I saw in today's news that the FBI had rounded up more than 100 alleged Mafiosi. My thoughts instantly went to our local Mafia representative when I was growing up, Mr. Paul "Legs" DiCocco.
In the 1960's, I was engaged to Laurie Maxon, a young lady from Schenectady whose parents were the next door neighbors to Mr. DiCocco and his family. Laurie's stepfather, Elmore Melander, was a cultivator of prize-winning gladiolus flowers. His gladiolus beds were located along the property line with the DiCocco residence. We would kid El by telling him to be careful where he planted his flowers lest he trespass on the DiCocco property and we find him at the bottom of the Mohawk River.
According to Wikipedia, "Paul "Legs" DiCocco, Sr. was an Upstate New York racketeer and associate of mobster Carmine Galante who was involved in illegal gambling.
A longtime gambler with numerous minor convictions for illegal gambling, DiCocco was connected to New York's underworld. He also controlled racketeering and other criminal activities with Carmine Galante in Montreal, Quebec. DiCocco also had contacts in New York's labor unions; he and Nicholas Robilotto, President of Teamsters Local #294 in Albany, New York were eventually investigated for conspiring to underbid rival construction companies. DiCocco owned a luncheonette with his brother that was renowned for its Italian cuisine.
In 1951, DiCocco was investigated by a grand jury on charges of corruption and illegal gambling in Schenectady County, New York. This investigation resulted from allegations that Schenectady Police Chief Joseph A. Peters fixed a traffic ticket for DiCocco. Peters denied the charge, but was eventually forced to resign. Receiving a subpoena from Mayor Samuel S. Stratton, DiCocco appeared before a City Hall investigation on his supposed ties to organized crime. During a half hour period, DiCocco pled the Fourth and Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitutions to the U.S. Constitution over 76 times.
In 1977, DiCocco was indicted on contempt and perjury charges. Shortly after his first trial ended in a hung jury, DiCocco accepted a plea bargain to obstructing governmental administration and contempt. DiCocco received three years probation and a $1,000 fine. In 1985, DiCocco pled guilty to felony coercion charges. He had been trying to stop a Massachusetts-based gambling operation from expanding into five New York counties.
In 1989, DiCocco was released from probation due to bad health. On July 30, 1989, Paul DiCocco Sr. died after a heart transplant operation. His son, Paul A. DiCocco, Jr. is a driver for actor Tom Hanks."
According to his obituary in the Albany Times-Union, "He acquired the nickname "Legs" as a young boy because of his speed as a runner, basically a gofer, for gamblers playing in card and crap games. Later his "legs" carried him as a numbers runner for Schenectady bookmakers."