Gemini Lounge


Gemini Lounge

The Gemini Lounge was a bar and at one time the headquarters of a notorious Gambino Mafia Family crew headed by Roy DeMeo that is suspected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of between 75-200 murders from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. It was the front half of a two-story brick building located on a corner lot at 4021 Flatlands Ave., Brooklyn, with the back half consisting of an apartment dwelling where many victims of the DeMeo crew were murdered and dismembered.

History

In the 1960s, the Gemini Lounge was known as Phil's Lounge, a blue-collar bar also frequented by an assortment of small-time criminals, college students, off-duty police officers, firemen and loanshark customers along with many of whom were looking to place bets with bookies. It was not so much a social club as an in-between place where Roy could hang out during the day, where people could contact him or drop off loan payments. It served drinks and snack food, and there was a jukebox and a small wooden dance floor where young couples did the Hustle on Saturday nights. There was a long wooden bar with a television set over it and tables where people could sit.

A few feet to the rear of the bar counter was a little storage room where Roy had a safe installed to keep firearms, loanshark money and other valuables. In the back of the bar was an elevated stage where Roy sat at a table. It was dimly lit and smoky and you had to look carefully to make out individuals in the bar. It was also a hangout for up-and-coming individuals who were connected with organized crime, including associates of the Lucchese Family. It was a non-descript building faced with whitewashed brick.

One familiar presence in the bar was Roy DeMeo, who in the early 1960s was a young adult just beginning to develop a criminal reputation, conducting a loansharking business at the bar. By 1963, DeMeo's operation had become so lucrative for the 22-year old that he quit his legitimate job at a Banner Dairy supermarket to focus solely on his criminal activities that centered around the Lounge and its patrons, who also included relatives of Profaci Family boss Joseph Profaci as well as future DeMeo crew member Frederick DiNome. DeMeo soon began fencing stolen goods at the bar as well, and by 1965 the Lounge was his headquarters where anyone wishing to conduct business with him could arrange a meeting. Regular habituates and criminal accomplaces that frequented the establishment were brothers Richard DiNome and Frederick DiNome, Daniel Testa, who was a relative of crew member Joseph Testa and Philadelphia crime family capo Patrick Testa, Ronald Ustica, Henry Borelli, Peter La Froscia, husband and wife criminal accomplaces Sol Hellman and Judith May Hellman, Paul Dodal, Richard Mastrangelo, Edward Grillo, Ronald Turekian, Herman Weisberger, Edward Rendini, Douglas Rega] , Luis Pedro Rodriguez, Gus Kalevas, Salvatore Mangialino, Carlo Profeta, Abdullah Mohammad Hussain, Abdullah Mohammad Hassan Hussain and Wayne Hellman.

In 1966, DeMeo met and began working for Gambino member Anthony Gaggi. That same year, DeMeo also developed a business relationship and friendship with Harvey 'Chris' Rosenberg, who would be the first member of the DeMeo crew. It was around this time that Phil's Lounge began facing financial difficulties. DeMeo reportedly provided $6,000 to help the bar, in the process becoming the secret owner, with the official owner being a childhood friend of Roy's. Originally planning on renaming the bar Charley D's, the official owner of the bar decided instead to name it the Gemini Lounge after his astrological sign.

In the early to mid nineties, long after the Demeo crew’s reign, the location was still operating as an Irish bar under the name of Justin’s. The building that housed the Gemini Lounge is at the intersection of Flatlands Ave. and Troy Ave. in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. At present, the space that was once the Gemini Lounge is now a church called the Flatlands Church of God.

References

* Capeci, Jerry and Gene Mustain, "Murder Machine: A True Story of Murder, Madness, and the Mafia"; Onyx Books, 1993. ISBN 0-451-40387-8.

* Albert DeMeo, "For the sins of my father"; ISBN 1-85410-974-X.


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