Sammy "The Bull" Gravano; Surprises Genius Network Members

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Sammy “The Bull” Gravano joins Steve Sims and the Genius Network members in Arizona.


Known by most as “Sammy The Bull”, Salvatore Gravano was born on March 12th, 1945 in Bensonhurst, a Brooklyn neighborhood with a predominantly Italian-American population to Gerry and Kay Gravano, both of whom hailed from Sicily. Gravano fell into crime at an early age. Around the age of ten, his bicycle was stolen by a group of older bullies. A group of mobsters who were watching from a cafe when he confronted the thieves remarked how little Sammy fought “like a bull” while taking on several larger kids at once, earning him the nickname “The Bull”. At the age of 14 he joined the Rampers, a prominent street gang in Bensonhurst.

Despite his father’s attempts to dissuade him, like many of his Ramper colleagues, Gravano drifted into the Cosa Nostra. The mafia had a longstanding presence in the Bensonhurst neighborhood. In 1970, Sammy The Bull made his first kill for the Colombo family. Upon Colombo associate Shorty Spero’s suggestion and to avoid further conflict, Gravano moved from the Colombo family to the Gambino family and joined Salvatore “Toddo” Aurello’s crew.

He became heavily involved in the construction industry. In 1985, he was involved in the corporate takeover and removal of Paul Castellano. John Gotti was unanimously elected as boss who named DeCicco as underboss and Gravano as captain. After DeCicco’s death in 1986, Gravano’s specific position within the family varied. Eventually, he was named by Gotti as underboss.

Gravano pleaded guilty to a superseding racketeering charge. After 11 months alongside Gotti in prison and a total of 23 years in the mob, he decided to cooperate, formally agreeing to testify on November 13th, 1991.

He was released from prison in 1994 and entered into the Federal Witness Protection Program. In 1996, Gravano co-wrote a book about his life, Underboss. He began living very openly and appeared in a nationally televised interview with journalist Diane Sawyer.

In 2000, Gravano was implicated in an international ecstasy ring. On September 7, 2002, he was sentenced in New York to 20 years on the federal charges. He was released early, in September of 2017.

Currently, Gravano resides in Phoenix and is working on several media projects