Last of the Old Time Mafia Bosses Dies in Missouri's Federal Prison Hospital

DECEMBER 19, 2005 - Posted at 4:53 p.m. CST

NEW YORK (AP) - Mob boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante died today in the federal prison at Springfield.

Gigante died at the U.S. Medical Center for federal prisoners in Springfield at 5:15 a.m.  A prison spokesman says the cause of death is unknown, but Gigante had a history of coronary disease.  He was 77.

The powerful Mafioso avoided jail for decades by wandering the streets of Greenwich Village in a ratty bathrobe and slippers while mumbling to himself as part of an elaborate feigned mental illness.

Dubbed the "Oddfather" for his bizarre behavior, the former Genovese crime family head finally admitted his insanity ruse at an April 2003 court hearing.

After nearly a quarter-century of public craziness, Gigante calmly pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.  He then chatted amiably with his son, shook hands with defense lawyers and even laughed.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)