In 1951, world famous gossip columnist Walter Winchell wrote in his syndicated column, “The Kefauver Committee has done a good job of showing up the American underworld with its polticial tieups. But never in history has the sinful life been given the effective — and misleading advertisement it got from the Senate hearing the last few weeks…”
“When the average, hard working, debt-ridden citizen heard that a Frank Costello can swing elections and keep $50,000 in cash around the house for spending money — his first reaction was not apt to be indignation so much as envy,” Winchell wrote in a column that could be called “Runyonesque,” a word coined in homage to reporter/author Damon Runyon who often glamorized the gangster world during the Prohibition era.
Winchell neglected to mention that Costello was a friend of his. In 1998, the New York Times recalled, “From Table 50 at the Stork Club — he never picked up the tab — Winchell held court like a prince, beckoning prizefighters, movie stars, debutantes, royalty and gangsters to his table. He demanded to know what they were doing but talked most of the time himself. He mingled with the mob, interviewing Al Capone and palling around with Frank Costello, and defiantly dominated a Broadway world that no longer exists.”
According to many mob accounts, “Frank Costello was believed to have some kind of an ‘agreement’ with then FBI head J. Edgar Hoover. The former director, who avoided investigating into la cosa nostra activities, would occasionally bet small amounts at the Aqueducts Race Track in New York. It is believed that when Hoover was planning a visit, he would contact gossip columnist Walter Winchell, in turn Winchell would meet with Frank Costello and tell him Hoovers plans. Costello would then meet with Ericson and discuss Hoover’s bets. Needless to say, the fix was on and Hoover won almost everytime.”
Page two of Sunday’s New York Post contains a story called “‘Brave’ LI gal sues Gotti widow over car crash.”
The quotes around the word “brave” might be ironically intended by the Rupert Muroch owned tabloid, however, since the very first line suggests that she may instead be something else.
“This woman is brave — or a stunad!” NY Post reporter Tim Perone writes.
“Stunad” is an Italian slang word meaning “stupid” or “out of one’s mind.”.
Perone’s article continues,
A Long Island woman is suing the widow of late crime king John Gotti Sr., claiming a car accident with the former Gambino matriarch caused serious injuries and “mental anguish,” according to a report.
Valerie Palleschi, 53, and Victoria Gotti, 68, reportedly smashed into each other in Moriches in February 2009 on Montauk Highway.
Palleschi claims the accident left her “incapacitated from her usual vocation” and that she suffered “serious personal injuries, a severe shock to her nervous system and certain internal injuries,” according to court papers obtained by Newsday.
The article never explains why suing a gangster’s widow might be the act of a stunad, and it could almost be considered a potential threat or warning, considering the paper’s past relationship with the family.
The Post has written other articles favorable to the Gottis in the past including Angel Gotti weeps at trial, Blowing up Gotti! Ma in court rage and Gotti’s fourth trial starts in Manhattan: the latter emphasizes multiple times in the beginning paragraphs that the alleged retired gangster had beaten all his former cases, and that the latest trial hinged on the words of a “turncoat” (a few days later Gotti reportedly was seen mouthing “I kill you” in the courtroom) from his former gang.
Not all Post articles on the mob are friendly, most are as straight up as the tabloid can get.
Unmentioned by the Post is that Victoria Gotti, the daughter of the late ‘Teflon Don’ Gotti, used to pen a column for the New York City tabloid.
“In 2002, Gotti’s father passed away in a federal prison hospital after struggling with head and neck cancer,” an article at biography.com notes. “As the family’s resident author, Victoria was asked by The New York Post to write an obituary for her father. The article hit papers on the same day as her father’s funeral.”