Giuseppe "Joe" Profaci (October 2, 1897–June 7, 1962) was a New York Mafia boss who was the founder and head of the Profaci crime family (known today as the Colombo crime family) for over three decades.
Joseph Profaci was born in Villabate in the province of Palermo, Sicily. He immigrated to the United States and was naturalized as a citizen on September 27, 1927, in Brooklyn, New York. He is the brother of Salvatore Profaci who served as the Colombo crime family's first officially appointed consigliere who ruled from 1931 until he was killed in a fatal boat crash in 1954. He also is the uncle of Salvatore Profaci, named after his brother who is a capo in the Colombo crime family. Joseph Profaci was known for his racketeering in and around Brooklyn. In 1953, a suit was filed to collect back income taxes of over two million dollars. In 1954, it was reported that the US Department of Justice was taking steps to revoke the citizenship of Profaci, described as a racketeer. The Department of Justice also claimed Profaci had given false testimony on entering the United States. On June 6, 1962, Profaci died in New York City of liver cancer. He was the brother-in-law of Joseph Magliocco and in-law to Salvatore Mussachio who would later become acting head of the Profaci crime family following the death of Magliocco months after the patriarch Profaci died. Joseph also is an in-law to Joseph Bonanno after Bonanno's niece, Rosallie Profaci was married off to Salvatore Bonanno. Josephine Profaci married Salvatore outside the Catholic Church, despite the fact that her sister Rosalie wished for a Catholic life like the one they had experienced in their youth. Writer Gay Talese speculated that part of Josephine's rebellion was related to her dislike of Salvatore Bonanno and his treatment of her sister Rosalie. Sam DeCalvente once discussed Salvatore Bonanno's oppression of Rosalie: "It's a shame; the girl wanted to commit suicide because of the way he treated her. Josephine Bonanno however was entirely different from her sisters, "a product of another time. She was the first daughter (in the Profaci-Bonanno family tree) to finish college and without being a feminist, she undoubtedly identified with the cause of modern women seeking liberation." His two other daughters married the sons of Detroit-based mobsters William Tocco and Joseph Zerilli. Joseph was reportedly despised by many of his underlings because he ran it in the "approved" Sicilian manner. Members had to pay him US$25 per month that would supposedly go towards supporting mobsters' families should the mobster go to prison. Those who didn't pay were usually murdered, as was anyone who disagreed with Profaci on any other matters. However, Profaci simply added it to the other huge amounts of money obtained through his criminal enterprise. He lived a life of luxury; at the height of his power, Profaci had a home set in a 328-acre (1.33 km²) estate with its own private airport. He is also an uncle to Colombo crime family capo Salvatore Profaci who is still alive as of 1992.
Like many mobsters, Profaci had many legitimate businesses, such as importing olive oil, which lead to him being referred to as the "Olive Oil King." However, most of his wealth was through traditional Mafia enterprises of protection rackets and extortion. His family's activities were primarily based in Brooklyn.
In 1956, Profaci was recorded talking about the export of Sicilian oranges with Antonio Cottone, in his hometown Villabate in Sicily. Cottone lost his life that year in the battle for Palermo wholesale market, but Profaci's oranges kept on coming. The Brooklyn number rung by Cottone was the same number rung by Lucky Luciano from Naples and Frank Coppola from Anzio. All were recorded by the Palermo police talking ecstatically about high-grade Sicilian oranges. In 1959, US Customs agents intercepted one of those orange crates. Hollow wax oranges, 90 to a crate, were filled with heroin until they weighed as much as real oranges. Each crate carried 110 pounds of pure heroin
Profaci was a devout Catholic who donated a great deal to Catholic charities. However, he once had two thieves tortured to death for stealing from a local church.
The Profaci family underwent a civil war starting in 1960 when a trio of siblings from among its members— "Crazy Joe" Gallo and his two brothers—attempted to take it over with the help of other mobsters disenchanted with Profaci's rule. However, Profaci was still in power when he died of cancer two years later. His longtime underboss, Joe Magliocco, succeeded him as head of the family.