Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone – From Obscurity to Chicago Outfit Boss

Alphonse Gabriel “Scarface” Capone led Chicago’s Mafia during its Prohibition heyday, rising from obscurity as a Brooklyn tough to become the best-known mobster in America. Capone’s empire encompassed illegal liquor, gambling and prostitution in Chicago during the 1920s. He reaped a reputation among many as the most violent man in the country while convincing others he was just a businessman supplying a service to a thirsty public.

Hundreds of people were killed on his orders, and he murdered several himself, but he was never convicted of a violent crime. In the end he was sent away for tax evasion. By the time he got out, he had gone insane and the world of organized crime had passed him by. But he died leaving a legacy of mayhem that has yet to be surpassed.

Al Capone was born in Brooklyn on January 17, 1899, to Italian immigrants Gabriele and Teresina Capone. His father cut hair for a living; his mother sewed. While two of his brothers went on to join him in bootlegging, a third became a federal agent.

After hitting a teacher, Capone was expelled from school at 14. For a time he ran with small-time gangs such as the Bowery Boys and the Junior Forty Thieves, then moved up to the notorious Five Points Gang that controlled criminal activity in Lower Manhattan. He soon fell under the eye of Giovanni “Papa Johnny” Torrio, owner of a Brooklyn billiards hall and leader of a criminal syndicate involved in gambling, prostitution and opium trafficking.

In 1917 Capone was hired as a bartender at the Harvard Inn, a Coney Island tavern owned by Torrio’s partner, Frankie Yale. It was there that Capone earned his famous nickname: He made a lewd pass at a woman, and her brother cut him three times across the left side of his face. Fellow hoods took to calling him “Scarface,” though not in his presence.

While working for Yale the next year, Capone got into a fight with another gangster that led to tensions in the Brooklyn underworld. He also became a suspect in a murder investigation. To protect him, Yale sent him to Chicago, where Torrio had joined his uncle by marriage, mob boss Giacomo “Big Jim” Colosimo.

Prohibition arrived in 1919 and provided a golden opportunity for the so-called Chicago Outfit, that city’s branch of the American Mafia. The city is centrally located, with ample water and rail access, and it made the perfect centerpiece of a bootlegging empire.

But Colosimo didn’t want to expand, so Torrio had him killed. Yale and Capone have each been considered suspects. With Colosimo gone, Torrio took over the Outfit, and Capone rose to prominence within its ranks.

 

Throughout the early 1920s, Capone and Torrio built a powerful liquor business centered on the South Side and the neighboring town of Cicero. They competed primarily against the North Side Gang led by Irish-American mobster Dean O’Banion. Capone quickly built a corrupt political machine to back him, laying siege to Cicero, where he rigged elections and installed a puppet government in 1924.

That year, O’Banion, learning one of his breweries was about to be raided, sold it to Torrio. Torrio ended up in jail and vowed revenge. He got it: O’Banion was gunned down in his flower shop a few months later. All-out war followed, and Capone reaped the rewards.

O’Banion’s men tried to assassinate Torrio but failed. The experience convinced him he’d had enough, and he quit, handing the reins to Capone.

Capone now had his hands on a racketeering empire that pulled in $100 million a year. Revenue came from gambling, prostitution and extortion, but mostly from booze. This enterprise required political corruption on a massive scale and fueled street violence so frequent it became routine.

Capone funneled regular bribes to Chicago Mayor William “Big Bill” Thompson, who ran the city from 1917 to 1923 and 1927 to 1931. Capone also had police officers, judges and other public figures in his pocket. Chicago elected a reform mayor in 1923, and crime dropped, but even that barely put a dent in Capone’s operations before Thompson returned.

As a result of the Outfit’s free reign, violence blossomed. Scores of people died in gun battles and executions, while the mob used beatings and bombings to intimidate competitors, businessmen, witnesses and jurors. Capone’s organization continued to battle the North Side Gang, now run by George “Bugs” Moran. Moran tried to kill Capone more than once but never hit him.

The violence reached a head in February 1929 in a garage at 2122 North Clark Street. The backlash it created finally brought Capone to his knees.

Moran and his men had recently killed two of Capone’s top mobsters and were muscling in on Outfit territory. In retaliation, Capone sent gunmen dressed as cops to the garage, where they expected to find Moran. The assassins announced a “raid,” lined seven North Side men against a wall, and shot them to pieces. But Moran, who was running late, missed his own execution.

