Looking back, Toni Marie Ricci says she should have realized early on that her first husband, Michael “Mikey Scars” DiLeonardo, was a “rat” in the making. Wed at 19—he was 29—she was easily seduced by his flashy social calendar: July 4 parties at Sammy the Bull’s house, Junior Gotti’s wedding at the Helmsley Palace, champagne-fueled nights with the boys in Bensonhurst.
“When I used to go out and meet Michael, I would see the girls flock to these guys,” recalls Toni Marie, now 41. “It was champagne all night long, and they were good-looking guys. Sharp dressers. I guess I saw the glamour and I didn’t see the bad part of it.”
The bad part didn’t take long to find her. The secrets. The fights. The other woman. And now that her ex-husband is a turncoat, the bitterness and angst. Last week, DiLeonardo told prosecutors how his old friend Junior Gotti, enraged by Curtis Sliwa’s on-air rants about his family, plotted the 1992 kidnapping of the Guardian Angel and radio personality. Junior Gotti, who’d reportedly refused to snitch on DiLeonardo in a previous trial, glowered as the former capo pointed a damning finger at him while talking about their friendship. “Nobody was closer to John than me,” DiLeonardo said.
What bothers Toni Marie most is that her son, Michael Jr., a student at the College of Staten Island, got caught up in the mess. I first spoke to her in August 2004, after she called to complain about an item in my “Gang Land” column in the New York Sun about a jailhouse visit her son had paid to Junior Gotti a year earlier. An FBI affidavit alleged that Junior had summoned Michael Jr. to ask him to talk his father out of becoming a stool pigeon. That visit had the opposite effect on DiLeonardo, who claims that he thought Junior Gotti was trying to manipulate his son. He says he decided to testify as a result.
Toni Marie blames her ex-husband, not Junior Gotti, for dragging her son into the trial. She blames Scars for a lot of things. Remarried a year ago, she may no longer be a Mafia wife. But she’ll always be the ex-wife of a “rat.”
We met in 1984, in May, at the Players Club on Bay Parkway. He sent over a friend to buy me a drink. I knew who he was. About a month later, a mutual friend got us together. Our first date was dinner at Tommaso’s in Bensonhurst. I had mentioned it to my brother, but it didn’t go over too well—also with my father. “We know the guy, he’s not for you.” I was the type of person, the more you told me not to do something, the more I did it. My brother met him and said, “My sister is so much younger than you.” He said, “What, you don’t like me? You think I’m a bad guy? I just want to take her to dinner.” He had a charisma about him. He was always happy-go-lucky. Took me out to the best of places. I never asked him for anything. I didn’t have to. He would buy me anything.
I wanted to get married right away, do the wife thing, have children. We got married at City Hall in May 1985. My father wanted us to get married in a church, so come September we got married in St. Finbars and had a reception. For our honeymoon, we went to Sicily—his heritage—Taormina. It was very nice .
Michael was my life. He walked in a room and my face lit up. I did anything and everything possible to make the man happy. I never stopped and said to myself, You know, my husband is a gangster. I just thought that maybe he was hanging around more with different types of guys. Did I think anything? Yeah, I did. But did I talk to him about it? No. I guess I blocked it out. I didn’t want that life—to me nothing good could come of it except going to jail and dying—yet I was intrigued by it.
FRANK DECICCO’S RUBOUT
On December 16, 1985, Toni Marie’s cousin Frank DeCicco, a tough mob capo under Gambino boss Paul Castellano, helped John Gotti Sr. orchestrate Castellano’s assassination outside Sparks steakhouse, paving the way for Gotti to take his place. Four months later, DeCicco was blown up as he got into a car across the street from Tommaso’s.
I was pregnant when we got the call. My Uncle Joe was there and helped pull him out of the car. It was a horrible thing. My father was very upset because he was very close to his cousin. I just remember going to the funeral and the wake. It was a terrible thing. Nobody talked about that afterward. Michael seemed to be upset, like everybody else. Maybe it was an act. Later on, I found out that my cousin didn’t like him.