Sammy G v. The Weasel: Bull?

Salvatore Gravano re-emerged into the public eye in early October of 2020, marking the start of his own YouTube channel following the immense success of his Valuetainment interview around a year prior. Going by Sammy the Bull on YouTube and various other social media websites, his channel can at times be a treasure trove for historical information about New York’s LCN and the many characters that Gravano dealt with during his time with both the Colombo and Gambino family.

However, sometimes, there’ll be videos like this:

“We’ll Feed Him To Roy DeMeo” | Sammy “The Bull” Gravano

In the video, released in January of 2021, Sammy makes the claim that the made man who was running the Westchester Premiere Theatre, Gregory DePalma, wanted to introduce him to what he calls the boss of California, Aladena James “Jimmy the Weasel” Fratianno. Gravano seems to imply that this incident occurred in September of 1976, when Fratianno had been in New York for the infamous Westchester photo with various mob heavyweights, including Carlo Gambino and Paul Castellano.

Westchester Premiere Theatre, September 1976 (attendees labelled)

Issues are tackled chronologically, based on the video’s timeline.

The first inaccuracy is labelling DePalma as an inducted member of the Gambino family, as he was only made in June of 1977, following the Westchester photo. Despite this, Gravano continues, stating that DePalma had been asked by Fratianno to introduce him to other made members in the theatre.

The second conflict is the timing, on Gravano’s part. Per his 1992 testimony with John Gleeson, he identifies Paul Castellano as the Gambino boss for when he was inducted:

GLEESON: “At that point, who was the boss of the Gambino Family?


GLEESON: “What was Paul’s last name?

GRAVANO: “Castellano.

This does not match up with September 1976, as Carlo Gambino was still alive and even in his ailing state, was still the official boss for the family named after him. Gravano was inducted sometime past mid-October of 1976 along with Charles “Charlie Boy” Aurello and several others, per his testimony with Gleeson:

GLEESON: “So the only change was that there was a different boss, correct?


GLEESON: “Back before Carlo Gambino was replaced by Paul Castellano, what position did Castellano have?

GRAVANO: “He was a captain in the Family.

Gravano identifying Castellano as the boss confirms his late 1976 induction date.

Following this, Gravano continues to label Fratianno as the boss of California and goes on to say that the entire state was a so-called “free state”, with different family operatives maintaining themselves in the region and says that he does not believe that there was ever a real family in the area. As much as Fratianno would have enjoyed being called the boss of the entire Golden State, the reality of the situation was much different.

Despite his own claims, Fratianno’s true position was acting underboss for the Los Angeles family, headed by the Detroit-born Dominic “Jimmy Regace” Brooklier (nee Domenico Brucceleri). Louis “Louie” Dragna held the actual acting boss position, despite Fratianno performing most of his duties.

Dominic Brooklier (L) and Louis Dragna (R)

As for other families outside of the Los Angeles area, “I never heard of that”, is not exactly an unfair assessment on Gravano’s part for both the San Jose and San Francisco families by 1976. James “Jimmy” Lanza (born Vincenzo Proetto) was a paranoid and ineffective leader, according to former SF boss and confidential informant, Anthony “Tony” Lima. His family was minimally active by the mid-1970s, informants and senior citizens rife amongst his ranks.

James Lanza (L) and Anthony Lima (R)

Lanza’s counterpart in Northern California, Joseph “Joe” Cerrito, who had been previously tied to the Bonanno family, also headed a similarly dwindling operation. One of the more prominent members of the San Jose family at this time was Angelo Marino, a cheese magnate. Cerrito himself was a somewhat successful car salesman, a stark contrast to his abilities as a mob boss. His family also had a high average membership age (around 70 being average), along with several inducted confidential informants.

Joseph Cerrito (R) and former Bonanno underboss, Francesco “Frank” Garofalo (L), pictured in Sicily

Continuing on, Gravano claims that Fratianno, following his rebuffing of DePalma, then approached him personally. Exchanging words, Jimmy Fratianno then himself makes the claim that he is the boss of the California family, according to Sammy G. Displaying his knowledge of LCN principles, Gravano further ignores Fratianno, which according to mob code, would be the correct move – telling Jimmy to “get the fuck away” from him. They exchange some further words but following a few “bros” and a threat from Sammy, Fratianno makes himself scarce.

That is all well and good but the problem lies with the fact that Fratianno was a disciplinarian for mob rules, at least when it came to introductions – amico nostra. Throughout The Last Mafioso, Fratianno complains of deadheads (Pete Milano, Sal Pinelli, the list goes on) in the LA mob and displays an understanding of LCN culture in the induction of Michael “Mike Rizzi” Rizzitello. While the ceremony itself is questionable, Fratianno clearly understood the value of having Mike Rizzi get made – no more sitting outside of meetings, like the occasion where he and Rizzitello had traveled to Chicago to meet with the Outfit hierarchy, only for “Big Mike” to be excused while Fratianno and others spoke. While he may not have been from any New York family, there is no question that Fratianno was old school in his mafia life.

