The Bonanno crime family (pronounced [boˈnanno]) is one of the Five Families that dominate organized crime activities in New York City, United States, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra).

Named after Joseph Bonanno, for over 30 years the family was one of the most powerful in the country. However, in the early 1960s, Bonanno attempted to seize the mantle of boss of bosses, but failed and was forced to retire. This touched off a period of turmoil within the family that lasted almost a quarter-century. It was the first of the New York families to be kicked off the Commission (a council of the bosses that helps to maintain order in the Mafia), due to infighting for the boss's mantle, as well as allegations the family was actively dealing heroin and that an FBI agent calling himself Donnie Brasco had infiltrated their ranks. Later, the family faced shaky leadership, with the acting boss Carmine Galante murdered in 1979 at the command of Philip Rastelli, the actual boss. The family only recovered in the 1990s under Joseph Massino, and by the dawn of the new millennium was not only back on the Commission, but also was the most powerful family in New York. However, in the early 2000s, a rash of convictions and defections culminated in Massino himself becoming a government informant in 2004.

In 2017, the FBI revealed that an undercover police informant, for the first time ever, had successfully become a full fledged member of the American Mafia. FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone had nearly infiltrated the Mob almost 35 years earlier. Bonanno captain Damiano Zummo traveled to Canada via plane to induct the informant in 2015. The ceremony was also secretly recorded.[2][3]


Sicilian origins

The origins of the Bonanno crime family can be traced back to the town of Castellammare del Golfo located in the Province of Trapani, Sicily.[4] The Bonanno Mafia clan was led by boss Giuseppe "Peppe" Bonanno and his older brother Stefano as advisor.[4] The strongest ally of the Bonanno clan was the boss of the Magaddino Mafia clan Stefano Magaddino.[4] During the 1900s, the Bonanno and Magaddino Mafia clans feuded with Felice Buccellato, the boss of the Buccellato Mafia clan.[4] After the deaths of Stefano Bonanno and Giuseppe Bonanno, their younger brother, Salvatore, took revenge, killing members of the Buccellato clan.[4] In 1903, Salvatore Bonanno married Catherine Bonventre and on January 18, 1905 she gave birth to Giuseppe. Three years later Salvatore Bonanno moved his family to New York City. While away Stefano Magaddino took over running the Bonanno-Magaddino-Bonventre Mafia clan.[4] Salvatore Bonanno along with members of the Bonanno-Magaddino-Bonventre clan began establishing dominance and control in the Castellammarese community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While operating in Brooklyn, the Castellammarese leaders were able to preserve the criminal organization's future.[4] In 1911, Salvatore Bonanno returned to Sicily and died of a heart attack in 1915.[5] Stefano Magaddino arrived in New York and became a powerful member of the Castellammarese clan.[6] In 1921, Magaddino fled to Buffalo to avoid murder charges.[6] The Castellammarese clan was taken over by Nicolo Schirò.[7]

Castellammarese War

"Cola" Schiro in 1923

In 1927, violence broke out between the two rival New York Mafia factions and soon developed into a full out war known as the Castellammarese War.[8] The conflict started when members of the Castellammarese clan began hijacking truckloads of illegal liquor that belonged to Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria. The Castellammarese clan was based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and led by Nicolo "Cola" Schirò who tried to work with Masseria. But one of the group's leaders Salvatore Maranzano wanted to take control over New York's underworld. Maranzano took control of the Castellammarese clan continuing a bloody Mafia War.[8]

The Castellammarese faction was more organized and unified than Masseria family. Maranzano's allies were Buffalo family boss Stefano Magaddino, Detroit family boss Gaspar Milazzo and Philadelphia family boss Salvatore Sabella, all Castellammarese.[8] Maranzano's faction included mobsters Joseph Bonanno, Carmine Galante, and Gaspar DiGregorio. Maranzano was also close to Joseph Profaci future boss of the New York Profaci family. Finally, Maranzano established a secret alliance with Bronx Reina family boss Gaetano Reina, a nominal Masseria ally.

After Reina's murder on February 26, 1930, members of the Masseria faction began to defect to Maranzano.[8] By 1931, momentum had shifted to Castellammarese faction. That spring, a group of younger mafiosi from both camps, known as the "Young Turks", decided to switch to Maranzano and end the war. This group included future mob bosses Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Vito Genovese, Frank Costello, Tommy Lucchese, Albert Anastasia and Joe Adonis.[9] As leader of the Young Turks, Luciano concluded a secret deal with Maranzano and promised to kill Masseria. On April 15, 1931 Masseria was murdered ending the long Castellammarese War.[8]

Maranzano's murder and the Commission

After Masseria's death, Maranzano outlined a peace plan to all the Sicilian and Italian Mafia leaders in the United States. There would be 24 organizations (to be known as "families") throughout the United States who would elect their own boss.[8] In New York City, Maranzano established five Cosa Nostra families: the Luciano family under Lucky Luciano, the Mangano family under Vincent Mangano, the Gagliano family under Tommy Gagliano, the Profaci family under Joseph Profaci, and the Maranzano crime family under himself. Maranzano created an additional post for himself, that of capo di tutti capi, or boss of bosses.[8]

Although Maranzano was more forward-looking than Masseria, at core he was still a Mustache Pete. It did not take long for Maranzano and Luciano to come into conflict. Luciano was not pleased that Maranzano had reneged on his promise of equality, and soon came to believe he was even more hidebound and greedy than Masseria had been. Maranzano, in turn, grew uncomfortable with Luciano's ambitions and opposed his partnership with Jewish mobsters Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel. Maranzano secretly plotted to have Luciano killed. However, after Lucchese alerted Luciano that he was marked for death, Luciano struck first on September 10, 1931. Jewish gangsters hired by Luciano murdered Maranzano in his office.[8] Now in control of the Cosa Nostra, Luciano replaced the "boss of bosses" with The Commission to regulate the Mafia's national affairs and mediate disputes between families.[8] Luciano was appointed the first chairman of the Commission.

