Gambino Crime Family

The Gambino crime family is one of the "Five Families" that controls organized crime activities based in New York City, United States, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). Based in New York City, the group's operations extend to much of the eastern seaboard and all across the nation to California. Its illicit activities include labor racketeering, gambling, loansharking, extortion, murder for hire, solid and toxic waste dumping violations, construction, building and cement violations, fraud and wire fraud, hijacking, pier thefts and fencing.

The origins of the Gambino crime family can be traced all the way back to the days of a criminal Neapolitan gang led by Pellegrino "Don Grino" Morano, which was taken over by Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila following the jailing of Morano in 1916. D'Aquila faced up against the forces of Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and was killed around 1928, when the gang he had led passed into the hands of Alfred Mineo and Steve Ferrigno, at the height of the Prohibition era. The Castellammarese War, between rival New York bosses Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, claimed many victims, including Mineo and Ferrigno who were ambushed and killed on November 5, 1930, outside of Ferrigno's home at 759 Pelham Parkway South. It was the latest in a long line of killings on both sides of the war, which would ultimately end with the deaths of both principals - Masseria in April 1931 and Maranzano five months later. The main beneficiary (and organizer of both hits) was Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, who duly set about rearranging New York's organized crime and establishing the basis of the "Five Families" of New York, which became known as the Commission of the Cosa Nostra.
Following a brief period under the control of Frank Scalise, the first recognized leader of what would become the Gambino family was Vincenzo "Vincent" Mangano, an old-school Mafia don in the style of Masseria and Maranzano, but one who was tolerated due to his close ties with Emil Camarda, the vice-president of the International Longshoremen's Association. Through the association, Mangano and the family controlled the New York and Brooklyn waterfront with activities ranging from extortion to union racketeering, as well as illegal gambling operations including horse betting, running numbers and lotteries. Mangano also established the City Democratic Club, ostensibly to promote bedrock American values but in reality as a cover for Murder, Inc., the notorious band of mainly Jewish hitmen who would do the bidding of the Italian-American run families, for a price. Phil Mangano was a member, as was Albert Anastasia, known as the "Lord High Executioner". Around this time, Carlo Gambino was promoted within the organization, as was another future boss of the family, Gambino's brother-in-law Paul "Big Paul" Castellano.

[edit] Mangano brothers murdered
Anastasia and Mangano never entirely saw eye to eye. Mangano resented that Anastasia preferred to keep the company of various members of the other families, and on numerous occasions the two almost came to blows. This was only ever going to end badly for Mangano, and in April, 1951, Phil Mangano was discovered murdered, while his brother disappeared without a trace.

Called to answer for the crimes of which he was suspected by the other New York bosses, Anastasia never admitted to his involvement in the deaths of the Manganos but did claim that Vince had been planning to have him killed. Albert Anastasia had since begun running the family himself, and few in the organization found themselves inclined to depose one of the most feared killers of the age. Carlo Gambino, a wily character with designs on the leadership himself, maneuvered himself into position as underboss to Anastasia.

The fortunes of the family around this time were closely linked to those of another - that run by Frank Costello, and which is known today as the Genovese crime family. Vito Genovese was the power-hungry Underboss in the family and needed a way to remove the close ties between Costello and Anastasia, which provided solidarity in the National Crime Syndicate for the two bosses.

Genovese thus jumped on the 1952 killing of a Brooklyn man named Arnold Schuster, who Anastasia had killed for the most minor of indiscretions (acting as a prosecution witness against a bank robber Anastasia didn't even know), as evidence that Anastasia was unbalanced and a threat to the syndicate. With Gambino secretly siding with Genovese against his own boss, the wheels were in motion for the removal of Anastasia.

First, Costello was attacked and wounded outside his apartment building on May 2, 1957. The attack shook Costello to the extent that he soon announced his retirement from the head of his family, turning affairs over to Genovese. The alleged shooter was Vincent "Chin" Gigante.

Six months later, on October 25, 1957, Anastasia was murdered while sitting in a barber's chair at the Park Sheraton Hotel on West 56th Street. For many years, the murder was believed to have been committed by Joseph "Crazy Joe" Gallo. Later, Colombo crime family boss and Gallo foe, Carmine "Junior" Persico claimed credit. However, journalist Jerry Capeci in his online column "Gangland" claims that the murder was committed by a three-man hit team organized by Joseph "Joe the Blonde" Biondo, on the orders of Carlo Gambino. The team consisted of Stephen Grammauta, Stephen Armone and Arnold Wittenburg, a crew of Lower East Side heroin dealers.

Anastasia's former Underboss Carlo Gambino took the reigns of the family, which from then on bore his name. Biondo was rewarded with the Underboss position, which he kept until his death in 1966. Grammauta eventually became a caporegime in the 1990s.

Former Gambino crime family Boss Carlo Gambino taken sometime in the early to mid 1970s, shortly before Gambino's death.Genovese was sent to prison for 15 years, where he would eventually die in 1969. The Gambino family soon became one of the most powerful families in the National Crime Syndicate, with close ties to Meyer Lansky's offshore gaming houses in Cuba and the Bahamas, a lucrative business for the Mafia. The failure of Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, the head of the Bonanno crime family and Gambino's top rival, to kill off Gambino and the heads of other New York crime families in the aftermath of the Bonanno War, saw Gambino become the most powerful leader of the "Five Families".
Gambino allegedly stretched his power as far as to organize the shooting of Joe Colombo, head of the Colombo crime family, on June 28, 1971. More likely, Colombo shooter Jerome Johnson was a lone nut attracted to Colombo for his Italian civil rights movement. Or as Michael Franzese, an informer later said, it may have been set up by rogue law enforcement, or by Carlo Gambino himself. Colombo survived the shooting but remained in a coma until his death in 1977. He was buried next to Joseph Gallo. Johnson was killed by Colombo's bodyguard.

In either case, Gambino's influence stretched into behind-the-scenes control of the Lucchese crime family, led by Carmine "Mr. Gribbs" Tramunti. Gambino also allegedly influenced the selection of Frank "Funzi" Tieri as boss of the Genovese crime family, after the murder of Thomas Eboli, whom Gambino, allegedly, had had killed over a $4 million dollar drug debt.

On October 15, 1976, Gambino died of a heart attack, and control of the family passed not to the obvious choice, Underboss Aniello "Mr. Neil" Dellacroce, but to Gambino's brother in-law, Paul Castellano. Allies of Dellacroce were thoroughly unhappy about that move, but Dellacroce himself kept his men in line, and was kept on as Castellano's Underboss.
The Dellacroce faction remained displeased, believing that Castellano had inherited the role rather than earning it. Castellano did retain a degree of muscle to keep Dellacroce's allies in check, including the notorious crew run by Anthony "Nino" Gaggi and Roy DeMeo, which were believed to commit something between 10-15 murders during Castellano's regime from the late 1970s and mid 1980s. While Castellano was still in charge, most of the family affairs were run and controlled unofficially by a 4 man ruling-panel which included powerful Garment District leader and nephew Thomas "Tommy" Gambino, bodyguard and later family Underboss Thomas "Tommy" Bilotti, and powerful Queens faction leaders Daniel "Danny" Marino and James "Jimmy Brown" Failla, all top rivals of John Gotti.

It was not a time for the family to be embroiled in inner turmoil and argument, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation had targeted the Gambino family as the easiest of the five families to infiltrate - FBI tapes obtained from a bug planted in a lamp on Castellano's kitchen table caught him discussing illegal deals with his subordinates, and by the early 1980s Castellano was up on a number of charges and faced with conviction. He let it be known that he wanted Carlo Gambino's son Thomas to take over the family should he be sent to jail, with Thomas Bilotti (Castellano's chauffeur and bodyguard) as his Underboss, which further enraged the Dellacroce faction, particularly John Gotti.

In 1983, a federal indictment charged 13 members of the Gambino family with drug trafficking. This group included John Gotti's brother, Gene, and his best friend, Angelo "Quack Quack" Ruggiero, who got his nickname for his non-stop talking. The feds had in fact been listening in on his home phone conversations since 1980 - they had Ruggiero on tape discussing family business, making drug deals, and expressing contempt for Castellano. If Castellano knew they were dealing drugs, in violation of his no-drug policy, Ruggerio would be killed. By law, the accused were allowed transcripts of wiretap conversations to aid their defense, and Castellano demanded to be shown them, though Dellacroce did his best to put him off.

Dellacroce was by this time suffering from cancer, but with Ruggerio desperate for help, his friend John Gotti stood up for him. All the same, Castellano maintained that he wanted the transcripts, or he would have Ruggerio and Gotti removed. Gotti realized he had to act fast, and the death of his mentor Dellacroce on December 2, 1985, paved the way for him to take out Castellano.

On December 16, Bilotti and Castellano were heading for a meeting with capo Frank DeCicco at the Sparks Steak House on East 46th Street, when they were gunned down by four unidentified men in the middle of rush hour. These men were later recognized and identified by Mob expert Jerry Capeci to be Angelo Ruggiero, John Carneglia, Vincent Artuso and Salvatore Scala, who were contacted by John Gotti.

Known as the "Dapper Don," Gotti was well-known for his hand-tailored suits and silk ties and his willingness to throw out sound bites to the media in a way unlike any Mafia boss before him. He appointed DeCicco as his Underboss and promoted Ruggiero to Caporegime in charge of his old crew. At that time, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano was allegedly elevated to Consigliere. Gotti favored holding meetings while walking in public places so that surveillance equipment could pick up visual images, but not the matters being discussed. His home in Howard Beach, Queens, was frequently seen on television. One of his neighbours during that time was John Favara, who disappeared after hitting Gotti's 12-year-old son with a car while he was riding his bike, and killing him instantly. Another neighbor was Gotti's dear friend and associate, Joseph "Big Joe" Massino, who was during the late 1980s recognized as the Underboss of the Bonanno crime family, and a strong candidate for leadership, for the imprisoned Boss Philip "Rusty" Rastelli.

Many mob leaders disapproved of his high-profile style, particularly Genovese crime family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, a former ally of Castellano, who allegedly conspired with Lucchese crime family leaders Vittorio "Vic" Amsuo and Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, to put out a contract on Gotti's life. On April 13, 1986, a car bomb meant for Gotti, instead killed DeCicco.
Eventually, Gotti's brash demeanor and belief that he was untouchable (he was acquitted on federal charges three times, earning the nickname the "Teflon Don") proved his undoing. The FBI had managed to bug an apartment above the Ravenite Social Club in Little Italy, where an elderly widow let mobsters hold top-level meetings. Gotti was heard planning criminal activities and complaining about his underlings, including Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, who upon hearing the tapes decided to turn state's evidence and testify against Gotti, and dozens of other mobsters, from all the Five Families.

On April 2, 1992, Gotti and current Consigliere Frank "Frankie Loc" LoCascio were convicted and received a sentence of life without parole.

Gotti continued to rule the family from prison, while day-to-day operation of the family shifted to capos John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico and Nick Corozzo. The latter was due to take over as acting boss but was himself sentenced to eight years in prison on racketeering charges. Gotti's son, John "Junior" Gotti, took over as head of the family, but in 1998 he too was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 77 months in jail.

When Gotti Sr died in prison in 2002, his brother Peter took over as boss, allegedly alongside D'Amico, but the family's fortunes have dwindled to a remarkable extent given their power a few short decades ago, when they were considered the most powerful criminal organization on earth. Peter Gotti was imprisoned as well in 2003, as the leadership allegedly went to the current administration members, Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo, John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico and Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo. [12]

As former rivals of John Gotti took completely over the Gambino Family, mostly because the rest of Gotti's loyalists were either jailed or under indictments, and that Gotti, Sr died in prison in 2002, then-current head of white collar crimes and caporegime, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo turned state's evidence due to encreased law enforcement and credible evidence toward his racketeering trial, and was forced to tesify against mobsters from all of the Five Families. One of the last Gotti supporters, DiLeonardo testified against among others Peter Gotti and Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone from 2003 to 2005, and disappeared into the Witness Protection Program. At the same time, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, Gotti's former Underboss, had evaded the program in 1995 and was arrested and jailed for operating an Ecstasy-ring that stretched from Arizona to New York City in 2003. During that same year, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison, ironically due to informants amongst his associates.

In 2005, Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo and his longtime underling Leonard "Lenny" DiMaria were released from prison after serving ten years for racketeering and loansharking charges in New York and Florida. That same year, US lawenforcement recognized Corozzo as the Boss of the Gambino crime family, with his brother Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo as the family Consigliere, Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri as the acting Underboss, and John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico as a highly regarded member with the Corozzo brothers.

From the year of 2005 and toward 2007, the federal authorities has accomplished the prosecution and conviction of prominent Gambino capos Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri, Gregory DePalma, George "Butters" DeCicco, Ronald "One Armed Ronnie" Trucchio, Salvatore "Tore" LoCascio and Joseph "Sonny" Juliano, including dozens of their soldiers and their associates. On February 7, 2008, Federal and New York State authorities rounded up the entire Gambino family hierarchy (co-acting bosses, Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo, John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico, acting Underboss Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalu and reputed family Consigliere, Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo) in a coordinated sweep that also included figures from the Genovese and Bonanno crime families and accused crime figures in Sicily. Due to the indictments, there is an apparent power-vacuum in the Gambino family. Many speculate the new acting boss is the legendary Castellano-loyalist Daniel "Danny" Marino of the Queens faction of the family. Fresh out of jail, Carmine Agnello is also being watched very closely.

On Thursday, February 7, 2008, during Operation Old Bridge, the FBI had arrested 54 people in New York City and its northern suburbs, New Jersey and Long Island. A federal grand jury accused 62 people of having ties to the Gambino crime family. Offenses including murders, drug trafficking, robberies, extortion, and other crimes. Current top Gambino members John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico, Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo, Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalu, including captains Leonard "Lenny" DiMaria, Thomas "Tommy Sneakers" Cacciopoli and soldiers Richard "Richie" Gotti and Vincent "Vince" Gotti are currently imprisoned and are awaiting trial due to the indictments from Operation Old Bridge, however, recognized capo and co-acting boss Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo, one of the main defendants in the case, fled his home on Long Island, acting on prior knowledge, and was considered fugitive by US law enforcement until his arrest on May 29, 2008.

Today, the FBI and the US government estimates the family to consist of around 200 to 250 made men. While they are larger than most other mob families and exert a lot of influence, they are not as powerful as they were in Carlo Gambino's day and have arguably been in a steady, gradual decline ever since his death, mostly due to increased indictments and the anxious times of Paul Castellano and John Gotti.


Boss Carlo Gambino

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