The Commission

Reports Of Commission's Death Greatly Exaggerated

In April of 1998 newspaper reports declared the once-mighty Mafia Commission, which for decades was charged with overseeing inter-family issues, was defunct.

"The commission's demise," said one report, "is another sign of the Mafia's continuing decline. Most investigators say that without the planning and oversight the commission provided, the Mafia will have trouble rebuilding the interfamily rackets that from the 1940s to the 1990s siphoned huge payoffs from vital city industries like construction and garbage collecting."

But in a 2011 appeal, we learn from an authoritative court document that that couldn't possibly be true. This is because the Commission was active in 1998.

Photo source AP
Christy Tick was convicted in Comission case. 
The  Colombo civil war "ended in 1992 or 1993 because so many family members had been killed or arrested."

However, the two factions remained in place, similar to how the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra is factioned off today.

 "The Commission would not allow the Colombo Family to induct new members until the family got itself in order. [Jackie] DeRoss, [William] Cutolo, and several others got together and decided to attempt a reconciliation, operating with Persico as their captain. In about 1998, the Commission decided to back the Persico faction; Persico became the family's acting boss, and Cutolo became the acting underboss."

Created in 1931 under Charlie “Lucky” Luciano’s auspices, the Commission provided planning and oversight for the Mafia’s “inter-family rackets.” 

It was only abolished in the past few years, according to exclusive Cosa Nostra News information. (We have reported about the current state of the New York crime families here.) Is this a major blow, however? Probably not, as the crime families “have their way of doing things,” as a source said.
The Commission Case
The first trial occurred in Manhattan in 1986; it is historically known as the Commission Case. It was a "stunning success" according to prosecutors. (Still the jury forewoman was in tears while reading the verdicts.)

Colombo capo Gregory Scarpa, aka The Grim Reaper, made an enormous contribution to the Fed's effort to convict the Commission. See here.

On the other hand...

Brooklyn's 1990 Windows case, positioned initially as a sort of Commission 2.0, was a dramatic failure considering that five major defendants were acquitted; the three who were found guilty were convicted of only two charges in the high-profile trial about alleged Mafia domination of New York City's window-installation industry.

This "failure" didn't benefit those who were convicted. 

Colombo consiglieri Benedetto "Benny" Aloi, a major player in the Windows scheme, could've gotten away with three-to-five, but due to his criminal record -- and his status as a ranking Mafioso -- the judge hammered him with 16 years and eight months in prison.

Around the mid-1980s, for the first time in history, the Fed's magnified their efforts against the nation's crime families.

Starting in tbe year prior to the Commission Case, the Fed's prosecuted Mafia cases in Kansas City, Boston, New Jersey and Philadelphia, among other places.

In 1986, it was New York's turn. ....

Federal prosecutors in Rudy Giuliani's office gained convictions against the leaderships of New York's Mafia families on charges that they controlled concrete labor unions in such a way as to benefit from a 2 percent kickback on concrete used in new building projects in New York City worth more than $2 million.

That trial, called the Commission Case, relied heavily on "bugs" that provided crucial evidence for the prosecution's case. The first bug, placed in the home of Gambino crime family Boss and Commission chairman Paul "Big Paul" Castellano, revealed many of the Commission's criminal operations, such as the "Concrete Club" in which New York's five families controlled the companies and bidding for all construction contracts involving the use of cement/concrete worth $2,000,000 and over.

The Bensonhurst, Brooklyn-based Casa Storta restaurant housed another bug, placed in the ceiling above the table where Colombo mobsters, including Gennaro "Jerry Lang" Langella, sat, also gave the FBI sufficient cause to have a judge order the fifth and final bug, which was placed inside the union office of Colombo crime family soldier Ralph Scopo where much of the Commission's "Concrete Club" business was discussed between Scopo and several construction company executives and union representatives. On all the bugs the Bosses and their underlings could be heard discussing their individual crime family rackets such as extortion, loansharking, gambling, labor racketeering and also hits that had taken place or been recently ordered.

Other bugs used in the Commission Case: the "Jaguar Bug" was placed in the car driven by Luchese crime family capo Salvatore Avellino, who drove family boss Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo on a daily basis. From the car, Corallo conducted and spoke about Cosa Nostra business.

A bug was placed in the East Harlem Palma Boys Social Club that served as home base--literally, as he lived next door--for Genovese "front boss" Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno. Salerno was the overseer of many the Five Families joint construction projects.

Tony Salerno

All eight defendants in the 10-week racketeering federal trial in Manhattan were convicted of belonging to the Mafia's board of directors, aka The Commission, which allegedly was tasked with ruling (probably too strong a word) the American Mafia.

The Federal trial in Manhattan attained national significance as the first case to focus on several of the nation's top crime figures.

''The verdict reached... has resulted in dismantling the ruling council of La Cosa Nostra,'' United States Attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said in a statement (choosing to prosecute another high-profile trial, Rudy had to relinquish his hold on this one).


  • On Nov. 18, 1986, at 12:20 pm, after six days deliberating, all the defendants were convicted of all charges. "As the guilty verdict was being announced, the defendants seemed stoic. But the jury's foreman brushed tears from her eyes after reading the long verdict, which took 20 minutes, the New York Times reported.
  • Three defendants convicted as the bosses of crime families were Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno of the Genovese group, Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo of the Lucchese group and Carmine "Junior" Persico of the Colombo group. 
  • Persico acted as his own lawyer. 
  • The indictment included 22 counts.
  • The thrust of the case: the defendants had conducted the affairs of ''the Commission of La Cosa Nostra'' in a racketeering pattern that included murders, loan-sharking, labor payoffs and extensive extortion of New York City's concrete industry.
  • Salvatore (Tom Mix) Santoro and Christopher (Christie Tick) Furnari, were convicted as the Luchese crime family's underboss and counselor, respectively.
  • The two key Colombo mobsters were Gennaro (Gerry Lang) Langella, acting boss or underboss (the Fed's didn't seem to know precisely), and Ralph Scopo, president of the District Council of Cement and Concrete Workers. 
  • Anthony (Bruno) Indelicato, Bonanno crime family member, was found to have participated in the 1979 slayings of Carmine Galante and two associates. A palm print discovered on the getaway car was identified as Indelicato's. Also incriminating him: The infamous surveillance footage of him and others meeting Gambino underboss Aniello "Neil" DellaCroce in front of the Ravenite also was shown.