The Bonanno era

After Maranzano's death, Joseph Bonanno was awarded most of Maranzano's crime family. At only 26 years old, Bonanno was the youngest Mafia leader in the nation.[10] Years later, he claimed not to have known about the plot to eliminate Maranzano, but it is very unlikely that Luciano would have allowed him to live had he still backed Maranzano.[11] Bonanno directed his family into illegal gambling, loansharking, and narcotics. The family also built significant criminal interests in California and Arizona. With the support of his cousin, Buffalo crime family boss Stefano Magaddino, Bonanno also expanded into Canada.[12]

Like Maranzano, Bonanno believed in the Old World Mafia traditions of "honor", "tradition", "respect" and "dignity" as principles for ruling his family. He was more steeped in these traditions than other mobsters of his generation.[9] The Bonanno family was considered the closest knit of the Five Families because Bonanno tried to restrict membership to Castelammarese Sicilians. He strongly believed that blood relations and a strict Sicilian upbringing would be the only way to hold the traditional values of the Mafia together.[13]

Over the years, Bonanno became a powerful member of the Commission due to his close relationship with fellow boss Joe Profaci. In 1956, the relationship between the two bosses became stronger when Bonanno's son Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno married Profaci's niece Rosalie.[14] The Bonanno-Profaci alliance deterred the other three families from trying to steal their rackets.

The "Banana War" (1964–1968)

So called as a play on the phonetic sound of the name, "Bonanno". The stable power relationship between the families collapsed with the death of Joe Profaci in 1962. Bonanno was now threatened by an alliance of Tommy Lucchese and new boss Carlo Gambino.[14] At the same time, Bonanno was facing rising discontent within his own family. In the early 1960s many of the Bonanno family members were complaining that Bonanno spent too much time at his second home in Tucson, Arizona.[14]

In 1963, Bonanno and Joe Magliocco, Profaci's successor as boss of the Profaci family, conspired to wipe out several other mob leaders, Stefano Magaddino, Carlo Gambino, Tommy Lucchese and Frank DeSimone.[12] Magliocco was given the task of wiping out Gambino and Lucchese, and gave the contract to one of his top hit men, Joe Colombo. However, Colombo instead alerted Gambino and Lucchese.[12] The other bosses quickly realized that Magliocco could not possibly have planned this by himself. Knowing how close the Bonanno and Profaci families had been over the last three decades, they viewed Bonanno as the real mastermind. The commission summoned Magliocco and Bonanno. In view of their pioneering roles in the New York Mafia, the commission intended to go easy on them, with nothing more than a fine and loss of their family. However, only Magliocco showed up. He admitted his role in the plot and was forced to give up his family to Colombo.

On October 21, 1964, Bonanno disappeared and wasn't heard from again for almost two years. After months of no word from Bonanno the Commission named capo Gaspar DiGregorio the new boss.[9][15] The family split into two factions, the DiGregorio supporters and the Bonanno loyalists. In the media the event was referred to as the "Banana Split" or "Banana War".[16] The Bonanno loyalists were led by Bonanno's brother-in-law Frank Labruzzo and his son Bill Bonanno. In 1966, DiGregorio arranged for a sit-down in a house on Troutman Street in Brooklyn.[16] DiGregorio's men arrived at the meeting, and when Bill Bonanno arrived a large gun battle ensued. The DiGregorio loyalists had planned to wipe out the opposition, but they failed, and no one was killed.[14][16]

In May 1966, Bonanno reappeared and rallied a large part of the family to his side. He claimed that Magaddino, acting on behalf of the commission, sent two of his soldiers to kidnap Bonanno and held him captive for six weeks. However, this account is almost certainly false based on contemporary accounts of the time. Several of Bonanno's button men were overheard expressing their disgust that Bonanno "took off and left us here alone", and New Jersey crime boss Sam DeCavalcante was overheard saying that Bonanno's disappearance took the other bosses by surprise. Bonanno may have had another reason to disappear—he was facing a subpoena from U.S. Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and faced the choice of either breaking his blood oath or going to jail for contempt.[8] Further peace offers from both sides were spurned with the ongoing violence and murders. The Commission grew tired of the affair and replaced DiGregorio with Paul Sciacca, but the fighting carried on regardless.

The war was finally brought to a close with Joe Bonanno, still in hiding, suffering a heart attack and announcing his permanent retirement in 1968 (he went on to live to the age of 97, dying in Tucson in 2002).[14] The commission accepted this offer, with the stipulation that he never involve himself in New York Mafia affairs again under pain of death.[8] Both factions came together under Sciacca's leadership. His replacement was Natale "Joe Diamonds" Evola as boss of the Bonanno family.[16] Evola's leadership was short lived – his death (from natural causes) in 1973 brought Philip "Rusty" Rastelli to the throne.[15][17]

Rastelli regime

Mugshot of Carmine Galante in 1943

Due to the infighting of the Bonanno family, it was spurned by the other families and stripped of its Commission seat. Rastelli took charge of a seemingly hapless, doomed organization. Rastelli's former friend Carmine Galante became a powerful and dangerous renegade.

Having previously acted as a focal point for the importation of heroin to the USA via Montreal, Galante set about refining the family's drug trafficking operations. The incredibly lucrative deals he was able to make the family a fortune, but with the other four families being kept out of the arrangements, Galante was making a rod for his own back.

