|Castellazzo’s castle in West Creek, N.J.|
Colombo underboss Benjamin “The Claw” Castellazzo, 75, has been crying poverty in a move to gain the judge’s sympathy and get less time than he could for his conviction for extorting La Quila construction company in Brooklyn and a Staten Island pizza joint, The Square.
Castellazzo, who lives in West Creek, N.J., and his wife apparently survive on food stamps and social security checks, the Colombo underboss said in court papers, adding that he also suffers from physical ailments, according to the New York Post and other newspapers.
We have written about brokesters in the past, but The Claw is one of the first Mafia bosses we know of who has laid claim to living the lifestyle of one — the term basically stands for a downtrodden mobster who fails to earn at even subsistence level.
Usually it is associates — and maybe some soldiers — who fail to earn enough to live off, let alone kick up, but to become an acting underboss and still cry poverty likely means it is either a.) a sad truth of how the Mafia’s mighty have fallen or b.) a wily tact by an aging gangster to get his sentence reduced.
The Post is opting for the latter theory, reporting, “Castellazzo is making a pitiful pitch to avoid a lengthy jail term when he’s sentenced later this month for extorting [La Quila and The Square].”
Castellazzo is likely crying poverty in an attempt to stop Judge Kiyo Matsumoto from throwing the book at him; the Claw could get a maximum sentence of eight years behind bars. Castellazzo is hoping to ride off into the sunset with his extended family — blood family — much sooner than that, it seems.
Benjamin Castellazzo looks happy for a self-proclaimed brokester.
The Claw’s defense lawyer, James DiPietro, did his best to back his client by showing photos of Castellazzo’s mobile home and other pieces of property that are very simple and basic for a man of his supposed standing in organized crime.
|The Claw was convicted of shaking down The Square pizzeria.|
By way of comparison, The Post compares The Claw’s trailer to the Tony Soprano-like residence of the wife of Colombo boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico, who lives in a veritable mansion in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
According to the New York Daily News, The Claw noted in court papers: “I have reflected on my life during the past two years… I am not proud of the life I have led.” His one wish, he wrote, is to live out his days with his wife, children and grandchildren — the only family he cares about.
Castellazzo’s modest mobile home comes with an eat-in kitchen and a small garden outside.According to real estate sites like Zillow, a two-bedroom mobile home like the mobster’s sells for about $40,000, or can be rented for $1,000 a month. the News reports.
Castellazzo was among the 127 suspects from New York’s notorious five Mafia families who were arrested in January 2011 in a series of FBI raids described as the biggest crackdown on organized crime in U.S. history.
Along with Castellazzo, officials busted fellow Colombo family operative Andrew Russo, and Bartolemeo Vernace and Joseph Corozzo from the Gambino family.
“As the No. 2 in the Colombo hierarchy, it is alleged it was Castellazzo’s responsibility was to collect money from businesses seeking protection, which explains his telling nickname, ‘The Claw,'” reports the UK’s DailyMail.com.
Carmine “The Snake” Persico’s wife resides in this palatial home in Brooklyn.