored to be having an affair with the wife of Springfield mafia don Salvatore (Big Nose Sam) Cufari. The DeCaro hit was one of three murders in May 1972 that were carried out using the same .38 caliber Smith&Wesson pistol according to Barry’s article.
On the evening of May 14, DeCaro was with Scibelli at Big Nose Sam’s South End neighborhood headquarters, Ciro’s, when Santaniello called the kitchen phone at Ciro’s and requested DeCaro come by their Living Room Lounge on the Agawam riverfront to replace a sick bartender, per a miniscule police file on the case Barry got her hands on. Scibelli drove DeCaro to the Living Room Lounge that night and he was never seen alive again.
Cufari led the mob in Springfield – a satellite wing of New York’s Genovese clan – for more than three decades until he died of natural causes in 1983 and Frankie Skyball took over his post. Santaniello, 81, was Scibelli’s policy lottery chief and oversaw gambling territory in parts of New York for the Springfield crew well into the 1990s. He was kicked out of town late in the decade after he had a huge falling out with his best friend Scibelli’s No. 2 man, Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno and lived in exile in Florida.
According to sources, Santaniello, Bruno and DeCaro comprised a a tight-knit clique of young wiseguys on the come-up in the Springfield mob of the 1960s and early 1970s. Bruno became boss of the Springfield mob crew following Scibelli’s retirement and subsequent passing in the early 2000s, but he was assassinated in a plot hatched by his protégé Anthony (Bingy) Arrillota in 2003 and Santaniello was brought back into the fold by Arrillota, a friend of Santaniello’s son, Ralphie, to be an advisor, per FBI documents.
Arrillota flipped in 2010 and by the mid 2000s the Santaniellos and Amedeo’s nephew, ferocious loan shark Albert Calvanese had assumed power, according to sources. Calvanese bullied his way to the top spot in the crew after Ralphie was arrested and jailed for extortion in 2016 and he quarreled with Calvanese, per sources familiar with the situation.
Amedeo Santaniello was put on the shelf in 2018, according to sources, when a photo of him and Felix Tranghese smiling next to each other at a Springfield pizzeria appeared on Instagram. Tranghese, along with Arrillota, testified against the sitting administration of the Genovese crime family in 2012 at the trial of acting boss Arthur (Little Artie) Nigro and his cabinet. Nigro, who died of cancer last year, ordered Santaniello’s shelving, sources claim. Ralphie Santaniello, 53, just got out of prison on parole.
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