Bonanno crime family

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Bonanno crime family
Joseph Bonanno.jpg
Mugshot of Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, who was boss from 1931 to 1968
Named after Joseph Bonanno
Founding locationNew York City, United States
Years active1890s-present
TerritoryVarious neighborhoods in New York City
Ethnicity Made men are Italian, Italian-American. Criminals of various ethnicities are employed as "associates"
Membership (est.)110–120 made members (2017 estimate) [1]
Criminal activities Racketeering, conspiracy, loan sharking, money laundering, murder, drug trafficking, extortion, illegal gambling, bookmaking, corruption
Allies Gambino crime family
Colombo crime family
Lucchese crime family
Genovese crime family
Milwaukee crime family
Rizzuto crime family
RivalsVarious gangs over NYC including their allies

The Bonanno crime family (pronounced [boˈnanno] ) is one of the "Five Families" that dominate organized crime activities in New York City, and in the United States, as part of the criminal phenomenon known as the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra).

Five Families Five major New York City organized crime families of the Italian American Mafia

The Five Families are the five major New York City organized crime families of the Italian American Mafia.

Organized crime groupings of highly centralized criminal enterprises, commonly seeking monetary profit

Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals who intend to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist groups, are politically motivated. Sometimes criminal organizations force people to do business with them, such as when a gang extorts money from shopkeepers for "protection". Gangs may become disciplined enough to be considered organized. A criminal organization or gang can also be referred to as a mafia, mob, or crime syndicate; the network, subculture and community of criminals may be referred to as the underworld. European sociologists define the mafia as a type of organized crime group that specializes in the supply of extra-legal protection and quasi law enforcement. Gambetta's classic work on the Sicilian Mafia generates an economic study of the mafia, which exerts great influence on studies of the Russian Mafia, the Chinese Mafia, Hong Kong Triads and the Japanese Yakuza.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


Under the leadership of Joseph Bonanno, the family was one of the most powerful in the country for over 30 years. However, in the early 1960s, Bonanno attempted to seize the mantle of boss of bosses and failed and was forced to retire. This touched off a period of turmoil within the family that lasted almost a quarter of a century. That infighting, allegations that the family was actively dealing heroin, and the infiltration of their ranks by an FBI agent calling himself Donnie Brasco, led them to become the first of the New York families to be kicked off the Commission (a council of the bosses that helps to maintain order in the Mafia). Later, they faced shaky leadership, with the acting boss Carmine Galante murdered in 1979 at the command of Philip Rastelli, the actual boss. The family only recovered in the 1990s under Joseph Massino, and by the dawn of the new millennium was not only back on the Commission, but also was the most powerful family in New York. However, in the early 2000s, a rash of convictions and defections culminated in Massino himself becoming a government informant. The Bonanno family were seen as the most brutal crime family out of the New York five families during the 20th century. [2]

Joseph Bonanno Sicilian-born American mafioso who became the boss of the Bonanno crime family

Joseph Charles Bonanno Sr. was an Italian-born American mafioso, businessman and racketeer who, at age 26, became boss of the Bonanno Crime family, which he ran for 30 years after the Castellamarese War and original member of the Commission.

The Commission is the governing body of the American Mafia, formed in 1931. The Commission replaced the "Boss of all Bosses" title with a ruling committee consisting of the New York Five Families bosses and the bosses of the Chicago Outfit and the Buffalo crime family. The last known Commission meeting held with all the bosses was in November 1985.

Carmine Galante American mob boss

Carmine Galante, also known as "Lilo" and "Cigar", was a mobster and boss of the Bonanno crime family. Galante was rarely seen without a cigar, leading to the nickname "The Cigar" and "Lilo".


Sicilian origins

The origins of the Bonanno crime family can be traced back to the town of Castellammare del Golfo located in the Province of Trapani, Sicily, their boss Giuseppe "Peppe" Bonanno and his older brother and advisor, Stefano. [3] The clan's strongest ally was the leader of the Magaddino Mafia clan Stefano Magaddino. During the 1900s, the two clans feuded with Felice Buccellato, the boss of the Buccellato Mafia clan. After the deaths of Stefano and Giuseppe, their younger brother, Salvatore, took revenge by killing members of the Buccellatos. In 1903, Salvatore married Catherine Bonventre and on January 18, 1905 she gave birth to Joseph Bonanno, also called Giuseppe. Three years later Salvatore moved his family to New York City. While he was away, Stefano Magaddino took over the running of the Bonanno-Magaddino-Bonventre operations. Salvatore and other family members began establishing dominance and control in the Castellammarese community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While operating in Brooklyn, the Castellammarese leaders were able to preserve the criminal organization's future. [3] In 1911, Salvatore returned to Sicily and died of a heart attack in 1915. [4] Stefano Magaddino arrived in New York and became a powerful member of the Castellammarese clan. [5] In 1921, he fled to Buffalo to avoid murder charges, [5] and the Castellammarese clan was taken over by Nicolo Schirò. [6]

