Tag: family

Cleveland Mafia families – Its rise and fall

It was during the late 1800s that 7 Porello brothers and 4 Lonardo brothers all of them being childhood friends along with sulphur mine workers had come down to the States from their hometown Licata, in Sicily.  They settled in Cleveland’s Woodland district. Big Joe, the Lonardo clan leader had become a successful entrepreneur in lower region of Woodland Avenue. At the height of Prohibition, he became a successful dealer of corn sugar, used by bootleggers for making corn liquor. He provided raw materials and stills to poor Italian residents in the districts to prepare booze and to sell it to Big Joe for a good commission.  Hence, hear earned their respect and also was feared as godfather or ‘padrone’. He went on to establish a vicious and powerful gang called corn sugar ‘baron’ making Joe Porello, his corporal.

Emergence of the Porello family business

Soon the Porello brothers left their employment with the Lonardo gang and started their own wholesaling of sugar business and had become successful dealers establishing their headquarters in upper Woodland Avenue. The Lonardo’s business flourished as small competitors, bootleggers and sugar dealers died mysteriously of violent deaths leaving the Porellos, their old friends to be their main competitors.

The youngest Porello, Raymond got arrested for arranging 100 gallons of whisky  for sale at a barbershop owned by Porello and got sentenced to Dayton, Ohio Workhouse. The much influential Big Joe was paid huge for helping Raymond out of prison, which he failed, but did not return the money back. Big Joe had to visit Sicily to check out on his relatives and mother in 1926, during which the Porellos took advantage of the lack of business skills of the younger Lonardo. On 13th October 1927, in an ambush at Porello barbershop, Big Joe died when shot at, while Angelo escaped by ducking under the chair. Angelo succeeded Lonardos to become corn sugar ‘baron’ and appointed himself as Cleveland Mafia’s capo.

But problems arose between both the families with each killing the other to seek revenge.

Downfall of Cleveland Mafia

Angelo Lonardo, in 1983 who was once the boss of Cleveland Mafia was said to have turned government informant. He had been sentenced to 103 years for racketeering and drug convictions along with life imprisonment. Thus got reduced the Cleveland mafia families and their activities in the region.

About the Chicago Outfit and its activities

The city of Chicago gave rise to an American mafia family called the Chicago Outfit. This organization is said to still exist and its origin can be dated back to the Prohibition period. Al Capone is regarded to be among the most notorious leader ever had in American Mafia history. On the Commission, it boasts of having a seat with the New York City’s Five Families.

The roots of this Mafia family could be tracked back to the 1900s, with the coming of Italian immigrants to seek refuge in the city of Chicago. The city’s different criminal activities were controlled by street gangs, with the majority having Italian background.

Formation of the Chicago Outfit

It was in 1920s that the Outfit came to power. Giacomo Colosimo or ‘Big Jim’ as he was popularly called was said to have run brothels in hundreds and solidified his power over the Underworld at the time of Black Hand, a gang that practiced extortion from the residents. He had Giovanni Torrio, well known in the Mafia circles as ‘Papa Johnny’, his nephew to the city and introduced in 1919, Alphonse Capone, called popularly as ‘Scarface’.

Before the implementation of the Prohibition, the Outfit was more focused on prostitution and gambling. But bootlegging becomes popular during this time. With Colosimo refusing to the booze business, Torrio had him killed and thus started American history’s most violent organized crime known as the ‘beer wars’ that left many mafia members and ordinary, innocent citizens dead.

The Chicago Outfit gang under Torrio controlled Loop and South Side and expanded to Gold Coast that was being ruled by the American-Irish North Side and Dean O’Banion. Although truce was made, it lasted very short time, with Torrio being scammed by O’Bannion and the former’s retaliating by murdering O’Banion. This death automatically resulted in all-out urban warfare.

Enter Capone as the new Outfit boss

With Torrio shaken from the near to death experience in a failed murdered attempt, he resigned and handed over the regime to Al Capone. In 1929, Capone had sent some of his members to kill North Side Gang’s seven members, which went down in history as the ‘Massacre on St. Valentine’s Day’. It drew plenty of negative publicity, forcing law officials to launch crack down on Mafia and organized crime.

After Capone, Frank Nitti took over control in 1932, but the decisions of the family were actually made by Paul Ricca, the Underboss.

In 2007, the Outfit got a major blow as FBI took over to eliminating this group. Although not dead, its activities have dwindled recently.

About The Vario Crew

Among the different Mafia families that existed in the United States, one of the most popular was the Vario Crew. This mafia gang is said to have operated in the city of New York and was established by the Lucchese Crime Family. It was Paul Vario, the Capo regime under whose supervision, the Vario Crew is known to have worked. This gang started its operations in 1950s and lasted for about thirty years until 1980s.

Their territory

The Vario Crew is known to have their territory spread to the different neighborhoods of the regions of Queens, Long Island, Staten Island and Brooklyn. The Mafia members of this gang generally were considered to be associates and made men of the American – Italian and Italian ethnicity. But the actual gang members were not known.

