New Boss Deftly Eluded High-risk Hit Order

Joseph Cammarano Jr. is the new acting boss for the Bonanno crime family.
Cammarano Junior's "modest" house on Long Island's Glen Cove section.

Joseph Cammarano Jr. is "the top banana on the street for the beleaguered Bonanno crime family — or what’s left of it," as the Daily News reported.

(A source pointed out the odd timing of the new Bonanno boss story, arriving about a month or so following this blog's own story about New York having only three operational Mafia families, the Bonannos not being one of them. "... It seems that the families able to ... show power on the street ... are helmed by powerful and accessible bosses -- meaning they are out of prison," as we noted.)

Cammarano, meanwhile, is around to hold the top slot because of his ability to diplomatically get out of an order from Vinny Basciano to whack a Genovese associate, Cosa Nostra News learned. Cammarano did this by reminding Vinny B of another more-pressing hit the Bonanno boss had wanted done at the time.

At an arraignment hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court this month regarding three Bonanno gangsters sent back to prison for attending the Bonanno Christmas party, and violating their strict parole orders, a federal prosecutor revealed that Cammarano was named acting underboss and was also serving as acting street boss.

"Cammarano’s promotion has the blessing of the Bonannos’ jailed official boss, Michael "Mikey Nose" Mancuso," sources told the Daily News. Well, Cosa Nostra News sources say that Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano would've done the blessing, not "Mikey Nose."

That's because the jailed-for-life Basciano is the Bonanno family's official boss. "Michael is gonna take over because of Vinny," a Queens-based street source said. "He’s Vinny’s puppet." 

"This goes back to the Bronx. Vinny put Michael in the acting underboss position, not Joe Massino. Law enforcement wants to say it's Michael, that he's the boss -- that way it puts more pressure on Michael."

Mancuso served time in the 1980s for killing his wife. He was arrested after stepping off a plane in Las Vegas in February of 2006 for masterminding the murder of family associate Randolph Pizzolo.

As recently noted, "Vinny Gorgeous" was released from Colorado's Supermax prison and moved to the less restrictive high-security U.S. penitentiary in Colorado. He's serving a life sentence.

Vinny B didn't hesitate to whack people, on or off the record.
One source referred to him as being a "maniac."

Vinny Basciano: A Gangster's Gangster 
Bonanno boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano was an exception to the norm in gangland in that he was both a prodigious earner and a fearless shooter.

(Here's a lesson in Mafia dialect 101: The word "shooter" has a very specific meaning. It is not killer, hitter, hit man or assassin -- a mobster is either a shooter or not a shooter. And shooters generally are feared -- non-shooters are not. When a mobster says, "He's never done a fucking thing in his life" he means one thing only. The HE is not a shooter and has never killed anyone. Here endeth the lesson...)

He earned his life sentence the old-school way, by blowing a man's head off with a shotgun on Dec. 14, 2001, in the Bronx's Throgs Neck section. Basciano's victim was a low-level street operator named Frank Santoro.

Basciano, along with Dominick Cicale and others, ambushed Genovese associate Santoro while he was walking his Doberman pinscher in the Bronx's Throgs Neck section. His wife was home preparing dinner for him -- and would see his body laying on the ground, the head shattered from a point-blank shotgun blast delivered by "Vinny from the Bronx".

With a 12-gauge shotgun, Basciano had shot Frank Santoro "once, twice, three times, four times, not stopping even after [he’d] collapsed to the ground, leaving behind [his] lifeless, shotgun-riddled body just steps away from his home and his family,” a prosecutor said at trial.
Cicale himself had fired several shots at Santoro, but not a single bullet had touched its mark, according to the coroner's report.
Prosecutors said Basciano clipped Santoro because he’d heard a rumor that Santoro was planning to kidnap one of his sons.

On May 16, 2011, Basciano also was convicted of ordering the 2004 murder of Randolph "Randy" Pizzolo. On June 1, 2011, a jury rejected the death penalty and instead sentenced Basciano to life in federal prison.

In December 2008, Mancuso was sentenced to 15 years after he copped to a murder conspiracy charge related to the 2004 Pizzolo slaying.  Anthony “Ace” Aiello was sentenced to 30 years in prison for shooting Pizzolo.

Basciano ordered the hit "because Pizzolo had botched a construction job," as The Daily News reported, though that topic is open to debate.

Mancuso also faced life in prison under the original indictment, but following his plea deal, Judge Nicholas Garaufis had to max out the sentence at 15 years. Mancuso is slated to depart prison on March 12, 2019, and is currently housed at Texas's Seagoville FCI.

The Santoro and Pizzolo murders put so many guys away, it's easy to see why the mob doesn't go around blasting people today with shotguns.

But I digress.

Cammarano Junior did play a role amid the carnage, though it's an indirect one -- and certainly not a violent one.

Cicale, former Bonanno capo (with whom I wrote an ebook), said Cammarano had been in his, Dom's, crew.

"He was a nice kid," Dom said of him. "I liked him." Dom doesn't like the notion of holding a very public Christmas party.

"They are stupid," he snapped. "How are you gonna have a Christmas party in the middle of Staten Island! That’s like John Gotti going to the Ravenite (in Little Italy) and having all his guys report to him."

"Go where they don’t know you," Dom offered. "And don’t hang around out in front of the place."

Of the pictures taken of the party, see above, Cicale said of Cammarano Junior, "Now he wants to act all big and showboat."

Our source from Queens said that Vinny Basciano, as boss of the family, had given Cammarano an order to hit a Genovese associate -- and Cammarano was able to wiggle out of it.

"Vinny gave the order to whack Joseph Bonelli.and Cammarano never followed through."

Court documents claim Basciano wanted Bonelli gone because Bonelli tried over-zealously to collect a debt from a mobster’s son in 2004. Bonelli "went berserk," the Post reported.

Wiretaps of the alleged hit order are contained in paperwork filed in February 2007 as part of a then-ongoing federal case against several Bonnano crime members.

Basciano was heard detailing the story of how Bonelli violently attacked someone at the Villa Sonoma, a restaurant then run by Paul “Fat Paulie” Spina.

Cammarano never made a move against Bonelli. After around three weeks, he was confronted about the fact that the Genovese associate was still breathing. Cammarano was quick thinking enough to bring up another guy Basciano wanted hit even more than Bonelli, Randy Pizzolo, who also was still walking around long past his assigned expiration date.

"He threw that it in Vinny’s face," said the Queens-based Bonanno source. "Randy is acting up and carrying guns," Cammarano told Basciano, according to the source.

"It's funny how when Dom was given a mission he managed to take care of it without anyone knowing it. In fact, the Feds thought the Genovese family had killed him. Then Vinny, while in jail, threw Dominick's name around," the source said.

Bonelli survived Basciano's tenure on the street but was arrested in 2006 on drug and weapons charges.

Facing a 25-year sentence, Bonelli claimed that a mutual friend introduced him to the ADA, who told him he’d get a sweetheart deal for hiring her boyfriend. Veteran Queens Assistant District Attorney Barbara Wilkanowski was embarrassed by the mobster's claims that she'd promised him a no-jail deal on drug and weapons charges if he hired her lawyer boyfriend for $20,000.

Bonelli took his allegations to Wilkanowki’s bosses. 

She was placed on an extended leave because of a pending internal investigation.

Two years later, however, the Genovese cocaine merchant confessed he'd made the whole thing up, noting in a sworn statement that he'd "misstated, exaggerated and falsely characterized" his tale about Assistant District Attorney Barbara Wilkanowski.

"As a result of information I obtained through mutual friends, I had personal information about ADA Wilkanowski and knew of her kind nature and took advantage of this information," Bonelli wrote in the statement filed in Queens Supreme Court. 
Bonelli recanted all earlier claims that Wilkanowski promised to intervene in his 2006 coke bust case on condition that he hire Manhattan defense lawyerRobert Kelly. He also withdrew his claim that Wilkanowski and Kelly were romantically involved. 
"The recantation absolves Mr. Kelly and Ms. Wilkanowski of any impropriety," said Kelly's lawyer Marvin Ray Raskin. "They are not now and never have been boyfriend or girlfriend. They know each other from court, nothing more."

Bonelli submitted his statement with his guilty plea to the 2006 drug bust and an assault charge that occurred outside a Whitestone bar on Dec. 28, 2007. He was sentenced to five years.

New Acting Boss/Underboss
Known as Joe C. Jr., the 56-year-old Cammarano grew up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, joined the Navy after graduating from high school and served on a nuclear submarine in an elite patrol unit that conducted classified missions.

His wife, Angela, is the daughter of Bonanno soldier Vito Grimaldi, who owns Grimaldi Bakery in Queens.

Cammarano Jr. “is a unique man,” defense lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio wroten a 2007 extortion case. “He is defined by his sense of selflessness, his strong commitment to family and his endless contributions to his country and community.” And he is known for strong-arming a Colombo wiseguy, for which he served 27 months in prison.

Apparently unencumbered by any murders, Cammarano's reign may prove to be a long and potentially prosperous one, at least until Mancuso is released and the klieg lights are trained on him.

The Cammaranos live in a "modest home" located on Long Island's Glen Cove in Nassau County.

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