The Lucchese crime family (pronounced Lou-KAY-zee) is one of the "Five Families" that rules organized crime in the United States with an iron fist, within the United States phenomenon known as the Mafia, the Mob, (or La Cosa Nostra).
From the 1930s-1990s, the Lucchese crime family was one of the wealthiest and most powerful criminal organizations in the world.
The family originated in the early 1920s with Gaetano Reina serving as boss up until his murder in 1930. It was taken over by Gaetano Gagliano during the Castellammarese War, and led by him until his death in 1951. The family under Gagliano was peaceful and low key, concentrating its criminal actives in the Bronx, Manhattan, and New Jersey. The next boss was Gaetano Lucchese, who turned the family around to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful criminal organizations in the world. Lucchese teamed up with Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino to control New York. When Lucchese died of natural causes in 1967, Carmine Tramunti controlled the family for a brief time; he was arrested in 1973. Anthony Corallo then gained control of the family. Corallo was extremely intelligent, secretive and resourceful and soon became one of the most powerful members of the Commission. He was arrested and tried in the famous Commission case of 1986.
For most of its history, the Lucchese family was reckoned as one of the most peaceful and secretive crime families in America. However, that changed when Anthony Corallo decided to put Vittorio Amuso in charge of the organization. Amuso later promoted one of his longtime partners and friends, Anthony Casso, to underboss. They instituted one of the bloodiest and most violent reigns in Mafia history, ordering absolutely anyone who crossed them to be murdered, and ordering the deaths of thousands of people, as many as 3,000 people were murdered on Casso and Amuso's orders, making them among the deadliest crime bosses of all time. Amuso was arrested in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison. Several Lucchese mobsters, fearing for their lives, turned government informant. The highest-profile of these was acting boss Alphonse D' Arco, who became the first boss of an American mafia family to testify against the mob. This led to the arrest of the entire Lucchese family hierarchy, with Casso also becoming a government witness. As of July 2019, Amuso still remains the official boss.
- 1 History
- 2 The Reina Gang
- 3 The Two Tommies
- 4 The Lucchese era
- 5 NY Chart of the "French Connection" heroin trail. CICRA 1973 NYC Tramunti and the French Connection
- 6 Corallo And The Jaguar XJ
- 7 The Iron Fists of Amuso and Casso
- 8 Acting bosses
- 9 Mafia Cops
- 10 French Connection
- 11 The Lufthansa Heist
- 12 Three-man ruling panel
- 13 Current position and leadership
- 14 Historical leadership
- 15 Boss (official and acting)
- 16 Street Boss
- 17 Underboss (official and acting)
- 18 Consigliere (official and acting)
- 19 Current family members
- 20 Administration
- 21 Capos
- 22 New York
- 23 The Bronx faction
- 24 Manhattan
- 25 Long Island
- 26 Brooklyn faction
- 27 New Jersey
- 28 Soldiers
- 29 Imprisoned Members
- 30 Family crews
- 31 Recruitment gangs
- 32 Controlled unions
- 33 Former Members
- 34 Government Informants and Witnesses
- 35 Allied and Rival criminal groups
- 36 Mafia allies
- 37 Other allies
- 38 Rivals
- 39 In popular culture
The Reina Gang
The early history of the Lucchese crime family can be traced to members of the Morello gang based in East Harlem and the Bronx. Gaetano Reina would leave the Morello's around the time of World War I and created his own family based in East Harlem and the Bronx. As the family's leader, Reina avoided the Mafia-Cammora War for control over New York City. He instead focused on controlling the home ice distribution business throughout New York City. During the early 1920s, Reina became a powerful prohibition era boss and aligned himself with Giuseppe Masseria, the most powerful Italian-American crime boss in New York. Masseria soon became involved in the Castellammarese War, a vicious gang war with rival Sicilian boss Salvatore Maranzano. At this point, Masseria started demanding a share of Reina's criminal profits, prompting Reina to consider changing allegiance to Maranzano. When Masseria learned of Reina's possible betrayal, he plotted with Reina lieutenant Tommy Gagliano to kill him. On February 26, 1930, gunman Vito Genovese murdered Reina outside his aunt's apartment. With Reina dead, Masseria bypassed Gagliano, who expected to take control of the Reina gang, and installed his underling Joseph Pinzolo as boss. Furious with this betrayal, Gaetano Gagliano and Gaetano Lucchese secretly defected to Maranzano. In September 1930, Lucchese lured Pinzolo to a Manhattan office building, where Pinzolo was murdered.
The Two Tommies
With Masseria's murder on April 15th 1931, Salvatore Maranzano won the Castellammarese War. He then outlined a peace plan to all the Sicilian and Italian Mafia leaders in the United States. There would be 26 organizations (to be known as "families") throughout the country who would elect their own bosses. Maranzano also reorganized all the Italian-American gangs in New York City into five New York families to be headed by Maranzano, Charles Luciano, Vincent Mangano, Tommy Gagliano and Joseph Profaci. Gagliano was awarded the old Reina organization, with Lucchese as his underboss and Stefano Rondelli as his consigliere. The final element of Maranzano's peace plan was that he would become the supreme leader of all the families, the Boss of all Bosses. However, Luciano and other mob members did not want another top leader. When Maranzano learned about Luciano's disaffection, he hired a gunman to kill him. However, in September 1931 Luciano struck first. Several Jewish assassins provided by Luciano associate Meyer Lansky murdered Maranzano in his office. Charles Luciano now became the most powerful mafia boss in New York, and became the head of the Commission.
Luciano kept the family structure as created by Salvatore Maranzano, but removed the Boss of Bosses in favor of a ruling body, The Commission. The Commission's responsibility was to regulate the families' affairs and resolve all differences between the families. The first Commission members included Luciano family boss Luciano as head of the Commission, Mangano family boss Vincent Mangano, Gagliano family boss Gaetano Gagliano, Profaci family boss Joseph Profaci, Chicago Outfit boss Al Capone, and Bonanno family boss Joseph Bonanno. Although the Commission was technically a democratic institution, it was actually controlled by Luciano and his allies.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Gaetano Gagliano and Gaetano Lucchese led their family into profitable areas of the trucking and clothing industries. When Charles Luciano was sent to prison for pandering in 1936, a rival alliance took control of the Commission. The alliance of Mangano, Bonanno, Buffalo crime family boss Stefano Magaddino, and Profaci used their power to control organized crime in America. Understanding his vulnerability, Gagliano was careful to avoid opposing this new alliance. Gagliano was a quiet man who avoided the media and stayed off the streets. He preferred to pass his orders to the family though Lucchese and a few other close allies. In contrast, Lucchese was the public face of the family who carried out Gagliano's orders. In 1946, Lucchese attended the Cosa Nostra Havana Conference in Cuba on behalf of Gagliano. Gagliano remained the hidden boss of the family until his death in 1951 or 1953.
The Lucchese era
Boss Gaetano Lucchese, during a July 1958 government hearing in Washington, DC After Gagliano's death in 1951, Lucchese became family boss and appointed Vincenzo Rao as his Consigliere and Stefano LaSalle as his Underboss. Lucchese continued with Gagliano's policies, making the now Lucchese family one of the most profitable in New York. Lucchese established control over Teamsters union locals, workers' co-operatives and trade associations, and rackets at the new Idlewild Airport. Lucchese also expanded family rackets in Manhattan's Garment District and in related trucking industry around New York City. Lucchese built close relations with many powerful New York politicians, and prominent politicians all over the country, including mayors, governors and senators. Lucchese had both Mayors William O'Dwyer and Vincent Impellitteri and dozens of members of the judiciary in his pocket. Lucchese had hundreds of politicians, law enforcement and government officials in his pocket over the years, and he enjoyed more political power than nearly every gangster in America. Dozens of prominent politicians, government officials, and law enforcement officials around the country aided the Lucchese family on numerous occasions. Throughout his regime, Lucchese ruled his vast criminal empire with an iron fist, he was a multi-billionaire, he was personally making tens of millions of dollars a day, and billions of dollars a year, he turned the family into a multi-billion dollar international organized crime empire, and was literally untouchable and virtually omnipotent, he was immune from federal prosecution and untouched by law enforcement for decades, making him perhaps the most powerful and influential crime lord in the world, at the time. He kept a low profile for which he became lauded in Mafia circles. He was indeed one of the most powerful members of the Commission, and one of the, if not the most powerful and dangerous mafia boss in America. Remembering how the Mustache Petes treated their soldati like mere commodities, he saw to it that his men were well taken care of. During his iron-fisted reign, Lucchese made the family stronger and more powerful than ever, bringing vast political influence and raking in a staggering $600 billion a year, by making over a half a trillion dollars a year, Lucchese spent billions of dollars on political, government, and law enforcement protection, personal bank vaults, and laundered billions of dollars in his numerous businesses, companies, industries, bars, stores, night clubs, strip clubs, five-star restaurants, casinos, airports, banks, labor unions, and hotels. Throughout his powerful reign, Lucchese enjoyed peace, freedom, luxury, prosperity, invincibility, unlimited wealth and power. Lucchese seemingly had the power and wealth of a king, and enjoyed spreading and sharing his political. government and law enforcement protection and extraordinary wealth and power amongst his crime family and the Commission, during his 16-year regime, Lucchese never once was arrested, indicted or convicted of any crime.
