John M. Riggi, the crime lord who helmed the activities of New Jersey's DeCavalcante family for several decades, has passed away at the age of 90. In 2012, Riggi was released from federal prison after serving time for murder and racketeering charges. According to NJ.com, Riggi died at his home on Monday. "This guy may be the last of the old time mob bosses for this region," says assistant director of the State Commission of Investigation Lee Seglem. "He outlived all the big names."
Riggi, also known as "The Eagle," reportedly served as the inspiration behind David Chase's iconic HBO series The Sopranos. Specifically, the actions of protagonist Tony Soprano are said to have been inspired by Riggi and fellow DeCavalcante associate Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo. However, those who knew Riggi personally take mild offense at this assertion. "He wasn't Tony Soprano," recalls Robert Boccino, an organized crime expert and former deputy chief of the State Organized Crime Bureau. "Absolutely, he was no Tony Soprano. The people in Elizabeth loved him. Nobody would cooperate, that was the problem. He was respected."
Though Riggi's passing comes with a sense of finality to a much-discussed era, the fate of one Tony Soprano is still very much up for debate. Earlier this year, David Chase offered some revelatory words of wisdom on the final scene of the series, though even a shot-by-shot analysis is likely not enough to quell the dissension. At any rate, don't stop believing.