Castellammare del Golfo Comune in Sicily, Italy

Castellammare del Golfo is a town and Municipality in the Trapani Province of Sicily. The name can be translated as "Sea Fortress on the Gulf", stemming from the medieval fortress in the harbor. The nearby body of water conversely takes its name from the town, and is known as Gulf of Castellammare.

Province of Trapani Province in Sicily, Italy

Trapani is a province in the autonomous island region of Sicily, southern Italy. Following the suppression of the Sicilian provinces, it was replaced in 2015 by the Free municipal consortium of Trapani. Its capital is the city of Trapani. It has an area of 2,469.62 square kilometres (953.53 sq mi) and a total population of 433,826 (2017). There are 24 comunes in the province.

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Castellammarese War

"Cola" Schiro in 1923 Cola Schiro.JPG
"Cola" Schiro in 1923

In 1927, violence broke out between a faction led by Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and members of the Castellamarreses over the theft of Masseria's bootleg liquor. This soon developed into a full out war known as the Castellammarese War. [7] At the time, the Castellammareses were led by Nicolo "Cola" Schirò, who tried to work with Masseria. Schiro was replaced by Salvatore Maranzano, who wanted to take control over New York's underworld. Under his leadership, the bloody war continued. [7]

The Castellammarese War was a bloody power struggle for control of the Italian-American Mafia, from February, 1930 to April 15, 1931, between partisans of Joe "The Boss" Masseria and those of Salvatore Maranzano. It was so called because Maranzano was based in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. Maranzano's faction won, and he declared himself capo di tutti capi, the undisputed leader of the entire Mafia. However, he was soon murdered in turn by a faction of young upstarts led by Lucky Luciano, who established a power-sharing arrangement called "The Commission," a group of five Mafia families of equal stature, to avoid such wars in the future.

Salvatore Maranzano was an organized crime figure from the town of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and an early Cosa Nostra boss who led what later would become the Bonanno crime family in the United States. He instigated the Castellammarese War to seize control of the American Mafia operations and briefly became the Mafia's capo di tutti capi. He was murdered under the orders of Charles "Lucky" Luciano, who established an arrangement in which families shared power to prevent future turf wars.

The Castellammarese faction was more organized and unified than Masseria family. Maranzano's allies were Buffalo family boss Stefano Magaddino, Detroit family boss Gaspar Milazzo and Philadelphia family boss Salvatore Sabella, all Castellammarese. [7] The family included mobsters Joseph Bonanno, Carmine Galante, and Gaspar DiGregorio. Maranzano was also close to Joseph Profaci future boss of the New York Profaci family. Finally, they established a secret alliance with Bronx Reina family boss Gaetano Reina, a nominal Masseria ally.

Genovese crime family Organized Crime Group

The Genovese crime family is one of the "Five Families" that dominate organized crime activities in New York City and New Jersey as part of the Mafia. The Genovese crime family are rivaled in size only by the Gambino crime family, and are unmatched in terms of power. They have generally maintained a varying degree of influence over many of the smaller mob families outside New York, including ties with the Philadelphia, Patriarca, and Buffalo crime families.

Stefano Magaddino American gangster

Stefano "The Undertaker" Magaddino was a Sicilian mafioso who became the boss of the Buffalo crime family in western New York. His underworld influence stretched from Ohio to Southern Ontario and as far east as Montreal, Quebec. Known as Don Stefano to his friends and The Undertaker to others, he was also a charter member of the American Mafia's ruling council, otherwise known as The Commission.

Gaspar Milazzo was a major organized-crime figure in Detroit, Michigan, during the Prohibition era. He had earlier been a member of the Brooklyn-based gang that would later become known as the Bonanno crime family.