However, it should be noted that Fratianno freely admits to identifying himself as the acting boss of the Los Angeles family to other mobsters, which later would cause problems with the incumbent SoCal administration.

Michael Rizzitello

Gravano then goes on to argue with DePalma, accusing him of causing the whole situation with Fratianno, threatening him as well. Later on, Big Paul calls in the wayward Gravano, to plead his case in disrespecting a boss. “I answered him the right way” and “Greg DePalma said something to this guy”, seem to placate Castellano, who then starts praising Gravano for putting “big-shot-Sinatra” DePalma in his place.

Some time passes and Castellano then says to Gravano that Fratianno was never the boss of any family (likely from Brooklier reaching out once he had found out about Fratianno misrepresenting his position) and that he was a confidential informant – all true, though it should be noted that Gravano provides no date for this second interaction and while Fratianno had fallen out of favour with the California mob by 1977 (he had secretly begun cooperating in February), it is not clear if his labelling as an informant was communicated to the New York families.

Gregory DePalma

The video then concludes with Castellano, identified as the Gambino boss by this point, meeting with Anthony “Nino” Gaggi, the caporegime for his old crew. Castellano tells Gaggi to watch DePalma’s behaviour and that if it worsens, to, as the video is titled, “feed him to Roy DeMeo”.

While Greg DePalma may have had a knack for associating with undercover government-connected individuals (Fratianno and Jack Falcone/Joaquin Garcia), the latter isn’t mentioned in the video. Instead it is switched out for another story about the DeMeo-mythos. DeMeo, his violent crew and association with Gaggi are covered several times by Sammy – easy views.

DeMeo-centric videos by Gravano

That is all the video really seems to be: a manufactured encounter where Gravano can not only prove his superior grasp of Cosa Nostra principles but also regale his audience about the time he nearly duked it out with a boss, while continuing to further build up Roy DeMeo’s violent status. At least “Big” Paul Castellano is in “character”, as he hypocritically insults DePalma for his association with Sinatra despite being present in the photo alongside his brother-in-law (Carlo Gambino) and DePalma himself.

Additionally, on the part of Fratianno, who cooperated much earlier than Gravano, there is no mention of such an incident occurring in The Last Mafioso. Not because the book lacks for detail, on the contrary, Jimmy’s escapades are detailed perhaps a bit too much by Ovid Demaris, including some very private moments with the women in Fratianno’s life. Regardless, readers are made privy to Fratianno’s particularly petty nature – an example being a chance meeting in New York with Thomas “Tommy Fingers” Ricciardi, a then, newly inducted member of the Los Angeles family.

Following an introduction through Mike Rizzi, Fratianno and Rizzitello begin to belittle Ricciardi (behind his back) for his pacemaker and the fact that it doesn’t take much to pull a trigger, according to Jimmy. Ricciardi had been the triggerman in the murder of Frank “Bomp” Bompensiero, a long time LA member and FBI informant.

The Last Mafioso is full of these small transgressions (Carlo Licata being abused by Jimmy at his own wedding comes to mind) and it is difficult to imagine that Fratianno would leave out Gravano’s supposed disrespectful conduct, given his constant complainants about deadheads being prevalent in the newer generations of organised crime. Underboss, Sammy’s own book, does not make any mention of Fratianno either.

Thomas Ricciardi

In summary, there is not much to suggest that Gravano’s story about Jimmy the Weasel is at all true. While Fratianno has been known to overinflate the true extent of his relationships with mobsters outside of California (Outfit, Genovese etc.), it is doubtful that he ever met with Gravano. However, had they ever met, they have may actually gotten along as both in their golden years made efforts to shift the narrative when it came to their cooperation – though Gravano certainly does it to a larger extent.

They both didn’t like who headed their family (Gotti, Brooklier) and they both were close with an administration member who was murdered (DeCicco, Bompensiero), so perhaps they would have found common ground, at least in their later years.

There is one potential caveat to the situation, regarding Fratianno being present in New York for a Sinatra event in May of 1977. However this still predates DePalma’s induction, as he became a made man in late June of the same year, reportedly alongside Roy DeMeo. Both were sponsored by Nino Gaggi. Despite this, based off Jimmy being a stickler for introduction rules as well as his worsening situation following the release of Brooklier (he, along with Louis Dragna, had been demoted from their acting positions), wanting to meet with seemingly random Gambino soldiers (or as it is implied in the video, any and all made men present in the theatre) does not seem like something that would be high on Fratianno’s priority list.

However, it should be noted that this would fix the timeline issue for Paul Castellano being boss, as he was the official leader for the Gambino family by 1977.

Overall, it is doubtful that Sammy the Bull and Jimmy the Weasel ever made each other’s acquaintance.