Vito Genovese

Posted: 13th April 2011 by admin in Genovese Family, New York

Vito Genovese

Date of Birth- November 27th, 1897
Located- New York
Worked For- Guiseppe Masseria; the Genovese Family
Date of Death- February 14th, 1969

Born November 27th, 1897 in Rosiglino, Tufino (a Province of Naples, Italy), Vito “Don Vito” Genovese was just an Italian boy from a small family. No one knew he would one day become one of the most feared Dons in New York crime. He was 15 years old when he came to America with his Father, Mother, and two brothers Michael and Carmine in 1912. Initially they settled in Queens, New York, but shortly after he moved to lower Manhattan to live with relatives.

It was during this time, the early 1920’s, that Vito began his Mafia career. He worked for New York Boss Guiseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria, who liked Genovese because he was prone to violence- a very important trait in the crime world. Starting with extortion and bootlegging, he soon moved on to more important projects for the family. The boy was arrested and sentenced for 60 days in jail when he was caught carrying a gun. Though it was never proved, he was believed to have been the shooter of Gaetano Reina, which eventually led to the start of the Castellammarese War.

Vito made a friend in another young man by the name of Charles “Lucky” Luciano. Having worked the slums of New York City together, they would remain friends for 40 years (until Luciano’s death). It was with Luciano that Genovese helped to change the face of the Masseria family. During the Castellammarese war, in April 1931, Luciano began to plan for the betrayal and assassination of “Joe the Boss”. Vito was one of the four gunmen that murdered Masseria. Later on that year, when Luciano arranged a hit on Salvatore Maranzano- the victor of the Castellammarese war- he maneuvered himself into a position of being one of the strongest gangsters in the country. With Masseria and Maranzano gone, he created the Luciano crime family, appointing his old buddy Vito Genovese as the Underboss.

Things were looking bright for Genovese; he became a naturalized United States citizen in New York City on November 25th, 1936. Not long after, Luciano was convicted of pandering charges and was shipped off to prison, leaving Vito as the acting boss in his absence. When 1937 rolled around, however, Vito was indicted for the 1934 murder of Ferdinand Boccia. In order to avoid a prison sentence he fled the country to Italy, his place of birth, settling in a city outside of Naples: Nola.

If he was doing well in America, it was nothing compared to how well Vito’s career flourished while in Italy. He became a prominent Mafia Boss; befriending Benito Mussolini and even becoming the drug source for Count Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law. While in Italy, he was even awarded the highest civilian medal Mussolini could bestow upon him. After the allied invasion in Naples, in 1944, Genovese was given the position of interpreter/liaison officer in the U.S. Army headquarters; he quickly became one of the most trusted employees of the American Military Government of Occupied Territories (AMGOT). As a favor to Mussolini and the government, he was acquitted for the murder of a Carlo Tresca, of which he had been charged with a year prior.

During this time, Vito was running a large black market operation with a powerful Sicily mob Boss named Calogero Vizzini. On August 27th, 1944, Military Police finally cracked down on the black market ring and Genovese was arrested. One of the agents from the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Army, Orange C. Dickey, rummaged around for information on Vito’s past and, when finding that he was wanted on murder charges back in New York, decided to bring him back to America to face trial. After months of preparing and trying, Agent Dickey began to run into some resistance; bribes were being handed down, and even the military chain of command was asking for the release of Genovese. Dickey did not buckle under pressure, and Vito was returned to New York.

Genovese was dismayed to find, upon his re-entrance to New York, that the top spot in the Luciano family that he had long coveted was not to be his. Frank Costello had stepped in as acting boss after he had fled to Italy, and a well known New Jersey racketeer by the name of Willie Moretti had become Underboss. Neither man was willing to give up their positions. In response, Vito was demoted back to caporegime of his old Greenwich Village crew. Biding his time, he began to go after Ernest “The Hawk” Rupolo and more importantly Peter LaTempa, two hoodlums who had turned to the state as witnesses, claiming they were involved in the hit on Boccia that Genovese had done. Though LaTempa sought protective custody from the government, he was found one week after Vito’s return to America, his gallstone medication having been poisoned. Without his testimony, Vito was acquitted of all charges.

