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Genovese Crime Family

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The individuals in this category are/were made members of the Genovese crime family.

The Genovese crime family is one of the "Five Families" that dominate organized crime activities in New York City as part of the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). The Genovese crime family has been nicknamed the "Ivy League" and "Rolls Royce" of organized crime. They are rivaled in size only by the Gambino crime family and are unmatched in terms of power. They have generally maintained a varying degree of influence over many of the smaller mob families outside of New York, including ties with the Patriarca, Buffalo and Philadelphia crime families.

Finding new ways to make money in the 21st century, the Genovese family took advantage of lax due diligence by banks during the housing spike with a wave of mortgage frauds. Prosecutors say loan shark victims obtained home equity loans to pay off debts to their mob bankers. The family found ways to use new technology to improve on illegal gambling, with customers placing bets through offshore sites via the Internet.

The current "family" was founded by Lucky Luciano, but in 1957 it was renamed after boss Vito Genovese. Originally in control of the waterfront on the West Side of Manhattan (including the Fulton Fish Market), the family was run for years by "the Oddfather", Vincent "the Chin" Gigante, who feigned insanity by shuffling unshaven through New York's Greenwich Village wearing a tattered bath robe and muttering to himself incoherently.

Although the leadership of the Genovese family seemed to have been in limbo after the death of Gigante in 2005, they appear to be the most organized family and remain powerful.

Unique in today's Mafia, the family has benefited greatly from members following the code of Omertà. While many mobsters from across the country have testified against their crime families since the 1980s, the Genovese family has only had six members turn state's evidence in its history.

The Genovese crime family originated from the Morello crime family of East Harlem, the first Mafia family in New York City.

In 1892, Giuseppe Morello arrived in New York from the village of Corleone, Sicily, when only a few thousand Italians lived in New York. Morello's half brothers Nicholas, Vincenzo, Ciro and the rest of his family joined him in New York the following year. The Morello brothers formed the 107th Street Mob and began dominating the Italian neighborhood of East Harlem, parts of Manhattan, and the Bronx. One of Giuseppe Morello's strongest allies was Ignazio "the Wolf" Lupo, a mobster who controlled Little Italy, Manhattan. In 1903, Lupo married Morello's half sister, uniting both organizations. The Morello-Lupo alliance continued to prosper in 1903, when the group began a major counterfeiting ring with powerful Sicilian Mafioso Don Vito Cascio Ferro, printing $5 bills in Sicily and smuggling them into the United States. New York City Police detective Joseph Petrosino began investigating the Morello family's counterfeiting operation, the barrel murders and the black hand extortion letters. On November 15, 1909 Giuseppe Morello, Ignazio Lupo and others were arrested on counterfeiting charges. In February 1910, Morello and Lupo were sentenced to 30 years in prison.

As the Morello family increased in power and influence, bloody territorial conflicts arose with other Italian criminal gangs in New York. The Morellos had an alliance with Giosue Gallucci, a prominent East Harlem businessman and Camorrista with local political connections. On May 17, 1915 Gallucci was murdered in a power struggle between the Morellos and the Neapolitan Camorra organization, which consisted of two Brooklyn gangs run by Pellegrino Morano and Alessandro Vollero. The fight over Gallucci's rackets became known as the Mafia-Camorra War. After months of fighting, Camorra boss Morano offered a truce to end the fighting. A meeting was arranged at a Navy Street cafe owned by Alessandro Vollero. On September 7, 1916 upon arriving, Nicholas "Nick" Morello and his bodyguard Charles Ubriaco were ambushed by five members of the Brooklyn Camorra group and killed. In 1917, Morano was charged with Morello's murder after Camorrista Ralph Daniello implicated him in the murder. By 1918, law enforcement had sent many Camorra gang members to prison, decimating the Camorra in New York and ending the war. Many of the remaining Brooklyn Camorra gang members joined the Morello family.

