Aniello "Neil" Dellacroce was the underboss of the Gambino family from 1965 until 1985. He was the uncle of Salvatore and Angelo Ruggiero and was the mentor of John Gotti who became boss after Dellacroce passed away.
Aniello Dellacroce was born in Little Italy's district in Manhattan. He became part of the Gambino Family under Vincent Mangano and rose to become a capo in the early 1950's under Albert Anastasia. By that time he was active in racketeering and illegal gambling. He is also said to have participated in multiple murders. Dellacroce was loyal to Anastasia but remained silent when he was murdered in 1957. Dellacroce however continued being a strong force within the family which led to his elevation as underboss in 1965, becomming the successor of Joseph Biondo, who was demoted.
Dellacroce was a man who didn't attract to much attention on him. He was a religious man and reputidly once murdered a man dressed as a priest, leading to his nickname "Father O'Neil". In 1966 Dellacroce was present during a meeting in Queens together with men such as Joseph Colombo, Carlo Gambino and Carlos Marcello to discuss the distribution of Thomas Lucchese's rackets, who was dying from ill health. The police however disturbed the meeting and arrested 13 men, including Dellacroce. According to a police officer "they acted as gentlemen" and all had a large amount of money on them. The meeting was eventually dubbed "Little Apalachin".
"His eyes had no color...as if his soul was transparent", is how a news reporter once described Aniello Dellacroce.
In 1976, boss Carlo Gambino was living his last days due to a long illness and appointed his cousin,
Paul Castellano, as his successor. Dellacroce however had been tipped as the new boss and was
reportedly annoyed at the late Carlo's descision. Castellano banned drug dealing in his family, but few took any notice of this, including the ambitious John Gotti, a member of Dellacroce's crew. As respect ran high for him, he refused to act against the new boss as long as he was alive.
In 1980 Dellacroce was reputidly involved in the murders of the 3 Bonanno capo's Alphonse Indelicato, Philip Giacolone and Dominick Trinchera. All 3 of them were retaliating against jailed Bonanno boss Phillip Rastelli and therefore had to go. Because of the good connections between the Gambino and Bonanno family Dellacroce, being the families nr. 2 man, had agreed upon their removal. In following of their murders Indelicato's son, Anthony Indelicato, became somewhat of a drugabusing loose cannon and was conscidered of forming a threat towards Dellacroce and others. Therefore they also ordered his murder, which was eventually called off.
In 1985 Dellacroce and Castellano were indicted in the "Commissions Case", but he would not live up to hear his sentence. On December 2 Dellacroce died of cancer. The funeral was attained by many, but Paul Castellano was not present which Gotti and his associates regarded as an insult and disgrace.
Only 2 weeks after Dellacroce's death Gotti and his crew ignored Dellacroce's wishes for peace and shot Castellano and his new underboss death outside a Manhattan restaurant. By the end of 1985 Dellacroce's pupil had taken over the Gambino family and became the new boss of the family.
Dellacroce's son, Armand, died one year later due to alcohol abuse.