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Anthony Scotto, powerful ex-labor boss from the Brooklyn waterfront, dies at 87

Anthony Scotto in 2010 with his daughters Rosanna

Anthony Scotto in 2010 with his daughters Rosanna and Elaina Scotto and his wife, Marion Scotto. Rosanna Scotto, Fox 5 news anchor, announced Sunday that her father, a New York power broker and former union boss, has died at age 87. Credit: Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Anthony Scotto, former New York power broker, union king of the Brooklyn waterfront, reputed mob boss, convicted labor racketeer and later a Harvard University lecturer, has died, one of his daughters, news anchor Rosanna Scotto, announced Sunday.

He was 87.

A native of Brooklyn, Scotto attended St. Francis Preparatory School in Brooklyn and studied prelaw and political science at Brooklyn College, before rising from a 16-year-old dock worker on the Brooklyn waterfront to become leader of Local 1814 of the International Longshoremen Association. He cultivated political ties, his daughter noted, that reached a wide range of major politicians, among them Gov. Mario Cuomo and President Jimmy Carter, who vied for his endorsements. An Associated Press story noted that Scotto had a photo with President Lyndon Johnson, taken in the White House, hanging in his office.

In a verified Instagram post Sunday, Rosanna Scotto wrote: "We are broken hearted to share the passing of Anthony M Scotto 87 years, beloved husband of Marion Scotto and father of Rosanna, Anthony jr, John, and Elaina, and grandfather to Jenna, Louis, Anthony, Gabriella, Danny, Julia, Bianca and Andrew."

Though Scotto, the longtime Fox 5 anchor and co-host of the network's "Good Day New York," did not provide details of her father's death, she wrote: "He enjoyed golfing with his friends, loved a good cigar, and relished making Sunday Sauce with his family . . . He was loved by everyone and will be missed dearly."

According to news archives, Anthony Scotto was born May 10, 1934, in the Red Hook-Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, and in 1957 married Marion Anastasio, whose father, Anthony Anastasio, was a reputed capo in the Gambino crime family. Scotto went on to become a powerful leader on the Brooklyn waterfront following the murder of his wife's uncle Albert Anastasia and rose to power in Local 1814 as underboss Carlo Gambino took over what became the Gambino crime family.

In 1969, mob turncoat Joseph Valachi "identified Scotto" in U.S. Senate hearings as being a member of the Gambino crime family — though Anthony Scotto claimed the allegations were part of a vendetta against him by the U.S. Department of Justice.

In fact, when Scotto's name was revealed, he responded in a statement reported in the press that said: "This isn't the first time a thing like this had been said against me and I guess it won't be the last time, as long as my name is Scotto and not Schwartz or O'Hara."

Later, in a federal mob trial not involving Scotto, prosecutors alleged that reputed mobster Michael Clemente was caught on tape saying he helped get Scotto initiated into the Mafia.

Anthony Scotto was indicted in January 1979 on 33 federal bribery and racketeering charges, accused of accepting more than $200,000 over a five-year period.

Convicted of labor racketeering, Scotto got a 5-year sentence, plus a $75,000 fine and five years of probation. Among his character witnesses were then-New York Gov. Hugh Carey and former New York City mayors John Lindsay and Robert Wagner, according to news reports.

At his 1980 sentencing, The Associated Press reported U.S. District Court Judge Charles Stewart told Scotto: "You abused the position of trust, confidence and responsibility that you have enjoyed."

The United Press International, in a 1981 report on an appearance by Scotto before the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, said he invoked the Fifth Amendment 15 times while declining to answer questions from Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.).

The story said Scotto also refused to confirm links to the Gambino crime family, citing his constitutional guarantee against self-incrimination.

Scotto later went on to lecture on labor relations at both Harvard and the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, also serving as a trustee at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. With his wife and family, he owned and operated the Fresco by Scotto, an upscale restaurant on East 52nd Street in Manhattan.

The restaurant was shuttered in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, but has since reopened with indoor and outdoor dining at Fresco On The Go.

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