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Mafia Wiki

Frank Coppa Sr.

Frank Coppa Sr. (born September 11, 1941) is a Sicilian-American mobster who was a powerful captain in the Bonanno crime family and was a close friend of Joseph Massino and Frank Lino and made over $2 billion a year for the Bonanno crime family in stock fraud schemes. In 2002, Coppa became the first Bonanno crime family member to turn state's evidence.


Coppa was born in Manalapan Township, New Jersey. He graduated from high school and spend a few months in college before dropping out. He held jobs as a grocery store clerk, transport truck driver and waiter but soon drifted back into a life of crime. Frank Coppa Senior was a tall, burly and hulking man, he stands at 6'5" and weighed 300 pounds. "Big Frank" Coppa had three sons; one became a doctor while the other two, Frank Lino Jr and Michael followed him into his school bus business.

Coppa lived in New Jersey and later Staten Island, but operated his criminal activities on the eastern edge of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and Williamsburg on the corner of Broadway/Kent in Brooklyn. This area included a low-income municipal housing project called Marlboro Houses, where he eventually became involved in drug trafficking. A cigar smoker, Coppa regularly disregarded New York State smoking laws. He always wore slacks with button down shirts and a black, short mink coat.

Coppa acquired many assets, including parking garage leases, soft drink vending machine and coin-operated telephone contracts and a chain of rotisserie chicken restaurants. Through his wife and sons, Coppa owned a school bus company named Three Brothers{ My Three Sons, Daniel T and Frezcon}. He used his influence to win a city contract to bus children with disabilities to and from school. Despite a lavish lifestyle that included cocaine abuse, Coppa accumulated over a half a billion dollars in savings from his illegal activities.

Criminal career

At age 19, Coppa was arrested for attempted burglary of a clothing store, but did not spend any prison time.

Coppa began his serious criminal career selling stolen stolen watches and furs from transport truck hijackings, grossing $20,000. In Bensonhurst he associated with the Colombo crime family and Genovese crime family before he eventually joined the Bonanno family. He elevated himself from a "sidewalk soldier" to a shady businessman. Coppa was one of the Bonanno crime family's most powerful mobsters on Wall Street and is credited for practically inventing the pump-and-dump stock scheme.

In the early 1970's, Coppa first became involved in stock fraud schemes. Coppa and his associates bought stock in Tucker Drilling, a nearly worthless oil drilling company. Coppa bribed stockbrokers to sell to the stock to the public at high prices. For brokers who did not cooperate in the scheme, Coppa employed threats and physical violence. When the stock price reached a high point, Coppa and his associates sold their stock holdings. The remaining investors lost their investments.

In 1977, boss Carmine Galante inducted Coppa into the Bonanno crime family in recognition of his ability to earn enormous amounts of money and being a ruthless killer who was good at killing people, like most mobsters he was a great money-maker and a stone-cold killer.

In 1978, Coppa survived an assassination attempt. As he was entering his Mercedes S-Class, a bomb detonated by Bonanno hit squad on the orders from Bonanno boss Carmine Galante. Galante ordered a hit on Coppa to eliminate a potential power-grabbing situation and because Coppa was a Rastelli loyalist. Coppa escaped with severe third degree burns all over his body and shrapnel wounds to his face, chest and legs. The car bombing happend a Coppa controlled business, the Bagel Nosh, located on Richmond Ave and Victory Blvd. near his home on Staten Island NY.

Legal problems

In 1979, Coppa was convicted for his role in the Tucker Drilling scam but successfully avoided a prison sentence.

During the 1980s, Coppa was indicted for income tax evasion for not declaring income received from his bus company. In 1992, Coppa was convicted and received several years in prison. Traumatized by his sentence, Coppa reportedly broke into tears soon after entering prison. In 1994, Coppa was released from prison.

By the late 1990's, Joseph Massino and Coppa had become close associates. Massino appreciated Coppa because his stock schemes netted large amounts of money for the Bonanno family. During this period, Massino and Coppa went to France with their wives to celebrate Massino's birthday. Coppa paid for the entire trip, which included stays at expensive hotels and meals at classy restaurants.

Joseph Massino and Frank Coppa in Manhattan.

On March 3, 2000, Coppa was indicted on stock fraud charges. From 1993 to 1996, Coppa and other Bonanno associates collaborated with brokers at two defunct stock firms, White Rock Partners and State Street Capital Markets, to drive up the price of some penny stocks. In 2002, Coppa was convicted and sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

Government witness

In October 2002, having served several months on his recent stock fraud conviction, Coppa was indicted again on racketeering charges of extortion against Barry Weinberg, a Bonanno business associate. To avoid prosecution on his own criminal charges, Weinberg secretly recorded conversations for law enforcement in which Coppa pressed him for extortion payments.

Facing charges that would have all but assured he would die in prison if convicted, Coppa decided to become a government witness, later declaring that, "I didn't want to do no more time." He became the first member of the Bonanno family to break his blood oath; until then the Bonannos had been the only family to have never had a made member turn informer since the Castellammarese War. Coppa's defection opened the floodgates for a mass defection of Bonanno crime family high ranking members to the government, eventually including Joseph Massino himself.

Coppa testified against Joseph Massino. According to Coppa's testimony, the government allowed him to keep $1.7 million in personal assets and a townhouse in Florida.