Tommy DeVito
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Biography for
Tommy DeVito (Character)
from Goodfellas (1990)

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Thomas Anthony "Two-Gun Tommy" DeSimone (May 24, 1950 January 14, 1979[1]) was a gangster and associate of the Lucchese crime family in New York. Also known as "Tommy D", he was a nephew of Los Angeles mob boss Frank DeSimone. He was married to Angelica "Cookie" Spione, but was a constant womanizer whose mistresses included Theresa Ferrara.

His relative Rosario DeSimone was the boss over Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas from 1931 until his death in 1946. Tommy's uncle, Frank DeSimone, was a criminal attorney-turned-mobster; "Uncle Frank" (as he was known) replaced Jack Dragna in 1957 after the latter's death, becoming the second DeSimone family member to become Los Angeles don. Thomas DeSimone had a sister, Dolores as well as two brothers, Gambino crime family associate Robert DeSimone (imprisoned for life) and Gambino crime family associate Vincent DeSimone (murdered by Tommy Agro in early 1970s). He is related to Rosario, James, and Joseph, Ralph, Phil and Franky DeSimone, all of whom were also mobsters. He is the brother-in-law of mobster Joseph "The Barber" Spione.

DeSimone worked under Mafia capo Paul Vario with his friends Burke and Henry Hill; DeSimone and Hill had known one another since they were young men, when Burke took them on as his protgs. DeSimone was involved in truck hijacking, dealing stolen property, extortion, fraud, and murder.

DeSimone's violent temper was well known. While playing pinochle with Joseph Ianuzzi and Thomas Agro, he started throwing darts at the other players when he started losing. Hill described DeSimone and Burke by saying, "It didn't take anything for these guys to kill you. They liked it. They would sit around drinking booze and talk about their favorite hits. They enjoyed talking about them." Hill later described DeSimone as a "psychopath", and suggested that DeSimone had something to prove because his older brother, Anthony, had become an informant and was allegedly murdered by members of the Gambino crime family.

DeSimone committed his first murder on March 15, 1968. He was walking down the street with Hill and Burke when DeSimone spotted Howard Goldstein, an innocent person. Hill recalls DeSimone turning to him and saying, "Hey Henry, watch this." DeSimone yelled, "Hey cocksucker!", pulled out a .38 caliber pistol, and shot and killed Goldstein. Hill exclaimed, "That was cold-blooded, Tommy!" DeSimone replied, "Well, I'm a mean cat."

He then killed William "Billy Batts" Devino, a made man who was part of the Gambino family. He worked with rising mobster John Gotti. Batts had just gotten out of prison after serving a six-year term for drug possession. While incarcerated, Burke had taken over Batts' businesses, and now that Batts was out of prison, he needed to have Batts out of the way. One night while Batts and Burke were having drinks in The Suite, DeSimone showed up. Recalling the days when DeSimone had shined shoes, Batts began taunting DeSimone by calling him spit-shine Tommy. DeSimone left and later returned with a .38 revolver and a plastic mattress cover. Burke held Batts in a headlock while DeSimone beat his skull with the revolver until it fell apart (according to Hill in The Real GoodFella). DeSimone, Burke, and an unwitting Hill loaded Batts into the trunk of Hill's Buick Riviera, and were on their way to bury him when Batts woke up. He was beaten and stabbed until he eventually died.

DeSimone's third murder is described by Hill in his book Wiseguy. A young man named Michael "Spider" Gianco was acting as bartender at a card game where DeSimone took out a handgun, and demanded that Gianco dance for him. DeSimone shot him in the foot when Gianco refused. A week later, Gianco was again serving drinks; DeSimone started to bully him about his wounded foot, spurring Gianco to reply "Why don't you go fuck yourself, Tommy?" DeSimone lost his temper and shot Gianco in the chest, killing him. Burke and Hill were furious, and made him bury Gianco's body in the cellar.

His fourth murder, according to Hill, occurred when DeSimone got carried away after being asked to "rough up" a witness to a robbery. After a truck heist, a foreman had refused to allow Burke to unload the cargo of a hijacked truck in his warehouse, and made a tremendous fuss because they had no union cards. Burke attempted to reason with the man, who stood his ground and refused to be intimidated. Burke later sent DeSimone to the man's house in New Jersey, with instructions to threaten and "rough up" the man to ensure he would cooperate with Burke in the future. DeSimone, angry for having to drive all the way to New Jersey, ended up beating the man to death.

DeSimone killed Gotti protg Ronald "Foxy" Jerothe on December 18, 1974. DeSimone had dated Jerothe's sister and then beaten her up, prompting Jerothe to threaten to kill DeSimone. When DeSimone heard about the threat, he went to Jerothe's apartment and knocked on the door. Jerothe opened the door, and punched DeSimone in the face. DeSimone then shot Jerothe between the eyes, killing him.

