But Johnny Gongs ran out of time. New York remained a hope and a dream for Johnny Gongs. And all his hopes and dreams came to an end when he was murdered the next year, by the mob family in Philadelphia.
John Alite told authorities he had met with Casasanto several times after Casasanto came home from prison in 2002. According to Casasanto, Gotti wanted Alite to bring him to New York "to introduce him to a couple of guys . . . to get him straightened out," Alite testified.
But Alite said he didn't go along with the program. "I met with him after that and I said, 'Johnny, you'll get killed in New York. Every corner there's guys, not like in Philly where there's only one crew. And they fight each other all the time.'
"He was a wild kid . . . and he didn't understand the life, not New York gangster life. He might have understood the mob life in Philly. It's a big difference.'"
New York has always been a big difference when it comes to the mob; it's like Washington DC to politicos. It's the only area of the country where more than one family shares territory. As most of you know, there are five families in this city, and to survive, as well as thrive mobsters need allies; a nose for politics doesn't hurt either.
As my story on Andrew Didonato shows, it's not always easy to have all those qualities. It was not unusual for Andrew, when he was part of a Gambino crew, to spend an evening "looking for somebody who needed killing badly; they hunted him, tried to figure out his daily schedule, drove around in the Brooklyn night looking for him. Their target was affiliated with the Lucheses, another crime family, and belonged to a crew that operated in proximity to Andrew's own Gambino crew (wiseguys in New York's five families tend to trip over each other left and right, which can cause all sorts of problems, which usually lead to sit downs and/or killings.)"
Chicago has the Outfit; Cleveland, Philadelphia and most American regions in which the Mafia had/has a presence in is traditionally in the form of a single family. Many families outside New York don't even have formal names -- or at least not presently. The Philadelphia family, for example, was never known as, say, the Ligambi family, an insider told us. But back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was called the Bruno family, in honor of Angelo Bruno, the Sicilian-American boss of the family who had had close ties to one of the most powerful Cosa Nostra bosses of all time, Carlo Gambino.
Bruno -- born Angelo Annaloro -- was, like the current boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, a relatively peaceful man, called "The Gentle Don." He ran the Philly mob from 1959 until his death in 1980. His reign is viewed as the Philly family's golden age. It ended when the Philly underboss got big ideas with a shotgun.
However, back in the 1980s, New Jersey had New York beat: seven crime families vied for turf in the Garden City; what's more, the Mafia was not viewed as the only criminal operation in the state. (Source: "Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi," Hearings Before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, 100th Congress, Second Session, US Government Printing Office, Washington: 1988, pp. 717-731)
"...[T]he Mafia has been severely weakened in our region ... almost half of the Bruno/Scarfo gang under the jail house leadership of Nicodemo Scarfo of Atlantic City is under indictment or facing criminal charges. The DeCavalcante/Riggi group of North Central New Jersey is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's office, and the F.B.I. only recently raided the long invulnerable Riggi's labor union headquarters," said James R. Zazzali, then-Commissioner, New Jersey State Commission of Investigation.
"Currently, at least 29 organized criminal organizations are operating in our State. Interestingly, only seven of these are Mafia gangs, while more than a score are the non-traditional criminal types..."
Zazzali then offered the following outline of the other Mafia families in New Jersey in 1983.
The DeCavalcante/Riggi criminal organization is relatively small, consisting of approximately 50 "made" members and 80 associates. The hub of this group's operations is the City of Elizabeth, in Union County in Northern New Jersey. Its most notorious leader, Simon -- Sam the Plumber -- DeCavalcante is in retirement in Dade County, Florida. John M. Riggi now heads that enterprise, whose illegal ventures include gambling, bookmaking, loansharking, narcotics, pornography production and distribution, extortion, labor racketeering, transport and dumping of toxic waste, official corruption, and conspiracies involving casino junkets and the recording industry. The geographic reach of this organization extends from southwestern Connecticut through areas of metropolitan New York and into Pennsylvania. In New Jersey, the organization is most active in the counties of Essex, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean in the north and central parts of our State.
The greatest threat of Riggi's operation is its control of Laborers Union Local 394, a primary tool for manipulating labor and extorting contractors. Because of this gang's power to provide or withdraw essential labor at construction projects, contractors generally comply with any Riggi requests to utilize certain organized crime-favored companies for trucking, concrete, lumber, scaffolding, sand and gravel, dirt and garbage removal, landscaping, plumbing, and electrical work, which results in higher costs than customary for such work.