After Reina's murder on February 26, 1930, members of the Masseria faction began to defect to Maranzano. [7] By 1931, momentum had shifted to Castellammarese faction. That spring, a group of younger mafiosi from both camps, known as the "Young Turks", decided to switch to Maranzano and end the war. This group included future mob bosses Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Vito Genovese, Frank Costello, Tommy Lucchese, Albert Anastasia and Joe Adonis. [8] As leader of the Young Turks, Luciano concluded a secret deal with Maranzano and promised to kill Masseria. The war finally came to end when Masseria was killed on April 15, 1931. [7]

Lucky Luciano Italian-American mobster

Charles "Lucky" Luciano was an influential Italian-born mobster, criminal mastermind, and crime lord who operated mainly in the United States. Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime in the United States for the establishment of the first Commission. He was also the first official boss of the modern Genovese crime family. He was, along with his associates, instrumental in the development of the National Crime Syndicate.

Vito Genovese Italian-born American mobster

Vito "Don Vitone" Genovese was an Italian-American mobster who rose to power during Prohibition as an enforcer in the American Mafia. A long-time associate and childhood friend of Charles Luciano, Genovese took part in the Castellammarese War and helped shape the rise of the Mafia and organized crime in the United States. He would later lead Luciano's crime family, which was renamed the Genovese crime family by the authorities.

Frank Costello American mobster

Frank "the Prime Minister" Costello was an Italian-American Mafia gangster and crime boss. Costello rose to the top of American organized crime, controlled a vast gambling empire, and enjoyed political influence.

Maranzano's murder and the Commission

Luciano seized control of the commission after murdering Maranzano Lucky Luciano mugshot 1931.jpg
Luciano seized control of the commission after murdering Maranzano

After Masseria's death, Maranzano outlined a peace plan to all the Sicilian and Italian Mafia leaders in the United States. There would be 24 organizations (to be known as "families") throughout the United States who would elect their own boss. [7] In New York City, Maranzano established five Cosa Nostra families: the Luciano family under Lucky Luciano, the Mangano family under Vincent Mangano, the Gagliano family under Tommy Gagliano, the Profaci family under Joseph Profaci, and the Maranzano crime family under himself. Maranzano created an additional post for himself, that of capo di tutti capi , or boss of bosses. [7]

Although Maranzano was more forward-looking than Masseria, at core he was still a "Mustache Pete". It did not take long for Maranzano and Luciano to come into conflict: Luciano was not pleased that Maranzano had reneged on his promise of equality, and soon came to believe he was even more hidebound and greedy than Masseria had been. At the same time, Maranzano had grown uncomfortable with Luciano's ambitions and growing power and secretly plotted to have him killed. When Tommy Lucchese alerted Luciano that he and Vito Genovese had been marked for death, Luciano felt he had to strike first. On September 10, 1931, gangsters hired by Luciano, who were not known to Maranzano or his men, murdered Maranzano in his office. [7] Luciano had become the dominant crime boss in America and replaced the "boss of bosses" title with The Commission to regulate the Mafia's national affairs and mediate disputes between families. Luciano supposedly sanctioned the "Night of the Sicilian Vespers," in which many old world Sicilian-born mafiosi were killed throughout the country by the Luciano family, thus replacing the old ways the "Mustache Petes" did business with new "modern" ways. He also awarded Joseph Bonanno leadership of the Maranzano family. [7]

The Bonanno era

After Maranzano's death, Joseph Bonanno was awarded most of Maranzano's operations. At 26 years old, Bonanno was the youngest Mafia leader in the nation. [9] Years later, he claimed not to have known about the plot to eliminate Maranzano, but it is very unlikely that Luciano would have allowed him to live had he still backed Maranzano. [10] Bonanno directed his family into illegal gambling, loansharking, and narcotics. The family also built significant criminal interests in California and Arizona. With the support of his cousin, Buffalo crime family boss Stefano Magaddino, Bonanno also expanded into Canada. [11]

Like Maranzano before him, Joseph Bonanno embraced the Old World Mafia traditions of "honor", "tradition", "respect" and "dignity" as principles for ruling his family. He was more steeped in these traditions than other mobsters of his generation. [8] The Bonanno family was considered the closest knit of the Five Families because Joseph tried to restrict membership to Castelammarese Sicilians. He strongly believed that blood relations and a strict Sicilian upbringing were the only way to uphold the traditional values of the Mafia. [12]

Over the years, Joseph became a powerful member of the Commission, owing to his close relationship with fellow boss Joe Profaci. The bond between the two became even stronger when Joseph's son Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno married Profaci's niece Rosalie in 1956. [13] The Bonanno-Profaci alliance deterred the other three families from trying to move in on their rackets.

