Notorious Bonanno Wiseguy Bruno Indelicato Released From Prison

Longtime Bonanno wiseguy Anthony (Bruno) Indelicato, 75, who shot his way into the annals of American organized crime, was released from prison on May 20, 2022, as per the BOP inmate locator website.

Bruno Indelicato and Frank Lino
Bruno Indelicato, left, Frank Lino.

The son of the brutally murdered Alphonse (Sonny Red) Indelicato, a capo who led a doomed faction of the Bonanno family, Bruno was in his heyday a feared stone killer with a legendary appetite for cocaine.

Indelicato was one of three masked gunmen who walked into Joe & Mary’s restaurant in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn one hot July day in 1979 and blasted Carmine Galante at close range while the volcanic, would-be usurper enjoyed a customary, post-prandial cigar. Indelicato’s efforts to protect the family’s boss paid dividends: Indelicato was among a slew of Bonanno soldiers elevated to capo by a grateful Philip (Rusty) Rastelli in the wake of the Galante hits.

But Cosa Nostra being Cosa Nostra, it wasn't long—a couple of years—before Bruno's fortunes had changed drastically. The Bonanno powers-that-be (Joe Massino primarily) marked him for death after the May 1981 execution of his father and allies Phil (Phil Lucky) Giaccone and Dominick (Big Trin) Trinchera.

The trio of capos comprised a “rebellious” faction of the family, apparently forgetting or choosing to disregard how the Bonannos handled the last guy who made seditious moves against the boss. That's right, a mere two years after the grizzly, front-page execution of the vicious, cigar chomping Lilo, and the Bonannos were back at it once again readying to stab one another in the back. The Commission stepped in for a second time to help the beleaguered imprisoned Bonanno boss by authorizing the slayings of the trio of upstart capos who had been seeking to wrest control of the family from Rastelli. 

Gerlando (George from Canada) Sciascia.
Gerlando (George from Canada) Sciascia.

Bruno was to have been slain with his father, but ducked the meeting. Then-Bonanno soldier Frank (Curly) Lino attended in his place, chauffeuring the three capos to their deaths. In a nearly unbelievable stroke of good luck, Lino successfully escaped the ambush by running like hell when the shooting started.

The slayings in the social club, which had been affiliated with former Gambino underboss Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, were among the seven for which ex-Bonanno boss Joseph Massino was convicted. The murders also  inspired a famous scene in the Donnie Brasco film, which was based on one of the books by Joseph D. Pistone, the undercover FBI agent who—as Donnie Brasco, knockaround guy—infiltrated the Bonanno family in the 1970s.

The Bonannos would later rescind the contract on Bruno after he promised not to seek revenge. Bruno knew the rules when he held his finger up to be pinched, and he accepted his father's death as part of the life he chose. And yet…. This blog has learned via recent conversations with a longtime Bonanno family member who requested anonymity that, years after the murder of his father, Bruno and allied Bonanno wiseguys sent feelers to explore murdering Joe Massino, an effort that obviously never panned out. Bruno also sought to put some distance between himself and Massino in another way: by leveraging  his relationship with legendary Luchese powerhouse James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke to join the Luchese family. (This one didn't pan out, either, of course.) 

Bruno and Jimmy the Gent—the high-powered Luchese associate who masterminded the 1978 robbery of the Lufthansa cargo terminal at John F Kennedy International Airport, netting nearly $6 million in cash and jewels, and was portrayed in Goodfellas by Robert De Niro—had grown tight while serving time together in the Federal prison in Lewisburg. 

Bruno was serving the 20-year sentence for hitting Lilo. Burke had been convicted in 1982 of conspiracy charges related to the 1978–79 Boston College basketball point-shaving scandal and had been sentenced to 12 years in prison. While serving that sentence, Burke was charged with the 1979 murder of reputed drug dealer Richard Eaton and was convicted at a trial that included testimony from the infamous Henry Hill. In 1985 Burke was sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison.

1985 also was the year Bruno met Burke's daughter while she was visiting her father. Bruno and Cathy Burke married in 1992 while Bruno was in a facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.

James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke
James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke.

Bruno—he was once recorded on wiretap saying “when Jerry Capeci writes about you—you know you're dead after that”—spent years behind bars. For the Galante slaying, he was sentenced to 20 years following his conviction at the 1986 trial alongside alleged members of the Mafia Commission. Indelicato served only around 13 years and was paroled a married man in 1998. Bruno and his wife set down roots in Howard Beach, Queens, and were still living there when Bruno was violated in 2001 while ostensibly  working as a salesman for a New Jersey garment concern, though in reality, he belonged to a Bonanno crew run by uncle Joseph (J.B.) Indelicato. 

Bruno was sent back to the clink after investigators for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown kept running into him due to Indelicato's spending an inordinate amount of time stepping out with guys who were the prime targets of the DA's gambling probe. He was spotted associating with wiseguys like Vinny Basciano at places including the Friars Club, the St. Regis Hotel, the Manhattan Grille, the Metropolitan CafĂ©, outside the Peninsula Hotel....

