Gambino crime family

Gambino crime family
Gambino crime family
Carlo Gambino.jpg
Carlo Gambino, the boss of the family during 1957–1976.
In New York City, New York
Founded by Salvatore D'Aquila and named after Carlo Gambino
Years active 1910–present
Territory Various neighborhoods over New York City, upstate New York, and other areas including Long Island, Augusta, Georgia, New Jersey, Tampa, Florida and Sunny Isles Beach, Florida
Ethnicity Italian, Italian American, Sicilian, Sicilian-American made men and other ethnicities as "associates"
Membership 150–200 made members approx,[1] 1,500–2,000 associates approx[2]
Criminal activities Racketeering, extortion, fraud, illegal gambling, money laundering, murder, union control, robbery, and hijacking[3]
Allies Genovese, Bonanno, Colombo, Lucchese, Bufalino and The Westies[4]
Rivals Various gangs over NYC, including their allies

The Gambino crime family is one of the "Five Families" that dominates organized crime activities in New York City, United States, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). The group is named after Carlo Gambino, boss of the family at the time of the McClellan hearings in 1963 when the structure of organized crime first gained public attention. The group's operations extend from New York and the eastern seaboard to California. Its illicit activities include labor and construction racketeering, gambling, loansharking, extortion, money laundering, prostitution,[3] dumping violations, construction, building and cement violations, fraud and wire fraud, hijacking, pier thefts, and fencing.

The rise of what for a time was the most powerful crime family in America began in 1957, the day Albert Anastasia was assassinated while sitting in a barber chair at the Park-Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. Experts believe Carlo Gambino helped orchestrate the hit to take over the family. Gambino partnered with Meyer Lansky to control gambling interests in Cuba. The family’s fortunes grew through 1976, when Gambino appointed his brother-in-law, Paul Castellano, as boss. Castellano infuriated upstart capo John Gotti, who orchestrated Castellano's murder in 1985. Gotti's downfall came in 1992, when his underboss Sammy Gravano decided to cooperate with the FBI. Gravano's cooperation brought down Gotti, along with most of the top members of the Gambino family. The family is now run by Domenico Cefalu.




The origins of the Gambino crime family can be traced back to the emergence of Italian mafioso Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila upon the New York Mafia scene around 1906, which is when D'Aquila's name first appears on police records for running a confidence scam, a racket that requires a great deal of intelligence and patience. D'Aquila had immigrated to the United States as an influential Palermitano mafioso, and quickly used his ties to other Mafia leaders across the country to create a network of connections and to gain influence within the Italian-American underworld. By 1910 D'Aquila had become the leader of his own New York–based Sicilian Mafia group, one of four that emerged by the mid 1900s.

These four crime families included D'Aquila's own crime family based in East Harlem, Manhattan, which was also the base of the "first family", the Morello crime family. The Morello family was originally led by Giuseppe Morello and his half-brothers, Vincent, Ciro and Nick Terranova, and then by Joe Masseria, who became D'Aquila's biggest rival in New York. Two Brooklyn-based crime families emerged: one was the Castellammarese clan, led by Nicola "Cola" Schiro from Roccamena, Sicily (not from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, where the majority of his Brooklyn crime family members came from), and second was a group led by Alfred Mineo based in Brooklyn. Eventually, two more Mafia groups emerged in New York City during Prohibition: This was a break-away faction from the Morello crime family based in the Bronx and led by Gaetano Reina, who was once aligned with boss Ciro "The Artichoke King" Terranova, and the last group formed in the late 1920s based in Brooklyn and led by Joe Profaci. Profaci became boss of one of the Five Families of New York that soon emerged once power in New York's Italian underworld was consolidated and the factions re-structured into the crime families that ruled organized crime in the city and across the country for the next eight decades.

By the mid 1910s D'Aquila had become the most influential Mafia boss in New York, in part because former New York Mafia "boss of bosses", Giuseppe Morello and his brother-in-law and second-in-command, Ignazio Saietta, had been imprisoned for 30 years in 1909 for counterfeiting. D'Aquila continued to amass power and influence within New York's Sicilian underworld and across the nation as his crime family grew in numbers and territory.

The expansion of the D'Aquila crime family was aided by the decimation of the Brooklyn Camorra led by Neapolitan Mafia boss, Don Pellegrino Morano, when Morano and his second-in-command, Alessandro Vollero were imprisoned for life in 1917, following a war with the Morello crime family, which led to the murder of boss Nick Morello (born Terranova) in 1916, for which Morano and Vollero were convicted.

By the beginning of Prohibition, the remaining Neapolitan Mafia members and the territory once under control of bosses Morano and Vollero were absorbed into the D'Aquila crime family. Soon after the Brooklyn-based Mineo group was also absorbed into Toto D'Aquila's crime family, making it the largest and most influential in New York City. The only remaining rival that D'Aquila needed to fear was the expanding forces and growing influence of boss Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria. Masseria had taken over the Morello crime family interests and territory by 1920, and quickly began to amass a great deal of power and influence, enough to rival D'Aquila by the mid 1920s.

By the late 1920s D'Aquila and Masseria were headed for a showdown and inevitable war, but Masseria struck first and D'Aquila was killed on October 10, 1928 by Masseria family gunmen. The crime family D'Aquila had led passed into the hands of his second-in-command or underboss, Alfred Mineo and his top lieutenant Steve Ferrigno, who at the height of the Prohibition era commanded the largest and most influential Sicilian crime family in New York City.

The Castellammarese War, between rival New York bosses Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano claimed many victims, including Mineo and Ferrigno who were ambushed and killed on November 5, 1930, outside 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 ultimately ended 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 rearranged New York's organized crime and established the basis of the "Five Families" of New York, which became known as the Commission of the Cosa Nostra.[5]

After the Castellammarese War

Following a brief period under the control of Frank Scalice, the first recognized leader of what became the Gambino family was Vincent Mangano, an older mafioso who was still very much steeped in the Old World traditions of "honor," "tradition," "respect" and "dignity." However, he was somewhat more forward-looking than Masseria and Maranzano. He branched out into activities including extortion, union racketeering, and 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 did the bidding of the Italian-American run families, for a price. The operating head of the troupe was Mangano family underboss Albert Anastasia, known as the "Lord High Executioner". Vince's brother Phil Mangano was also a prominent member.

He also had close ties with Emil Camarda, a vice-president of the International Longshoremen's Association. Through the association, Mangano and the family controlled the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfront with a mailed fist. From 1932 onward, the president of Local 1814 of the ILA was Anthony "Tough Tony" Anastasio, Albert Anastasia's younger brother (Anthony kept the original spelling of their last name). He was one of the family's biggest earners, steering millions of dollars in kickbacks and payoffs to the Mangano coffers. Tough Tony made no secret of his ties to the mob; he only had to say "my brother Albert" to get his point across.

Around this time, Carlo Gambino was promoted within the organization, as was another future boss of the family, Gambino's cousin Paul Castellano.[6]

Mangano brothers murdered

Anastasia and Mangano never entirely saw eye to eye, even though they worked together for 20 years. Mangano wasn't pleased that Anastasia preferred the company of other gangsters rather than those in his own family. He also resented how the other families used Anastasia's services without his permission. On numerous occasions the two almost came to blows. This was only going to end badly for Mangano, and in April 1951, Phil Mangano was discovered murdered, while his brother disappeared without a trace. Although it has never been proven, it is generally believed that both were murdered by Anastasia.

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. He was already running the family in Mangano's "absence," and few in the organization found themselves inclined to depose one of the most feared killers of the age. With the support of Frank Costello, boss of the Luciano crime family, Anastasia was formally acclaimed boss of the renamed Anastasia family. Carlo Gambino, a wily character with designs on the leadership himself, maneuvered himself into position as underboss.[6]

Anastasia eliminated

For most of the 1950s, the Luciano and Anastasia families' fortunes were closely linked, and provided solidarity in the National Crime Syndicate for the two bosses. This particularly helped Costello, as Vito Genovese was angling to replace him, but knew he couldn't make a move as long as Anastasia was in the picture.

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 generated too much heat for the syndicate. With Gambino secretly siding with Genovese against his own boss, the wheels were in motion for the removal of Anastasia.

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. Modern historians believe that Carlo Gambino ordered caporegime Joseph "Joe the Blonde" Biondo to kill Anastasia and Biondo gave the contract to soldier Stephen Armone. On the morning of October 25, 1957 Armone, along with Arnold Wittenburg and Stephen Grammauta, murdered Anastasia in the barbershop of the Park Sheraton Hotel. As Anastasia sat in the barber chair the three assailants rushed in, shoved the barber out of the way, and started shooting. The wounded Anastasia allegedly lunged at his killers, but only hit their reflections in the wall mirror. Anastasia died at the scene. Anastasia's underboss Carlo Gambino took the reins of the family, which from then on bore his name. Biondo was rewarded with the underboss position, which he kept until being demoted in 1965. Stephen Grammauta eventually became a caporegime in the 1990s. Six months earlier, Costello had been driven into retirement by an attempt on his life, clearing the way for Genovese.

Gambino promotes the family

By all accounts, Genovese was angling to become Boss of all Bosses, and believed that Gambino would support him. Gambino, however, had his own mind. He secretly joined forces with Luciano and Costello to get Genovese out of the way as well. Gambino helped trick Genovese into a lucrative drug deal, then paid a small-time Puerto Rican dealer to testify against him. Genovese was sent to prison in late 1957, and died there in 1969.

Gambino quickly built the family into the most powerful crime family in the United States, 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".[7]

Gambino allegedly stretched his power as far as to organize the shooting of Joseph Colombo, head of the Colombo crime family, on June 28, 1971. Colombo survived the shooting but remained in a coma until his death in 1978. He was buried next to Joseph Gallo.

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 front boss of the Genovese crime family, after the murder of Thomas Eboli, whom Gambino, allegedly, had had killed over money owed. It is also more likely believed Eboli was killed by own crime family for his erratic ways.

Under Gambino, the family gained particularly strong influence in the construction industry. It acquired behind-the-scenes control of Teamsters Local 282, which controlled access to most building materials in the New York area and could literally bring most construction jobs in New York City to a halt.

On October 15, 1976, Gambino died of a heart attack, and control of the family passed not to the obvious choice, longtime underboss Aniello "Mr. Neil" Dellacroce, but to Paul Castellano, whose sister was married to Gambino. 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.[7]

The FBI closes in on Castellano

The Dellacroce faction remained displeased, believing that Castellano had inherited the role rather than earning it. They were also annoyed that Castellano saw himself more as a businessman than a crime boss, even though he expanded the family's influence in the construction industry. For all intents and purposes, the Gambinos held veto power over all construction projects worth over $2 million in New York City.

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 was believed to have committed over 200 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 four-man ruling panel which included powerful Garment District leader Thomas "Tommy" Gambino, bodyguard and later 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.[8]

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, Ruggiero 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.[8]

Dellacroce was by this time suffering from cancer, but with Ruggiero 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 Ruggiero 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.

John Gotti takes over

John Gotti

On December 16, 1985, Bilotti and Castellano arrived at the Sparks Steak House in Manhattan for a dinner meeting with capo Frank DeCicco. As the two men were exiting their car, four unidentified men shot them to death. Right after the shootings, John Gotti proclaimed himself the new boss of the Gambino crime family. Gotti appointed DeCicco as underboss and promoted Ruggiero to caporegime. At that time, future underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano was allegedly elevated to caporegime.

Known as the "Dapper Don," Gotti was well known for his hand-tailored suits and silk ties. Unlike his colleagues, Gotti made little effort to hide his mob connections and was very willing to provide interesting sound bites to the media. Gotti's home in Howard Beach, Queens, was frequently seen on television. Gotti liked to hold meetings with family members while walking in public places so that law enforcement agents could not record the conversations. One of Gotti's neighbors in Howard Beach was his dear friend Joseph "Big Joe" Massino, underboss of the Bonanno crime family. Another of Gotti's neighbors, John Favara, accidentally killed Gotti's 12-year-old son in a traffic crash. Soon after the boy's death, Favara was kidnapped and murdered.[9]

Mob leaders from the other families were enraged at the Castellano murder and disapproved of Gotti's high-profile style. Gotti's strongest enemy was Genovese crime family boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, a former Castellano ally. Ironically, Gigante had participated in the last unsanctioned hit on a Cosa Nostra boss, that of Frank Costello in 1957. Gigante allegedly conspired with Lucchese crime family leaders Vittorio "Vic" Amuso 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.[9]

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. In particular, he complained about Gravano, portraying him as a "mad dog" killer. Gravano responded by turning state's evidence and testifying against Gotti.

On April 2, 1992, largely on the strength of Gravano's testimony, Gotti and consigliere Frank "Frankie Loc" LoCascio were convicted and received a sentence of life without parole.

The family since Gotti

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 Nicholas "Little 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 Corozzo, Jackie D'Amico and Joseph Corozzo.[9]

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 because 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 increased law enforcement and credible evidence to be presented in his racketeering trial, and chose to testify 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, Sammy 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 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 law enforcement recognized Corozzo as the Boss of the Gambino crime family, with his brother Joseph Corozzo as the family Consigliere, Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri as the acting Underboss and Jackie D'Amico as a highly regarded member with the Corozzo brothers.

Jack Falcone

Retired FBI agent Joaquin Garcia infiltrated the Gambino crime family under the alias of Jack Falcone beginning in 2002. Greg DePalma, the Gambino family capo, offered Garcia the position of made man. However, the FBI investigation ceased in 2005 when Garcia's cover was in danger of being blown. But, with sufficient evidence to convict DePalma and several other high-ranking mafiosi, DePalma was arrested and convicted to twelve years in federal prison, thanks in large part to Garcia's efforts.

Operation Old Bridge

On Thursday, February 7, 2008, an indictment and four-year-long FBI investigation known as Operation Old Bridge was issued, leading to the arrest of 54 people affiliated with the Gambino crime family that very day in New York City and its suburbs, New Jersey and Long Island. A federal grand jury later that day accused 62 people of having ties to the Gambino crime family, and offenses such as murders, conspiracy, drug trafficking, robberies, extortion and other crimes were included in the indictment. By the end of the week, more than 80 people were indicted in the Eastern District of New York. The case is now referred to as United States of America v. Agate et al. It was assigned to Judge Nicholas Garaufis. The FBI was able to collect the needed information through informant Joseph Vollero, the owner of a truck company on Staten Island, who secretly recorded several conversations between him and members of the Gambino family about three years prior to when the indictment was handed out.[10]

Among the arrested were the current Gambino crime family leaders John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico, Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo and Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalu, including Gambino family caporegime Leonard "Lenny" DiMaria, Francesco "Frank" Cali, Thomas "Tommy Sneakers" Cacciopoli. However, recognized captain and co-acting boss Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo, one of the main leaders indicted in the case, fled his home on Long Island, acting on prior knowledge, and was considered a fugitive by US law enforcement, until his arrest before turning himself in on May 29, 2008, after almost four months on the run.

The federal operation broke up a growing alliance between the Gambinos and the Sicilian Mafia, which wanted to get further into the drug trade. One of those arrested in the raids in the US was Frank Cali, a captain in the Gambino family. He is allegedly the "ambassador" in the US for the Inzerillo crime family.[11]

Current position and leadership

From 2005 to 2008, federal authorities successfully prosecuted the Gambino administration, several capos, and many soldiers and associates. Since both federal and New York State authorities rounded up the entire Gambino family hierarchy in early 2008, a three-man panel of street bosses Daniel "Danny" Marino, John Gambino and Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace was running the Gambino family while the administration members were in prison. Marino, Vernace, Gambino, Cefalu, D'Amico, Nicholas Corozzo, and Arnold Squitieri have all been listed as leaders in the family. In July 2011, it was reported that Domenico Cefalu has been promoted to official boss of the crime family, putting an end to the Gotti regime.[12]

Today the Gambino family still controls the piers in Brooklyn and Staten Island through infiltrated labor unions.[13] A pair of indictments in 2009 and 2010, respectively, show that the family is still very active in New York City. During the 2009 calendar year, the Gambino family saw many important members released from prison.[14] In 2009, former National Basketball Association (NBA) referee Tim Donaghy said that Gambino associate James Battista used Donaghy's knowledge of NBA games to pick winners in illegal sports gambling.[15][16][17]

On November 18, 2009, the NYPD arrested 22 members and associates of the Lucchese and Gambino crime families as part of "Operation Pure Luck".[18] The raid was a result of cases involving loan sharking and sports gambling on Staten Island. There were also charges of bribing New York City court officers and Sanitation Department officials.[19] On April 20, 2010, Gambino capo Daniel Marino and thirteen other members/associates were arrested and indicted for numerous criminal activities. In addition to the racketeering charges, the fourteen defendants were charged with murder, sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, jury tampering, extortion, assault, wire fraud, narcotics trafficking, loan-sharking and gambling.[20][21][22] All the defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges.[23]

Historical leadership of the Gambino crime family

Bosses (official and acting)

  • 1910–1928— Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila [24][25][26] – took over the Brooklyn Camorra in 1916 and merged with "Al Mineo's gang" forming the largest family in New York. He was killed on orders of boss Joe Masseria in 1928.
  • 1928–1930—Alfred "Al Mineo" Manfredi – killed in Castellammarese War 1930.
  • 1930–1931 — Francesco "Frank/Don Cheech" Scalise – demoted after murder of boss of all boss es Salvatore Maranzano.
  • 1931–1951 — Vincenzo "Vincent" Mangano – disappeared in April 1951, allegedly killed on orders of underboss Albert Anastasia.
  • 1951–1957 — Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia – murdered in October 1957 on orders of underboss Carlo Gambino.
  • 1957–1976 — Carlo "The Godfather" Gambino – died of natural causes 1976.
    • Acting 1974–1976 — Paul Castellano – acting boss during Gambino's illness, became official boss after his death.
  • 1976–1985 — Paul "Big Paul" Castellano – killed on orders of capo John Gotti.
  • 1985–2002 — John "Dapper Don" Gotti Sr. – imprisoned in 1990, died in 2002.
    • Acting 1992–1999 — John A. Gotti Jr., also known as John "Junior" Gotti, – imprisoned in 1999.
    • Acting 1999–2002 — Peter Gotti – promoted to official boss.
  • 2002–2011 — Peter "One Eye" Gotti – imprisoned in 2002, serving life sentence.
    • Acting 2002–2005 — Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri – imprisoned in 2006, projected release date is in November 2011.[27]
    • Acting 2005–2008 — Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo – convicted in 2008 Operation Old Bridge, projected release date is 2020.
    • Acting 2008–2010 — Ruling Committee/Panel: Daniel Marino (jailed), Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace (jailed), and John Gambino.
  • 2011–present – Domenico Cefalu

Street boss

Street boss is a position created 2005. It was the second most powerful position in the organization.


The underboss was traditionally the second most powerful position in the Gambino family (after the boss). However, the 2005 appointment of Jackie D'Amico as "street boss" made that position more important than underboss.


In Italian, consigliere means "advisor." The consigliere's highest priority is to help the boss make decisions. Together, the boss, street boss, underboss, and consigliere are referred to as "the administration."


Several capo committees have periodically replaced the underboss and consigliere positions, allowing an imprisoned boss better control of the family.


  • Boss Domenico Cefalu[29] – A Sicilian-born mobster who started out in the Gambino family as a heroin trafficker.
  • Underboss Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri – also the leader of the New Jersey faction.[30] As a capo during the 1980s, Squitieri ran drug trafficking operations in New Jersey, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. Might have been the definitive leader of the Gambino crime family for some time.[31] In 2006, Squitieri was convicted of drug trafficking, illegal gambling and tax evasion and was sentenced to seven years in prison. His projected release date is November 30, 2011.
  • Consigliere Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo – a former capo, Joseph and his brother Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo control the Queens-based "Corozzo faction". In 1992, Joseph became consigliere after Gotti's imprisonment. On February 8, 2008, Joseph and Nicholas were indicted during Operation Old Bridge. In June 2008, Joseph pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge concerning the extortion of a Staten Island concrete firm and was sentenced to 46 months in prison. His projected release date is June 10, 2011.[32][33]

Current family capos

During the 1980s and 90s, the Gambino crime family under boss John Gotti Sr. had 24 active crews operating in New York City, New Jersey, South Florida, and Connecticut. After 2000, the Gambino family had approximately 20 crews. However, according to a 2004 New Jersey Organized Crime Report, the Gambino family had only ten active crews.[34]

New York

Brooklyn/Staten Island faction

  • George "Butters" DeCicco – Capo of a Staten Island and Brooklyn crew since the 1980s. The brother of former underboss Frank DeCicco, George is heavily involved in loansharking.[35][36]
  • Joseph "Sonny" Juliano – Capo of a Brooklyn crew that operates illegal gambling, loansharking, fraud and wire fraud activities. Juliano previously managed a multimillion dollar illegal gambling ring in 30 New York City locations.[37][38]
  • Francesco "Frank" Cali – Capo who operates in Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. According to the FBI, Cali is the official Gambino "ambassador to the Sicilian Mafia" and a rising star in the crime family. Cali and Leonard DiMaria extorted money from businessman Joseph Vollero's trucking company on Staten Island. A major suspect in the drug trafficking between the Sicilian Mafia and the Gambinos, Cali pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and was sent to prison. He was released on May 30, 2009.[39][40]

Queens faction

  • Michael "Mickey Boy" Paradiso- Capo of a crew in Brooklyn and Queens. Paradiso has been involved in illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion and narcotics activities. Released on May 15, 2011 .[45]

Manhattan faction

  • Salvatore "Mr. Sal" Franco- Capo of a Manhattan crew.
  • Joseph "Joe the Blond" Giordano – Capo of a Manhattan and Long Island crew.[46][47][48]
  • Joseph "Joe" Lombardi – Capo of a Manhattan and Staten Island crew.
  • Vincent "Vinny Butch" Corrao – Capo of a Little Italy, Manhattan crew. Vincent's grandfather, "Vinny the Shrimp", operated the same crew and passed it to his son Joseph Corrao. Joseph later passed the crew to his son Vincent.[49][50][51][52]

Bronx faction

  • Louis "Louie Bracciole" Ricco – Capo of a crew in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. The crew controls half of the illegal gambling, loansharking and racketeering activities in the Bronx.[56][57]

