Lucky Luciano – Organizes The Commission

The 1930’s were a prosperous time for Luciano. With control of the commission he was able to increase his reach in illegal gambling, bootlegging, loan-sharking, and labor rackets. His reign was short lived however and in 1936 he was charged with prostitution after special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey led a raid on 80 New York brothels where hundreds of women were arrested. Matters became worse when many of the women were offered a plea deal to testify against Luciano in exchange for no prison time. Luciano was convicted and sentenced to 30 – 50 years in prison. During his incarceration evidence was uncovered that implied Luciano profited from the ring, but did not play an active role in the business. Several madams stepped forward acknowledging they never had contact with Luciano and were unaware he was involved having worked with only low-level Mafioso.

Luciano continued to rule the family from prison. He placed his second in command Vito Genovese in charge on the street, but he fled to Italy after being indicted on murder charges. Luciano placed his consigliere Frank Costello as the new acting boss after Genovese’s departure.

The 1940’s provided relief for Luciano as the United States just entered World War II and the mafia still controlled the importing and exporting on the eastern sea board. The government feared German U boats and reportedly approached Luciano for help in securing the harbor in exchange for a lighter sentence. They also knew Luciano had strong ties in Italy, and with his help, could keep the United States Navel Intelligence abreast of any threats. In 1946 Luciano was finally released from prison and immediately deported to Italy. He would never set foot on U.S. soil again.

Later that same year, Lucky secretly left Italy and moved his operations to Cuba where long time friend Meyer Lansky was setting up casino and hotel operations. After Luciano’s arrival, Lansky called the bosses of the five families to a conference in Cuba where Luciano could discuss important issues. One of the main topics was whether or not to kill Bugsy Siegel who was placed in charge of building a casino in Las Vegas. Many of the bosses wanted him dead citing it was taking too long to complete the casino and receive their profit, but Lanksy convinced the others and Luciano to postpone the killing in hopes Siegel would complete the casino and deliver on their profits.

Lucky Luciano on the street in New York

Feeling the pressure of his investors, Siegal opened the casino while it was still under construction. It failed miserably and had to close two weeks later after losing thousands of dollars. Once again the men met to discuss Siegal’s fate, and once again Lansky convinced them to hold off until construction was completed. In June 1947 after two more attempts to turn a profit, Siegal’s fate was sealed and he was murdered at his home.

After the death of Siegal, Luciano was rewarded the title of Capo Di Tutti i Capi. All of the bosses agreed to the title but one. Vito Genovese wanted the title to himself. In an act of sabotage, it’s believed that Genovese betrayed Luciano and leaked his location to the United States government, who subsequently threatened Cuba’s government to hold medical drug shipments until Luciano moved back to Italy. Not wanting to jeopardize Lansky’s hotel and casino business, Luciano moved back to Italy in 1948.

Luciano maintained his Capo Di Tutti i Capi title but due to his deportation was not in position to fight for leadership of the Luciano family. Vito Genovese believed he should be the next boss of the family, however Luciano promoted Frank Costello. In 1957 Costello narrowly escaped a hit ordered by Genovese and subsequently stepped down as boss of the family leaving the position open to Genovese who renamed the family. 

On January 26, 1962 Lucky Luciano died of a heart attack in the Naples airport on his way to meet with a movie producer who was interested in doing a movie about his life. Although he was never allowed on American sole after deportation, he was allowed back after death. His funeral was held in Queens where over 2000 mourners attended.

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.

Anthony Strollo – A Reputation for Switching Sides

Anthony Strollo, most notably known as Tony Bender, was born June 18, 1899 in New York City. He had two brothers, Emilio and Dominick. His playground as a young man was Manhattan, where he worked as bootlegger and enforcer for Joe Masseria.

Early in his mafia career Strollo earned a reputation for switching sides when it appeared he might be on the losing end. Carl Sifakis writes in The Mafia Encyclopedia, “Within the councils of the underworld it was no secret that Bender’s loyalty was always for sale to the highest bidder. He changed colors and sides like a chameleon.”

During the Castellammarese War when it was clear that Masseria was going to lose the war, Strollo aligned himself with Maranzano. As a capo to Maranzano, Strollo took part in the planning of several murders.

After Maranzano was murdered by the Luciano crime family, Strollo became a capo for Luciano and his underboss Vito Genovese.  Genovese and Strollo became close friends, with Genovese standing up as best man in Strollo’s wedding.

For a number of years the Luciano crime family was the most powerful family in New York. Strollo gained considerable power as well having control over the Greenwich crew and major illegal gambling in Lower Manhattan. It wasn’t until things changed in 1936 with Luciano’s conviction that the good life for Strollo would begin to unravel. Shortly after Luciano was imprisoned for what appeared to be the rest of his life, his close friend and new acting boss, Vito Genovese was indicted for murder.

