Organized Crime Chapter-4
Upon completing this chapter, the student should be able to:
the organization and structure of New York-style American Mafia Families.
the organization and structure of Chicago-style American Mafia groups (the
the difference between members and nonmember associates.
the advantages and disadvantages of being a made guy.
the roles associated with the various positions within an OC group.
the Rules of the American Mafia.
the role and limitations of the “national commission.”
the role of the commission in New York.
chapter will examine
the phenomenon of
Italian American OC—the American Mafia—in New York and Chicago because the
Mafia elsewhere approximates that in the two cities with the strongest crime
A. About a half-million
(mostly southern) Italian immigrants lived in New York City by early 1900,
most in neighborhoods described by Petacco (1974) as “human antheap[s] in
which suffering, crime, ignorance and filth were the dominant elements.”
B. The Italian
1. provided the cheap
labor vital to the expanding capitalism of that era;
2. being relative
latecomers, could not imitate the “by hook or by crook” financial successes of
the Robber Barons; and
3. adapted their
southern Italian culture to the American experience.
C. When the official
government structure proved unable to meet the widespread needs of the Italian
immigrant population, the mafia (Sicilian) and, to a lesser degree, camorra (Neopolitan)
crime groups stepped in as the de facto power within the immigrant
neighborhoods. Blocked from access to legitimate paths to success, mafia
groups fell back on illegitimate activities that had long been proven to be
rewarding in terms of both power and financial yield.
D. Castellammarese War.
1. By 1930, two major
Mafia factions operated in New York: Giuseppe (“Joe the Boss”) Masseria’s
group in East Harlem’s Little Italy, and Salvatore Maranzano’s group in
a. The struggle for
domination of Italian American OC in New York was called the “Castellammarese
war” because Maranzano and many of his supporters came from the small Sicilian
coastal town of Castellammare del Golfo.
b. Masseria’s group had
both Sicilian and non-Sicilian members, and were also allied with non-Italians
such as Meyer Lansky and Ben Siegel.
c. The war turned
against Joe the Boss, in part because the Maranzano forces were reinforced by
a continuing supply of Sicilian exiles, but also because five of his leading
men went over to the other side—without telling him.
d. The war ended when
Masseria was gunned down on April 15, 1931, leaving Maranzano in control of
Mafia operations in New York City.
old-world Sicilian temperament and style irritated many of his followers,
particularly the more Americanized gangsters such as Luciano. The problem was
resolved on September 10, 1931, when four Jewish gunmen (sent by Lansky and
Siegel at the behest of Luciano) shot and killed Maranzano.
E. The Luciano/Genovese
1. With the deaths of
Masseria and Maranzano, Salvatore “Lucky” Luciano (1897–1962) became the most
important Italian OC figure in New York, a status he would enjoy until 1935.
Targeted by Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey,
Luciano was convicted in 1936 on 61 counts of compulsory prostitution
and sentenced to a term of 30 to 60 years in prison.
During World War II, Luciano was instrumental (even
from his prison cell) in controlling the unions on the eastern seaboard ports
to ensure an uninterrupted flow of men and materiel to the European theater.
He also used his criminal organization to assist U.S. intelligence operations
along the Atlantic coast.
c. In 1945, Dewey, then
governor of New York, received a petition for executive clemency on behalf of
Luciano, citing his efforts during the war. The next year, Dewey announced
that Luciano would be released from prison and deported to Italy. Luciano left
the United States on February 9, 1946.
d. Before the end of
the year, Luciano surfaced in Havana, holding court with the elite of New
York’s underworld. The following year, U.S. pressure on Cuba compelled Luciano
to return to Italy, where he died of a heart attack.
2 Frank Costello
a. With Luciano’s
imprisonment and subsequent deportation, leadership of his crime Family was
assumed by Frank Costello.
Italian by birth, Costello affected an Irish
surname—no hindrance in New York, where the Irish dominated Tammany and
Tammany dominated the city.
A successful bootlegger by 1923, Costello
moved into gambling and eventually became a successful (and legitimate) real
d. Costello operated an
extensive slot machine network in New York City until Mayor Fiorello La
Guardia’s highly publicized campaign to rid the city of “that bum.” Costello
was then invited to bring his machines to New Orleans by Louisiana’s political
boss, Senator Huey P. Long.
e. Known for his
political influence, Costello was a key player when Tammany’s aging Irish
leadership sought funding from the Italian-controlled underworld.
f. In 1951, Costello
appeared before the Kefauver Committee and was exposed
on national television as a major crime figure. Staging a dramatic walkout,
he served an 18-month prison term for contempt of the Senate, then received a
five-year sentence for income tax evasion, from which he was freed in 1956
when his lawyer proved the conviction had been based on illegal wiretaps.
g. After surviving an
unsuccessful attempt to kill him in 1957, Costello retired, leaving Vito
Genovese as boss of the Luciano Family.