Sicilian faction

The Sicilian faction of the Gambino crime family is known as the Cherry Hill Gambinos. Gambino Boss Carlo Gambino created an alliance between the Gambino family and three Sicilian clans: the Inzerillo's, the Spatola's and the Di Maggio's. Carlo Gambino's relatives controlled the Inzerillo clan under Salvatore Inzerillo in Passo di Ragano, a neighborhood in Palermo, Sicily. Salvatore Inzerillo coordinated the major heroin trafficking from Sicily to the US, bringing his cousins John, Giuseppe and Rosario Gambino to the US to supervise the operation. The Gambino brothers ran a Cafe on 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst and took their name "Cherry Hill Gambinos" from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The Gambino family in America began increasing in size with more Sicilian members.[58][59][60][61]

  • Giovanni "John" Gambino – Capo in the Gambino Sicilian or Zip faction. Gambino is an Italian national who belongs to the Inzerillo-Gambino-DiMaggio-Spatola clan of Sicily as well as the Gambino family. Reputedly a prominent drug trafficker, Gambino allegedly participates in the three-man ruling panel/committee that runs the crime family.[62][63][64]

New Jersey

In Northern New Jersey, the Gambino family operates crews in Bergen, Passaic, and Essex Counties. In Southern New Jersey, the family operates crews in South Trenton,[65] and Atlantic City. The two Gambino crews operating in New Jersey are the Mitarotonda crew and the Sisca crew. Other capos operating in New Jersey include John D'Amico, Louis Ricco, Francesco Cali, and Thomas Cacciopoli.[34]

  • Alphonse "Funzi" Sisca – Capo of a crew in New Jersey. He was a John Gotti Sr. ally and a former drug dealing partner of Angelo Ruggiero and Arnold Squitieri. Prior to being convicted in 2006, Sisca had spent 20 of the past 30 years in prison.[66] He was released from prison on September 27, 2010.
  • Nicholas Mitarotonda – capo of a crew in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Mitarotonda was released from federal prison on March 1, 2011.
  • Nicholas "Looks" DiGiovanni – Former capo of a crew in Bloomfield, NJ. He is the great grandson of Carlo Gambino and currently resides in California where he is said to be responsible for crews in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. He was released from federal prison on August 25, 2008.


The Gambino family's Florida faction operates in Tampa and the South Florida counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Dade.

  • Freddy Massaro – Capo of a South Florida crew. Massaro also Beachside Mario’s, a restaurant in Sunny Isles Beach.[67][68]


  • Blaise Corozzo – Soldier and another of the Corozzo brothers. He is serving a one to three year sentence in state prison for a 2008 illegal gambling operation. His son Nicholas Corozzo, also involved with the Gambino family, was arrested in 2004.[69] In 2009, Blaise Corozzo was released from prison.[70]
  • Andrew "Andy Campo" Campos – soldier and former acting capo of the Bronx-based LoCascio crew. Campos supervised Tore LoCascio's crew while he was in prison.[71]
  • Rosario Spatola – member of the Cherry Hill Gambinos. His cousin is Giovanni "John" Gambino and his brother-in-law was Salvatore Inzerillo.

Imprisoned members

  • Michael Murdocco – Soldier in Carmine Sciandra's crew. Currently serving two to six years in prison after pleading guilty in March 2010 to enterprise corruption, grand larceny and receiving bribes.[72] Murdocco and his son-in-law Sanitation Deputy Chief Frederick Grimaldi, rigged bids to help a New Jersey firm win a sanitation contract. In exchange for kickbacks, Grimaldi allegedly leaked bid information to Murdocco in May 2009.
  • Andrew Merola – former acting capo of the Mitarotonda crew. Merola is connected to Lucchese crime family Jersey faction leader Martin Taccetta. Merola's crew operates illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion and labor racketeering.[73][74] Pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.[75] His projected release date is June 5, 2020.
  • Daniel "Danny" Marino – Capo of a Queens crew involved in labor and construction racketeering. A rival of John Gotti Sr., Marino was involved in the 1986 murder conspiracy that accidentally killed Frank DeCicco instead of Gotti.[76][77]
  • Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace – Capo of a Queens crew. Vernace allegedly operates out of his Vita Cafe in Flushing, Queens, running illegal gambling activities.[62][78]
  • Vincent "Little Vinny" Artuso – capo of a crew in Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach County, Boca Raton and Palm Beach Island. Artuso lives in South Palm Beach, Florida. On January 22, 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, Artuso was charged with racketeering. In September 2008, Artuso was charged with racketeering, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering.[79][80] Artuso is currently imprisoned at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida; his projected release date is August 28, 2016.[81] His son, John Vincent Artuso, is also imprisoned at Coleman; his release date is July 29, 2016.[82]
  • Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone – Capo of the Gambino crew on the Brooklyn waterfront. Currently imprisoned on several extortion charges.[83] His projected release date is April 24, 2013.[84]
  • Louis "Big Lou" Vallario – Capo of a crew in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn since the 1980s. From 1996 to 2002, Vallario served as acting boss in the family's 'Ruling Committee/Panel. One of the last aides to John Gotti Sr.[85] His projected release date is October 15, 2013.[86]
  • Leonard "Lenny" DiMaria – Capo of a crew in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Florida. A close ally of Nicholas Corozzo since the early 1970s, DiMaria allegedly operates racketeering and loansharking activities.[87] His projected release date from prison is September 2, 2012.[88]
  • Augustus "Gus Boy" Sclafani – former acting capo of the Corrao crew. Sclafani was the overseer of the crew while Corrao was imprisoned, but Sclafani came under indictment in 2008 Operation Old Bridge and is currently in prison.[92]
  • Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo – Capo. Brother of Consigliere Joseph Corozzo, uncle of Joseph Jr. and currently the most influential caporegime in the crime family. Became a fugitive for almost four months, currently incarcerated on a 13 year sentence. His projected release date is March 2, 2020.[93][94]
  • Carmine Sciandra – Capo of a crew in Staten Island who also co-owns three "Top Tomato" vegetable and fruit markets. In December 2005, Sciandra was shot and wounded by a retired policeman while working at his Staten Island market. On March 25, 2010, Sciandra plead guilty to enterprise corruption and grand larceny for running a massive sports betting and loan shark operation and was sentenced to serve between 1½ to 4½ years in prison.[98]


