Judge Denies Compassionate Release Request For Reputed Former Genovese Consiglieri Bobby Manna

US District Judge Peter G. Sheridan denied the recent compassionate release filing for reputed former Genovese consiglieri Louis (Bobby) Manna, calling his criminal efforts "extremely serious and heinous."

Louis (Bobby) Manna
Louis (Bobby) Manna; picture source.

Manna, 91, who once upon a time held court at Casella's Restaurant, the base of operations from which he supposedly helped run the Genovese crime family's Garden State operations, has been imprisoned since 1987. He was convicted and sentenced to 80 years in prison. 

His crimes included plotting to murder John Gotti and John's older bother Gene and ordering the 1977 murder of Frank Bok Chung Chin, an electronics expert who agreed to testify for the government, and the 1987 execution of Irwin (The Fat Man) Schiff, a 350-pound mobbed-up businessman/con artist who was hit while dining at Upper East Side restaurant Bravo Sergio.

Manna's attorney Jeremy Iandolo noted in court filings that Manna has Parkinson's disease and "is no longer a threat to society." In a media interview, he also accused the US criminal justice system of showcasing an anti-Italian bias when it comes to granting compassionate release requests.

Judge Sheridan rejected Manna's request on Nov. 16, noting that Manna “was a leader of the Genovese crime family, a role he performed through violence and intimidation."

Manna currently resides at Rochester FMC in Minnesota with a Nov. 7, 2054 slated release date, as per the BOP website.

The notoriety Manna earned expressly for plotting to murder high-profile Gambino boss John Gotti arguably brought the former Genovese consiglieri  more unwelcomed attention than anything else he did in his 91 years on planet earth. Even 30-plus years later, in stories about Manna's compassionate release filings, newspapers and blogs routinely mention the Gotti plotting in the first sentence. Many such stories also tend to include excerpts from the transcripts from FBI surveillance records of Manna and others, especially Genovese capo James (Jimmy Nap) Napoli, plotting to kill the Gotti brothers (or expressing wariness over the potential consequences). Interestingly, none of these stories attempt to offer the slightest insight into the key question: Why did Bobby Manna, an ultra-low-profile guy in another crime family based all the way down in South Jersey, want the Queens- and Manhattan-based Gambino boss killed in the first place?

We always believed it had to do with Genovese boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante's rivalry with Gotti, which stemmed from Gigante's annoyance at Gotti for orchestrating the murder of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, who had been Chin's partner in lucrative ventures.

While Chin's grudge likely helped fuel Manna's plotting against the Gambino boss to some extent, other factors also were involved, such as Gotti's supposed efforts to move in on some Genovese family rackets in the Garden State, where the Gambinos under Gotti also had the DeCavalcante crime family, New Jersey's only homegrown borgata, under their thumb. 

Gotti's moves to expand Gambino operations in New Jersey was an attempt to capitalize on the Philadelphia crime family's then waning influence in the state. 

Casella's Restaurant
 Casella's, Manna's former base of operations in New Jersey. 

While recently researching Manna, we found Tremendous, a blog with some fascinating content, including on Manna. Tremendous blogger Francis Santora, who is based in northern New Jersey, told us recently that his blog is dedicated to covering "numerous topics, from business to the mafia to the best place for jelly donuts. :)" Francis told us, "I like to keep it eclectic so neither I nor the reader gets bored!"

The following, Hoboken’s Most Powerful Gangster, is republished here with permission (we also recommend you check out Tremendous):

Inside a low-slung building surrounded by trees in southern Minnesota, there is an old man. Now ailing and in his 90’s, he was once one of the most powerful members of the American mafia. This building is Federal Medical Center Rochester. This man is Louis “Bobby” Manna.

Manna was born in Hoboken in 1929 and, by the 80’s, he had reached the pinnacle of the underworld: consigliere in the Genovese crime family. Of the family’s 14 capos, 4 operated in New Jersey and reported to Manna directly. His empire included a $20 million a year gambling ring, the largest port on the east coast, garbage contracts, and union corruption that netted millions more in ill-gotten gains.

Manna ran this empire from Casella’s Restaurant in Hoboken, a bunker-like structure with almost no legitimate clientele. There, he met with his capos and ruled on disputes. Even corrupt police officers came there to pay their respects.

But despite Manna’s power, all was not well for the Genovese family’s vast operations in the Garden State. John Gotti, leader of the larger Gambino family, wanted a piece. After the Bruno/Scarfo family of Philadelphia fell on hard times, Gotti insisted on taking their lucrative South Jersey rackets, leaving only the less profitable territory in the north to Manna and the Genovese.

Manna couldn’t accept this. He was also incensed by Gotti’s murder of the prior Gambino boss, Paul Castellano, in blatant violation of Cosa Nostra’s rules. As the summer of 1987 faded into fall, Manna began to plan Gotti’s murder.

With lookouts everywhere and his own soldier as the owner, Manna felt comfortable at Casella’s. Perhaps a little too comfortable. He spoke openly of killing Gotti, even using Gotti’s full name and instructing his lieutenants in detail how to murder the Gambino boss.

Perhaps so used to power, Manna destroyed himself by his brazenness. An FBI bug picked up the conversation, along with many others. Manna was convicted of multiple murder plots and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989 under the RICO Act.

Manna’s story has an intriguing postscript: in his 90’s and facing the coronavirus pandemic, he petitioned the court to release him to live out his last days with his stepson in Bayonne, NJ. A Change.org petition even circulated to spring the elderly convict from prison.

Federal Judge Peter Sheridan ruled against Manna in December 2020, likely consigning him to death behind bars.

Shortly thereafter, his former headquarters was demolished to make way for a park.

More interesting spots in New Jersey:

The Mafia’s Hoboken Fortress
A Notorious Mob Informant’s Hoboken Headquarters
A Hidden Castle…In New Jersey?