Joseph Anthony Colombo Jr. Dies at Age 67

Joe Colombo was a visionary who grabbed onto events and rode them in a way that was misunderstood by other mobsters a
Joseph Anthony Colombo Jr.
Joseph A. Colombo Junior, affectionately known as "Pop," died on October 29, 2014 at his home in Newburgh, New York. He was 67. He's survived by his wife, Diane, and kids Dina, Denise, and Joe.

He died following a long battle with Neurological Lyme Disease, according to one news report.

Joe Junior was among Joseph Colombo Senior's five children, which also includes sons Christopher, Anthony and Vincent.

Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, November 3rd at Brooks Funeral Home, 481 Gidney Ave., Newburgh. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Rev. William Scafidi at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 4th at St. Mary's Church, Newburgh. Burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery, New Windsor.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made in Joseph's name to Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties, 800 Stony Brook Ct., Newburgh, NY 12550 or to Lyme Research Alliance, 2001 West Main Street, Suite 280, Stamford, CT 06902.

Colombo Senior, the infamous Mafia hit man who took over the Profaci family after proving his fealty to the Mafia Commission, specifically Carlo Gambino, started his civil rights effort following Joe Junior's arrest.

Colombo was later shot in the head at a rally and put in a coma from which he died years later.

Colombo created the Italian-American Civil Rights League in the spring of 1970, after the April arrest, that year, of Joe Colombo Jr. on a "rare federal complaint," as Selwyn Raab noted in Five Families, "a $300,000 conspiracy to melt down nickel coins and sell them as silver ingots."

Joe Colombo Jr. was last indicted in 1986, according to web research; he appears to have been inactive as a member of the Mafia or he maintained a truly low profile, while two of his brothers were indicted as recently as 2004 on racketeering charges.

After the 1970 arrest of his firstborn son, Joe Senior decided to follow the path never before traveled. Instead of hiring a high-priced attorney he staged demonstrations and actually had his men join him in picketing the Manhattan office of the FBI.

" At the time, mobsters had a choice of following the Colombo model of crossing over to legitimacy and political participation or continuing on a path to eventual destruction. We know which one they chose and we know the results."

The near-daily protests occurred amid the tumultuous unrest caused by the ongoing Vietnam War. Further fueling the mass protests and social unrest of the day were ethnic and feminists groups seeking civil rights and equality. There was a "rising clamor" as these movements all went on the march. 

Colombo rode on the "Mafia is myth" issue and placed Italian-Americans alongside other suffering groups as being unfairly targeted by police and the FBI. Joe Colombo did win some credibility among Italian-Americans.

"The public was acutely aware of the government's abysmal record of violations of, and indifference to, the civil rights of many groups," Raab wrote.

One former mobster familiar with Joseph Colombo Sr. told us:  

"Joe Colombo Sr. was a man who tried to bridge two opposing worlds and paid for it with his life. He was a man out of his time. While John Gotti was a 1930s-1950s gangster in the 1980s-1990s, Joe was a 21st Century thinker in the 1960s.  
"Joe Colombo was a visionary who grabbed onto events and rode them in a way that was misunderstood by other mobsters and feared by the authorities. Had things been different we would see Joe Colombo hospitals, senior citizen centers, and camps for underprivileged kids.  
"At the time, mobsters had a choice of following the Colombo model of crossing over to legitimacy and political participation or continuing on a path to eventual destruction. We know which one they chose and we know the results."

Given New York's historical home to the nation's mass media, the mob boss was able to garner extensive attention from newspapers, television and radio and became something of a celebrity.

Joe Junior, then 26, was eventually acquitted of the "silver conspiracy" charges when a key witness abruptly and for no apparent reason changed his testimony. Richard Salomone suddenly determined that Joe the younger actually didn't know nothing about the racket.

John Gotti wasn't the only mobster to make
the cover of Time magazine.

Still, Colombo's actions generated a massive response from many Italian-Americans who felt demeaned by the federal government and the entertainment industry. Colombo then formed the Italian-American Civil Rights League.