The stable power relationship between the families collapsed with the death of Joe Profaci in 1962. Joseph Bonanno was now threatened by an alliance of Tommy Lucchese and new boss Carlo Gambino, and rising discontent within his own family. Many of the family members had begun to complain that Joseph spent too much time at his second home in Tucson, Arizona. [13]

In 1963, Joseph and the new Profaci boss, Joe Magliocco, conspired to kill Stefano Magaddino, Carlo Gambino, Tommy Lucchese and Frank DeSimone. [11] Magliocco was given the task of wiping out Gambino and Lucchese, and gave the contract to one of his top hit men, Joe Colombo. Instead of carrying out the hit, Colombo alerted Gambino and Lucchese. [11] The other bosses quickly realized that Magliocco could not possibly have planned this by himself. Knowing how close the Bonanno and Profaci families had been over the last three decades, they viewed Joseph Bonanno as the real mastermind. The commission summoned the two bosses to answer for their plot. In view of their pioneering roles in the New York Mafia, the commission had intended to go easy on them, with only a fine and the loss of their families. However, only Magliocco showed up. He admitted his role in the plot and Colombo was given control of his family.

Joseph Bonanno disappeared on October 21, 1964, and wasn't heard from again for almost two years. In his absence, the Commission named capo Gaspar DiGregorio the new Bonanno boss. [8] [14] This led to a split between the "Digregorio Supporters" and the "Bonanno Loyalists", led by Joseph's brother-in-law, Frank Labruzzo, and his son, Bill Bonanno.

The "Banana War" (1964–1968)

The conflict between these two factions was dubbed "the Banana War" or "the Banana Split" by the media, as a play on the family name. [15] In 1966, DiGregorio arranged for a sit-down in a house on Troutman Street in Brooklyn. When Bill Bonanno arrived, a gun battle ensued between the two groups. Despite DiGregorio's plan to wipe the Bonanno men out, no one was killed. [13] [15]

In May 1966, Joseph Bonanno reappeared and rallied a large part of the family to his side. He claimed that Magaddino, acting on behalf of the commission, had sent two soldiers to kidnap him and that they had held him captive for six weeks. However, contemporary accounts suggest that this is almost certainly false. Several Bonanno button men were heard expressing their disgust at the boss, saying that he "took off and left us here alone". New Jersey crime boss Sam DeCavalcante reportedly said that Joseph's disappearance took the other bosses by surprise. He may have had another reason to disappear: a subpoena from U.S. Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Joseph faced either breaking his blood oath or going to jail for contempt. [7]

Despite further peace offers from both sides, the violence and murders went on. Even after the Commission, which had grown tired of the conflict, replaced DiGregorio with Paul Sciacca, the fighting continued.

The war was finally brought to a close in 1968, when Joe Bonanno, who had gone back into hiding, suffered a heart attack and announced his permanent retirement. [13] The commission accepted this offer, with the stipulation that he never involve himself in New York Mafia affairs again under pain of death. Joseph would go on to live another 3 decades until his death in Tuscon at the age of 97. [7] Both factions came together under Sciacca's leadership.

Rastelli regime

Mugshot of Carmine Galante in 1943 Carmine Galante.jpg
Mugshot of Carmine Galante in 1943

Sciacca's replacement was Natale "Joe Diamonds" Evola. [15] Evola's leadership was short lived, and his death in 1973 (from natural causes) brought Philip "Rusty" Rastelli to the throne. [14] [16] Due to the family infighting, the Bonannos were stripped of its Commission seat, leaving them a seemingly hapless, doomed organization. Although Rastelli was the boss, the family's real power was held by his former friend Carmine Galante, who soon became a dangerous renegade. When Rastelli went to prison in 1974, Galante became boss in all but name.

Having previously acted as a focal point for the importation of heroin to the USA via Montreal, Galante set about refining the family's drug trafficking operations. These incredibly lucrative deals made a fortune, but by keeping the other four families out of the arrangements, resentment of Galante grew.

The other families decided Galante had outlived his usefulness as boss after he ordered the murder of eight members of the Genovese family for trying to muscle in on his drug operation. On July 12, 1979, Galante was shot dead by three men, at a restaurant in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn.

