Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli, the Gambino soldier who wore a wire for the G-men until committing suicide earlier this year, once was charged by federal prosecutors for his alleged role in beating a black man in a landmark civil rights case.
On September 30, 1972 the victim, Robert L. Chavers, was eating at Ed's Diner in the white North Ward section of Newark, NJ, and Stefanelli and two other reputed Gambino mobsters allegedly beat him because they did not want black people at the eatery as reported in a March 8, 1975 article ("2 Are Guilty of Violating Civil Rights of a Black") for The Associated Press.
Stefanelli and the two others, Robert Bisaccia and Louis Fulco, were charged by the United States Task Force Against Organized Crime with violating the victim's civil rights under the public accomodations statute, and the case represented the first time that the Task Force had used the law against reputed mobsters in New Jersey.
A hung jury resulted in a mistrial against the trio, and the charge later was dismissed against Stefanelli although his co-defendants Bisaccia and Fulco pled guilty during a second trial against them.
Stefanelli, previously convicted on heroin trafficking and truck robbery charges, was a busy beaver for the FBI in recent years as he secretly recorded meetings with alleged mobsters from the North Jersey crew of the Philadelphia Mafia, the New England Mafia and his own Gambino family.
Last February the 69-year-old Stefanelli took his own life in a hotel room with a drug overdose two days after whacking video poker machine vendor Joseph Rossi. Apparently, the bloody drama played out after Stefanelli developed remorse over wearing a wire for the feds against his paisanos, and he blamed Rossi who previously snitched for his predicament.