 Having no choice Genovese fled the United States for Italy leaving Strollo to “hold things together”. But it was not to be. Genovses’s chief rival Frank Costello pushed Strollo aside and appointed himself the acting boss, and Willie Moretti as his underboss. Strollo maintained a position in the family but with virtually no power. He was also stripped of his Greenwich rackets.

Genovese fought extradition from Italy to the United States for nearly 9 years. In 1946 Genovese returned from Italy having beat the indictment and was allowed back into the Costello crime family as a capo and given the Greenwich gambling rackets once controlled by Strollo and most recently the deported Joe Adonis.

For nearly ten years Genovese and Strollo worked the Greenwich rackets waiting for their time to take back the family from Costello. During that time, Strollo was the mastermind behind several murders on behalf of Genovese’s methodical march to taking over the family from Costello.

Costello was released from prison in 1957 and shortly after Genovese made the move to take control of the Costello family. He enlisted Strollo to set up the murder like he has several times before.

On May 2, 1957 Strollo met Costello at Chandler’s restaurant for an early dinner. During dinner he learned of Costello’s plans for later in the day consisting of several meetings later in the night.

When Costello was walking to the elevator in the lobby of his Manhattan apartment building he was shot in the head by Genovese gunman Vincent Gigante. Unfortunately, Gigante tipped Costello off to the assassination attempt by yelling, “This is for you Frank, prior to pulling the trigger. Costello reacted to the scream by turning his head slightly causing the bullet to graze his head. He fell to the ground and Gigante fled thinking he murdered Costello. Though he survived the murder attempt, Costello immediately stepped down as boss of the Costello crime family relinquishing control to Genovese.

In 1959 Strollo continued to set up murders for Genovese. One day he learned that “Genovese had marked his best friend, Little Augie Pisano, for murder- even Genovese was tenderhearted enough originally to try not to involve Bender-Bender cheerfully volunteered to set up the hit. He broke bread with Little Augie in a Manhattan restaurant while gunmen took up positions in Little Augie’s car to shoot him after he left.”

Through the years, Genovese used murder to take what he needed and created several enemies as he did. Eventually a conspiracy grew to finally end Genovese’s ruthless pursuit to the top of the mafia commission and it included his most trusted confidant, Anthony Strollo.

A secret meeting was held with Gambino boss Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, and Lucky Luciano who hatched a plan to use Genovese’s drug trafficking as a way to end his reign. Strollo aligned himself with the men and helped set Genovese up that would eventually send him to prison for the rest of his life.

Vito Genovese

Vito Genovese

Though Genovese was sent to prison on a 15 term, he continued to control the family. With time on his hands Genovese used it to figure out how he was captured. He suspected he was set up, but was unsure of how or whom was involved.

At some point, Genovese concluded that Strollo was part of the plot to set him up. After all it was Strollo was stressed to Genovese to give himself up because he would likely only get a short sentence. It was this knowledge that helped Genovese come to the conclusion that his old friend was part of the plot. As boss of the family, Genovese had the means to have Strollo killed and put the wheels in motion.

Sifakis wrote, “On the morning of April 8, 1962, Bender left his home. His wife told him, “You better put on your topcoat. It’s chilly.”

Bender demurred. “I’m only going out for a few minutes…””

He walked down the sidewalk from his home and was never seen again.

Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria – “The Man who could Dodge Bullets”

Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria was born on January 17, 1886 in Menfi, Sicily although he lived most of his childhood in Marsala. Masseria had no siblings, and his father was a tailor by trade.

Masseria immigrated to the United States in 1903 at the age of 17 to avoid a murder indictment in Italy. At the time, the United States and Italy did not have an extradition treaty, so Masseria was able to live freely in the U.S.

With experience as a small time hood in Italy, Masseria looked for similar work in the United States. He quickly found enforcer work for the Morello gang in the Lower East Side of New York. There Masseria gained in power and in 1916 after the murder of Nick Morello, Masseria and several others from the gang broke off and formed their own splinter groups each maneuvering for control of the Morello territory.

Masseria had an early edge after the demise of the Morello’s in the likes of Salvatore D’Aquila, the leader of a Brooklyn-based gang. D’Aquila was extremely powerful at the time and was said to be the consigliere among the top New York mafia families. As consigliere, D’Aquila was thought to be wise beyond his years, and one of the first people the New York mafia families would come to for advice if there was a problem. D’Aquila didn’t have control of any of these families but his assistance was well regarded and he was paid well. With D’Aquila by his side, Masseria quickly became one of the most powerful gangsters in New York.