When Lucchese became boss, he helped Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino in their fights to take control of their families. By 1962, Lucchese and Gambino controlled the Commission. Together they backed the Gallo crew from the rival Profaci family in its war with their boss Joe Profaci. Carlo Gambino and Gaetano Lucchese saw the war as a way to take over rackets from the distracted Profaci's. After uncovering a plot by Joe Bonanno to assassinate them, Lucchese and Gambino used the Commission to strip Bonanno of his role as boss. This power play started a war within the Bonanno crime family and served to strengthen both the Lucchese and Gambino families.
Lucchese led a quiet, stable life until his death from a brain tumor on July 13, 1967. At the time of his death, he had not spent a day in jail in 44 years. Lucchese left his family in a very powerful position in New York City. The Lucchese family had a stronghold in East Harlem, the Bronx and consisted of about 200 made members. Lucchese intended for longtime capo Anthony Corallo to succeed him. However, since he was imprisoned at the time, he named another longtime capo, Carmine Tramunti, as acting boss until Corallo's release.
Tramunti and the French Connection
At the time of his appointment as temporary boss, Carmine Tramunti was almost 70 years old and in ill health. With boss-in-waiting Anthony Corallo in prison, Tramunti was expected to hold power until Corallo's release. Tramunti faced a number of criminal charges during his time as acting boss and was eventually convicted of financing a large heroin smuggling operation, the infamous French Connection. This scheme was responsible for distributing millions of dollars in heroin along the East Coast during the early seventies.
Before the French Connection trail, the seized heroin was stored in the NYPD property/evidence storage room pending trial. In a brazen scheme, criminals stole hundreds of kilograms of heroin worth $70 million from the room and replaced them with bags of flour. Officers discovered the theft when they noticed insects eating the so-called heroin. The scope and depth of this scheme is still unknown, but officials suspect the thieves had assistance from corrupt NYPD officers. Certain plotters received jail sentences, including suchmajor heroin kingpins as Virgil Alessi, Anthony Loria and Vincent Papa (he was later assassinated in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia). Papa's crew is considered to be the masterminds behind the whole scheme of stealing all the "French Connection" narcotics from the NYPD property room. Although never officially proven, this is considered fact as published in NY Newsday's Pulitzer Prize winning "The Heroin Trail" and in Gregory Wallace's book "Papa's Game" In 1974, after Tramunti's incarceration, Anthony Corallo finally took charge of the family.
Corallo And The Jaguar XJ
After Tramunti's incarceration in 1974, Anthony Corallo finally took control of the Lucchese family. Corallo came from the Queens faction of the family. Known as "Tony Ducks" from his ease at 'ducking' criminal convictions, Corallo was a boss squarely in Lucchese's mold. Corallo had been heavily involved in labor racketeering and worked closely with Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters president, during the 1940s and 1950s. Corallo also enjoyed close ties to the Painters and Decorators Union', the Conduit Workers Union, and the United Textile Workers Union. Corrallo appointed Salvatore "Tom Mix" Santoro as the Underboss and supervisor of all labor and construction racketeering operations in New York, and Christopher Furnari as the reputed Consigliere. The family prospered under Corallo's leadership, particularly in narcotics trafficking, labor racketeering, and major illegal gambling.
Corallo never discussed business during sit-downs, fearing that the FBI was monitoring the conversations. Instead, he used the car phone in his Jaguar XJ Series II that was driven by his bodyguard and chauffeur Capo Salvatore Avellino. Corallo was driven around New York while on the phone discussing business. Salvatore Avellino and Aniello Migliore shifted as Corallo's chauffeurs during the 1970s and 1980s.
Corallo, a huge fan of the New Jersey faction of the family, reputedly inducted and promoted Anthony Accetturo and Michael Taccetta into the organization and put them in charge of the Jersey Crew, which reportedly controlled most of the loansharking and illegal gambling operations in Newark, New Jersey at the time.
In the early 1980s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) finally managed to plant a bug in the Jaguar XJ. The FBI recorded Boss Anthony Corallo and Capo Salvatore Avellino speaking at great length about mob affairs, including illegal gambling, labor racketeering, drug trafficking, and murder. Corallo was arrested and put on trial along with all the heads of the Five Families at the time. This trial became legendary as the Mafia Commission Trial. Corallo was convicted on numerous charges and January 13, 1987 was sentenced to 100 years in prison, where he died in 2000.
To succeed him as boss, Corallo originally chose acting boss Anthony "Buddy" Luongo. However, Luongo disappeared in 1986. Corallo's ultimate choice was Vittorio Amuso. Allegedly both Amuso and Anthony Casso were candidates for the job. Evidence suggests that Corallo wanted Casso, but Casso convinced him to select Amuso instead, this allowed Casso to operate as boss by using Amuso as his puppet, Amuso took the heat as boss but Casso was really in charge. Amuso made Casso his underboss in 1989, allowing him to exert great influence over family decisions.
The Iron Fists of Amuso and Casso
During the late 1980s, the Lucchese family underwent a period of great turmoil. Vittorio Amuso and his fierce underboss, Anthony Casso, instituted one of the most violent reigns in American Mafia history. Both men were heavily involved in labor racketeering, extortion, drug trafficking and committed many murders. Amuso and Casso were strong rivals of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti and strong allies of Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante. Angry over Gotti's unauthorized murder of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, Amuso, Casso, and Gigante conspired to murder Gotti. On April 13, 1986 a car-bombing killed Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco, but missed Gotti. This assassination attempt sparked a long and confusing 'tension' between these three crime families with many deaths reported on all sides.
During the late 1980s, Amuso began demanding 50% of the profits generated by the Jersey Crew. New Jersey leaders Anthony Accetturo and Michael Taccetta refused Amuso's demand. In retaliation, Amuso and Casso ordered all 30 members of the Jersey Crew killed—the-now-infamous "whack Jersey" order. He summoned all 30 members of the Jersey Crew to a meeting in Brooklyn, inside an abonded building where over a dozen hitmen with uzi submachine guns, shotguns, and two .50 caliber machine guns were all set waiting to kill them. Fearful for their lives, all the Jersey crew members skipped the meeting and went into hiding.
Michael Taccetta and Anthony Accetturo were later put on trial in 1990, as both Amuso and Casso were implicated in a case involving the fitting of tens of thousands of windows in New York at over-inflated prices, and the pair went into hiding of that same year, naming Alphonse D' Arco as acting boss. For the next few years, Amuso and Casso ruled the family from afar and ordered the execution of anyone they deemed troublesome, either they were considered rivals or potential informants. All of this convinced many Lucchese wiseguys that Amuso and Casso were no longer acting or thinking rationally.
What followed next was a series of botched hits on family members suspected of being informants. Ironically, these hits caused several family members to actually turn informer. Amuso ordered the slaying of capo Peter Chiodo, who along with Casso was in charge of the Windows Case operation. He was shot 18 times with uzi submachine guns, but still survived. After Amuso ordered hits on Chiodo's wife, children, nephew, niece, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, and brother-in-law in violation of longstanding rules against families being harmed, Chiodo turned state's evidence and provided the entire windows operation that eventually controlled $3 billion in window replacements, sold in New York City. As Amuso also sanctioned the hit on Anthony Accetturo, who was on trial in 1990, he also cooperated with the government.
The planned executions went as high as street boss Alphonse D' Arco. Furious over the failed hit on Peter Chiodo, Amuso set up D'Arco to be killed at a Manhattan hotel. However, this hit also came undone after D'Arco saw four hitmen thru the front lobby window drive by with shotguns and AK-47 assault rifles, one hitman who he recognized as a notorious hitman for the Lucchese family, D'Arco then went into the bathroom holding his pistol. Recognizing this as a hit, D'Arco ran out of the hotel as fast as he could, and fled for his life and turned himself over to the FBI to spare him and his family from Vittorio Amuso and Anthony Casso's reign or terror. He was the first acting boss of a New York crime family, acting or otherwise, to become an informant.
