From Gotti to Gigante, the names atop today’s Mafia org charts are old ones. But the times have certainly changed for New York’s biggest families—and not for the better. Mob expert Jerry Capeci, who writes the “Gang Land” column for the New York Sun, looks at the state of the four other clans in the city’s infamous Five Families, plus the Newark-based DeCavalcantes. All have bookmaking, loan-sharking, and extortion rackets. The Genovese family and, to a lesser degree, the Luchese family (like the Gambinos) also have viable labor-racketeering endeavors that let them invest and launder their ill-gotten gains in “legitimate” industries. Every clan has declined of late, some more than others.
The Bonanno Family
130 to 145 members
Boss: Joseph Massino, 62
Underboss : Vacant
Last year was a bad one for the Bonanno family—probably the worst in its history. Its boss since 1991, Joseph Massino, was convicted of seven murders dating from the eighties, and the Feds decided to try to execute him for a 1999 mob hit. Two dozen family members and associates, including three capos he selected to coordinate things while he battled the law from prison, were all indicted and jailed on racketeering and murder charges. This fall, Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, the capo he chose to replace the convicted trio and serve as acting boss, was himself socked with murder charges. Since November 19, Basciano, 45, has been awaiting trial at the same federal lockup in Sunset Park as his boss and the men he replaced. In the new millennium, more than 40 family wiseguys and associates have been convicted and imprisoned, including a former acting boss, Anthony Spero, 71. On top of all that, Joseph Massino, the Last Don, a wiseguy who surely amassed millions during his decade on top, says he can’t afford a lawyer and has told a federal judge that he needs a court-appointed attorney. Meanwhile, Massino is expected to tap an old cohort, capo Anthony “Fat Anthony” Rabito, as his “street boss.” On his mob résumé, Rabito, 70, has a drug rap, a few dead bodies, and a keen business sense, according to FBI documents. He has owned a bakery, a café, and several nightclubs, all on Manhattan’s East Side. Unlike a Las Vegas business venture that failed—a New York–style pizzeria called Fat Anthony’s—his local endeavors were said to be moneymakers.
The Colombo Family
75 to 85 members
Boss: Carmine “Junior” Persico, 71
Underboss : John “Jackie” DeRoss, 67
Consigliere: Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace, 63
For nearly twenty years—since he was arrested on February 15, 1985—Carmine Persico has run the Colombo family from behind bars. Convicted of racketeering twice—once in the historic Commission trial, when he represented himself—Persico has guided his clan through a bloody two-year war that cost the lives of ten combatants and two bystanders. Housed in a federal prison in faraway Lompoc, California, he has maintained control through a string of acting bosses, including his college-educated son Alphonse, 50. In recent years, however, Alphonse, John “Jackie” DeRoss, Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace, and Andrew Russo, 70, a Persico cousin who filled in as acting boss for a time, have themselves been convicted and jailed. These days, the family’s “street boss” is Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, 52, of Farmingdale. Gioeli was a staunch Persico ally during the 1991–93 war. He’s had chronic back problems for decades, but they didn’t deter his effort against rebels aligned with Victor “Little Vic” Orena. On March 27, 1992, he was wounded in a wild car chase–shootout in Brooklyn. “He’s got a crew of shooters who haven’t really gotten touched,” says one police source. The last time Gioeli saw the inside of prison was in 1980, for robbery. A key factor for his strength has been his ability to bridge the gap that exists between mobsters who were shooting at each other a decade ago. His top aide, acting capo Paul “Paulie Guns” Bevacqua, was an Orena...
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