Alliances with other criminal groups

  • The Gambino-Lucchese-Genovese alliance (1953–1985) between Carlo Gambino, Tommy Lucchese, and Vito Genovese began with a plot to take over the Mafia Commission by murdering family bosses Frank Costello and Albert Anastasia. At that time, Gambino was Anastasia's new underboss and Vito Genovese was the underboss for Costello. Their first target was Costello on May 2, 1957. Costello survived the assassination attempt, but immediately decided to retire as boss in favor of Genovese. Their second target was Anastasia on October 25, 1957. The Gallo brothers (from the Colombo family) murdered Anastasia in a Manhattan barber shop, opening the was for Gambino to become the new boss of the now-Gambino crime family. After assuming power, Gambino started conspiring with Lucchese to remove their former ally Genovese. In 1959, with the assistance of Luciano, Costello, and Meyer Lansky, Genovese was arrested and Gambino assumed full control with Lucchese of the Mafia Commission. Under Gambino and Lucchese, the Commission pushed Bonanno boss Joseph Bonanno out of power, triggering an internal war in that family. In the 1960s, the Commission backed the Gallo brothers in their rebellion against Profaci family boss Joe Profaci. In 1962, Gambino's oldest son Thomas married Lucchese's daughter, strengthening the Gambino and Lucchese family alliance. Lucchese gave Gambino access into the New York airports rackets he controlled, and Gambino allowed Lucchese into some of their rackets. After Lucchese death in July 1967, Gambino used his power over the Commission to appoint Carmine Tramunti as the new Lucchese family leader. Gambino later continued the alliance with Tramunti's successor, Anthony Corallo. After Gambino's death, new Gambino boss Paul Castellano continued the Lucchese alliance. In 1985, the original Gambino-Lucchese alliance dissolved when John Gotti ordered Castellano's assassination and took power in the Gambino family without Commission approval.
  • The Gambino-Lucchese alliance (1999–present) was initiated by acting Lucchese boss Steven Crea in 1999. The two families extorted the construction industry and made millions of dollars in bid-rigging.[100] In early 2002, Lucchese Capo John Capra worked with Gambino acting Boss Arnold Squitieri, acting underboss Anthony Megale, and Bronx-based acting Capo Gregory DePalma. The group was involved in illegal gambling and extortion activities in Westchester County, New York. The members were arrested in 2005 leaving to reveal that Gambino acting Capo DePalma had allowed an FBI agent Joaquin Garcia (known as Jack Falcone) work undercover with his crew since 2002.[101][102] In late 2008, Gambino family acting Capo Andrew Merola teamed with Lucchese Jersey faction acting Boss Martin Taccetta in an illegal gambling ring, shaking down unions, and extorting car dealerships. Merola was indicted in 2008 and Taccetta was returned to prison in 2009.[73][74]
  • The Gambino-Genovese alliance (1962–1972) was between Carlo Gambino and Genovese family acting boss/front boss Tomas Eboli. The alliance was short-lived because Eboli was unable or unwilling to repay Gambino money from a bad narcotics deal. The alliance ended when Gambino ordered Eboli's murder on July 16, 1972.
  • The Gambino-Bonanno alliance (1991–2004) started with John Gotti and new Bonanno boss Joseph Massino. As a member of the Mafia Commission, Gotti helped Massino regain the Bonanno commission seat that was lost in the early 1970s. The Gambino family influenced the Bonanno family to give up narcotics trafficking and return to more traditional Cosa Nostra crimes (loan sharking, gambling, stock fraud, etc.) By the late 1990s, the Bonannos had become almost as strong as the Gambinos.[103]
  • The Gambino-Westies alliance (1970s-present) This alliance resulted from an ongoing war between the Genovese family and the Westside Gang, an Irish-American street gang in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan. Genovese front boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno wanted to seized control of lucrative construction rackets at the new Jacob Javits Convention Center from the Westies. When the Westies balked, Salerno ordered the murder of the top gang leaders. Eventually, the Genovese family invited the Gambinos to broker a peace agreement with the Westside Gang. As part of this agreement, the Westies formed an alliance with Gambino capo Roy DeMeo.[104][105]

