Made famous by a classic scene in the iconic Martin Scorsese movie Goodfellas, the real-life murder of gangster Billy Batts by three of his associates – Tommy DeSimone, Henry Hill and James Burke – has become part of mob folklore. But according to Hill, who became an FBI informant in 1980, the movie didn’t portray events as they really happened. And that’s because the real story is just too gruesome for the screen.
William Bentvena, a.k.a. Billy Batts, was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1921. And while little is known of his childhood, by 1959 Batts was a known associate of the Gambino crime family and was friends with one John Gotti, who would later go on to become the Gambino godfather.
Batts was arrested in 1959 while in the midst of completing a drug deal, and the mobster was eventually sent to jail in 1962 for heroin trafficking. Although he was handed a 15-year sentence, Batts was a free man once again by June of 1970, at the age of 49.