3. Vito Genovese
a. Beginning as a
street thief, Genovese graduated to working as a collector for the Italian
lottery and eventually became an associate of Lucky Luciano.
b. During the 1930s,
Genovese was already a power in OC, making huge profits in narcotics. In 1934,
however, he was involved in a bungled murder and forced to flee to Italy to
avoid prosecution, taking $750,000 with him.
c. In Italy, he is
reputed to have become a confidant of Benito Mussolini, and was reputedly
behind the “gangland style” shooting death of a stridently anti-Fascist
Italian newspaper editor in New York in 1943.
d. Despite his
friendship with Mussolini, Genovese gained the confidence of American military
authorities during the Allied invasion of Italy, even acting as an interpreter
for key American leaders. This position enabled him to become a major black
marketeer, until he was identified as an American fugitive and returned to the
states for trial. While awaiting that trial, a key witness was poisoned while
in protective custody and Genovese went free.
e. With 14 others,
Genovese was convicted of conspiracy to violate narcotic laws in 1969, and
died of a heart ailment while serving his 15-year sentence.
f. Despite numerous
changes in leadership, the group he headed is still referred to as the
Genovese Family. It operates in New Jersey, Connecticut, upstate New York, and
parts of Massachusetts.
4. Vincenzo (“Chin”)
a. Under Gigante’s
leadership, the Genovese Family was considered the most powerful in the United
Gigante was indicted in 1990 for conspiring to rig bids and extort payoffs
from contractors looking to do business with the New York City Housing
Authority, then spent much of his time trying to avoid trial.
c. Eventually convicted
of racketeering in 1997, Gigante was sentenced to 12 years. He died in a
F. The Mineo/Gambino
1. Al Mineo (?–1930),
the Family’s first boss and a close ally of Joseph Masseria, was a victim of
the Castellammarese war.
2. Frank Scalise
(1893–1957), who had defected from the Mineo Family early in the
Castellammarese war, was made boss of that Family after the death of Masseria.
a. A close confidant of
Maranzano, Scalise was replaced by Vincent Mangano after Maranzano’s death.
b. In 1951, after his
brother Philip was murdered, Vincent Mangano disappeared, presumably murdered
at the direction of Family underboss Albert Anastasia, who then became Family
3. Albert Anastasia
a. Anastasia entered
the United States in 1919 and reportedly changed his name after his 1921
arrest for murdering a fellow longshoreman (to save his family from
b. Anastasia’s brother,
Anthony (“Tough Tony”) Anastasio became the official ruler of the Brooklyn
waterfront as head of Local 1814 of the International Longshoremen’s
Association. Albert became the unofficial ruler of these same docks.
c. Widely feared even
among his associates, Anastasia reportedly enjoyed the title “Executioner”—he
issued the “contract hits” for Murder, Inc.
d. Despite receiving a
two-year sentence for firearm possession in 1923, Anastasia served stateside
in the U.S. Army during World War II.
e. In 1955, Anastasia
served a one-year sentence for income-tax evasion, then was gunned down in a
mob hit in 1957. Underboss Carlo Gambino, believed to have been in league
with Vito Genovese, then became boss of the Family.
4. Carlo Gambino
a. An illegal alien
resident of Brooklyn who never took U.S. citizenship, Gambino followed
Lucchese into the Maranzano camp, eventually becoming a caporegime
under Vincent Mangano.
b. After Prohibition,
Gambino continued in the bootlegging business and, in 1939, received a
22-month sentence for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. of liquor taxes. Eight
months later, the conviction was thrown out because evidence had been based on
c. During World War II,
Gambino made over a million dollars from stolen ration stamps. The war also
prevented him from being deported to Italy.
d. When Gambino became
ill, he appointed his first cousin and brother-in-law, Brooklyn caporegime
“Big” Paul Castellano, as acting boss.
e. Castellano assumed
control of the Family when Gambino died of a heart attack, and held it until
gunned down in 1985. John Gotti was then “elected” boss at a meeting of
Gambino Family captains.
5. John Gotti
a. A career criminal
whose media coverage eclipsed that of all previous crime figures, Gotti’s
notoriety—like Al Capone’s—led to his downfall.
b. As a 16-year-old
high school dropout, Gotti began working for a soldier in the Gambino Family,
then became part of the East New York crew headed by caporegime Carmine
(“Charley Wagons”) Fatico.
c. Gotti plea-bargained
a 4-year sentence for a poorly executed murder, and was inducted into the
Gambino Family shortly after his release in 1977.
d. When Fatico came
under intense federal investigation and became inactive, Gotti, a lackluster
“earner,” was placed in charge of the Fatico crew.
e. Gambino’s death in
1976 factionalized the Family. One camp, loyal to boss Frank Castellano, was
immersed in labor and business racketeering, while underboss Neil Dellacroce’s
“Thug ‘n Drug” group engaged in hijacking, extortion, loansharking, gambling,
and drugs (thus violating a Castellano edict). In fact, before he became boss
of the Family, drugs were Gotti’s primary source of income.
f. The media labeled
Gotti “the Teflon Don” after he was acquitted at three separate trials in five
years. Gotti was finally convicted of 43 federal charges (including 6
murders, one being that of Paul Castellano) in 1992. Gotti had been betrayed
by his handpicked consigliere/underboss Salvatore (“Sammy the Bull”)
Gravano and his own careless (and intercepted) communications. (Gravano’s
testimony also led to the conviction of 36 other OC figures.)
g. Gotti died during
his tenth year in prison.
h. Despite leadership
changes, this group is still known as the Gambino Family. It operates in parts
of New England, upstate New York, and New Jersey.