Newspapers published gruesome photos of the scene, and the public demanded justice. Capone, who had long tried to cover his violent ways by cultivating a reputation as a simple businessman meeting a public demand for alcohol, had gone a step too far.

No one was ever tried for the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” but the outcry fueled a growing effort to prosecute Capone. He was arrested in Philadelphia in 1929 on a weapons charge and served nine months in jail. It was the beginning of a downward spiral.

The year before, a Treasury agent named Fred Wilson had begun an investigation into Capone’s income taxes. Under a recent Supreme Court ruling, even criminals were required to pay taxes. Capone made millions but had never reported a dollar in income or paid a dime to the government.

He was charged with tax evasion in 1931 and tried in Chicago. He attempted to bribe and threaten the jurors, but the

Scarface Capone on the courthouse steps

judge caught wind and switched juries just before proceedings began.

In the end, Capone was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. He served seven, most of them at Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.

By the time he was released, Capone had been reduced to a shell. Fellow inmates disrespected him, he lost his influence with the Outfit, and a case of syphilis contracted in his youth drove him insane. Scarface spent the last years of his life in Florida, prisoner to delusions that old enemies were still out to get him. He died there of a heart attack on January 25, 1947.

Genovese Family – One of the “Five Families”

Joseph Masseria

The Genovese crime family is one of the “Five Families” of New York and one of the most powerful organized crime families in the nation. Only the Gambino and Chicago Outfit are larger in terms of made men and associates.

The family was founded after Charles Lucky Luciano in the 1930’s but was renamed after Vito Genovese took over in 1957.  The Genovese are special that they have only had five members turn states evidence in their history. Their allegiance to Omerta has proven to keep them away from prosecution and maintain their strength in New York and surrounding areas. However, in years past the family was a bit of a laughing stock as they were led by Vincent “The Chin” Gigante who wandered the streets dressed in a robe in an effort to feign a mental handicap for the ever present FBI. The Chin died in 2005.

Early History

The Genovese family was established as the Morello gang around 1892 running out of the Bronx and East Harlem. They were originally called the 107th street mob established by Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio “the Wolf” Lupo. They were involved in extortion, kidnapping, and robbery.

As their enterprise grew, Morello was faced with territory conflicts with the immigrant gangs from Naples, Italy. The Camorra and the Morello gang initially worked together but after Morello and Lupo received lengthy prison sentences for extortion in 1909, the Camorra seized the opportunity and systematically began killing off the remaining Morello family gangsters, and taking over their rackets. This resulted in what’s known as the Mafia-Camorra War from 1914-1918. By the middle of 1918 many of the Camorra on the losing end of the war, were either killed or in prison thus ending the war. Although the Morello’s won the war, they received a devasting blow when boss Nicholas Morello was killed in 1916.

The Morello family tried to regain its foothold during prohibition, but by the early 1920’s the gang no longer existed. Giuseppe Morello and Lupo were released from prison and fled to Italy under threat from rival Salvatore D’Aquila.  That left the door open for Joseph Masseria boss of the Masseria family to assumed control of the remaining Morello members and their rackets. Masseria needed as much fire power as he could handle as his biggest rival, Salvatore Maranzano boss of the Castellammare del Golfo Sicilian organization in Brooklyn was looking for a fight.

By 1928, the war between Masseria and Maranzano had begun. More than 60 members from both sides were dead. It appeared there would be no end with both families having recruited more soldiers during the war, but on April 15th 1931, the war took a sudden turn when Masseria was murdered in a Coney Island restaurant having been set up by Lucky Luciano and his crew.

As it turned out, Luciano was upset with Masseria for some time. Having been neutral during the war, Luciano met secretly with Maranzano to plot Masseria’s assassination. Masseria’s death affectively ended the Castellamarese War leaving Maranzano in control of New York.

Maranzano didn’t waste any time in restructuring the Italian-American gangs of New York into five new families. With that change Maranzano appointed himself as the Boss of all Bosses. For his help, Luciano was appointed boss of the Morello/Masseria family. However, Luciano and other bosses privately objected to Maranzano’s role. Maranzano soon found out about the detractors and ordered a hit on Luciano. It wasn’t to be. Luciano had the wheels in motion to take control from Maranzano. On September 10, 1931, Jewish gangsters Meyer Lansky, and Tommy Lucchese on orders from Luciano murdered Maranzano in his office. With his death, Luciano became the most powerful gangster in New York.

