Organized Crime CJA/393
William Nelson Barnes
May 30, 2008
The Gambino Crime Family
Criminal groups exist everywhere. However what defines each organized crime group depends upon what ultimate goal each group looks to achieve. In New York City, there has been organized crime in existence since the 1900’s. Although changing names, and rulers throughout the years, this group has always been known as the mafia. Predominantly, it has been known as the Italian mafia. Italian mafia just like it’s counterparts in the Irish and Jewish mafia underwent structural, social, and physical changes in order for it to reach its current status. Many people believe it has existed as long as it has due to the ingenious leadership structure, activity operations and command of the man named Carlo Gambino.
By definition organized crime is “having a formal group of people to coordinate and carry out illegal activities” (Webster, 2007). In New York such a group is known as the mafia. The term mafia is not an actual organization in itself but rather an umbrella term used to describe Italian/Sicilian heritage groups. The term is often a non stated subtle reference to illegal activity. It lends an immediate mental picture of the Gambino crime family and everything it represents.
The Gambino crime family is one of the most notorious gangs in the American mafia and was named after an infamous boss, Carlo Gambino. It all started in 1913 when a man Joe Masseria took over a gang of Italians known as the Morello Gang (Bruno, 2007). Another man known to be infiltrating the city from Sicily, Salvatore Maranzano, became a thorn in the side of Masseria. With two dueling leaders of two different groups in New York, the city became an open wound for the men of these groups to overthrow the dictatorship. In 1931, an underling of Masseria, known as Lucky Luciano created his own fate by arranging for the murder of Masseria while playing cards at a Coney Island Restaurant (Bruno, 2007). After creating a truce with Maranzano, it was not long before Luciano arranged to have Maranzano killed as well. This paved the way for himself to be the head boss all the factions.
Lucky faced his own demons however when he was forced into jail and eventually deported back to Italy. Frank Costello took over the reins of the Luciano family and created an alliance with a man named Albert Anastasia. Anastasia was notably known for the disappearance of Maranzano and his brother Philip. Anastasia, however, was a loose cannon. He broke the codes of the organization by having a person murdered who had nothing to do with the organization. In fact, it also became known that a futile attempt on the life of Frank Costello was also due to Anastasia. This provided for the retirement of Costello.
Anastasia did not survive the attempt on his life however, and a member of his group took over his chair at head of the table. This man was Carlo Gambino. Gambino’s son Thomas married into the Luchese family in 1962 creating a monopoly of control for the Gambino family in many areas. The Gambino and Luchese families became intricately involved in all illegal activities at JFK International Airport, and Gambino furthered his wealth by aligning himself in many local area legitimate businesses. Amongst them were local pizzerias, construction companies, waste companies and nightclubs.
In the 1970’s Carlo’s heath began to diminish and he began running his activities from his house. Although not seen in public very often he managed to keep tight control on his organization. Before he died he appointed his cousin Paul Costellano as boss of the organization (Bruno, 2007). Costellano remained boss for over nine years before he was overthrown for disrespecting the death of his Manhattan district under boss. Upon this disrespect, a hit went out on him which was successful and therefore made John Gotti, the new boss of the entire family (Bruno, 2007).