The New York Times-Obituaries

Simone DeCalvacante 84, Former Crime Figure In New Jersey

Feb. 12, 1997

Link this page to page 26 of the draft complaint.

Simone Rizzo DeCalvacante, who the authorities say was the former head of a New Jersey Mafia family and whose underworld forte was devising rackets to milk union funds and extort money from legitimate companies, died on Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84 and had lived in retirement for more than 20 years in Florida.

In the 1960's and early 1970's, law enforcement officials painted Mr. DeCalvacante as the powerful boss of a New Jersey-based crime group named after himself. Investigators said Mr. DeCalvacante, who had a penchant for neatness and demanded that his underlings imitate him by wearing expensive suits, white shirts and ties, posed for decades as a law-abiding, industrious businessman.

But prosecutors and investigators described him as the guileful leader of a crime group whose wealth stemmed from labor rackets, illegal gambling and loan-sharking rings, mainly in Union and Middlessex Counties.

Mr. DeCalvacante's underworld nickname, investigators said, was "Sam the Plumber," derived from his plumbing and heating company in Kenilworth , N. J.

"When Sam was on top, all the other crime families would have to go through him for clearance in labor rackets in New Jersey, " said Robert T. Buccino, deputy chief of New Jersey's Organized Crime and Racketeering Division.

Mr. DeCalvacante's camouflage as an ordinary businessman disintegrated in 1969 when Federal prosecutors released 2,000 pages of secretly recorded Federal Bureau of Investigation tapes of conversations between him and his henchmen and with several New Jersey politicians. The tapes suggested that Mr. DeCalvacante was a Mafia godfather and disclosed some of the Mafia's preferred methods of murder and disagreements among Mafia leaders.

Investigators said that in the 1940's, the stocky, mustachioed Mr. DeCalvacante was inducted into a crime family organized a decade earlier in New Jersey by Fillipo Amari.. According to underworld informers, Mr. DeCalvacante's father, Frank, administered him the Mafia's blood oath of omerta, or a vow of secrecy.

By the early 1960's, the authorities said, Simone DeCalvacante had assumed control of the family, which numbered about 60 members and associates. From 1961 to 1965, the F.B.I. eavesdropped on Mr. DeCalvacante.

When the bugs were disclosed in 1969, they could not be used against Mr. DeCalvacante because of the statute of limitations on the introduction of evidence and because the F.B.I. lacked court authorization for the electronic eavesdropping.

From evidence in another case, he was convicted in 1969 in a Newark trial on Federal charges of running a $20 million-a-year gambling network. It was his only conviction and in prison he was credited with early release for good behavior and serving as an inmate nurse.

In 1973, he was paroled after serving more than half of his maximum sentence of five years. Three years later,, he moved from his home in Princeton Township to Florida.

While in prison, Mr. DeCalvacante is believed to have turned over the reins of the crime family to John A. Riggi. Mr. Riggi is serving a prison term for racketeering and, according to New Jersey law enforcement officials, the DeCalvacante family has been reduced to fewer than 40 members and associates and has lost many of its rackets and retains little influence in the Mafia.

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