Feds Ended "Shelved" Mobster's Inexplicable Rise to Power

 Asaro was the Zip faction's
 favorite candidate for the role
of official boss of the
Bonanno crime family.

REVISED:  We found some interesting information about Vinny Asaro that explains something we've been puzzling over for some time: how did Asaro, who'd been busted from capo to soldier, then shelved, abruptly get reinstated and promoted to a spot on the panel overseeing the Bonanno family?

At first we'd also been curious whether the FBI had known of this prior to its investigation of Asaro, which primarily centered on 30-year-old charges, including the much vaunted Lufthansa Heist celebrated in the film Goodfellas, but also the 1960s murder of a man who Asaro and Jimmy the Gent Burke had deemed an informant, incorrectly, as is usually the case in Mafia murders. We wonder how often the mob disposed of someone over some reason and used the "rat" excuse as justification...

Asaro's cousin however began wearing the wire in 2009, so Asaro's change in fortune was not a stimulant for law officials.

Vinny Asaro was put up for boss of the Bonanno crime family in late 2011 due to pressure from the family's Sicilian faction in the wake of a mob hit up in Montreal. Apparently he had the support of three crime families at the time: the Luchese, Gambino and Colombo families. The Feds were able to capture on tape Asaro's sudden "reinstatement" and abrupt ascension, apparently not knowing the backstory, or at least not including reference to it in court-filed documents.

Vincent "Vinny" Asaro as noted will be the only one to go to trial for a range of crimes, including racketeering and murder charges. Four of the five Bonanno gangsters swept up in the January bust are negotiating plea deals to settle their cases. Asaro faces life behind bars.

Vinny's son, Bonanno captain Jerome Asaro, 56, plead guilty in Brooklyn Federal court last week and will be sentenced to up to eight years in prison.

Lawyers for three of Asaro’s co-defendants — acting capo Jack Bonventre, soldier John Ragano and acting boss Thomas "Tommy D" DiFiore — won severance from charges related to the 1978 JFK robbery after a judge agreed those allegations would be prejudicial.

They successfully had their cases severed from Asaro’s and are now hammering out deals, according to a filing by DiFiore’s ­attorney, Steve Zissou, the New York Post reported.

It turns out Asaro, who over the course of his criminal career had been shelved by the Bonanno crime family as well as knocked down to soldier from capo, had been heavily promoted by the Bonanno's Zip faction for the crime family's top job of "official boss" in late November of 2011, shortly after the killing of Sal "the Iron Worker" Montagna outside Montreal, according to a story by Jerry Capeci written a couple of weeks after Montagna's murder. The Feds had only to read it to know about Vinny Asaro, in fact.

Montagna was shot to death on Thanksgiving Day in 2011, shortly after 10 a.m. on Ile aux Tresors, a suburban area on an island near the town of Charlemagne. Investigators believe he jumped into a frigid river in a bid to evade his killers after they started firing at him.

Montagna supposedly had been trying to gain control of the Rizzuto family's interests in Montreal-based organized crime operations, and had been originally working with Raynald Desjardins, along with Desjardins' much respected brother-in-law, the old-time former Calabrian gangster Joseph Di Maulo. But when Montagna's alleged attempt on Sept. 16, 2011 to hit Desjardins near the Canadian gangster's home in Laval failed, it apparently didn't take long for Raynald and Di Maulo to decipher the plot and identify Montagna as the one behind it.

While Desjardins and two others were nabbed within weeks of the slaying, Canadian law enforcement never got their hands on Di Maulo, who would himself be hit within one week of Vito Rizzuto's returnfrom a U.S. prison.

This was a time of tumult in Montreal. Vito Rizzuto was in an American prison and his father and son had been assassinated the previous year. Apparently the Sicilians in New York were in close touch with their Montreal-based cohorts.

The Zip faction of the Bonanno crime family started pushing for more "clout in the family and the cash that goes along with it."

Two weeks following the day Montagna's bullet-riddled body was found, Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora and Anthony "Fat Anthony" Rabito met several times with Sicilian faction members to discuss a solution.

Sources in the Capeci story said Santora and Rabito started supporting Vincent Asaro for the family's top spot. Asaro, a Queens-based gangster, speaks Italian fluently and is well-respected by the Zips, sources told Capeci.
Sal Montagna's body, pulled out of frigid waters. It is
believed he had leaped into a river to evade his assassins.

