Tony “The Beaver” Ascenzia, one of the few remaining members of the Grasso crew has died at the age of 61. It is reported that this Connecticut Mafioso suffered a sudden heart attack.
During the 1970s and 80s, Ascenzia ran gambling rackets for the New England Patriarca crime family in the New Haven area, but his luck ran out in 2003 when he was arrested by the feds. It was estimated that through his extensive gambling operation, he was profiting close to $10 million per year. He was released in 2007 after spending three years behind bars.
Before he was arrested, Ascenzia was thinking long term regarding his finances. Through bugs and wiretapping, part of the FBI investigation revealed a discussion he had with his co-defendant Frances Gratta. The recordings were of the two men discussing the feasibility of transferring all their wealth offshore so it would still be there for them after they are released from prison.
Ascenzia was heard saying to Gratta, “We’ll scoop everything and send it out to the Cayman Islands. At least, when we come home, we’ll have something to come back to.”
I get the feeling though that when Gratta replied “I quit when I die”, it was not exactly what Ascenzia wanted to hear. Gratta obviously had no intention of putting his life of crime behind him.
Gratta worked closely with Ascenzia along with Anthony “The Dragon Fly” Fry, both of them were his most trusted members. Gratta worked out of a Meriden diner while Fry operated in Monroe County.
Ascenzia operated a large sports betting racket and many video-poker machines according to court records. He also kept things smooth and sorted out any problems with Genovese and Gambino organization members.
Ascenzia climbed the ranks of the mob under the particularly unpredictable New England mafia underboss William “The Wild Guy” Grasso. In 1989, Grasso was killed during a war between the Boston and Providence factions of the Patriarca crime family.