Two cousins unknowingly rob the mob and face the dangerous consequences.
Charlie and his troublesome cousin Paulie decide to steal $150000 in order to back a "sure thing" race horse that Paulie has inside information on. The aftermath of the robbery gets them into serious trouble with the local Mafia boss and the corrupt New York City police department.
"Little Italy" in New York: Charlie and his cousin Paulie aren't lucky job-wise. Charlie is cool, but Paulie's maroonic behavior constantly brings them in trouble. Then Paulie comes up with the idea to rob the safe of a small company. Together with a safe expert they go for it. However the $150,000 they get are hot: it belongs to the mob and was intended to corrupt the police. The mob only knows the name of the safe man, but they try very hard to find the rest of the gang, too...
- In an Italian neighborhood of Greenwich Village, cousins Charlie, a maître d' with aspirations of someday owning his own restaurant, and Paulie, a schemer who works as a waiter, have expensive tastes but not much money. Paulie gets caught skimming checks, and he and Charlie are both fired. Now out of work and in debt, Charlie must find another way to pay his alimony, support his pregnant girlfriend Diane, and try to buy a restaurant.
Paulie comes to Charlie with a "can't-miss" robbery, involving a large amount of cash in the safe of a local business. Charlie reluctantly agrees to participate, and they manage to crack the safe with help from an accomplice, Barney, a clock repairman and locksmith. But things go sour, resulting in the accidental death of police officer Bunky Ritter, who had been secretly taping "Bed Bug" Eddie Grant. Charlie soon learns that the money they stole belongs to Eddie.
The mob figures out that Paulie is involved, and not even his Uncle Pete, part of Eddie's crew, can help him. One of Paulie's thumbs is severed as punishment.
Diane leaves Charlie and takes his money to support their unborn child, while Paulie is forced to work as a waiter for Eddie. He gives the mob Barney's name but initially refuses to identify Charlie as the third man involved. However, under pressure, he is forced to rat on his cousin. Barney leaves town and Charlie mails him his cut of the loot. And when Charlie makes $20,000 on a horse, things begin to look up.
Charlie prepares for a showdown with Eddie, armed with a copy of the tape that the police officer made. But at the last moment, Paulie puts lye in Eddie's coffee. Then he and Charlie casually walk away from Greenwich Village.