Born June 26, 1915.
Killed New York, NY, Dec. 15, 1985.
The Castellanos sponsored new arrival Carlo Gambino in 1921 (and Gambino eventually rose to lead the criminal organization). Paul Castellano grew up as an apprentice to Gambino and took over the powerful Gambino Family upon Carlo's death in 1976.
Castellano was a butcher by trade and built a legitimate meat distribution empire around the city of New York.
Castellano, who moved into a replica of the White House at 177 Benedict Road on Staten Island, became an important figure on the Commission and is thought to have held the clout of the traditional boss of bosses in the early 1980s. Castellano's rise to power (and his insistence that New York Mafiosi give up direct involvement in drug trafficking) displeased those in the crime group who had hoped Gambino underboss Aniello Dellacroce would lead the family.
Castellano was repeatedly targeted by FBI electronic surveillance. He discovered and destroyed FBI eavesdropping equipment at a Brooklyn industrial site in 1974. However, he did not learn until much too late that the FBI had also bugged his personal office within his home.
In 1975, he was arrested with eight other men on loansharking charges.
Evidence obtained by the FBI aided the federal prosecution of New York Mafia bosses in the 1985 Mafia Commission case.
The hit on Castellano, while personally motivated on Gotti's part, also served the interests of the Mafia as a whole. Castellano had inadvertently supplied federal agents with a wealth of information about the inner workings of the Syndicate and the Commission by speaking openly about such things in front of FBI bugs. Mafiosi also reportedly feared that Castellano, who last served time after a 1934 robbery conviction, wouldn't be able to stomach a long haul behind bars.