He also garotted Burke's best friend, Dominick Cersani, on the former's orders in a Cadillac outside Robert's Lounge for being an informant for the police. Cersani was buried in the partially unfinished basement of the saloon.

DeSimone was alleged to have taken part in the December 1978 Lufthansa heist from JFK International Airport, the largest robbery in U.S. history at the time. The loot is reputed to have been almost $6,000,000, only a fraction of which was recovered. He was picked out by having very well polished shoes, too well polished for an airport employee. He was the one who suggested recruiting his ex-cell mate Angelo Sepe for the heist.

Hill claims that during the week after Christmas 1978, after murdering Lufthansa robber and mob lackey Parnell "Stacks" Edwards in his home in Ozone Park, Queens, DeSimone was going to become a "made" member of the Lucchese Family; due to a heavy snowfall, however, the murder was called off. A few weeks later, DeSimone disappeared.

In Gangsters and GoodFellas, Hill mentioned that DeSimone had killed around four people in prison, bringing the total to around 10. Hill commented that DeSimone would murder someone just because he wanted to try out a new firearm and wouldn't hesitate to use someone as human "target practice".

DeSimone then murdered Stacks Edwards. DeSimone was a good friend of Stacks' and was disappointed to hear that he had failed to get rid of the truck used in the Lufthansa Heist in New Jersey where the evidence would be destroyed. But when he was told by a ranking mafioso that he could become a made man off of this hit, he agreed. Once he found out where Stacks was hiding, he visited Stacks and shot him six times in the chest and head using a silenced pistol.

On January 14, 1979, DeSimone's wife, Angela, reported him missing. Theresa Ferrara, Martin Krugman, Robert McMahon, Joe Manri, Parnell Edwards and Paolo LiCastri had all been murdered following the Lufthansa Heist, by Burke, who wanted to avoid paying them their share of the loot. For years, the New York Police Department and the FBI believed that DeSimone had either been murdered by Burke, or that he was in hiding to avoid being killed. His brother-in-law, Lucchese family member Joseph "The Barber" Spione, also disappeared shortly afterward.

When Hill became an FBI informant in 1980, he told authorities that DeSimone had been murdered by the Gambino crime family. The full details were unknown until 1994, when Hill, in his book Gangsters and Goodfellas, gave the whole story of the events leading up to DeSimone's death. Hill's wife, Karen, had been having an affair with Hill's boss, Mafia Caporegime Paul Vario. When Hill was sentenced to prison, DeSimone approached Karen for sex. When she turned him down, DeSimone attempted to rape her. In retaliation for the attempted rape, Vario approached the Gambino crew and revealed that DeSimone had murdered Jerothe and William Devino without first seeking permission from the Gambino crime family, violating mafia protocol. On January 14, 1979, DeSimone was contacted and told that he was going to be "made." Peter Vario and Bruno Facciolo took him to a house, where he was whacked by Thomas Agro.

Agro confessed in 1985 that he was the driving force behind the ruse. Agro assassinated him on the orders of John Gotti, and also admitted to murdering DeSimone's brother Anthony after he turned informant. Agro admitted this to informant Joe "Joe Dogs" Ianuzzi. Agro also at times suggested murdering the eldest and last remaining brother, Robert. According to Ianuzzi, Agro would often laughingly refer to killing the third DeSimone brother, stating that "Maybe it is time to go for the DeSimone trifecta!" Another account, told by Hill in Gangsters and GoodFellas, states that Gotti himself was the assassin. On May 17, 2007 on the Howard Stern Show, Hill reaffirmed that Gotti had killed DeSimone.

DeSimone was declared legally dead by the FBI in 1990.

[edit] In popular culture DeSimone's infamy rests on the depiction of him given by actor Joe Pesci in the 1990 movie Goodfellas (renamed "Tommy DeVito" in the film), a role for which Pesci won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The movie took some artistic liberties: Pesci's character, Tommy DeVito, is shown ramming an ice pick into Martin Krugman's head; Hill claimed that DeSimone was dead by the time Krugman was killed. At various points in the film, Tommy DeSimone is substituted for various individuals not portrayed in the film. For instance, in the double-date scene where Hill meets his future wife, Tommy DeVito is substituted for Paul Vario's son, Paul Jr, who actually went on the date.

Hill, nevertheless, calls Pesci's portrayal "between 90 and 95 percent accurate", mentioning only that Pesci did not physically resemble the tall, muscular DeSimone, who was only in his teens and twenties during the events depicted in Goodfellas. Also, in real life, Vario allowed the Gambinos to kill DeSimone in retaliation for the murder of Batts and Foxy Gerothe, whereas in the film, elder members of the family solely execute Tommy DeVito for killing a "made man" without permission, although Henry's narration makes a reference to the true events, saying "Tommy was murdered as revenge for Billy Batts and a lot of other things." In the film Pesci is killed by a character based on Thomas Agro, but unlike his real-life counterpart, his remains are found shortly afterwards and he is given a funeral.


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