Dellacroce, Aniello (1914-1985)

Born New York, NY, March 15, 1914

Died Queens, NY, Dec. 2, 1985.

"Neal" Dellacroce, who learned his craft under Albert Anastasia, was the longtime leader of a faction within the Gambino Crime Family of New York.

Dellacroce's obituary indicated that he was born to Francesco and Antoinette Dellacroce in New York City on March 15, 1914. As a teenager in 1930, he was sentenced to two and a half years at Elmira Reformatory after a store burglary conviction. In 1937, he pleaded guilty to assault and received a sentence of four months at the workhouse.

Dellacroce later married Lucille Riccardi. He maintained two home addresses, 232 Mulberry Street in Manhattan's Little Italy and West Fingerboard Road on Staten Island.

Upon the 1957 assassination of boss Albert Anastasia, the large Brooklyn-based crime family divided into two camps. A Gambino-Castellano faction elevated Carlo Gambino to the position of boss, a move contested by a faction led by Armand Thomas Rava and Dellacroce. (Dellacroce's affection for Rava possibly influenced the naming of his son Armond, born in 1955.)

The succession dispute likely was on the agenda at the ill-fated Apalachin convention in November 1957. It eventually was resolved with Rava's disappearance in 1958 and Dellacroce's subsequent elevation to the position of underboss.

Though the Dellacroce faction seethed over Gambino's power grab and quietly plotted against the boss, there was no open conflict between Gambino and Dellacroce. Authorities believed, however, that a 1966 underworld meeting at the La Stella Restaurant in Queens, NY, was an effort to depose Gambino.

In the 1960s, Dellacroce began running his underworld ventures from the Ravenite Social Club, 247 Mulberry Street. The Ravenite Club served as the home site for the disgruntled Gambino crime family faction.

Dellacroce served prison time after a 1971 conviction for contempt of court and after a 1973 conviction for tax evasion. The tax evasion charge was related to more than $100,000 in stock he received in connection with labor racketeering on Long Island.

Upon Gambino's 1976 death, the old Anastasia faction, including a young John J. Gotti, felt Dellacroce should be elevated to Family boss. However, he quietly stepped aside for Gambino relative Paul Castellano. If there were hurt feelings, Dellacroce hardly let on. He insisted that his supporters remain loyal to Castellano.

Dellacroce was charged in the late 1970s and early 1980s with racketeering, conspiracy and tax evasion. In the mid-1980s, he was accused of being part of the Mafia's ruling Commission. He did not live long enough to be tried on those charges.

Dellacroce died of natural causes at Mary Immaculate Hospital, Queens, NY, on Dec. 2, 1985. He had been receiving treatment for cancer there under the assumed name of Timothy O'Neil. His death cleared the way for his followers to act against Castellano.

Discussed in:

Related Links: