The Bath Avenue Crew

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Photo Credit: Cosa Nostra News.

One sees this story come up over and over again; countless movies, books and TV shows have tackled this one. Sadly this still goes on, and it happens every day, from here to China: Poor young lads, without a true sense of direction–often without a father figure; sees day in and day out the local crooks making it big, thus becoming unwilling witnesses to the endless cornucopia of cars, money, and women. Free formaggio is always available in mouse traps, and boy—howdy did these young lads jumped into the free cheese pool.

Bath Avenue in Brooklyn is no small town U.S.A and at the time  in which this narrative took place, it was a neighborhood in which a made- man, goomba, a Cosa Nostra affiliate was free to roam as he pleased and it has been like this for at least two decades dating back to the 50’s. But in the 80’ and 90’s it was a stronghold of the Bonanno, Gambino, and Colombo crime families. Keep in mind, dear reader, that not every paisan buying their prosciutto di Parma or smoked mozzarella on the corner delis lining up Bath Avenue is in the Mafia—that’s just a stereotype, so cut it out you jebronis.

Moving on.

Growing up with mafia members befriending these kids, doling out twenty dollar bills just to park a Cadillac, or to keep an eye out for strangers in the neighborhood, patting their backs, throwing compliments and money at them like it was tick tacks won the boys over. So what if on occasion they had to break someone’s window? So what? they had money coming and the good graces of the goombas in the neighborhood.

Five young lads formed the Bath Avenue crew, and they were:

Paul Gulino (Brass)

Jimmy Calandra

Thomas Reynolds (Tommy)

Joseph Calco (Joey the Zip)

Fabrizio DeFrancisci (The Grease Ball)

The other Bath Avenue Crew members were:

Michael “Mikey Y.” Yammine

Anthony Gonzalez.

Each member got a tattoo on their ankles numbers 1 through 7 supposedly this action stood for ‘all for one and one for all’ or ‘brothers ‘till the end’ What they were all hoping for though, was that their boss Paulie Gulino would become a made-man that way they would be on the good graces of the Bonanno crime family.

Monkey see monkey do— pretty soon every crime family in Brooklyn got its own crew of eager- beaver young men who were a hell of a lot more dangerous than the actual mafia members, as these young men had a lot to prove, a lot to gain and nothing to lose.

And so the Bath Avenue boys on behalf of their family the Bonanno’s got involved in robbing banks, home invasions, drug dealing, killing people and making bank. Then, armed with a healthy dose of braggadocio and stupidity a young member of an opposite crew by the name of Mikey Hamster boosted about being the one who killed a member of the Bath Avenue Crew, and so The Bath Boys got a thirst for revenge…Guess what happened next.

No, they did not sit around eating pasta and talking with their hands—that’s a stereotype.

Mikey Hamster came to a stop light on 17th Avenue and Benson, another car did the same thing, and Mikey looked over to the other car; saw Joey Calco driving and Jimmy Calandra riding shotgun. Calco shot at Mikey, a wounded Mikey got out of his car but Calco kept shooting ‘till Mikey was dead as disco. Then handing over the hot piece to Calandra he drove off.

Shortly after leaving the scene of the brutal crime, Joey Calco and Jimmy Calandra got pulled over for speeding—not for the killing, mind you, for speeding— but as luck would have it, the police officer who pulled them over heard on his radio a shots fired call, and took off leaving the two killers free.

Free to enjoy their Linguini in clam sauce while talking with their hands and sipping Sambuca.

The Bath Avenue Crew was ruthless. Years later it has come to light that they committed some pretty heinous crimes; from robbing to extorting drug dealers to countless acts of torture, there’s even an account of a double homicide committed for an eight ounce of cocaine—imagine that, committing a murder for only three and a half grams of the white stuff. I wonder what they would have done for a kilo.

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Anthony Spero was a well-respected wise guy; he had two daughters; Jill and Diana, for a hobby ‘old man’ Spero bred racing pigeons in coops on the roof of a Bensonhurst building. He was a Bonanno capo through and through. Vincent Bickelman a neighborhood drug addict broke into one of Spero’s daughter—Jill Spero’s—home, stole her jewelry and a fur coat. Big mistake, soon after Anthony Spiro ordered a hit on Bickelman, a hit that Pauley Gulino was more than happy to carry out.

On September 15, 1991, Bickelman’s body, with six bullet wounds, was discovered near his apartment in Bath Beach. The hit cemented the Crew’s reputation with the Bonanno crime family.

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February 1993, Jimmy Calandra, Tommy Reynolds and Bonanno associate Chris Paciello were eyeing as much as $1 million in cash said to be stashed in the basement safe of Staten Island home of businessman Sami Shemtov, an Israeli immigrant, who had amassed a small fortune from 99-cent stores, porn shops and an electrical-supply company. He lived in a Richmond Valley mansion.

Calandra knocked on the door.

Judy Shemtov, the 46-year-old wife of Sami Shemtov answered the door, Calandra was about to say something when bang! The gun goes off; the bullet hits the woman in the head.

Calandra and crew bolted.

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The 20th Avenue Crew(yep another group of guys) under the umbrella of the Colombo crime family grew up right along the Bath Avenue Crew and they were just as ruthless, it was only a matter of time before things exploded and exploded they did.

They were so many shootings between the two crews that south Brooklyn began to resemble the Wild West in its heyday, ‘old man’ Spero didn’t want none of that, he wanted the boys to get back to do what they were meant to do in the first place; make that money for Spero and the Bonanno family, but Pauley wanted to prove his worthiness to the cause of becoming a made man by proving that he can do war with the best of them.

