According to reports Eugene “Nick the Blade” Gesuale a once fearsome associate of the Pittsburgh Mafia suffered a heart attack and died at the Past Times Restaurant and Bar in Ormond Beach, Florida.
The bar manager said he was sitting having his usual glass of Pinot Grigio when he suddenly fell over. Gesuale was released from prison back in 2014 after doing 28 years behind bars for drug trafficking and racketeering charges. In his heyday, he was known as a tough guy and a top narcotics trafficker for the Pittsburgh mob. In the award-winning mafia movie “Goodfellas” he was referred to as the “Pittsburgh connection” for his role in supplying cocaine to Lucchese mobsters Henry Hill, Jimmy Burke, and Tommy DeSimone although he was never seen in the film.
In the 1970s and 80s, he was a top enforcer and drug trafficker for the mafia underboss Michael Genovese. When long-time boss John LaRocca became ill in the late 1970s he appointed a ruling panel to run the Cosa Nostra families day to day operations which consisted of Michael Genovese, Joseph Pecora, and Gabriel Mannarino. But in 1979 Pecora was sent to prison on gambling charges and a year later Mannarino passed away allowing Genovese to become the families acting boss. LaRocca would pass away in 1984 after which Genovese would become the official boss of the Pittsburgh crime family. The Genovese regime was heavily involved in the drug business and it was even encouraged amongst members which aided Gesuala’s rise through the ranks.
Nick the Blade never became a made man in the Pittsburgh mafia as not long after Genovese took over as boss the feds began dismantling the families heavy hitters. Gesuale was convicted in 1985 followed by high ranking soldier Louis Raucci and then underboss Charles Porter in 1990. Porter would later be exposed as a rat cooperating with the feds for eight years from prison leading to convictions of nearly all of the high ranking members of the family besides Genovese. The family lost its political influence and strength and Genovese closed off the ranks out of paranoia. It was the beginning of the end for the mafia in Pittsburgh and the New York mafia commission decided to close the books and not allow any new members to be inducted into the family. Genovese passed away in 2006 and shortly after so did his successor John Bazzano Jr.
The Pittsburgh mob is all but gone slowly dying out of old age and attrition today with aging mobster Thomas “Sonny” Ciancutti acting as the families de facto boss of what little remains of the once influential organization.