“I’m Fred Astaire.”
Feech La Manna is something of a living legend in the New Jersey mob. A contemporary of Junior and Johnny-Boy Soprano, he was a much-respected capo in the ’70’s – although he always claimed to be a humble purveyor of Italian breadsticks.
Feech recently returned to Essex County after serving twenty years in prison, and as a central player in one of the seminal events of his life, Tony wanted to help him out. Back when he was a cugine, Feech ran a Saturday night card game. Tony and Jackie Aprile Sr., wanting to do something ballsy that would gain the respect of the made guys, robbed the game. They came away with 20K and a reputation as up-and-comers. At a sitdown afterward, Feech, in a magnanimous gesture, gave Tony and Jackie a pass in exchange for returning a chunk of their take.
So when Feech told Tony he wanted get back in the game, “shy, sports book, whatever,” Tony told him he could do whatever he wanted, “as long as you don’t step on any toes.” Feech assured his new boss he had nothing to worry about. “Me?” he smiled, “I’m Fred Astaire.”
When Tony gave him stewardship of the “executive” poker game — Feech’s domain before he went to prison — it became clear that the old capo resented kowtowing to someone he still thinks of as a kid. He’d smirk at Tony in front of his subordinates, then try to withhold his share of the earnings.
This wasn’t his only breech of trust. Feech gave the green light to a raid on a wedding, where all the expensive cars were boosted and taken to Johnny Sacks’ shops (he gave Feech a good deal). Tony started to wonder whether he could keep Feech around. “Did I learn nothing from Richie Aprile?” he asked Silvio, who reluctantly agreed that they might have to get rid of the old man. But as Feech became increasingly popular with the underlings, Tony decided he needed an alternative. Instead of arranging for his disappearance, he set him up to violate his parole, and soon Feech was back in the slammer, where he could no longer undermine his boss.