JFK Assassination 50 Years Later: Mafia Still a Suspect

Bensonhurst native Marco Manfre, who marked his 2013 debut on Cosa Nostra News with this story, is the author of two books, Returning to the Lion’s Den: Life in an Organized Crime Family and The Outcast Prophet of Bensonhurst, both of which are set in the Brooklyn borough of his childhood, based on people who defined that place and time for him.

At the time of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination I was glad Marco sent this. I always found it interesting that the mob's involvement in one of the most infamous "hits" in history has always been a given for G. Robert Blakey, the main drafter of the RICO act and self-proclaimed smarty pants who named it after Hollywood gangster Caesar Enrico "Rico" Bandello (played by Edward G. Robinson) in "Little Caesar."

"Jack Ruby all by himself is substantial enough reason to believe in the Mafia's involvement [in the assassination of JFK]...
The Mafia profited by JFK's death. What's worse is
they got away with it."


November 22, 2013, a Friday this year, will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Ironically, that fateful day 50 years ago was also a Friday.

Just about every American 60 years old and older—the older Baby Boomers, of whom, according to the United States Census Bureau, there are more than 40,000,000—can tell you where he or she was on that day. Most of them can tell you where they were and what they were doing at the precise moment when they learned about the assassination. 

I was walking home from Lafayette High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn when I heard a boy call out, “Somebody just shot the president.” I knew what I heard, but I was sure it was not true. How could it be? When I walked into my house, even before I turned on the television, hoping to see that only the regular soap operas and game shows were on, and no special news reports from Dallas, I looked at my mother: Tears were rolling down her unhappy face as she ironed a shirt.
Giancana had helped the CIA in the
past and had the same lover as JFK. 

Fifty years later, what do we know about the assassination? Did Lee Harvey Oswald fire the shots from the Texas School Book Depository which killed Kennedy? The preponderance of books, films, government reports, and other sources say that, yes, Oswald did it. A 6.5 mm Carcano Model 91/38 rifle (sometimes, improperly called a Mannlicher-Carcano) was found on the sixth floor of the depository, where Oswald worked, by Deputy Sheriff Seymour Weitzman and Dallas Police Officer Gene Boone 30 minutes after the shooting. The rifle was later traced back to Oswald. Three shell casings were found on the floor near a southeast window on the sixth floor of the depository. A single intact 6.5 mm bullet (referred to as Warren Commission Exhibit 399) was found at Parkland Hospital on the gurney under Texas Governor John Connally, who had also been shot (the single-bullet theory says that one of the rounds that hit Kennedy exited his neck and penetrated Connally); fragments of other bullets were recovered from the limousine in which the two men had been riding. The ammunition was the type that would have been used in that rifle, the Carcano.

Many people believe that Oswald was the lone gunman. Others are sure that there was a CIA or Cosa Nostra connection. They cite the possible involvement of Salvatore Giancana, also known as Sam Giancana (June 15, 1908 – June 19, 1975), an important Chicago mob figure. He allegedly had cooperated with the CIA in attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Judith Campbell Exner (January 11, 1934 – September 24, 1999), the alleged mistress of both Giancana and of JFK, testified that she had passed notes between Giancana and the CIA. It has been alleged that Giancana had been a conspirator in the JFK assassination because he had been angry at both President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, for their vigorous pursuit of mob figures. Others say that he wanted JFK dead to eliminate competition in
Marcello was caught on tape, but was it
bragging or braggadocio?
reference to his affair with Judith Exner.
Trafficante Jr., who had strong ties to
the Bonannos in New York, also is
one of the usual suspects.

Then there’s Carlos Marcello, born Calogero Minacori (or Minacore) to Sicilian parents in Tunis, Tunisia, the Cosa Nostra boss of Louisiana during the time of the assassination. Some say that he may have been involved in the killing because he was concerned that the Kennedys were interfering in mob business. He was caught on an FBI wiretap housed in the National Archives in Washington, DC, saying in reference to President Kennedy, “YEAH, I HAD the son of a bitch killed. I’m glad I did. I’m sorry I couldn’t have done it myself!” Is that the truth or is it an example of gangster bravado?

Other people allege that Santo Trafficante Jr. (November 15, 1914 – March 17, 1987) of Florida, who had connections to the Bonanno family in New York City and Sam Giancana in Chicago, may have been involved for the same reasons as Giancana and Marcello, the government’s investigation of mob figures.

Of course, there was Jack Leon Ruby (born Jacob Leon Rubenstein; March 25, 1911 – January 3, 1967), the Dallas nightclub owner who shot and killed Oswald with a .38 revolver as he was being escorted by police officers through the basement of the police station to a car that would take him to the county jail. Some say that he had connections to Sam Giancana. Others say that he thought he would be perceived as a hero for killing JFK’s assassin.