Law enforcement eventually caught up with the two fugitives. On July 29, 1991, the FBI captured Amuso in Scranton, Pennsylvania in one of his many mega mansions with his mistress, and on January 19, 1993 the FBI captured Casso in Mount Olive, New Jersey. Amuso steadfastly refused all offers from the government to make a deal and become a government witness, even spitting in one FBI Agents face. In contrast, Casso reluctantly agreed to a deal on March 1st, 1994 and started revealing Lucchese family secrets. One of the biggest secrets was that Casso had two New York Police Department detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, to provide Casso with sensitive police information and even perform to contract murders. Casso related how Eppolito and Caracappa, on Christmas Day 1986, murdered an innocent Brooklyn man called Nicholas Guido who had the same name as a suspected government informant. Casso told the government that in 1992 a Lucchese hit squad tried to kill the sister, aunt, uncle, wife, daughter, son, and nephew of another suspected informant, violating the alleged Mafia "rule" barring violence against family members. Unfortunately for Casso, his testimony proved so inconsistent that prosecutors accused him of breaking the terms of his deal with them. As a result, the court ordered no leniency for Casso at his sentencing.
In January 1993, Vittorio Amuso received eight life sentences. In 1994, Anthony Casso also received eight life sentences. Casso had reportedly conspired with reputed consigliere Frank Lastorino and Brooklyn faction leaders George Zappola, George Conte, Frank "Bones" Papagni and Frank Gioia, Jr. into murdering Steven Crea, Amuso's acting underboss of the Bronx, as well as Gambino crime family acting boss John A. "Junior" Gotti, son of the imprisoned John Gotti, along with members of the Genovese crime family once again. But due to massive indictments, none of the plots were committed.
When Amuso went to prison, he chose Joseph DeFede to be his acting boss. Throughout the mid 1990s Vittorio Amuso continued to control the family from prison. DeFede, who supervised the powerful Garment District racket, reportedly earned more than $500 million to $600 million. DeFede placed Steven Crea in charge of the family's labor and construction racketeering operations. Crea increased the Lucchese family earnings from these rackets to a staggering $1 billion every year. But as US law enforcement kept pressuring the organized crime activities in New York, DeFede was arrested and indicted on nine counts of racketeering in 1998. DeFede pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to five years in prison. Angry at DeFede's guilty plea, Amuso promoted Crea as the new acting boss.
Steven Crea success with the labor and construction rackets convinced Amuso that DeFede had been previously skimming off these profits. In late 1999, Amuso placed a contract on DeFede's life. On September 6, 2000, Crea and seven other Lucchese members were arrested and jailed on extortion and racketeering charges, mostly to the supervising of the construction sites with various capos Dominic Truscello and Joseph Civitello.
After Crea's imprisonment, the consigliere Louis Daidone, took control of the family. However, Daidone's tenure was short lived. After his release from the prison, the scared DeFede became a government witness and helped the government convict Daidone of murder and conspiracy. Daidone's conviction was also helped by the testimony from Alphonse D' Arco in September 2004.
In April 2006, Anthony Casso revealed that two respected New York City police detectives worked as hitmen and informants for Casso during the 1980s and early 1990s before their retirement. They were Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who spent much of their combined 44 years with the NYPD committing murders and leaking confidential information to the Lucchese family. Between 1986 and 1990, Eppolito and Caracappa participated in eighteen murders and received $2 million from Casso in bribes and payments for murder 'contracts'. Casso used Caracappa and Eppolito to pressure the Gambino crime family by murdering several of their members. This is because Anthony Casso, along with the imprisoned Vittorio Amuso and Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante, wanted their rival John Gotti out of the way. Caracappa and Eppolito are now seen as the main source of 'tension' between these three families during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
For one contract, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa kidnapped mobster James Hydell, forced him into their car trunk, and delivered him to Casso for torture for hours and murder. Hydell's body was never found. The two detectives also shot Bruno Facciolo, who was found in Brooklyn in the trunk of a car with a canary in his mouth. After pulling Gambino crime family capo Edward Lino for a routine traffic check, the detectives murdered him on the expressway in his 1990 Mercedes S-Class. In 2006, Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted of murdering James Hydell, Nicholas Guido, John "Otto" Heidel, John Doe, Anthony DiLapi, Bruno Facciolo, Edward Lino, and Bartholomew Boriello on the orders of Casso and the Lucchese family. They were sentenced to life imprisonment.
French Connection Crew (1967-1973) Carmine Tramunti Virgil Alessi Louis Cirillo Anthony Loria Vincent Papa Anthony Pasero This organization was created and controlled by the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families, a Lucchese family crew were responsible for the theft of approximately $70 million in heroin taken from the NYPD property room.
The Lufthansa Heist
The Lufthansa Heist was at the time the largest cash robbery in history, the theft of approximately $6 million in cash, $3 million in gold bars, and $2.5 million in jewelry from Building 261 at the Lufthansa cargo terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. This was the largest robbery in history of the world, at the time. Based on inside information from a Lufthansa Cargo Supervisor Louis Werner who owed a large gambling debt to Burke-controlled bookmaker Martin Krugman, Burke planned and recruited a crew of criminal acquaintances that included Tommy DeSimone, Angelo Sepe, Louis "The Whale" Cafora, Joseph "Joe Buddha" Manri, Robert "Frenchy" McMahon and Paolo LiCastri. Burke's son, Frank James Burke, drove a "crash car" whose function was to ram all police cars in pursuit of the getaway vehicle. Parnell Edwards did not directly participate in the robbery but was ordered to dispose of the van used in the robbery at a junk yard compactor in New Jersey. Burke recieved permission from his crew boss Paul Vario, an extremely powerful and well-respected capo in the Lucchese crime family. Vario then had to get permission from his boss Anthony Corallo, the boss of the Lucchese crime family, Corallo gave Vario his blessing for a large cut of $1 million.
The robbery took place during the early morning hours on December 11, 1978. Because JFK Airport was divided between the Gambino crime family and the Lucchese Family, permission was asked and granted by the Gambino capo who controlled the airport: John Gotti. John Gotti's crew expected $300,000 from the proceeds of the robbery and Paolo LiCastri, an associate under John Gotti in the Gambino Family became the sixth gunman to ensure the Gambinos' interests were looked after.
A van containing the robbers and a "crash car" arrived at the Lufthansa cargo terminal at 3:00 a.m. The crash car, driven by Frank Burke, remained in the parking lot. Three men got out of the van and entered the front door of the cargo terminal. The two men left in the van drove to the rear of the building, cut the lock on the security fence and replaced it with one of their own. The robbers, all armed, wore dark clothing and ski masks. The three robbers entered the building and rounded up all ten employees at gunpoint. Since 3am was 'lunch hour' for the shift, most personnel were already in the cafeteria. When the two robbers in the van returned to the front of the building, they encountered a security guard who was pistol whipped and handcuffed. One of the robbers led the security guard inside the building where he was forced to the floor.
Since the robbers had inside information, all the employees were accounted for, handcuffed, and forced down on the floor. At gunpoint the shift supervisor was forced to deactivate the general alarm system as well as all additional silent alarms within the vault and escort the robbers inside the vault. The supervisor was forced to open the cargo bay door. The robbers drove the van inside the loading bay and packed it with every bag of untraceable currency and jewelry they found in the vault.
After the van was loaded, the supervisor was taken back to the lunchroom, handcuffed, and forced to the floor next to the other employees. The robbers ordered the employees not to make a move for at least 15 minutes. To ensure compliance, the robbers confiscated the wallets of every employee and threatened the lives of their families if instructions were not followed. This 15-minute buffer was crucial because Werner's inside information made the robbers aware that the Port Authority Police could seal off the entire airport within 90 seconds, preventing any vehicle or person from coming in or going out.
At 4:21 a.m., the van containing the robbers and the stolen cash pulled out of the cargo terminal and left JFK, followed by the crash car, and drove to a garage in Canarsie, Brooklyn, where Jimmy Burke was waiting. There, the money was switched to a third vehicle that was driven away by Jimmy Burke and his son Frank. The rest of the robbers left and drove home, except Paolo LiCastri, who insisted on taking the subway home. Parnell Edwards put stolen license plates on the van and was supposed to drive it to an auto junk yard in New Jersey where it would be compacted to scrap metal, but got high instead and left the van for the police to find.
