The build up to this was a long time in the making. There were plenty of reasons for Paul Castellano and John Gotti not getting on. Gotti believed Paul was just a businessman and never served his time on the street and got his hands dirty, as a true mobster would. There was also disputes on how Castellano became the boss.
The final straw which lead to the hit on Castellano:
At the time of Paul’s death Gotti was also becoming heavily involved with narcotics, which was being investigated by the FBI. He knew Big Paul would probably order a contract on him or demote him in the family, as the crime boss had banned made men from dealing drugs under threat of death.
So Gotti instinctively decided to move first, without permission from the commission, he planned to take out Castellano.
According to Sammy Gravano’s testimony Thomas Bilotti, Big Paul’s bodyguard drove Castellano to the prearranged meeting at the Sparks Steak House in Midtown Manhattan on the evening of 16th December, 1985. Which was a Monday for all your stat fans.
A hit team prepared by Gotti were waiting near the restaurant entrance, they included Gambino soldiers by the names of Vincent Artuso, Salvatore Scala, Edward Lino, John Carneglia and possibly Leonard DiMaria. Just a few yards away were another team of backup shooters which included Dominick Pizzonia, Angelo Ruggiero and Anthony Rampino.
The gunmen ran up to the car as both men were getting out, and shot them several times. John Carneglia was the gunman who actually shot Castellano in the head, delivery the fatal hit.
He was also hit the chest and abdomen. 6 bullets entered Paul’s body that night.
His bodyguard Thomas Billotti, was actually unarmed on the evening so he couldn’t have fought back if he wanted to. After Paul had been shot, Anthony Rampino took aim at Bilotti shooting him 6 times in the head and chest.
In a car down the road sat Gotti and Gravano who observed the hit take place. Before they left the scene they drove up to take a closer look at the two bodies.
The hit on the boss of bosses would spark a massive aftermath, including Vincent Gigante planning a contract on the head of Gotti. But, that’s another story…