Realizing the strife between the families, Luciano and his crew created a governing body for the five families. The commission consisted of one leader from each of the five families, the Chicago Outfit headed up by Al Capone, and the Magaddino crime family of Buffalo New York. Luciano and his crew effectively controlled the commission for many years but he succeeded in keeping the commission together. It still stands today, although it’s unclear who is represented by each family.

As head of the Morello/Masseria family, Luciano first appointed Vito Genovese as his underboss, or second in command, and Frank Costello as his Consigliere, or advisor. When they were in place he renamed the family to the Luciano family.

In 1936 Luciano was convicted of pandering and sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison. He continued to control the family from prison but the day to day activities were handled by underboss Vito Genovese. His activities were short lived as he was indicted on murder charges in 1937 and fled prosecution to Italy. Advisor or Consigliere, Frank Costello, was soon appointed as acting boss by Luciano.

Luciano was released from prison in 1946 and immediately deported to Italy after the United States government struck a deal with him to help protect the ports on the east coast from German attack subs. Luciano – still in control of the docks along the east coast- allowed the military to make moves to secure the port, but the need never transpired as Germany surrendered shortly after. Luciano never set foot on U.S. soil again.

With Luciano and Genovese in Italy, Frank Costello was in complete control of the Luciano crime family. With his keen business sense, Costello managed to increase the Luciano reach to include control over much of the bookmaking, loan sharking, and racketeering activities throughout New York. He is also attributed with being one of the first families to have a presence in Las Vegas after approving Meyer Lansky and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel to expand the family business in Southern California to build the first modern casino resort in Las Vegas. When Siegel failed to open the resort on time, his mob investors allegedly sanctioned his murder.

After a 20 year run, Costello faced a formidable opponent in Vito Genovese who was extradited from Italy to New York and beat the 1936 murder charge. With nothing hanging over his head, Genovese was determined to take back control of the family he’d fled almost twenty years before. With help from Mangano crime family underboss Carlo Gambino, they hired Vincent ‘the chin’ Gigante to assassinate Costello. Gigante shot Costello in the head but Costello survived. To prevent retribution from Costello ally Albert Anastasia, Gambino gunmen stalked and killed Anastasia thereby opening the door for Carlo to become boss of the Mangano family. Costello had no support after Anastasia’s murder and retired surrendering the Luciano family to Genovese.

After taking control of what was now called the Genovese crime family, Vito Genovese organized a conference to legitimize his new position. He called in over 100 mobsters from around the country to Appalachian, New York, and a farm owned by Joseph Barbera’s family. Unfortunately for the gangsters, the local law enforcement was tipped to the meeting after a chance sighting of several expensive limousines driving in the country. They surrounded the farm and arrested many of the gangsters as they tried to run. Many of the arrested blamed Vito Genovese who evaded capture by running through the woods. Several of the high ranking mobsters on the Commission were upset at the exposure the Appalachian meeting gained in the public. Carlo Gambino, a one time supporter of Genovese used Appalachian to turn against him fearing he became too reckless. Gambino, Frank Costello, and Tommy Lucchese lured Genovese into a drug distribution scheme that eventually ended with Genovese being arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In June 1962 the word Cosa Nostra became a household name when Genovese family soldier Joseph “Joe Cargo” Valachi agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors against the Genovese family. He testified in a public hearing about the day to day activities of the Cosa Nostra and revealed much of their secrets. The joke was on Valachi though because his testimony did not lead to any convictions.

After Genovese was sent to prison in 1959 leadership created a secret “Ruling Panel” that would lead the

Vito Genovese

family in his absence. The first panel included Tommy Eboli, Gerardo Catena, and Phillip Lombardo. They also appointed a “Front Boss” to act as the official boss of the family. When Genovese died in 1969, Phillip Lombardo was his successor and Tommy Eboli was the front boss. In an attempt to take over the Genovese family, Gambino boss Carlo Gambino loan Tommy Eboli millions of dollars on a drug scheme. By 1972 Eboli had failed to pay back the money so Gambino had him murdered.

With the front boss position open, Frank “Funzi” Tieri was chosen to be the new front boss, and a new ruling panel was put in place. This second panel consisted of Catena, Michele “Big Mike” Miranda, and Lombardo. In 1982, Tieri was convicted and sent to prison under the RICO act, and Lombardo the official boss of the family retired leaving the slot to Vincent “Chin” Gigante.