On August 9, 1922, Masseria escaped death when he was rushed by two men after walking out of his apartment. Masseria hid in a store on 2nd avenue while the gunmen fired several rounds at the store before running out of ammunition. The gunmen then fled down the street to an awaiting getaway car and drove off.

Down the street and at the same time as the shooting a women’s union meeting was ending. Many of the people in attendance witnessed the shooting, and when the getaway car tried to flee in their direction, they tried to stop them. Unfortunately, the gunmen, who had reloaded, began firing on the bystanders. When it was all over and the gunmen had escaped, 6 people were injured and two were killed. A horse was also killed.

When the police found Masseria in his apartment after the shooting they found two bullet holes in his straw hat, evidence that the gunmen were close, and that Masseria was in fact very lucky to have escaped. After hearing about the shooting, gangsters from around New York began describing Masseria as “the man who can dodge bullets.”

In September 1922, one month after the murder attempt, Masseria organized a sit down with the other gangsters fighting for control of the Morello territory. One of those gangsters, Rocco Valenti, and two of his men arrived for the meeting first. They were greeted by three of Masseria’s men. While the men chatted Valenti began to realize that he was being set-up, and the men they were speaking to were Masseria hitmen. He realized Peter Morello, who currently had partial control of the Morello gang and Masseria must have come to an agreement and it didn’t include Valenti.

When it was clear to everyone what was about to happen, each man went for their gun and a shootout began. Both of Valenti’s men were killed while Valenti made a run for it. As he ran, the Masseria hitmen continued firing hitting a street sweeper and an 8 year old girl.  When Valenti jumped onto the side of a moving taxi cab, one of the Massiera gunmen took his time aimed and fired killing Valenti. The gunman who took the shot is thought to be Charles “Lucky” Luciano, one of Masseria’s top men.

With Valenti out of the way, Masseria became the boss of the Morello family with Peter Morello as his number two man. The second spot worked well for Morello who chose to keep a low profile while conducting his business. Law Enforcement was far more likely to go after the top spot.

In July 1928 powerful New York gangster, Frankie Yale died. In October 1928,

Frank Yale

Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila was murdered by Peter Morello and others. His murdered was contributed to his rise as the consigliere of the New York mafia, and coincided with the Morello gang’s demise. It’s thought that Peter Morello partially blamed D’Aquila for their downfall. With D’Aquila gone, Masseria appointed allies Alfred Mineo and his underboss, also known as enforcer, Steve Ferrigno to head the D’Aquila family.

In the middle of 1929 Masseria took over territories from Cira Terranova and Anthony Carfano, the head of the Yale crime family. Both men were shot and killed in unusual circumstances and after their deaths, their families came under the control of Joe Masseria, now called Joe the Boss, the head of the largest mafia family in New York.

Lucky Luciano around the time of Masseria’s murder

Under Masseria’s command were notable mafioso of that time, such as Charles Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese, Meyer Lansky, and Bugsy Siegel each of which would one day make names for themselves as the top echelon of the American Mafia. In the meantime, Luciano was made responsible by Masseria to take care of his dirty work and to be the face of the entire family, a job Luciano did not relish.

Although Masseria was notably the most powerful gangster in New York, he soon set his sights on another mafia family known as the Castellamarese from Sicily. The families leader, Nicola “Cola” Schiro, heard about Masseria’s plan to take over their territory, and instead of fighting paid Masseria $10,000 and then “went into hiding”. He was never seen or heard from again.

After Schiro’s disappearance Masseria attempted to install his own leadership to head the Castellamarese family. His name was Joe Parrino; however, shortly after he was shot dead in a restaurant.

Despite Masseria’s attempt to install a man of his choosing, the Sicilian Mafia installed their own new leader. His name was Salvatore Maranzano. Maranzano arrived in the United States in 1927 on the orders of Don Vito Cascio Ferro, a Sicilian boss. When Masseria learned of Maranzano taking over as boss, he issued a contract on his life. This event marks the formal beginning of the Castellamarese War.

On April 15, 1931 Masseria, accompanied by Charles “Lucky” Luciano, dined at the Nuova Villa Tammaro, Masseria’s favorite restaurant. They played cards, and ate, and drank until Luciano excused himself to the bathroom, and four gunmen entered the restaurant and opened fired on Masseria killing him. The gunmen were suspected to be Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Albert Anastasia, Joe Adonis, and Vito Genovese.

No one was ever arrested, or tried for the murder of Joe Masseria. Six months later, Salvatore Maranzano was murdered by Luciano’s men as he took control as the boss of bosses.

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