Edward "Danny" Grillo (1934 Little Italy, Manhattan- November 14, 1978 Canarsie, Brooklyn) was a member of a Gambino crime family crew headed by Capo Anthony Gaggi and soldier Roy DeMeo. After falling deeply into debt to DeMeo and other loansharks, Grillo was murdered by his own associates in the DeMeo Crew.
He was born in Little Italy to Italian immigrants from Genoa, Liguria. In 1976,after completing a prison sentence for hijacking, Grillo was recruited by DeMeo into his crew. Grillo and DeMeo had known each other through work in the Mafia-connected Canarsie junkyards. Grillo soon became involved in the hijacking of truck cargoes to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport in Brooklyn. Associate Dominick Montiglio, who became a government witness in 1983, described how DeMeo once asked him to temporarily store 120 stolen Smith and Wesson handguns. Grillo and other DeMeo crew members had hijacked the guns, headed to law enforcement in Finland as they were being transported to the airport. Montiglio stored the weapons for one day and then turned them over to Grillo and DeMeo.
The Gambino-Westies Alliance Edit
Shortly after joining the DeMeo's crew, Grillo helped form an alliance with a group of Irish-American mobsters known as The Westies. While in prison during the early 1970s, Grillo had met James 'Jimmy' Coonan, an Irish mobster who wanted to lead the Westies. After their release, both men stayed in contact. Coonan wanted to oust Westies leader Michael 'Mickey' Spillane, but needed money to fund a rebellion. Grillo reported Coonan's predicament to DeMeo, who decided to help Coonan. The DeMeo crew and the Coonan faction were soon committing hijackings together and splitting the profits. DeMeo also loaned Coonan large sums of money to build a portfolio of loanshark customers. On May 13 of 1977, Spillane was shot to death outside of his apartment building, reportedly by Grillo and DeMeo.
With Spillane gone, Coonan then sought to eliminate Ruby Stein, a bigtime loanshark with ties to the Genovese Family. Grillo and a number of Westies owed large amounts of money to Stein and were looking to escape these obligations. Grillo decided this was a good idea and proceeded to kill Stein without the permission or knowledge of his boss DeMeo, a serious violation of mob rules. Two days after Spillane's murder, Grillo shot Stein to death in a club owned by a Westie member. The corpse was then dismembered by the Coonan faction, packaged, and deposited into the ocean. This alliance between the Gambinos and the Westies would greatly benefit the Gambino family and ultimately lead to DeMeo becoming an official family member.
By 1978, Grillo was in deep trouble with the Gambino family. Suffering from gambling and cocaine addictions, he found himself heavily in debt to Roy DeMeo. To avoid missing his payments to DeMeo, he was constantly borrowing from other loansharks. The drugs and financial stress was apparently making Grillo act erratically. This behavior convinced DeMeo and his superior, Anthony Gaggi, that Grillo was weak and would fold under police pressure if arrested. Montiglio attempted to help Grillo, risking his own life to do it. On one occasion, Montiglio ripped up $50,000 worth of debt markers that Danny had acquired during a night of gambling at Gambino party. DeMeo confronted Montiglio about Danny's behavior, and made statements that implied Grillo did not have much time left.
On November 15, 1978 Dominick Montiglio visited the DeMeo crew's primary hangout, the Gemini Lounge in Brooklyn. Seeing crew members Chris Rosenberg, Joseph Testa and Anthony Senter outside the entrance, Montiglio asked if they had seen Grillo. Rosenberg allegedly smiled and replied, "No one will see Danny no more." Montiglio then approached DeMeo inside the Lounge, who confirmed Rosenberg's statement, claiming that "...if anybody wants to talk to (Danny) they'll have to talk to him at the Fountain Avenue dump."
Many of the DeMeo crew's victims had been dismembered and deposited at this dump. DeMeo went on to say that the crew had parked Grillo's car in the middle of the Manhattan Bridge and left the driver side door open to make it look like a suicide. During a later meeting with the Westies, DeMeo learned from Coonan that Grillo had tried to use Coonan as a front to borrow even more money from DeMeo. According to Coonan's second-in-command Mickey Featherstone, DeMeo allegedly remarked, "I wish you would've told me earlier, I would've cut him into littler pieces."
Grillo's wife later testified that on November 14, 1978, the day her husband disappeared, Grillo had received a call at home from DeMeo requesting he come to a meeting at the Gemini Lounge. Before leaving, Grillo took special care to tell his wife and children goodbye. After he was gone, his wife discovered that he had left his wallet and other personal possessions behind. A loyal crew member to the end, Grillo voluntarily went to a meeting that he knew would be his last.