Reasons to read the obits in The New York Times: Anthony Spero, a consigliere in the Bonanno crime family, died Monday in the Federal Medical Center in Butner, which is part of the federal correctional facility there.

Spero, who was 79 years old, was serving his sentence in Florida but was moved to North Carolina in August, presumably for medical care. The cause of his death was not disclosed.

Spero went to prison in 2001, after being convicted of racketeering and ordering several whackings, including that of a man who burglarized his daughter, and of members of his own “Bath Avenue Crew.”

According to the Times obit, Spero

… was a reserved man often described as an old-time gangster, the antithesis of the flashy celebrity don personified by John J. Gotti of the Gambino family. Mr. Spero was known not for his wardrobe or his conspicuous presence in society but for his hobby, breeding racing pigeons.

For much of his life he lived in Brooklyn, operating in the Bensonhurst neighborhood, where he tended his birds on the roof of a building on Bath Avenue; he held meetings with mob associates, not only at the West End Social Club on the same street, but among the rooftop pigeon coops. Next to the club, Mr. Spero ran a livery business, the Big Apple Car Service, described by crime experts as a cover for illegal enterprises like forcing the owners of stores and restaurants to accept video gambling machines on which the Bonannos would share heartily in the profits.