Some of its varied allies were the Colombo Crime Family, Bonanno Crime Family, Gambino Crime Family and the Genovese Crime families.

Involvement and activities undertaken by the gang members

This gang was more or less involved actively in different types of criminal activities which included burglary, bookmaking, cigarette smuggling, cargo theft, drug trafficking, conspiracy, fencing, extortion, hijacking, hotel robbery, gambling, jewelry heist, loan sharking, labor racketeering, prostitution and murder.


For a period of 10 years, ranging from 1969 to that of 1979, Paul Vario had served the group as its Underboss. However, he got arrested and for about 12 years, received imprisonment sentences and on May 3rd, 1988 he died in prison. After his arrest in 1980, his younger brother Vito ‘Tuddy’ Vario is known to have taken over the gang leadership and was its acting boss until 1988, the death of Paul Vario.  Alphonse D’ Arco ‘Little Al’ from 1988 to 1991 had served as the Street Boss, before getting promoted to become the Acting Boss of the gang. But in July 1991, he got arrested by the law enforcement officials and turned into a government witness, to escape death. The current boss from 1991 until today is Domenico Cutaia also called ‘Danny’.

The Crew is known to have their different types of activities to be carried out from various places, which includes Euclid Taxi Cab Co., Bargain Auto Junkyard, Robert’s Lounge of Jimmy Burke, Kew Motor Inn and The Suit a night club of Henry Hill.

Knowing about the Rochester Mafia Family

The Rochester Mafia Family is regarded to be another New York based organized crime family which was found around 1950s by Buffalo crime family. This family is known to operate in the county of Monroe and also that of Western New York. It is involved actively in various types of criminal activities such as gambling, extortion, prostitution, racketeering and loan sharking.

Members of the family

The Rochester Family’s initial official boss was Costenze Stan Valenti. He along with Frank Valenti, his brother got arrested. For a period of 16 months, Stan was jailed and both the brothers in 1964 came down to New York with Angelo Vaccaro, the associate of Pittsburgh family. Frank had become the Pittsburgh crime family’s capo and went on to become the head of the Rochester Family.  The boss of Buffalo Family, Stefano Magaddino was told by him that his family would now start operations independently.

Activities of the family

Frank Valenti in 1970 had planned to bomb numerous churches and public buildings in the city, which is remembered in history as Columbus Day Bombings. Samuel Red Russotti, the Underboss along with Rene Piccarreto the consigliere and Salvatore Sammy Gingello, the capo in 1972, informed Frank that he was no longer the family boss. This made Frank to flee away to Arizona. After his leaving the position, Russoti was declared the boss and Gingello his Underboss, while Piccarreto still remained the consigliere. Although things went on smoothly for a while, police officials did come across several evidences to have all the top level members of this mafia family to be arrested and put behind bars. During this period, Thomas Didio had been elected to become the acting boss.

The top level arrested members were released from prison. Russotti thought that dealing and manipulating Thomas Didio could be easy and to be taken care of later on, something that went on to become a wrong assumption made. It did result in a dispute to be created among the group members. One group comprised of Piccarreto, Russotti, Gingello along with others, while the other group comprised of Stan Valenti, Thomas Didio, Angelo Vaccaro, Rosario Chirico and others. In the ensuing war for accession for leadership, Didio and Gingello were killed. The family’s criminal activities after this slowly declined and presently not proof is left if the Rochester family actually exists still now or has completely got dispersed.

Philadelphia Mafia family – One of the most violent Mafia family in the US

The Philadelphia Mafia family is also known as Philadelphia South Jersey Mafia/Mob, South Philly Mob/Mafia or Philly Mafia/Mob. This mafia family is based and formed in South Philadelphia, operating in different metropolitan regions of the state, New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania.

History of the family

This family is said to be known for its notoriousness, violence, especially because of its involvement in multiple mob wars and presence of violent bosses. It was between 1959 and 1980, under the reign of Angelo Bruno that this family had enjoyed immense prosperity and peace. It is this period that the media and law enforcement agency had started to name it as Bruno crime family. However, in 1980 Bruno was murdered because of a complex dispute that arose which involved New York Mafia and disgruntled mafia members and subordinates. With his death, this crime family saw gradual decline in its power. Multiple internal wars took place, which saw the rising of two of the most violent bosses of the family.

The reign of Scarfo

Nicodemo Scarfo had become its boss after the death of Bruno and during his time, the family was called Scarfo crime family.  Although during his 10 year reign, the family enjoyed immense power, it had become highly dysfunctional. But, the short tempered Scarfo had a penchant for violence. It was under his reign that the family got into narcotics trafficking, demanding every criminal to pay up street taxes if they operated in a region that Scarfo assumed belonged to be his own. Even moderate disputes led to executions. During the 1980’s, the Scarfo family saw the murder of 20 of its own men. The increased violence made the New Jersey Police, Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI to react. Few mobsters were convinced to become government witnesses, which included the nephew of Scarfo, for escaping prison or death. In 1988, with the arrest and sentencing of Scarfo and his top allies, his downfall came.

