St. John’s Cemetery features a veritable who’s who of gangland. When John Gotti was laid to rest in St. Johns Cemetery in Queens, New York, he joined some of organized crime’s most notorious characters who call this sprawling, pastoral burial ground their final resting place. Gotti, 61, died of cancer as he started his second decade of a life-with-no-parole sentence in a federal prison hospital far from his New York stomping grounds. He was buried amid the pomp and circumstance befitting a Mafia don and he rests in a bright white marble mausoleum next to his son Frank, who died in a moped accident years ago. He is not the first Mafia don to be buried in St. Johns Cemetery, nor is he even the first Gambino boss interred there. Carlo Gambino, the man who built the family Gotti brought down, rests nearby in a mausoleum section of the cemetery known as “the Cloisters.” Carlo GambinoGotti’s mentor, former Gambino underboss Neil “The Hat” Dellacroce, is also interred in St. Johns. It was his death during the reign of Paul Castellano which caused the power vacuum that allowed Gotti to seize power. If the spirits of the dead can walk the earth, St. Johns Cemetery is probably a pretty lively place. That’s because this graveyard is not just a Gambino hangout. Not by a long shot. It is also Colombo territory, and the Genovese and Bonanno families can lay claim to a few plots, as well. Joe Colombo, whose assassination was ordered by Carlo Gambino, is interred there, as is Don Vito Genovese, the first real “Boss of bosses.” Joe Profaci, the first boss of what became the Colombo family, rests there, too. No doubt their ghosts have a couple of beefs with the Gambino crew. Vito’s predecessor and the chief architect of the American Syndicate, Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, is also buried in St. Johns. Charlie’s ghost probably has to watch out for the spectre of Sal Maranzano, whose final resting place is just a stone’s throw away from Luciano and Genovese. Maranzano was killed in his uptown New York office by a couple of shooters loaned by Meyer Lansky to his buddy, Lucky Luciano. There are even more mobsters buried in St. Johns. Frank Abbandando, a Murder, Inc. gunsel rests there, as does Carmine Galante (Bonanno family), Happy Maione (Murder, Inc.), Jimmy Napoli (Genovese family), Frank “Funzi” Tieri (Genovese family), Rusty Rastelli (Bonanno family), and Wilfred Johnson, a friend of Gotti’s who turned informant and died for it. Why is St. John’s so popular with wiseguys? It’s the Diocese of Brooklyn’s largest cemetery and the headquarters of diocesan cemetery operations, for starters. It’s also located in Middle Village, perhaps the most convenient location in the 179-square mile diocese. To St. John’s Cemetery take the Grand Central Parkway to the Jackie Robinson Parkway west. Exit at Metropolitan Ave., and make a right onto Metropolitan Ave. Cross Woodhaven Blvd. to the main cemetery entrance which is at Metropolitan Ave. and 80th St. For those out there who may be thinking about selling their St. John’s Cemetery plots because of the rough crowd buried there, slow down. The cemetery is also the final resting place of bodybuilder Charles Atlas and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Louis E. Willett, who gave his life in Vietnam to save his buddies. That kind of courage will live on long after the wiseguys are forgotten.
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