Paul "Meaty Curtains" CastellanoDuring the early 70's the Gambino crime family was tops in New York. The family's boss, Carlo Gambino was an aged old school mobster who had come up through the ranks of Joe Masseria's old crew. Throughout most of his career, Gambino had worked alongside Constantino Paul Castellano. In a rather disgusting show of mafioso family values, Castellano was both Gambino's cousin and brother-in-law. It could be said that Castellano married the bosses' sister to get the job, but he married the dame in 1937, long before Gambino had any real power. Thus, it can only be surmised that Castellano had a thing for inbreeding.
Born on June 26, 1915, Castellano came to gain a reputation amongst his fellow New York gangsters as a brain. He had, after all, remained in school until the 8th grade, thus allotting himself about twice as much education as the rest of his compatriots. Castellano's father was a meat cutter and ran a small time gambling operation. Castellano ran with the typical New York gangs, and was arrested at 19 for robbery.
As his cousin's mafia influence grew, so did Castellano's. His father's influence left a discernible mark on Castellano. Paul used his mafia influence to build an empire based on... meat. Yup. Castellano used all that power to help force his throbbing sausages and steaks down the throat of New York supermarkets. With the help of some suited Italian thugs, Blue Ribbon Meats came to be the most successful meat company in New York during the 60's and 70's.
Evidently, Carlo Gambino thought that all that meat work was a good background for building up a crime empire. When Gambino started quickly heading towards death's door in 1975, he appointed Castellano as the boss of the family. Many members of the Gambino family were outraged.
As the 70's wound down, Castellano moved the Gambino family firmly into the all important meat racketeering business. He ruled his meaty empire from a mansion on Staten Island, rarely going out and issuing all his edicts over the phone. Thugs on the street did not like Castellano at all. Businessmen in the animal flesh industry, however, seemed to find him an agreeable fellow.
One businessman who took advantage of mafia services was Frank Perdue, the chicken king of Maryland. Perdue was having trouble getting his birds into New York supermarkets. With a little help from Paul Castellano and his beef boys, Perdue eventually found himself selling chickens in every union controlled supermarket in Manhattan. Thanks to Castellano, New York was able to revel in chickens the same way it had reveled in alcohol under the rule of Dutch Schultz.
While strong arming chickens into the frozen food section was definitely a new racket, most of Castellano's underlings were getting itchy feet by the early 80's. As is seen in Goodfellas, many outsider gangs were making a killing from hijacking airport shipments and international monetary deliveries around New York. Castellano prefered to remain in the heavily monitored and vice driven meat industry. After all, it was the only thing he really knew.
But his style of management came to haunt Castellano. In the early 80's the feds indicted the heads of all five of New York's crime families. Castellano was arrested and charged with racketeering; the evidence against him was a stack of taped phone conversations. He was fucked. Paul had done everything from his home phone, and now he'd discovered, rather abruptly, that every single detail of his day-to-day meat work was now federal evidence.
In 1985, John Gotti, an underling of Castellano's, had finally had enough of the current mafia meat market. He was pissed at Castellano, possibly because of some bad meat. He sent three of his goons to catch Castellano and his chosen successor Thomas Bilotti, as they exited the Sparks Steak House in on 46th St. Castellano and Bilotti were gunned down on the street. Gotti immediately became the new don of the Gambino family. The current status of Gambino meat rackets is unknown.