G. The Reina/Lucchese
1. Gaetano (“Tommy”)
a. Reina headed one of
the five Families that Bonanno (1983) tells us “formed spontaneously [in New
York City]as Sicilian immigrants settled there.”
b. At the start of the
Castellammarese war, Reina began talking privately against Joe the Boss
Masseria. After it was reported to the boss, Reina was killed by a blast from
a sawed-off shotgun.
c. Although Masseria
backed one of his own supporters to head the Reina Family, Gaetano Gagliano
formed a splinter group and was joined by Thomas Lucchese, who became the
underboss of the newly formed Gagliano Family.
d. Gagliano headed the
crime Family until his death in 1953, at which time Lucchese became boss.
2. Gaetano (“Tommy”)
a. Lucchese was active
in gambling, particularly numbers and bookmaking, in Queens, New York. During
the 1930s, he dominated the city’s kosher chicken industry by organizing a
cartel that controlled prices and competition.
b. During the 1930s,
Lucchese dominated the city’s kosher chicken industry by organizing a cartel
that controlled prices and competition. He was also part owner of 8 dress
firms in New York City that were nonunion and “strangely free from labor
c. When Lucchese died
of natural causes, leadership passed to 53-year-old Anthony (“Tony Ducks”)
d. In recent years, the
Lucchese Family has been plagued by betrayal, rebellion, and prosecution.
Despite changes in leadership, this crime Family is still referred to as the
H. The Profaci/Colombo
1. Joseph Profaci
a. An Old World
Sicilian traditionalist, Joe Profaci was probably the mob boss most hated by
his own men. A ruthless and brutal tyrant, he demanded monthly dues payments
and larger slices of illegal profits than other bosses, and rarely gave
anything to his minions. With Joe, it was all “me, me, me.”
b. In addition to his
criminal activities, Profaci owned at least 20 legitimate businesses and was
the largest single importer of olive oil into the U.S.
c. Although an
ex-convict when he came to the United States in 1922, Profaci never served a
prison sentence in the U.S., a remarkable feat for the man who had a crime
Family named after him. He did, however, manage to owe the United States $1.5
million in income taxes when he succumbed to cancer.
2. Joseph Colombo
a. At Profaci’s
passing, Joseph Magliocco became the Family boss, but died little more than a
year later. The “commission” chose Joseph Colombo to head the Profaci Family.
b. In 1970, Colombo
founded the Italian American Civil Rights League and led daily picketing of
the New York FBI headquarters, generating a great deal of media coverage. The
league became a vehicle for protesting discrimination against and negative
stereotyping of Italian Americans. Colombo and the league succeeded in having
all references to the Mafia or Cosa Nostra deleted from the
scripts of The Godfather and the television series The FBI, and
both U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell and New York Governor Nelson
Rockefeller ordered their employees to refrain from using such references.
c. The league raised
large sums of money through dues and testimonial dinners and held an “Annual
Unity Day” rally, which in 1970 drew about 50,000 persons to Columbus Circle
in Manhattan. The boss began to portray himself as a civil rights leader who
was simply misunderstood by the police
d. Other bosses did not
favor the activities of Colombo and the league, either because he failed to
share the financial fruits or because they resented the publicity—or both. At
the second Annual Unity Day rally in 1971, a lone gunman shot Colombo, leaving
him paralyzed until his death in 1978.
3. Carmine Persico
a. Currently in prison
serving combined sentences of 100 years, Persico attempted to engineer a shift
in leadership to his son Alphonse (“Allie Boy”), who was expected to be
released from prison shortly. In the meantime, Persico chose Victor J. Orena
to be acting boss.
b. Before Alphonse was
released from prison, Orena let it be known that he would not step aside for
the much younger Persico—taking orders from junior after being boss was
apparently too much for Orena to accept.
c. Beginning in 1991,
the two factions began shooting at each other’s partisans. Ultimately, 12
died and more than 50 were convicted of crimes related to the struggle before
the violence ended in 1993, when both sides finally recognized the futility
and danger inherent in continuing the war.
d. The imprisoned
Persico picked his cousin, Andrew T. Russo, to be acting boss, and the Colombo
Family resumed initiating new members to replace those killed or imprisoned.
e. In 1998, Russo was
convicted of federal charges, and Allie Boy emerged as acting boss of the
f. In 2002, Allie Boy
Persico pleaded guilty to racketeering, loansharking, and money-laundering in
return for a 13-year sentence and a fine of $1 million.
g. Carmine Persico is
eligible for parole in 2011.
I. The Bonanno Family.
1. Joseph (“Don Peppino”)
Bonanno (1905–2002), entered the U.S. in 1924, became involved in bootlegging
and, during the Castellammare war, became an aide to Maranzano and a leader of
the Castellammare group arrayed against Joe the Boss.
2. After Maranzano’s
murder, Bonanno was elected “Father” (a term he used for “boss”) of what
became known as the Bonanno Family.
3. In 1963 Bonanno
sought—and was denied—Canadian citizenship. While still in Canada the
following year, his son Bill was chosen consigliere. The selection,
opposed from both within and without the Bonanno Family, resulted in a
“summons” for Joseph Bonanno to appear before the commission; he declined.
4. There followed a
lengthy period of factional dispute which ultimately caused the commission to
turn the Family over to an acting boss and Bonanno’s retirement.
5. In 1979, a federal
grand jury indicted Bonanno and a commodities dealer for obstructing justice.