Rastelli was back in charge, but the family's internal strife was far from over. Three renegade capos, Philip Giaccone, Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, began to openly question Rastelli's leadership and apparently plotted to overthrow him. With the blessing of the other families, Rastelli had the three men killed in a hit arranged by then-street boss Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, and future boss Joseph "Big Joe" Massino.

Donnie Brasco

Joseph D. Pistone, alias Donnie Brasco Brascoo.gif
Joseph D. Pistone, alias Donnie Brasco

In August 2006, the alleged boss of the Montreal Cosa Nostra, Vito Rizzuto, was extradited from Canada to the United States to face charges in the 1981 murder in New York of three Bonanno captains. He was released from prison in Colorado and returned to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on October 5, 2012. [17] [18] Two of the men involved in the murder were Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero and his capo Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano. Ruggiero had an associate, Donnie Brasco, whom he proposed for full family membership. In reality, Brasco was undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone, conducting what would become a six-year infiltration of the family.

Pistone's undercover work led to numerous charges against the Bonanno family. Ruggiero received 15 years under the RICO act, and Rastelli got 12 years for labor racketeering. On August 17, 1981, Napolitano was shot and killed in a basement by Ronald Filocomo and Frank "Curly" Lino as punishment for admitting Pistone to his crew. [19] [20] [21] Anthony Mirra, the man who had brought Pistone to the family, was also killed.

Pistone was on the verge of becoming made when the FBI ordered him to end his operation on July 26, 1981. He believed that if a family had allowed an FBI agent into its ranks, it would destroy the Mafia's reputation of invincibility. However, Pistone's superiors felt it was too dangerous. After the Donnie Brasco affair, the Mafia Commission removed the Bonanno family from the panel, and, when the federal government pressed charges against the New York Cosa Nostra leadership in the Mafia Commission Trial, the Bonannos avoided indictment. They were thus the only family whose leadership wasn't decimated as a result of the trial. The leaders of the other major families were all sent to prison for life, with the Lucchese family losing its entire hierarchy. The Bonanno family kept its leadership intact and was able to rebuild up its power.

Under Massino's command

Starting in the mid-1980s, Massino had been the de facto leader of the family, and, when Rastelli died in prison in 1991, Massino officially assumed the to the top spot. One of his first acts was to change the family's name to "the Massino family." Like other mafiosi, Massino had been very displeased at Joseph Bonanno's tell-all book, A Man of Honor, and believed he'd broken the code of omertà by writing it. However, the change never stuck, and most people outside the family continued to use the old name.

Massino was 49 years old at the time he formally became boss, and knew he potentially had a long reign ahead of him if he could avoid the pitfalls that landed other bosses in prison. With this in mind, Massino adopted a more secretive way of doing business. He shut down the family's social clubs, believing they were too easy to bug. He also streamlined the family's chain of command, assigning a group of capos to oversee a particular enterprise and report to his underboss and brother-in-law Salvatore Vitale. He also barred family members from using his name. Instead, they were to point to their ears when referring to him—similar to the way that Genovese boss Vincent Gigante had his men point to their chins when referring to him. Remembering how close Pistone/Brasco had come to actually becoming made, Massino required any prospective soldier to be "on record" with a made man for at least eight years before becoming made himself. He also strongly encouraged his men to volunteer their sons for membership, believing that they would be less likely to turn informer and be more loyal. The family already had a reputation for loyalty. It was the only one that had never had a members turn informer in the seven decades since the Castellammarese War. [7]

Massino concentrated on the narcotics trade-as had become mandatory-but also on areas less likely to draw the attention of the authorities, such as the Mafia's racketeering, money laundering and loan sharking. Massino's close friend, boss of the Gambino boss John Gotti, helped get the Bonannos a seat on the Commission again. Over the next 10 years, the family steadily increased its power. By the mid-1990s, the FBI considered Massino the most powerful Mafia boss in the country. By then, Gigante was serving time on racketeering charges, leaving Massino the only full-fledged New York boss who wasn't in prison. He was thus in a position to make general policies for the Five Families. Under his watch, the Commission required prospective soldiers to be full-blooded Italian-Americans. Previously, soldiers were only required to have an Italian-American father. He also imposed restrictions on inducting associates facing drug charges.