One gathering on June 29, 1970, drew some 150,000 people to New York's Columbus Circle for an "Italian-American Unity Day" rally. The participants included five U.S. Congressmen and several prominent entertainers. Reportedly, other Mafiosi, including Gambino himself supported the movement and actually used their labor muscle to get union members to quit working for the day to attend the rally.

The League swiftly attracted national attention. Colombo appeared on television interviews, fundraisers, and speaking engagements. In 1971, Colombo aligned the League with Rabbi and political activist Meir Kahane's Jewish Defense League (JDL), claiming that both groups were being harassed by the federal government.

It's obvious most journalists knew their stuff when it came to the mob back in the1970s. Then, it really was a secret government, with true political and economic clout... Also. note that a young John Gotti must've been watching, and remembering, these newscasts, because he stole his famous line "I'm the boss of my family, my wife and kids" from Joe Colombo.

At one point, Colombo posted bail for 11 jailed JDL members.

In the spring of 1971, Paramount Pictures started filming The Godfather with the assistance of Colombo and the League. The film originally faced great opposition in New York, where filming had been slated to commence. When producer Albert Ruddy met with Colombo and agreed to excise the terms "Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra" from the film, the League cooperated fully. This is according to a story by Nicholas Pileggi

Colombo won additional concessions, Pileggi reported:

Ruddy approached Colombo confidently... because he had previously sat in midtown restaurants with Colombo's son, Anthony, and worked out a tentative accord. Ruddy had agreed to delete ''Mafia,'' ''Cosa Nostra'' and all other Italian words from the script. He had promised to allow the League to review the script and change anything it felt was damaging to the Italian-American image. And finally, he had agreed to turn over the proceeds of the film's New York premiere to the League's hospital fund. 
When Ruddy arrived at the Park Sheraton and found 1,500 members of the League seated in the Grand Ballroom looking very dour, he was at first confused. Colombo's son quieted a few of the early boos by telling the delegates about the script deletions Ruddy had agreed to make. He told the crowd about the League's getting the proceeds of the premiere. 
''I couldn't care less if they gave us $2-million,'' the elder Colombo suddenly interjected. ''No one can buy the right to defame Italian-Americans.'' 
It was Ruddy's turn then. He said the film would depict individuals and would not defame or stereotype a group. It was really a movie about a corrupt society. A movie about America today. A movie about what happens to poor immigrants faced with prejudice and discrimination. He pointed out that there were many roles in the film, and certainly not all of the bad guys were Italians. 
''Look at who's playing the roles,'' Ruddy said, about to continue with a list of non-Italian villains in the film. 
''Who is playing?'' Colombo suddenly asked. 
''Lots of people,'' Ruddy said. 
''How about a good kid from Bensonhurst?'' Colombo asked. 
Ruddy smiled. Now he understood. During all his discussions with Anthony Colombo, casting had never been mentioned. Soon, with Colombo pointing to one delegate after another and Ruddy nodding in agreement, the crowd began to cheer as bit players and extras were chosen. At the end of the meeting, Colombo himself inserted in Ruddy's lapel a pin designating him a captain in the League.

Colombo had also been fighting a cold war with the Gallo faction. It threatened to turn hot in early 1971, when Crazy Joey Gallo was released from prison. Colombo invited Gallo to a peace meeting -- and Gallo refused, saying he had never agreed to peace. Gallo proclaimed that for $100,000 he'd call off the dogs of war.

Acting boss Vincenzo Aloi reportedly then ordered Gallo's death.

On March 11, 1971, after being convicted of perjury for lying on a real estate broker's application, Colombo was sentenced to two and half years in state prison.

His appeal pushed back his sentence.

On June 28, 1971, Colombo was shot in the head at near-point blank range at the second Italian Unity Day rally. He was standing at the podium to address the crowd when Jerome Johnson, an African-American who was wearing press credentials approached with a statuesque female assistant by his side. She supposedly distracted Colombo while Johnson could get the gun out.