Gigante ran the family behind the shroud of the front boss for three years until a Genovese associate turned informer and identified Gigante as the real boss of the family. After the outing Gigante retired the position of front boss and formed a new position called the “street boss”. Gigante wanted to insulate himself from the FBI as must as possible. The street boss would run day to day operations with Gigante making all the decisions. Wise the way of the FBI Gigante knew his street boss would be found out one day, so instead of delivering his directions straight to the street boss, Gigante used messengers. As a result, Gigante only spoke directly with a few close associates including his two sons. All other business was completed using a messenger. He also ordered his entire family to never speak his name out loud. Anyone who was caught saying his name was to be killed on the spot. Instead, they would point to their chin or make a ‘C’ with their hands.

In 1985 with the murder of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, Gigante gained control of the commission and was the most powerful boss in New York. He would remain the most powerful until the FBI finally tried and convicted him to 12 years in prison in 1997. He died of heart disease while still serving his sentence in 2005.

Today, the Genovese family is considered to be one of the strongest in New York. They have approximately 250 made men and 14 active crews. Their associates could be in the thousands, and according to the FBI they have not had an official boss since Gigante. Instead, their caporegime run the day to day business with a few capos’s holding the most power in Manhattan and the Bronx.

Nicolo Terranova – Morello (Genovese) Family Boss

Nicolo Terranova was born in Corleone Italy in 1890. When he was two years old his family, including his brother’s Ciro, Vincenzo and four sisters immigrated to the United States. They arrived in New York on March 8, 1893 joining their step brother Guiseppe Morello who arrived six months earlier.

The Terranova family stayed in New York for about a year, however work was scarce so they packed up and moved to Louisiana where their father, Bernardo Terranova and Guiseppe worked planting sugar cane. When work slowed, the family moved again to Bryan, Texas where the family worked picking cotton. They did this for two years before the family contracts malaria and moved back to New York in 1896.

In 1903 Terranova’s sister married Ignazio “the Wolf” Lupo a member of the Black Hand organization in Little Italy, Manhattan. By that time, Morello and Terranova had started the Morello gang. They welcomed in Lupo who eventually became the underboss of the family.

The Morello family was an organized gang that concentrated their efforts on counterfeiting money, extortion, and loan sharking. By 1905 Morello had built the Morello crime family into the most influential gang in New York. He was known as the capo di tutti capo (boss of bosses) by mafia leaders in the United States. Terranova, then known as Nicholas Morello was by his side.

Guiseppe’s reign although fearsome, was short lived. He was arrested several times and by 1909 was sentenced along with Lupo to a 30 year term for counterfeiting. With the two top bosses in prison, Terranova took the lead of the Morello crime family becoming boss in 1910.

Terranova and his brother Vincent were arrested in June 1912 for assaulting a policeman. Vincent received a ten day jail term and Terranova received a suspended sentence. Later that month Terranova was suspected in the murder of Rocco Tapano in the Bronx New York. It was retribution for Tapano killing Guiseppe’s son Calogero. The FBI learned of Terranova’s involvement from an informant, but no charges were ever filed.

By 1914 there was a large scale power struggle that involved most of the gang’s in New York. This struggle, dubbed the Mafia-Camorra War lasted from 1914-1917. Terranova was a willing combatant in the fight. In 1915 Brooklyn Camorra leader Pellegrino Morano began to make moves to take over Morello territory, particularly East Harlem and Greenwich Village. In November 1915 “Three Fingered” Sam Antonio shot Terranova with a shotgun wounding him. It was the first attempt on the bosses life.

By 1916 the Morello family struck back at the Brooklyn Camorra dealing a devastating blow when the murdered Nick Del Guido a high ranking member of the Camorra. Not long after, a peace meeting was presented to the Camorra by the Morello to prevent more bloodshed. Camorra boss Morano, refused the meeting and the fighting continued.

On September 7th, 1916, Terranova and Morello member Eugene Ubriaco walked downtown to meet with members of

Members of the Navy Street Gang

the Navy Street Gang. Their goal was to recruit them to their side during the war. As they walked, both men were ambushed by Morano men outside Vollero’s Café in Brooklyn. Both men tried to flee but were cut down by Morano bullets. The men responsible for the slaying were soon arrested. Several of the top members of the Morano’s were convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison. The balance of the Morano gang were assimilated in the Sicilian mafia by 1919.

Terranova’s brother, Vincent replaced him as boss of the Morello family. Brother Ciro became the underboss.