When convicted, Bonanno was sentenced to a term of one year, which he served
at the federal prison at Terminal Island.
6. Despite Bonanno’s
retirement, the crime Family he headed is still referred to as the Bonanno
Family, something Bonanno decried.
7. In the twenty-first
century, the Bonanno Family has been weakened by more than a dozen members who
have become informants, including Joseph Massino, the only boss of the five
Families to become a government witness. The Bonanno Family is the only one of
the five New York Mafia groups to have a
crew operating in Montreal, Canada.
J. The Five Families.
1. The New York
Families have been subjected to successful prosecution aided by a breakdown in
discipline and loyalty. There have there been dozens of made-guy turncoats,
many of them ranking members.
2. By 2004, the heads
of all five Families were incarcerated.
3. The weakened
condition of the New York Families may be encouraging challenges from other
A. Little more than an Indian trading post when incorporated in 1833, Chicago
became the terminus for numerous rail lines and, by 1855, was the country’s
greatest meatpacking center and grain port.
The Civil War brought additional prosperity,
but it also brought thousands of soldiers and the gambling establishments and
brothels that were patronized by large numbers of unattached young men on
military leave. This vice-rich environment brought
Chicago the sobriquet “the wickedest city in the United States,”
but the vice did not become truly organized until
the arrival of Mike McDonald.
C. OC in Chicago can be
traced to mayoral election of 1873, in which Mike McDonald backed the
victorious candidate for mayor. From then on, “McDonald had Chicago in his
back pocket” (Sawyers 1988) and, until his death in 1907, McDonald controlled
mayors, congressmen, and senators.
D. McDonald controlled
gambling, distributed bribes among the police and various city officials, and
influenced every election via biased articles favoring “his” candidates that
were published in his newspaper, The Globe.
E. Close friend and
chief advisor of mayors, and leader of Cook County’s Democratic organization,
McDonald was clearly the boss of Chicago when reform hit the city in 1893. By
that time, McDonald had lost interest in maintaining his vast empire.
F. “Hinky Dink” and
1. A “Mutt and Jeff”
team—Michael (“Hinky Dink”) Kenna and John (“Bathhouse”) Coughlin—were backed
by McDonald and became the political “Lords of the Levee” in the notorious
2. Kenna was a
successful saloon keeper and, of course, a politician.
a. As a saloon-based
precinct captain, he worked hard in First Ward Democratic politics and
eventually became friendly with the Bath.
b. With Kenna as the
mastermind, the two organized the vice entrepreneurs of the First Ward,
established a legal fund, and forged a mayoral alliance.
c. After the mayor was
murdered by a disgruntled job seeker, the Bath and Hinky Dink provided his
successor with the margin of victory.
d. When a depression
swept the country in the winter of 1893, Kenna provided care for 8,000
homeless and destitute men. Not forgetting this kindness, almost all
registered in the First Ward and were brought back to vote for Kenna’s
candidate in each subsequent election.
3. Coughlin began his
political career as a rubber in the exclusive Palmer Baths, where he met
wealthy and powerful politicians and businessmen.
a. The connections he
made with his powerful customers led his becoming a Democratic precinct
captain and president of the First Ward Democratic Club.
b. In 1892, Coughlin
was elected alderman from the First Ward, which contained the city’s central
c. The city council
that Coughlin joined was literally selling out the city of Chicago via
“boodles,” schemes through which city privileges were sold, that made the
$3-a-meeting alderman’s position quite lucrative.
4. Coughlin and Kenna’s
ability to deliver the vote was key to their power, because the majorities
they controlled in the First Ward were so overwhelming that they could affect
city, county, and even state elections.
5. They eventually
erred by backing a mayoral candidate who subsequently aligned himself with
reformers, which ultimately led to the 1915 election of Republican William
Hale (“Big Bill”) Thompson.
6. Thompson’s victory
was based on his demagogic appeals.
a. In German
neighborhoods he attacked the British; in German-hating Polish neighborhoods
he attacked the Germans; in Irish areas he attacked the British; and when
addressing Protestant audiences he warned that a vote for his Catholic
opponent was a vote for the pope.
b. Thompson, promising
reformers strict enforcement of the gambling laws and gamblers an open town,
received strong support in the black wards, and many Harrison Democrats
deserted the party to support the Republican.
c. With the election of
Thompson, according to Merriam (1929), “the spoils system …[made] city hall …
a symbol for corruption and incompetence.”
d. Reelected in 1919,
Thompson lost a bid for a third term to a reformer in 1923, despite the
support of Al Capone.
e. In the midst of
Prohibition, Thompson prevailed again in 1927 by pledging to let the liquor
flow again in Chicago.
f. In 1931, Thompson
was defeated in his final political race by Anton J. Cermak, founder of what
has been called the “Chicago Democratic Machine.”
7. Mont Tennes
inherited much of the gambling empire left by Mike McDonald.
a. Anyone wanting to
run a gambling business had to apply to the Tennes ring, because he controlled
the wire service and paid both politicians and the police. This meant that
gamblers who paid Tennes received race results immediately and were protected
from police raids.
b. In the end, Tennes
became an associate of the Capone organization, then withdrew from this
“shotgun marriage” and retired about 1927, a millionaire.
G. From Colosimo to Torrio to Capone.
1. James Colosimo
became influential when, as foreman of Chicago’s street sweepers, he organized
them into a social and athletic club that later became a labor union.
