East coast wiseguy Eugene (Rooster) O’Nofrio switched from New York’s Gambino crime family to the Genovese crime family in the late 1990s after a blowup with a Gambino higher-up at his headquarters located on the border between New York and Connecticut. The change in organizations allowed the 75-year old Goodfella to finally receive his button and get inducted into the mafia.

O’Nofrio is currently awaiting trial on racketeering charges out of New York City. He’s alleged to be a Genovese syndicate captain overseeing activity in his home base of Connecticut as well as in Western Massachusetts and Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood.

Throughout the 1990s, O’Nofrio ran his rackets out of Café Roma in Port Chester, New York, a city resting on the Connecticut border, just east of Greenwich. At that time, he was a part of the Gambino regime and worked under capo Louis (Louie Bracciole) Ricco. His mob portfolio included bookmaking, loans sharking and drug operations and he paid both Ricco and the Gambino’s then-Connecticut territory chief Anthony (Tony the Genius) Megale a tribute.

In the early part of 1997, per sources and FBI records, O’Nofrio got into a heated altercation at Café Roma with Megale’s second-in-command, native Sicilian Nicola (Nick the Greaseball) Melia over a demand by Melia that O’Nofrio raise his tribute amount. According to people present at Café Roma that day, the pair had to be separated and Melia threw an ashtray at O’Nofrio in disgust when O’Nofrio balked at the order to increase tribute payments.

According to sources in the New York underworld, Melia told Gambino administrators that O’Nofrio, a known “hitter” and prospective mob initiate, shouldn’t get made into the Gambino clan. Shortly thereafter, Ricco and Megale arranged for O’Nofrio to be transferred to the Genovese crime family and placed in the crew of Matthew (Matty the Horse) Ianneillo, who sponsored him for induction at his making ceremony in March 2003, along with a half-dozen other mobsters, per federal documents. Ianniello and Megale are both deceased.

O’Nofrio was convicted of manslaughter in the gangland-style murder of Jimmy Cotter in Connecticut in 1972, however, had the case tossed on appeal after seven years behind bars. Besides the Cotter hit, O’Nofrio has been nailed for bank robbery and narcotics trafficking during his career in the mafia.

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