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 John “John the Eagle” Riggi

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John “John the Eagle” Riggi Famous memorial

Birth
Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, USA
Death
3 Aug 2015 (aged 90)
Edison, Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA
Burial
Linden, Union County, New Jersey, USA
Plot
OTIMAS-39-A /1
Memorial ID
155406172 View Source

Organized Crime Figure, Entertainment Folk Figure. A respected philanthropist and community leader, he was never able to shake allegations of his membership in a certain Italian-American Organization and, for better or worse, shall be remembered as the real-life Godfather behind the lead character of Tony in HBO's hit series "The Sopranos". Born Giovanni Michael Riggi, he was raised in North Jersey, graduated from Linden High School, joined the US Army Air Corps in 1943, and served in Europe as an aircraft mechanic. After the war, he began working for Sam the Plumber DeCavalcante (1912-1997), a major operating official of the International Association of Laborers and Hod Carriers and a reputed figure of note in the New Jersey Mob. Gradually moving up the ranks, Mr. Riggi served as Caporegime of the Elizabeth Squad of the DeCavalcante Family while running Local 397 of the Laborers' International Union of America and becoming associated with John Gotti (1940-2002), the well-known Boss of the Gambino Family. Establishing himself in the local area, he became much admired for his charitable activities, particularly those involving Pop Warner Football and the Police Athletic League; as Mr. DeCavalcante slowly retired he became acting head of the Family in the 1970s, eventually taking-over as the 'actual' Godfather around 1980. In 1992, he pleaded guilty to extortion and was sentenced to 12 years, though an additional eight were tacked-on for his alleged involvement in the January 1992 whacking of John D'Amato, a self-appointed successor to Mr. Riggi, who was taken-out because his homosexuality was considered an affront to the Family. D'Amato's body was never found, though his bloody car was, and the incident has similarities to the rubbing-out of Big Vito on "The Sopranos". Due to age and ill health, Mr. Riggi served a good portion of his time at the Federal Medical Center, Devens, Massachusetts, though he remained sharp and reportedly in command of his organization, and was released in 2012. Just when and how the story that he was the model for Tony Soprano got started, nobody is quite sure, though he certainly did nothing to dispel the rumors, and though the analogy to the De Cavalcantes, the only indigenous North Jersey Family, and one involved in the construction trade at that, is impossible to miss. At his death from the effects of advanced age he was pending prosecution for his supposed complicity in the 1989 hit on Fred Weiss, a businessman and one-time journalist who had incurred the wrath of John Gotti by making overtures to squeal to the Feds; if the accusations against him are true, Mr. Riggi may well have been the last of the old-time Mafia Bosses.

Organized Crime Figure, Entertainment Folk Figure. A respected philanthropist and community leader, he was never able to shake allegations of his membership in a certain Italian-American Organization and, for better or worse, shall be remembered as the real-life Godfather behind the lead character of Tony in HBO's hit series "The Sopranos". Born Giovanni Michael Riggi, he was raised in North Jersey, graduated from Linden High School, joined the US Army Air Corps in 1943, and served in Europe as an aircraft mechanic. After the war, he began working for Sam the Plumber DeCavalcante (1912-1997), a major operating official of the International Association of Laborers and Hod Carriers and a reputed figure of note in the New Jersey Mob. Gradually moving up the ranks, Mr. Riggi served as Caporegime of the Elizabeth Squad of the DeCavalcante Family while running Local 397 of the Laborers' International Union of America and becoming associated with John Gotti (1940-2002), the well-known Boss of the Gambino Family. Establishing himself in the local area, he became much admired for his charitable activities, particularly those involving Pop Warner Football and the Police Athletic League; as Mr. DeCavalcante slowly retired he became acting head of the Family in the 1970s, eventually taking-over as the 'actual' Godfather around 1980. In 1992, he pleaded guilty to extortion and was sentenced to 12 years, though an additional eight were tacked-on for his alleged involvement in the January 1992 whacking of John D'Amato, a self-appointed successor to Mr. Riggi, who was taken-out because his homosexuality was considered an affront to the Family. D'Amato's body was never found, though his bloody car was, and the incident has similarities to the rubbing-out of Big Vito on "The Sopranos". Due to age and ill health, Mr. Riggi served a good portion of his time at the Federal Medical Center, Devens, Massachusetts, though he remained sharp and reportedly in command of his organization, and was released in 2012. Just when and how the story that he was the model for Tony Soprano got started, nobody is quite sure, though he certainly did nothing to dispel the rumors, and though the analogy to the De Cavalcantes, the only indigenous North Jersey Family, and one involved in the construction trade at that, is impossible to miss. At his death from the effects of advanced age he was pending prosecution for his supposed complicity in the 1989 hit on Fred Weiss, a businessman and one-time journalist who had incurred the wrath of John Gotti by making overtures to squeal to the Feds; if the accusations against him are true, Mr. Riggi may well have been the last of the old-time Mafia Bosses.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 26 Nov 2015
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 155406172
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/155406172/john-riggi: accessed ), memorial page for John “John the Eagle” Riggi (1 Feb 1925–3 Aug 2015), Find a Grave Memorial ID 155406172, citing Rosedale and Rosehill Cemetery, Linden, Union County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by Find a Grave .