The Morellos now faced stronger rivals than the Camorra. With the passage of Prohibition in 1919 and the outlawing of alcohol sales, the Morello family regrouped and built a lucrative bootlegging operation in Manhattan. In 1920, both Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio Lupo were released from prison and Brooklyn Mafia boss Salvatore D'Aquila ordered their murders. This is when Joseph Masseria and Rocco Valenti, a former Brooklyn Camorra began to fight for control of the Morello family.On December 29, 1920 Masseria's men murdered Valenti's ally, Salvatore Mauro. Then on May 8, 1922, the Valenti gang murdered Vincenzo Terranova. Masseria's gang retaliated killing Silva Tagliagamba. On August 11, 1922, Masseria's men murdered Valenti ending the conflict. Masseria won and essentially took over the Morello family

During the mid-1920s, Massaria continued to expand his bootlegging, extortion, loansharking, and illegal gambling rackets throughout New York. To operate and protect these rackets, Massaria recruited many ambitious young mobsters. These mobsters included future Cosa Nostra powers Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, Frank Costello, Joseph "Joey A" Adonis, Vito Genovese, and Albert Anastasia. Masseria was willing to take all Italian-American recruits, no matter where they had originated in Sicily or Italy.

Masseria's strongest rival in New York was Salvatore Maranzano, leader of the Castellammare del Golfo Sicilian organization in Brooklyn. A recent arrival from Sicily, Maranzano had strong support from elements of the Sicilian Mafia and was a traditionalist mafiosi. He recruited Sicilian mobsters only, preferably from the Castellammarese clan. Maranzano's top lieutenants included future family bosses Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, Joseph Profaci, and Stefano Magaddino. By 1928, the Castellammarese War between Masseria and Maranzano had begun. By the late 1920s, more than 60 mobsters on both sides had been murdered.[8] On April 15, 1931, Masseria was murdered in a Coney Island, Brooklyn, restaurant, reportedly by members of Luciano's crew. Angry over broken promises from Masseria, Luciano had secretly conspired with Maranzano to plot Masseria's assassination. On the day of the murder, Luciano was allegedly eating dinner with Masseria at a restaurant. After Luciano went to the restroom, his hitmen arrived and murdered Masseria. With Masseria's death, the Castellamarese War had ended.

Now in control of New York, Maranzano took several important steps to solidify his victory. He reorganized the Italian-American gangs of New York into five new families, structured after the hierarchical and highly disciplined Mafia families of Sicily. Maranzano's second big change was to appoint himself as the boss of all the families. As part of this reorganization, Maranzano designated Luciano as boss of the old Morello/Masseria family. However, Luciano and other mob leaders privately objected to Maranzano's dictatorial role. Maranzano soon found out about Luciano's discontent and ordered his assassination. Discovering that he was in danger, Luciano plotted Maranzano's assassination with Maranzano trustee Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese. On September 10, 1931, Jewish gangsters provided by Luciano ally Meyer Lansky shot and stabbed Maranzano to death in his Manhattan office. Luciano was now the most powerful mobster in the United States.

After Maranzano's murder, Luciano created a new governing body for the Cosa Nostra families, the Commission. The Commission consisted of representatives from each of the Five Families, the Chicago Outfit and the Magaddino crime family of Buffalo, New York. Luciano wanted the Commission to mediate disputes between the families and prevent future gang wars. Although nominally a democratic body, Luciano and his allies actually controlled the Commission throughout the 1930s. As head of the new Luciano family, Luciano appointed Vito Genovese as his underboss, or second in command, and Frank Costello as his consigliere, or advisor. With the new structure in place, the five New York families would enjoy several decades of peace and growth.

In 1935, Luciano was indicted on pandering charges by New York district attorney Thomas Dewey. He was accused of being one of the ringleaders of "the Combination," a major prostitution ring. During the trial, Luciano made a tactical mistake in taking the witness stand, where the prosecutor interrogated him for five hours about how he made his living. In 1936, Luciano was convicted and sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison. Many observers believed that Luciano would never have directly involved himself with prostitutes, and that the case was fraudulent. Given Luciano's strong belief in secrecy, it would have been significantly out of character for him to be directly involved in any criminal operation, let alone a prostitution ring. Indeed, at least two of Luciano's contemporaries denied that he was ever involved. In her memoirs, New York society madam Polly Adler wrote that she would have known if Luciano was involved with "the Combination." Likewise, Bonnano--the last surviving contemporary of Luciano who wasn't in prison--denied Luciano was involved in the scheme in his book, A Man Of Honor.

Although in prison, Luciano continued to run his crime family. His underboss Genovese now supervised the day-to-day family activities. In 1937, Genovese was indicted on murder charges and fled the country to Italy. After Genovese's departure, Costello became the new acting boss of the Luciano family.

