“The Yoko Ono Of The Mob”
Paul Castellano was the former Boss of the Gambino crime family from 1976 to 1985. At this time the Gambino's were the nation's largest mafia family. In 1985 he was assassinated in front of his favorite srestaurant, Sparks Steakhouse, in midtown Manhattan in the middle of rush hour. Castellano’s execution was orchestrated by legendary mobster John Gotti. It was the boldest, most spectacular gangland slaying in modern mob history. Ahead of his time, complex, commanding, and intelligent as Big Paul Castellano was, he was whacked by someone as pedestrian and simple as John Gotti.
In their personal styles, the two men were worlds apart. Castellano who was tall and gentlemanly, saw himself as a businessman, though he didn’t hesitate to use violence when he deemed it necessary. Gotti relished the tough-guy role, quick to retaliate against anyone who stood in his way.
John Gotti & Paul Castellano
Gotti’s main beef with "Big Paul" was that the boss was taking the family into legitimate businesses, at the expense of the old fashioned rackets that are the cornerstones of mafia money-making. The rumored last straw for John Gotti and his supporters, was Castellano’s choice of goomatta. Big Paul's love affair with his live-in maid Gloria Olarte, even though his wife, Nina Castellano, was living with him in the house.
When it comes to the women in their lives, gangsters hold a double standard. While a mobster may have a goomatta on the side, the mother of his children always remains sacred. Affairs are conducted outside of the family home, and wives usually are spared the embarrassment of their husbands’ extracurricular activities as much as possible. By the Mafia rules of etiquette, Nina Castellano deserved her husband’s respect. Big Paul more than anyone should have known that.
Gloria Olarte was a slender woman of 30 with straight black hair and thick eyelashes, just arrived in New York from Colombia, a little before Holy Week of 1979, Feb. 17, to be exact. While on a tourist visa, she worked beside her sister Nelly at a candy company, a job she is said to have hated. Her sister heard about a possible job opening for a housekeeper and suggested Gloria apply. Nelly told her sister that the owner of the factory they worked at, knew some rich people with a chauffeur. One day a young man named Gambino picked up Gloria Olarte, her sister and a friend in a limousine.
Paul Castellano "White House"
She heard nothing of the job opening until about three months later, when her phone rang. She had the job. They traveled in a limousine again, but this time to a majestic estate. It was the new residence of the Castellanos, a mansion of 17 rooms and 12 bathrooms, with an Olympic-size pool, waiting rooms and an apartment for the new housekeeper from Medellin. This house was known as the little white house. The house was designed to echo the presidential residence in Washington, D.C. This included a pillared portico and a circular drive surrounding a fountain.
At first the main problem working for the Castellanos was communication. Nina would speak to Gloria sometimes in Italian and other times in English. Confusing Gloria, she would often resort to calling her sister Nelly to translate. Then one day, Big Paul brought home a minicomputer that translated seven languages. He left abrupt messages on it: "Set the table." "Bring me fruits." "Make the coffee." Somewhat later on, Olarte began to find other messages: "You have pretty eyes." "I like you."
Soon an affair began between the two. Paul Castellano was 64-years-old and due to a diabetes condition, had not had an erection in four years. That problem was taken care of when Castellano had “the operation." A penile implant that would make him able to have intercourse with his young housemaid.
His affections for Olarte were obvious to the crew members who visited Castellano for business meetings, and were also obvious to his wife. Big Paul and Gloria acted like teenagers with little concern for who was watching. Gambino family members began talking among themselves about Castellano behind his back and how he was disgracing his wife, by prancing his young housemaid in front of them at their “White House” meetings. Soon the egos of the two women exploded in the kitchen as they tried to serve the same man, thus defying certain mob sacraments. Almost always the wife of the Mafioso prepares sauce for the pasta. Almost never does the mistress live under the same roof as the wife.
Paul Castellano Maid
In a fit of anger one day, Olarte threw all of her clothes into two plastic bags and left for a hotel in New York. That night Castellano went to the hotel with five men and begged her to return. She made one demand: Upon her return, she would walk through the big front door, not the back entrance. Castellano complied. His wife understood the message and left the mansion and her husband in 1983. Castellano crossed a line that likely contributed to his undoing.
Gloria, whose English was improving, was triumphant. In her mind, she was now the lady of the house. Gloria became quite outspoken around her lover’s associates, which didn’t win her any points with them. Castellano took her on vacations and even bought her a hot sports car, a red Datsun 280Z, even though she didn’t know how to drive.
On March 30, 1984, Castellano was indicted on federal racketeering charges in the Gambino case, including the Eppolitto murders. Other charges were extortion, narcotics trafficking, theft, and prostitution. Big Paul was released on $2 million bail. There is some dispute to this day as to whether Gloria Olarte herself, realizing that Castellano’s affections for her were waning, told the FBI where to plant the listening devices or not. These bugs became a treasure trove of information for the FBI. Within a year Paul Castellano’s lifeless body would be sprawled on a Manhattan sidewalk next to the open front passenger door of his black Lincoln Continental, blood seeping from multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
Paul Castellano Gunned Down
She left New York in 1985 with $18,000 and a porcelain clown, a gift from Castellano. She is last known to be living with her mother and working as a secretary at a travel agency in Colombia.