Alphonse “Sonny Red” Indelicato was born in New York City on February 25, 1931. His family name came from Siculiana, Agrigento, Sicily, however he never once visited. Indelicato was the father-in-law to Bonanno associate Salvatore Valenti and the ex-son-in-law of Bonanno capo Charles Ruvolo. He was also related to Gov. of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis’s education adviser Gerald Thomas Indelicato, and a worldwide heroin trafficker Giuseppe Indelicato. Indelicato married Margaret Elizabeth McFadden and had one son, Bruno, who he introduced to “this thing of ours”.
Indelicato was charismatic, opinionated, dangerous, and ruthless. He had a tattoo on his left arm of two hearts in a dagger and another tattoo on his right arm which said “Holland 1945”. The meaning of the second tattoo is unclear. He wore bright clothing, orange T-shirts, striped track suits, multicolored socks, garish casual clothing. He wore large tinted sunglasses and walked with a swagger in a pair of custom-made red leather cowboy boots, which some say is where he received his nickname “Sonny Red”.
Indelicato was a particularly violent man; he once drove an ice pick through man’s chest and into the wood floor below, requiring a tire iron to pry the body from the floor. Indelicato was involved in several murders and attempted murders. On December 26, 1951 Indelicato was involved in a shooting at a social club, one man died and another was wounded. The wounded man identified Indelicato as the shooter. He was convicted of murder and attempted murder and sentenced to 12 years at Sing Sing state penitentiary in New York. After serving almost the entire 12 years Indelicato was released in 1966 and placed on a lifetime parole due to his major involvement with organized crime narcotics distribution, a label handed down from a previous conviction of possession of heroin in 1950. Due to the parole restrictions Indelicato was prevented from attending the wedding of Sicilian mob boss Giuseppe Bono. Had it not been for the restrictions, skipping a mob bosses wedding, could easily equate to disrespect and result in murder, however Indelicato had a pass.
As a Bonanno caporegime Indelicato had a strong power base comprised of other caporegime’s and soldiers of the Bonanno crime family that were unhappy with Bonanno boss Philip Rastelli and his leadership. Over a period of 15 years, Indelicato gain the support of four other capo’s with each controlling 6 to 12 Bonanno soldiers, Indelicato was a powerful force. He was often moody and disrespectful towards Rastelli and frequently disrespected Rastelli capos Joseph Massino and Dominick “Sonny black” Napolitano who were aligned with Rastelli.
In 1974, Bonanno boss Philip Rastelli was sent to prison just as former Bonanno boss Carmine “The Cigar” Galante was being released from prison after serving a lengthy prison sentence. Upon his release Galante felt he was owed the position of boss of the Bonanno’s and use all his power to push Rastelli aside. One of his first orders of business was to take over the heroin market and to shut out all the other families from the profits. As his allegiance grew, Galante was isolating himself from the other families who were growing more frustrated with his antics by the day. When Galante declared war on the Genovese and Gambino families the commission decided enough was enough and Galante had to go. After approving a hit on Galante and receiving the okay from the original father of the Bonanno’s, Joe Bonanno, the hit on Galante was set in motion.
After Galante’s murder, Indelicato sensed a vacuum and attempted to take over as boss of the Bonanno’s however, Sonny “Black” Napolitano and other Rastelli loyalist prevented the takeover. As Rastelli finished his prison sentence, Napolitano temporarily took the reins of the family as acting street boss.
Although Indelicato had a large force of Bonanno caporegime’s and soldiers behind him, he was reluctant to start a civil war and offered to sit down with Napolitano and the other capo’s who backed Rastelli to try and reach a compromise, but then meeting never took place.
On May 5, 1981 at Brooklyn’s Embassy Terrace a second meeting was set. With tensions high, Indelicato ordered his men to spread themselves out around the city to prevent them from retaliating if the meeting went badly. According to a Bonanno capo who was present before Indelicato and caporegime’s Lino, Giaconne, and Trinchera left for the meeting, Indelicato said, “if there is shooting, everybody is on their own, try to get out.”
Indelicato and his men were led to a storeroom in the restaurant by Gerlando Sciasica, a neutral Bonanno caporegime. When the men entered Salvatore Vitale and two other Bonanno gunmen stepped out of the closet and said, “don’t anybody move, this is a stickup”. Indelicato, Giaccone, and Trinchera were gunned down by shotgun blasts and pistol fire. Indelicato ran for the exit but was killed with a shotgun blast to his back. Sciasica was left unharmed.
According to FBI agent Joseph “Donnie Brasco” Pistone, the men involved in the killing were Napolitano, John Cersani, Joseph Massino, Indelicato’s brother-in-law Vitale, Joseph DeSimone, Nicholas Santora, Vito Rizzuto, Louis Giongetti, and Santo Giordano. Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero and Cersani were lookouts and help dispose of the bodies along with Napolitano, James Episcopia, and Robert Capazzio. Their bodies were buried in a vacant lot used by the Gambino family as a graveyard.
Fearing reprisals from Indelicato’s son Anthony, Massino wanted him killed, so the Rastelli faction gave the contract to Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero and protégé FBI agent Joseph Pistone, a.k.a. Donnie Brasco. This contract sealed Pistone’s removal from undercover duty and started the downfall of Napolitano’s crew.
Sonny “Black” Napolitano was subsequently killed for allowing an FBI agent to infiltrate his crew. Ruggiero was “sent for” and was expected to be murdered as well however, the FBI detained him before he could make it to the meeting. Anthony Indelicato, having later realized he was the target of botch hit was undeterred and took over his father’s crew in the Bonanno family.