In February 2006, Indelicato was charged with the 2001 Frank Santoro murder. Santoro was shot and killed while walking his dog in the Bronx. Santoro’s murder was ordered by Vinny Basciano, who believed that Santoro was plotting to kidnap one of his sons. In August 2008, Indelicato pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in Federal prison. That sentence ended for him earlier this year.

While imprisoned with Burke, Bruno sought to use the widely respected Luchese mobster as a bridge from the Bonanno family to the Luchese family, according to our source.

“Bruno was with Jimmy the Gent. He spoke to Vic (Amuso) about getting transferred to get protected,” the source said, noting Bruno was seeking to hedge his bets in case the mercurial Massino changed his mind. Jimmy Burke died at a Buffalo hospital of cancer in April 1996, eight years before he would've been eligible for parole.

The same source also said, “I was approached a long time ago after Joe Massino came home (in the mid-1990s). Somebody came to me to put a feeler out. ‘How would you feel – and if you are not interested, this (discussion) never happened’… Whack-Whack and Nicky Santora wanted to make a move on Joe (Massino).” 

After the last don flipped, he recorded himself calling Santora a brokester while engaging in a rigged conversation with Vinny B.

Sonny Red and Bruno Indelicato
Sonny Red and son Bruno walk-talk.

As for the May 5, 1981 slayings of the three upstart capos, the Mafia Commission initially vetoed the request to kill Indelicato, Giaccone, and Trinchera, passing down a "no bloodshed" edict. But the Commission reversed itself after learning that the "rebels" were arming themselves to the teeth and plotting an all-out assault against forces loyal to Rastelli.

According to an affidavit filed in Montreal against the late mob boss Vito Rizzuto (who ran what had once been Galante’s Montreal crew), Massino acted after he "became aware that Indelicato, Giaccone and Trinchera were preparing to obtain automatic weapons" to use during a planned uprising against Rastelli, who was in prison at the time. Massino got the Commission's okay for him and other Rastelli loyalists to "defend themselves"—kill or be killed, in other words.

Massino quickly gained the support of the family's Sicilian faction and imported shooters from the Bonanno family’s longtime Montreal outpost who "could leave soon after the murders," as per the affidavit.

The would-be rebel capos running the faction of dissidents were summoned to attend a capos' meeting to resolve the growing dispute over who was boss.  The meeting was a complicated ruse to ambush and exterminate the disloyal capos and, once again, cement Rastelli's status as the boss.

When the three captains and Frank Lino arrived, four armed men wearing ski masks were hiding in one of the club's closets, the door of which was slightly ajar. Inside the closet were Salvatore (Good Lookin Sal) Vitale, who held a "tommy gun," and the “old-timer,” who was armed with a shotgun. Also inside were two shooters from Montreal, Vito Rizzuto and another man (identified as Emmanuel). Both held pistols.

An undercover Joseph Pistone, left, and Sonny Black Napolitano
Bonanno associate Donnie Brasco, left, yucks it up with Sonny Black.

The arriving dissidents instead encountered a seemingly welcoming Joe Massino and capos Joseph Zicarelli, Nicola DiStefano, Santo Giordano, and Gerlando (George from Canada) Sciascia. While Massino and Sciascia were in on the ruse, the other capos were not and were there only to sell the pretext that the sitdown was a capos' meeting. (Santo Giordano would become a paraplegic that night after he was mistakenly shot in the spine during the ensuing fusillade.)

The plan called for Sciascia, who also was packing, to run his fingers through his neatly coiffed silver hair, then Vito would leap out of the closet shouting "this is a stickup," and the killing would commence. The closet door was ajar so those within could see when Sciascia made the telltale gesture.

The tension inside that club must've been otherworldly—until, finally, the dominos fell: George touched his hair, Vito burst out of the closet shouting "This is a stickup," and all hell was unleashed, with Rizzuto blasting Trinchera first, as per Vitale, who also said he watched Sciascia shoot "Indelicato in the head" after Sonny Red went down.

"Massino later told (Vitale) that he (punched) Giaccone (in the face) to prevent him from leaving," according to the affidavit.

Phil Lucky Giaccone
Phil (un)Lucky Giaccone.

(In May 2007, Vito, the Godfather of the Mafia in Canada, admitted his role in the murders, accepting a 10-year sentence. "I was one of the guys who participated in this," said Rizzuto. "My job was to say it was a holdup, so everybody would stay still. Other guys came in and started shooting the other guys," he said. "I was armed," he said. Rizzuto claimed that he did not personally shoot any of the victims, contradicting Vitale. Rizzuto died of cancer in December 2013.)

When the smoke in the social club had finally cleared, only Massino and Vitale remained. Everyone else had dashed away from the scene of the massacre, some to begin the journey back to Canada, some to find urgently needed medical care for the bloody, wounded Santo Giordano. 