When eight members of the Genovese family were murdered on Galante's orders for trying to muscle in on his drug operation, the other families decided he had outlived his usefulness at the head of the Bonanno family. On July 12, 1979, Galante was shot dead by three men, at a restaurant in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn.

Rastelli took over once again, but the family's internal strife was far from over. Three renegade capos – Philip Giaccone, Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera – began to openly question Rastelli's leadership and apparently plotted to overthrow him. With the blessing of the other families, Rastelli had the three men wiped out in a hit arranged by then-street boss Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, as well as the future boss Joseph "Big Joe" Massino.

In August 2006, the alleged boss of the Montreal Cosa Nostra, Vito Rizzuto, was extradited from Canada to the United States to face charges in the 1981 murder in New York of the three Bonanno captains. Vito Rizzuto was released from prison in Colorado and returned to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on October 5, 2012.[18][19]

Donnie Brasco

Joseph D. Pistone, alias Donnie Brasco

Two of the men involved in the murder of the three rogue capos were Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero and his capo Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano. Ruggiero had an associate, Donnie Brasco, whom he proposed for full family membership. In reality, Brasco was undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone, conducting what would become a six-year infiltration of the family.

Pistone's undercover work led to numerous charges against the Bonanno family. Both Ruggiero and Rastelli received lengthy sentences. On August 17, 1981, Napolitano was shot and killed in a basement by Ronald Filocomo and Frank "Curly" Lino as punishment for admitting Pistone to his crew.[20][21][22] Anthony Mirra, the man who had brought Pistone to the family, was also killed.

Pistone was on the verge of becoming made when the FBI ordered him to end his operation on July 26, 1981. Pistone wanted to become made, believing that if it got out that a Mafia family had allowed an FBI agent into its ranks, it would destroy its reputation for invincibility. However, Pistone's superiors felt it was too dangerous. After the Donnie Brasco affair, the Mafia Commission removed the Bonanno family from the panel. However, when the federal government pressed charges against the New York Cosa Nostra leadership in the Mafia Commission Trial, the Bonannos avoided indictment. They were thus the only family whose leadership wasn't decimated as a result of the trial. The leaders of the other major families were all sent to prison for life, with the Lucchese family losing its entire hierarchy. As a result, the Bonanno family was able to keep its leadership intact and build up its power again.

Under Massino's command

Rastelli's death in 1991, following a period in which he ruled the family from inside prison, saw the promotion of Massino to the top spot. However, Massino had been the real power in the family since the mid-1980s. One of his first acts was to change the family's name to "the Massino family." Like other mafiosi, Massino had been very displeased at Bonanno's tell-all book, A Man of Honor, and believed he'd broken the code of omertà by writing it. However, the change never stuck, and most people outside the family continued to use the old name.

Remembering the pitfalls that landed other bosses in prison, Massino adopted a more secretive way of doing business. He shut down the family's social clubs, believing they were too easy to bug. He also streamlined the family's chain of command, assigning a group of capos to oversee a particular enterprise and report to underboss Salvatore Vitale. He also barred family members from speaking his name. Instead, they were to point to their ears when referring to him—a nod to how Genovese boss Vincent Gigante told his men to point to their chins rather than use his name. Remembering how close Pistone/Brasco had come to actually becoming made, Massino required any prospective soldier to be "on record" with a made man for at least eight years before becoming made himself. He also strongly encouraged his men to volunteer their sons for membership, believing that they would be less likely to turn informer and be more loyal. However, the family already had a reputation for loyalty; it was the only family that had never seen one of its members turn informer in the seven decades since the Castellammarese War.[8]

Massino not only concentrated on the narcotics trade as had become mandatory for a mob boss, but also in other areas less likely to draw the attention of the authorities than drugs, such as the Mafia's stock trades of racketeering, money laundering and loan sharking. A close friend of Massino's, and boss of the Gambino crime family, John Gotti, also helped to get the Bonannos a seat on the Commission again. Over the next 10 years, the family steadily increased its power. By the mid-1990s, the FBI reckoned Massino as the most powerful Mafia boss in New York and the country. He was the only full-fledged New York boss who wasn't in prison.

Massino turns informant

FBI mugshot of Joseph Massino

The family managed to keep its nose clean until 2000, when a pair of forensic accountants who normally worked on financial fraud cases discovered that Barry Weinberg, a businessman who had partnered with capo Richard "Shellackhead" Cantarella in several parking lots, had failed to report millions of dollars worth of income over a decade. Told he faced a long prison term unless he wore a wire and incriminated his Bonanno partners, Weinberg agreed to cooperate. One of Weinberg's other partners, Augustino Scozzari, also agreed to cooperate. Between them, Weinberg and Scozzari captured hundreds of incriminating statements from Cantrella and his crew.[8]

In October 2002, armed with this evidence, the government won a 24-count RICO indictment against 21 Bonanno soldiers and associates. The biggest names on the indictment were Cantarella—who was serving as acting underboss while Vitale was awaiting sentencing for loansharking and money laundering—and capo Frank Coppa. Within a month of his indictment, Coppa agreed to become a government witness, becoming the first made man in the Bonanno family's history to break his blood oath. Soon after agreeing to cooperate, Coppa directly implicated Massino in the Napolitano murder, and also implicated Cantarella and Vitale in the 1992 murder of New York Post delivery superintendent Robert Perrino, who was a Bonanno soldier. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Cantarella negotiated his own plea bargain in December, and agreed to testify against Massino and Vitale.[8]

Massino and Vitale were charged with the crime in 2003, mostly on testimony from Cantarella and Coppa. Vitale also faced charges for the murder of Perrino. Up to this point he had been utterly loyal to his boss. However, Cantarella and Coppa told FBI agents that Massino suspected Vitale was an informer and wanted him killed. When the FBI notified Vitale of this, Vitale decided to switch sides himself.[8][23] He was followed in rapid succession by four other soldiers and associates. Massino now faced eleven RICO counts, including seven murders. In a separate indictment, Massino was charged with an eighth murder, that of capo Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia, which carried the death penalty. With seven of his former henchmen testifying against him, his conviction in July 2004 was a foregone conclusion.[8]