When the 1950’s rolled around, Genovese put a hit out on Costello, Moretti and Albert Anastasia. Costello was the only survivor, but the fear was enough to make him relinquish control of the Luciano family to Genovese. Vito took over, becoming Don Vito of the Genovese Crime Family; his two brothers, Carmine and Michael “Mike the Pipe” joined him at the height of his power. Though the coup against Costello, Moretti and Anastasia was supported by two of the best earning caporegimes in the family, Anthony Strollo and Anthony Carfano, Vito would allegedly arrange for the murders of the two men at a later date.

More than ever, Genovese wanted to be recognized, and to have his position within the family confirmed by several of New York’s best and brightest Mafiosi. He arranged for the Apalachin Conference on November 14th, 1957, to take place in a rural town- Apalachin, New York. The meeting, unfortunately, went terribly wrong. When a New York State Police Trooper, Edgar Croswell, saw that the meeting house (a farm owned by mobster Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara) was teeming with mobsters, he called in reinforcements and had the place surrounded. The attendees, having been alerted, fled the meeting in total chaos. Not only did this prevent Genovese’s well crafted plan to seize the power he wanted, it alerted the authorities, as well as the public, to the existence and force of La Cosa Nostra.

In 1959 Don Vito was convicted of selling heroin; it upset many of the court goers to see that a low-level thug who claimed to have met Genovese- was the chief witness, as it appeared he was lying. Years later, said witness would redact his testimony, stating he was offered a reduced prison sentence for implicating Genovese. Vito was sentenced to 15 years in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, but it was just business as usual. He ran his family from his jail cell, carrying on such acts as ordering a hit upon Ernest Rupolo- the man that had betrayed him years earlier.

Vito continued to hand down orders to his soldiers until his death. On February 14th, 1969 he died in prison of a heart attack at 71 years old. He is buried in Saint John Cemetery in Queens, New York.

Vincent “Chin” Gigante

Posted: 13th April 2011 by admin in Genovese Family, New York

Vincent “Chin” Gigante

Date of Birth- March 29th, 1928
Located- New York
Worked For- Genovese Family
Date of Death- December 19th, 2005

Born March 29th, 1928 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, Vincent Gigante was the son of a jewel engraver and a seamstress, immigrants from Naples, Italy who never learned how to speak the English language. Vincent was one of five brothers, all of whom- except for one who would become a Roman Catholic priest- would find their place in the life of crime later in their lives. Gigante was a man of many nicknames in his life, the earliest being “The Chin”, stemming from the way his Italian mother would pronounce his given name: Vincenzo.

The boy graduated from Public School 3 in the West Village but would later drop out of Textile High School at the age of 16, purely to pursue an attempted career as a professional boxer. He would end up instead working as a tailor, and becoming a protege to then well-known mobsters Vito Genovese and Philip Lombardo. Before he was 25 years old, Chin was arrested at least seven times, on charges spanning receiving stolen goods, to possession of an unlicensed handgun, to illegal bookmaking and gambling. Despite the arrests and the various allegations, the longest sentence he ever served was 60 days for the gambling.

Eventually, Gigante’s dreams of becoming a professional boxer would come true. He fought 25 matches as a Light Heavyweight between the years of 1944 and 1947, winning 21 of them. His experience in knowing when to fight, and his passion for never giving up in the ring, would earn him many kudos in the Mafia when he started as an enforcer in the 1950′s. Working in the Greenwich Village Crew for Vito Genovese, his mentor, he would earn the right to be given much more responsibility.