I wish I could say that I have independent evidence that connects or clears any (or all) of those men or others in organized crime in reference to the assassination, but I do not. However, consider this: La Cosa Nostra has been operating in the United States in one form or another since the late nineteenth century. It has weathered federal, state, and municipal government investigations and crackdowns; it made money and expanded during the Prohibition years, the Great Depression, and two world wars; it has continued to operate under both Republican and Democrat presidents; and it has survived during the rise and fall of Irish, Russian, Jewish, Colombian, and Armenian criminal enterprises and many others too numerous to cite.

Did Cosa Nostra figures really decide to risk everything by being involved in a plot to murder the president of the United States? Why would they do that? I would imagine they knew they would be able to endure any and all Kennedy administration investigations and did not have to resort to such a desperate and dangerous solution to that problem.

Fifty years after that fateful day in Dallas Texas, although the Cosa Nostra is not as powerful in the United States as it was during its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, it is still a potent, ongoing enterprise. It is involved in numerous criminal enterprises and is making money and wielding a great deal of influence in the United States.

A tried and true rule among Mafia bosses is that wars and upheavals are bad for business. To that I would add: so is assassinating a sitting president of the United States, especially one as popular as JFK was -- and still is -- with the public at large.


  1. Interesting point of view; well put. I'm definintely going to order Manfre's book, Returning to the Lion's Den, about a crime family. Thanks for turning me on to him.

  2. I agree with your final point. I don't think the mafia ordered the hit. By the way, I read "Returning to the Lion's Den" and enjoyed it thoroughly.

  3. "G. Robert Blakey, the main drafter of the RICO act and self-proclaimed smarty pants"

    C'mon, the guy designed RICO and the Witness Protection Program and is a professor at Notre Dame and he's "self-proclaimed?"

    1. I know who GRB is! I was joking around -- after all he said he deliberately named it RICO after the Robinson film; that is a fact. He has a sense of humor -- he's not a dry crabby old professor. He loves films including old gangster films. Santa Flaws - you of all people should have a sense of humorous! Or at least irony... :-)

    2. Santa - also did you click the link? It leads to my exclusive interview with Blakey...

    3. Ok, got it now and, yes, I did read the Blakey interview. Very informative. From your association do you believe Blakey is rock solid in his belief that the mob was involved in the JFK assassination or is he just putting that out as a possibility?

    4. I have heard him say this repeatedly -- on your basic History channel shows about the mob as well as at a symposium on OC's impact on U.S. history, uptown in Manhattan many years ago. He is convinced and may have even testified for some committees. He added that many member of our intelligence communities going back to the time when it happened believe it was a conspiracy. From the ones who analyze stats to field agents to outright spooks -- they believe the lone-nut theory is pure fiction. But they'd never admit to it. They want the public to believe it is an open and shut case. Blakey doesn't believe the mob acted alone; he believes elements of the CIA/FBI and Castro were involved. But perhaps subconsciously he can't allow himself to believe a jerk off like Lee Harvey Oswald could so deeply change the world -- Blakey's world, too -- with a pull of a trigger. I however do lean toward the lone nut theory - I went through a phase and investigated, reading tons of stuff -- what else can I do? Anyway enough, gotta get back to my PG story....

    5. That's what I've always heard Blakey say on the HC and elsewhere. I'm not a hardcore JFK conspiracy buff by any stretch; still there are some haunting facts that make me wonder.

      I'm not convinced that Oswald was enough of a marksman to do what is claimed for him -- with a bolt-action rifle, no less.

      That shot where JFK is propelled backwards -- from a back of the head shot.

      The "magic bullet" found on the gurney.

      Johnny Roselli shooting from the storm drain. Wait, hold it, they don't claim that. :) Does Blakey?

    6. I can recommend a great book: "Case Closed" by Posner - I was the biggest conspiracy advocate around back then. Stone caused a lot of problems with his film JFK...a lot of b.s. is in it. Oswald was hounded mercilessly by the FBI. He wasn't "left alone." In fact he lost jobs because the Feds told all his employers he was a commie. The assassination was pure dumb luck. Oswald happened to be working in the book depository when he read about JFK's Dallas trip. He was a nobody who wanted to be a somebody... his arrest was his coming out party; he was looking forward to his trial and new life as a persecuted freedom fighter. He liked JFK TOO! Busted bated the Cuban policy; he devoury newspapers. The head jerk you mention is a spasm reaction - there is eveñ a name for it. When shot in back of head with high veloçity bullet the head will jerk backward. The greatest irony I believe - according to Seymour Hershey Kennedy threw his back out before the Dallas trip schleping a pro... he had to wear a back brace. Instead of crumbling onto the floor after the first shot JFK's back brace kept him propped up - a sitting duck for the headshot...

    7. Lotta typos above - I apologize.... need sleep! I was trying to say Oswald bated Kennedy only because of the Cuban policy. He liked JFK's supposed civil rights agenda - which LBJ got passed in JFK's memory. JFK didn't like civil rights - thought country wasn't ready for it...

    8. He's the one that got chopped up right? Around same time Mooney got whacked frying those peppers ... right before they were to appear before House Committee on Assassinations.......

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  5. Hard to believe Santo Trafficante would think making an attempt on Castro was crazy but killing the POTUS was smart !!


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