Massino turns informant

FBI mugshot of Joseph Massino Joseph Massino.jpg
FBI mugshot of Joseph Massino

In 2005, to avoid facing the death penalty, Massino became the first full-time boss to turn government informant. In 2000, a pair of forensic accountants who normally worked on financial fraud cases discovered that Barry Weinberg, a businessman who had partnered with capo Richard "Shellackhead" Cantarella in several parking lots, had failed to report millions of dollars worth of income over a decade. Told he faced a long prison term unless he wore a wire and incriminated his Bonanno partners, Weinberg agreed to cooperate. One of Weinberg's other partners, Augustino Scozzari, also agreed to cooperate. The two captured hundreds of incriminating statements from Cantrella and his crew. [7]

In October 2002, armed with this evidence, the government won a 24-count RICO indictment against 21 Bonanno soldiers and associates. The biggest names on the indictment were Cantarella—who was serving as acting underboss while Vitale was awaiting sentencing for loansharking and money laundering—and capo Frank Coppa. Within a month of his indictment, Coppa agreed to become a government witness, becoming the first made man in the Bonanno family's history to break his blood oath. Soon after agreeing to cooperate, Coppa directly implicated Massino in the Napolitano murder, and also implicated Cantarella and Vitale in the 1992 murder of New York Post delivery superintendent Robert Perrino, who was a Bonanno soldier. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Cantarella negotiated his own plea bargain in December, and agreed to testify against Massino and Vitale. [7]

Massino and Vitale were charged with the crime in 2003, mostly on testimony from Cantarella and Coppa. Vitale also faced charges for the murder of Perrino. Up to this point he had been utterly loyal to his boss. However, Cantarella and Coppa told FBI agents that Massino suspected Vitale was an informer and wanted him killed. When told of the plot by the FBI, Vitale also turned states evidence. [7] [22] He was followed in rapid succession by four other soldiers and associates. Massino now faced eleven RICO counts, including seven murders. In a separate indictment, Massino was charged with an eighth murder, that of capo Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia, which carried the death penalty. With seven of his former henchmen testifying against him, his conviction in July 2004 was a foregone conclusion. [7]

Shortly after Massino's arrest, longtime capo Anthony Urso became acting boss. Urso's brief tenure ended when he was imprisoned on numerous charges, leading to Vincent Basciano taking control as operating head of the family. In November 2004, shortly after taking over, Basciano himself was indicted on RICO charges. In January 2005, he received additional charges for plotting to kill Greg Andres, the federal prosecutor who had sent Massino to prison. At that arraignment, prosecutors made a shocking announcement: most of their evidence had come from conversations that Massino himself had recorded. By this time, 90 of the family's 150 made men were under indictment. [7] Massino was sentenced to time served and released in 2013.

It's believed that Massino was the man who pointed the FBI towards a spot in Ozone Park, Queens, called "The Hole", where the body of Alphonse Indelicato had been found in 1981. Told to dig a little deeper, authorities uncovered the remains of Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone, as well as a body suspected to be that of John Favara, a neighbor of Gambino family boss John Gotti who killed the mobster's son in a car/bicycle accident, and had paid with his life.

The authorities continued to plague the family, with the February 16, 2006 arrest of acting boss Michael Mancuso on murder charges, while alleged boss Vincent Basciano was convicted on charges of conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, and illegal gambling and was sentenced to life imprisonment in late 2007. The main charge against him was that he conspired to murder both the judge and prosecutor in the case, as well as Patrick DeFilippo, a fellow Bonanno crime family captain.

Basciano and Montagna's leadership

Vincent Basciano Vincent Basciano.jpg
Vincent Basciano

Bonanno family boss Vincent Basciano was imprisoned in 2004 and eventually sentenced to life in prison. He named Brooklyn business owner Salvatore "Sal the Ironworker" Montagna, as his "acting boss" during his arrest and trial. Montagna was closely associated with the Bonanno Sicilian faction, including Baldo Amato and capo Cesare Bonventre. Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora served as "acting underboss" and Anthony Rabito as the alleged consigliere. [23]

In July 2004, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn claimed to have convicted 75 mobsters or associates of the Bonanno family in the 4 preceding years. [24] In June 2005, 12 Bonanno family member and associates, 7 over the age of 70, including acting Rabito were indicted and arrested on charges of operating a $10 million a year gambling ring." [25] On February 6, 2007 acting underboss Nicholas Santora, acting consigliere Anthony Rabito, captains or former captains Jerome Asaro, Joseph Cammarano, Jr. and Louis Decicco were indicted on racketeering charges. [26] In 2009 Montagna was deported to Canada, ending his tenure as acting boss. He was murdered in 2011 after becoming involved in the Montreal Mafia War.

