Thursday, July 9, 2009

Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede

Born in 1934, DeFede grew up in the Queens borough of New York City. In his early days, he operated a hot dog vendor truck in Coney Island, Brooklyn, running numbers on the side. A close friend and handball partner of Lucchese leader Vittorio "Vic" Amuso, DeFede was inducted into the family in 1986 after Amuso became boss. DeFede's rise and fall in the New York mob can all be attributed

In 1994, Amuso was convicted of federal racketeering and murder charges and sent to prison for life. Amuso then named DeFede his acting boss to replace Alphonse D'Arco, who had become a government witness. Amuso chose DeFede because he needed a weaker and more controllable man at the top.
On April 28, 1998, DeFede was indicted on nine counts of racketeering stemming from his supervision of the family rackets in New York's Garment District from 1991 to 1996. The prosecution reported that the Lucchese family had been grossing $40,000 per month from Garment District businesses since the mid-1980s. In December 1998, DeFede pleaded guilty to the charges and received five years in prison. He was released in 2002.

During the late 90's, Amuso's relationship with DeFede began to sour. Suspecting that DeFede was hiding money from the family, he replaced him as acting boss with Steven Crea, head of the family's powerful Bronx faction. Once Crea took over, family profits rose enormously. That was enough to convince Amuso that DeFede had been skimming; Amuso reportedly decided to have him murdered.

On February 5. 2002, DeFede was released from a Lexington, Kentucky prison hospital and having heard of Amuso's plans to kill him, immediately became an informant. DeFede explained the Garment District rackets and the protection rackets in Howard Beach, Queens. He also provided information leading to the convictions of Crea, Louis Daidone, Dominic Truscello, Joseph Tangorra, Anthony Baratta, and a number of family captains, soldiers and associates. While testifying against Gambino crime family boss Peter Gotti, DeFede exclaimed that all he made during his reign as acting boss was $1,014,000, a measley $250,000 per year. DeFede also stated that, based on his estimates, a low ranking soldier will average about $50,000 per year.

DeFede is presumed to be in hiding under the federal Witness Protection Program.