Stefano "Steve" Ferrigno (1900 - November 5, 1930) was a New York mobster of Sicilian origin who led an important Italian criminal gang in the 1920s. Ferrigno was assassinated along with Alfred Mineo during the so-called Castellammarese War.
Ferrigno was born in Sicily and eventually emigrated to the United States. During the 1910s, the teenaged Ferrigno joined New York's Italian underworld. Ferrigno worked his way up the ranks of the Coney Island, Brooklyn based Neapolitan Camorra crime family led by Pellegrino "Don Grino" Morano and his top Lieutenant, Alessandro Vollero, who led the Navy St. Gang. It is not known why Ferrigno, a Sicilian, was affiliated with a Neapolitan crime group, which in that era was highly unusual. A possible explanation could be that Ferrigno grew up in the same Brooklyn neighborhood as the Neapolitans. He is the father of Colombo crime family street soldier Bartolo (Barioco Bartulucia) Ferrigno who was active in organized crime during the 1940's and 1950's. He served under the rule of Joseph Magliocco.
In the 1920s, Ferrigno was a mid-level leader in the Brooklyn crime family of Salvatore "Tata" D'Aquila, the self-proclaimed "Boss of Bosses" of the New York Mafia. Ferrigno was deeply involved in bootlegging, the most lucrative criminal activity during the Prohibition era, as well as gambling, extortion, and prostitution. Labor and union racketeering became a big money maker for all the Italian crime groups in New York and the D'Aquino family's access to the Brooklyn docks placed Ferrigno and his associates in a position to capitalize on the waterfront's criminal activities such as cargo theft, extortion of the dockworkers, and control over various Longshoreman's unions.
In 1928, D'Aquila was murdered on the orders of rival Manhattan mafia Boss Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria who took over D'Aquila's title of "Boss of Bosses" in New York. Ferrigno and Mineo had been business associates and allies of Masseria; it is possible they conspired with Masseria to eliminate D'Aquila so they could become the new leaders.
Whatever the exact circumstances, Masseria needed to place loyal supporters in D'Aquila's stead, and he therefore gave his support to Mineo and Ferrigno. In late 1928 they became the new Bosses of their Brooklyn crime family, with Ferrigno appointed "underboss" or second in command to Mineo.
The Mineo crime family had roughly 400-500 mafia soldiers and maintained their most lucrative criminal interests in Brooklyn and Manhattan. After bootlegging, gambling on horse races, numbers and the Italian lottery were big money makers for Ferrigno and his associates.
While Ferrigno ran his criminal activities, a group of Sicilian mafiosi from Castellammare del Golfo led by Salvatore Maranzano began to challenge the authority of Ferrigno's benefactor, Masseria. Once the conflict known as the Castellammarese War officially broke out into open warfare by early 1930, there were deaths throughout America's Italian underworld.
On November 4, 1930, a meeting of Masseria supporters was held in Ferrigno's Bronx apartment at 759 Pelham Parkway South. In attendance were believed to be a number of top Masseria and Mineo crime family members, including Mineo, Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, Vito Genovese, Masseria, and Ferrigno himself.
Maranzano faction members including Joe Profaci (see below), Nick Capuzzi, Joe Valachi and a hitman known only as Buster from Chicago were observing the meeting from an apartment Valachi had rented across the courtyard. According to Valachi, in the night of November 5, 1930, Steve Ferrigno and Al Mineo left the apartment and walked across the courtyard, and the Maranzano men mowed them down with gunfire.
Many organized crime historians and even a former mafia boss, Joseph Bonanno dispute Valachi's claim that a top boss such as Joe Profaci would be directly involved in the assassination of an underworld rival. Masseria was killed in a Coney Island restaurant in early 1931, and Maranzano was himself killed in September, marking the end of the Castellammarese War. The main beneficiary (and organizer of both hits) was Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, who established himself at the top of the New York Mafia.
The Masseria crime group, with which Ferrigno was associated, went on to become one of America's top criminal organizations, the Gambino crime family.