It’s not like the old days. Back then, having sex with a mob associate’s wife wouldn’t just get you killed. That would be too easy, capisce? No, you don’t even want to know what could happen, so fugetaboutit.
So consider the unusual case of Anthony LoBianco, owner of Staten Island’s Trattoria Romana restaurant. He was associated with the DeCavalcante family. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because “The Sopranos” was loosely based on their New Jersey exploits.
At some point in 2003, Anthony made a fateful – and potentially fatal – decision. He started dating the spouse of Salvatore Volpe. Salvatore’s marriage had become shaky, and the Mrs. decided to have an affair.
Oh, and Salvatore Volpe just happened to be a Bonanno associate. Yes, those Bonannos. The ones in New York. You get the picture.
So could life get any worse for Anthony? Yes, it could.
Salvatore Volpe’s wife found herself pregnant. She tried to tell her husband the child was his, but he didn’t buy her story. Now, something had to be done.
First, Anthony found himself in an angry confrontation with three Bonanno wiseguys. When the facts had been confirmed, Volpe followed protocol and went to see the boss of his crew, John Palazzolo, to discuss options for dealing with his wife’s unfortunate paramour. But there was a stumbling block. Anthony had been paying protection to the DeCavalcantes, so the Bonannos needed that family’s blessing before any action could be taken against him.
It took two tense sit-downs for the two sides to reach a solution. At first, the DeCavalcantes pushed hard to have Anthony rubbed out in his own establishment’s basement to appease the Bonannos. But after the second set of talks, another solution was proposed.
Instead of being whacked, it was ruled, Anthony could pay a “tax” of $50,000. The New Jersey group would get $10,000 and Volpe could pocket the rest (except what what he would have to kick upstairs to the bosses, of course).
After considering his decision for what must have been too short an interval to measure, the relieved businessman opted to shell out the money. It was perhaps the ultimate mob insult – sleeping with another man’s wife and getting her pregnant – and yet Anthony somehow managed to escape with his life.
The story surfaced during the federal trial of Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano. Volpe was on the stand, ratting out the gangster, who was charged with a 2004 hit on alleged associate-turned-rat Randy Pizzolo.
Volpe revealed that Pizzolo had been threatening to take on Basciano because he had been passed over for getting “made” in the family.
He quoted Pizzolo as being so angry that he wanted to “level The Bronx.” Basciano was also known as “Vinny from The Bronx” because he owned a beauty parlor named “Hello Gorgeous” there.
Volpe said the next thing he knew, Pizzolo was dead.
On May 16, 2011, Basciano was found guilty of ordering the killing. He was sentenced to life in prison.
The trial was also noteworthy because it marked the first time a mob boss had testified against one of his own. Joseph Massino, former head of the Bonanno family, was a witness for the prosecution.