This Is How Crime Boss Paul Castellano Was Killed

In the 1970s and '80s, crime boss Paul Castellano was the head of the notorious Five Families of La Cosa Nostra, or as it's more commonly referred to, the mafia. According to Britannica, he succeeded Carlo Gambino as not only "the boss," he was the "boss of bosses," or as you may have heard from the film that many consider to be the greatest to have ever come out of Hollywood, The Godfather, since he was the head of the most powerful of the Five Families, the Gambino family. The mafioso known as "Big Paul" is a key figure in the Netflix true-crime documentary Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia, and his murder shocked the city that had been caught in the cold grip of organized crime for decades.

Distractify reports that on December 16, 1985, Castellano was gunned down outside a steakhouse in New York City by a rival within the Gambino family. An unsurprising fate for a person who dedicated his life to murder and crime himself. But, why was Castellano killed? And who did it? Let's take a look into the murder of Big Paul Castellano and who would have the guts to go after such a powerful and ruthless figure.

Crime boss Paul Castellano wanted to change the game, but the game wouldn't let him

It's no small task to go after a guy known as the boss of bosses. But in the mid-1980s, that's exactly what another made man would do. Big Paul had decided that the drug dealing game was getting too risky. The federal government was starting to track it more and more, and he didn't want that kind of heat on the Five Families. So he put a ban on selling drugs in La Cosa Nostra. However, as remembers, wiseguy John Gotti didn't want to give up drug dealing. He made good money selling heroin, and so he kept on doing it.

But Big Paul had been right, and the government was watching the Five Families. When news came out that the feds had wiretap recordings that revealed Gotti and his men were still in the drug trade, he set up the hit to preempt the wrath of the big boss. He sat in a car parked near the scene of the crime to make sure that Castellano was good and dead, watching the act that made him the head of the Gambino family.

According to the FBI, Gotti was one tough mafioso to prosecute. He was able to weasel out of justice for years, earning himself the nickname "Teflon Don," but charges finally stuck in 1992 — 13 charges, to be exact. One of those was for the murder of Big Paul Castellano.