After Scarfo

Scarfo was succeeded by John Stanfa, but very soon his leadership was disputed and the family was in war, which ended with his arrest in 1994. Merlino then took over the leadership. The 30 years of internal warfare, violence and government interference saw the family to get weakened severely. Still, it has been regarded to be among the country’s active Mafia families. Presently, it is engaged more into betting operations, extortion, loan sharking and illegal sports.

Morello crime family – The earliest mafia family in the US

United States’ earliest mafia family is the Morello family, who were said to be based in the Italian Harlem of Manhattan. This family by defeating Brooklyn’s rival Neapolitan Camorra became the dominant Italian underworld gang.

Some aspects to understand

The Morello family was founded by Giuseppe Morello during the 1890’s and had Sicilian ethnicity. This mafia family was into different types of criminal activities such as murder, conspiracy, extortion, counterfeiting and racketeering.

Its mafia history

This family has its roots in Corleone, Sicily. It was in 1892 that Guiseppe had emigrated to the U.S. He along with his family had lived for a while in the city of New York, before moving to Louisiana and again in 1986 moved back to New York City.

The 107th Street Mob

After returning to New York, the brothers became popular as 107th street mob and at times known as the Morello Gang, which dominated Manhattan, East Harlem and parts of Bronx. A mobster named Ignazio Lup was the strongest ally of Giuseppe Morello, who controlled Manhattan’s Little Italy. Their alliance prospered in 1903, when a significant counterfeiting ring had began with Vito Cascio Ferro, the Sicilian Mafioso Don printing bills of $5 in Sicily to have it smuggled to the U.S. Morello is said to have employed several members belonging to the  counterfeiting operation. ‘Barrel murders’ which took place later, especially of Sr. Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Catania were assumed to have been done at the instance of the Morellos.

Rising power

The hold over Upper Manhattan was further consolidated by the Morello family. On 15th November 1909, the building that was being used by the Morellos in New York’s Highland place was raided by the city police as it was being used as a front to carry out counterfeiting operation. Huge amounts of Canadian and American counterfeit bills were recovered during this raid. About mafia members from the Morello family was arrested after letters were discovered by victims of Black Had from New Orleans. The arrested included Ignazio Lupo and Giuseppe Morello sentenced to imprisonment for 25 and 35 years respectively and sent to Atlanta Federal Prison.

About the California based Los Angeles Mafia Family

Los Angeles Mafia family is said to be based in the state of California. This mafia family rose during the early part of the 20th century and spread all over Southern California. It had gained immense power during Prohibition Era and the method used was bootlegging. It was between 1940 – early 50s that it wielded great influence and power under the leadership of Jack Dragna. Although this mafia family was not bigger, when compared to the Chicago or New York families, he was said to be on The Commission. However, the family’s power declined with his death. It is the Chicago Outfit which represents the L.A. Crime family at The Commission.

During the late 1970s, Aladena Fratianno ‘Jimmy the Weasel’ gave testimonies against the family, thus, becoming the second member in the history of American Mafia. Their activities shrunk with the passing of the RICO Act during the 1980s, thereby leaving its original power with just a fraction.

Current scenario

The L.A. crime family presently is much small, when other mafia families are taken into account. They are involved more into conspiracy, murder, gambling, fencing, skimming, racketeering, extortion, fraud, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, loan sharking as well as legitimate business. This family is considered to be the last one to be left in the California state.

Some aspects to know

The Los Angeles crime family’s founder and first boss was Joseph Ardizzone. It was in Los Angeles, California that this family is based. It has been active since 1900 and covers the territories of Las Vegas and Southern California. There are 10 made members, who are considered to be of Italian descent, while the associates employed are of other ethnicities. Their allies are the Five Families, Kansas City, Cleveland, Buffalo and Chicago crime families. The different street gangs of L.A. and Cohen crime family are their rivals.

Knowing about the origins of L.A. crime

The different Italian street gangs was said to rule the crime activities of California during the early 20th century like the Black Hand. Matranga family was the prominent among them, but had their power limited just to the Plaza community. But their feud with the Ardizzone’s faction saw their power to decline and eliminate. It was Vito Di Giorgio, who was the L.A. family’s first boss probably, to bring some control to the L.A. underworld.

Details about the Buffalo crime family

Buffalo crime family is also called The Arm or Magaddino crime family. It is based in New York, Buffalo, U.S. and is an American-Italian crime family. This mafia family operates all over Erie, Pennsylvania, Western New York and Ontario, Canada.

