Carmine Galante's Last Meal.....

The photo of a dead Carmine Galante, who sought to take control of the Bonanno family after emerging from prison in the 1970s, is so iconic for me, I'd never think of even using another picture in this blog's logo....

Lilo wasn't around for coffee...

FBI agent Joe Pistone, posing as Donny Brasco, was just infiltrating the family as a street-level soldier under Sonny "Black" Napolitano.

He thought he had the players identified -- but his intel, as time proved, was not precisely on the money.

Joseph Wendling, 65, now a private investigator, was a detective in an elite unit of the New York City Police Department focused on the five Mafia families that ruled the city’s underworld, called The Pizza Squad.



He was part of the investigation of the Galante hit, and in the mid-1980s did the same for Paul Castellano.

Galante was assassinated while having lunch in the back garden of an Italian restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in July 1979.

It was a sweltering hot day.

Wendling recalls that his unit was caught flat-footed. Galante's assassination was reportedly sanctioned by the Mafia Commission. The chief reason: he wasn't sharing profits from his expansion of the drug business. There is a bit more to the story....

When Joseph Bonanno was forced into retirement, Philip "Rusty" Rastelli took over the family. In 1974, Galante was released on parole at roughly the same time that Rastelli was sent to prison. Galante began working on a plan to seize control of the family.

As a former consigliere and underboss, Galante considered himself the rightful heir.

During the 1970s, Galante allegedly organized the murders of members of the Gambino family and probably one or two other crime families as part of his move to take over a massive drug-trafficking operation.



Galante was briefly jailed in 1978 for violating his parole by associating with known criminals, but he was released after attorney Roy Cohn came to his rescue.

By this stage, Galante was bald, bespectacled and walked with a stoop. Galante continued his heroin importation business and also put newly arrived young Sicilians to work as his bodyguards, contract killers and drug traffickers. The "Zips" as they were known, had Galante's total trust and confidence. The New York crime families were alarmed at Galante's brazen attempt hijack the entire narcotics market and use it as a lever to line his own pockets.

Galante refuse to share. Although Galante was aware that he had many enemies, he said, "No one will ever kill me, they wouldn't dare."

On July 12, 1979, Carmine Galante was assassinated just as he finished eating lunch at Joe and Mary's Italian-American Restaurant in Bushwick,Brooklyn, along with Leonard Coppola, a Bonanno capo, and restaurant owner/cousin Giuseppe Turano, a family soldier.

At 2:45 pm in the afternoon, three ski-masked men came into the restaurant and opened fire with shotguns and handguns. Cigar still clenched in his mouth, Galante was shot dead along with Coppola and Turano.

Galante's bodyguards, Cesare Bonventre and Baldassare "Baldo" Amato, made no attempt to save their boss, making it clear that they had agreed to betray him. Galante was murdered -- supposedly -- by Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato, Russel Mauro and the third man likely was one of the following: Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano or Louis "Louie Gaeta" Giongetti. Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato managed the hit, naming his son top shooter to enhance his standing in the family. Bruno was promoted following the hit.

Galante was buried at Saint John's Cemetery in Queens.

Years later, in October 1986, in testimony presented in the Mafia Commission trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan, the son and daughter of Turino provided testimony regarding the Galante hit.

Constanza and John Turano, who were teenagers at the time of the murder, testified in almost inaudible whispers about how their father, a family friend and Galante were killed on July 12, 1979.

Constanza spoke first.

''I was in the kitchen" when Galante arrived, she said. Galante, who was her grandmother's cousin, stopped to talk to her grandmother ''about old times.''

''He joined my father in the back for lunch,'' she continued. They were soon joined by family friend Coppola, and two other men, Amato and Bonventre.

Suddenly, at about 2:45 P.M., she heard her father saying ''What are you doing?'' Then she heard shots and quickly hid "behind the refrigerator.''

''I just saw people running,'' she said, adding that ''they had ski masks on'' and that ''they were carrying guns.''

Afterward, she looked into the rear patio of the restaurant, where her father, Coppola and Galante were ''lying on the floor.''

''I saw Baldo crouching behind a table with a gun in his hand.''

Her brother told of seeing Galante arrive, followed by Coppola, Amato and Bonventre.

But when the prosecutor, Michael Chertoff, asked about details, the brother only repeatedly replied that he could not remember.

Discussing the reluctant witness outside of the jury's presence, Chertoff told Judge Richard Owen that ''he told me he was afraid to testify.''

Turano eventually was prompted to "remember" that Amato and Bonventre had arrived clad in leather jackets, even though it was a scorching hot New York summer day.

The two were Galante's bodyguards but prosecutors charged that they had conspired in the killing.

Then, ''three masked men walked into the restaurant,'' Turano said, head down and voice low. One of them pointed a gun at him and ''he told me not to move.''

As the men went into the rear patio, he shouted a warning to his father, then he himself was shot and wounded by a gunman.

''I heard shots going off,'' he continued. Then, in the rear patio, he found ''just the bodies.''

The Galante murder was one racketeering charge included in the in the trial. Indelicato was accused of participating in the murder--and found guilty.

In another courtroom in the same building, Amato was on trial in the Pizza Connection Case.

Bonventre was killed after Galante.

Before the testimony about the murder, Joseph D. Pistone, who had infiltrated the Bonannos as an undercover jewel thief, testified about the power struggle going on in the New York Mafia at the time. He retired shortly after his years undercover.

Pistone repeated his testimony from previous trials about how he infiltrated the Bonanno organization.

He testified that there was a Mafia rule against killing a boss without the commission's approval.

All these years later, consider all the men who died for control of the Bonanno family. Considering the state of that crime family today, who would believe so many died so cruelly to lead it....


Comments

  1. Meanwhile, just finished reading that somewhat of a train wreck book "Iceman" by Philip Carlo. Of course, like every other hit in the 20th century it seems, Kuklinski claimed to be one of the 4 on this hit. Will we ever get the straight answer to this, and hundreds more OC crimes??

    Coincidentally reading, again, Donnie Brasco. I am at the part where Pistone has just met Sonny Black.

    ReplyDelete

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