BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
It’s one of Rockland’s worst kept secrets. GOP and Preserve Airmont candidate for mayor Philip Gigante is the grandson of the late Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, longtime godfather of the Genovese crime family and arguably the most powerful gangster of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The Chin Gigante was best known for an intricate act he put on to appear insane, so clever that he was able to fool court-appointed psychiatrists, and for walking around in bathrobes and talking to himself around Greenwich Village. The act earned him the monicker “The Oddfather.” He also gained fame for a failed plot to kill John Gotti.
More to the point of whether this family association should matter to his grandson’s political prospects, “The Chin” went about setting up his kin in legitimate businesses and union leadership, especially in the freight industry and the longshoremen’s union. Airmont’s Phil Gigante is the president of a freight business he has run with his father Salvatore, the son of The Chin. The Oddfather did not induct his children into the other “family” business, La Cosa Nostra, however, one of his sons did serve two years in prison as a result of a federal investigation.
At last weekend’s mayoral debate sponsored by the Rockland County Times, which Gigante ducked, mayoral opponent Ralph Bracco suggested that Gigante is actually a puppet of local County Legislator Joseph Meyers. Why a wealthy kinsmen of a mafia godfather would desire to be the puppet of a local politician was not explained via Bracco’s theory. As of midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning Gigante had not returned phone calls or otherwise made himself available to clarify his purpose in local politics in light of his identity as a wealthy magnate, whose family money tree first grew through racketeering, heroin smuggling and murder.
(UPDATE — Following the publication of this article in the print edition of the Rockland County Times Phil Gigante called the editor of the newspaper making himself available to talk. More on this if and when an interview materializes).
While it is not clear how many in Airmont know of Gigante’s familial relations to The Chin as well as his business ties to enterprises likely devised by The Chin, Gigante has managed to build up considerable good will in the village and has many supporters.
Some links to articles about The Chin’s family legacy:
CORRECTION – An earlier version of this article contained a misprinted sentence that was not intended to be published.