Burke and his son Frank drove the third car with all the stolen money to a safehouse to be counted. This is when James Burke realized the true scope of the robbery. Over the course of time, shares were distributed to the robbers and to others who played a supporting part in the robbery. Burke's take of the robbery money was believed to have been roughly $2 million. $2.5 million went to Lucchese crime family captain Paul Vario, and $1 million went to Lucchese boss Anthony Corallo. The remainder was disbursed among people who supported the robbery, and to the six actual robbers themselves, who received the smallest share, anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on their role in the robbery. Besides Paul Vario, Anthony Corallo, and Jimmy Burke few participants in the robbery received more than $50,000 and few lived more than six months.
Three-man ruling panel
With the arrest of acting boss Louis Daidone in 2003 imprisoned boss Vittorio Amuso created a three-man ruling panel to run the family. The panel consisting of three senior capos Aniello Migliore, Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna brought the family power back into the Bronx. According to a February 2005, New York Post article, though nowhere near as large they were from the 1930s to the 1990s, the Lucchese family consisted of about 14 capos and 200 soldiers making the family the fourth largest in New York City. In 2006, the former acting boss Steven Crea was released from prison after serving five years, under restrictive parole conditions that expired in 2009. The three man panel jointly continued to maintain the power over the family, acting as street bosses.
On December 18, 2007, two members of the ruling panel Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna were indicted along with top New Jersey faction capos Ralph Vito Perna and Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. In the New Jersey indictment a total of thirty-two members and associates of the New Jersey faction were arrested. Information obtained from New Jersey law enforcement agencies investigation Operation Heat revealed that the New Jersey faction controlled a $40 billion illegal gambling, money laundering and racketeering ring from New Jersey to Costa Rica.
On October 1, 2009, the Lucchese family was hit with two separate indictments charging 92 members and associates with bribery and racketeering. In the first indictment 48, members and associates of the Lucchese family were arrested.The indicted charged Joseph DiNapoli, Matthew Madonna and acting capo Anthony Croce with running operations that nearly grossed $15 billion from illegal gambling, loansharking, weapons trafficking, bribery, murder and extortion. In the second indictment obtained from investigation "Operation Open House" 12 more Lucchese mobsters were charged with bribery. Acting capo Andrew Disimone and others mobsters were charged with bribing New York Police Department (NYPD) detective and sergeant posing as crooked cops to protect illegal poker parlors.
Current position and leadership
Although in prison for life, Vittorio Amuso remained the official boss of the Lucchese crime family until 2012 when he was replaced by Steven Crea. Amuso had been boss for almost a quarter-century but it is unclear how much influence he had over the crime family's day-to-day affairs in later years. From 2003-2012, a three-man ruling panel consisting of Aniello Migliore, Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna had been running the family. All three men are long time capos in the family, but Migliore was believed to be the most powerful. Arguably, Migliore, DiNapoli and Madonna brought stability to the Lucchese family during the 2000s. The family's presence remains strong in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and New Jersey.
A March 2009 article in the New York Post stated that the Lucchese family consists of approximately 200 "made" members, possibly making it the smallest of the Five Families, and nowhere near as gigantic and immeasurable as it once was from the 1930s-1990s, although not the weakest. It is probably the third most powerful family (behind the Genovese and Gambino families).
In late 2009 the Lucchese family was handed three federal indictments showing that the family continues to be very active in organized crime, especially in labor racketeering, illegal gambling, and extortion. In one of the indicitments ruling panel members Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna were charged with controlling a ring that extorted and bribed businesses and construction sites in Manhattan and the Bronx. Also in 2009, underboss Steven Crea's parole expired and consigliere Joseph Caridi was released from prison after serving almost six years.
Boss (official and acting)
The boss is the head of the family and the top decision maker. Only the boss, underboss or consigliere can initiate an associate into the family, allowing them to become a made man. The boss can promote or demote family members at will. The Acting Boss is responsible for running the crime family while the boss is incarcerated or incapacitated. If the boss dies, the acting boss may become the new boss, or be stepped over and lose his position as Acting Boss.
1922–1930 — Gaetano Reina — murdered on February 26, 1930
1930 — Joseph Pinzolo — murdered on September 5, 1930
1930–1951 — Gaetano Gagliano — died on February 16, 1951 of natural causes.
1951–1967 — Gaetano Lucchese — became ill in 1966, died on July 13, 1967 from a brain tumor.
1967–1973 — Carmine Tramunti — imprisoned in October 1973
1973–1986 — Anthony Corallo — indicted on February 15, 1985; convicted on November 19, 1986 in the Mafia Commission Trial and sentenced on January 13, 1987 to 100 years in prison.
1986–2012 — Vittorio Amuso — arrested in 1991, received a life sentence in January 1993
Acting 1998–2000: Steven "Wonderboy" Crea: imprisoned on September 6, 2000.
Acting 2000–2003: Louis "Louie Bagels" Daidone: imprisoned March 2003, received life sentence in January 2004.
Acting 2009–2017: Matthew "Matt" Madonna: indicted 2007 and 2009; imprisoned 2015–present; indicted 2017, demoted.
Acting 2017–present: Michael “Big Mike” DeSantis
The Street Boss is considered the go-to-guy for the boss and is responsible to pass on orders to lower ranking members. In some instances a Ruling panel (of capos) substituted the Street boss role. the ruling panel was disbanded in 2012 when Steven "wonderboy" Crea became boss.
1990–1991 — Alphonse D' Arco – promoted to Acting Boss
Underboss (official and acting)
The underboss is the number two position in the family. Also known as the "capo bastone" in some criminal organizations, this individual is responsible for ensuring that profits from criminal enterprises flow up to the boss and generally oversees the selection of the caporegime(s) and soldier(s) to carry out murders and other criminal activities. The underboss takes control of the crime family after the boss's death. Keeping this position until a new boss is chosen, which in some cases was the Underboss.
1920–1930 — Gaetano Gagliano – promoted to boss
1930–1951 — Gaetano Lucchese – promoted to boss
1951–1972 — Stefano "Steve" LaSalle – retired
1973–1978 — Aniello Migliore – resigned
1978–1986 — Salvatore Santoro – imprisoned in the Commission Case
1986–1989 — Mariano "Mac" Macaluso – retired in 1989
1993–present: Steven "Wonderboy" Crea: acting boss 1998–2000;imprisoned 2000–2006; indicted 2017.
Acting 1998–2000: Eugene "Boopsie" Castelle: imprisoned in November 2000.
Acting 2017-present: Patrick "Patty" Dellorusso
Consigliere (official and acting)
Consigliere is an advisor to the boss and usually the number three person in a crime family.
1931–1953 — Stefano "Steve" Rondelli – retired
1953–1973 — Vincenzo Rao – imprisoned from 1965 to 1970, retired
Acting 1965–1967 — Mariano "Mac" Macaluso Acting 1967–1973 — Paul Vario – imprisoned 1974 to 1976
1973–1981 — Vincent "Vinnie Beans" Foceri – retired
1981–1986 — Christopher Furnari – imprisoned in 1986 as a result of the Comission Trial.
1986–1987 — Ettore Coco – retired
1987–1989 — Anthony Casso – promoted to underboss in 1990.
1989–1993 — Frank Lastorino – imprisoned in April 1993.
1993–1996 — Frank Papagni – imprisoned in September 1996.
1996–2003 — Louis Daidone – was acting boss in 2001.
2003–present — Joseph Caridi – imprisoned 2003 to 2009.
2009–2017: Joseph DiNapoli: indicted 2007 and 2009; indicted 2017
2017-present: Andrew DiSimone
Current family members
Boss Vittorio Amuso
Acting Boss Matthew Madonna
Underboss Steven Crea – became Underboss in 1993 then acting boss in 1998. On September 6, 2000, Crea along with other Lucchese family members was indicted and charged with extortion and supervising various construction sites in New York City. In January 2004, Crea was sentenced to 34 months in prison. Crea was released from prison on August 24, 2006. Crea became boss in 2012.
