By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Romano's muscle-flexing at the fish market led then-prosecutor and current New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to name Romano in a groundbreaking civil racketeering suit as the top Genovese soldier at the fish market. The case led to the appearance of Vinnie Romano's name in newspapers from London to Los Angeles, in magazines from Time to Forbes. He was even mentioned in Mafia associate Henry Hill's biography -- which would become the basis for Martin Scorsese's film Goodfellas.
The racketeering case ended with Romano signing legal papers saying he would never work in the fish market again, paving the way for his eventual migration south to Broward County.
Though Romano didn't have a lot of energy to move about, he was on the prowl on February 4 of last year. MIU investigators learned that Romano, who was driving a new cream-colored Lincoln Continental, would be meeting someone identified only as "Peter Sabatino" in a Bobby Rubino's restaurant in Pompano Beach. Metro-Dade detectives Andy Benjamin and Dwayne Winn followed Romano to the restaurant. There Romano began talking with an obese white male in his fifties, who, the detectives reported, "is possibly the manager of the restaurant."
The two detectives walked in and sat down, overhearing Romano and the unknown man talk about horse betting and "what sounded like other gambling topics." Benjamin and Winn also reported that the "maitre d' appeared to act as a lookout and seemed concerned about anyone he would seat near them."
No charge stemmed from this meeting, which seems insignificant within the scope of the Genovese investigation. Its importance lies in its symbolic value.
Two years ago a Bobby Rubino's restaurant played a role in the fall of a reputed Gambino crime-family capo. So the meeting was, in a sense, a coming together of the old and the new, the falling Gambino family and the rising Genovese family.
Bobby Rubino's is owned primarily by the sons of the former Godfather, Paul and Joe Castellano, and a man named Frank J. Galgano, who is the grandson of a Gambino capo.
Dominick Miniaci handles licensing issues for the restaurants, is a business partner of Frank Galgano in a company called M & G (standing for "Miniaci" and "Galgano") Restaurant Corp., and also, in 1994 divorce records, listed himself as a part owner of the Bobby Rubino's restaurant in Boca Raton. Miniaci also served as the registered agent for at least one company owned by Frank Galgano's brother and onetime Bobby Rubino's executive, Anthony M. Galgano, who is currently serving time in federal prison. The registered agent generally sees to it that the company files information and documents with the state.
In addition Miniaci is listed as the registered agent for a corporation called Oakland Pasta Co., which is owned by the Castellano sons, who were set up in business by their father -- the Godfather -- and now run a myriad of companies in South Florida and New York.
The Castellano sons were propped up in business by Big Paul in Brooklyn back in 1970 with a company called Dial Poultry, according to FBI agents Joseph O'Brien and Andris Kurins, who wrote an acclaimed book about the Godfather titled Boss of Bosses.
"Dial Poultry, it seemed, stopped just short of extortion in persuading its business partners to play along," O'Brien and Kurins wrote. "It was all but impossible to establish the existence of kickbacks. Most discouraging of all, it was very difficult to get business people to testify about their own dealings with the Mob."
The agents wrote that while mother Nina Castellano might have wanted her sons to be good citizens, "criminality couldn't be so easily sloughed off in a single generation; you couldn't slip out of guilt as if were a suit of clothes. More often than not, mobsters' kids found ways of screwing up." The Castellano sons "underscored the difficulty of truly flying free of a Mob nest," the authors wrote. If it sounds like the two agents had strong opinions about the Castellanos, consider that they spent five years investigating Big Paul and got unparalleled access to the family by bugging the living room of Castellano's multimillion-dollar New York home.
Castellano Sr. used to boast that he'd not only made himself a millionaire but also made each of his children one as well. Though the Godfather was riddled with bullets by Gotti's thugs and left dead in a Manhattan street in December 1985, the Castellano family is alive and well in Fort Lauderdale, operating out of their Sunrise Boulevard offices in a Castellano-owned building.
Big Paul had often preached about pushing the Mafia into legitimate business, and in his own family, at least, it has worked remarkably well. The Castellano children, who are now middle-aged, own several restaurants -- Bobby Rubino's and Big Louie's pizza chains among them -- and a number of other active corporations, including several pasta companies. They also have had considerable property holdings in South Florida.
There is no evidence that Paul or Joe Castellano has ever broken any law. But an admitted Mafia bagman named Pasquale Nigro tied the Bobby Rubino's restaurant chain to Gambino crime-family skimming two years ago, according to federal prosecutors.