Johnson fired three shots from an automatic pistol into Colombo's head and neck. Several men wrestled Johnson to the ground. A second man stepped out of the crowd and shot Johnson dead, then disappeared and was never identified.

Colombo remained near-comatose for the next seven years. On August 28, 1971, he was moved to his Blooming Grove estate. On May 22, 1978, Joe Colombo died of cardiac arrest at St. Luke's Hospital (later St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital) in Newburgh, New York.

The New York Police Department eventually concluded that Johnson was a lone gunman. 

However, one theory was that Carlo Gambino organized the shooting. Colombo supposedly had refused to listen to Gambino's eventual complaints about the League; Gambino had reversed his original position of support for the League based on the fact that Colombo was seriously pissing off the  FBI and NYPD.. Colombo allegedly spit in Gambino's face during one argument. 

Interesting reference to the Son of Sam (aka the .44 Caliber Killer). His first kill, in the Bronx, was mistakenly believed to be a mob hit at first. The slain woman was dating a Genovese associate.

The Colombo family leadership was convinced that Joe Gallo was the prime suspect based on Gallo's ongoing hostility to Colombo when he was released from prison. In addition, the family assumed that Gallo had recruited Johnson through some African-American friends he'd made while in prison.

Crazy Joey Gallo was executed on April 7, 1972, likely by Colombo family gunmen. The killing happened at 4:30 a.m. while Gallo and his family were inside Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy to continue celebrating his 43rd birthday.

As for Joseph Junior, it appears he was last indicted in 1986 when, according to the, three sons of the late Joseph Colombo and 12 other members and associates of the Colombo crime family pleaded guilty to a Federal racketeering conspiracy charge under a plea agreement worked out with prosecutors.

The arrangement provided for a 14-year prison term and $500,000 in forfeiture and restitution for Anthony Colombo, then 41 years old, of Blooming Grove, N.Y., in Orange County, who was described in the original Federal indictment as head of a ''crew'' within the Colombo crime group.

His brothers -- Joseph A. Colombo Jr., then 39, of New Windsor, N.Y., and Vincent, then 35, of Washingtonville, N.Y., both in Orange County -- would receive five-year terms. The other defendants would receive terms of 5, 9 or 14 years. The agreement, announced in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, is subject to approval by Judge Henry Bramwell, who set sentencing for Sept. 18.

All the defendants were to stand trial on a 72-count indictment charging them with engaging in a 10-year series of crimes, including murder, drug trafficking, extortion and robberies. All pleaded guilty to a count of racketeering conspiracy and to certain acts that were part of that conspiracy. The plea agreement provides for the dismissal of the remaining counts and for no further prosecution on these matters in other courts."

Then, as Jerry Capeci reported in 2011, "Christopher Colombo, who was indicted in 2004 on racketeering, extortion and gambling charges along with his mobster brother Anthony and 17 others, tried unsuccessfully to cop a plea deal to gambling charges and went to trial in 2007.

"He beat the racketeering and extortion charges but was found guilty of bookmaking, and sentenced to a year and a day in prison. ...[h]e completed his post-prison supervised release" and was at the time working with the producer of his HBO show, Chris Gambale, on a proposed reality-TV show.


  1. You are 1000% correct and on point.

  2. Hey may know this. All this talk about who's the boss of philly, does NY still have final say on who's boss?? If I recall correctly it's the genomes crew that controlled philly.

  3. Philly and DC - I plan to look into the reality show info. If he was planning to do a reality show, that would change everything. That's a given - c'mon!

  4. Ed comments stuck in hopper

  5. I dig your comments, man! Welcome aboard!!!!,

  6. NY does not care what going on in Philly, they have their own problems. However, there are still illegal activities going on with NY & Philly... Everyone is blinded by the money...

