Carmine Galante aka Lilo and Cigar (February 21, 1910 – July 12, 1979) was the ranking Capo/ de facto street boss of the Bonanno crime family, a New York City Cosa Nostra crime organization, from 1974 to 1979. Galante was rarely seen without a cigar clenched in his teeth, leading to the nickname "Cigar".
The son of a fisherman from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Galante was born in an East Harlem tenement. His career in crime started when he was only eleven, forming a juvenile street gang on New York's Lower East Side. He is the father of Genovese crime family reputed capo James Galante and uncle of Anthony Galante born c.a. 1990. As a teenager, Galante became an associate mafioso during the Prohibition era, becoming leading enforcer by the end of the decade. In 1930 Galante and other gang members were caught by New York police officer Joseph Meenahan attempting to hijack a truck in Williamsburg. In the resulting gun battle, Galante wounded Meenahan and a six-year-old girl who happened to be nearby. Both victims survived and Galante was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison.
In 1939, Galante was released on parole from prison. By 1940, he was carrying out "hits" (murders) for Vito Genovese, one of the most powerful mobsters in New York. Galante is widely believed to have murdered the left-wing, anti-Mafia Italian journalist Carlo Tresca in 1943 on orders from Genovese. Galante went from being chauffeur to the boss of the Bonanno Family, Joseph Bonanno, to caporegime, and then underboss.Galante's rise to power was halted temporarily in 1962 when he was sentenced to twenty years for drug offences in a drug bust engineered by Frank Costello and other enemies. While in prison, psychiatrists diagnosed Galante as having a psychopathic personality disorder. Although Costello had died in 1973 of natural causes, Galante nevertheless ordered the bombing of his hated enemy's tomb, blowing the doors off the mausoleum.
When Bonanno was forced into retirement Phillip "Rusty" Rastelli took over the Bonanno family. In 1974, Galante was released on parole and tried to take control of the family while Rastelli himself was still in prison. During the 1970s, Galante supposedly organized the murders of at least eight members of the Gambino Family, with whom he had an intense rivalry, in order to take over a massive drug-trafficking operation. Galante was briefly jailed in 1978 for violating his parole by associating with known criminals, but he was released after being defended by the famous Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn.
Carmine Galante was murdered just as he finished eating lunch at Joe and Mary's Italian-American Restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn along with his bodyguard, Leonard Coppola, and restaurant owner/cousin Giuseppe Turano. Cigar in mouth, the 69-year-old mobster was blasted in the face and chest at point-blank range with a shotgun. He was murdered by Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato, Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, Cesare "CJ" Bonventre and Louis "Louie Gaeta" Giongetti. These men were all hired by Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Bruno's father.
After the murders, Indelicato and the others fled in a stolen car. After abandoning the car, Indelicato went to his father and his uncle (J.B. Carnone) who waited at a Manhattan social club. A surveillance video tape shows Indelicato being congratulated by Carnone. Indelicato, Trinchera, Napolitano, and Bonventre were all promoted to capo, or captains of the Bonanno family. FBI survallience footage shows Indelicato arriving in Little Italy, Manhattan, at the Ravenite Social Club. This club, at the time, was the headquarters for Anniello Dellacroce, the longtime underboss of the Gambino Family. The footage shows Indelicato being congratulated by not only members of the Bonanno family, but by members of the Gambinos as well.
It is suspected that the heads of the other New York Cosa Nostra families arranged Galante's death. They supposedly viewed Galante's greed and ambition over the control of the multimillion-dollar heroin business as a threat to all their interests. It is also possible that Rastelli may have been involved in the Galante murder as he took over as Bonanno family boss. Theories abound, but it has been specualted that Galante was rubbed out to prevent him from launching all out war in an attempt to become not only the boss of the Bonanno family, but the head of the national Commission as well. In 1986, Bruno Indelicato was convicted of Galante's murder and served twelve years in prison. Alphonse Indelicato, Trinchera. and Giongetti were all murdered in the power struggle that followed Galante's demise, which saw Phillip Rastelli become the boss of the family. Rastelli had been serving as acting boss for sometime since the "Banana's War" and Joe bonanno's subsequent forced retirement.