Its rise to power

It was through bootlegging during Prohibition era that this family gained immense power. This group was founded by Angelo Palmeri. Stefano Magaddino, the family boss in 1931 had become The Commission’s original member, while his family had remained quite peaceful. But there was a challenge in his leadership in the 1960s and separate factions broke as Magaddino was tried to be assassinated. Later on 19th July 1974, he died a natural death. Even after his death, the war continued until early 1980s with Joseph Todardo being declared the boss. He had the family united and in 2006 got retired. The present boss of this mafia family is Leonard Falzone. The territory that is under the hold of the Buffalo family is Buffalo and its different regions like the Niagara Falls, Syracuse, metropolitan area, Utica and Rochester; Canadian province of Ontario, Las Vegas and Northwest Pennsylvania. They have 20+ made men and 100+ associates. They indulge in different criminal activities like drug trafficking, bookmaking, extortion, prostitution, gambling, loan sharking, labor racketeering, murder and conspiracy.

Their origins

It is in the Buffalo city of New York that this family’s power has been based upon, in the last century. However, in other areas like Massena, Utica and Rochester, the group did have satellite groups, ‘crews’ and criminal interests. The other regions included Youngstown, eastern Pennsylvania, Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, southern Ontario cities, Ohio.


The media, crime writers and the local law enforcement, who have been keeping a close watch, since the 1990s on the Buffalo mafia members have projected that the successor, is likely to be Joseph Todaro Jr. Since 1995, he had been acting boss, but there was circulating rumors, since late 2006 that Todaros, Joseph Todaro Jr. and Joseph Todaro Sr. had retired officially from all kinds of active participation with the family affairs and activities. Leonard Falzone, the consigliore and Nicolletti Jr. ‘Sonny’ Benjamin, the capo has been elevated from their position to boss and underboss. However, in 2013 it appeared that Falzone era was finished and the family’s new leadership has been taken by Bobby Panaro Jr.

Mafia family and its structure

It is of different gangs or families that the regional Mafia family is made of. It is depending on the region that their numbers could range, which could be over 100 to a handful. Every family enjoyed dealing separate business and stayed out of the other’s way. Often, the business enterprises could come across that of the other to a huge extent, which depended entirely upon the nature of business and their proximity to one another.


It was an effective structure that this group had, which prevented the families’ higher ranked members to be held responsible for criminal enterprises undertaken. The judges were bribed and the lower ranked Mafioso’s records were cleaned and have him bailed out from jail. The group’s payroll also had some of the cops on their payroll, who were said to look the other way, in activities that were indulged by the group.

  • Every family had a leader called the Don or Boss. It was he who made all important decisions and was the gainer of all income made by the group. He is the ultimate decision maker and his authority is complete. He had full control over the mafia members.
  • The Underboss is next to the Don, who was second-in-command. However, his power varied with the families. He had enormous power in some cases, and in few less. Few of them were trained enough to succeed the Boss/Don, due to retirement or death.
  • The Consigliere was in between the Underboss and the Don, who acted as the latter’s advisor and made impartial decisions for the Mafia’s good, instead of relying on personal vendettas. Either the members of the group elect this position or the Don. The Consigliere may also act as the Don’s mouth and is respected immensely. However, he does not get involved directly with the Mafia’s criminal enterprises.
  • The Capos are next to the Underboss and their numbers vary with the Families and its group size. The Capo acts as captain or lieutenant, leading an own section. Specific activities are taken care by him and have to earn huge amounts.
  • Soldiers and made-men are guided by the Capo. They are actually the Family’s ultimate enforcers, who have to command respect from fellow Mafioso and prove their worth.
  • Associates are lower down the level. Although not being the Mafia’s actual members, they are those who get involved with criminal enterprises.

The group has become an interesting subject with mafia game developers and several games have been released which has went on to become a huge hit with the online and offline gaming mass.

Genovese crime family – First crime family of New York

Genovese crime family had been nicknamed ‘Rolls Royce’ and Ivy League’ and is among the powerful ‘Five Families’ of New York’s organized crime. It is Gambinoi crime family that had rivaled this family in size. The Genovese were said to be unmatched with regards to power and maintained generally different degrees of influence over the other smaller mafia members based outside New York and had ties with crime families of Philadelphia, Buffalo and Patriarca.

Rise to power

This mafia family according to the experts is considered to be the most sophisticated, logical, crafty, largest and intelligent among the five families of the region. During the 21st century, this family tried to find out new ways for taking benefits of bank caused lax ‘due diligence’ at the time of housing spike by getting involved in mortgage frauds in waves. Home equity loans were obtained by the victims of loan sharks for paying off their mob bankers of their debts. New technologies were used by the family for enhancing illegal gambling, with bets being placed by customers through the web using offshore sites.

Its history

It was Lucky Luciano who had founded the current ‘family’. It got renamed after Vito Genovese in 1957. Vincent Gigante ‘the Chin’ was in control originally on Manhattan’s West Side waterfront including Fulton Fish Market. He was also known as ‘the Oddfather’. After Gigante’s death in 2005, the Genovese family leadership looked like it was in limbo, however, they were actually the most powerful and organized crime family in the region. This family is said to have benefited immensely following the Omerta Code from the members. Although, mobsters from other crime families have testified against them, since the 1980’s, only 6 members of the Genovese family had turned witness in its entire history.

