In 1977, a week or so after the abduction and murder of Butch Cap, Tommy — a dealer in rare powders — was back in his North Bergen cliffside location and I visited him there. Partly from his pack rat, curio-loving nature, partly from keeping up appearances for his front of a supposed antique dealer, and partly as a way to have a multitude of notches and niches to keep things away from the shuddering glare of in plain view, Tommy had the place chock-a-block filled with bric-a-brac, object bizarre and early Addams Family decor. This was now all in a huge pile on the floor, as if hit by the proverbial hurricane. Tommy explained that the storm had come in the form of the Hoboken Police “looking for pictures of Butch Cap.” Whether he was there at the time of the search (and to some degree destroy) mission and so knew this by sight and sound or if it was just a surmise, that I don’t know. Tommy made mention that he did indeed have incriminating photos of his now dead partner. As the individual in question was quite definitely and permanently ex post facto, what the point was to one and all, I don’t know.
The day after Butch was stabbed and then pulled from there, I went up to River Road in North Bergen. I didn’t know about the mayhem of the night before. There was a “burnt-out” (non-functional) traffic light on River Road that served as a landmark. Tommy’s place was at the top of the long stairs going up the hill. Two grey Great Dane puppies (from Hope’s dog) were in a cage outside the door, crying because they were hungry. Everything else was strangely still. I walked down to the street and bought some sliced roast beef at a place that was there. I carried the meat back up to the puppies and then left.
Tommy wasn’t one to let things worry him for very long. Early that September, he even closed up shop for a few days — something for him generally unknown — to go to the Grateful Dead concert in Englishtown. He remarked that while listening to the music, he thought that “Since Butch always was so paranoid, he must be grateful to be dead.” If Tommy was with us now, I’d tell him that Butch Cap had proved Freud correct: “The paranoid is never entirely mistaken.”
I don’t think that I ever met the accomplices in the abduction and murder of Butch Cap, but Michael I had already run across. I was friendly with Manuel (Rocky) of Union City and his buddy Sammy from Hoboken. I’d drive them to Michael’s house in the Heights on New York Ave. (there were concrete — around 2 ft — lions out by the steps) or to the auto body shop in Hoboken. Hudson County is the world’s biggest small town.
Rocky had recently done a little time (1 yr Fed?) and somehow blamed Butch Cap. There often was talk of revenge, which struck me as fanciful. Everyone was very leary of Butch. I thought that he must be like the Hulk or something. I didn’t know about the uncle the mayor. I also didn’t know that Butch was doing business with Michael — and bad business at that.
If I remember correctly, Michael was shot (in the eye?) before the trial. He was out on bail in FLA. (Family trip?). He survived that. In prison, his father — a serious individual — was arrested for trying to sneak Michael out in the trunk of his car.
A Michael Labruno in a NJ State prison wrote a friend of mine. She was in the local papers for running a charity. Presumably, he saw the name there. He wanted to be a pen pal. Twenty years later — almost to the day — the Jersey Journal reported that someone with the same name as the Organized Crime figure convicted of the murder had been arrested on Colgate Street in Jersey City for possession of cases of stolen perfume. I’m not certain if it was one and the same, but the probable release date and the age were consistent.