US Attorney Says: Five Families "Still There"

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara: The Mob Is “Still There” | Vanity Fair: At Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, contributing editor Bryan Burrough asked U.S. attorney Preet Bharara a question he said he has always wanted to ask a U.S. attorney: what’s going on with the mafia?

The mob is still there,” Bharara said. “The Five Families are still there, they’re still extorting business, they’re still using baseball bats.”

Interestingly, he acknowledges this while fully aware of the fact that the Feds have cut their manpower and resources to combating OC in New York.

As we reported in Why New York's Five Families Have Regained Power, the New York Mafia in fact "has quietly staged a comeback and is now more powerful than it has been in years," said Richard Frankel, special agent in charge of the Criminal Division for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's New York office. 

The fact is, the American Cosa Nostra was organized specifically to perpetuate itself. No matter how many single individuals are knocked out of the box by death or prison, the structured institution itself, currently pegged at about 8,000-strong (including inducted members and associates), continues. And learns. 

The key factor now is anti-terrorism, which is benefiting the Mafia in New York the same way Communism helped buffer it for the greater part of the 20th century. While the FBI sacrifices resources on one menace to chase another one, the mob gets back to work.

It's the same story in Italy; while the cops kept the focus on the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Ndrangheta turned itself into a $72 billion a year criminal empire stretching across the globe that kills anyone and digs bunkers in the street in broad daylight.

As for the rest of the Vanity Fair interview:

Bharara also responded to rumors he’s being considered as the replacement for attorney general Eric Holder. Bharara, who earned his “Sheriff of Wall Street” nickname after prosecuting bankers, joked that he wishes his mother would stop “planting questions in the audience.” 
“No, she’s very proud of me, and I’ve asked her to stop, but that’s all I’m going to say about that,” he said with a smile. 
The answer was a response to a graduate student attendee of Vanity Fair’s inaugural New Establishment Summit, where Bharara was in conversation with Vanity Fair contributing editor Bryan Burrough. 
Bharara also spoke candidly on the lack of innovation in government. “Up until a few months ago, we were using a program called WordPerfect,” Bharara said of the Justice Department.

“We’re also some of the only people you see who still use these things,” the attorney added, holding up a BlackBerry phone. Bharara noted that “even the Catholic Church” understands that using new avenues of messaging—like social media—are important in reaching younger audiences. 
Aside from his views on the mafia, innovation, and potential job changes, Bharara remains best known for being an aggressive prosecutor of insider traders and other white-collar criminals.
“You have places where people are trying to be as cute as possible . . . and it happens all the time,” Bharara said. “If you have a culture of getting as close to the line as possible, where what you aspire to is getting the bare minimum that the law encounters, you’re going to get in trouble.” 
Burrough asked Bharara whether Wall Street attracts an unusually high number of individuals prone to trying to skirt laws. “It’s a dangerous business to get inside people’s heads and figure out why they’re committing crimes,” Bharara said, before acknowledging that finance may lend itself to a particular criminal streak. “Intuitively, if you have a billion dollars, maybe you should stop committing fraud.” 
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he continued. “These people who have gone to the best schools, have the best houses, and have more money that you can spend in a lifetime, and they’re putting everything on the line to make a few million more dollars.”


  1. Ofc it's still there , the largest amount of heroine trafficking into the US is run by New York wise guys but they aren't apart of family's anymore. They are segregated into crews which earn ,operate on their own turf with no requirement to share their riches with other crews . If any complications occurs they have sit downs between. A "family" system of which generates heat from law enforcement , increases the number informants and takes large amounts of earning from you because of a pyramid scheme is a dysfunctional governing body.

  2. By reducing the violence and understanding the great effects of taking a plea deal, the mob will become more stable. The thing you gotta look out for is, that there are alotta old school mobsters going to be released from prison soon. Will they fall in line and earn or will they try to make a power play?

  3. I'm pretty sure they've learned to it easy from their time in prison.

  4. If this guy becomes AG and his concerns are about a word processing program or blackberry cell phones then the mafia doesn't have too much to worry about.