Kenna appointed Colosimo a precinct captain in return for delivering
the votes of his club, a position that brought with it virtual immunity from
a. After marrying a
brothel keeper in 1902, Colosimo began to manage her business, and helped
organize a gang of “white slavers,” an operation that brought girls from many
American and European cities, often as young as 14.
Once in Chicago, the girls were drugged, raped, and humiliated for
days. After being thus “broken in,” they were sold as chattel to brothel
keepers, who would restrict their contacts with the outside world.
Colosimo opened several
brothels, a string of gambling houses, and a nationally famous restaurant,
Colosimo’s Café, which attracted luminaries from society, opera, and the
theater. According to Repetto (2004), the latter
made him “first Italian American gangster to cross over from the
underworld to the fringes of respectability.”
Hand extortionists threatened Colosimo in 1909, he brought Johnny Torrio to
2. Johnny Torrio, from
New York’s Lower East Side, used brains, not brawn, to become leader of the
James Street Boys, allied with Kelly’s Five Points Gang.
a. Shortly after
arriving in Chicago, Torrio lured three Black Handers into an ambush, where
gunmen shot them to death.
b. Torrio’s usefulness
extended to overseeing brothels and gambling operations for Colosimo.
Eventually, Colosimo left Torrio in charge of his operations.
c. Eventually, Colosimo
left Torrio in charge of his operations. In this role, he accepted the
assignment of a mob transfer from New York’s Five Points Gang: one Alphonse (“Scarface”)
1. When Colosimo, who
feared federal law enforcement, elected to stay away from bootlegging, Torrio
and Capone realized that doing so would both deny access to untold wealth and
enable competing racketeers to grow rich and powerful.
2. Not surprisingly,
Diamond Jim was found gunned down in the vestibule of his café on May 11,
1920, and John Torrio succeeded to the First Ward-based Italian ‘syndicate’
throne, which he occupied until his retirement in 1925.
a. As an organizer and
administrator of underworld affairs, Torrio is unsurpassed in the annals of
b. Like Arnold
Rothstein in New York, Torrio conducted his criminal enterprises as if they
were legitimate businesses.
I. As in New York,
Prohibition enabled men who had been mere street thugs to become wealthy and
powerful crime overlords.
J. The Torrio-Capone
In the summer of 1920, Torrio persuaded the major Cook County gang
leaders to abandon predatory crime in favor of Prohibition-related activities.
He also moved to extend the suburbanization of his business. Bribing
local authorities and ordinary citizens in Cook County’s suburbs, Torrio
peacefully introduced beer and bordello operations—except
a. When Democrats
seized control of Chicago on a wave of reform in 1923, the Republicans,
fearing loss of their control of Cook County suburbs, made a deal with Al
Capone: In return for helping Republicans maintain control in Cicero, Torrio
would have a free hand in there.
b. In the election of
April 1924, Al and Frank Capone led two hundred Chicago thugs into Cicero to
intimidate, beat, and even kill Democrats who opposed Republican candidates.
Outraged Cicero officials deputized 70 volunteer Chicago police officers and
engaged the Capone gangsters in Cicero. In the ensuing exchange of gunfire,
Frank Capone was killed. Still, the Capone candidate was overwhelmingly
reelected mayor of Cicero.
c. Capone moved his
headquarters to Cicero, where he ruled with an iron hand. For example, when
the Cicero mayor failed to carry out one of his orders, Capone went to city
hall and personally knocked “his honor” down the steps, kicking him repeatedly
as a policeman strolled past.
d. Cicero continues to
have political and corruption problems even today.
K. The Chicago Wars.
1. The 1923 election of
a reform mayor in Chicago created an unstable situation and encouraged
competitive moves by various ganglords.
a. The system of
protection broke down, and in the ensuing confusion, Chicago became a
b. The most significant
feud was between the Torrio-Capone syndicate and the forces headed by Dion
c. In 1924, O’Banion
hijacked a load of the Genna brothers’ liquor, and later swindled Torrio and
Capone out of $500,000. Even these transgressions could have been negotiated
d. Emboldened by the
lack of a response from Torrio, and apparently mistaking caution for fear,
O’Banion went around boasting about how he had “taken” Torrio: “To hell with
them Sicilians,” was his oft-quoted comment.
e. This serious
violation of respect yielded the inevitable response when O’Banion was gunned
down by Mike Genna in November that year.
f. The ensuing war
took many lives and did not end until the infamous St. Valentine’s Day
Massacre in 1929.
2. Capone’s Chicago.
a. As liquor sales fell
off with the onset of the Depression, gang leaders faced an army of young,
violent men whom they were committed to paying anywhere from $100 to $500 per
week, so new sources of income were needed.
b. The Capone
organization moved into racketeering on a grand scale.
c. To expand operations
and “hold in line the businesses already conquered, [Capone’s] gunmen and
sluggers hijacked … truckloads of merchandise, bombed stores and manufacturing
plants or wrecked them with axes and crowbars, put acid into laundry vats,
poured corrosives onto clothing hanging in cleaning and dyeing shops,
blackjacked workers and employers, and killed when necessary to enforce their
demands or break down opposition.”