Shortly after Massino's arrest, longtime capo Anthony Urso became acting boss. Urso's tenure was short-lived as he too was imprisoned on numerous charges, leading to Vincent Basciano taking control as operating head of the family. In November 2004, shortly after taking over, Basciano himself was indicted on RICO charges. In January 2005, he received additional charges of plotting to kill Greg Andres, the federal prosecutor who had sent Massino to prison. At that arraignment, prosecutors made a shocking announcement—most of the evidence came from conversations taped by Massino. Four months after his conviction, Massino had become the first full-time boss of an American crime family to turn informant, sparing himself the ultimate penalty for the murder of Sciascia. By this time, 90 of the family's 150 made men were under indictment.[8] He was sentenced to time served and released in 2013.

Massino is believed to be the man who pointed the FBI towards a spot in Ozone Park, Queens, called "The Hole", where the body of Alphonse Indelicato had been found in 1981. Told to dig a little deeper, authorities duly uncovered the remains of Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone, as well as a body suspected to be that of John Favara, a neighbor of Gambino family boss John Gotti who had killed the mobster's son in a car/bicycle accident, and paid with his life.

The authorities continue to plague the family, with the February 16, 2006 arrest of acting boss Michael Mancuso on murder charges, while alleged boss Vincent Basciano was convicted on charges of conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, and illegal gambling and was sentenced to life imprisonment in late 2007. The main charge against him was that he conspired to murder both the judge and prosecutor in the case, as well as Patrick DeFilippo, a fellow Bonanno crime family captain.

Basciano and Montagna's leadership

Vincent Basciano

Bonanno family boss Vincent Basciano was imprisoned in 2004 and eventually sentenced to life in prison. He named Brooklyn business owner Salvatore "Sal the Ironworker" Montagna, as his "acting boss" during his arrest and trial. Montagna was closely associated with the Bonanno Sicilian faction, including Baldo Amato and capo Cesare Bonventre. With Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora as "acting underboss" and Anthony Rabito as the alleged consigliere, Montagna was capable of running the day-to-day operations on behalf of Vincent Basciano.[24]

In July 2004, The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn "say that overall, in the last four years, they have won convictions against roughly 75 mobsters or associates in a crime clan with fewer than 150 made members."[25] In June 2005, 12 Bonanno family member and associates, seven over the age 70, including acting consigliere Anthony Rabito were indicted and arrested on charges of operating a $10 million a year gambling ring."[26] On February 6, 2007 acting underboss Nicholas Santora, acting consigliere Anthony Rabito, captains or former captains Jerome Asaro, Joseph Cammarano, Jr. and Louis Decicco were indicted on racketeering charges.[27] In 2009 Montagna was deported to Canada, ending his tenure as acting boss. He was murdered in 2011 after getting involved in the Montreal Mafia War.

Current position of the family

Following Montagna deportation and the arrest of other senior ranking members of the family, a ruling panel was set up until a new boss was chosen.[28] In 2013, Michael Mancuso, who is currently imprisoned was named the new official boss of the family.[29] Mancuso is the first man to hold the official boss title since Massino became a government witness in 2004.[29] Mancuso's underboss Thomas DiFiore took over as acting boss in his absence,[29] but was replaced by Joseph Cammarano, Jr in 2014 following DiFiore's arrest, guilty plea and 21 month prison sentence.[30] In December 2016, the FBI observed over a dozen ranking members of the family host a dinner together in recognition of Cammanaro's new position.[31]

Bonanno associate, Charles "Charlie Pepsi" Centaro, was sentenced to 33 months in prison on September 15, 2015, after being convicted of money laundering, it was alleged that he had laundered over $500,000.[32] Centaro, along with Bonanno/Gambino associate Franco Lupoi were involved in a large cocaine, heroin and weapons trafficking operation that stretched from New York to Italy. The Gambino crime family from New York and the 'Ndrangheta Mafia from Calabria were also involved.

In November 2017, the FBI arrested several individuals in New York City, including members and associates of the Bonanno and Gambino crime families on charges of narcotics trafficking, loansharking and firearms offenses. They included Damiano Zummo, a reputed acting captain in the Bonanno crime family.[33][34] The FBI also announced that they had a covertly recorded video of an induction ceremony for the Bonnano family, recorded in Canada.[35] Zummo played a major role in the ceremony and named others at a higher level in the organization on the recording.[36] A Brooklyn court official later said, "The recording of a secret induction ceremony is an extraordinary achievement for law enforcement and deals a significant blow to La Cosa Nostra."[37] Zummo was responsible for inducting the first police informant in both American Mafia history. The initiation ceremony was held in Canada in 2015 and was also secretly recorded.[38]

On January 12, 2018, 8 members of the Bonanno family were arrested and charged with racketeering and related offenses. Genovese and Lucchese crime family members Ernest Montevecchi and Eugene "Boobie" Castelle were also arrested.[39][40] The charges were assault and aid resulting in serious bodily injury, extortion, loansharking, wire and mail fraud, narcotics distribution, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion conspiracy, racketeering and racketeering conspiracy.[41] Six of the defendants face a maximum of 40 years in prison whereas the other 4 face a maximum of 20 years. Acting boss Joseph Cammarano Jr. and several Bonanno captains were among the indicted.[42]

Historical leadership

Boss (official and acting)

Street boss

The Street boss is responsible for passing on orders to lower ranking members. In some instances a Ruling panel (of capos) substituted the Street boss role. The family may choose to assemble a ruling panel of capos if the boss dies, goes to prison, or is incapacitated. During the 1960s family war, a ruling panel of capos controlled the decision making of the family.

