‘The Sopranos’ was inspired by this Newark Mafia family

By the end of the 1960s, the crowds in Newark, NJ, were in disarray. Its leader, Anthony “Tony Boy” Boiardo, suffered from crippling ulcers. His father, the family capo Richie “The Boot” Boiardo, nearly 80, wanted to retire, take care of his garden and bask in his gargantuan swimming pool. But he continued to be withdrawn to help his son, who was not appreciated by other members of the gang. At least two of them – Soldiers Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo and Anthony “Little Pussy” Russo – were bugged by the FBI chatting about the likelihood that Tony Boy would be killed by one of their own.

If this setup sounds familiar to you, it’s because the Boiardo crime family inspired the HBO TV series “The Sopranos” and its previous new film “The Many Saints of Newark”, which hits theaters and on HBO Max on. October 1st. The latter, located in Newark in the midst of the race riots of the 1960s, tells the story of a young Tony Soprano as he began to rebuild himself. In the film, Tony is played by Michael, the 22-year-old son of the late James Gandolfini.

The Boiardo criminal family of Newark, first led by Richie “The Boot” Boiardo (center) then his son, Tony Boy.
Getty Images

The creator of the “Sopranos”, David Chase, revealed to the New Jersey Monthly in 2002 that if “90 percent of [the TV show] consists . . . it is modeled on this family.

Many names and situations on “The Sopranos” and in the movie are dead ringers for the real Jersey Mafiosi. Riffing Anthony “Tony Boy” Boiardo, in “Many Saints”, Tony Soprano’s father is called Johnny Boy. Both reality and fiction feature thugs nicknamed Big Pussy (the true genesis of John “Big Pussy” Russo’s nickname: he was a successful cat burglar.) And in real life, Tony Boy as well as Tony Soprano from the television have both suffered because of their underhanded lives. They were ravaged by emotional illnesses with physical repercussions (ulcers for Tony Boy, panic attacks for older Tony Soprano) and hired psychiatrists to deal with them.

While Lorraine Bracco’s Soprano sessions with Dr Melfi are well known to fans, those of Tony Boy, who witnessed his first murder at age 14, are less so. “Tony Boy worked with a therapist who had been a military doctor specializing in PTSD,” Robert Linnett, author of “In the Godfather’s Garden: The Long Life and Times of Richie ‘The Boot’ Boiardo“The Post said.” Tony Boy was dealing with the stress of being Boot’s son and running a Mafia family, which he was ill-equipped to do. “

Tony Boy Boiardo (left) has taken the reins from his father Richie
Tony Boy Boiardo (left) took the reins from his father Richie “The Boot,” and like TV’s Tony Soprano (right) had to hire a therapist to deal with stress.
Getty Images; HBO

Like on “The Sopranos” when Tony took the reins of an imprisoned Corrado “Junior” Soprano, things weren’t going well for the Boiardos in the ’60s. IRS agents were investigating The Boot – dubbed for his smuggling prowess – and federal authorities had begun to draw closer. DeCarlo was battling cancer while serving a current 12-year prison sentence. Life magazine ran an article about The Boot, his “cheeky organized crime empire” and his 30-acre estate in Livingston, New Jersey, with a house described as “traditional Transylvanian.” The unwanted publicity led to the children throwing cherry bombs over the fence. Frustrated, The Boot actually shot two intruding children.

Oddly, in the midst of it all, he encouraged his teenage grandchildren to patrol the field with long guns. “We hunted there and people thought we were bodyguards,” grandson Roger Hanos told The Post. “We kept the guns in case we saw any rabbits or squirrels. ”

Before their world began to fall apart, the Boiardos ruled Newark. For decades, the clan controlled the city’s crime scene and benefited from racketeering, loan sharking, theft, gambling, and walk-in jobs and other criminal enterprises in Newark Harbor. “It was and is a candy store,” a police source told The Post. “The port is a magnet for criminals. We have highlighted 500 longshoremen paid a total of $ 417 million for a job that will never get done.

When Richie
When Richie “The Boot” (left) retired, he became more and more detached and paranoid – the same as TV boss Corrado Soprano (right).
Roger Hanos; HBO

However, the family’s illicit and lucrative trade began innocently with milk.

It all started with a pre-capo Richie delivering the healthy drink. His family immigrated from Italy to the United States in 1901. And his parents, who adopted the boy they called Ruggerio at the age of 6, lived mostly on the straight lines, but Richie had other plans. .

