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"Honest people have no ethics." - Sam DeCavalcante
Simone Rizzo DeCavalcante (April 30, 1913 - June 7, 1997), known as "Sam the Plumber", was a member of the New Jersey mafia. Claiming descent from the Italian royal family, DeCavalcante was nicknamed "The Count". The Kefauver hearings later named his crime family the DeCavalcante crime family since he was the boss of the family current to those hearings.
DeCavalcante oversaw illegal gambling, loansharking, and labor racketeering in New Jersey. Living in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, but working out of Newark, DeCavalcante commanded around sixty mafiosi. His legal business front was a plumbing supply store in Kenilworth, New Jersey. After the retirement of family boss Nicholas Delmore between 1960 and 1964, DeCavalcante replaced him. Shortly after that, he acted as a liaison between the Mafia Commission and the Bonanno crime family after the beginning of the Bonanno War between the New York Five Families.
From 1961 to 1965, DeCavalcante was the subject of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation known as the "Goodfella Tapes". This investigation confirmed claims by informant Joe Valachi, provided crucial information on La Cosa Nostra, and revealed the existence of the Mafia Commission. However, since no court order was issued for the wire tap, none of tapes could be used to indict DeCavalcante. In 1969, after compiling almost 2,300 transcript pages of taped conversations, the FBI released them to the public.
Later in 1969, DeCavalcante was convicted of extortion-conspiracy and sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment. In 1976, he was released from prison.
In 1980, DeCavalcante retired as boss and passed control of the family to Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi. DeCavalcante retired to Miami Beach, Florida, and he starting planning to build a legitimate resort casino in South Florida. However, the casino project died when Florida voters rejected legalized gambling. While officially "retired", many suspected that DeCavalcante was still involved with the crime family, providing advice to Riggi.
On June 7, 1997, Sam DeCavalcante died of a heart attack in Florida. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey.