Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno

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

Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno

(November 5, 1932 – January 1, 2008)

Salvatore Bonanno was born on Nov. 5, 1932, in Brooklyn. Bill Bonanno at an early age developed a mastoid ear condition. His parents were advised by the doctor to get his son out of the very cold climate of Long Island and in 1941, his father Joseph Bonanno bought a second home in Tucson, where Bill and his sister Catherine were enrolled in a Catholic school.

Before enrolling in the University of Arizona, Salvatore first attended boarding schools and Tucson High School.  With the intention in mind of possibly managing his family’s ranch farm, he decided to study agriculture first and later on he studied business before actually considering a foreign-service career.

Salvatore is the eldest son of the late Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno who was also the author of the book “Bound by Honor” and other notable books that discussed about the underworld. Salvatore served in various leadership positions within the Bonanno organization and was groomed by his father to take over the Family.

In the 1950’s, his life greatly changed when his father came under investigation by authorities. Prompted by loyalty, Mr. Bonanno said in 2005, he returned to New York to act as a conduit between his father and other members of the Bonanno crime family. Mr. Bonanno, according to his website, was imprisoned in 1968 for contempt and other white-collar charges. He was imprisoned several times for a total of 12 years up to the year 1993.

In Troutman Street in Brooklyn, a faction of the Family led by Gaspar DiGregorio allegedly ambushed Salvatore and his supporters at a supposed nighttime peace conference. DiGregorio’s men opened up with rifles and shotguns and Bonanno’s side returned fire. It was said that the two sides fired 100 rounds at each other.  The incident maybe the most exciting of Salvatore’s underworld career, however, it was either a complete fabrication or grossly exaggerated since there were no reports of  single injury occurring during that night.

Mr. Bonanno was also the author of his 1999 autobiography “Bound by Honor: A Mafioso’s Story.” He also co-wrote the “The Good Guys,” a 2005 novel together with Joe Pistone, a former FBI agent. He also became the executive producer of the “Bonanno: A Godfather’s Story,” a 1999 Showtime miniseries.

His father, Joseph Bonanno became the number two man in his father’s crime family by the mid 1960’s and shortly thereafter escaped a gangland hit on a sidewalk in Brooklyn by Mafia members protesting his promotion died at the age of 75. Mr. Bonanno, who later served prison time and became an author and in 2005, in an interview with Salvatore, he told the Los Angeles Times that he never intended to follow the footsteps of his father and founder of one of New York’s five Mafia crime families. Known as “Joe Bananas,” Joseph Bonanno was once described by Time magazine as being one of the bloodiest killers in the history of Cosa Nostra.

Salvatore died in Tucson hospital after suffering a heart attack while he was at home. He left his wife of 51 years, Rosali, his sister, Catherine Bonanno Genovese and his children Charles, Joseph, Salvatore and Felippa. He also had 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.