Acting Underboss Patrick "Patty Red" Dellorusso
Consigliere Andrew DeSimone
Capo (Crew boss/captain/lieutenant/caporegime): a capo is appointed by the family boss to run his own borgata (regime, or crew) of sgarrista (soldiers). Each capo reports directly to the underboss, who gives the capo permission to perform criminal activities. If the family needs to murder someone, the underboss normally asks a capo to carry out the order. The capo runs the day-to-day operations of his crew. The capo's soldiers give part of their earnings to the capo, and the capo gives a share to the underboss. A capo can recommend to the underboss or boss that a recruit be allowed to join his crew as a mob associate.
The Bronx faction
John "Johnny Hooks" Capra – capo operating in The Bronx, Westchester and Manhattan. In 2005, Capra was indicted and charged with extortion along with members of the Gambino crime family. Capra received an eighteen-month sentence and was released from federal prison on September 10, 2008.
Anthony Santorelli – capo operating in The Bronx and Westchester. In the 1990s, Santorelli led The Tanglewood Boys, a recruitment gang for the Lucchese family.
Carmine Avellino - He was imprisoned from 1997 to 2004 on conspiracy to commit extortion charges. In 2014, Avellino was charged with ordering two Lucchese associate's to assault a 70-year-old man over a late payment of $100,000 in 2010. On August 12, 2016, Avellino was the last in the case to plead guilty, his associates Daniel Capra and Michael Capra pleaded guilty earlier. On May 23, 2017, Avellino was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest, 5 years probation and fined $100,000.
John "Big John" Castellucci – capo of the Bensonhurst crew. His brothers are Eugene Castelle a soldier in his crew and Anthony Castelle the owner of "Coney Island Container" a private carting company. On November 12, 2000 Castellucci was charged along with acting underboss Eugene Castelle, capo Joseph Tangorra, soldiers Joseph Truncale and Scott Gervasi and associates Lester Ellis (Zullo) and Robert Greenberg (Volturo) with drug trafficking, extortion and loansharking operations in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. In 2009, Castellucci's brother Anthony Castelle was under investigation for a suspicious fire in his carting company.
Ralph Vito Perna – capo in the Jersey crew. Was arrested in December 2007 with Capos Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna. The Jersey crew ran an illegal gambling operation that earned approximately $73 billion over a 15-month period. The crew also worked with New Jersey police officers and the Jersey Crew had members of Nine Trey Gangster, a set, or subgroup, of the Bloods street gang working for them as a contract killing squad. The Jersey crew used Bloods members to smuggle illegal drugs and prepaid cell phones into the New Jersey state prisons, and used them for contract killing, kidnapping, arson, assaults, and even bombing.
Joseph Giampa – capo operating in New Jersey. Giampa has a stepson named Gennaro Vittorio, a.k.a. Gerry Giampa who is also involved in organized crime.
Soldier (sgarrista/soldato/wiseguy/button/buttonman/goodfella): a soldier is a made man who has already proven himself to the family. In order to become a soldier he must pass the voting of the captains vote then a message is passed up to the boss or underboss. The soldier then takes an oath (Omertà) to honor the family, he is then assigned into a crew and given a captain. A soldier is one of the lowest ranks in the family but still has much power over associates and friends.
Thomas "Tommy Red" Anzellotto – soldier, in 1998 he replaced Lucchese soldier Samuel Cavalieri.
Salvatore Avellino – soldier and former capo. In the 1980s, Avellino was the boss Anthony Corallo's bodyguard and chauffeur that drove a Jaguar XJ Series II. In the early 1990s, Avellino was a member of a ruling panel that controlled the family. He was released from prison on October 13, 2006.
Anthony Baratta – soldier and former capo in the Bronx. Ran large drug trafficking operations in the 1990s and sat on the family's Ruling Panel. He was released from prison on September 25, 2012.
Carmine Avellino – soldier involved in extorting carting companies. In 1984, Carmine and his brother Salvatore had a sit-down with Bonanno family members Joseph Massino, Salvatore Vitale and "Stevie Beefs" Cannone over controlling King Caterers. In 1988, Carmine was banned from New Jersey casinos. In January 1995, Carmine was indicted along with Anthony Baratta, Frank Federico and Rocco Vitulli for the August 1989, murders of Robert Kubecka and Donald Barstow. On February 25, 2004, he was released from prison.
Robert Caravaggio – soldier in the Jersey crew. Caravaggio is operating Morris County and Northern New Jersey.
Eugene Castelle – former capo of the Bensonhurst crew. In 1997, Castelle was charged with bribing guards to smuggle food and steroids into the Brookyln Metropolitan Detention Center. On November 12, 2000, Caselle and other Lucchese members were charged with drug trafficking, extortion and loansharking. He was released from prison on August 28, 2008. His brother John Castellucci became the capo of the Bensonhurst crew and his brother Anthony Castelle is the owner of "Coney Island Container" a private carting company he came under investigation for a suspicious fire in 2009.
Alfonso Cataldo – soldier running illegal gambling operations in Northern New Jersey and working with Eurasian organized crime groups. Cataldo was arrested in December 2007 on charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and racketeering charges along with two members of the Lucchese ruling panel Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna.
John Cerrella – soldier, former acting capo in the 1990s. Formerly a Genovese family associate operating in Broward County, Cerrella later became a made man in the Lucchese family. He is a Long Island faction leader who conducts racketeering, fraud, stocks and wire fraud in Queens and Long Island. He was released from prison on November 27, 2009.
Joseph "Joey Blue Eyes" Cosentino – soldier. In 1997, Cosention and Anthony Mangano murdered Bonanno crime family associate/drug dealer Costabile Farace.
Raffaele "Ralph" Cuomo – soldier and owner of Ray's Pizza in Little Italy. In 1969, Cuomo was convicted of narcotics trafficking after being found with 50 pounds of heroin. In 1998, Cuomo discussed heroin drug sales with Lucchese soldier Frank Gioia, Jr.
Salavatore Cutaia – soldier whose father, Domenico Cutaia, is a high-ranking Lucchese capo. Salavtore's son Joseph Cutaia is considered to be an associate in the family. His son Joseph was charged on December 24, 2009 for an attempted robbery and stick up of a Bensonhurst, Brooklyn couple along with Nicholas Bernardo.
Santo Giampapa – soldier, he and his brother Joseph were acquitted in the 1992 killing of Lucchese capo Michael Salerno.
Christopher Furnari – soldier a former Consigliere in the Lucchese family, convicted in the 1980s Mafia Commission case. He is currently imprisoned with a projected release date is November 24, 2044 (CORRECTION: Furnari was suddenly released early in Summer of 2014 with no official explanation... he is 90 years old).
Frank Lastorino – soldier in the Bensonhurst crew. He is a former capo and Consigliere. In the early 1990s, Lasterino hatched the plot to kill both John A. "Junior" Gotti and Lucchese capo Steven Crea to take over the family. He was released from federal prison on December 23, 2008 after serving 14 years on racketeering, extortion and conspiracy to commit murder.
Vincent "Vinny Casablanca" Mancione – soldier and former acting capo. On December 12, 2002, Macione along with Consigliere Joseph Caridi, capo John Cerrella and soldier Carmelo Profeta were arrested for extorting restaurants on Long Island. He was released from prison in August 2006.
Anthony Mangano – soldier. In 1989, Mangano and Joseph Cosentino murdered Bonanno family drug dealer and associate Costabile Farace.
Frank Manzo – soldier with the Vario crew, died on October 23, 2012.
Anthony Pezzullo – soldier, former member of the Lucchese Construction Group involved in bid rigging, extorting construction companies, and corrupting union locals. The group consisted of acting boss Steven Crea, capos Dominic Truscello and Joseph Tangorra, soldiers Phillip Desimone, Joseph Datello (Truscello crew member), Joseph Zambardi and associate Andrew Reynolds.
Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. – soldier, he is the son of former Philadelphia crime family boss Nicodemo Scarfo With help from his father he joined the Lucchese family. Scarfo Jr. is a member of the Lucchese family's New Jersey faction.
Rocco Vitulli – soldier, he was a member of Anthony Baratta's crew. On August 10, 1989, Vitulli along with Frank Federico murdered Robert M. Kubecka and Donald Barstow, two executives of a trash-collection company in East Northport, New York. In January 1995, Vitulli was charged along with Carmine Avellino, Anthony Baratta and Frank Federico for the murders of Kubecka and Barstow. He was released from prison on September 7, 2000.
