Mob boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, the powerful Mafioso who avoided jail for decades by wandering the Greenwich Village streets in a ratty bathrobe and slippers as part of an elaborate feigned mental illness, has died in prison, federal officials said on Monday. He was 77.

Gigante died at the U.S. Medical Center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Mo., at 5:15 a.m., said prison spokesman Al Quintero. "The cause of death is currently unknown. He had a history of coronary disease."

Dubbed the "Oddfather" for his bizarre behavior, the former Genovese crime family head, an ex-boxer whose lengthy string of victories over prosecutors ended with a July 1997 racketeering conviction, 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 for his deception. He then chatted amiably with his son, shook hands with defense lawyers and even laughed at one point.