Convicted leader of noted New Jersey crime family dies at 90

AP News
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Posted: Aug 05, 2015 2:59 PM

EDISON, N.J. (AP) — A convicted leader of a New Jersey crime family long believed to be the model for "The Sopranos" has died. John M. Riggi was 90.

Riggi died Monday at his home in Edison, Corsentino Home for Funerals said. A cause of death wasn't disclosed.

Riggi was the longtime business agent for Local 394 of the Laborers International Union of North America. But law enforcement officials say he also was a leader of the DeCavalcante crime family for more than two decades. He served prison time for extortion, murder and other charges.

Prosecutors claimed that Riggi continued to hold sway over the family's affairs even while he was in prison, saying he ordered murders, received regular tribute payments and told associates how the family should wield its power over labor unions. But officials also noted that Riggi was known for supporting community groups and charities.

In September 2003, Riggi admitted his role in the 1989 murder of a Staten Island businessman that prosecutors said was supposedly carried out as a favor to John Gotti, the former head of the Gambino crime family. They said evidence at prior trials showed Riggi believed the slaying would improve the Decavalcante's position among mob families.

"Sopranos" creator David Chase has said he drew inspiration for the HBO show partly from crime families including the DeCavalcantes.