Facts about Genovese crime family

Originating from East Harlem’s Morello gang, this crime family is New York City’s first mafia family. Giuseppe Morello is the founder of this family and it has been active until now, right from its emergence in 1980’s. It operated the territories of The Bronx, Manhattan, New York, Brooklyn, Connecticut, New Jersey, Las Vegas, South Florida, and Massachusetts. They presently have about 250 to 300 made-members and criminal associates of more than 3,000. They are involved in criminal activities like conspiracy, racketeering, money laundering, loansharking, drug trafficking,  murder, extortion, pornography, labor racketeering, waste management, weapons trafficking, fraud, prostitution, counterfeiting, bribery, bookmarking, illegal gambling,  contract killing and robbery.

Colombo Crime Family – The youngest dominating organized Mafia family

The Colombo Crime family is considered to be the youngest among the ‘Five Mafia Families’ dominating New York City’s organized criminal activities.

Its history

Its history is said to have roots to a gang of bootleggers which was started in 1928 by Joseph Profaci. After the Castelammarese War and the American Mafia’s reorganization, the gang of Profaci had been recognized as Profaci crime family. Until late 1950s, Profaci is said to have ruled his family without any challenge or interruption.

The family wars of the Colombo crime family

Three internal wars took place within the family. During late 1950s, the first war occurred when Profaci saw revolt from capo Joe Gallo. In early 1960s, with the arrest of Gallo and death of Profaci, the first war had lost its momentum. It was under the leadership of Joseph Colombo that the family got reunited in the 60s. But after Gallo was released in 1971 and shooting of Colombo, the second war started. This war as won by Carmine Perisco and supporters of Colombo, which saw Gallo and his crew to go into exile in 1975 to Genovese family. Under Perisco, the family enjoyed peace for 15 years.

The third war which was the bloodiest in its history took place in 1991, when Victor Orena, its acting boss tried usurping power from Carmine Perisco, who was then under imprisonment. For two long years, mayhem ensued with the family getting split into factions and finished in 1993 with Orena imprisoned and 12 of the family member’s dead, where Perisco emerged the winner by default. After this war, he had a decimated family. Although this family is still run by Perisco, it was never able to recover its lost glory. The family got crippled further in the 2000s, due to several members be coming witnesses of the government and multiple convictions with regards federal racketeering cases. Apart from being the youngest of the five mafia family in the City of New York, it is also currently the weakest.

Some facts

The Colombo Crime family has been named after Sr. Joseph Colombo and was founded in the New York City. Its territory of operation is spreads over the different neighborhoods of the city, Massachusetts, Long Island, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and South Florida. As of 2011 estimate, there are around 100 to 115 active mafia members of the family and approximately 400 associates.

About the Lucchesse crime family

About the Lucchese crime family

The Lucchese crime family is one the “Five Families,” of the nationwide phenomena known as La Cosa Nostra, that dominates the city of New York and the surrounding areas.


The Lucchese family originated in the early 1920s with Gaetano “Tommy” Reina serving as the first Boss until his death in 1930. Reina’s murder was one of the first major deaths to take place during the two year war for control of the La Cosa Nostra rackets nationwide. This war came to be known as the Castellammarese War, being named after the hometown in Sicily of Salvatore Marazano the leader of the Castellammarese Clan. Reina’s death was ordered by Joe “The Boss” Masseria when Masseria discovered that Reina had pledged allegiance to Maranzano, even though he had been a long time supporter of Masseria. After Reina’s death, Masseria installed Joseph “Fat Joe” Pinzolo as the Boss of the Reina Family, much to the chagrin of the top two lieutenants in the family Tommy Gagliano and Tommy Lucchese. Furious with this perceived betrayal by Masseria, Gagliano and Lucchese secretly defected to Maranzano and in 1930 Lucchese was able to lure Pinzolo to a Manhattan office building where Pinzolo was murdered.

This ushered in the era of “The Two Tommies.” With Pinzolo’s murder, as well as major defections by some of the future’s most influential mobsters including Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lanksy, Vito Genovese, etc., the scales greatly tipped in favor of Maranzano. It was not long after Pinzolo’s death that Masseria was finally murdered, ending the Castellammerese War and solidifying Gagliano and Lucchese’s control of the newly dubbed Gagliano Crime Family. Though many of the younger mobsters  had thrown their allegiance to Salvatore Maranzano during the Castellammerese War, they soon began to realize that Marazano was just as greedy and hidebound as Masseria had been and even more unwilling to listen to reason. Marazano put the final nail in his coffin when at a meeting to reorganize the National Crime Syndicate he surprised everyone by declaring himself “Boss of Bosses.” Maranzano had organized all of the Italian Mafia groups into “families” and created a total of 26 families around the country that would each have their own Boss and Underboss to control the day to day activities of the family. This all was very much to the liking of the other mobsters in attendance until Maranzano then proclaimed that each of the Bosses would owe allegiance to him as the “Boss of Bosses.” A group of younger mobsters, known as the “Young Turks,” lead by Lucky Luciano and including Gagliano and Lucchese decided that Maranzano needed to go and in 1931 they made their move and got rid of Maranzano. Luciano kept the family structure that was created by Maranzano, however he added a third member to the family hierarchies called the Consigliere. The Consigliere, or counselor, was meant to be the voice of reason for the Boss and Underboss, and was usually a relative or close friend that the Boss could trust to be a straight shooter and give him the answers he needs to hear not the ones he wants to hear. The last change Luciano made was getting rid of the “Boss of Bosses” title in favor of a ruling body that would be known as “The Commission.”

