Philip Rusty Rastelli – The man who controlled the Bonnano family from the prison

The early boss of the Bonanno Mafia family was Phillip Rastelli during the 1970s. He was the successor to Joseph Bonanno.  By occupation, he was a radio dispatcher working for a taxi firm, but got convicted and sentenced to 10 year imprisonment for antitrust violations. It is from prison that he directed the family’s operations, but his influence not being strong enough from behind the prisons, waned slowly.

His life as a mafia

On 31st January 1918, Rastelli was born in Maspeth, Queens and was among the five siblings Marinello, Carmine, Grace, Justina and Augustus. He got involved heavily in extortion, drug trafficking and loansharking before he became the member of the Bonanno Mafia family. He was close to Carmine Galante, Joseph Massino, Joseph Bonnano and Dominick Napolitano.

Along with an associate on 3rd December 1953 he had shot William Russo, but the latter survived, which made Raselli to go into hiding. On 13th December 1954, he got indicted on bribing charges. In 1962, Connie got killed after she had become Federal informer, after which her body never was found.

Rise in the family

The Commission for restoring the Bonanno family in 1969 had appointed 3-Man panel comprising of Natale Evola, Joseph DiFilippi and Rastelli to run the family. On 21st July 1971, he again got indicted on loansharking charges in the Riverhead neighborhood of New York. Evola died on 28th August 1973, following which the Bonanno family’s acting boss was Rastelli. He was made official boss by the Commission at a meeting held at Manhattan’s Americana Hotel on 23rd February 1974. However, the family’s real power was transferred to Carmine Galante, the underboss and rival to Rastelli.

On 6th March 1975, he was convicted for anti-trust violations and extortion and imprisoned in the federal prison of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. It is from here that he had ordered the murder of Galante in 1979 on the permission of the Commission, who also felt Galante was not suitable for their business. This way, he went on to become the family’s undisputed boss, although the acting boss until he was released from prison was Salvatore Ferrugia.

Later life of Rastelli

An internal war started within the Bonanno family in 1981, on Rastelli’s continuation as its boss. Several people were murdered which also included Alphonse Indelicato, the opposition Bonanno caporegime leader. Joseph Pistone, the FBI undercover remained witness to this power struggle.

Rastelli died due to liver cancer on 24th July 1991.