Greg Scarpa, Sr. – “the Grim Reaper” and 30 Year FBI Informant

Greg Scarpa, Sr., was born on May 8, 1928 near Venice, Italy and immigrated to the United States with his parents and brother Salvatore at a young age.

The 1950’s were a busy time for Scarpa. He married Connie Forrest and had four children, maintained a relationship with girlfriend Linda Schiro having two more children, and was introduced to the Colombo crime family by his brother Salvatore.

Scarpa was a successful gangster from the very beginning and it wasn’t long before he became heavily involved in illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, hijacking, murder, assault, theft, and narcotics trafficking. As a gangster he wore stylish clothes and carried large amounts of cash in his pocket for purchases and bribery. He owned apartments and homes in Manhattan, Florida, Brooklyn, and Las Vegas. As his power grew his reputation for violence and murder grew as well eventually earning him the nickname “the Grim Reaper”. Shiro later said that Scarpa would sometimes leave the numbers “666” on his victim’s pagers.

In March 1962 law enforcement arrested Scarpa for armed robbery. If convicted he would serve a lengthy prison sentence which would certainly cripple his growing empire. As a high ranking member in the Colombo crime family the FBI provided Scarpa with a chance of freedom provided he was willing to give information to them from time to time regarding organized crime. He accepted and became an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a relationship that would last 30 years.

 

** EDS NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT ** FILE ** In this 1964 file photo released by the FBI, the bodies of three civil rights workers are uncovered from an earthen dam southwest of Philadelphia, Miss. The photograph was entered as evidence by the prosecution in the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted in 2005 for three counts of manslaughter in the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. (AP Photo/FBI, File)

** EDS NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT ** FILE ** In this 1964 file photo released by the FBI, the bodies of three civil rights workers are uncovered from an earthen dam southwest of Philadelphia, Miss. The photograph was entered as evidence by the prosecution in the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted in 2005 for three counts of manslaughter in the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. (AP Photo/FBI, File)

In the summer of 1964 three Mississippi Civil Rights workers were reported missing and suspected of being murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. According to Schiro and other sources, the FBI was having trouble finding their graves and recruited Scarpa to help locate them. At the time Scarpa was widely known as an aggressive mafioso and a formidable interrogator. The FBI used Scarpa and his skills to kidnap a TV salesman and known Klansman named Lawrence Byrd who is suspected of having information on the three workers. Scarpa and FBI agents took Byrd to Camp Shelby a local Army base where they severely beat him until he revealed the location of the civil rights workers graves.The FBI never officially confirmed Schiro’s account of the story. Instead investigative journalist Jerry Mitchell and another man claimed a Mississippi highway patrolman named Maynard King provided the grave locations after receiving a tip from an anonymous third party.

 Scarpa was eventually dropped as a confidential informant by the FBI in January1966, but their relationship was renewed in 1980 when FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio approached Scarpa and convinced him to cooperate again.

DeVecchio and Scarpa had a tight relationship that some say involved numerous illegal dealings of cash, jewelry, and gifts. In return DeVecchio provided Scarpa with information about his enemies during the third Colombo war and likely saved his life in the process. The two worked together for over 10 years often meeting alone in apartments or hotels provided by the FBI where they would exchange information. In one such meeting Scarpa gave DeVecchio a hard-to-find Cabbage Patch doll for his daughter just in time for Christmas.

Scarpa was arrested in 1985 and charged with running a major credit card scam. He pled guilty and was awaiting sentence when DeVecchio submitted a memo to the judge that listed all of Scarpa’s contributions to the FBI. Scarpa was eventually sentenced to five years probation with no prison time and a $10,000 fine. He may have gotten off lightly, however some of the Colombo soldiers were surprised at the leniency of the court and suspected Scarpa might have a relationship with the government.

In 1991 the Colombo family was involved in a power struggle. On one was side Colombo boss Carmine Persico and the other, acting boss Victor Orena. During the war Persico loyalist unsuccessfully attempted to murder Orena. Instead of retaliating against the highly protected Persico, Orena sent his men to murder Scarpa who a staunch Persico allie.

November 18, 1991 hitmen converged on Scarpa’s vehicle with guns drawn, but Scarpa managed to drive away before any shots were fired. Scarpa was infuriated at the attempt on his life and over the next several months traveled through Brooklyn looking for Orena loyalists in social clubs and bars. At the end of the war Orena supporters Rosario Nastasa, Vincent Fusaro and James Malpiso were dead. Malpiso was gunned down while hanging Christmas lights on his home.

