Degenerate thugs Frank Falco and Thomas Trantino killed Sgt. Peter Voto and P.O. Gary Tedesco when the police officers responded to a noise complaint at the Angel Lounge in Lodi, NJ on August 26, 1963, and over the decades the event has been extensively covered. The most thorough account is by former New York Times reporter David Stout in his excellent book Night of the Devil. The 23-year-old Falco was gunned down [warning: graphic photo] two days later when an eight-member cop team stormed the Hotel Manhattan on Eighth Avenue where he was hiding out, and Trantino was convicted in February 1964 and released on parole in 2002. However, notwithstanding all the reporting generated by one of the more infamous cop killings in New Jersey, the extensive ties of Frankie Falco to the Mafia largely have remained unknown until now due to research by Friends of Ours which includes newly released FBI documents.
At the time of the August 26 cop killings Frankie Falco already was wanted by law enforcement for the July 11, 1963 murder of 19-year-old Robert Munos inside the kitchen of the Vivere Lounge at 199 Second Avenue in the East Village section of Manhattan. Falco was a young punk who served as enforcement muscle for mob loansharks, and was administering a beatdown to James Warga when Warga's buddy Munos intervened. For his good deed Munos got a bullet in the head from Falco, and then was dumped into the East River.
Apparently it was no coincidence that Falco was hanging out at the Vivere. The top mob shylock in New York was Colombo capo John "Sonny" Franzese according to a February 1965 FBI report which states he is "the fastest growing and most prominent shylock in the Greater New York area," and "has been engaged in taking over New York night clubs through his shylocking enterprise." Indeed, according to this same report, one of the establishments which he allegedly controlled was the Vivere Lounge: "Confidential Source 14 advised in January, 1964, that Franzese had taken over control of the Vivere Night Club on 2nd Avenue between 12th and 13th Street, New York City."
The record owners of Vivere were Albert Trapeo, Norman Carp and Herbet Pollock through V & V Restaurant, Inc., and the establishment lost its liquor license in November 1964 after the Liquor Authority found that Trapeo was on the premises at the time of the Munos murder but initially failed to report it to law enforcement.
During the revocation hearing for the liquor license law enforcement testified that Trapeo did not initially report the Munos murder due to fear of retaliation from Frankie Falco and his two brothers Edward and Louis. Kenneth Hudak from the NYPD's 7th Detective Squad testified that Frankie's older brother Edward was "in jail serving an eight-year term on narcotics charge," and his younger brother Louis "was supposed to be a homosexual." And Ernest Hammer who was the ADA with the Homicide Bureau testified that in the Munos case "we got absolutely very little cooperation from many witnesses" who were "in extreme fear of their lives," and "that people generally are in great fear of assisting in the investigation and prosecution of the homicide cases when the mob, or whatever you wish to call it, is involved." Hammer further testified that "in fact, the father of Robert Munos failed to tell the police after knowing the identity of the body found in the river."
Trapeo had good reason to fear the Falco brothers. At just 20-years-old in 1958 Edward Falco was convicted by federal prosecutors of running a $10,000 a week heroin operation -- the narcotics trade was the biggest racket for the Genovese family -- out of the apartment he then shared with Frankie in the Astoria section of Queens at 35-45 29th Street, and sentenced to eight years. Eddie already had served a three-year term for an armed robbery he committed at just 17. Moreover, about a year before the heroin bust, in 1957 19-year-old Eddie and his 17-year-old brother Frankie were busted for breaking the jaw of NYPD Patrolman John Caravello at Ratner's Restaurant on Delancey Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Edward Falco reportedly ended up becoming the powerful Genovese capo dubbed "Eddie the Blonde" who in the early 1990s was busted for his role in rigging bids on city contracts for installing windows.
Frankie Falco was a wiseass punk before he was a cop hater and cold-blooded murderer. Indeed, he apparently headed a street gang in junior high, and used his underage body to lure homosexuals whom he would rob. In Night of the Devil author David Stout writes the following about the adolescent Frankie:
His vanity bordered on narcissism. At home or in a gym, he loved to stand shirtless in front of a mirror, flexing his chest and arm muscles, smiling at the sight of himself. His preening seemed a bit much even for a precocious lad filling up with hormones.
Frankie's "good looks and strength were perfect for a hobby he started as a teenager" writes Stout: "pretending to be a male prostitute, tricking homosexuals to go with him, then robbing them." In the 1962 book All The Way Down: The Violent Underworld of Street Gangs, Vincent Riccio writes that rolling homosexuals was common among Italian boys in New York's street gangs, and invariably they did not rob their marks until after shooting their load.
Curiously, Frankie's younger brother Louis was an out homosexual at least by the early 1960s, and died from AIDS in 1993 at the age of 50. Louis Falco founded his own dance company in 1967, and became an accomplished choreographer of international fame. Louis told an interviewer in 1977 that "I think my works were gutsy" which he attributed to "growing up on the Lower East Side" and his Italian heritage: "I don't have the same taboos as other people. I don't censor. I have a certain freedom that others don't. My father was born in Naples, where there is a kind of robust gaiety. I don't come from a quiet, subtle background."
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Further reading that may be of interest: