Genovese Crime Family

The Genovese crime family is one of the "Five Families" that controls organized crime activities in New York City, USA, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). The Genovese crime family has been nicknamed the "Ivy League" and "Rolls Royce" of organized crime. They are rivaled in size by only the Gambino crime family and in terms of power only the Gambino crime family and the Chicago Outfit match them. They have generally maintained a varying degree of influence over many of the smaller mob families outside of New York, including ties with the Patriarca, the Buffalo and the Philadelphia crime families. The Genovese family manipulated members of the Philadelphia crime family into murdering one time Boss Angelo Bruno so that they could gain control of their territory in Atlantic City. Although the leadership of the family seems to have been in limbo the last few years, specifically since the death of Boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, the family stills appears to be more organized than most of the other crime families and has remained powerful. [1]

Contents [hide]
1 History of the Genovese Crime Family
1.1 The Origins
1.2 The Castellammarese Era
1.3 Luciano and Establishing the Commission
1.4 The Prime Minister
1.5 Genovese in Control
1.6 Front Bosses and the Panel
1.7 The Oddfather
1.8 Current Position and Leadership

History of the Genovese Crime Family The Origins
The Genovese crime family is believed to have been developed in the early 1900s by members of several Sicilian-American street-gangs, who together founded the Morello crime family and the early origins of the organization of what would be the Genovese crime family. Established by brothers Antonio, Nicolo, and Giuseppe Morello, and half brothers Vincenzo "Vincent" Terranova and Ciro "The Artichoke King" Terranova following their arrival from Corleone, Sicily in 1892, the crime family became involved with extortion and bootlegging activities during the early 1910s, and reportedly mentored several young children of Italian immigrants into joining their crew in the East Harlem faction of Manhattan. But as this family grew power and influence in the Manhattan area, the rival Brooklyn based Neapolitan Camorra and their prominent leaders Pellegrino Morano and Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila claimed a long and bloody war between the criminal factions, which reportedly went on for a decade. But as prominent Don Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria seized power of the Morello crime family in the early 1920s, Masseria was seen as the most powerful criminal in the entire New York area, as he gained strength of both the Brooklyn Camorra and the Morellos. [2]

[edit] The Castellammarese Era
As Masseria gained power in the early 1920s, he recruited new and young blood into his family, like mobsters Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, Frank Costello, Joseph "Joey A" Adonis, Vito Genovese, Albert Anastasia and Carlo Gambino who all joined Masseria into bootlegging, smuggling of alcohol and liquor, extortion, loansharking and gambling rackets. But as another powerful mobster named Salvatore Maranzano gained support in the Brooklyn section, he became the leader of the Castellammare del Golfo, the prominent organization that dominated the power in Brooklyn and included members such as Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, Joseph Profaci, and Stefano Magaddino. By the year of 1928, during the Prohibition, an all-out war had been leashed upon the two factions, who desperately tried to gain the complete power of New York and all of its lucrative rackets. The war is reportedly named the Castellammarese War, since it was Neapolitan on one side and the Sicilian on the other, however, reportedly more than 60 mobsters on both sides of the families were murdered during the war of the late 1920s.[1]

But in 1931, it became clear that none of the old Mustache Petes were going to win the war, as the young and brilliant Charlie "Lucky" Luciano decided to play both sides of the war and in the end let them kill each other. On April 15, 1931, Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria was murdered on a Coney Island restaurant, reportedly by members of Luciano's crew. Luciano had allegedly been eating dinner with Masseria, but then excused himself to the bathroom, before his entourage came in. Although Salvatore Maranzano claimed victory later that year and organized the powerful Five Families of New York, Luciano, now Maranzano's second-in-command, had Maranzano stabbed and shot to death in his Manhattan office about six months later by Jewish gangsters loaned for the use from Meyer Lansky, after he was 'fingered' by Luciano ally and Maranzano trustee, Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese. Luciano was now the most powerful mobster in the US.[3]

Luciano and Establishing the Commission
With Luciano as the new leader of organized crime, he and his cooperator Meyer Lansky together created the modern Cosa Nostra and divided areas into several crime families all over the United States. He founded the Commission, consisting of the Five Families, the Chicago Outfit and the Buffalo crime family of Upstate, New York, representing all the power and influence. The name Cosa Nostra, means "Our Thing", was created and thousands of Italian-American mobsters were allowed to join the crime families and become made men. But as Luciano set up rules everyone had to follow to keep the organization alive, the hit-squad Murder Inc., headed by Albert Anastasia under the control of the Commission, went on to eliminate everyone who broke the rules as the Luciano crime family kept pulling the strings. Luciano made Vito Genovese the family Underboss, and Frank Costello as Consigliere. But in 1935, Luciano was indicted on pandering charges, and sentenced to 30-50 years in prison. Genovese was to take over the Luciano family and run the day-to-day activities, however, Genovese escaped a murder charge and ran off to Italy, leaving Frank Costello as the new Acting boss of the Luciano crime family. Luciano was later deported in 1946 after serving ten years in prison. [4] [5]

The Prime Minister
During the reign of Frank Costello, the Luciano family controlled much of the bookmaking, loansharking, illegal gambling and the labor racketeering in New York City. Costello was heavily fond of the financial sides of the Lucianos, and reportedly didn't have much to do with the family "muscle". Nicknamed "The Prime Minister of the Underworld", Costello also controlled much of the docks in New York and was said to have so many political and judicial contacts that no state judge could be appointed in any case without his consent. Costello believed in diplomacy and discipline, and also started the Family's interests in Las Vegas during the early 1940s, by allowing his friends Meyer Lansky and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel build the casinos there, however, later Luciano allegedly sanctioned Siegel's murder. Costello ruled for 20 peaceful years until his Underboss, Vito Genovese, returned from Italy and was acquitted in his murder trial.

While serving as the prominent Boss of the Genovese crime family, Costello also, amazingly, saw a psychiatrist due to his depression and panic attacks during the 1950s, and was told to distance himself from all of his old associates, like Vito Genovese, and rather spend time with politicians than gangsters. However, it was around this time that Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee began investigating organized crime in New York, and set up trials known as the Kefauver hearings. Costello agreed to testify at the hearings and not take the Fifth Amendment, in contrast to all the previous underworld figures to take the stand. The Special Committee and the TV networks had agreed not to broadcast Frank Costello's face, only his hands. During the questioning, Costello nervously refused to answer certain questions and skirted around others. When asked by the committee, "What have you done for your country Mr. Costello?", his reply was, "Paid my tax!" Costello eventually walked out of the hearings.

With the murder of Mangano crime family boss Albert Anastasia in early 1957, Costello lost his most powerful ally into keeping Genovese in line. However, with Anastasia's death, Carlo Gambino seized the control of the Mangano family, and Genovese realized that he was still only the Underboss and attempted to have Costello assassinated in 1957, but as he was hit in the side of the head, Costello still survived. (the trigger-man was allegedly Vincente "Chin" Gigante, future boss of the family) However, after the shooting, Costello quietly retired and let the Luciano family to Genovese.