"He often uses Sicilian phrases and idioms to explain his reasons for his actions. One of his favorites is "Cu mangia sulu, s'affuca sulu." ("He who eats alone, chokes alone.") In addition to having a nice ring to it, the saying drives home the key Mafia lessons of loyalty and paying tribute to your bosses, whose help you will probably need sooner than later."

Asaro, Capeci further noted, also had close ties to Queens-based mobsters from the Luchese, Gambino and Genovese families--all of whom voiced support for him.

Many of the meetings among the Bonanno factions took place in establishments and social clubs located in Brooklyn, Queens, and on Long Island, according to Capeci.

Ultimately, the job of acting boss went to "Vinny TV," who got a sweet plea deal along with other Bonannos snagged by Hector "Junior" Pagan.

Asaro's popularity among the zips and the fact he'd been considered for the position of boss would explain his sudden change in fortune--at least until the Feds nabbed him up. Interestingly, none of this is included in the court documents.

According to the detention memo (it makes no mention of the episode involving the Sicilian faction) submitted by prosecutors in January of this year:

...According to a cooperating witness (“CW-1”) [Gaspare Valenti, who was related to Asaro]... in late 2012 or early 2013, V. Asaro was reinstated as a captain and became a member of the administration of the Bonanno family – i.e., a high-ranking member of the family who participated in making decisions and resolving disputes for the family.... 
...V. Asaro’s leadership position in the Bonanno family has been corroborated by his own consensually recorded statements. For example, in an August 17, 2012 consensual recording, V. Asaro informed CW-1 that “[w]e got a new boss. He sent for me. He wants me to be consigliere,” .... V. Asaro also stated that the “new boss” was “[s]ome guy from the Island, ‘Tommy,’” a reference to defendant Thomas Di Fiore. In another consensual recording made on August 25, 2012, V. Asaro confirmed to CW-1, in substance and in part, that V. Asaro was recently promoted to “skipper [captain]” and was on “the panel” or the “commission” running the Bonanno family; and that he was introduced to defendant Jack Bonventre as a captain. In a March 8, 2013 consensual recording, in response to a statement by CW-1 about V. Asaro’s position on “the committee” – another term for the panel running the Bonanno family – V. Asaro stated, in sum and substance, that he was to attend an upcoming meeting with other captains including Di Fiore, at which they were going to discuss “taking some guys down,” a reference to demoting inducted members of the crime family.

Word is, Vinny Basciano is still the boss of the Bonanno family.


  1. Maybe he has information about the zip faction of the family to give to the feds.

  2. So is the news that Michael Mancuso is boss and not Vinny Basciano wrong?

  3. hmmm...I know you have good sources, and he was being considered but there were some factors that a few were worried about..

  4. the feds always have a hidden agenda.


  6. what we definitely wont see again is another John Gotti.

  7. Also supposedly there aren't many zips around today in the Bonannos.

  8. I never knew or heard of any made guy who wanted to be shelved. It's a terrible insult and leaves you unprotected from other made guys and even other families

  9. THAT comment I can agree with....

  10. Yep, Old School. Also the Jamaican Posses! Remember them? They were gonna take over crime in the U.S., it was widely reported--for about two days!

  11. I agree...but some guys in certain circumstances don't really care. They want to disappear and do their own thing...

  12. Poor TG Graziano. Im wondering how he is adapting in life as a major wise guy being shelved and all, thanks to his daughters decision to create and promote mob wives.

  13. Unless the federal government legalizes everything , the mob will be alive and well =)

  14. Well they can act like a Gotti but face the fact that they'll spend their entire life behind bars.

  15. Yeah. I do remember that. When was it, the late 80's?

  16. Think so. I remember the hype--dreadlock-wearing black dudes who even had their own weapon of choice: the matchete.... Steven Seigel, the knee-shivering pal of the Gambinos (kidding!), even made them the bad guys in one of those awful movies he kept pumping out.

  17. Jerry Capeci reported Valenti started wearing a wire in 2009, so my theory is incorrect... I've got to recheck the detention memo, I thought all the tapes were made in 2012....

  18. Cicale has been out for 10 years

  19. He's not the only made guy wanting to get shelved. Post are very observing; I like reading notes/stories.


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