The State Commission of Investigation confirmed during a 1981-1982 investigation that this criminal enterprise maintains cooperative relationships with the LCN groups in New York City. It also should be noted that Riggi met with Gambino family boss Paul Castellano in December 1985, on the very day Castellano was assassinated in New York City.
The Bruno/Scarfo crime organization, comprised of about 60 members and 250 associates, is in a state of disarray and deteriorating influence due to the inept but bloodthirsty leadership of boss Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo. Scarfo's violence contrasts sharply with the more placid style of former boss Angelo Bruno, who was aptly known as the "Docile Don."
Scarfo's reign is dangerously threatened because Caporegime Thomas DelGiorno and soldier Nicholas Caramandi are cooperating with law enforcement authorities. At present, the organization's most influential members are incarcerated. As a result, Scarfo is almost certain to be replaced as boss soon. Potential successors are Albert (Reds) Pontani, a soldier from Mercer County, recently indicted for drug distribution and RICO offenses; Pasquale (Patty Specs) Martirano, a North Jersey capo, and Joseph (Chickie) Ciancaglini from Philadelphia. The weakened Scarfo organization may even be absorbed by such other LCN families as the Gambino/Gotti or Genovese/Gigante organizations.
The Scarfo organization is engaged in the manufacture and distribution of drugs, extortion, loansharking, illicit gambling, labor racketeering, political corruption -- and murder. It maintains interests in several legitimate industries such as vending, restaurants, bars, trucking, boxing promotion, and construction. Its area of control is Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. It also has members in the Northern New Jersey counties of Union and Essex.
Gambino/Gotti Crime Organization
The largest and most influential criminal organization in the greater New York metropolitan area, this criminal enterprise consists of approximately 300 members and 650 associates. Led by John Gotti, its influence extends from New York City to California and Florida. The Gambino organization's presence is felt throughout New Jersey. In Northern New Jersey, this group engages in gambling, hijacking, fencing, extortion, loansharking, and narcotics. Until recently, law enforcement authorities believed that a group operating in South Jersey was a faction of the Gambino/Gotti organization. While the principal members of this group had a blood relationship to Carlo Gambino, they also were an integral part of the Sicilian Mafia. Their primary criminal activities, heroin and alien smuggling, were conducted with approval of the American Gambino organization in exchange for a percentage of the profits. However, their major allegiance was to the Sicilian Mafia group in Palermo.
In the early 1960s, the Gambino organization established an amicable relationship with the Bruno regime in Philadelphia. There is speculation that this working relationship could evolve into control of the Scarfo organization, particularly if Scarfo is convicted and incarcerated for the numerous murders he is alleged to have ordered, approved, or committed.
Genovese/Gigante Organized Crime Organization
The most dominant traditional criminal organization affecting New Jersey is the Genovese/Gigante enterprise and its 275 members, supported by 600 associates. There are approximately 40 members and 70 associates who reside in New Jersey. This criminal network's illicit activities include illegal gambling, narcotics distribution, loansharking, extortion, money laundering, labor racketeering, anti–trust violations, and the infiltration of legitimate businesses.
With the incarceration of Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno, this gang's leader now is Vincent (The Chin) Gigante. He is engaged in labor racketeering on the Hudson County waterfront through his subordinate, John DiGilio, a prominent soldier in Bayonne, New Jersey. Caporegimes Andrew Gerardo, Louis (Streaky) Gatto, Giuseppe (Pepe) Sabato, and DiGilio are the dominant members of the Genovese organization in New Jersey, and their criminal activities reach from North Jersey down to portions of Ocean and Atlantic counties. The Genovese organization's major threat is its influence over waterfront operations through labor unions, its ability to foment- political corruption, and its incursion of legitimate enterprises.
