‘Sammy The Bull’ Gravano is now a social media star promoting his own podcast and showing off his life of luxury in Arizona 35 years after turning on the Gambino family and John Gotti
- Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano, 75, was released from prison in 2017
- Gravano is now cultivating a social media presence, and promising a podcast
- Gravano confessed to killing 19 people and in 1991 became an informant
- His testimony secured the conviction of 39 mobsters including John Gotti
An infamous New York mobster who became arguably the most consequential turncoat in the history of organized crime is reinventing himself as a social media star, vowing to tell the full story of ‘our thing’.
Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano, 75, became a government informant in 1991 and helped bring down 39 mobsters, including John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family.
Gravano, an underboss in the Gambino family, was the highest-ranking member of New York’s Five Families – Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese – to ever ‘flip’, and he testified in court against Gotti.
‘Sammy The Bull’ Gravano has begun posting pictures like this on Instagram from his studio
Gravano is pictured opening the door for John Gotti in Little Italy in April 1990
Gravano was sentenced to one year in 1994 and then went into the witness protection system in Arizona, only to ask to be removed a year later, so he could give interviews and write his 1997 book, Underboss.
In 2001 he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking – Gravano was believed to be running the largest ecstasy operation in the state – and sentenced to 20 years.
He was released from prison in Arizona in 2017 and since then has returned to his media dalliances.
Nine months ago he launched his YouTube channel, which so far features only one clip.
In May he delved into Facebook, writing, after several weeks: ‘Hello to all my new Facebook friends.’
He said he was inundated with messages questioning whether this is ‘really Sammy?’
He added: ‘This is understandable I guess there’s tons of other fake profiles of me ￼I will prove to everyone that this is really me.’
Gravano spoke to ABC’s Diane Sawyer for an interview in April 1997
And in June he made his Instagram debut, posting a photo of himself smiling in his recording studio, from where, he says, he will produce a new podcast.
‘My podcast. Our thing,’ he captioned one photo.
There is no evidence yet of any podcast appearing, despite his posting of a YouTube promotional video in which he announces the new venture.
‘My name is Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano,’ he says. ‘I’m a father, a grandfather, and a gangster.’
On June 27 he further teased the series, writing on Facebook: ‘Podcast coming. Like you’ve never herd [sic] it before.’
Gravano promised to reveal the ‘the story behind the story’ of his once bloodthirsty life, which saw him murder 19 people, that he confessed to.
Gravano in May launched a Facebook page, with photos of his family and from his past
Gravano’s daughter Karen said her father was making an appearance in a new docu-series
‘I’m a father, a grandfather, and a gangster,’ says Gravano in a promo video on YouTube
Gravano showed off what he said would be the set for his new podcast
The studio features high-end recording equipment, a bright red neon sign in the shape of a bull and fake fireplace.
Gravano seems to be following in the footsteps of his daughter, Karen, 48, who featured in the 2011-16 VH1 reality show Mob Wives, set in Staten Island.
Karen maintains an active social media presence, and in April said that her father was appearing on a remake of the short-lived MTV series Made in Staten Island, which was cancelled in 2019 after only three episodes.
The new MTV show, she said, will be called Families of the Mafia and follows four neighboring mafia-related families for two years as they attempt to reshape their lives away from organized crime.
‘I sat down with him and explained exactly what this is is going to be about,’ she told Fox News.
Surveillance footage from 1989 shows Gravano with Gotti leaving a restaurant in Manhattan
Gravano (left) outside Ravenite Social Club in Little Italy after Gotti’s 1990 murder trial acquittal
The Ravenite Social Club was a famed eatery in Little Italy for the Gambino bosses
Gotti and Gravano (pictured) were both backed by Gambino underboss Aniello John ‘Neil’ Dellacroce
‘It’s not like he came out [of prison] and then wanted to do reality TV.
‘We were filming and I was like: “You’re such a big part of my life, my story. This is who we are. Let’s share our experience with others.”
‘Once I explained to him in that way he agreed and wanted to support me.’
Karen said her father has been impressed by the power of social media – something that has changed the world since he was sentenced in 2001.
‘He’s just amazed by social media and YouTube,’ she said. ‘He’ll always say: “Don’t kids go outside and play kickball anymore?”
‘When I was growing up, we would always have Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house. That was mandatory. You couldn’t have any other plans. Spending time with your family was non-negotiable.
‘You couldn’t just go upstairs and be in front of the computer while having dinner. Phones were never at the table.
‘That’s completely different for him.’
Gravano in March 2000 in court in Arizona, charged with selling 30,000 ecstasy pills a week
Gravano was born in Brooklyn to Sicilian immigrant parents.
Growing up in the Bensonhurst district, he caught the eye of mafia bosses as a child, when his bicycle was stolen and he beat up several children at once. One of the bosses is said to have remarked that the boy ‘fought like a bull’, and the nickname stuck.
Gravano rose through the ranks, owning and running bars and construction companies as fronts for his money laundering, loan sharking and extortion.
‘I literally controlled Manhattan, literally,’ he said, in an 1998 interview with The Atlantic.
Gotti, the ‘Dapper Don’, died in prison in 2002
‘You want concrete poured in Manhattan? That was me. Tishman, Donald Trump, all these guys – they couldn’t build a building without me.’
Gravano’s fate was tied to Gotti’s thanks to Gambino underboss Aniello John ‘Neil’ Dellacroce, Gotti’s mentor, who also thought highly of Gravano.
Dellacroce’s vouching for Gravano led Gotti, a rising star, to take Gravano under his wing.
Gravano was driving Gotti on the night Gotti ordered the infamous December 1985 murder of Paul Castellano, Gambino boss, outside Spark’s Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan.
The killing of Castellano saw Gotti become the boss of the family.
Gravano said he eventually turned against Gotti when Gotti asked him to go to jail.
Gravano said Gotti told him: ‘The streets need me, the boss, you’re the sacrificial lamb.’
Gravano told Patrick Bet-David, in a two hour interview on YouTube: ‘I did so many things for this guy. I rigged the trials, I threatened people, I f****** bribed people, and he turns on me.
‘I was betrayed by someone who’s a brother, a father, somebody you gave your whole life to.’
Gravano said he thought, “F*** the mob, f*** him, I don’t give a f*** if I get killed.’
He toyed with the idea of carrying out a hit on Gotti, but instead became a government informant.
On September 26, 1994, a federal judge sentenced Gravano to five years in prison. However, since Gravano had already served four years, the sentence amounted to less than one year.
Later that year, he moved to Tempe, Arizona, where he assumed the name Jimmy Moran and started a swimming pool installation company.
In 1995, Gravano left Witness Protection and relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona.
On May 25, 2001, Gravano pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to drug trafficking charges.
He was initially scheduled to be released in March 2019, but was released early on September 18, 2017.
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