The Commission

The Commission’s purpose was to regulate families’ affairs and resolve all differences between the families. The original Commission was made up of the Bosses of the Five Families of New York, Luciano, Joe Bonanno, Joe Profaci, Vincent Mangano and of course Thomas Gagliano. It also included the Boss of the Chicago Outfit Al Capone as well as Stefano Maggaddino who was the Boss of the Buffalo Crime Family. During this time, the 1930s and 1940s, Gagliano and Tommy Lucchese led their family into profitable areas including the trucking and clothing industries. When Luciano was sent to prison for pandering in 1936, a rival faction took control of The Commission. This alliance included Vincent Mangano, Joe Bonanno, Stefano Maggaddino and Joe Profaci, and these four men used their influence and power to control organized crime in America. Thomas Gagliano understood he was in a vulnerable position and was careful to avoid opposing this new alliance. Gagliano was always a quiet man who avoided the media and stayed off the streets. He preferred to pass his orders to the family through his Underboss Tommy Lucchese as well as a few other close allies. In contrast, Lucchese was the public face of the family who carried out Gagliano’s orders. In 1946, it was Lucchese who attended the Cosa Nostra Havana Conference in Cuba on behalf of Gagliano. Gagliano kept such a low profile throughout his life that virtually nothing is known about his activities from 1932 until he retired or died some time  between 1951 and 1953.

Lucchese Takes Over

After Gagliano finally retired or died, Lucchese became Boss of the newly named Lucchese Crime Family. Lucchese continued with Gagliano’s policies and made the Lucchese Family one of the most profitable in New York. Lucchese established control over Teamsters union locals, worker’s co-ops and trade associations as well as rackets at the new Idlewild Airport (the original name of JFK Airport). Lucchese also expanded the family rackets in Manhattan’s Garment District and in related trucking industries around New York City. He also built close relations with many powerful New York politicians, including Mayors William O’Dwyer and Vincent Impellitteri as well as members of the judiciary who aided the family on numerous occasions. Throughout his entire time as Boss, Lucchese made sure to keep a low profile and saw to it that his men were well taken care of.

When Lucchese became Boss, he also helped his friends Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino in their fights to take control of their families. The three plotted to take over The Commission by murdering family bosses Frank Costello of the Luciano Family and Albert Anastasia of the Anastasia Family (formerly the Mangano Family). In 1957 Costello narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, but saw the writing on the wall and stepped down as boss paving the way for Genovese to take over what would now be known as the Genovese Crime Family. Also in 1957, Albert Anastasia was murdered in the Barbershop of the Park Sheraton Hotel, allowing Gambino to become Boss of the newly named Gambino Crime Family. Once he helped his two friends take over their respective families Lucchese immediately began conspiring with Gambino to remove Genovese from power. Genovese had become too ambitious in their eyes and had been trying to set himself up as the “Boss of Bosses” and seemed to be on a path to success until the disastrous Apalachin Meeting in 1957. Over 100 mobsters from around the country had gathered for the Meeting and before they knew it, it was being raided by New York State Troopers who had grown suspicious of the number of out of state vehicles that were  gathering in the small town of Apalachin. This caused Genovese to lose a great deal of respect in the underworld as it had been his idea for the meeting which had resulted in roughly 60 high ranking mobsters being arrested. In 1959, with the assistance of Luciano Costello and Meyer Lansky, Lucchese and Gambino had Genovese arrested and effectively removed from the underworld for good.

Gambino and Lucchese assumed full control of The Commission following Genovese’s arrest and in 1960 they backed the Gallo brothers in their rebellion against Profaci Family Boss, Joe Profaci. Gambino and Lucchese saw the war as a way to take over rackets from the distracted Profaci Family and reap the benefits of their disorganization. They soon also would uncover a plot by Joe Bonanno to assassinate them and they used their control of The Commission to strip Bonanno of his role as Boss. This power play started a war within the Bonanno Family and served to strengthen both the Lucchese and Gambino families. In 1962, the alliance between the Gambinos and Luccheses would become even stronger when Carlo Gambino’s oldest son Thomas married Lucchese’s daughter Frances. Lucchese would live a quiet stable life until his death from a brain tumor on July 13, 1967. At the time of his death, he had not spent a day in jail in 44 years. Lucchese left his family in a very powerful position and they had a stronghold in the neighborhoods of East Harlem and The Bronx. The estimated membership of the Family at this time was about 200 made men and thousands of associates. Lucchese had intended for longtime Capo Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo to succeed him, however since he was imprisoned at the time he named another longtime Capo, Carmine Tramunti, as Acting Boss until Corallo’s release.