The Bonanno/Rastelli network consists of approximately 100 members and 375 associates. Its former leader, Joseph Bonanno, is in retirement in California. The organization's most recently recognized boss, Philip Rastelli, was sentenced to 12 years in Federal prison in January, 1987, for directing a labor racketeering conspiracy through control of Teamsters Local 814 for more than 21 years. Because of his prison term and failing health, Rastelli is viewed as losing ground in the organization. Furthermore, Joseph Massino, the underboss of this enterprise, was also convicted on racketeering charges in the same conspiracy involving the Local 814 moving and storage union. Consigliere Anthony Spero now appears to be the Acting Boss, running the street operations for the organization. Spero is one of 16 defendants named in a civil racketeering complaint charging the Bonanno/Rastelli organization with using legitimate businesses to conduct criminal activities. The civil suit, filed by Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Andrew J. Maloney in August of 1987, seeks $1 million in damages. Another defendant is Gabriel Infanti of Bloomfield in New Jersey. On December 22, 1987, Infanti was reported missing and is presumed dead. He manages a lucrative gambling network out of East 4th Street in New York City.
Before the death of Caporegime Joseph Zicarelli in 1983, the Bonanno organization operated an extensive gambling network in Northern New Jersey, which has since been taken over by elements of the Genovese and Jose Battle criminal groups. The Bonanno organization's recent criminal interests also have focused on junket scams to Atlantic City casinos. Caporegime Charles Musillo awaits trial on charges relating to these scams.
Although the Bonanno/Rastelli outfit conducts most of its operations in the greater New York area, its threat to New Jersey centers on the expansion of illicit gambling and scams involving the casino industry in Atlantic City and on money laundering and narcotics smuggling as a result of US relationship with the Sicilian Mafia.
Lucchese/Corallo Crime Organizations
Compared to most organized crime organizations affecting New Jersey, the Lucchese faction is small in numbers. Its lucrative gambling and narcotics operations have enlarged the influence of its 100 members and several hundred criminal associates. Criminal operations in New, Jersey are under the supervision of Anthony Accetturo and Joseph Abate, both caporegimes, and soldier Michael Taccetta. Accetturo has been exerting his influence in absentia since 1971, when he fled New Jersey, to avoid a subpoena issued by the State Commission of Investigation. Since then, Taccetta has served as Accetturo's coordinator.
Criminal activities directed in New Jersey by the Lucchese/Corallo gang include illegal gambling, loansharking, narcotics trafficking, fraud, cigarette smuggling, extortion, horse race fixing, pornography, and stolen property, mostly in New Jersey. Accetturo and Taccetta have served as principal operatives in smuggling and distributing narcotics out of South America and the Caribbean into Florida and ultimately into New Jersey and New York.
Currently, the entire Lucchese/Corallo hierarchy is in prison or under Federal indictment. Also, 21 of its members and associates have been charged with operating a racketeering empire. If these individuals are convicted, the Accetturo/Taccetta network would become vulnerable to a takeover, most probably by the Genovese or Gambino organizations.
Colombo/Persico Crime Organization
The Colombo/Persico organization, once one of the more powerful of the five major New York LCN enterprises, now is in disarray due to Federal and State prosecutions and poor leadership. With 120 members and 450 associates, the organization is led by the jailed Carmine Persico through Victor Orena, a caporegime.
Revenues from illicit gambling and loansharking activities finance this group's incursion of legitimate industries. Additionally, the organization is involved in arson, extortion, and labor racketeering.
Atlantic City, An Open City
Atlantic City has been controlled by the Philadelphia-based La Cosa Nostra organization now headed by Nicodemo Scarfo. The legalization of casino gambling in November, 1976, rejuvenated a sluggish market-for LCN criminal activities.
The LCN's National Commission declared Atlantic City an open city with the advent of casino gambling. An open city means that any other LCN organization crime group may operate there, but must first touch base with the Scarfo organization as a matter of courtesy and to prevent interference with another LCN activity.
Almost all of the vice activity in the Atlantic City area, such as loansharking, labor racketeering, gambling, narcotics, extortion, corruption, has been controlled by the Scarfo gang. Other LCN groups that have been involved in Atlantic City include the Lucchese/Corallo and the DeCavalcante/Riggi organizations (real estate purchases and junket enterprises); La Rocca LCN organization in Pittsburgh (gambling junkets); and the Bufalino LCN (providing gamblers to various junket companies).
At one time, Michael Insalaco, a member of the Bufalino LCN, was the only known LCN member to be licensed as a junket operator by New Jersey's Casino Control Commission. Ultimately, after an investigation, Insalaco's license was revoked, and his firm, Tiffany Group Tours, LTD., of Easton, Pennsylvania, was placed on a blacklist by the Casino Control Commission as an entity prohibited from doing business with a casino.
Shortly after New Jersey's voters approved of casino gambling, Paul Volpe, an organized crime figure from Toronto, Canada, and his cousin Angelo Pucci, began purchasing real estate in the Atlantic City area via several corporate entities. An investigation conducted in New Jersey and in Canada confirmed that Pucci was acting as a "front" for Volpe. During November, 1983, Volpe was found slain in the trunk of his wife's car in Canada. It is surmised that Volpe was killed on orders of Toronto's gang boss, Remo Commisso, because Volpe had been cheating Commisso on real estate as well as in narcotics transactions. In December, 1983, Pucci was indicted by the New Jersey State Grand Jury for fraud and failure to file individual and corporate tax returns. Pucci pled guilty to lesser charges and was placed on probation and fined. He currently resides in Margate, New Jersey, and has built condominiums in nearby Brigantine. Ironically, the concrete work at the condominium project was provided by Scarf, Inc., a construction firm operated by underboss Philip Leonetti, the nephew of Nicky Scarfo.
But overall, in the 1980s. New Jersey prosecutors decided it was really the Luchese family that held sway. Strong guys like Anthony "Tumac" Accetturo and Michael Taccetta oversaw an affluent, well-organized machine that spun dollars off of rackets in places like upscale Bergen County, the heavily commercialized Essex, Morris, Passaic and Union counties, as well as the bucolic Sussex County.
The Lucheses also were expanding into the beachfront communities of Ocean and Monmouth Counties, and even Atlantic City. They were the power -- which also made them the target.
In 1987, Accetturo, Taccetta and the Luchese crew in New Jersey went on trial for narcotics and racketeering charges. One of the longest trials in U.S. history, it produced a not guilty on all counts verdict.
The trial had been fixed, it was later learned. When the Lucheses got word that the nephew of a New Jersey capo was on the jury, they paid him $100,000 to vote for acquittal. During the RICO trial, however, the relationship between Accetturo and Taccetta deteriorated into an outright power struggle.
Maybe this is why no one can agree on which crime family David Chase based the Sopranos on. He had seven to choose from, and probably found a little inspiration from each.
Bonanno: boss – Michael Mancuso (J. Capeci, source)
Gambino: boss – Domenico Cefalu
Genovese: boss – unknown, acting boss: Daniel Leo
Lucchese: boss – Steven Crea
Genovese: boss – unknown, acting boss: Daniel Leo
Lucchese: boss – Steven Crea
The Five Families operate throughout the New York Metropolitan area, but mainly within New York City's five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Criminal rackets in Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk) and the counties of Westchester, Rockland and Albany also have been expanded.
The Five Families maintain a strong presence in New Jersey, South Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Las Vegas.
- The Bonanno crime family operates mainly in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. The family also maintains influence in Manhattan, The Bronx, Westchester County, New Jersey, California, Florida and may still have ties to the Montreal Mafia in Quebec. The Bath Avenue Crew operated in Bath Beach, Brooklyn in New York.
- The Colombo crime family operates mainly in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. The family also maintains influence in Staten Island, Manhattan, The Bronx, New Jersey and Florida.
- The Gambino crime family operates mainly in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island. The family also maintains influence in The Bronx, New Jersey, Westchester County, Connecticut, Florida and Los Angeles. The Ozone Park Boys operate in Queens and Long Island.
- The Genovese crime family operates mainly in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and New Jersey. The family also maintains influence in Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida. 116th Street Crew operates in Upper Manhattan and The Bronx. The Greenwich Village Crew operates in Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan. The Genovese crime family New Jersey faction operates throughout the state of New Jersey.
- The Luchese crime family operates mainly in The Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. The family also maintains influence in Queens, Long Island, Staten Island, Westchester County and Florida. Cutaia Crew operates in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. The Jersey Crew operates throughout New Jersey. The Tanglewood Boys was a recruitment gang that operated in Westchester County, The Bronx and Manhattan.
NJ.com reported that the indictment charges Francesco "Frank" Guarraci, 54, the reputed acting head of the DeCavalcante crime family, and Michael Nobile, 60, of Manalapan, of trying to extort money from the general manager of Lenny’s Brick Oven Pizzeria and Restaurant in Washington Township on July 3, 2009.