Black Caesar Vs. The New York Mafia: When The Genovese Mob Tried Ripping Off Frank Matthews In A Drug Deal, It Didn’t Go As Planned


April 18, 2022 — Genovese crime family affiliates tried robbing legendary African-American drug lord Frank (Black Caesar) Matthews back in 1973 and almost got one of their associates killed in the process, according to DEA and federal court records related to a wide-reaching 1970s mafia narcotics case. Matthews was the most prolific heroin baron of his time, planting flags in more than 20 states, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

In April 1973, Genovese mob drug dealer Ernie (Coco) Coralluzzo met with Matthews in a suite at Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel and negotiated a sale of 40 kilos of heroin for $375,000. Matthews delivered the cash the following day through an intermediary and Coralluzzo was supposed to bring him the 40 keys of powder by the end of the week, but decided against it.

Instead, he and a mob buddy of his took off for the Bahamas. Coralluzzo was connected to future Genovese boss Vincent (The Chin) Gigante’s Triangle Social Club crew in Greenwich Villag


“Fuck ’em, I beat them to the punch,” Coralluzzo allegedly said to the friend accompanying him to the Caribbean who eventually became a witness for the government.

The problem was Matthews was nobody to be trifled with, nor muscled. Mafia or no mafia.

Per FBI files and court documents, Matthews and his men kidnapped Coralluzzo’s underling and sometimes bodyguard James (Big Jimmy) Capotorto. Upon receiving the news of Capotorto’s snatching, Coralluzzo jumped on a plane back to New York and returned Matthews his $375,000 and gave him 25 kilos on consignment as way to make good on the bad faith rip-off from before.

Three years later, Capotorto was slain in Florida. Matthews fled his bond on a tax case that summer and has never been seen from or heard from again. He would be 78 today if still alive.


  1. pete venute a mobbed drug dealer from melrose park,ill murdered his second wife a former stripper named betty davis apparently venute was playing around with other women when his wife found she threatened to go to the dea. well venute settled things out of court.

  2. Bettie Venute, nee Smith, of Stone Park; beloved wife of Pete; loving mother of David Davidson Jr. and Shawn (Dan) Mohon; stepmother of Peter (Michele) and Rocco (Dominique); devoted Nana of Danny Mohon and Bianca and Rocco Venute; dear sister of Sue (Leon) Jayco, Frances (the late Jayroa) Ballard, Helen (Williiam) Allen, Gloria (Jimmy) Glover, Patricia (Dan) Miller, Bobby (Ellen) Smith, Mary (Billy) Harkness, Wilma (Lynn) Northcott and Danny (Terry) Smith; fond aunt of many nieces and nephews; daughter-in-law of Vita, nee Impastato, and Peter Venute. Visitation Wednesday, Jan. 8, 3 p.m. until time of service 8 p.m., at the Ed Prignano Funeral Home, 1815 W. North Ave., (at Broadway/19th Ave) Melrose Park. Cremation private. 708-344-0635.


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