A COP & A CAPO
By PHILIP MESSING
December 6, 2004 -- One was the son of a cop; the other the kid of a Mafia
underboss. And they were best friends in Brooklyn's Mill Basin.
The cop's kid, Jimmy Mullan, became an NYPD detective while
Anthony Rotondo became a top gangster before emerging last month as a key
turncoat witness against alleged Gambino boss Peter Gotti.
As boys, they were an inseparable duo at St. Bernards Catholic School in
nearby Bergen Beach, bound by a mutual love of sports.
But by the time they graduated in June 1971, the cherubic-faced
Mullan and the older-looking Rotondo were moving
in different directions.
Mullan was the son of the late
James Mullan Sr., a legendary
NYPD detective who
performed surveillance work on the Mafia for more than three decades.
James Jr. followed in his dad's footsteps,
spending a dozen years as an undercover NYPD
detective. He fearlessly bought narcotics and
illegal handguns, investigated labor and political corruption, and
infiltrated two Mafia families as well as the notorious Westies, an Irish
gang of killers from Hell's Kitchen.
Rotondo was the son of Vincent "Jimmy The Gent" Rotondo, a
soon-to-be-murdered DeCavalcante crime-family underboss.
The younger Rotondo also followed his father, becoming a feared Mafia capo
and earning millions while admittedly participating in four murders.
And yet, long ago, when the boys were buddies, all that mattered was their
"Growing up, I spent all of my free time at his house,"
Mullan said. "He was a very respectful kid — very laid back and
The first hint they were different came in their early teens, when
Mullan's pal gave him an expensive Rolex watch. Mullan's dad made him
return the gift, but refused to say why.
"He said, 'Where did you get that watch?' I told him and he said, 'Just
give it back!' " Mullan recalled with a laugh.
The two were painfully reunited on the afternoon of Jan. 4, 1988, when
Mullan, a newly promoted
detective in the NYPD Intelligence
Division, heard someone had been fatally shot near his home.
Mullan arrived at 2356 Royce St., where his
boyhood pal's 58-year-old dad lay sprawled out dead in the Lincoln he had
just parked, shot six times in the head by killers who were never caught.
Among the enforcement officials milling about was the elder
Mullan, who gave his son surprising news.
"He said, 'Your childhood friend's father was the underboss in the
DeCavalcante family and his son is now a made guy,' "
The younger Rotondo also got an eye-opener — his onetime pal was now
sporting a gold NYPD detective's shield.
"He didn't know I had become a cop," Mullan said.
The poignant reunion was brief as both men went their separate ways.