Current position of the family

Following Montagna deportation and the arrest of other senior ranking members of the family, a ruling panel was set up until a new boss was chosen.[ citation needed ] In 2013, Michael Mancuso was named the new official boss of the family. [27] Mancuso is the first man to hold the official boss title since Massino became a government witness in 2004. [27] Mancuso's underboss Thomas DiFiore took over as acting boss in his absence, [27] but was replaced by Joseph Cammarano, Jr in 2014 following DiFiore's arrest, guilty plea and 21 month prison sentence. [28] In December 2016, the FBI observed over a dozen ranking members of the family host a dinner together in recognition of Cammarano's new position. [29]

Bonanno associate, Charles "Charlie Pepsi" Centaro, was sentenced to 33 months in prison on September 15, 2015, after being convicted of money laundering, it was alleged that he had laundered over $500,000. [30] Centaro, along with Bonanno/Gambino associate Franco Lupoi were involved in a large cocaine, heroin and weapons trafficking operation that stretched from New York to Italy. The Gambino crime family from New York and the 'Ndrangheta Mafia from Calabria were also involved.

In November 2017, the FBI arrested several individuals in New York City, including members and associates of the Bonanno and Gambino crime families on charges of narcotics trafficking, loansharking and firearms offenses. They included Damiano Zummo, a reputed acting captain in the Bonanno crime family. [31] [32] In November 2015, Zummo [33] [34] was involved in the induction ceremony of an undercover police agent, which was secretly recorded, in Canada. [35] [36] Zummo played a major role in the ceremony and named others at a higher level in the organization on the recording. [37] A Brooklyn court official later said, "The recording of a secret induction ceremony is an extraordinary achievement for law enforcement and deals a significant blow to La Cosa Nostra." The recording also led to the arrest of 13 mobsters. [38]

On January 12, 2018, 8 members of the Bonanno family were arrested and charged with racketeering, extortion and related offenses. Street boss Joseph Cammarano Jr. and consigliere John "Porky" Zancocchio were included. Genovese and Lucchese crime family members Ernest Montevecchi and Eugene "Boobie" Castelle were also arrested. [39] [40] The charges were assault and aid resulting in serious bodily injury, extortion, loansharking, wire and mail fraud, narcotics distribution, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion conspiracy, racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. [41] Joseph "Joe Valet" Sabella was identified as a captain and George Tropiano as an acting capo. [42] [43] Made members Domenick Miniero, Albert "Al Muscles" Armetta and Joseph "Joey Blue Eyes" Santapaolo were charged with RICO and extortion conspiracy, Armetta was accused of assaulting a person on Halloween in 2015. [44]

On August 15, 2018, judge Dora Irizarry sentenced nephew of Vincent Asaro and former Bonanno acting captain, Ronald Giallanzo, to 14-years imprisonment. [45] [46] Giallanzo was previously arrested in March 2017 alongside Bonanno soldiers Michael Palmaccio and Nicholas Festa. Festa and Palmaccio admitted to the extortion of 7 individuals and each paid $500,000 in forfeiture. [47] Giallanzo was accused of operating a loanshark and illegal gambling business from 1998 to 2017. He agreed to pay $1.25 million in forfeiture and to sell his five-bedroom mansion in Howard Beach, Queens which was constructed using the criminal proceeds of his loansharking business. He was ordered to pay $268,000 in restitution to his victims and admitted to his participation of extending and collecting extortionate loans from 5 individuals.

On October 4, 2018, several news sources reported the murder of 71-year old Sylvester Zottola, a Bonanno associate who was gunned down in his SUV while waiting at a McDonald's drive-thru window in the Bronx, he was shot four times in the torso and once in the head. [48] Bushawn Shelton, an African-American Bloods gang member, was arrested on October 11 and accused of ordering the Zottola murder on behalf of Albanian gangsters seeking Zottola's illegal Poker video game operation. Police seized a loaded gun and $45,000 in cash from Shelton's home. [49] At least three earlier confrontations occurred, including an unsuccessful kidnap attempt in June and the attempted murder on his son, Salvatore Zottola, who was shot 3 times on July 11. [50] According to court documents, the elder Zottola and his son provided Poker machines to mob-controlled clubs and bars during the 1990s and early 2000s, Zottola was allegedly a close associate of Vincent Basciano also. [51] On March 12, 2019, Mancuso was released from a federal halfway house. [52] On March 13, 2019, Cammarano Jr. and Zancocchio were acquitted of racketeering and conspiracy to commit extortion charges. [53] [54]

