Friday, April 16, 2010
Joseph “The Eagle” Gatto of Paterson, a reputed captain in the Genovese Crime Family who allegedly inherited his legendary gangster father’s lucrative North Jersey gambling rackets, died last week in Hackensack.
The cause of death of the 65-year-old son of the late Louis “Streaky” Gatto was not made public.
The brief notice announcing his death, published April 10, was in stark contrast to the reams of newspaper stories connecting Gatto’s name to gambling and loan-sharking investigations.
The notice stated that he was born in Paterson, lived in Hawthorne from 1960 until 2001 when he moved back to Paterson, and served in the Army in Vietnam.
Most relatives could not be reached for comment, or would not speak on the record.
“He was a nice guy, a business guy,” said one relative, who didn’t want to be identified. “We’re just working people.”
Tall and heavy set, Gatto took over the crew once run by his father, who reportedly controlled a multimillion-dollar gambling empire, when the elder Gatto was sentenced to 65 years in prison June 1991 for racketeering and murder conspiracy.
At the time, Louis “Streaky” Gatto, a captain in the North Jersey Genovese family, was said to be a favorite of imprisoned Genovese boss Vincent “Chin” Gigante.
“Streaky” Gatto died in prison in 2002, after a battle with prostate cancer.
Joseh Gatto’s brother, Louis Gatto Jr., died in 2000 while serving in federal prison.
At a New Jersey Commission of Investigation hearing in 2003 on organized crime in the state, Joseph Gatto was identified as a capo, or crew leader, of one of five main Genovese crews in New Jersey.
The Genovese family has long been the dominant crime family in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties, running the largest bookmaking and loan-sharking rings in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.
Gatto’s death came nearly one year after a grand jury declined to indict him in a case that authorities had dubbed “Operation Jersey Boyz,” a joint probe by the State Police and Bergen County.
Gatto, and 43 alleged mobsters and associates, were rounded up in December 2004 on racketeering and gambling charges in connection with a vast offshore gambling operation by the Genovese crew that took in millions of dollars in illegal wagers for the Genovese, Lucchese, Bonanno and Gambino crime families.
Also arrested was Frank Lagano, 67, of Tenafly, an alleged Lucchese soldier who was shot and killed in April 2007 in what authorities said they believe was a hit outside a diner he owned in East Brunswick.
In well-publicized raids, investigators seized 25 guns and nearly $1.3 million in cash.
Gatto, who had been released from Ray Brook federal prison in upstate New York in October 2003 after serving 53 months of a 61-month federal gambling and loansharking conviction, was accused of controlling a wire room in Costa Rica, known as Catalina Sports.
Prosecutors said the gambling venture had 12,000 customers nationwide and raked in about $300,000 a week for the family.
Federal agents arrested Gatto a day after he was charged in the “Operation Jersey Boyz” investigation, charging him with violating terms of his release from federal prison.
The “Jersey Boyz” case began unraveling in late 2005 amid concerns over the handling of informants and other legal issues.
The probe was compromised after an investigator with the state Division of Criminal Justice tipped off one of the targets — a mobster-turned-informant — that he was under scrutiny by another agency and promised to protect him, a recorded conversation that was withheld from a state judge, The Record reported in 2008.
A state judge vacated pleas from 10 defendants in the case and opened the way for 33 others to be cleared and suppressed all the wiretap and search warrant evidence. The Bergen Prosecutor’s Office appealed the judge’s ruling.
Some of the wiretaps were reinstated, and Superior Court Judge Marilyn C. Clark of Passaic County, who authorized the electronic surveillance in the case, notified defense lawyers that the prosecutor’s office was going to proceed with charges against 22 of the defendants.Also assigned to the Lucchese crime family will be with am Eastern crime But the Gambino and Genove
The grand jury’s no-bill in May 2009 meant that Joseph Gatto died a free man.
By Justo Bautista. http://www.northjersey.com/obituaries/Joseph_The_Eagle_Gatto_reputed_captain_in_Genovese_crime_family_dies.html