Vincent Mangano had a 20 year reign as the Mangano crime family boss. Until that point in history no other crime boss controlled a family for as long as he did. He was successful, feared, and envied by gangsters all across the country.
If Mangano was the brains of the family, his underboss, Albert Anastasia was the muscle. Though the two rarely agreed on the direction of the family, but Mangano allowed Anastasia to run wild as the “Lord High Executioner” of the syndicate’s most notorious death squad, Murder, Inc. Anastasia and his murderous crew were used as commission henchmen when a member of the families got out of line. They killed hundreds of men.
Since childhood Anastasia held a tight friendship with Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Frank Costello. Luciano is responsible for creating the commission and was the most powerful mafioso in the country. Costello had a significant amount of power as well working in the Luciano crime family. Together the men used Anastasia and Murder, Inc. without the permission of Mangano to settle disputes and increase their territory. Mangano and his brother, Phil, confronted Anastasia several times about his relationship with the Luciano family. They attempted to discourage Anastasia from working with the competition, however Anastasia disagreed. As tension increased Anastasia stopped asking permission for “every little thing,” further angering the Mangano’s.
The disagreement came to an end on April 19, 1951 when Philip Mangano was found murdered and Vincent Mangano disappeared and was never found. Anastasia lobbied the heads of the other crime families claiming Mangano and his brother were plotting to have him killed. Frank Costello, the acting boss of the Luciano crime family after Lucky’s incarceration, backed up Anastasia story. The commission agreed, and Anastasia became the new boss of the family, with Carlo Gambino as his underboss. Gambino who remained neutral throughout the disagreement was now just one notch away from being the most powerful mobster in the country, with a crew making profit of extortion, illegal gambling, hijacking, bootlegging and murder. He controlled more businesses and territory than several families combined.
With Anastasia at the helm, the renamed Anastasia family was profitable and dangerous. It wasn’t long before several up-and-coming mobsters began to question Anastasia’s policies. Vito Genovese brought his concerns to the incarcerated Luciano and Luciano family acting boss Frank Costello who assured him Anastasia could be trusted. Genovese didn’t think so and in 1952 his doubts were magnified when Anastasia ordered the murder of a Brooklyn tailor’s assistant named Arnold Schuster who had witnessed a bank robbery at the hands of Willie Sutton.
Anastasia’s brazen murder violated a cardinal Mafia rule against killing outsiders and brought unnecessary public scrutiny on Mafia business. Luciano and Costello were dumbfounded at Anastasia’s decision to have the man killed, but couldn’t risk losing Anastasia’s allegiance to the Luciano crime family. Not only was Genovese maneuvering to take over the Anastasia family, but was also positioning himself to take over several profitable Luciano rackets. They needed Anastasia to keep control of the commission and out of Genovese’s hands.
In 1957 Vito Genovese convinced Carlo Gambino to side with him against Anastasia, Costello, and Luciano. Genovese devised a plan to convince Anastasia that they were not making enough money from the casinos in Cuba. He used Gambino to deliver the message to Anastasia that Meyer Lansky, the man in control of the casinos in Cuba, was holding out on them. When Anastasia confronted Lansky about the missing money, Lansky threw his support to Genovese and Gambino.
A short time later, Genovese hired Vincent Gigante to assassinate Frank Costello. Though Gigante’s attempt failed, Costello, who was no longer a young man, asked the commission for permission to retire. His request was granted and Genovese took over the Luciano family and renamed it the Genovese crime family. As this happened, Lucky Luciano had been deported from the United States and lost nearly all power. He was in no position to fight back against the more powerful Genovese.
With his power growing Genovese moved against Anastasia. On October 25, 1957 in a small barbershop on the first floor of the Park Sheraton hotel in New York City, Genovese gunmen assassinated Albert Anastasia. With his death Gambino became the boss of the Anastasia crime family which was renamed the Gambino crime family.
Genovese was now the most powerful mobster in the country and had positioned himself to control the mafia commission. He put in motion a meeting in Apalachin, New York where the heads of all the families would meet to formally crown him the “boss of bosses.”
When most of the men were in attendance and before the meeting began, the police raided the conference and destroyed Genovese’s rise to power. The blame for the disaster was put on Genovese’s shoulders and with that momentum Gambino met with Costello, Luciano, and Lansky in Cuba to come up with a plan to get rid of Genovese.
In 1959 Genovese was arrested in Atlanta when he arrived to pick up a large shipment of heroin. He was convicted for distribution of a controlled substance and sentenced to 15 years in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. With the support of Costello and Luciano, Gambino was named head of the commission in 1962. In prison Genovese heard of Gambino becoming the new “boss of bosses” and couldn’t understand how a man who had kept a low profile still became the most powerful boss in the country.
Gambino wasted little time and quickly expanded his rackets all over the United States. No part of the country was out of his reach including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, and Boston. With the help of his caporegimes, Aniello Dellacroce, and brother-in-law Paul Castellano, Gambino took back control of Manhattan from the remaining Anastasia loyalists and Genovese crews.
In the 1960’s at the height of his control Gambino controlled more than 90% of all New York City’s ports including the New York Longshoreman Union. The Gambino family had as many as 800 soldiers spread out in 30 crews across the country. All combined the family made more than $500 million a year.