Around 1915, after working in construction and already struggling with a bust for running an illegal gambling joint, Richie, then in his twenties, secured a milk route in Newark. In no time, he became more than a milkman. “He had contact with households and started selling [illegal] lottery tickets to families who also bought his milk, ”Hanos said. “It was a simple way to make some extra money.”

It also bolstered his criminal reputation.

In 1920 Prohibition struck and Richie began producing and selling contraband alcohol. He learned the trade from a gang led by John and Frank Mazzocchi. In the early 1930s, The Boot assembled its own crew and took on the competition in classic Mafia style. “He executed the Mazzocchi brothers,” added Hanos, who shunned the family business and is now retired from his post as director of human resources at a college in New Jersey. “Then my grandfather became a Newark smuggling king. ”

John “Big Pussy” Russo (left) got the nickname by being a cat burglar, as did TV’s Sal Bonpen-Siero (right).
Roger Hanos; HBO

Over the decades that followed, The Boot made millions by being shrewd and murderous. During a wiretap, gang members laughed about The Boot pounding “a little Jew” in the head before Tony Boy shot him. But he also had seemingly legitimate outsourcing businesses that thrived on privileged deals with politicians who received bribes.

When the going got tough, The Boot had a way to destroy the evidence. “You heard of him burning people, alive or dead. It was weird and scary, ”Linnett said, referring to what happened in a large foyer at the back of The Boot’s property. “Usually mafia guys shoot each other in the ear. There weren’t many Mafia bosses with their own crematorium. It’s brutal.

However, her mansion-born son lacked The Boot’s cunning. Tony Boy, after a brief and unsuccessful stint in the military, became involved in crime in the early 1950s while working as a leader to get a liquor license for his father’s restaurant. He quickly rose through the ranks as a gangster, but many thugs didn’t like him.

“Tony Boy was brought up with a silver spoon in his mouth. He raced in fancy cars and threatened to kill people, ”Linnett said. “Little Pussy, Gyp and others resented it.”

According to Linnett’s book, an FBI report noted: “As soon as Boiardo [The Boot] dies, her son will not have long to live.

Richie “The Boot” Boiardo had a large swimming pool located on his Livingston estate. He threw parties almost every weekend.
Roger hanos

It didn’t help that Tony Boy screwed up. In the early 1960s, left in charge by an aging Boot, he organized a meeting that turned into chaos. It all started when he called number runner Pasquale “Smudgy” Antonelli at the Fremont Club in Newark for a morning session. The place was closed and Tony Boy was with Big Pussy and Jimo Calabrese, a lieutenant of Boiardo and a prolific killer.

Exactly what happened next is shrouded in mystery. But it ended with Tony Boy, Big Pussy, Smudgy and Calabrese all shot and in need of medical attention. Tony Boy was fiery in Florida. A Smudgy associate was murdered a day later. Needing to clean up the mess, The Boot returned home after an Italian vacation with his sweetheart.

“I would say he was pissed off,” Linnett said. “The innocent bartender who saw it all was killed. This was a case where The Boot’s brutality spilled over into the civilian world. ”

Throughout this decade, the family business has sunk into the ground. Little Pussy, an associate named Jerry Catena and The Boot all landed behind bars on various charges. “My grandfather went to jail, for a little over a year, in November 1970,” Hanos said. “I felt bad about it. I drove my mother and aunt there to visit him in Leesburg State Prison. I fed his dogs and checked out his house. They left him his own garden in Leesburg.

David Chase, creator of
David Chase, creator of “Sopranos” (actors pictured above), said: “90% of [‘The Sopranos’] consists . . . [but] it is modeled on the [Boiardo] family.”

Tony Boy died of a heart attack in 1978 at the age of 60. Her father died six years later from heart failure at age 93. At that time, the Boiardo crime family was skeletal, but that didn’t mark the end of the Newark mob.

“I firmly believe that there is an organized mob in Newark,” said former Secret Service agent Jan Gilhooly, admitting that cameras everywhere make it difficult to be a con artist. “But organized criminals spend 24 hours a day thinking about how to steal things. The port is still very busy with usurious loans and gambling. In addition, you now have street gangs that need to be dealt with. ”

According to the police source, “organized crime is doing well. The crowd had a check-cashing place [in the Newark area] through which they laundered $ 1 million a day. A container full of perfume was stolen [from the Port]; it was worth another million. There was a [wiretap] bug [on which gangsters] talked about NJ belonging to the Genovese family.

On another tap, they got down to talking about something more relevant. “The guys were arguing over which ‘Sopranos’ character is based on who,” the source said, adding that the guys also enjoyed the show’s realistic portrayal of their loved ones being stabbed in the back. “Even family members will try to get you to.”

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