Historical leadership

Boss (official and acting)

Street boss

The Street boss is responsible for passing on orders to lower ranking members. In some instances a Ruling panel (of capos) substituted the Street boss role. The family may choose to assemble a ruling panel of capos if the boss dies, goes to prison, or is incapacitated. During the 1960s family war, a ruling panel of capos controlled the decision making of the family.

Underboss (official and acting)

Consigliere (official and acting)

Current family members



Brooklyn faction

Staten Island faction

Manhattan faction

Queens faction

New Jersey faction


Imprisoned soldiers

Former members

Family crews

Allied criminal organization

Government informants and witnesses


Related Research Articles

Dominick Napolitano, also known as Sonny Black, was an American Mafia caporegime in the Bonanno crime family. He is well known for unwittingly allowing Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Joseph D. Pistone to become an associate in his crew and nearly getting him made.

Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato was a caporegime in New York City's Bonanno crime family who was murdered with two other capos in an infamous gangland slaying.

Joseph Massino American mobster

Joseph Charles Massino is an American former mobster. He was a member of the Mafia and was the boss of the Bonanno crime family from 1991 until 2004, when he became the first boss of one of the Five Families in New York City to turn state's evidence.

Benjamin Ruggiero American mobster

Benjamin Ruggiero, also known as "Lefty", "Lefty Guns", and "Lefty Two Guns", was a soldier in the Bonanno crime family. He is well known for his friendship and mentorship of FBI undercover agent Joseph "Donnie Brasco" Pistone. Ruggiero was an old school Cosa Nostra mobster who knew how Mafia politics worked. Ruggiero allegedly murdered around 26 people and refused to break omertà when arrested.

Gerlando Sciascia American nobster

Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia, was a New York City mobster, and a caporegime of the Bonanno crime family, who was also the Sixth Family's representative from New York, and was a major narcotics trafficker in Canada, and the United States.

Cesare "The Tall Guy" Bonventre was a Sicilian mobster and caporegime for the New York City Bonanno crime family.

Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato, also known as "Bruno" and "Whack-Whack", is a capo with the Bonanno crime family of New York City.

Richard Cantarella, was a New York mobster who became a caporegime for the Bonanno crime family and later a government witness.

Michael Sabella American mobster

Michael "Mimi" Sabella (1911–1989) was a caporegime in the Bonanno crime family and a relative of Philadelphia crime family mob boss Salvatore Sabella.

Dominick Trinchera American mobster

Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera was a Bonanno crime family capo who was murdered with Alphonse Indelicato and Philip Giaccone for planning the overthrow of aspiring Bonanno boss Philip Rastelli.

Philip Giaccone American mobster

Philip Giaccone also known as "Philly Lucky" and "The Priest" was a Bonanno crime family member who was murdered by loyalists of crime boss Joseph Massino.

Antonio Tomasulo, also known as "Bootsie", was an Italian-American mobster who served in the New York Bonanno crime family running a highly lucrative illegal slot machine gambling operation.

Nicholas Angelo "Nicky Mouth" Santora is the reputed underboss of the Bonanno crime family.

Salvatore Montagna American mobster

Salvatore "Sal the Iron Worker" Montagna was an Italian-Canadian crime boss and acting boss of the Bonanno crime family in New York City, as well as the Sicilian faction-leader of the Bronx section. At the time of his death, he had been associated with the Rizzuto crime family of Montreal.

Patrick "Patty From the Bronx" DeFilippo was a capo in the Bonanno crime family. He operated from the Bronx and controlled a large illegal gambling ring.

Philip "Rusty" Rastelli was a New York mobster and former boss of the Bonanno crime family, though he spent all but two years of his reign in prison.

Vincent Basciano American mobster.

Vincent John Basciano is an American mobster who became acting boss of the Bonanno crime family after the arrest of boss Joseph Massino.

Michael "The Nose" Mancuso is an American mobster. He is a member of the American Mafia and the boss of the Bonanno crime family, one of Five Families in New York City.



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Further reading