During World War II, federal agents asked Luciano for help in preventing enemy sabotage on the New York waterfront and other activities. Luciano agreed to help, but in reality provided insignificant assistance to the allied cause. After the end of the war, the arrangement with Luciano became public knowledge. To prevent further embarrassment, the government agreed to deport Luciano on condition that he never return to the United States. In 1946, Luciano was taken from prison and deported to Italy, never to return to the United States. Costello became the effective boss of the Luciano family.

During the reign of Frank Costello, the Luciano family controlled much of the bookmaking, loansharking, illegal gambling and labor racketeering activities in New York City. Costello wanted to increase the family involvement in lucrative financial schemes; he was less interested in low grossing criminal activities that relied on brutality and intimidation. Costello believed in diplomacy and discipline, and in diversifying family interests. Nicknamed "The Prime Minister of the Underworld", Costello controlled much of the New York waterfront and had tremendous political connections. It was said that no state judge could be appointed in any case without Costello's consent. During the 1940s, Costello allowed Luciano associates Meyer Lansky and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel to expand the family business in Southern California and build the first modern casino resort in Las Vegas. When Siegel failed to open the resort on time, his mob investors allegedly sanctioned his murder.

While serving as boss of the Luciano family in the 1950s, Costello suffered from depression and panic attacks. During this period Costello sought help from a psychiatrist, who advised him to distance himself from old associates such as Genovese and spend more time with politicians. In the early 1950s, U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee began investigating organized crime in New York in the Kefauver hearings. The Committee summoned numerous mobsters to testify, but they refused to answer questions at the hearings. The mobsters uniformly cited the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a legal protection against self-incrimination. However, when Costello was summoned, he agreed to answer questions at the hearings and not take the Fifth Amendment. As part of the agreement to testify, the Special Committee and the U.S. television networks agreed not to broadcast Costello's face. During the questioning, Costello nervously refused to answer certain questions and skirted around others. When the Committee asked Costello, "What have you done for your country Mr. Costello?", he famously replied, "Paid my tax!". The TV cameras, unable to show Costello's face, instead focused on his hands, which Costello wrung nervously while answering questions. Costello eventually walked out of the hearings.

Costello ruled for 20 peaceful years, but that quiet reign ended when Genovese was extradited from Italy to New York. During his absence, Costello demoted Genovese from underboss to capo and Genovese determined to take control of the family. Soon after his arrival in the United States, Genovese was acquitted of the 1936 murder charge that had driven him into exile. Free of legal entanglements, Genovese started plotting against Costello with the assistance of Mangano crime family underboss Carlo Gambino. On May 2, 1957, Luciano family mobster Vincent "Chin" Gigante shot Costello in the side of the head on a public street; however, Costello survived the attack. Months later, Mangano family boss Albert Anastasia, a powerful ally of Costello, was murdered by Gambino's gunmen. With Anastasia's death, Gambino seized control of the Mangano family. Feeling afraid and isolated after the shootings, Costello quietly retired and surrendered control of the Luciano family to Genovese. Having taken control of what was now the Genovese crime family in 1957, Vito Genovese decided to organize a Cosa Nostra conference to legitimize his new position. Held on mobster Joseph Barbara's farm in Apalachin, New York, the Apalachin Meeting attracted over 100 Cosa Nostra mobsters from around the nation. However, local law enforcement discovered the meeting by chance and quickly surrounded the farm. As the meeting broke up, Genovese escaped capture by running through the woods. However, many other high-ranking mobsters were arrested. Cosa Nostra leaders were chagrined by the public exposure and bad publicity from the Apalachin meeting, and generally blamed Genovese for the fiasco. Wary of Genovese gaining more power in the Mafia Commission, Gambino used the abortive Apalachin Meeting as an excuse to move against his former ally. Gambino, former Genovese bosses Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello, and Lucchese crime family boss Tommy Lucchese allegedly lured Genovese into a drug distribution scheme that ultimately resulted in his conspiracy indictment and conviction. In 1959, Genovese was sentenced to 15 years in prison on narcotics charges. Genovese, who was the most powerful boss in New York, had been effectively eliminated as a rival by Gambino. Genovese would later die in prison.





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Categories: Genovese Crime Family