  • 1964–1968 – Frank Labruzzo – led Bonanno faction
  • 1964– Ruling panel – Gasparino DiGregorio, Angelo Caruso, Nicolino Alfano, Joseph Notaro, Thomas D'Angelo, Natale Evola, Joseph DeFilippo, Peter Crociata and Paul Sciacca
  • 1964–1965 – Ruling panel – Gasparino DiGregorio, Angelo Caruso, and Nicolino Alfano
  • 1979–1981 – Salvatore "Toto" Catalano[17] – leader of the Sicilian faction, became underboss
  • 1981— Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano[49] – murdered on August 17, 1981
  • 2009–2010 – Ruling panel – Joseph Sammartino, Sr. (capo in New Jersey),[50][51] the other members are unknown
  • 2012–2013 – Ruling panelVincent Asaro, Anthony Rabito, and Thomas DiFiore[52]
  • 2013–2015 – John Palazzolo[53]
  • 2015–present – Joseph Cammarano Jr.[54] – indicted on January 12, 2018 [39]

Underboss (official and acting)

Consigliere (official and acting)

  • c.1930s – Frank Italiano[13]
  • 1932—1939 – Phillipe Rapa[13]
  • 1940—1964 – John Tartamella[13]
  • 1964—1968 – Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno[13]
    • Acting 1965–1968 – Nicolino "Nick" Alfano – for the DiGregorio faction
    • Acting 1968 – Michael "Mike" Adamo
  • 1968—1971 – Phillip "Rusty" Rastelli (Promoted to underboss in 1971)
  • 1971—1974 – Joseph DiFilippo
  • 1974—1984 – Stefano "Stevie Beefs" Cannone
  • 1984—2001 – Anthony Spero (acting boss from 1987—1993, died September 29, 2008)[56][57]
    • Acting 1987—1992 – Joseph Buccellato
    • Acting 1999—2001 – Anthony "T.G." Graziano
  • 2001—2010 – Anthony "T.G." Graziano
    • Acting 2001—2003 – Anthony "Tony Green" Urso – became acting boss
    • Acting 2004—2007 – Anthony "Fat Tony" Rabito – imprisoned
  • 2010—2015 – Anthony "Fat Tony" Rabito [58]
  • Unknown – Simone Esposito – Indicted on January 12, 2018[39]
  • Unknown—Present – John (Porky) Zanocchio – Indicted on January 12, 2018[39]

Current family members


  • BossMichael "The Nose" Mancuso – is currently incarcerated with a projected release date from prison of March 12, 2019.[59]
  • Street Boss/Underboss – Joseph Cammarano, Jr. – The current street boss/acting underboss for the family. Cammarano Jr was a capo operating a crew in Brooklyn. After his father Joseph "Joe Saunders" Cammarano, Sr., died on September 3, 2013, Cammarano Jr. took over his father's crew.[60] Cammarano Jr. was indicted in January 2018 on racketeering and murder conspiracy charges, effectively ending his reign as boss.[61]
  • Consigliere – John 'Porky' Zancocchio[62]


Brooklyn faction

  • Vincent "Vinny T.V." Badalamenti – the former acting boss. In December 2009, Badalamenti was found with Staten Island-based capo Anthony Calabrese and soldier John "Johnny Green" Faracithe meeting at a Bensonhurst storefront.[63][64] He served as acting boss from early 2010 until 2012 when he was imprisoned.
  • Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora – capo controlling the Motion Lounge crew active in the Western Brooklyn communities of Williamsburg and East Williamsburg among others. Santora took over as acting underboss in 2004, when Joseph Massino and Salvatore Vitale became government witnesses. In 2007, Santora was indicted on racketeering and extortion charges.[27] He was released from prison on October 23, 2013.[65]
  • Anthony "T.G." Graziano – capo operating in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Graziano is the former consigliere of the family. He operated a pension fund scheme that eventually reaped over $11.7 million from elderly investors and supervised a large narcotics trafficking operation in Florida. In 2002, Graziano was imprisoned on federal racketeering and murder charges. In January 2012, Graziano was indicted on new racketeering charges. He was released from prison on December 19, 2013.[66]
  • Anthony "Anthony from Elmont" Mannone – (a.k.a. Anthony from the Five Towns) – capo who was arrested on February 24, 2010, for running an illegal gambling and extortion ring throughout Brooklyn.[67][68][69] Manone was released from prison on June 27, 2013[70]
  • Louis "Louie Electric" DeCicco – capo in Brooklyn with operations in Queens and Long Island. In March 2007, DeCicco was arrested along with other Bonanno capos. On December 31, 2009, DeCicco was released from prison.[71][72]

Staten Island faction

  • Anthony Calabrese – capo based in Staten Island. He was found with capo Vincent Badalamenti on December 2009 meeting at a Bensonhurst storefront for a Christmas party.[64]
  • Anthony Furino – capo based in Staten Island. In 2004, Furino was arrested for extortion of Long Island night clubs and Staten Island restaurants.[73][74] In 2007, Furino was released from prison.
  • Anthony "Scal" Sclafani – capo in the Staten Island faction who operates illegal gambling. Sclafani also operates in New Jersey with capo Joseph Sammartino, Sr. On October 14, 2009, Sclafani was arrested on loansharking charges.[50][75][76][77] Sclafani is currently imprisoned. His projected release date is February 14, 2014.[78]
  • Frank Porco – 70-year-old capo operating from Staten Island, Brooklyn and Florida. In 2005, Calabrese was released from prison.[79][80]
  • Gerard "Jerry" Chilli – capo in the Staten Island faction. Chilli along with his nephew Tom Fiore controlled operations in Broward County, Florida, and Hollywood, Florida.[81]