Government informants and witnesses

  • Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, Underboss
  • Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Caporegime
  • Dominic "Fat Dom" Borghese, Soldier
  • John Morella, Soldier
  • Frank "Frankie Fap" Fappiano, Soldier
  • Willie Boy Johnson, Associate
  • Dominick "Big Dom" LoFaro, Associate
  • Frank "Red" Scollo, Associate
  • Lewis N. Wilson, Providence drug kingpin
  • Andrew DiDonato Associate
  • Robert Mormando, Soldier (later stated in court that he is gay)[106]
  • Lewis Kasman, associate, and self-described "adopted son" of John Gotti who first became an informant in 1996.[107][108] Was dropped from testifying against John Gotti Jr. for unreliability,[109] but nevertheless received only probation for his offenses at sentencing.[108]

Gambino family mobsters

Trials involving Gambino family

In popular culture

  • Witness to the Mob – A made-for-television movie about the life of Gambino underboss turned FBI informant Sammy Gravano.
  • In the 2001 TV movie, Boss of Bosses, actor Chazz Palminteri portrays Gambino boss Paul Castellano.
  • In the 1996 TV movie Gotti, actor Armand Assante portrays Gambino boss John Gotti .
  • In the movie Goodfellas, Gambino family made member William "Billy Batts" DeVino (played by Frank Vincent) is killed in a fight with Thomas DeSimone (portrayed as "Tommy DeVito" by Joe Pesci) a Lucchese crime family associate.
  • In the video game GTA IV, in which the setting is based on New York and New Jersey, the Gambetti family is a reference to the Gambinos. Also during the mission "Waste Not Want Knots" on route to a Mafia controlled waste management plant Michael Keane (a character) mentions the Gambinos while reciting numerous fictional and real Mafia families.
  • Law & Order commonly references the Gambinos as a literary flourish but does not involve actual persons except to allude to them by the court cases that were inspired by actual events, commonly 'Ripped from the headlines'. The character of Frank Machuchi and the Machuchi crime family were based on John Gotti and the Gambino crime family.
  • "Mr. Moran" is a song about Sammy Gravano on the album A Jackknife to a Swan by the ska-core group The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
  • Rapper Raekwon recasts the Wu-Tang Clan as an Italian mafioso family dubbed the "Wu-Gambinos" on his debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
  • In his song "Last Real Nigga Alive," Nas raps about his infamous feud with Jay-Z. In one line he says "...'Cause in order for him to be the don/ Nas had to go/ the Gam-b-i-n-o rules, I understood..."
  • In Frasier season 4 episode 23, Frasier tells Daphne and Martin "It's like Christmas morning in the Gambino's household", at the end of their argument regarding their exchange of gifts.
  • The song "Shiksa Goddess" from the musical The Last Five Years contains a line about the "Gotti clan," another name for the Gambino crime family.
  • In the anime Phantom ~requiem for the phantom, Azuma Reiji kills a member of the Gambino crime family while working under Inferno.
  • A hip hop group formed in 1998 called Gambino Family (group), had a few songs but the group has not been around since.
  • On the social networking site, Gaia Online, the most powerful and richest NPC family in the site are the Gambinos.


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Further reading

  • Capeci, Jerry. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 978-0-02-864225-3
  • Davis, John H. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. ISBN 978-0-06-016357-0
  • Jacobs, James B., Christopher Panarella and Jay Worthington. Busting the Mob: The United States Vs. Cosa Nostra. New York: NYU Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-8147-4230-3
  • Maas, Peter. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. ISBN 978-0-06-093096-7
  • Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires. New York: St. Martin Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-312-30094-4

External links

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