In 1992 Scarpa, who is in poor health after contracting the AIDS virus from tainted blood, was arrested for violating state firearms laws and indicted on federal racketeering charges involving three murders. He was placed under house arrest awaiting trial.

1990's Greg Scarpa Sr.

1990’s Greg Scarpa Sr.

On December 29, 1992 Lucchese crime family gangsters Michael DeRosa and Ronald Moran threatened Scarpa’s stepson Joey over a drug deal. Although he was in poor health Scarpa climbed out of bed and drove with Joey to DeRosa’s house to confront the two men. Fearing for their lives a gunfight erupted and DeRosa was shot twice in the chest and Scarpa was shot once in the eye. After arriving at the hospital prosecutors revoked Scarpa’s house arrest and send him to jail.

On May 6, 1993 Scarpa pled guilty to three murders and conspiracy to commit murder. In frail health and blind in one eye he was sentenced to life in prison on December 15, 1993, but the sentence was reduced to 10 years due to his poor health. He died on June 4, 1994 in the Federal Medical Center for prisoners in Rochester Minnesota.

Gambino Family – The most publicized of the “Five Families”

The Gambino crime family is the most publicized family of the American Mafia. It’s one of “Five Families” based out of New York that dominates organized crime in the United States. The Gambino family got its name from previous boss Carlo Gambino who controlled the family from 1959 until his death in October 1976.

The family got its start in the late 1800’s as the Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila gang of Manhattan who joined the established Morello gang. They were the first Italian American gang in New York, and possibly the entire United States. Their reign lasted for twenty years until the matriarch of the family, Giuseppe Morello and his underboss, Ignazio Saietta, were sent to prison after a counterfeiting conviction. Realizing the gang was in rough shape; D’Aquila split away from the remaining members and formed his own gang in East Harlem. Using his established connections with other Mafia leaders, D’Aquila’s gang quickly became a powerful influence in New York.

Early History

Through a series of shifts of power from one gang to another, Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila formed alliances with other Mafia bosses and took down the weaker gangs absorbing their rackets. From 1910-1917 D’Aguila established and reestablished the largest Italian gang in New York. They controlled more rackets than any other gang in the area.

Nineteen-twenty brought prohibition outlawing the sale and distribution of alcohol, and a well-paid illegal racket for the New York gangs. During this time more gangs emerged with the first gang being a spinoff of the ailing Morello gang based in the Bronx and East Harlem. It was led by Gaetano Reina, an intelligent businessman who not only went after the unlawful sale and distribution of alcohol, but had complete control over icebox distribution in the city. His gang would later become the Lucchese Crime family one of the “Five Families” of New York.

The second gang to emerge in the 1920’s was led by a fierce and powerful mobster name Joe Profaci. His gang would later become the final of the “Five Families” to be established named the Colombo crime family.

In 1920, the Morello gang had disbanded with its members leaving or joining other gangs around New York. This left D’Aquilla and his only real rival Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria in control of New York. Masseria had taken over the interests of the Morello family and by late 1920 he was looking for further expansion, but D’Aquilla was standing in his way.

In 1928 D’Aquilla, was gunned down by Masseria murderer’s leaving D’Aquilla’s second in command Alfred Mineo in charge of the family. It wouldn’t last. In late 1930 Masseria murderers gunned down Mineo and his top lieutenant Steve Ferrigno, and seized control of the Mineo family and their assets. With the assassination, Masseria became the most powerful boss in New York.

Nineteen-thirty-one brought about more change for the Masseria family. Joe Masseria had a fight on his hands and his name was Salvatore Maranzano. His family had quietly taken uproots in New York and with his leadership had taken a large chunk of Masseria’s business. In April of 1931 seeing the shift in power, some of Masseria’s own members murdered Masseria in a restaurant allowing Maranzano to take control of his family. Maranzano declared himself the Capo D tutti Capi (boss of bosses) of all New York. Maranzano was no idiot. He knew one man would not reign supreme for long, so he divided the New York gangs into “Five Families” and kept the top seat for himself.

Meyer Lansky

In September 1931, just five months after creating the five families, Lucky Luciano called on a small team of assassins to murder Maranzano. Once completed, Lucky and his family (later known as Genovese) further organized the five families creating “The Commission” where each boss of the five families would hold a seat. This Commission would reign as the supreme leader of New York for generations arbitrating disputes between families and preventing gang warfare.

