Joey Zasa is a fictional character from the novel and movie series The Godfather, where he took over as boss of the Corleone operations in New York in the 1970s.

Biography

Zasa was a member of the Peter Clemenza's old regime. In the years following the death of Frank Pentangeli, Zasa was awarded the Corleone crime family business in New York with the Commission and Michael Corleone's approval. He was known to operate with the assistance of his personal enforcer Anthony Squigliaro, also known as 'The Ant'.

Zasa was feared and, to a certain degree, respected among his peers in New York's underworld of organized crime for his business acumen and utter ruthlessness. However, he came to power at a time when Michael was all the more determined to make the Corleone family legitimate. Additionally, by the time Zasa rose to prominence, the general public had begun to cool toward the gangster lifestyle. Hence, Michael largely kept him at arm's length.

Zasa's flamboyance and hunger for publicity earned him the Corleone family's displeasure as it attracted unwanted public attention to its criminal enterprises. Michael especially disapproved of Zasa's high public profile, as well as the fact that he was heavily involved in the drug trade--even going as far as selling drugs to children. Zasa denied that his underlings were dealing in narcotics, claiming he would kill anyone who did. Michael did, however, trust his word somewhat over that of Vincent Mancini, who claimed that Zasa had been insulting Michael in public. After the two were encouraged to make peace, Mancini bit a chunk out of Zasa's ear, which was later avenged with an attack on Vincent's apartment, which failed.

Desiring more power, Zasa schemed with Don Altobello and Licio Lucchesi to have Michael killed as part of Lucchesi's attempt to thwart Michael's takeover of Immobiliare. In return, Zasa would not only inherit the Corleone family, but become capo di tutti capi of New York. As part of the plot, Zasa tried to have Michael murdered during a meeting with all the various Dons of the Commission in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Michael escaped, but nearly every other Don attending the meeting was killed.

Execution

During a neighborhood religious festival, Zasa and his most trusted bodyguards (Anthony, Frankie and Big Mike) were celebrating alongside Nicky, a casino host, when Zasa saw Lou Pennino scratching the Cadillac that Zasa had put up as a prize in a raffle. When Pennino was confronted, he fled and a hitman, who was disguised with a hood and robe on, carrying The Virgin Mary statue in the festival procession, whipped out a sawed-off shotgun and shot and killed Anthony "The Ant" Squigliaro. Anthony ran for cover while Nicky managed to escape, leaving Frankie and Big Mike trying to engage Neri, only to be gunned down by another hitman. Zasa then fled on foot, and when trying to enter a locked shop, was shot three times in the back by a police officer on horseback, revealed to be Vincent Mancini.

Altobello and Lucchesi considered it an unexpected bonus that he had been eliminated, as his behavior was becoming something of an embarrassment.

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