Michael "Big Mike" DeSantis is the current acting boss of the Lucchese crime family. DeSantis is a member of the Brooklyn faction and a long time supporter of Vic Amuso. In November 1989, DeSantis was inducted into the crime family along with Richie Pagliarulo, Frank Federico and two others in a ceremony conducted by boss Vic Amuso, underboss Anthony Casso, capos Al D'Arco, Sal Avellino, Peter Chiodo, Bobby Amuso, Frank Lastorino and Anthony Baratta. He then became part of Chiodo's crew.
Earlier in 1989, DeSantis had been involved in the murder of construction union leader John "Sonny" Morrissey, due to fears that he had become an informant. Morrissey was good friends with Amuso and loyal to the family. But Morrissey had dealings with Peter Savino, of the Genovese family, who had set up the Windows scam in the first place. A source Amuso and Casso had in law enforcement had told them Savino was a rat. Savino belonged to another family so the Lucchese leaders couldn't kill him without starting a war. But as the Windows investigation closed in, the Lucchese bosses had decided Morrissey had to go, along with three other mafia members, simply for their association with Savino.
Chiodo chose Desantis, "Richie the Toupee" Pagliarulo and Tommy "Irish" Carew to help with the job. The crew lured Morrissey to a housing development in New Jersey, supposedly to meet with Amuso. Morrissey never figured he was in trouble himself; he had done nothing wrong. When Chiodo and his crew got to the development they took Morrissey to a half-constructed house. Chiodo went out the back door saying he was going to go find Amuso. The Toupee opened up on Morrissey. He had a silencer on his gun but it didn't work. He shot Morrissey twice but then his gun jammed. Tommy Irish started firing. Chiodo heard the shots and came back in to see what was going on. Morrissey was lying on the floor of the house, writhing in pain, begging to be killed.
In August 1991, thanks to information given to them by Pete Chiodo, the FBI eventually recovered Morrissey's skeletal remains in Jefferson Township, New Jersey. The remains were discovered at an unfinished Preston Lakes Estates development rolled in a gray carpet buried four feet under a rocky field.
On September 18, 1991, DeSantis along with capos Anthony Baratta and Frank Lastorino and soldier Frankie Frederico conspired to kill Alphonse D'Arco in the Kimberly Hotel in Manhattan but failed. DeSantis walked into the Kimberly hotel wearing a bulletproof vest and a gun in his waistband, D'Arco spotted the gun, while DeSantis went to hide the gun in the bathroom, D'Arco made his escape and defected to become a government witness.
In April 1993, Michael DeSantis was indicted and jailed along with Frank Lastorino and Richard Pagliarulo on murder conspiracy, extortion and other racketeering charges. Later that year he became involved in a plot to break himself and Anthony Casso out of prison. The proposal was to have two people posing as FBI agents come to collect and transport Casso to an attorney meeting. Through George Zappola, Casso had given a guard a sizable down payment and waited. Then one Saturday morning, Casso was sleeping when a guard came and let him out of his cell. He told Casso he had an attorney conference and handed him a pass to the third floor. Casso had no such meeting with his lawyer planned and had not got the note telling him it was on. Casso wasn't ready with an answer when another guard coming off the elevator asked him what he was doing roaming the halls with no escort. He hadn't even made it off the floor.
Before long however another opportunity arose. Prisoners were shuttled by bus between the courthouses in New York City and a medium-security federal prison in Otisville, a small village an hour north of the city set in the rolling horse country in the foothills of the Catskills. DeSantis said he had a friend who owned property in the area. He said that the guy kept horses on his land. The plan DeSantis conveyed to Casso involved a trustee, an inmate allowed to work with less supervision. The Otisville trustee was on a work detail that labored outside the prison every day. On an agreed-upon day, the trustee would substitute DeSantis for a member of his work crew. Once outside the jailhouse walls, DeSantis would cut away from the group and meet up with his contact, who would be waiting with an extra horse. Together they would ride into the dense woods surrounding the prison with Casso in tow. Casso however turned down DeSantis's offer, deeming it too risky and the plan never came to fruition in the end. DeSantis ultimately served 18 years in prison for his involvement in two murders in the 1980s.
During the May 2019, testimony of government witness John Pennisi it was revealed that in 2017, imprisoned for life boss Vic Amuso sent a letter to Underboss Steven Crea which stated that DeSantis would take over as acting boss, replacing the Bronx based Matthew Madonna. If Amuso's orders where not followed he approved of murdering a number of Bronx faction members.