In the same month, Luciano replaced the acting boss of the D’Aquila/Mineo gang, with mobster Vincent Mangano calling them the Mangano family. Mangano was given a seat on the commission. Mangano led the family with old mob traditions teaching the members honor, tradition, and respect above all else. He also led his family into extortion, horse betting, union racketeering, and murder. He’s credited with starting the most feared group of hired killers ever known to the mafia, Murder Incorporated. This group of mainly Jewish Americans was hired by several of the five families to do their dirty work. The most feared of the group was Mangano family underboss Albert Anastasia.

Mangano and his brother Philip didn’t mesh well with Anastasia although they worked with each other for several years; they were not close and rarely agreed. Mangano didn’t trust Anastasia and as Albert’s power within Murder Incorporated grew, so did Mangano’s distrust. In April 1951, 20 years after appointment by Luciano as boss of the Mangano crime family, Vincent Mangano was found murdered, and his brother disappeared.

The Commission condemned Anastasia for the murders, and although he denied involvement, they had no choice but to put him in control of the Mangano family. Thus the Anastasia family was born with Albert firmly in control and an up-and-coming member named Carlo Gambino as his second in command. In 1952 with help from Frank Costello boss of the Luciano crime family Anastasia had gained control over the commission.

 As a feared gun, Anastasia’scontrol was short lived. He made a series of mistakes in the eyes of the

Carlo Gambino

Commission. He ordered the murder of a man who aided in the capture of a notorious bank robber Willie Sutton. He also opened competition casinos in Cuba enraging Meyer Lansky who opened casino’s years earlier. It was the final act of disobedience, Anastasia had to go.

 In 1957 Genovese and Meyer Lansky called on Anastasia’s underboss Carlo Gambino to aid with the take down of Anastasia. With the backing of the Commission, they offered Gambino the top spot in the Anastasia family. In May of the same year Costello escaped a Genovese-organized assassination attempt and quickly resigned as boss. Shortly after, Gambino learned Costello and Anastasia were working on their own plot to take down Genovese.

 In October of 1957 while Anastasia was sitting in the barbershop at Park Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, several masked assassins entered and fired several rounds into Anastasia killing him instantly. With Anastasia’s death, Gambino was promoted by the Commission as boss of the Anastasia family, what is now the Gambino crime family. He appointed Aniello (Neil) Dellacroce in 1965 as underboss.

Over his reign the Gambino crime family gained a strong influence over the construction industry. They influenced the teamsters and unions that controlled the building materials coming into New York. At any given time the Gambino’s could bring the entire construction industry to a stop if they chose.

October 15, 1976 Carlo Gambino’s 19-year rule ended after he suffered a heart attack and died. As he directed before his death, Paul Castellano an up-and-coming Mafioso and keen business leader took over the Gambino family. Neil Dellacroce remained in the underboss position and was instructed by Castellano to control the traditional Cosa Nostra activities while he worked the more white- collar activities involving embezzlement and construction schemes.By the early 1980’s Castellano created a barrier from the family and him. Dellacroce was the only person allowed to speak with the boss and deliver his messages and actions to the family. Several made members found this alienation to be a slap in the face. One of Castellano’s biggest critics was a tough Italian with a large following within the family named John Gotti.

 Gotti followed the old school Mafioso traditions closely. He felt the boss of the family needed to show respect to the made members and Castellano was doing anything but. Gotti admired and respected Dellacroce who also followed old school rules. Dellacroce who was in failing health, kept Gotti and the defectors at ease with Castellano until Delacroce’s death on December 2, 1985. Two weeks later, Gotti seized power having Castellano and his underboss Tommy Bilotti murdered outside the Sparks Steak House on December 16, 1985.

Junior Gotti

Gotti’s control over the Gambino crime family lasted for 7 years. Many of them spent in the court room as Gotti was tried over and over. He earned the nickname “Teflon Don” for earning acquittals in each case. Finally on April 2, 1992 Gotti and his Consigliere Frank LoCascio were convicted and received life sentences without the possibility of parole. Gotti continued to rule the family from prison and left the day-to-day to capo’s John D’Amico, and Nicholas Corozzo. Gotti died in prison in 2002. Since Gotti’s death, several men have taken control of the family including Gotti’s son John “Junior” Gotti who is now considered to be boss of the family.


Hit Counter provided by Skylight