  5. Is this something you've heard or something you think? I am aware of a certain combining and restructuring once considered... piecing together your comment with what I know would seem to indicate something was put into play that's of far greater magnitude than drug dealing.

  6. If they wanna earn they'll fall into line. Then again one trend I've heard is these days more guys WANT to be shelved. They don't have to kick up.

  7. Really now? I remember hearing michael franzese saying being shelved is the most devastating thing that can happen to a wise guy. IF you're shelved people could theoretically muscle you out of your action and no captain in there right mind would go to bat for them in a sit-down because they aren't getting a cut.

  8. He's speaking about the early 1990s. I'm talking about 2014.

  9. Ed look at the Calabrain mafia and Gambinos crew drug bust this year. A undercover agent infiltrated the Gambinos but yet only 7 indictments were made in the US. The last time a undercover agent infiltrated the Bonanno family it lead to about 200 indictments because everyone knew what dirty business they were into to. Now they've become a cell structure of crews. Every crew is making money on it's own terms now. Boss , underboss and consigliere are all gone. It's become a committee of captains running the show. When have you heard someone being "made" these couple of years? They've stopped making people because they have at least 10,000 associates at their disposal. Were talking about low key soldiers who are under the radar always. They are recruiting them into their crews. Look at the incident with Merilno the two convicted felons with them weren't made guys. I heard todays costra nostra is made of segregated crews with made guys and associates as members.

  10. oh ok, just because they want to get shelved doesn't mean it will happen. Unless they do something that gets them shelved.

  11. No bosses? The well-reported cell structure was put in play by Massino after he got out in 1992 and reorganized the Bonnanos, putting each capo in charge of his own thing, closing social clubs, stopping the use of the gun and knife, as well as finger pricking at ceremonies in case of police raids. Only two induction ceremonies were ever found in process by the Feds, to begin with, although we knew plenty thanks to all the turncoats. Massino stopped attending weddings and funerals. When was the last mob hit in New York? I think it was Meldish, ex-boss of the Purple Gang. That kind of thing, stopping murders, takes organization. What you describe wouldn't work. It would mean no structure, no five families (which even our US Attorney said still exist). Also: Drug deals are always opportunistic ventures, as well. A low-level Bonanno was involved too in that Gambino/Calabrian smuggling ring, too. And that it was not tied to anyone big here in the U.S. doesn't mean no one big exists. That's a faulty syllogism. The Mafia is an institution and the cell structure would better buffer the bosses. Just because we don't know when guys are made (which only happens when there's a need to replace made guys who died to keep the balance) doesn't mean they're not getting made. We only know about something when the Feds tell us via an indictment. The Mafia is not being as closely watched by the Feds , anyway, right now. (Not sure what you're saying about Merlino. "Johny Chang" Ciangelini is not a high-level Mafia member? He isn't one of the guys running Philadelphia today??)

  12. Here's another cell:

    Not every indictment includes the hierarchy at the top.

  13. Ed I never said there wasn't no organization just it being reformed. I've read the Genovese family runs their organization with a committee of captains on top with a cell structure of crews and a street boss giving orders in between.If any complications occur they resolve it with a sit down or shelve the accused. As for the Merlino incident , I'm talking about the two other guys with them not Ciancaglini. I believe there is another hierarchy in between the soldier and associate. They're giving out their business to associates to run while they stay back and receive envelopes. Believe what you wanted but they aren't "making" these guys on purpose. A joey Merlino or Ciancaglini makes head lines. A associate off the law enforcement radar is good for business.

  14. No one who worked, earned and killed for a button wants to be shelved. It's there entire world and when you hit the shelf you can't live the life you've been living everyone has to turn there back on you. It's a total loss of face and respect, one of the worst things that can happen to a wiseguy.

  15. Here's a thought.....your talking out of your ass! The NY families have been steadily making about 5 guys per family each year. I can't speak on Philly cause it's a shit show out there but here in NYC guys like Crea, Bellomo, Cefalu & Mancuso from jail carry the weight and title of Boss.


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