Genovese in Control
Vito "Don Vito" Genovese reportedly seized the control of the family, which he re-christened with his own name, which it holds to this day, as well as attempting to gain control over the Commission in 1957, same year he reportedly organized and attended the infamous (and, for Cosa Nostra, devastating) Apalachin Meeting, a convention with over 100 powerful Mafia bosses from every corner of the United States. However, the meeting was raided by New York State Police and Genovese and others ducked into the woods and escaped. Many of the attendees who attempted flight were arrested. They were indicted a few days later. Genovese, who was a fond of the "old school" gangster approach, as well as using great "muscle" to achieve his ends, reportedly went on to eliminate everyone who he saw as rivals. This became his downfall, as he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for narcotics charges in 1959. Genovese, who saw himself as the most powerful Don in New York, had been effectively eliminated as a rival by Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino, who, after Genovese's conviction and imprisonment, was now the most powerful member of the Commission and reputed "Commission Chairman". Genovese had reportedly been lured in a conspiracy involving Gambino, Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, Tommy Lucchese and Frank Costello, in order to prevent any further attempts by Genovese to seize control over the Commission.
While incarcerated, Genovese and family "soldier", as well as his former driver, Joseph "Joe Cargo" Valachi began a dispute which eventually exposed the entire Cosa Nostra to the public authorities. Accordingly, Genovese was worried that Valachi would betray him to the authorities in exchange for a lighter sentence, and put out a 'contract' on his life in early 1962. Genovese, who apparently was an 'old school' Sicilian, once gave Valachi the infamous "kiss of death" (meaning to be the last kiss before the person is murdered), which Valachi obviesly understood and made him freak out, as he on June 22, 1962, brutally murdered another inmate with a pipe, whom he mistook for Joseph "Joe Beck" DiPalermo who had come to kill him on the orders of Genovese, who announced the reward of $100,000 dollars to whoever killed Valachi. In order to be safe, Valachi became the first member of the Genovese crime family, as well as the Mafia, to announce their existence and influence over various legal enterprises in aid of racketeering and other criminal activities to make huge profit. Valachi also made the name "Cosa Nostra", a household name.

Front Bosses and the Panel
After Genovese was sent to prison in 1959, a "Ruling Panel" that included Acting boss Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli, Underboss Gerardo "Jerry" Catena and his protege Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo, was set up to rule the Genovese family with complete secrecy. When Genovese died in prison in 1969, various "Front Bosses" were also established for the purpose of distracting US law enforcement and confuse other powerful Mob bosses like Carlo Gambino, who manipulated Eboli to take over the Genovese family completely in the late 1960s, however, when Eboli's $4 million dollar drug debt to Gambino wasn't repayed, Eboli was murdered in 1972, leaving a Genovese captain and Gambino ally, Frank "Funzi" Tieri to become the new official boss, when in reality, the "Panel", consisting of Gerardo "Jerry" Catena, Michele "Big Mike" Miranda and Philip Lombardo made all the family's decisions. [12]

With the 1980 murder of Philadelphia crime family boss Angelo "Gentle Don" Bruno, the Genovese crime family members Vincent Gigante and Philip Lombardo began manipulating the rival factions of the war-angered Philadelphia family, and in end supported Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, who in return gave them permission to operate in the Atlantic City faction of the Philadelphia crime family, in 1982.

This tactic had great success in fooling law enforcement. Tieri was eventually captured by the authorities and the first Mob boss to be sentenced under the RICO act in 1981, when caporegime of the Manhattan faction, Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno, was made new front boss with Tieri's imprisonment, when Philip Lombardo continued as the defacto boss. In 1985 front boss Salerno was convicted of being the Genovese crime family boss in the Mafia Commission Trial and sentenced to 100 years in federal prison. Lombardo, who had retired, left the Genovese family to Vincent "Chin" Gigante sometime in the mid 1980s. [14]

The Oddfather
A more elaborate family "Administration" was introduced upon Vincent Gigante's take-over of the Genovese crime family, which involved the creation of a fourth messagario (messenger) and fifth position, "Street Boss", in the family. Since Gigante rarely spoke only with a few close associates and through his sons, Vincent Esposito and Andrew Gigante, these positions were set up with the intention of insulating the Boss further from law enforcement investigations. As Gigante also found a way to lure US law enforcement, as well as everybody else in believing he was legally insane, Gigante ducked prosecution after prosecution, and always convinced several pshyciatrists that his mental illness turned worse. To make everything look more credible, Gigante always wore a robe and mummled totally innapropriate words when facing an arrest, indictment or just walking on the sidewalk in New York City. By then, he was nicknamed "The Oddfather". [15]

While Gigante reportedly operated out of the Triangle Social Club in Greenwich Village on Manhattan, as well as allegedly feigning his insanity, most of the day-to-day operations were taken care of by him, his Underboss Venero "Benny Eggs" Mangano who operated out of Brooklyn and ran the family's Windows Case rackets, and Gigante's Consigliere, Louis "Bobby" Manna, who operated out of the New Jersey faction of the family, as well as supervising four captains around that area during the 1980s.