  7. So philly any truth to the rumor that Georgie isnt happy with his position since he.s been out also that Johnny and Stevie were running his Del county accounts with Joeys blessings of cours while Georgie was in the joint. Since then he has tried to take back that bussiness and was told to stay out of Del county i think we talked about this before. also we all know that he And his Uncle Joe have no love for each other. philly

  8. May be u guys can tell me if im out of line or not. But does any body who was involved with the bussiness and i was at one time have a problem with Skinny Joey and Johnny Chang putting there wifes on the stand on there behalf. I think its awfull to involve these young ladyd in the bussiness and down the road opens the door for the feds to question them on other issues now that the feds think there husbands discuss some busdiness with them it could open these girls to perjury someday or come back to bite there husbands in the ass. I think it was very poor judgement for letting them testify just my opinion i understand they love ther husbands but at what cost to the ladys and the kids Joey has two if Debra got jammed up who takes care of them im sure both familys step up of cours but not the same without there mom around .

  9. I can't find anything in there!

  10. Dc the guy got more balls then you think didn't he allegedly put 10 rounds in lil scarfo on Halloween night it a packed restaurant allegedly. And as far as that rat jumping in his face don't know if that did or didn't happen you would have to be a retard to crack a guy in front of 18000 people that's just comon sense. The last thing jerkoff or not boss or not he took the years like a man as far as I'm concerned philadelphia at nothing more then a crew of guys.

  11. Love that Bensonhurst/Dyker footage when that neighborhood was gold. Even the little bit of the old Umberto's brings back memories. It's a shame what's happened to New York. Even if you brought 150,000 Italians from Italy tomorrow, it would never be the same. It's a different generation with different values.

  12. I know exactly what you mean, Old School.... I was just a youngster but I still remember the Eyewitness News crew. Newspapermen really knew the mob back then -- it truly was that powerful that they had to know it. I'd say when the Daily News cut Capeci loss is around when the mob's true power was on the serious wane. Some of the younger guys today can't comprehend what a powerful force it was back in those days. Small Italian-American businessmen like my grandfather I know understand was forced to pay a tax, but I believe he was glad to because of what he got in return it was more than worth it to him. I am hearing he's had stronger ties than I had ever known. He was always "stepping out" at night, and my mother and grandmother believed it was because he was a ladies' man -- but from what I am hearing, I think there was more to it... I know he was tied to the doomed Bonanno faction and he was never arrested. But I have no idea what the hell he was up to but he was up to something. Anyway, I tried to create an "event story" out of this news. As Father Gigante says in the last clip, Joe did all this to protect his son....

  13. I think they tried to kill him in fear of the power he was amassing, not the notoriety he was gaining. He was using the civil rights movement against the feds.....brilliant.

  14. Looking back today its kind of amazing...

  15. The first picture is not Joe Colombo Jr.

  16. you are right, it is not him

  17. If you would like to find me on face book and friend me you will see I am actually Joe Colombo iii. This is my father. . I wouldn't be so worried who I am and worry about your posts. . In the beging you say Joseph is oldest brother which is false. . Even later in you article it states Anthony as the oldest which is correct. . If you are just going to pull things from other sites at least check more than one. Do your research instead of just copy and paste. . Not quite sure why you find the need to curse at me because I informed you of a mistake. . Google images of my father and see if you think this person you have on your site looks like him. . I will be waiting for an apology.

  18. I am truly sorry.... I had no idea it was you -- I just got an email from a friend and I didn't even see your latest comment until now. I really thought it was someone just acting like a jerk - I am changing photograph immediately.....Again, my sincerest many people use fake names on the web....Again, I offer a thousand apologies....

  19. Fixed... I sent you a DM on Facebook, Joe.....

  20. Hey Dom. You said something about your story being told. Do you perhaps have a book in the works? That would be awesome and I would def purchase it. Also, can you offer any insight on the accuracy of the Gorgeous book in your opinion?

  21. I answered my own question by subscribing to Ed's newsletter. I am really looking forward to reading Vol. 1 of your story although I've never read a book that wasn't print. But I would still appreciate your thoughts on the accuracy of the Vinnie Gorgeous book.

  22. The shooter of jerome Johnson was allegedly Colombo bodyguard Phillip chubby rossillo

  23. I sometimes drop alleged information for dramatic effect...


Post a Comment