Robert Mendez Aka "The hitman "-Retired Soldier 1993 To 2001 -Robert Mendez Was Born August 13,1973 Attend Riverside Hight School. In El Paso,Tx In 1993 Robert Mendez Moved To New York City . Where He Met Anthony Pazzulo .A Soldier From The Lucchese Family.In 1994 Mendez Was The First NonItalian. To Join The Luscchese Family. Where Hs Started His Life OF Crime .Mendez was Arrested In 1995 For Money Laundering.Drug Trafficking charges Where Dropped Against Mendez.In 1986 Robert Mendez became A Enforcer For The Lucchese Family At a Young Age .In October 7,1999 Mendez was Arrested For Kidnapping Thee Government Witnesses. Charges Where Dropped Against. Mendez For Lack Of Evidence. They Are Pursued Dead. To This date The Bodies of The Missing Witnesses Have Never Been Found . The U.S Government Could Never Build a Case. In November 23,199 Robert(aka)"THE HITMAN" Mendez Moved back To El Paso,Tx
Vittorio Amuso – he took over as boss after the 1987 conviction of Anthony Corallo. He was imprisoned in 1992, and sentenced to life in prison. Amuso continued to control the family from prison until 2012. He is currently serving life in prison.
Ray Argentina – soldier in the Lucchese family. In 2001 Argentina was charged along with Louis Gampero for illegal mortgage fraud activities in Brooklyn, up state New York and Long Island. He was also running an illegal cocaine ring in Long Island with Ken Cardona. Argentina is currently incarcerated and projected release date is October 4, 2024.
John Baudanza – a soldier, operating in his father-in-law Domenico Cutaia's crew. His father Carmine and uncle Joseph are both members of the Colombo crime family. In 1997, John and his cousin Joseph M. Baudanza were involved in stock crimes. On April 17, 2007, John, along with his father and uncle pleaded guilty to racketeering charges related to operating a "pump and dump" stock scam. He is currently serving his sentence in the Allenwood prison with a projected release date of August 2, 2015.
Michael "Mikey Bones" Corcione – soldier and former acting capo for Domenico Cutaia's crew. In 2008, Corcione was arrested along with capo Domenico Cutaia, soldiers John Baudanza, Salvatore Cutaia, associates Steven Lapella, Victor Sperber, Louis Colello, and John Rodopolous for loansharking, illegal gambling among other illegal criminal activities. Corcione is currently imprisoned with a projected release date of July 3, 2012.
George "Goggles" Conte – a soldier, and former capo. In 1991, Conte along with other capos inducted five new members into the crime family. In January 1995, Conte and George Zappola were indicted and convicted of murder and racketeering. Conte is currently imprisoned, with a projected release date of March 10, 2014.
Louis Daidone – soldier a former acting boss, Consigliere and capo. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2003.
Andrew DiSimone – a former acting capo operating in the Bronx, Westchester and Manhattan. DiSimone was arrested on October 1, 2009 for bribery and illegal gambling operations. He was convinced that he was paying off corrupt NYPD officers for protection on loansharking, sports bookmaking and illegal gambling activities. The two officers were actually undercover agents for two years the officers in a sting named Operation Open House receiving $222,000 in bribes. He is currently imprisoned, with a projected release date of August 7, 2013
James "Jimmy Frogs" Galione – a soldier replaced late Lucchese soldier Pete DePalermo position. In 1997 he and Mario Gallo plead guilty to the murder of an associate to the Bonanno/Colombo associate Costabile Farace in 1989. Farace was a drug dealer responsible for killing an undercover federal agent. He was also charged with running a crack ring that operated in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, Brooklyn since 1992. He is currently imprisoned due out on December 24, 2015.
Joseph "Joey Bang Bang" Massaro – a soldier in the Harlem Crew reported to Capo Anthony Baratta. He was operating in Long Island forcing topless bar owners to book his strippers from Entertainment Plus Agency. Massaro would use threats of intimidations and arson to get his way. In summer of 1989 helped cover up a murder of Joseph Fiorito with Patrick Esposito he was arrested in 1993. At his trail FBI agent Joe Pistone discussed what he learned about a Bonanno-Lucchese family sit-down over the topless bars in Long Island. Former Lucchese family acting boss Alphonse D' Arco also testified against him, Massaro received a life sentenced.
Frank Papagni – soldier and former capo in the early 1990s, with racketeering, illegal gambling and loansharking operations in the Brooklyn section. He is serving 20 years for the attempted murder conspiracy on John A. "Junior" Gotti in 1993. Papagni's projected release-date is November 24, 2015.
Michael J. Perna – soldier and former Capo in the Jersey faction; he began working for the Lucchese families Jersey faction sometime in 1976; by the 1980s was serving as the Underboss of the Jersey Faction for Michael Taccetta; acquitted in the 21 month trail along with other Jersey faction members on August 26, 1988; in 1993 was convicted of gambling and extortion along with Michael and Martin Taccetta with the testimony of Thomas Ricciardi and Anthony Accetturo; relatives include his father Joseph Perna, younger brother Ralph; The 67 year-old is currently imprisoned at the Federal Correction Institution at Fairton, New Jersey his projected release date is August 2, 2015.
Martin Taccetta – soldier and former Capo in the Jersey Crew was released from prison in 2005 due to lack of evidence in his trial, and wrongfully being accused of murder charges in his older brother Michael Taccetta's trial in 1993. On July 30, 2009 the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed lower court decision that granted Taccetta release and reinstated Martin life sentence for racketeering and extortion.
Joseph "Joey Flowers" Tangorra – soldier and former capo whose crew was based in Bensonhurst Brooklyn and was involved in extortion and racketeering activities. Tangorra is currently incarcerated and reportedly suffers from mental illness. His projected release date is December 9, 2014.
George Zappola – soldier and former capo under the regime of Vittorio Amuso and Anthony Casso in the 1980s. He operated out of the Brooklyn wing with racketeering, extortion activities. Zappola is currently imprisoned on murder-conspiracy charges in aid of racketeering with Frank Papagni. His projected release date is March 3, 2014.
A crew is a group of soldiers and associates who operate in a specific area. The capo runs the crew and reports to the underboss. The soldiers run illegal activities such as illegal gambling, loansharking, bookmaking, extortion, and fencing of stolen goods. The soldiers pay tribute to the capo and the capo sends a portion of this tribute money to the boss and underboss. The soldiers are "made men", or full family members, and have associates (who are not made men) working for them. An associate works for a crew in hopes of proving his worth to the family and becoming a made man. To be eligible to become a made man, an associate must be of Italian ancestry on both sides of his family.
The Vario Crew – active in Brooklyn and Queens.
The Tanglewood Boys – were an Italian-American gang from Yonkers, New York. They were named after the Tanglewood Shopping Center located on a busy shopping strip on Central Avenue in Yonkers. Members of the gang frequently operated within and around the shopping mall. Although this gang actually began as a localized gang in the mid 1960's (notably for their fights against rival Yonkers gang, "The Lockwood Boys" and the serious attack of a worker outside of the nearby Nathans in the late 1970's), they began to rise in public eye in the 1990s as a "farm team" or recruitment gang for the Mafia, specifically the Lucchese crime family.Several members went on to other crime families as well, and they were usually the sons of made members. In 1994, members of the gang were arrested for murdering a college student Louis Balancio at a Yonkers sports bar. After the arrests, one member, Darin Mazzarella, became an informant, leading to the convictions of other members of the gang.
East Harlem Purple Gang – were a large group of Italian-American hitmen and heroin traffickers. The group was consisted of fewer than 200 members and served as the Five Families hit squad, the East Harlem Purple Gang loyally worked for the Commission as an enforcement arm. They were considered a semi-independent gang operating in East Harlem and the Bronx during the late 1970s. Members would join the Lucchese, Gambino and Genovese families.
The Lucchese family has taken over countless labor unions all over the United States. For seven decades, The Lucchese crime family has extorted money from the unions in blackmail, strong-arming, extreme violence and other matters to keep their control over the market. Similar to the other four crime families of New York City they worked on controlling entire unions all over America. With the Mafia having control the union they control the entire market. Bid-rigging allows the mob to get a percentage of the income on the construction deal only allowing certain companies to bid on jobs who pay them first. The mob also allows companies to use non-union workers to work on jobs the companies must give a kickback to the mob. Unions give mob members jobs on the books to show a legitimate source of income. The Mafia members get into high union position and began embezzling money from the job and workers.
Clothes manufacturing - In the Garment District of Manhattan, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees Locals 10, 23, 24, and 25 were controlled by members of the Lucchese family. Lucchese Associates would extort the businesses and organize strikes. Today some unions still are working for the family.