It was on May 2nd, 1957 that Genovese ordered Gigante to shoot then family Boss Frank Costello- one of the most well-known mafia figureheads in the country. Though Chin fired his .38-caliber handgun at Costello in the lobby of the Boss’ apartment building, due to his movement at the time it merely grazed the right side of his head. He fell and Gigante, thinking him dead, fled the scene. Later, when Costello refused to implicate his would-be-assassin, the doorman revealed what he had saw. Chin luckily had an effective defense team which granted him an acquittal in 1958 on the attempted murder. Frank Costello, however, felt enough fear to step down from his position, allowing Genovese to take over the family.

Just two years later Gigante would be convicted of heroin trafficking alongside his Boss Vito Genovese. Many residents of Greenwich Village and Little Italy wrote letters on Chin’s behalf, trying to prove he was good in character. He was still sentenced to seven years in prison, during which he would share a cell with Vito, and doing time not prevent him from receiving a promotion to caporegime to his own crew based out of the Triangle Social Club in Greenwich Village. Bookmaking and loansharking, as well as labor racketeering within the construction industry, were his specialties.

Things were moving well for Chin until 1969, when he was indicted in New Jersey for charges of conspiracy to bribe an entire police force to let him know when law enforcement agencies were watching him under surveillance. All accusations were dropped after it was proved, with reports from psychiatrists, that Gigante was mentally unfit to withstand a trial. Whether he was feigning, or was actually mentally troubled as some rumors stated, reports from prominent psychiatrists further suggested that the former boxer was legally insane. With a laundry list of diseases ranging from psychosis, to dementia, to schizophrenia, even the man’s entire family helped lend weight to the claims. Gigante’s own family produced a signed affidavit, claiming he: “suffers from auditory and visual hallucinations and delusions of persecution.”

As if knowing that inevitably the FBI would be able to charge him with something, Chin added his own credibility to the theory he was ‘insane’. Emerging from his and his Mother’s residences dressed only in a bathrobe or pajamas whilst talking incoherently to himself, he would only continue to conduct business from his club with a handful of associates. His behavior earned him many public monikers during this time period, including “The Enigma in the Bathrobe”, “The Robe” and “The Oddfather”.

By 1981 he was the Boss behind the scenes for the Genovese crime family, allowing Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno to run the front operations and successfully keeping law enforcement in the dark about who was actually in charge of the crew. It was Chin who ordered the failed hit upon John Gotti, then Boss of the Gambino Crime Family, in 1986. When at last Gotti, and other Gambino family members, were arrested and convicted on various charges, Vincent Gigante was recognized as the most powerful crime Boss in the United States. He became the capo di tutti capi, or the “Boss of All Bosses”, a phrase that had not been used since the days of Salvatore Maranzano, back in 1931.

In 1986 Anthony Salerno was convicted of murder and racketeering charges, sentenced to 100 years in prison with other reputed top members of the Five Families of New York. Turncoat to the family, Vincent Cafaro, told the FBI that Gigante was, and had always been, the leader of the family- Salerno was just a figurehead. With swift response, Chin promoted two associates to the new positions of Street Boss and Messenger, designed to further remove him from the public eye. When he had to speak to another mobster, it was within whispered conversations that could not be picked up by wiretap. He never, ever, discussed family business while on the phone and forbade family members from mentioning his name; when referring to their boss, members merely pointed to their chins.

When 1990 rolled around, Chin was arrested and charged for murder and racketeering, which would be brought to trial in 1997. Though his lawyers again tried to produce evidence to the fact that he was mentally unstable, many prominent members of a multitude of families started to produce their own evidence which pointed to the contrary. Among these mafiosi were Salvatore Gravano, former Underboss of the Gambino crime family, and Phil Lionetti of a Philadelphia crime family, who stated he was lucid and clear thinking, and that he had ordered the murders of several Bruno Family members back in the 80′s. Most damning of all was Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso, who claimed Gigante had ordered him to kill John Gotti, Frank DeCicco and Gene Gotti after the 1986 slaying of Paul Castellano.

