Thomas Francis Gambino was a prominent figure in the world of organized crime, known for his involvement in the Gambino crime family and his control over lucrative trucking rackets in the New York City Garment District. Let’s delve into the life and criminal activities of this infamous mobster.
Thomas Gambino was born on August 23, 1929, to Carlo and Catherine Gambino. He grew up with three siblings, Joseph, Carl, and Phyllis Gambino Sinatra. His father, Carlo Gambino, was a significant figure in the world of organized crime, eventually rising to become the boss of what is now known as the Gambino crime family. Carlo Gambino’s influence in Cosa Nostra history was profound.
Thomas Gambino pursued higher education and graduated from Manhattan College in the Bronx. Subsequently, he entered the world of organized crime and started working for the Gambino family. In 1962, Gambino married Frances, the daughter of mobster Tommy Lucchese. This marriage solidified a significant partnership, as Lucchese and Gambino now controlled various criminal enterprises, including Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy Airport).
Rise to Power
Upon the death of Tommy Lucchese in 1967, his interests in the garment industry were passed on to Thomas Gambino. This marked the foundation of Gambino’s wealth, as he and his allies infiltrated legitimate businesses, particularly in the garment industry. His strong influence in the garment trucking business in New York and New Jersey allowed him to exercise significant control. In 1981, Gambino was honored as the “Man of the Year” by the garment industry, solidifying his reputation and influence.
After the death of Carlo Gambino in 1976, Paul Castellano assumed leadership of the Gambino crime family. Thomas Gambino, who was Castellano’s nephew, enjoyed a strong relationship with the new boss. Castellano recognized Gambino’s financial acumen and entrusted him with managing the family’s finances and overseeing the trucking operations in the Garment District. Gambino was not only made a full member of the family but also became a capo, leading his own crew.
In December 1985, the murder of Paul Castellano and his underboss, Thomas Bilotti, opened the door for John Gotti to take control of the Gambino family. Gambino, who had been loyal to Castellano, quickly pledged allegiance to Gotti to preserve his position within the family. Gotti recognized Gambino’s value as a top earner and chose to retain him.
Gambino faced legal troubles during his criminal career. In 1989, he was indicted for obstruction of justice, but he was later acquitted. In 1990, he faced another indictment, this time for extorting the garment industry. The charges were related to the Gambino family’s ownership of trucking companies that charged exorbitant shipping rates. Wiretapped conversations provided evidence of their control over the Garment District.
Indictment and Prison
In 1991, Gambino, along with Gotti and others, was indicted on various charges, including racketeering, loansharking, extortion, illegal gambling, and murder. Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, a former associate, turned government witness and testified against Gambino and others. In 1993, Gambino was convicted and sentenced to prison.
Gambino began serving a five-year prison sentence in 1996. During his time in prison, he also faced legal issues related to fraud charges.
Thomas Gambino was released from prison on May 10, 2000. He lived for several more years before passing away on October 3, 2023, at the age of 94.
In Popular Culture
Thomas Gambino’s life and criminal activities have been depicted in various forms of media, including the 1998 made-for-television movie “Witness to the Mob,” in which he was portrayed by actor Tony Sirico.
Thomas Francis Gambino’s life was marked by his involvement in organized crime and his enduring presence in the criminal underworld of New York City. His legacy remains a testament to the complex and often dangerous world of the mafia.