LI mobster Matthew 'Matty the Horse' Ianniello dies at 92

Matthew Ianniello, a decorated World War II veteran,

Matthew Ianniello, a decorated World War II veteran, whose criminal career spanned decades and tied him to some of the biggest moments in mob history, died Aug. 15, 2012, at his home in Old Westbury. He had dealt for years with heart ailments and other illnesses, including prostate cancer. He was 92. (July 28, 2005) Newsday's obituary for Matthew Ianniello
(Credit: Scout Tufankjian)

Matthew "Matty The Horse" Ianniello, one of the last of the old time New York mobsters, has died.

Ianniello, a decorated World War II veteran, whose criminal career spanned decades and tied him to some of the biggest moments in mob history, had been suffering for years from heart ailments and other illnesses, including prostate cancer. Ianniello died Aug. 15 at his home in Old Westbury. He was 92.

His medical records, which were filed in his last federal criminal case in 2007, showed he had heart surgery in 2000 and had a pacemaker installed.

A large man whose sobriquet came from his beefy physique, Ianniello rose through the ranks of the Genovese crime family and was at one point considered by the FBI to be the group's acting boss. He is remembered as being present in his family-run Umberto's Clam House on Mulberry Street in Little Italy one night in April 1972 when Joey Gallo was shot dead.

While there was initial suspicion that Ianniello might have been involved in the Gallo killing, he denied it and was never charged, said former New York Times crime writer Selwyn Raab.

"He later told the cops he wouldn't bump off Gallo in his own restaurant," said Raab, author of the encyclopedic mob book "Five Families."

But Ianniello did later attempt to help law enforcement in the investigation of the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979. A letter written in 1989 by a former federal prosecutor and later filed in federal court stated that during an FBI investigation of Patz's disappearance, Ianniello helped put investigators in touch with a former employee of his whom the FBI wanted to interview. The letter doesn't describe the results of the interview.

In May of this year, the NYPD arrested Pedro Hernandez of New Jersey after he confessed to killing Patz in the basement of a Prince Street store in Manhattan.

For years, Ianniello was a powerhouse in the Times Square area and had a number of businesses.

"He controlled a lot of the topless clubs in the 1970s and 1980s in Times Square, when Times Square was wide open and very sleazy," Raab said.

In 2007, Ianniello was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to a single federal charge of racketeering in Manhattan. The sentence was served concurrently with a two-year term for Ianniello's guilty plea in a Connecticut federal court for a different racketeering charge involving the trash hauling industry.

Ianniello's funeral arrangements were private. He was predeceased by his wife, Beatrice May, and a brother Oscar. Ianniello is survived by four children, seven brothers and sisters, and 10 grandchildren, a death notice stated.

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