Posted on September 19, 2009
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DeCavalcante mobster Vincent “Vinny Ocean” Palermo (photo right) disappeared into the witness protection program at the turn of the millennium after giving testimony about mob rackets in New Jersey and New York. Like all criminals who decide to cooperate, he hoped to get a second chance at life. But it seems he is up to his old tricks again.
As an Acting Boss of the DeCavalcante Crime Family Palermo knew where a lot of the mob’s bodies were buried. He quickly became a government witness after he was arrested in 1999. As part of his cooperation agreement, he admitted taking part in four murders and a long list of mob crimes such as loan sharking and extortion. His defection helped bring down the leadership of the New Jersey crime family.
When Palermo and his family entered the witness protection program they did not come empty handed. During his life of crime he had made millions. He owned a $2 million dollar mansion in Long Island, and had a considerable amount of cash stashed away. After serving two years in prison for four murders, Palermo was released, given a new name, and relocated to Houston, Texas.
Palermo (photo left) was able to keep his whereabouts hidden for seven years. But this past week NBC’s Houston affiliate Local 2 decided to turn on the spotlight and point it at Vincent Cabella, formerly known as Vincent Palermo. Local 2 talked to numerous sources and found out the former mob boss owned the Penthouse Club and All-Star Men's Club in Houston. Palermo knows all about strip clubs since he ran one in Queens during his days as a mobster.
Strip clubs are never a squeaky clean business, but local authorities claim that prostitution and drug dealing took place at the two strip clubs owned by Palermo. Between January 2006 and August 2007, Houston police launched seven sting operation, which provided sufficient evidence of these crimes. The Penthouse Club was eventually forced to close for one year.
Despite his dirty laundry being aired in both his new home town and old mob stomping grounds Palermo does not seem fazed. In a short interview outside his gated mansion he told reporters that everybody already knew who he really was because of an A&E special.
With so many mobsters entering the witness protection program these stories will become more and more frequent. “Sammy the Bull” Gravano (photo right) was another former mobster who couldn’t lay low. His whole neighborhood also knew who he was when he moved in next door. And just like Palermo, Gravano, too, could not stay away from the fast and easy money that crime could provide. He and his son Gerard ran a very successful ecstasy ring. In May 2001 he pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges and received a twenty year sentence.
It is interesting to note that Palermo gave testimony about several talks he had with fellow mobsters when news of Gravano’s luxurious life in Arizona became known. According to Palermo, several mafiosi were thinking about changing the mob’s rule about not harming a turncoat mobster’s relatives. Instead, DeCavalcante mobsters Frank Polizzi and Jake Amari told him, “we should do what they do in Italy…kill the whole family.”
With “Vinny Ocean” Palermo’s secret identity and hideaway blown, those old talks with mob hit men are sure to haunt him. Haunt him when he watches A&E, when he drives away from his Houston home, and when he goes to sleep at night.