Manhattan faction

Queens faction

  • Vincent "Vinny" Asaro – capo since the 1980s. During the 1990s, Asaro allegedly operated a multimillion-dollar stolen car ring and oversaw the hijacking of cargo at John F. Kennedy International Airport. In 1998 Asaro was convicted of running a car theft ring.[85] In 2015, Asaro was acquitted of alleged involvement in the 1978 Lufthansa robbery with Lucchese crime family associates which $21.3 million in today's money was reported stolen.[86][87]
  • Anthony "Fat Tony" Rabito – capo. Rabito was the former acting consigliere for Vincent Basciano prior to his incarceration and a longtime member of the Bonanno family. From January 2003 to July 2004, Rabito operated an illegal gambling and loansharking ring in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island, earning $210,000 a week. Currently on trial for RICO charges.[27]

New Jersey faction


  • Sandro Aiosa – a former capo in the 1970s who operated in Brooklyn.[74] Aiosa is currently in federal prison. His projected release date is October 12, 2012.[90]
  • Joseph "Joe Lefty" Loiacono – former acting capo who was arrested on October 14, 2009, for running a loansharking operation. Currently in prison, his projected release date is May 18, 2012.[27][91][92][93]
  • Anthony "Little Anthony" Pipitone – former acting capo arrested on October 14, 2009.[94][95] Pipitone is currently incarcerated in federal prison. His project release date is February 7, 2013.
  • Jerome Asaro – a former acting capo with large illegal gambling and loansharking rings in Queens. Asaro is the son of Vincent Asaro. In February 2007, Jerome Asaro pleaded guilty to a 25-year association with the Bonanno family. On November 2, 2010, Asaro was released from prison.[96]
  • Joseph "Joe Saunders, Jr." Cammarano, Jr. – his father Joseph Cammarano, Sr. is a Bonanno family capo. Joseph, Jr., served in the U.S. Navy for six years before joining the Bonanno crime family.[97] In February 2007, he was arrested on racketeering charges.[98] In January 2009, Joseph, Jr. was released from federal prison.[99]
  • Salvatore "Toto" Catalano – a former capo and Street boss of the Sicilian faction. Catalano was heavily involved in the Pizza Connection a heroin drug distribution scheme with boss Carmine Galante. The heroin was shipped into the U.S. and sold through pizzerias in New York City and New Jersey. In 1976, Catalano became capo of the Knickerbocker Avenue Crew.[100] On March 2, 1987, Catalano was sentenced to 45 years in prison and fined $1.15 million.[101][102][103][104] He was released from prison on November 16, 2009.[105]
  • Joseph "Joe Desi" DeSimone – a former capo.[106] DeSimone was involved in the 1981 murders of Philip Giaccone, Dominick Trinchera and Alphonse Indelicato.[107]

Imprisoned soldiers

  • Baldassare "Baldo" Amato – a soldier in the Sicilian faction and leader of a freelance crew operating in Ridgewood, Queens. He once served as a bodyguard to former boss Carmine Galante and was also with him on the day that he was murdered, it is alleged that he cooperated in Galante being murdered as his life was spared. As of 2006, Amato is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison for two murders and racketeering.[108][109][110][111]
  • Louis "Louie Ha Ha" Attanasio – a former capo in the Bronx. Attanasio along with his brother Robert "Bobby Ha Ha" and Peter Calabrese murdered Bonanno family Sicilian faction member Cesare Bonventre in 1984.[112] On September 20, 2006, Attanasio and Peter Calabrese were sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 1984 Bonventre murder.[113] Attanasio's projected release date is January 23, 2018.[114] His brother, only an associate of the Bonanno family, was sentenced to 2 years of supervised release, he was ordered to home confinement with GPS monitoring for the first 6 months by Senior United States District Judge Nicholas Garaufis. He was accused of affiliating with members of the Bonanno and Gambino crime families, including playing bocce with Louis Vallario, a capo of the Gambino crime family, which Attanasio plead guilty to. It was also revealed that Robert Attanasio was suffering from prostate cancer in 2017.[115]
  • Thomas Fiore – former "acting capo" of Gerard Chilli's South Florida crew. He is based in Palm Beach County, city of Boynton Beach. On October 14, 2009, his crew in South Florida was charged under the RICO law. Six of the eleven crew members pleaded guilty to a list of crimes. The members that pleaded guilty included crew enforcer Pasquale Rubbo and his brother Joseph Rubbo. The crew is involved in arson, insurance fraud, identity theft, illegal gambling and other crimes. They send some tribute to Bonanno family bosses in New York City.[116] On March 2, 2010, Fiore was sentenced to twelve years for racketeering.[117] His projected release date is January 18, 2020.[118]
  • Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato – soldier in the crew of his uncle, Joseph Indelicato, and the son of Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato. A made member since the late 1970s, Anthony Indelicato may have participated in the 1979 murder of Carmine Galante. Indelicato was a defendant in the 1986 Mafia Commission Trial[119] where he was sentenced to 45 years and released in 2000. On December 16, 2008, Indelicato received a 20-year prison sentence for the 2001 killing of Frank Santoro. Indelicato's projected release date is May 20, 2023.[120]
  • Thomas Pitera – soldier and hitman who was sentenced to life in federal prison. He is currently serving his sentence in federal prison.[121]
  • Anthony "Tony Green" Urso – former capo and acting capo under Joseph Massino in the 1990s. In 2004, Urso was imprisoned for extortion and loansharking. Currently in prison, his projected release date is December 5, 2021.[122]
  • Gino Galestro – a former newspaper delivery truck driver and soldier who operated in Staten Island. He pled guilty to ordering the murder of associate Robert McKelvey over money debt in 2005. He will be released in 2023.[123]