3. Capone’s Downfall.
a. “The Untouchables,”
a special team of federal investigators headed by Eliot Ness, moved against
Capone’s distilleries, breweries, and liquor shipments.
b. A Special
Intelligence Unit of the Treasury Department administered the coup de grâce
by obtaining a income-tax evasion conviction that resulted in sentences
totaling 11 years, which Capone began serving in 1931.
c. Transferred to
Alcatraz in 1934, he was found to be suffering from syphilis, for which he
refused treatment. Capone was released in 1939, his sentence shortened for
good behavior, but by then he was suffering from an advanced case of syphilis.
He ultimately died in 1947 of pneumonia following a stroke.
L. The Outfit Emerges.
1. Beginning in the
late 1930s, the former Capone Gang mutated into “the Outfit.”
2. Under Frank Nitti,
then Paul Ricca, and finally Tony Accardo, the Outfit expanded into
grand-scale extortion of various entertainment industry unions. All the
while, the Outfit maintained a stranglehold on First Ward politics in Chicago.
3. Facing prosecution
for federal income-tax violations, Accardo finally turned over the reins of
the Outfit to Sam Giancana in 1955.
Giancana’s high-profile social life generated
more publicity than the Outfit wanted, including:
a. a widely publicized
romance with Phyllis McGuire (of the singing McGuire sisters) and a public
friendship with Frank Sinatra;
b. a shared girlfriend
with President John F. Kennedy; and
c. a mild media frenzy
he caused when he secured an injunction against the FBI’s intensive
surveillance of his activities.
5. Giancana was
imprisoned for a year in 1965 for contempt of a federal grand jury. When
released, he sought refuge in Mexico, where he remained until Mexican
immigration agents dragged him to a waiting car, drove him 150 miles, and
pushed him across the border into the waiting arms of FBI agents in 1974. He
was then brought to Chicago for grand jury investigations.
6. Giancana stirred up
controversy even after he was gunned down in 1975, when it was disclosed that
in 1960 the Central Intelligence Agency had contacted John Roselli, a Giancana
lieutenant, to secure syndicate help in assassinating Fidel Castro. The plot
apparently never materialized, and in 1976, Roselli’s body was found in an oil
drum floating in Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
7. In 1986, top Outfit
leaders were convicted of skimming $2 million from gambling casinos in Las
Vegas—as portrayed in the book and motion picture Casino.
8. Joseph Ferriola then
assumed leadership and allegedly permitted members to involve themselves in
drug trafficking, something that had thus far been off limits.
9. Following Ferriola’s
death (due to natural causes) in 1989, Sam Carlisi and John (“No-Nose”)
DiFronzo assumed leadership.
a. In 1993, DiFronzo
was convicted of attempting to infiltrate an Indian reservation gambling
operation in California for illegal purposes. Sentenced to 37 months. He
successfully appealed his conviction and was released in 1994.
b. That same year,
Carlisi and seven members of his crew were convicted of racketeering and
related charges. Sentenced to 12 years, he died in 1997.
M. Outfit Street Crews.
1. New York has five separate crime families, but the Chicago Outfit is
organized as separate street crews associated with particular geographic
a. There is evidence of
criminal specialization among the street crews, although it appears that
various forms of gambling are a primary activity of each.
b. Grand Avenue:
burglary; 26th Street: truck hijacking (cartage theft); North Side/Rush Street
prostitution, pornography, and liquor law violations; Chicago Heights:
automobile theft and chop shop operations; Grand Street and Elmwood Park
(Taylor Street): theft from semitrailers parked in railway freight yards.
2. Rocco Infelise
typifies the insidious reach of the Outfit in the Chicago area, particularly
in the town of Cicero.
a. While serving as
Republican Party boss and town assessor of Cicero, Infelise was also street
boss of the Taylor Street crew.
that position, he
paid $1,000 a month to
the police chief of Forest Park to allow high-stakes dice games in the Chicago
suburb. This enabled Infelise to act as a fixer and provide warnings of
After Infelise associate Frank Maltese
pleaded guilty to gambling conspiracy charges, then died, Maltese’s wife was
elected Cicero town president (who promptly named the new Public Safety
Building after her late husband).
d. Infelise led a
massive effort to extort money from independent bookmakers and gambling
entrepreneurs in the Chicago area. He gave each a choice: pay street taxes,
make an Outfit representative a fifty-fifty partner, go out of business, or be
“trunked” (the term for placing murder victims in car trunks).
3. In the past, the
level of violence associated with street crew activities was stunning, with
beatings, brutal torture, and gruesome killings considered just routine
N. The Outfit Today.
1. Considerably smaller
than the version once ruled by Al Capone, estimates of the Outfit’s current
membership range from as low as 30 to as high as 130.
2. Its political base
in the First Ward has been destroyed. From the 1870s to 1990, Chicago’s First
Ward remained a seemingly untouchable political link to OC. That changed in
1990, when indictments were announced against First Ward politicians and
gangsters, most of whom were subsequently found guilty.
3. Gambling is crucial
to the Outfit; it provides considerable income, and it gives members something
a. Since most
significant convictions involving members of the Outfit in the last few years
have involved persons associated with violence, a decision to stay away from
business operations most likely to require violence appears to have been made
by the Outfit leadership.
b. In recent years,
there have been few OC-related murders—one in 1999 and another in 2001. Both
victims were men with violent reputations who had been involved in
III. Structure of the American Mafia: The New York Version.
A. In New York, the
basic OC unit is the Family, or borgata.
