It was on April 26th, 1979, that Anthony “Little Pussy” Russo was shot and killed in Long Branch. According to a mafia wiki, he got the name “Little Pussy” because he started as a skilled cat burglar who could evade the police by scaling fences (his older brother was known as “Big Pussy").

Anthony was the mob boss of Monmouth County who worked his way up the crime ladder, once serving as the driver for Vito Genovese, the patriarch of the Genovese mob family. He graduated to loan sharking and gambling, running his growing crime business out of the back of a West Orange drug store. He became a “made man” in Newark and eventually became the boss of Monmouth County. He was shot and killed in a lavish room at a Long Branch spa/hotel, getting shot three times in the head. He was found in his bathrobe surrounded by stuffed pussycats.

It is strongly believed that the hit was by his compadres in the Genovese crime syndicate but no one was ever charged; the FBI was convinced. According to Gangster Report, Ruggerio Boiardo (Richie the Boot), the capo of New Jersey, was overheard saying that Russo got whacked because he had a big mouth. At the time of his death he was the subject of a grand jury probe. He also was out of prison on an Easter furlough. He had been imprisoned for refusing to testify to the State Commission of Investigation. And, yes, he (along with his brother) is believed to be the inspiration for Big Pussy on The Sopranos.

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