Chris Paciello was born Christian Ludwigsen in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn to an Italian mother and non-Italian father who was an addict and a petty thief. Chris’s father was a street guy who rarely took care of his family. His mother moved Chris to an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn and they began using her maiden name, Paciello. Chris started as a petty thief, boosting car stereos at age 15, and graduated to stealing cars. He became close with the New Springfield Boys, a young crew often used by both the Colombo and Bonanno families for small jobs, arson, robbery, intimidation. Like most young men of the 1980s-90s, they dabbled in street-level drug dealing. Paciello maintained his mafia connections for use later in his criminal career.
Paciello got his first big break in the early 90s when he noticed some young guys loading bales of marijuana into a panel truck. Chris was always quick to see an opportunity and he followed the panel truck until the men dropped it on the street and left it unguarded. Chris knew how to hotwire an automobile so he called in his crew and they took the marijuana. Since Paciello was in a group with mafia connections, a Bonanno Capo named Anthony Graziano demanded a piece of this theft. Graziano demanded $50,000 in cash. Paciello gladly paid this tribute because they actually made over three times that amount.
Chris Paciello and the New Springfield Boys decide to go for the big money and robbed six banks over the next few months after the marijuana caper. Modeling themselves after the Point Break robbery crew, they meticulously planned each robbery. They cased the locations, used crash cars, knew the schedules of the armored car arrivals and the personal schedules of every bank employee. Paciello was building for the future with each bank robbery and one even netted them over $300,000.
Paciello was always on the prowl for a bigger job and more money. He was a thinking robber and looked into the porn industry because they usually dealt in cash. He learned about a porn magnate named Sami Shemtov who owned many porn shops in New York City. Even while many of these porn stores were co-owned by mob members, Paciello started running surveillance on Shemtov. he learned where he lived and believed he must keep a cash hoard inside his home Chris recruited outside his normal crew and convinced mob associates and members of a Bonanno crew called the Bath Avenue crew to help him. Bonnano associates Jimmy Calendra and Tommy Reynolds went to Shemtov’s home. Reynolds was a crack addit and unreliable to the poin that he spent the whole day smoking in preparation for the home invasion. Paciello and his crew arrived at Shemtov’s. Calendra and Reynolds went to the door, while Paciello waited in the car. Shemtov’s wife answered the door. Reynolds was jittery and afraid and for some reason he pulled his trigger killing Ms. Chemtov in front of her 9-year old daughter. The two men fled back to Pacielloo and the getaway car with no money. Newspapers later reported that Shemtov diod not have a safe and did to keep his store rfeceiuopts at home.
Paciello left New York after this crime and invested much of his money into a Miami South Beach club called Risk. During this time, he hedged his bets and started proving the FBI information. He was very successful in the Miami club scene and sooner partnered with a local celebrity named Ingrid Casares and opened Club Liquid. He became friends with many movie stars and music legends like Madonna during these days. On December 1, 1999, New York charged Paciello in the 1993 murder of Judith Shemtov. Sofia Vergara and other wealthy customers of his South Beach club posted his three million dollar bail. After a year of negotiation, Paciello pleaded guilty to s single racketeering charge. The court was sentenced Paciello to ten years in prison. In return, he admitted he drove the getaway car after the attempted robbery of the Shemtov home. Paciello also testified against members of the Bonanno family. In September 2006, he was released after serving six years in prison. Since that release, Paciello has opened several south Beach night clubs and lives down there today.
Show Notes by Gary Jenkins
Hit me up on Venmo for a cup of coffee or a shot and a beer @ganglandwire
To go to the store or make a donation Click Here.
To rent Brothers against Brothers, the documentary, click here.
To rent Gangland Wire, the documentary, click here
To subscribe on iTunes click here, please give me a review and help others find the podcast