1. However, the actual
name by which a group is known may vary. In New England, for example, it is
the “Office.” Groups in the New York metropolitan area are known as
2. Although any number
of members may be related, the term Family does not imply kinship by
blood or marriage.
3. Each crime unit is
composed of members and associates.
Membership results from:
of Italian descent;
establishing a long history of successful criminal activity or possessing
certain skills required of the group;
of the authority of the organization and a willingness to perform various
criminal and noncriminal functions with skill and daring and without asking
formally proposed by a made guy;
serving a lengthy probationary period under a caporegime; and
formally inducted in a ceremony during which the candidate pledges lifetime
Membership constitutes a “franchise” authorizing
the use of Family connections, bolstered by the status that membership
generates, to make money. Members:
1. are independent
operators, not employees paid by the group;
2. acquire considerable
“psychic gain” as, within criminal and certain legitimate circles, being
“made” conveys a great deal of prestige, if not fear;
3. pursue their own
4. develop their own
crew of wannabe wiseguy associates drawn to the romanticized image of money
and power that members-as-patrons hold; and
5. can become eligible
for advancement to caporegime if they demonstrate the ability to generate
disadvantages are also associated with membership.
1. Law enforcement
agencies take great interest in a criminal if they discover he is a made guy.
2. Any insult or
assault on a member requires that he kill the offender.
3. A member is required
to obey the orders of his boss, even if this means participating in the murder
of a complete stranger or even a close friend or relative.
E. It is the
ready availability of private violence that makes the
OC group a viable entity.
F. The Boss.
1. Although he is at
the center of the universe of an American Mafia unit, the boss does not have a
complete overview of the decentralized activities of his members.
2. In the past, the
boss was usually a senior citizen—it takes many years to gain the respect of
members and the knowledge and connections needed by the group.
3. It is a sign of
weakness that many of the current Cosa Nostra bosses are relatively
young, as well as volatile and violent.
4. The boss typically
operates out of a fixed location (a restaurant, a private club, or a business
office) where he receives visitors throughout the day, including:
a. legitimate persons
asking for a favor, usually to resolve a dispute;
b. criminal associates
bearing the boss’s cut of their illegitimate activities; and
c. his captains, who
brief him regarding activities of their crews.
5. A boss has a number
of men who report directly to him. They carry messages, perform assignments as
necessary, and physically protect the boss.
6. The boss has
investments in illegitimate and legitimate enterprises (usually in partnership
with members of his own or other crime groups or with nonmember associates),
and gets a cut of the illegal earnings of all of members of his Family.
7. The boss demands
absolute respect and total obedience, and is treated with a great deal of
deference (e.g., people rise when he enters the room, and never interrupt when
he is speaking).
8. The intensity of
government surveillance and prosecution of OC during the last two decades has
made the position of boss less desirable than in the past.
a. Filling the position
may now be difficult because those most qualified may also be those who are
most reluctant to undergo the law enforcement scrutiny that comes with the
b. In such
circumstances, the boss may be a relatively weak figure, with the group’s true
strength concentrated in the captains heading crews of earners.
G. The Commission.
1. All crime bosses are
linked in a rather informal arrangement known as the “commission,” but only
the bosses of the most powerful groups—particularly those in New York,
Chicago, Buffalo, and Philadelphia—are considered actual commission members.
2. The commission can
arbitrate disputes but, having no direct executive power, it has to depend on
3. The bosses of the
New York Families constitute a commission that serves to arbitrate disputes
and deal with joint ventures between their Families. The trial (and
convictions) of a number of New York bosses for RICO violations (United
States v. Salerno, 85 CR 139, S.D.N.Y, 1985), revealed the role of the
commission in New York:
and facilitate relationships between the five Families.
and facilitate joint ventures between Families.
actual and potential disputes between Families.
the criminal activities of the Families.
formal recognition to newly chosen Family bosses and resolve leadership
disputes within Families.
the execution of Family members.
the initiation of new members into the Families.
1. Although traditional
OC does not have written rules, it has an elaborate set of norms that govern
a. Ianni (1972) argues
that the rules of the American Mafia are actually standards of conduct based
on the traditions of southern Italy, particularly the concept of family
b. Abadinsky’s research
(1981a, 1983) indicates that the rules are not traditional, but are quite
rational and sometimes counter to southern Italian tradition.
2. American Mafia rules
a. Always show respect
to those who can command it.
b. Report any failure
to show respect to one’s patron immediately.
c. Violence must be
used, even if only of a limited type, to ensure respect.
d. Never ask for
e. Never resort to
violence in a dispute with a member or associate of another Family.
f. Never resort to, or
even threaten, violence in a dispute with a member of your Family.
g. Do not use the
telephone except to arrange for a meeting place, preferably in code, from
which you will then travel to a safe place to discuss business.
h. Avoid mentioning
specifics when discussing business—for example, names, dates, and
places—beyond those absolutely necessary for understanding.
i. Keep your mouth
shut—anything you hear, anything you see, stays with you, in your head; do not
talk about it.
j. Do not ask
unnecessary questions. The amount of information given to you is all you need
to carry out your instructions.
k. Never engage in
l. If your patron
arranges for two parties to work together, he assumes responsibility for
arbitrating any disputes between the parties.
m. The boss can
unilaterally direct violence, including murder, against any member of his
Family, but he cannot engage in murder-for-hire, that is, make a profit from
n. The boss cannot use
violence against a member or close associate of another Family without prior
consultation with that Family’s boss.
o. The principal form
of security in the American Mafia is an elaborate system of referral and
vouching. Vouching for someone who turns out to be an informant or undercover
officer entails the death penalty.