Former members

  • Cesare "The Tall Guy" Bonventre – a former capo and member of the Sicilian faction. He was related to Vito Bonventre, John Bonventre, and Joseph Bonanno. He was murdered on April 16, 1984.
  • John "Boobie" Cerasani – was a Bonanno family soldier and right-hand man to Sonny "Black" Napolitano.[124] Cerasani was involved in the 1981 murders of three warring captains Alphonse Indelicato, Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone. In July 26, 1982 Cerasani, Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero, Anthony Rabito, Nicholas Santora and Antonio Tomasulo were tried at a Manhattan federal district court. Cerasani was later acquitted.[125]
  • James "Jimmy Legs" Episcopia – a soldier who worked for capo Sonny "Black" Napolitano.[126][127]
  • Salvatore "Sal the Iron Worker" Montagnacapo and acting boss after the 2005 conviction of Vincent Basciano. Based in the Bronx, Montagna was reportedly the leader of the Sicilian faction. Montagna was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and resided in Elmont, New York. His family originated from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. On April 21, 2009, Montagna was deported to Canada and he settled in Montreal. In Montreal, Montagna tried to assume control of the Rizzuto crime family while its leader, Vito Rizzuto, was imprisoned in the United States.[63] Montagna was assassinated on November 24, 2011, outside of Montreal, his body was found near Repentigny, Quebec, in the Assomption River, on Île Vaudry, having been shot at around 10 am.[128]
  • Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia – a former capo who worked with the Sicilian faction in New York.[100] Sciascia served as mediator between Bonanno family and Montreal's Rizzuto family in the 1990s. He was murdered on March 18, 1999.[129][130]
  • Michael Zaffarano – a former capo who was involved in the adult entertainment industry.[131][132] Anthony Mirra a soldier in his crew was responsible for allowing FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone ("Donnie Brasco") to work undercover in the Bonanno crime family.[131] On February 14, 1980, Zaffarano died from a heart attack during an FBI raid.[131][133]

Family crews

  • The Sicilian faction – in the 1950s the Bonanno family started bringing Sicilian-born Mafia members to New York to keep closer ties with the Sicilian Mafia families. American mobsters frequently refer to these Sicilian mobsters as Zips. The derogatory term name derives from their Sicilian birth and their fast-spoken, difficult-to-understand Sicilian dialects.
  • The Motion Lounge crew – run by underboss and capo Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora. This Brooklyn-based crew is active primarily in the Western Brooklyn communities of Williamsburg and East Williamsburg.
  • The Indelicato crew – run by capo Joseph Indelicato. This crew is active in Manhattan and New Jersey. Indelicato's nephew Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato is a soldier in this crew.[82]
  • Bath Avenue crew – run by Bonanno associate Paul Gulino supervised under consigliere Anthony Spero until Gulino got into an argument with Spero and shoved him. Spero then ordered Gulino's death and Gulino was murdered by two members of Gulino's own Bath Avenue crew, Joey Calco and Tommy Reynolds (Calco actually pulled the trigger).[134]
  • Arizona crew — possibly inactive after Joe Bonanno retired.

Allied criminal organization

  • The Bonannos and the Canadian faction – In the mid-1950s, Carmine Galante established two groups to control the illegal rackets in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[135] The Sicilian group was led by Luigi Greco and the Calabrian group was led by Vic Cotroni.[135] The Montreal groups became part of the Bonanno crime family having made members in each group. Joseph Bonanno promoted Vic Controni to become the boss (capo) of both Montreal groups.[135] In 1964, Sicilian group leader Pasquale Cuntrera was arrested and Nicolo "Nick" Rizzuto took over the group starting a war in 1973.[136] The Sicilians killed the Cotroni-Calabrian group underboss Paolo Violi and others.[136] With the death of Vic Controni in 1984, the Rizzuto crime family became the most powerful Mafia family in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[136] In 1988, Nick Rizzuto was convicted of cocaine trafficking and his son Vittorio "Vito" Rizzuto became boss of the family.[136] By 1999 the Rizzuto crime family began working independently, while remaining allies to the Bonanno family.[137][138] Vito Rizzuto was arrested in January 2004 and extradited to the United States on murder charges in August 2006. In May 2007, Rizzuto accepted a plea deal for his involvement in the May 1981 murders of three renegade Bonanno capos in New York and was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was released from prison on October 5, 2012 and subsequently died on December 23, 2013 from lung cancer.[139] On November 10, 2010, Nick Rizzuto was killed at his residence in the Cartierville borough of Montreal.[140][141][142]

