Genovese Boss Tieri Organized Galante Hit?

Genovese boss Frank "Funzi" Tieri was powerful enough
to run the Commission during tumultuous times.


The historical problem with writing about the Mafia is the basic fact that, since it is a secret society, it doesn't keep records regarding quarterly revenues.

The CEO doesn't writer a letter to the board, informing them of any upcoming plans to "grow" the crime family, etc.

So where do facts used in a given work come from? What is the source of the source? Usually law enforcement documents, such as 302s; trial transcripts of testimony -- then there are congressional  committees; enterprising journalists/historians who find information no one else has either through contemporary sources or by digging through musty old files. Then there are memoirs, such as Joseph Bonanno's Man of Honor and the one written by Nicola Gentile.



Tommy Ryan Eboli; they let him visit
his mistress before gunning him down.


The "Mafia Encyclopedia," which offers no footnotes or notes on source material of any kind. However, the company that writes and publishes it (FactsonFile.com is its web address) is in the business of producing reference material. It has been revised and reissued a number of times. (Still I have found some mistakes in it regarding Eboli's murder. Tommy Ryan's FBI files are available and his murder is described in full, with evidence found. It doesn't jibe with what was written in the Mafia Encyclopedia, but then I may not have had the most updated version.

I had never heard of the Mafia Encyclopedia before writing this post, but I was able to directly quote from it as it is online and free access is available. I checked and it has turned up as source material in a lot of Mafia books.

Other sources support different parts of the story, the gist of which is: Funzi Tieri*, as Commission chief, managed the political side of the equation regarding the whacking of Carmine Galante; he built the consensus and sent emissaries -- which may have included Gambino underboss Neil Dellacroce  -- to Joe Bonanno in Arizona, where he'd been exiled the previous decade. Funzi, in addition to supposedly seeking Bonanno's council (are at least appearing to be, to flatter the man), also sent an implied threat that Bonanno should not get any funny notions.

The Snake didn't want Lilo hurt.

That the Commission was aware of the need to quickly remove Carmine "Lilo" Galante from the picture, I'll take as a given. 

During the last period of Galante's life, following his release from prison up through to his death, there were a series of murders committed within the mob that are believed to have been Galante's handiwork, to help position him to not only seize control of the Bonanno family, but the Commission as well. (I will go into detail, and sourcing, in another post.) Galante, in fact, committed as many as one hundred murders during his life, law enforcement believes -- and was never convicted of any of them. Who are all those people Lilo killed is a valid question.

Partly to pave the way for his successor, Carlo Gambino arranged for Funzi
Tieri to helm the Genovese clan after having Tommy Ryan Eboli whacked.

A bold and vicious man with a dead-eyed stare that scared law enforcement as well as other Mafia members, Galante believed the Bonanno family was his by right; he had served as Joe Bonanno's underboss and was entitled to the job.

But Galante faced an adversary every bit as bold and vicious in one Frank "Funzi" Tieri, who during this tumultuous period in Cosa Nosa history was at the helm of the Genovese family. This is widely believed to have resulted from the machinations of Carlo Gambino, who thought Funzi was user-friendly enough to replace the previous Genovese boss, Tommy Eboli, who was in big trouble when he failed to accept he owed Gambino and the other bosses some $4 million they had given him to fund a major drug deal with Louis Cirillo -- who was later busted and sent away for 25 years. The bosses lost their million, and Eboli wouldn't repay them or even acknowledge the debt.

Gambino had him whacked in 1972 -- but the shooters purposely waited until Eboli was leaving his mistress's house, as opposed to arriving, before opening fire on him. The thinking was: despite his being a shithead, "Tommy Ryan" was a boss... why not let him go with a smile on his face?

Gambino arranged for Funzi Tieri to take over the Genovese family. Carlo was thinking ahead; by arranging for Funzi to be boss, Gambino was also trying to establish a base of supporters for the man he had designated to be his heir, Paul Castellano. But Tieri was also boss material; he was able to control his temper, was willing to use violence when necessary and had the ability to generate revenue. One FBI agent even said Tieri was a "real money maker, one of the classiest gangsters in the New York City area."

Big Paul Castellano was often referred
to as Boss of Bosses, but only because
Funzi Tieri died four years before him.
Funzi turned into a stronger boss than Gambino had anticipated, and is believed to have been the most powerful boss on the Commission at the time of the Lilo crisis. (Funzi died in 1981, though, only a couple of years after the hit, which occurred in 1979.)

To decide Lilo's fate, the Commission met in Boca Raton, Florida. One report puts the meeting "at the... home of Gerardo "Jerry" Catena**, the retired Genovese family capo who was serving as underboss of the Genovese family at the time.

In attendance were, allegedly, Funzi Tieri, Gerry Catena, Paul Castellano, Florida boss Santo Trafficante and maybe Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo.

It was decided that Galante was a greedy threat and had to be taken out. Funzi even sent emissaries to Joe Bonanno himself. The exiled boss must have accepted the gambit, or at least understood the implied threat of Funzi's intended message: Peace in New York was why Galante was to be killed. So don't try to make a comeback, Joe, or we'll take you out, too.

One commentator has said he finds it unlikely that Funzi would tell Joe about the hit on Galante because the old Cosa Nostra chief may have telephoned Galante and warned him. I don't think "the life" works like an episode of the Fox network's old TV hit, 24.

First off, why would Joe take such a risk, one that could very well place him on the wrong side of history--again? Because Galante was, essentially, trying to do what Joe himself had attempted in the 1960s; Joe had failed and it was only by the grace of God that the progenitor of the Mafia family that still carries his name today was still breathing at the time in question.

And, what would Galante have done if he'd gotten such a warning from Joe? Run away? Hide? In terms of offense, what more could he possibly have done? He was allegedly already whacking Gambinos -- at least six -- as part of an effort to wrest control of Gambino's drug distribution business.

He went around with bodyguards... In fact, it was Lilo's trusted Sicilian bodyguards who had ultimately given the boss up; they allowed the hit. Galante's days were already numbered; the rest was just detail.

Other sources provide further details regarding the Commission reaching out to Bonanno about the Galante hit.

Another report notes that "It was even rumoured that Joseph Bonanno, the seventy-four year old, disposed former family boss, was contacted at his home in Arizona to put the final stamp of approval on the plan. It's possible that Aniello Dellacroce himself, traveled to Tucson, where the elder Bonanno lived, to confirm that the hit was going down and to ensure that Joe would not use the killing as an opportunity to re-ignite his interest in the families affairs."

A third source also notes that the meeting was held in Boca, and that Bonanno was told of the hit and gave his approval, though the writer does not designate any particular mob figure as in charge.

Dellacroce could possibly have been the emissary; sending a family underboss may have been meant to show Bonanno a level of respect he may not have deserved, considering how reviled he was and would become after the publication of his book, which fueled the launch of the Commission Case. Or maybe sending Dellacroce, the classic Mafia enforcer and a contemporary of Joe's, was an implied threat in and of itself.

Dellacroce, in his earlier years under Albert Anastasia, used to travel the country whacking people while dressed in the garb of a Catholic priest. He was said to have had the same dead-looking eyes as Galante himself. Many expected a major civil war inside the Gambino family when Neil learned the crown had gone to Castellano. But the old-school street boss, who really believed in that thing of theirs, didn't give in to the John Gotti's at his knees. He accepted the will of the boss. The boss is the boss is the boss. (He'd also been given nearly half of the family's rackets, the so-called blue collar wing, to help mollify him for his loyalty.)

It would've been an interesting conversation between those two. If it happened.

An interesting side note to Lilo's story is the widely reported detail that Colombo boss Carmine Persico had alone voted against whacking Galante.


* **: Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo (October 6, 1908 in New York City – April 1987) is considered to have been the real boss of the Genovese crime family, from the late 1960s until the beginning of the 1980s, according to two specific sources.

In 1959, Vito Genovese went to prison, having first appointed a panel of bosses to run the family: Capo Michele Miranda, underboss Gerardo "Jerry" Catena, and acting boss Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli. In 1962 Joseph Valachi stated before a US Senate subcommittee that Lombardo was also a part of this same panel. According to FBI informant Vincent Cafaro, Lombardo had been boss since 1969 and had been using Eboli and Tieri as decoys to insulate himself, coinciding his retirement with Tieri's death and naming Vincent Gigante as his successor while at the same making Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno the new front boss to disguise Gigante's transition into boss.

There is no definitive evidence for any of this, however; information on Benny Squint being the family's real power is derived solely from the testimonies of Valachi and Cafaro. (Informants, as noted above, one category of those "ultimate sources.")

There is little research on Benny Squint -- none that I could find. I know the Genovese "bosses" up until Tieri were weak and forgettable, the last one whacked under Carlo Gambino's orders. There is much research pointing to how strong a boss Tieri was, including how well-liked he had been by the rank and file members of the Genovese clan. Much like "Fat Tony" Salerno, Tieri certainly could have been boss.

Benny Squint wanted obscurity, let him have it, I say.



Comments

  1. I am the guy who wrote the original comment at the top of this article. Ed I appreciate the rebuttal! I would like to point out to you testimony given by james frattiano, while he was acting boss of LA was summoned to a meeting with tieri and was read the riot act because a member of his family (frank bompensiero) was meeting with Bonanno in arizona. Frattiano says Tieri stated Bonano was persona non grata "a leper". So its just hard to believe that several years after this they would consult him on a murder or respect him enough to send an underboss to meet him. Check out Frattianos book or testimony its all in their.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we are dealing with semantics... they didn't really seek his approval. They were informing him of the planned hit but also warning Bonanno. Tieri may have thought Bonanno and Galante were in cahoots -- that would be interesting to investigate.... links from Galante to Joe Bonanno at this time.... as I wrote: Tieri "built the consensus and sent emissaries -- which may have included Gambino underboss Neil Dellacroce, -- to Joe Bonanno in Arizona, where he'd been exiled the previous decade. Funzi, in addition to seeking Bonanno's council (are at least appearing to be, to flatter the man), also wanted a message sent that old Joe should stay where he was and not get any funny ideas."

      Wasn't Frattiano discredited long ago? I have 1980s Newsweek, with a cover story about him. The Weasel, right? White hair, glasses smoking a cigar and looking like an idiot?

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    2. Ed, I noticed you say here that "they didn't really seek his approval" but the title of this story is "Funzi got the nod from 'Bananas" himself for the Galante hit". I'm not sure what 'the nod' means where you come from but normally it means to give approval. Here's a colorful little fact for you.....no one ever called Bonanno 'bananas' its stupidity made up by the press and perpetuated by numbskulls.

      Delete
    3. Headlines are supposed to be punchy and convey a lot of information -- I wrote "Bananas" and you knew who I mean. If I wrote Bonanno I'd have to say Joe Bonanno and that's four additional spaces... what would you prefer, because after all, I write this blog for you... Let me think of something you'd like and change it....

      Delete
    4. How's that? Or are you going to argue that Benny Squint was really the boss, too?

      Delete
    5. I'm busting balls, but the truth is, I value the input of you and the others. Wait until I get the FBI documents. I'm going to write a book; I have even chosen my topic, which I won't name here. Amazingly, there is not a single book focused on this one "ongoing event" that had a major impact on the New York Mafia.

      Delete
    6. To the commentator who wrote: "Ed, this mob stuff is a hobby for me don't take my posts to serious, if I break your balls a little it's all in good fun."

      I had to delete your comment because of the next part of what you wrote! Guess why?!?! I know, we're like armchair military strategists refighting WWII; it's fun but tempers sometime flare.... I get it! Stay warm, friend, especially today -- it's like 5 degrees in NYC area...

      Delete
    7. I got it right huh!?! No problems.....good luck with the book.

      Delete
    8. I just got my copy of Fratianno's book, The Last Mafioso." Geez I think the word "last" is waaay overused....

      Delete
  2. Also The Mafia Encyclopedia is rife with mistakes and should not be used as a source for real journalists. Anyone agree here?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Galante was killed because he flouted the Commissions authority. They made Rastelli the Boss, Carmine is released and immediately tells everyone HE is the boss. He even goes as far as to start making guys and building up his crews. If the Commission HAD to murder him or be revealed as powerless and impotent. Drugs were also an underlying motive here but the death sentence is guaranteed when the Commission was crossed.

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  4. The reason I don't believe they would have contacted Bonanno is.......Galante represented the old Bonanno faction of the family. He was joe's underboss for a time and a very trusted capo regime. Why would the Commission take a chance of having Bonanno tip off his old friend to his imminent murder, which would immediately start the war they were supposedly trying to prevent?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes sense to me and seems to be just the kind of trouble Bonanno would have liked to cause his old enemies on the Commission.

      Delete
    2. They contacted Joe because they were warning him not to interfere. Read Scarpo's story - don't skim it.

      Delete
    3. We're going to kill Galante.....Don't interfere! And if you decide to tell him about this later on today or tomorrow....We the Commission who banished you years ago and warned all of mafiadom to shun you like a leper, will be really pissed.

      What I'm saying is if you don't want someone to interfere in your plot it's best not to tell them about it beforehand. So sending an emissary from Carlo Gambino, Joe's best friend doesn't make sense.

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    4. How about "we're going to whack Carmine Galante and if you don't just sit there on your ass we'll blow you apart, too." Maybe "we have shooters up the block standing by to waste you." Maybe they told him while the hit was happening, or the next day. Bonanno was smart enough to know what happens once the Commission's will is made clear. He tried to assume control of it himself. I am going to make this a side project of mine; finding out what really happened. And when I do maybe I'll write a book and dedicate it to you....

      Delete
  5. Ed, you would be wise to put away the mafia encyclopedia and read "The Origin of Organized Crime in America, The New York Mafia 1891-1931" By David Critchley. This is a book you could use as a resource and with pride not like that bullshit encyclopedia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had never even heard of the Mafia Encyclopedia until I wrote the above story. Now, in daily life, I read a ton of stuff and sometimes I include details in my stories that are not commonly known -- I like the colorful little fact; one could say I may "plant them" on purpose to see who noticed. But then when I am called on these things, I have to hunt down the source. I have read Tieri sent emissaries to Bonanno about the hit but for the life of me can't find the reference in my library of Mafia books.... I looked online -- the fastest source I could find, and one I could link to, was the Mafia Encyclopedia. I'd never use a single source for a story, but that encyclopedia is more widely used than you'd imagine; I did research on it....

      I have Critchley's book (cost like a 100 bucks!) and worked my way through about half of it. It focuses on the period ending in 1931 - how could that book be a source for this story? (Also: Critchley calls it "the Galante family, formerly the Bonanno family." Interesting... When doing some research on Phil Giaccone, I found a newspaper article that called it the Galante-Bonanno family....)

      I have all "the books" that are accepted and am aware of the frauds perpetuated by Valachi and the Last Testimony of Lucky Luciano -- they have probably done more harm to Mafia scholarship than the Mafia Encyclopedia ever did!!!

      But again, I do welcome the critical comments -- keep em coming! I am happy that you guys comment at all! I get great story ideas from comments. I hate covering current events; all the other mob blogs can do that.... I write about what interests me personally.....

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    2. Have you gotten to the part in Critchleys book that says Maranzano DID NOT set up the boss, underboss, capo, soldier structure? What do you think about it? Do you feel the book is credible? Maybe more so then the mafia encyclopedia??

      Delete
    3. Read my comment about when and why I used the Encyclopedia -- you could at least read what I write before you tear it to shreds.

      Delete
  6. ed which frauds are you talking about in those 2 books? Am i alright, you do not recommend to read it?

    ReplyDelete

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