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It was a hasty anointment, one that failed to reckon with the cunning of Dellacroce. In contrast to Galante, he dropped out of sight. But he recruited one or more look-alike stand-ins to appear publicly in his place. He will have a double either check in at a New York hospital, to create the impression that he is sick, or relax outside the Dellacroce vacation home on Key Largo, thus setting off rumors that he has retired. The real Dellacroce, meanwhile, is running things from his discreet haunts in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
TIME has learned that the Galante-Dellacroce conflict is ranging from Manhattan to Canada. The first casualties were two Galante spies discovered among Dellacroce's followers. The Little Lamb acted quickly to get rid of the black sheep; their bodies have not been found. Next, Dellacroce sent gunmen to Harlem to shoot a number of heroin dealers—then spread the word that Galante had ordered the hits. Dellacroce's goal was to disrupt Galante's connections with black Narcotics King Leroy ("Nicky") Barnes. Federal agents arrested Barnes on March 16, confiscating $1 million worth of heroin (he was released on $300,000 bail, which he raised by pledging $1.25 million worth of property that he owns in Pontiac, Mich.).
The evening that Barnes was arrested, Dellacroce Confidant Guido ("Dolls") DeCurtis was shot to death on Manhattan's East 28th Street in full view of passers-by and a policeman. The officer arrested a suspect, Canadian Joseph Djaija, 26. Some law enforcement officials believe DeCurtis was killed because of a private quarrel over gambling rights in the Astoria section of Queens. But Dellacroce was suspicious and sent henchmen to Montreal, an important link in Galante's narcotics network. The avengers pushed around several Galante associates but found no proof that he had ordered DeCurtis' murder.
Besides gunfire, Dellacroce has loosed a propaganda fusillade against his rival. He complains to associates that the splashy publicity given to Galante's trips and narcotics deals draws too much attention to the Mafia and thus is bad for business. Eventually, he is expected to argue before the Commission that Galante is a troublemaker who cannot do business quietly and is therefore unqualified for Mafia leadership.
Galante may have an edge in the quarrel, partly because of his forceful personality. Says New York Police Lieutenant Remo Franceschini: "He has people supporting him right across the U.S. Dellacroce is a little provincial. His base has always been Little Italy, and I don't think he has the will or the intellect to control a large group of men."
Some mobsters have tried to win Galante's favor by turning over their businesses to him at distress-sale prices. In one deal, he scooped up the betting and loan-shark rackets in Pennsylvania Station, which net at least $500,000 a year. Other mobsters, including some nominally under Dellacroce, sold Galante a number of Manhattan sweatshops in which black and Hispanic women, many working at less than $3 an hour (the union scale is $4.81), stitch garments that are sold in legitimate clothing stores across the country. Authorities