Tramunti, the French Connection, Corallo and the Jaguar

At the time he was appointed the Temporary Boss, Carmine “Mr. Gribbs” Tramunti was in ill health. With Boss-in-Waiting Anthony Corallo in prison, Tramunti was expected to hold power until Corallo’s release. Tramunti faced a number of criminal charges during his tenure as Acting Boss and was eventually convicted of financing a large heroin smuggling operation that would come to be known as “The French Connection.” This operation was responsible for distributing millions of dollars in heroin along the East Coast during the early 1970s. Before the French Connection trial went to court, the seized heroin that was being stored in the NYPD evidence storage room was stolen in a brazen scheme. Hundreds of kilograms of heroin worth $70 million was stolen from the evidence lockup and replaced with bags of flour. Officers only discovered the theft when they noticed insects and rats eating the so-called “heroin.” The scope and depth of the theft is still unknown, but officials suspect the thieves had assistance from corrupt NYPD officers. In 1974, after Tramunti was finally incarcerated, Corallo finally took charge of the family.

Corallo came from the Queens faction of the family and received his nickname “Tony Ducks” from his ease at “ducking” criminal convictions. Corallo was a Boss squarely in Lucchese’s mold. He was heavily involved in labor racketeering and worked closely with Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters President, during the 1940s and 1950s. Corallo also had close ties to  multiple labor unions and appointed his longtime friend Salvatore “Tom Mix” Santoro as the Underboss of the family to oversee and supervise all of the labor and construction rackets in New York. Corallo also appointed Christopher “Christie Tick” Furnari as the Lucchese Family Consigliere and with this hierarchy in place the Family prospered, particularly in the areas of narcotics trafficking, labor racketeering and major illegal gambling.

Corallo was very much an old school gangster and refused to discuss business during sit-downs, fearing that the FBI was monitoring the conversations. Instead, he used the car phone in the Jaguar owned by his bodyguard and chauffeur. Salvatore Avellino and Neil Migliore would switch off as Corallo’s driver and bodyguard and they would shuttle Corallo around town while he discussed business on the car phone. This method of conducting business would ultimately be Corallo’s downfall.

During Corallo’s leadership, the Lucchese Family New Jersey Faction grew considerably and became major earners for the Family. Corallo would go on to induct the two leaders of the New Jersey Faction, Anthony Accetturo and Michael Taccetta. These two men reportedly controlled most of the loansharking and illegal gambling operations in Newark, New Jersey at the time. Corallo grew so comfortable with Accetturo and Taccetta’s leadership of the Jersey Crew that he eventually began to allow them to more or less run their crew as a semi-autonomous entity. The Jersey Crew was, at one point, even considered it’s own family by law enforcement with Accetturo labeled the Boss and Taccetta the Underboss. Corallo’s relaxed method of controlling the Jersey Crew would in the future play a significant role in the downfall of the Lucchese Family.

In the early 1980s the FBI finally managed to plant a bug in the Jaguar and were able to record Corallo speaking at great length about mob affairs including illegal gambling, labor racketeering, drug trafficking and murder. Corallo was eventually arrested and put on trial with the heads of the other Five Families at the time. This would become known as the infamous Mafia Commission Trial. On December 16, 1985, in the midst of the Mafia Commission Trial, John Gotti had Gambino Boss Paul Castellano murdered without the approval of the Commission. This cardinal sin caused the Lucchese and Genovese families to team up and plot Gotti’s murder to avenge the death of Castellano. The Lucchese Genovese alliance failed to kill Gotti but they did manage to kill his Underboss Frank Decicco and would temporarily be content with this killing, but would still look to get their revenge on Gotti for the next several years.

In 1986 the Mafia Commission Trial finally took place and at the end of it Corallo, Santoro and Furnari were all found guilty and each sentenced to 100 years in prison. During the trial, as Corallo realized that the entire Lucchese hierarchy was about to be decimated, he chose Anthony “Buddy” Luongo as Acting Boss. However, Luongo disappeared in 1986 and Corallo’s ultimate choice to succeed him was Vittorio “Vic” Amuso. Allegedly both Amuso and Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso were candidates for the job and evidence suggests Corallo wanted Casso, but Casso convinced him to select Amuso instead. Amuso officially became Boss in January 1987 when Corallo, Santoro and Furnari were officially sentenced. Amuso made Casso his Underboss in 1989, allowing him to exert great influence over family decisions. Corallo and Santoro both died in prison and Furnari was eventually released in 2014.

Amuso and Casso: The Disaster Duo

During the late 1980s the Lucchese Family went through a period of great turmoil. Vic Amuso and his fierce Underboss Anthony Casso, the first members of the Family’s Brooklyn wing to head the Family, instituted one of the most violent reigns in American Mafia history. Both men were heavily involved in labor racketeering, extortion, drug trafficking and committed many murders. Amuso and Casso were strong rivals of Gambino Family Boss John Gotti and strong allies of Genovese Family Boss Vincent “Chin” Gigante. They both made their reputation earlier in 1986 when, angry over the murder of Gambino Boss Paul Castellano, Corallo and Gigante gave them the contract to kill Gotti. On April 13, 1986 a car-bombing killed Gambino Underboss Frank Decicco but missed Gotti. The assassination attempt sparked a long and confusing tension between the three crime families with many deaths on all sides.