Kosher meat companies - In the early 1960s Giovanni "Johnny Dio" Dioguardi merged Consumer Kosher Provisions Company and American Kosher Provisions Inc. together. Dio was able to control an enormous portion of the Kosher food market, forcing supermarkets to buy from his companies at his prices.
Food distribution - At the Hunts Point Cooperative Market in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, the Lucchese family controlled numerous unions involved in the food distribution industry.
Airport services and freight handling - At John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty, the unions were completely controlled by the Lucchese family. Construction - Teamsters unions in New York City and New Jersey have been under Lucchese control; Mason Tenders Locals 46, 48, and 66 were controlled by the old Vario Crew.
Junk yards and scrap yards - The Lucchese family controlled almost all of the junk yards and scrap yards in New York and throughout the country, making over $1 billion a year by selling engines, cars, and auto technology and mamong other things to large industries, such as auto industries across the country.
Waste management - for over half a century, The Lucchese family controlled countless garbage hauling and recycling unions in New York and all over the country, making a staggering $6 billion a year.
Construction - Countless Teamsters unions all over North America have been under the Lucchese families control; Mason Tenders Locals 46,48, and 66 were controlled by the old Vario crew in New York City, dozens of other branches and locals of the Teamsters were controlled by the Lucchese family for many years.
New York City Central Labor Council - From the 1960s-1990s, the New York City Central Labor Council was under the Lucchese families control, and has been one of the largest labor unions in America, with roughly 500,000 members in the late 1960s. The Lucchese family controlling the New York City Central Labor Council was tremendous power, because the New York City Central Labor Council represented and controlled over 400 labor unions of both public and private sectors of New York's economy. The Lucchese family extorted millions of dollars a year from hundreds of the unions nationwide.
United Brotherhood of Carpenters - From the 1950s-1990s, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters has been under the Lucchese families control, local union 608 in Manhattan, NYC, and hundreds of other locals were completely controlled by the Lucchese family.
Newspaper production and delivery - In November 2009, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau sent search warrants to investigate the Newspaper Mail Deliverers Union. This union controlled circulation, production and delivery offices at The New York Times, The New York Post, The New York Daily News and El Diario La Prensa. When the Cosa Nostra took control over the union, the price and costs for newspapers increased. Charges were put against many union members as well as the former union President Douglas LaChance. LaChance is accused as being Lucchese crime family associate. In the 1980s LaChance was convicted on labor racketeering charges and served five years in prison. He was also involved in the Manhattan 1990s case were New York Post was being strong-armed in to switching their delivery companies, but was acquitted in the case.
Anthony "Ham" Delasco (sometimes spelled Dolasco) was a former boxer. In the 1950s, Delasco took over The Jersey Crew after Settimo Accardi was deported. Delasco ran his crew from East Orange, New Jersey where he controlled jukeboxes and cigarette vending machines in Newark, New Jersey. In the late 1950s, Delasco took Anthony Accetturo as his protege. He controlled a large illegal gambling and loan-sharking operation in Newark. Delasco died in the late 1960s, his rackets were taken over by Capo Anthony Accetturo.
Stefano "Steve" LaSalle (real name LaSala) was an early member of the Morello family. In 1915, East Harlem's Italian lottery "king" Giosue Gallucci was murdered, allowing LaSalle and Tommaso Lomonte to take over the lottery. He later became a member of Reina family. LaSalle served as underboss to Gaetano Lucchese and later Carmine Tramunti, he retired in the 1970s.
Anthony "Buddy" Luongo – a capo who tried to take over the family after boss Anthony Corallo was imprisoned in the Commission case. In December 1986, Luongo met Vittorio Amuso, Anthony Casso, Bobby Amuso and Dom Carbucci in Brooklyn when Bobby Amuso shot Luongo dead.
Mariano "Mac" Macaluso – served as consigliere in the 1960s. In 1986, after the Mafia Commission Trial, Macaluso became the new underboss. In 1989, boss Vittorio Amuso forced Macaluso into retirement. He died in 1992 from natural causes.
Richard "Toupe" Pagliarulo – in 1991 he took over Peter Chiodo's Bensonhurst crew. He later died of natural causes in prison.
Guido "the Bull" Penosi – was an associate in the Lucchese and Gambino crime family's. Penosi lived in Beverly Hills, and he was a narcotics dealer active in Los Angeles and the West Coast. In the 1980s Penosi along with his cousin Frank Piccolo stopped Genovese family mobster from extorting his friend Wayne Newton (Wayne Newton v. NBC).
Dominick "The Gap" Petrilli – a former soldier. He got the nickname "The Gap" after losing two front teeth in a childhood fight. Petrilli met Joseph Valachi in Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York. In 1928, after Valachi was released from prison Petrilli introduced him to Girolama "Bobby Doyle" Santucci and Tom Gagliano. In 1942, Petrilli was convicted on narcotic charges and was deported to Italy. In November 1953, he reentered the U.S. and it was rumoured he was working with the government. On December 9, 1953 he was murdered in a bar on East 183rd Street in the Bronx by three gunmen.
Patrick Testa – was the younger brother to Joseph Testa. In 1984, he was indicted on fraud and theft charges along with members of the Gambino family's DeMeo crew. Testa was sentenced to two years in prison and after his release joined the Lucchese crime family. On December 2, 1992 Testa was murdered, he was shot in the back of the head nine times. It was later revealed that Anthony Casso had ordered Frank Lastorino to murder Testa.
Government Informants and Witnesses
Alphonse D' Arco – former acting boss from 1990 to 1991. Became government witness on September 21, 1991. Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede – former acting boss from 1993 to 1998, then demoted to capo when imprisoned. Became government witness in early 2002 after his release.
Anthony Casso – former underboss from 1986 to 1993. Became government witness in 1993, but was later removed from program due to lack of cooperation. Currently serving life sentence in federal prison.
Anthony Accetturo – capo of the Jersey crew from 1970s to 1988. Became government witness in 1993.
Peter Chiodo – former capo. Became a government witness after being shot 12 times on May 8, 1991.
Frank "Spaghetti Man" Gioia, Jr. – former soldier. In 1991, he became a made man. In 1993, Gioia was arrested for trafficking heroin from Manhattan to Boston. In 1994, Gioia found out that Frank Papagni planned to murder Gioia's father, prompting the son to become a government witness. Since becoming a government witness, Gioia jr. has testified against 60 defendants.
Frank Gioia, Sr. – former soldier. Did not testify against the family but entered Witness Protection with son Frank Jr. in 1994.
Vincent Salanardi – former soldier. In 2002, Salanardi was indicted on racketeering charges and became a government witness. He was later dropped from the program. In March 2006, Salanardi was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison. Salanardi was released from prison on October 29, 2012.
Frank Suppa – former soldier. Member of the Jersey faction seen as a capo in Florida; became a government witness in late 1997.
Henry Hill – former associate. His criminal life became the basis for the 1986 book Wiseguy and the 1990 film Goodfellas. Hill and his wife Karen became government witnesses to avoid prosecution on drug trafficking charges. Hill passed away on June 12, 2012, one day after his 69th birthday, in a Los Angeles hospital of an undisclosed illness.
Allied and Rival criminal groups
The Lucchese-Gambino-Genovese alliance (1953–1985) between Gaetano Lucchese, Carlo Gambino and Vito Genovese began with a plot to take over the Mafia Commission by murdering family bosses Frank Costello and Albert Anastasia. At that time, Gambino was Anastasia's new underboss and Genovese was the underboss for Costello. The first target of the conspiracy was Costello. On May 2, 1957 gunmen attempted to kill Costello on a New York street. Costello survived the assassination attempt, but immediately decided to retire as boss in favor of Genovese. The conspirators' second target was Anastasia. On October 25, 1957, the Gallo brothers (from the Colombo family) murdered Anastasia in a Manhattan barber shop, allowing Gambino to become boss of Anastasia's family. After he assumed power, Gambino started conspiring with Lucchese to remove their former ally Genovese. After the disastrous 1957 Apalachin meeting of mob leaders in Upstate New York, Genovese lost a great deal of respect in the Commission. In 1959, with the assistance of Charles Luciano, Frank Costello, and Meyer Lansky, Genovese was arrested. Gambino and Lucchese assumed full control of the Mafia Commission. Under Gambino and Lucchese, the Commission pushed rival Bonanno boss Joseph Bonanno out of power, triggering an internal war in that family. In the 1960s, the Commission backed the Gallo brothers in their rebellion against Profaci family boss Joe Profaci. In 1962, Gambino's oldest son Thomas Gambino married Lucchese's daughter Frances, strengthening the Gambino-Lucchese alliance. Lucchese gave Gambino access into the rackets at the New York airports rackets he controlled and Garment District rackets, Gambino allowed Lucchese into some of their rackets. After Lucchese death in July 1967, Gambino used his power over the Commission to make Carmine Tramunti the boss of the Lucchese family. Gambino continued the alliance with Tramunti's successor, Anthony Corallo. After Gambino's death, the new Gambino boss Paul Castellano continued the alliance with Corallo. In 1985, the Gambino-Lucchese alliance finally dissolved after Gambino capo John Gotti ordered Gambino boss Paul Castellano's assassination without Commission approval.