However, Gigante was in full charge of the Genovese crime family, as he conspired to murder Gambino crime family boss John Gotti in 1986, after Gotti had murdered his former boss Paul Castellano in 1985 without the approval of the Commission. A bomb plot to kill Gotti, hatched by Gigante and Lucchese crime family leaders Vittorio "Vic" Amuso and Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, instead killed Gotti's Underboss Frank DeCicco on April 13, 1986, leaving a large power-vacuum left between three of the Five Families of New York.

As a longtime "tension" between broke out between these families in the late 1980s, and early 1990s, Gigante kept running the Genovese crime family behind his alleged insanity. During the years of the early 1990s, Gigante reportedly controlled his family with iron fists, and ordered the murders of several Gambino crime family mobsters, before Gotti's Underboss, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, decided to confess to 19 murders and testify against Gotti and Consigliere Frank LoCascio in 1992. However, Gravano also began to testify against Gigante, as well as Philadelphia crime family Underboss Phil Leonetti decided to become an informant as well, and testify that Gigante had ordered the murders of several of his earlier associates during the 1980s. Additionally, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, former Underboss turned informant of the Lucchese crime family, implicated Gigante in the 1986 plan to kill new Gambino leaders John Gotti, Frank DeCicco and Eugene "Gene" Gotti. In 1997, Gigante was convicted on several racketeering and conspiracy charges and sentenced to 12 years in a federal prison. Gigante died from heart disease on December 19, 2005. He was 77 years of age. At his time of death, he was incarcerated at the federal prison in Springfield, MO.

Current Position and Leadership
Since the 1990s, infamous mobsters in top positions of all Five Families have become informants and testified against as many as they can name, putting the Boss, Capos and Soldiers away on various criminal charges. This included Bonanno crime family Boss Joseph "Big Joe" Massino, who defected in 2005. Several top Genovese crime family figures like Underboss Venero "Benny Eggs" Mangano, Consigliere Louis "Bobby" Manna, capo James "Little Jimmy" Ida and Street boss Liborio "Barney" Bellomo received lengthy prison sentences on murder, racketeering and conspiracy convictions. During the last decades, US law enforcement systematically broke down the Genovese crime family, as well as other mafia families. Despite these indictments however, the Genovese family remains a formidable power with as many as 200 made men, and has remained out of the media spotlight. The are still considered to be the most powerful family in the country.

Since late 2004, a series of prosecutions against high-ranking Genovese family capos has weakened the family even more. Liborio "Barney" Bellomo (street boss), already incarcerated for racketeering, was hit with murder charges and will not be released until late 2008. He is considered to be the most viable candidate to named offial sitting boss of the family. Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo, Lawrence Dentico and Mario Gigante, one Consigliere plus senior capos, have also been indicted on broad RICO enterprise charges and put behind bars. Vincent Gigante died in 2005 and the leadership expectedly went to reputed Genovese capo turned Acting boss, Daniel "Danny the Lion" Leo, and with the 2006 release of Gigante's prominent Underboss Venero "Benny Eggs" Mangano and the promotion of incarcerated Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo, the Genovese family administration was believed to be whole again during 2008.

However, in March 2008, Acting boss Daniel Leo was sentenced to 5 years in prison for loansharking and extortion. [20] Underboss Venero Mangano is reportedly heading the Brooklyn faction of the Genovese crime family, and acting consigliere, Lawrence "Little Larry" Dentico, operated the New Jersey faction of the family until convicted of racketeering, loansharking and extortion charges. He will not be released until 2009. Rumor has it that {capo?} Paul "Paulie Stripes" DiMarco is heading up day-to-day activities, but further information can not be confirmed. Although the much weakened Genovese family is heavily under pressure, it still succeeds much power and influence in several areas of New York, New Jersey, Atlantic City and Florida. It is being recognized as the most
powerful Mafia family in the United States


Vito Genovese.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License