George 'Georgie Rush' Zappola Jr. was a member of the Genovese Family.
Born May 4, 1940 in Manhattan to George and Marie Albano. Father's family from Province of Catania, Sicily. Mother's family from Pignola comune of Potenza, Basilicata. The Zappolas resided at 28 Madison St in Lower East Side, Manhattan.
By 1950 they moved to 20 Catherine Slip, closer to the Manhattan piers where George Sr. worked as a longshoreman.
By 1970s Zappola was identified by the NYPD as part of a crew of burglars who congregated at the Club 1717 located on 86th St in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. George was then residing about a mile north at 1865 68th St. Other members of the crew included Harry 'Junior' McGuire, Salvatore 'Fat Sally' Scala and brothers Frank and Robert Melli.
In the early morning hours of April 10, 1976 Zappola and the Melli brothers were among five arrested by the NYPD after a security alarm was set off in Manhattan's Diamond District. The group was found in possession of bolt cutters, an electrical power pack, a police radio and scanning equipment and keys to the target location at 125 West 46th St. The other two charged were Anthony Longabucco and George's brother, an NYPD officer with the Department's Communications Division.
George gave an address at 11 Ford Place in West Brighton, Staten Island and his occupation as self-employed carpenter. He subsequently moved to another Staten Island address at 53 Dubois Ave in Port Richmond.
By Summer 1977 Zappola and Robert Melli worked for M & R Repair Company, a shipping repair business headquartered in New Jersey. In June they extorted the owner of a Newark trucking company on behalf of Genovese Soldier Michele 'Mike the Loader' Clemente, supervisor of Family interests on the Manhattan piers. The individual, first threatened then beaten and shot at, paid $39,000 at a Manhattan restaurant. The payment was kicked up to Clemente and split with Tino Fiumara, the Family's point man on the New Jersey waterfront.
|Robert Melli (1971)|
On March 6, 1979 Clemente, Fiumara, Zappola and Melli were among eleven named in a wide-ranging racketeering and extortion indictment out of the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan. Melli was by then serving an unrelated sentence at FCI Danbury, Connecticut. Zappola pleaded not guilty and was released on $25,000 bail.
Charged only with the June 1977 extortion, Melli and Zappola were severed from the initial case, then reindicted and ultimately convicted at their own trial in July 1980. The pair were each given five year sentences the following month and believed allowed to remain free pending appeal. On April 20, 1981 the convictions were reversed by the US Circuit Court of Appeals and a new trial was ordered.
It's not known when George Zappola became a made member of the Genovese Family. It may have been after the books re-opened in early 1976 and before his 1979 Federal racketeering indictment.
By 1982 he was a confirmed member with a crew of associates that included one or more sons of Cosmo DiPietro, a Genovese Soldier who disappeared the previous summer.
In early February of that year Zappola was suspected in the murder of thirty-four-year-old Mark Hertzan, a horse breeder and suspected drug runner. Hertzan was found dead in the lobby of his loft apartment building in Manhattan's East Village, shot three times in the chest and twice in the head.
It was also around this time that members of Zappola's crew shot Nicholas 'Nicky Cowboy' Mormando, an associate on-record with Gambino Soldier Salvatore Gravano, and hatched a plot to kill Gravano himself. Informed of the situation by Genovese Associate Robert Scarpaci, Gravano notified his superiors in the Gambino Family.
Gravano subsequently met with Genovese Boss Vincent 'Chin' Gigante and an agreement was reached: Gravano would not seek retribution against Zappola's associates and, in turn, Gigante would not punish Robert Scarpaci for breaking protocol by going straight to Gravano with the information.
The last piece of business was Zappola himself. Called to a meeting with Vincent's brother, Genovese Capodecina Mario Gigante, he failed to provide an adequate account of his role in the plot.
On June 22, 1982 Zappola disappeared.
Eight days later his right hand washed up on a beach in Northport, Long Island.
His head came ashore the following day in nearby Bayville.
Identification was made using dental records and fingerprints. It was determined he had been shot three times in the left side of the face and head, after which his head was severed with a saw.
Through the 1980s George's brother, along with his former close associate Robert Melli, continued to participate in various burglaries throughout New York and New Jersey.
His relatives George and Vincent Zappola were among several Genovese Associates released to the Luccheses and inducted into that Family.