IV. Analysis of the
The structure of New
York-style Mafia Families:
A. Is only loosely
coupled to its criminal activities;
B. Is rather fluid,
similar to that of the real estate development business;
C. Includes firms
(crews) that are not consistently in one business but are intermittently
in several; and
D. Organizes its crews
not as a “production line” but as a “job shop.”
V. The Structure of the American Mafia: The Chicago Version.
A. Chicago differs from
New York in that the Outfit was always a cooperative venture with other
groups, although the Italians were dominant.
1. There is an absence
of independent entrepreneurs and important decisions are made at the executive
2. Moving into a new
business or new territory is determined at the top of a truly hierarchical
B. The Outfit is led by
a boss who at various times has actually been akin to a chief executive
officer responsible to one or more persons constituting an informal board of
directors. Assisted by a committee of older and influential members who
assume some type of senior status, the boss controls three area bosses.
1. Each area boss has
responsibility for a particular part of the Chicagoland area, overseeing the
activities of street bosses who direct the day-to-day activities of crew
2. Each street boss,
assisted by (two or more) lieutenants, is responsible for supervising the
activities of his crew, and may also be involved in activities, such as labor
racketeering, on an “industry” rather than on a territorial basis.
3. Each crew is
associated with a particular geographic area and acts independently of the
C. The head of the
Outfit settles disputes between the crews and is responsible for relations
with those outside the organization such as corrupt public officials and OC
groups in other cities.
D. Outfit employment is
not exhausting work, often requiring only a few hours a day. A worker may also
hold a legitimate job. But every Outfit guy is on call, and they can be
called to a meeting at any time.
E. Each crew is
composed of made guys and associates who are said to be “connected” or “Outfit
F. The street boss and
his lieutenants, if they are of Italian heritage, are made guys. Everyone else
connected to the crew is an associate (although they are commonly referred to
as “members” of a crew).
G. There are definite
distinctions between being a made guy and being an associate.
1. Made guys hold
supervisory (or senior advisory) status.
2. Everyone else is a
worker, with a few important exceptions. Persons who have proven their value
to the Outfit have sometimes been given important responsibilities even in the
absence of Italian heritage.
3. Within criminal and
certain legitimate circles, being “made” conveys a great deal of prestige, if
H. Though many members
of the Outfit are related by blood and marriage, the sons of Outfit members
are rarely found in the ranks of Chicago OC.
I. Until recently, the
Chicago Outfit had been free of the made-guy-turned-informant syndrome
affecting crime Families in New York.
Although it may signal the beginning of the end of
traditional Italian American OC, it does not signal the end of OC as a method
of crime or as a means by which members on the lowest rungs of the American
ladder of social mobility achieve wealth.
Italian Americans are now being overshadowed by emerging criminal groups that
are using the drug trade much as their OC predecessors did bootlegging.
criminal groups, however, lack the incubation provided by corrupt urban
political machines and ineffective federal law enforcement.
last decade of the nineteenth and first two decades of the twentieth century,
millions of Italians from poverty-wracked southern Italy arrived in America’s
urban areas. Limited education and widespread prejudice consigned them to
“Little Italys” where they reproduced Italian village life that included
secret organizations of Mafia, Camorra, and ’Ndrangheta. Prohibition
offered unparalleled opportunity and these criminal groups, at times in
partnership with Jewish and Irish criminals, moved beyond their ghettoes and
into the world of OC.
During the early 1930s,
conflict between the two major Mafia factions in New York—the Castellammarese
war—led to the emergence of the “Five Families” that, in a much weakened form,
continue to operate in the New York metropolitan area.
In Chicago, OC in the
form of the Torrio-Capone organization emerged from Prohibition during which
gangsters supplanted machine politicians as the city’s centers of power. That
organization eventually eclipsed its rivals and, after Prohibition was
repealed, emerged as the Outfit whose street crews continue to dominate OC in
the Chicagoland area.
the Mezzogiorno and what role did it play in the development of OC in the
the Unione Siciliana and what was its role in OC?
the Castellammarese war?
the causes and outcomes of the Gallo-Profaci war and the Banana war?
to the Banana war, and what was its outcome?
the connection between corrupt politicians in Chicago, vice entrepreneurs, and
the importance of the First Ward in the development of OC in Chicago?
when did this influence end?
the effect of Prohibition on Chicago politics, politicians, and vice
effect did the election of a reform mayor have in Chicago during Prohibition?
the onset of the Depression and the end of Prohibition affect OC?
happened to the Capone organization after the imprisonment and subsequent
death of Al Capone?
the five traditional crews of the Chicago Outfit?
the current structure of the Chicago Outfit?
the structure of OC in Chicago differ from that in New York?
the primary role of a boss in the American Mafia?
the function of the “commission” in Cosa Nostra?
Why is the
concept of “membership” important in the American Mafia?
the advantages and disadvantages of membership?
the basic qualifications for Cosa Nostra membership?
What is a
the Mafia in New York differ from the Chicago Outfit?