Carlo Gambino –One the Sidelines Part 3 of 4

     Early 1962 was the start of a Profaci family battle. Joe Gallo and his brothers battled with ailing Profaci crime boss Joseph Profaci over, among other things, the amount of money Profaci demanded from his family as tribute. In February 1962, the Gallo’s kidnapped Profaci underboss Joseph Magliocco and capo Joe Colombo in an attempt to force Profaci into revising how profits were divided between the family. After some time in captivity a meeting took place and both sides came to terms with a mutual agreement/ Profaci, however had no intentions of changing his policy. He was suffering from cancer and not ready to relinquish control of the family. After the kidnapped men were released he began to act his revenge against Gallo and his crew. He began with murdering Joseph “Joe Jelly” Gioelli, a Gallo crew member. Soon after, police interrupted an attempt on Larry Gallo’s life.

New Profaci crime family boss, Joseph Magliocco

New Profaci crime family boss, Joseph Magliocco

After the attacks the Gallo crew responded by attacking Profaci’s men wherever and whenever they saw them. Gambino and Lucchese sided with the Gallo crew and were applying pressure to the other members of the Commission to force Profaci to step down. On June 6, 1962 the war between the Gallo crew and Profaci faction ended when Joseph Profaci lost his battle with cancer. He was replaced by his longtime underboss Joseph Magliocco who had every intention of continuing the Profaci Gallo war. But it wasn’t too be; Joe Gallo was arrested, tried, and sent to prison while the rest of the Gallo crew dispersed. Magliocco was then free to focus on building up the Profaci family and increasing territory.

     Soon after the end of the war, another much more brazen attempt emerged from the Profaci family. Joe Bonanno who had aligned himself with Profaci and Magliocco during the Gallo war approached Magliocco with a plan to murder the heads of the other three families and take over the Commission. Magliocco looked to establish his own legacy and agreed to go along with the plan. They hired Profaci capo, Joseph Colombo to orchestrate the assassinations. However, Colombo was the wiser and realized the plan would not go very far and likely end in his death. Soon after his meeting with Bonanno and Magliocco, Colombo warned Gambino about the conspiracy to take over the commission. Choosing to watch from the sidelines through the Profaci Gallo War, Gambino’s life was threatened. He would need to act, but murder was not the answer.

     Instead, Bonanno and Magliocco were “sent for” by the commission to face judgment for their actions, but Bonanno fled leaving Magliocco to face the consequences alone. The commission believed Magliocco was following Bonanno’s lead, and although the penalty for such conspiracy is death, Magliocco was fined $50,000 and forced to retire. For his act of loyalty to the commission, Joseph Colombo was named as the new boss of the Profaci’s and renamed it the Colombo crime family. Colombo also gained a seat on the Commission. One month after losing control of the Profaci family Magliocco died.

     With Magliocco gone and Bonanno’s failure to stand up for his actions, the Commission felt he no longer deserved to be leader of the Bonanno crime family and removed him as boss. He was replaced by Gaspar DiGregorio a caporegime in the family.

     Bonanno felt he was disrespected by the Commission and by members of his own family, and set out to regain control by breaking the family into two groups, one led by DiGregorio, and the other by Bonanno and his son Salvatore. This was the start of the first Bonanno war dubbed in the newspapers “The Banana Split.”

Joe Bonanno

Joe Bonanno

With Bonanno fighting for leadership in the family, the commission felt it had to take drastic measures to end what could be the bloodiest war in Mafia history. At the time Gambino sat at the head of the commission and would need to be the person to issue the contract on Bonanno, however he decided to give Bonanno one last chance to retire. In October 1964 Bonanno was kidnapped by members of the Buffalo crime family who said they were acting on orders from the commission. After some time Bonanno was released and the Commission expected he would retire, leaving the family in one piece under DiGregorio.

     With Bonanno Senior seemingly out of the picture, DiGregorio agreed to a peace meeting with Bonanno’s son Salvatore. When Salvatore and his men arrived at a house where the meeting was to take place they were welcomed with rifle and automatic weapons fire from DeGregorio’s men. Salvatore and his men returned fire and over 500 shots were fired but no one was hit.

     For the next two years Bonanno’s son and his loyalists fought against DiGregorio and his men for control over the Bonanno family. The Commission thought DiGregorio would eventually win the war, however when Bonanno Sr. returned and issued a decree stating for every Bonanno loyalist killed, he would retaliate by hitting a caporegime from the other side. With momentum on the side of the Bonanno’s, and victory within reach, DiGregorio and the Commission considered letting Bonanno regain control of the family, but when Bonanno suffered a heart attack, he recused himself from the war and retired to Arizona with his son. Before he left he named Bonanno capo, Paul Sciacca as his successor. The commission agreed and DiGregorio stepped aside. By this time, Gambino and his reputation of “mercy” towards Bonanno made him even more of a respected mafioso in the eyes of the Commission.

     In the early 1970s Gambino was still on top as the most powerful mafioso in the United States, however there were some out there who had the guts to disrespect him. In one such situation in October 1974, a feared Colombo soldier named Carmine “Mimi” Scialo, who controlled much of Coney Island, was drunk at a popular Italian restaurant when he spotted Carlo Gambino. Scialo, began insulting Gambino in front of others at their table and according to witnesses, Scialo stopped short of threatening Gambino’s life. During the assault Gambino stayed calm as he always did and waited for Scialo to lose steam and leave. Gambino never spoke of the insults and continued with dinner. Scialo’s body was found encased in the cement floor at Otto’s Social Club in South Brooklyn a short time later.


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