Joseph "Joe Yac" Yacovelli (January 4, 1928 - April 28, 2006) was the consigliere of the Colombo crime family from 1963 until 1972 and after the shooting of Joseph Colombo briefly held the position of acting boss.
Yacovelli was born in little Italy in 1929 and his family is from Veneto, Italy the same region as Gambino crime family underboss Aniello Dellacroce. At a young age he started his criminal path as a thief and burglar before joining the Profaci crime Family. In 1963 Joseph Magliocco died and the commission, especially Carlo Gambino and Gaetano Lucchese, voted for Joseph Colombo to become the new head of the Profaci family. Yacovelli rose inside the ranks of the Profaci family mainly with help from Carlo Gambino, who vouched for Yacovelli to become the new consigliere. He was a man who always kept a low profile and never married, making the family business his main focus.
Colombo crime family
The newly formed Profaci family, which now went by the name of Colombo, however still kept it's former disputes within it's circles. Joey Gallo, a mutinous member of the Colombo crime family, was not happy with the way things went already dating back to the days when Joe Profaci was boss. Due to a prison sentence Gallo's retaliation was halted for a while but upon his release trouble started all over again. In June 1971, Joseph Colombo was shot while he was going to speak in front of a crowd about Italian civil rights. The shooter, later identified as Jerome Johnson, was immediately shot dead. The murder was most likely fixed by Gallo, who had met Johnson while being in jail. However, Gallo's actions could also have been supported by the Commission itself. Colombo frequently made public appearances to defend the rights of the Italian-American people. The members of the Commission however disliked the fact he was showing himself so much in magazines and television because it brought too much attention to the Mafia. The shooting left Colombo in a deep coma and the family was in need of a successor. Carlo Gambino, then regarded as America's boss of bosses, selected Yacovelli as Colombo's acting boss.
Joey Gallo Murder
One of the first main actions of Yacovelli was to finally get rid of Joey Gallo and his companions. Therefore they had to assassinate him. Fellow Colombo members Carmine Persico and Vincenzo Aloi went along with the plan and organized the hit. In April 1972 a hitsquad entered Umberto's, a restaurant in Manhattans Little Italy partly owned by Genovese crime family capo Matthew Ianniello, where Gallo was seated with family and friends to celebrate his birthday. When seeing the gunmen he tried to flee but it was too late and he was shot dead. The murder brought a lot of heat on the family from the FBI and Yacovelli decided to go into hiding.
In February 1974 he eventually surrendered to police at a radio station in Manhattan. In the meanwhile Joseph Brancato became his successor but only served 5 months due to his conviction for murder. Yacovelli afterwards never returned to his leadership position and is believed to have retired to Florida.
Joseph Yacovelli is listed on by the FBI Records/Information Dissemination Section's "Dead List" as deceased on April 28, 2006.
- theblackvault.com / Federal Bureau of Investigation. FOIPA Request No. 1393598-000 "Subject: Most Recent Version of FBI RIDS 'Dead List'" page 899. September 25, 2019. Accessed July 4, 2020.