Vincent was sentenced to 12 years in a federal prison, convicted on all of the charges except for murder. Though he was put into prison, Chin retained a strong control over the Genovese Family. On April 7th, 2003, the man pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in Federal District Court. He finally acknowledged that his mental illnesses were an act, buying him time and delaying his racketeering trials. Three years were added on to his sentence.

At the age of 77, in 2005, his health began to slide downward. Labored breathing, swelling in the lower body, bouts of unconsciousness and oxygen deprivation were all symptoms he began to suffer. Moved from the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Worth, he spent his final days in the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. On December 23rd, 2005, Vincent Gigante, former boxing great and powerful mob Boss, finally took his last breaths. His remains currently reside in the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.


Vincent Alo

Posted: 13th April 2011 by admin in Genovese Family, New York

Vincent Alo

Date of Birth- May 26th, 1904
Located- New York, New York
Worked For- Genovese
Date of Death- March 9th, 2001

Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo was born on May 26th, 1904; as a young boy, he lived in either Harlem or on the Lower East Side of New York. At age 14, Alo began to work on Wall Street. Despite his promising beginnings, a young Vincent soon turned to crime. As the godson of Carlo Gambino, and close friend of Gambino’s son Thomas, he seemed destined to join the life of crime. He was convicted of armed robbery in his younger years, spending some time in a state prison (whether Sing Sing or Dannemora is unknown).

Alo became a Made Man of Joseph “Joe the Boss” Masseria’s New York family in 1926. He was named a caporegime of an old crew that was once run by Joe Adonis. This gave him the position, and power, to oversee some of the family’s Brooklyn speakeasies, clubs, and gambling rings. Often said to be intelligent and charming, among other things, Vincent was liked and respected by many of his associates. After a few years, in 1929, Charles Luciano, a lieutenant for Masseria, introduced Alo to Meyer Lansky. This was the beginning of a very long and profitable relationship for both. Lansky was a friend of Luciano’s, a huge money-maker for the crew, and they requested that Alo be his personal guard.

What wasn’t told to Lansky, is that Luciano wanted Alo to keep an eye on the man as well. Through their time together the two introverted men who had wishes of becoming legitimate businessmen became fast friends.

A short time after their meeting, the two decided to try a joint business venture, setting up a casino in the town of Hallandale, Florida. When they first arrived in the Sunshine State, they immediately began to donate large contributions to local fraternal organizations, as well as starting to secretly bribe politicians and local law enforcement. It was no surprise that when their casino, the Plantation, first opened, it was met with absolutely no opposition. Business was good to Alo, as well as to Lansky, and with their profit from the Plantation they opened a second Hallandale casino, the Colonial Inn.

Things went smoothly until 1947; Alo had no resistance from the government, nor the public, until the town’s economy began to take it’s own path. Illegal gambling, once not a problem, soon became an embarrassing part of the community that needed to be covered up. With no choice, Alo and Lansky closed the two casinos. Their dreams were not shattered, and they began to plan for future ventures together. Setting their sights to Las Vegas, Alo partnered with Lansky and Moe Dalitz on the hotel and casino owned by Wilbur Clark, the Desert Inn.

However, another rough patch was ahead for Vincent. He was convicted of obstructing justice in the year 1970. U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of New York Robert M. Morgenthau, is on record as having stated that Alo was “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States. He is closely associated with Meyer Lansky of Miami, who is at the apex of organized crime”. Shortly after this conviction, Alo retired and passed over his crew to Matthew Ianniello.

His good friend Meyer Lansky passed away in 1985, but Alo continued to participate heavily in the running of The Desert Inn. Wilbur Clark often introduced him as his Uncle, “Gumba”, or protector, helping to arrange certain benefits for businesses within Las Vegas. Vincent eventually made his way back to Florida, passing away on March 9th, 2001 of natural causes at age 96. His remains currently reside in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York.

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