Government informants and witnesses

  • Joseph "Big Joe" Massino – former boss from the early 1990s until 2004. Massino became the first official boss from New York to become an informant. While boss, Massino changed the Bonanno family from being the weakest family in New York City to one of the most powerful in the country. He teamed up with Gambino family boss John Gotti to reinstate the Bonanno family on the Mafia Commission. In the early 2000s, Massino was the strongest and most influential boss not in prison. In January 2003, Massino was charged with the 1981 murder of Bonanno capo Dominick Napolitano. Massino had Napolitano killed for admitting FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone (known as Donnie Brasco) to his crew. In 2004, Massino turned informant and testified against members of his own family to avoid the death penalty. In January 2005, Massino wore a surveillance device to record conversations in prison with his acting boss Vincent Basciano.[143][144][145][146][147]
  • Salvatore "Handsome Sal" Vitale – former underboss. In January 2003, Vitale was charged with the 1992 murder of Bonanno associate Robert Perrino. In April 2003, Vitale became a government informant. In July 2004, he testified at the trial of his brother-in-law, boss Joseph Massino.[148][149] As of 2010, Vitale has testified against 51 organized crime figures.[150]
  • Richard Cantarella – former underboss. In December 2002, Cantarella became one of the first Bonanno government witnesses. In January 2003, Cantarella was indicted for the 1991 murder of Bonanno associate Robert Perrino. In June 2004, Cantarella testified against boss Joseph Massino. Cantarella's wife Lauretta, his son Paul, a Bonanno soldier, and cousin Joseph D'Amico, a Bonanno capo, also became government witnesses.[151][152][153][154][155]
  • Frank Coppa, Sr. – former capo. Became a government witness in November 2002.[156][157]
  • Frank "Curly" Lino – former capo. Became the first government witness in Bonanno history. Lino testified at the trial for the 1981 murders of Bonanno capos Alphonse Indelicato, Philip Giaccone, and Dominick Trinchera. Lino then testified on the 1981 murder of Dominick Napolitano. Napolitano was killed by Bonanno family member Robert Lino, Sr. (his cousin) and Ronald Filocomo.[158][159]
  • James "Big Louie" Tartaglione – former capo. In 2003, Tartaglione began wearing a surveillance device and recorded conversations with other Bonanno family members. In 2007, Tartaglione testified against Vincent Basciano and Patrick DeFilippo.[160][161][162][163]
  • Paul "Paulie" Cantarella – former soldier and son of Bonanno capo Richard Cantarella. In 2002, Paul became a government witness with his father and his mother Lauretta.[164][165]
  • Joseph "Joey Moak" D'Amico – former soldier in the crew of his uncle, Bonanno capo Alfred "Al Walker" Embarrato. D'Amico was arrested for the murder of his cousin Anthony Mirra, who had allowed FBI agent Joseph Pistone to work for the family. In March 2003, D'Amico decided to become a government informant.[157][166]
  • Dominick Cicale – former capo and former friend of acting capo Vincent Basciano. In 2007, Cicale became a government witness and testified against Basciano.[167][168][169]
  • Nicholas "P.J" Pisciotti – former acting capo. In 2007, Pisciotti assaulted several Genovese crime family associates in a Little Italy restaurant. When Piscotti learned that Bonanno mobsters Nicholas Santora and Anthony Rabito had given the Genovese family permission to kill him, Pisciotti became a government witness. In 2007, he testified against Vincent Basciano.[170]
  • Joseph Calco – former associate with the Bath Avenue crew and triggerman in the hit on childhood friend Paul Gulino. In 2001, Calco became a government witness and testified against Bonanno consigliere Anthony Spero. Calco then entered the Witness Protection Program under the name "Joseph Milano". While working in Florida, Calco got into a fight and his true identity became public knowledge.[171]
  • Michael "Mikey Y" Yammine – former associate with the Bath Avenue crew. In 2001, Yammine became a government informant and testified against Bonanno consigliere Anthony Spero.[172][173]
  • Duane "Goldie" Leisenheimer – a family associate and ally to Joseph Massino since the age of twelve.[174] He joined the Massino hijacking crew and helped hide Massino in the 1980s. Leisenheimer was the lookout for the 1981 murder of three captains. In 2004, with Salvatore Vital testifying against him, Leisenheimer turned informant against Massino.[174]
  • Chris "King of South Beach" Paciello – former associate of the Bonanno and Colombo crime families.[175] In 1993, Paciello became a government informant.[175]


In popular culture



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  • DeStefano, Anthony. King of the Godfathers: Joseph Massino and the Fall of the Bonanno Crime Family. New York: Pinnacle Books, 2006. ISBN 0-7860-1893-3

Further reading

  • Bonanno, Bill. Pistone, Joseph. (2008). "The Good Guys."
  • Bonanno, Bill (1999). "Bound by Honor: A Mafioso's Story." New York: St Martin's Paperbacks
  • Bonanno, Joe (1983). A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno. New York: St Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-97923-1
  • Talese, Gay (1971). Honor Thy Father. Cleveland: World Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8041-9980-9
  • Pistone, Joseph D.; & Woodley, Richard (1999) Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-66637-4.
  • Pistone, Joseph D. (2004). The Way of the Wiseguy, Running Press. ISBN 0-7624-1839-7.
  • Pistone, Joseph D.; & Brandt, Charles (2007). Donnie Brasco: Unfinished Business, Running Press. ISBN 0-7624-2707-8.
  • Alexander, Shana. The Pizza Connection: Lawyers, Drugs, Money, Mafia. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988.
  • Blumenthal, Ralph. Last Days of the Sicilians. New York: Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books), 1988.
  • Sterling, Claire. Octopus: How the Long Reach of the Sicilian Mafia Controls The global Narcotics Trade. New York: Simon & Schuster (Touchstone), 1990.
  • Stille, Alexander. Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia & the Death of the First Italian Republic. New York: Random House, 1995.
  • Nicaso, Antonio & Lamothe, Lee. Bloodlines: The Rise & Fall of the Mafia's Royal Family. Canada: Harper Collins, 2001.
  • Raab, Selwyn. The Five Families: The Rise, Decline & Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empire. New York: St. Martins Press, 2005.
  • Edwards, Peter. The Northern Connection: Inside Canada's Deadliest Mafia Family. Canada: Optimum International, 2006.
  • Humphreys, Adrian & Lamothe, Lee. The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia & the Rise of Vito Rizzuto. Canada: Wiley, 2006.
  • Crittle, Simon. The Last Godfather: The Rise & Fall of Joey Massino. New York: Berkley Books, 2006.
  • DeStefano, Anthony. The Last Godfather: Joey Massino & the Fall of the Bonanno Crime Family. California: Citadel, 2006.

External links