Romano, despite his poor health and advancing age, was still wielding power in Broward County. MIU detectives overheard him saying things like: "When a guy does that, he goes to the morgue or at least gets a beating." Underlings, like Tommy DeMarco of Miami Beach, would come to him, according to the MIU, with cash gained from the bookmaking ring. Romano, who stands about six and a half feet tall and weighs nearly 300 pounds, once told him: "You got a bad attitude, Tommy. You got a bad fucking attitude. You better change it. You missed a week."
Romano and partner Cerrella were themselves answering to reputed Genovese capo Alphonse Malangone, according to the MIU. Malangone was convicted last year of extortion in a huge New York case involving private garbage companies. With Malangone in trouble, a reputed soldier named Alan Longo took over as their acting capo, according to the New York County District Attorney's Office. Longo made many trips down to Boca Raton to meet with Cerrella and Romano, according to MIU surveillance reports.
But the power Romano now has pales in comparison to what he once had in New York City. DeMarco isn't the first man to feel the intimidating powers of Romano. Many a fishmonger and truck driver has too, according to federal prosecutors. Especially when Romano was serving as the Genovese family's chief enforcer in the Fulton Fish Market, which does hundreds of millions of dollars of business in a year.
His brothers, Carmine and the late Peter Romano, ran the market for the Mob from the early '70s to the early '80s, controlling the delivery of fish and orchestrating all kinds of kickbacks and shakedowns, prosecutors alleged. Their reign ended with fish market-related racketeering convictions. Vinnie Romano was convicted in the same investigation, for filing false information on a loan application. He served six months behind bars. His brothers were sent away for 12 years. When Vinnie Romano got out of jail, he took up where his brothers left off at the fish market, according to prosecutors.
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.