The Lucchese-Genovese alliance (1986–present) The new alliance started in 1986 with Vittorio Amuso and Genovese boss Vincent Gigante teaming up against Gambino boss John Gotti. Gotti had ordered the murder of Gambino boss Paul Castellano who also led the Mafia Commission. The Castellano murder started between the Gambino family and the Genovese and Lucchese families. To avenge Castellano, the alliance ordered the killing of Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco. However, the alliance failed its attempts to kill Gotti. The Lucchese-Genovese alliance is still strong today, with the two families cooperating on deals around New York City. Joseph DiNapoli a member of the family's three man ruling panel has two brothers in the Genovese crime family; Vincent DiNapoli, a captain, and Louis DiNapoli, a soldier in Vincent's crew.
The Lucchese-Gambino alliance (1999–present) The new alliance between the families started in 1999 when acting boss Steven Crea teamed up with several Gambino capos. The mobsters extorted millions of dollars from the construction industry in bid-rigging scams. In early 2002 Lucchese capo John Capra worked with Gambino acting boss Arnold Squitieri, acting underboss Anthony Megale and acting Capo Gregory DePalma. The group was involved in illegal gambling and extortion activities in Westchester County, New York. The members were arrested in 2005 leaving to reveal that DePalma had allowed FBI agent Joaquin Garcia (known as Jack Falcone) to work undercover with his crew since 2002. In late 2008 Gambino capo Andrew Merola teamed with Lucchese’s Jersey faction acting Boss Martin Taccetta in an illegal gambling ring, extorting money from labor unions and car dealerships. In 2008, Andrew Merola was indicted and Taccetta was sent back to prison in 2009.
The Lucchese-Bonanno sitdown (2010) Lucchese acting capo Carlo Profeta and Bonanno capo Anthony Mannone had a sitdown over a Lucchese soldier who owed $213,000 to Mannone. On February 24, 2010, Profeta, soldier Salvatore Cutaia and associates Joseph Cutaia and Eric Maione, along with Mannone and Bonanno associate Jerome Carameilli were indicted on racketeering and extortion charges.
The Lucchese-Lepke alliance (1920s-1944) started with Gaetano Lucchese and Louis "Lepke" Buchalter extorting payments from garment makers in New York's Garment District. During the 1930s, Lepke was one of the most powerful Jewish gangsters in New York City. With his allies Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, Lepke fought for control over Jewish neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn and together formed Murder, Inc. Lepke would fall when his trusted Brownsville crew leader, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, became a government witness and testified against Lepke in a murder trial. On March 4, 1944, Lepke was executed by electrocution. After Lepke's execution, Tommy Lucchese took over Lepke's rackets in the Garment District and Brownsville.
The Lucchese-Greek Mafia alliance (1980s-present) started in the early 1980s. The Velentzas Family, a Greek-American criminal organization led by Spiros Velentzas, operated in Astoria, Queens and other Greek communities in the city. The Lucchese family offered Velentzas protection in return for a percentage of his family's illegal gambling profits.
The Lucchese-Russian Mafia alliance took place in the late 1980s. Marat Balagula was a Russian mafia boss whose organization controlled Brighton Beach and other Russian-American communities in the state of New York. When the Colombo crime family tried to extort payments from Balagula's highly lucrative gasoline business, he met with Lucchese consigliere Christopher Furnari. Funari offered Balaqula an alliance to protect him from the Colombo family and other La Cosa Nostra families
The Lucchese-The Council alliance lasted from the early 1970s into the 1980s. Leroy Barnes was an African-American drug dealer in Harlem who was supplied with millions of dollars worth of heroin by Lucchese soldier Matthew Madonna and Colombo capo Joey Gallo. Barnes created a criminal organization known as The Council that dealt large amounts of heroin in Harlem.
The Lucchese-Camorra alliance lasted from the early 1970s into 1995. The Camorra from Italy, had a strong alliance with the Lucchese family in drug trafficking and weapons trafficking.
The Cali Cartel, a powerful Colombian drug cartel briefly fought the Lucchese crime family in the late 1980s, for control over the cocaine trade in New York, that for years was controlled by the Lucchese crime family, the Lucchese crime family and the Cali Cartel had a'lot of tick-for-tat battles and killings amongst one another that lasted only nine months, the Cali Cartel killed between four or five members of the Lucchese family, but the Lucchese family killed over twelve members of the Cali Cartel. The war stopped when the Commission ordered Lucchese bosses Vittorio Amuso and Anthony Casso to set up a meeting with the leaders of the Cali Cartel and end the war because it was bad for business and bringing too much heat from the FBI. The deal was 50% for the Cali Cartel and 50% for the Lucchese crime family which both organizations accepted and the ended the bloody war, and agreed to work together in the drug trade which lasted until the late 1990s.
The Cuban Mafia, called La Coporacion (the Corporation), was led by Jose Battle, Sr. a native Cuban who set up the organization in Miami, Florida and Union City, New Jersey. Up into the 1980s, Battle worked in Union City with Bonanno capo Joseph Zicarelli. Battle then swapped connections to Genovese Capo James Napoli. In 1985, La Coporacion battled with the Lucchese family for control over numbers rackets, the Lucchese family quickly overpowered the Cuban Mafia by out-smarting and outgunning them, mainly by killing several high-ranking members, and killing numerous low-ranking members, eventually the two organizations came to terms and made a deal, and the two went seperate ways never hearing or seeing one another again, the Lucchese family with the combined, concerted force from the other four New York crime families made the Lucchese family far too powerful for the Cubans to take them on. The Lucchese family was indeed the sheer winner.
The Albanian Mafia, called the Rudaj Organization, was led by boss Alex Rudaj, Nikolla Dedaj and Italian Nardino Colotti and operate in Yorktown, New York, the Bronx, and Queens. The Rudaj started in 1993 and lasted to 2004, when it was decimated by the Cosa Nostra and criminal prosecution. The Rudaj briefly fought the Lucchese crime family for control of gambling and extortion rackets in Astoria, Queens. The Rudaj attacked two Greek associates of the Lucchese family on August 3, 2001. The Lucchese family fought back by sending large hit squads to kill any member they find, and the Lucchese family killed or badly injured at least 21 members of the Rudaj organization. The war lasted a year-in-a-half and ended after they reached terms, the Rudaj organization agreed to leave New York and never come back, leaving the Lucchese family again the sheer winner.
In popular culture
In the 1981 film Gangster Wars, future boss Gaetano Lucchese was played by actor Jon Polito.
The 1990 film Goodfellas was based on Lucchese associate Henry Hill's recollections about his involvement with The Vario Crew of the Lucchese family.
In the 1991 film Mobsters, gang leader Gaetano Reina was played by actor Christopher Penn.
In the 1991 film Out for Justice, the William Forsythe character "Richard Madano" was allegedly based on Lucchese mobster Matthew Madonna.
The 1999-2007 HBO TV-show The Sopranos, the Lucchese family's New Jersey faction was allegedly the main inspiration for the DiMeo crime family according Crime Library. Main character Anthony "Tony" Soprano was based on Lucchese mobster Michael Taccetta.
In 2005 and 2006, a fictionalized version of The Tanglewood Boys was featured on CSI: NY, in episode 1.13 "Tanglewood" and in episode 2.20 "Run Silent, Run Deep".
The 2006 film Find Me Guilty was based on the 1980s trial of 20 members of the Lucchese New Jersey Faction.
The 2006 Electronic Arts video game The Godfather: The Game, the Stracci Family resemblers the Lucchese crime family. In the game, the family is based in New Jersey; the Lucchese family has a large power base in New Jersey.
In the 2008 Rockstar North's video game GTA IV, the fictional Lupisella family resembles on the Lucchese family. The Lupisella family is mainly based in Bohan, the GTA 4 version of the Bronx, and is operating in Liberty City, the game's version of New York City.