During the late 1980s, Amuso began demanding 50% of the profits generated by the Jersey Crew. New Jersey leaders Anthony Accetturo and Michael Taccetta refused Amuso’s demand and in retaliation Amuso and Casso ordered the entire Jersey Crew killed. This is now known as the infamous “Whack Jersey” order. He summoned them all to a meeting in Brooklyn, however fearing for their lives all of the Jersey Crew members skipped the meeting and went into hiding. Taccetta and Accetturo were later put on trial in 1990, as both Amuso and Casso were implicated in a case involving the fitting of thousands of windows in New York at over-inflated prices, and the pair went into hiding that same year naming Alphonse “Little Al” D’Arco as Acting Boss.

For the next few years Amuso and Casso ruled the family from afar and ordered the execution of anyone they deemed troublesome, either they were considered rivals or potential informants. All of this convinced many Lucchese wiseguys that Amuso and Casso were no longer thinking or acting rationally. What followed next was a series of botched murder attempts on family members suspected of being informants. Ironically, these murder attempts would be the catalyst that caused several family members to actually turn informer. One of the biggest was Capo Peter Chiodo. Amuso ordered the killing of Chiodo, who along with Casso was in charge of the Windows Case operation. Chiodo was shot 12 times but still survived. After Amuso ordered hits on Chiodo’s wife and sister, a major violation of longstanding rules against women being harmed, Chiodo did finally turn state’s evidence and provided the entire Windows Operation that eventually controlled $150 million in window replacements sold in New York City. Amuso had also earlier sanctioned a hit on Jersey Crew Boss Anthony Accetturo, who was on trial in 1990 and also cooperated with the government.

The planned executions went as high as Acting Boss Al D’Arco. Furious over the failed hit on Chiodo, Amuso set up D’Arco to be killed at a Manhattan hotel. This hit, however, came undone after D’Arco saw a man hide a gun in his shirt then slip it into the bathroom. Recognizing this as a classic setup for a hit, D’Arco fled for his life and turned himself over to the authorities to spare him and his family from Amuso and Casso and their increasingly erratic demands. D’Arco was the first Boss of a New York crime family, acting or otherwise, to become an informant. Casso had also reportedly conspired with Lucchese Family Consigliere Frank Lastorino and several others to murder Steven “Wonderboy” Crea, Amuso’s Underboss of the Bronx, as well as Gambino Family Acting Boss John “Junior” Gotti, son of the imprisoned John Gotti, along with members of the Genovese Crime Family once again. However, due to massive indictments, none of the plots were committed.

Law enforcement eventually caught up with the two fugitives. On July 29, 1991, the FBI captured Amuso in Scranton, Pennsylvania and on January 19, 1993 the FBI captured Casso in Mount Olive, New Jersey. Amuso steadfastly refused all offers of cooperation from the government and was convicted on all charges in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison. In contrast, Casso quickly agreed to a deal in March of 1994 and started revealing family secrets. One of the biggest secrets was that Casso had been paying two NYPD detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, to provide Casso with sensitive police info and even perform contract killings. In 1998, however, prosecutors tore up the deal after accusing Casso of lying about other mob turncoats and bribing guards, among other things. As a result, the court ordered no leniency for Casso at his sentencing and he was sentenced to 13 consecutive life sentences.

Current Position

Although he had been sentenced to life in prison, Vic Amuso remained the official Boss of the Lucchese Crime Family until 2009 when longtime Acting Boss Steven “Wonderboy” Crea had his parole restrictions removed and was officially promoted to Boss of the Lucchese Crime Family. A February 2004 New York Post article stated that the Lucchese Crime Family consisted of about 9 Capos and 82 soldiers. In March 2009, an article in the New York Post state the Lucchese Family now consisted of approximately 100 made members. The Lucchese Crime Family is believed to be on an upward swing thanks to the leadership of Crea and is still very much involved in organized crime. A 2013 indictment stated members and associates of the Genovese, Lucchese and Gambino crime families control waste disposal businesses by dictating which companies could pick up trash at certain locations and extorting protection payments preventing further extortion from other mobsters.

In June 2013, the New York FBI office reduced the number of agents focused on investigating the Five Families to 36 agents divided into two squads. In the past, the FBI had a separate squad of 1-20 agents investigating each crime family. It is believed that this scaling back of the amount of agents covering organized crime has created an environment that is conducive for the continued growth of all Five Families and that soon enough La Cosa Nostra will once again have a stranglehold on New York City. Only time will tell what will really happen, but the Lucchese Crime Family has reportedly added multiple members to its ranks and is continuing to flourish from the government’s lack of investigations.