Old man Anthony Spero didn’t like this and ordered a hit on Pauley Gulino.

Two weeks later, Joey Calco and Tommy Reynolds went to visit Pauley, Pauley offered them drinks and Joey put a bullet in the back of Pauley Gulino head and left, leaving behind their  friend bleeding on the kitchen floor later to be found by his parents.

Things came to a screeching halt when the realization sank in about the fact that lifelong friends were killing each other.

CUT TO:

Yusef Hawkins was a 16 year old black kid who– with three of his friends went into Bensonhurst to inquire about a used 1982 Pontiac automobile. A group of 10 to 30 guys were waiting for a black or Latino guy who they thought was dating an Italian girl (God forbid if that ever happens) and on August 23, 1989 Yusef Hawkins was shot twice in the chest and killed. It turned out that indeed he was there looking for a used car, and not for Italian cooch. This incident sparked a barrage of protest led by Reverent Al Sharpton.

On June 11 1990 sentences came down in the Hawkins case.

19 year old Joseph Fama, the man who fired the deadly shots was convicted of second degree murder and received a sentence of 32⅓ years to life in prison.

A second main defendant by the name of Keith Mondelo was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges. This led to more protest by the African-American community of Brooklyn.

John Vento was convicted of unlawful imprisonment and received a sentence of 2 to 8 years in August, 1990 and was released in 1998.

Joseph Serrano was convicted to 300 hours of community service.

In light of such lenient sentences the African-American community went back to the streets in protest, again led by Rev. Al Sharpton. However, shortly before that march was set to begin, Michael Riccardi stabbed and seriously wounded Reverent Al Sharpton, who later made a successful recovery.

Spike Lee’s film Jungle Fever is dedicated to Yusef Hawkins, and Hawkins’s photograph appears at the beginning of the film.

Photo Credit: Blacren-Flickr/commons.wikimedia.org

 

The Bath Avenue Crew unraveled.

Jimmy Calandra flipped and testified against Anthony Spero.

The only one from the Bath Avenue Crew who was inducted into the Bonanno’s was Fabrizio DeFrancisci; however in 2001 he was sentence to life in prison.

Michael Yammine flipped on Paciello, Calandra and Reynolds.

Joey Calco a former hitman for the Bonanno’s re-invented himself under Federal Protection, he is known as Joseph Milano owner of Goombas Pizza (very subtle there buddy boy.) However, according to a Daily New article you can read HERE he is back in prison for fighting with one of his costumers over a calzone. This proves that you can take the goomba out of Brooklyn but…oh forget it—too easy.

Tommy Reynolds got life in prison for the 1993 killing of Judith Shemtov, and of course his Mama wasn’t too happy about this. Read all about it HERE

Anthony ‘old man’ Spero died in prison.

On June of 2013 Jimmy Calandra went back to the old Bensonhurst neighborhood and entered a Dunkin Donuts where he was promptly recognize by an old hoodlum, the hoodlum called him a rat and the hoodlum’s girlfriend threw a cup of coffee at Calandra. Allegedly Calandra knocked the hoodlum out and Calandra got charged with misdemeanor assault, menacing, and harassment for punching the guy.

Meanwhile Chris Paciello’s,the guy allegedly involved in the killing of Judith Shemtov from the Staten Island home invasion that went wrong. Remember him? well you can read what he’s been up to HERE.

Damn and I used to like Sofia Vergara.

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14 comments on “The Bath Avenue Crew

  1. Jasmine DeGrado says:

    Yeah, it would be interesting to converse more. – Jasmine DeGrado

  2. Verge says:

    Thank you for visiting and commenting Jasmine. Let’s converse.

  3. Eric says:

    One minor correction that you may want to change. True, they were suspected of committing a double homocide for an eight ball of cocaine. However, an eight ball is an eighth of an ounce-or 3 and a half grams. not 8 ounces which would be 224 grams. This fact makes it even sadder. Don’t expect most people to know drug math though. I’m glad you don’t. I know from my own past.

  4. Verge says:

    Eric,thank you for the terrific insight which I’ve corrected. I guess my original online source was wrong. Indeed I have no drug-math knowledge at all which can be detrimental when writing about drugs. I’m glad to hear that that dark part of your life is in the past, keep it up. Thanks again, all the best!

  5. Pooh says:

    I was part of 20th Ave. grew up in “white Harlem” baddest street in bhurst. You should know what street. Hung out at the school yard or the candy store.

  6. Verge says:

    Hey Pooh, If you want to tell us your side of the story let me know. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Be well.

  7. Shalisha says:

    I’d love t hear your experience pooh.

  8. Shalisha says:

    The media always made it seem like shootings only happened in black neighborhoods. I didn’t know Bensonhurst was as bad as Bed-Stuy as far as the violence with guns.

  9. Verge says:

    “And so it goes”…Thanks for the comment.

  10. Verge says:

    Indeed. Sadly Pooh has gone silent. I do offer complete anonymity in case he or she is interested. Shalisha, thank you for visiting my site and for commenting, be well.

  11. Shalisha says:

    You’re welcome. I went to school in Bensonhurst and always had crushes on those thugs. Loved them. Still do.

  12. Verge says:

    Ah yes, the allure of the bad-boy is strong; we’re known to have that effect on the females of the species he-he-he. Just be careful.

  13. Anthony says:

    Growing up on bay 23rd,i knew half the kids the article is about! Crazy times

  14. Verge says:

    Hey Anthony, you should write a book or screenplay about those crazy times. Thanks for the comment.

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