The three leaders of the upstart faction were bloodied and quite dead on the floor.

Dominick (Sonny Black) Napolitano and a team of trusted wiseguys that included soldiers Benjamin (Lefty Two-Guns) Ruggiero and John (Boobie) Cerasani soon arrived to handle cleanup and ready the bodies for transport by a Gambino crew, including Massino ally John Gotti, who agreed to handle burial duties. 

Two months after the killings, according to court papers, Massino ordered the murder of Napolitano for allowing Pistone to penetrate the crime family. Sonny Black had taken Pistone under his wing, proposed him to be “made” and had given the agent a contract to kill Bruno.

In testimony at the 2011 Basciano trial after he flipped, Massino confirmed much of what had historically been known about the murders of the three capos and added some new tidbits. 

He said he first learned about the growing threat from the Indelicato-Giaccone-Trinchera faction when Napolitano told him that Sonny Red’s brother Joseph (J.B.) and son Bruno had been spotted repeatedly driving by Napolitano’s social club in a van.

A week later, Tutti Franzese and an unidentified Colombo associate told Massino the Indelicato-Giaccone faction were “burying” guns in a Bronx junkyard owned by Trinchera.

Massino, Sciascia (whom Massino later killed—in fact, the murder of George from Canada was the one that could have put Massino on death row), and Sally Ferrugia met with Gambino boss Paul Castellano and Colombo boss Carmine Persico to seek their support. Castellano and Persico told the Bonannos to protect themselves, noting that they (Castellano and Persico) would handle the politics of the dispute with the other crime families.

Dominick (Big Dom) Trinchera
Dominick (Big Trin) Trinchera.

Massino's testimony regarding members of the Bonanno cleanup crew slightly differed from existing information. Massino said Sal Vitale, Lou Tartaglione, Anthony Rabito, Lefty Ruggiero, and Bobby Capasio had all helped clean the club as well as move the bodies of the three capos outside.

To justify the murders, Massino, Sally Ferrugia, and Gerlando Sciascia once again met with bosses and top leaders of New York's other crime families—including Gambino boss Paul Castellano, Colombo powerhouses Jerry Langella and Junior Persico, Luchese leaders Tony Corallo and Tom Santoro, and Genovese boss Vincent Gigante and consiglieri Bobby Manna. (This strikes us as odd as it seemed the Rastelli loyalists had permission to ambush Sonny Red and his allies.)

Massino noted that, in the end, seven members of the Indelicato-Giaccone-Trinchera faction didn’t come in and were told they risked being shelved. 

Five came in a week later. JB and Bruno Indelicato were the two who didn’t. 

Two months later, a Commission meeting was held. Massino, Stefano (Stevie Beef) Cannone, Ferrugia, and both Indelicatos were summoned to also attend.

The Indelicatos were reassured that they would be safe if they didn’t cause problems. They were given a list of 12-13 captains. Bruno and JB  Indelicato were told they could choose which crew they wanted to join. 

Both chose to be in Massino’s crew. 

The bullet-riddled bodies of Sonny Red, Phil Giaccone, and Big Trin  were buried in what locals called the The Hole, a vacant lot near an auto-salvage yard on the Brooklyn-Queens border near John F. Kennedy International Airport. 

The body of Sonny Red was found weeks after the murders. Investigators, however, didn't find Giaccone and Trinchera, who were buried in proximity to Sonny Red, until December 2004 after members of the FBI's Bonanno and Gambino squads, joined by an NYPD cold case squad, had excavated through the concrete and dirt of the vacant lot for three weeks in October 2004.

Bruno Indelicato has seen it all, and then some. He knows where the bodies are buried, and that's because he buried some of them. 

Bruno Indelicato before his recent release from prison
Bruno Indelicato, far right, before recent release from prison.
Courtesy of the Friends of Ours Facebook page.

Here's Nicholas (P.J.) Pisciotti, former acting Bonanno capo who became a cooperating witness in 2007, recalling a conversation he had with Bruno that, we believe, speaks volumes ..... The following transcript is courtesy of LCN Bios:

After Dominick Cicale's January 2006 defection, Pisciotti met with soldier Anthony Indelicato somewhere in Brooklyn or Queens:

"I wanted to ask [Indelicato]'s opinion on what I heard about Nicky [Santora] and Anthony [Rabito] had said about me.. I also heard they were trying to kill me [and] I guess I asked him if he thought I had anything to worry about. After I explained everything to him he basically said no, Nicky can't even walk straight, forget about doing anything else.... I started talking about Dominick [Cicale], what a piece of shit he turned out to be, and I can't believe all the stuff he's done and Bruno didn't really say too much about Dominick. He says that Vinny [Basciano] made a lot of bad decisions in putting Dominick in that position and stuff like that.. 

"Bruno was talking about how he was disappointed in all the stuff that's happened over the years...'"