Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Vincent Gigante, also known as “the Chin” and “the Oddfather”. He was reputedly the boss of the Genovese crime family from the 1980's until his death in federal prison in 2005. Although it was assumed he was the boss since the 1980's, he wasn't officially known as the boss until the 1990's. The origin of his nickname is unclear. Some sources say it was from his boxing career and others say it came from his mother's pronunciation of his birth name of Vincenzo. His nickname of “the Oddfather” came from his acting like he had mental problems and dementia. In his later years, he would be seen walking around his neighborhood of Greenwich Village in New York City, dressed in a bathrobe, talking to himself and sometimes being aided in walking by someone in the Genovese crew. One time the F.B.I. came to his house and they found him in the shower with an umbrella. He had checked himself into mental facilities on twenty-two different occasions as boss of the Genovese family to aid in his defense of being mentally ill.
However, there were times when Gigante was videotaped by federal authorities that threw kinks into his mental defect defense. He was videotaped by being aided by someone to walk until hey crossed the street and both men ran across the street to avoid oncoming traffic and when the reached the sidewalk, the man once again aided the seemingly shaky and unstable Gigante. There were also several times when he was videotaped at night stepping out of the back door of his social clubs dressed in suits and not his usual bathrobe.
In 1957, Vincent Gigante was ordered to kill mob boss Frank Costello. As Costello was walking into a hotel where he had an apartment in Manhattan, Gigante emerged from a Cadillac, shouted out Costello's name, and shot him. Costello fell to the floor and Gigante thought he was dead. He wasn't. When Vincent Gigante called out his name and fired te pistol, Costello turned his head so the bullet just kind of grazed his head but it remained lodged in his head. Frank Costello took this as a sign to get out of the mob and did. At Gigante's trial, Frank Costello said he didn't know who attempted to kill him, and, reporters had said that after the trial, Vincent Gigante walked up to Frank Costello and thanked him.
Finally, in 1990, Vincent Gigante was charged with numerous racketeering charges and murder charges as well. However, his trial never happened until 1997 when he was found guilty on the racketeering charges but not the murder charges. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison. He was found competent to stand trial after mobsters violated Omerta and turned states witnesses to avoid a lot of jail time, or any jail time, at all. Sammy “The Bull” Gravano was one of those mob turncoats who testified to the fitness of Gigante's mind. Gigante was never caught on wiretaps because when he talked to his crew, he only whispered and when other mobsters talked about him, they never mentioned him by name but referred to him by touching or pointing to their chins.
In 2003, Vincent Gigante was about to be brought up on more racketeering charges so he made a plea deal by accepting an obstruction of justice charge when he admitted he faked his mental instability to avoid facing trial. He received another three years in prison but in 2005, due to failed health, Vincent Gigante died at the age of seventy-seven.