The trial included testimony from two informers and an undercover agent.

Besides the three convicted as bosses, three others were originally charged in the case. DellaCroce died of cancer. Paul Castellano, Gambino boss was killed the previous December. Bonanno boss Philip Rastelli had already been convicted in a separate case.

On January 13, 1987, the Commission Case bosses all received 100-year prison sentences, the maximum RICO allows for. 

Scopo also received 100 years, and Indelicato originally received a 45-year sentence.

Windows Case

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn in 1990 made convictions on charges that the five families used a corrupt union to fix bids in exchange for receiving tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks on a $150 million contract to replace windows in New York City Housing Authority buildings.

From 1978 to 1990, four of the five crime families of New York formed a cartel of window replacement companies. Each family assigned one or more men to control their share in the cartel (as shown below).

  • Lucchese crime family - Vittorio Amuso, Anthony Casso and Peter Chiodo - had the largest share in the Window racket.
  • Genovese crime family - Venero Mangano, Gerard Pappa (deceased) and Peter Savino (associate)
  • Gambino crime family - Peter Gotti
  • Colombo crime family - Benedetto "Benny" Aloi

The cartel eventually controlled over $150 million in contracts from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The cartel monopolized the industry through Local 580, a Luchese family-controlled local of the Iron Workers Union. Through the union, the cartel could solicit bribes, extort payoffs and enforce its monopoly. The cartel worked their controlled industry by charging a tax of approximately $1.00 to $2.00 for almost every window replacement, public and private, sold in New York City.
Benny Aloi

The Windows case was a high-profile trial that some mobsters knew about well beforehand. Based on supposed "intelligence" provided by the so-called Mafia cops, many mob members and associated were murdered because Amuso and Casso believed they were, or could potentially be, informants. One mobster who survived an assassination attempt ordered by the two hiding Luchese bosses still didn't turn.

Peter "Fat Pete Chiodo decided to switch teams, however, after the Lucheses attempted to hit his unconnected and completely innocent sister; then, he wasted no time in joining Team America.

However, as the New York Times reported, five defendants were acquitted and only three were convicted of only two charges in a major trial about accusations that the Mafia controlled the lucrative window-installation industry in New York City.

As the New York Times reported: "...prosecutors stressed that two of the convicted men, Venero Mangano and Benedetto Aloi, were "the two highest ranking organized-crime figures" in the complex six-month trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

Among those acquitted of all charges was Peter Gotti, older brother of John Gotti, the reputed Gambino crime-family boss.

When the reading of the verdict began, with the jury proclaiming the defendants not guilty of the main racketeering charge against them, there was a gasp from the spectators' section of the crowded courtroom. Silence then prevailed for almost 20 minutes as the jury's foreman read the long verdict after 10 days of deliberations.

The jurors, looking emotionally drained, left the courthouse without talking to reporters, except for one juror's brief comment, "It over -- that's the best thing that could happen."

A juror reached by telephone later, Janice Thomas, said, "The Government's witnesses were liars." Regarding the main witness, Peter Savino, who testified for two months, she added, "Forget it -- I don't even want to discuss that man."

Fat Pete Chiodo

In the problem-plagued trial, two of the original defendants dropped out because of heart attacks, another was found murdered, two jurors were dismissed for dubious conduct and the trial moved to White Plains for four days to hear a wounded witness testify from a wheelchair.

The United States Attorney, Andrew J. Maloney, said the jury convicted "two of the most powerful organized-crime figures in New York." He said Mangano was the consigliere of the Genovese crime family and Aloi was the consigliere of the Colombo crime family (the other convicted defendant was a Colombo mobster).

"We are gratified by the conviction of these three individuals and, of course, disappointed that the other defendants were acquitted," Maloney said. "Nonetheless, the jury's verdict demonstrates that the Government was correct in attacking the corrupt practices directed by organized-crime figures against the window industry." 50 Hours of Tapes

Portraying the defendants as leaders, members and associates of four Mafia families, the prosecution charged that they participated in a racketeering scheme that included bid-rigging, labor payoffs and extortion.

Months of testimony, 50 hours of taped conversations and hundreds of documents were presented in the Government's effort to show that the defendants corruptly controlled millions of dollars in contracts to install windows for the New York City Housing Authority.

It was a trial so complex that the verdict sheet took 109 pages to list the 68 related charges against the eight defendants, including the main racketeering charge listing 101 separate criminal acts. Witnesses and Questions

The three convicted men -- Mangano, Aloi and Dennis DeLucia -- were each found guilty of one count of extortion and a related conspiracy count among the 68 charges. The extortion and conspiracy counts, which involved cocercing a window company into using certain installers, each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. A defense lawyer, Frederick P. Hafetz, said the convictions would be appealed.

Besides Gotti, accused of being a captain in the Gambino crime family, the other acquitted defendants and the positions attributed to them by the prosecution were Joseph Zito, a Genovese member; Caesar Gurino, a Gambino associate; Joseph Marion, a Lucchese associate, and Thomas McGowan, an official of a union said to be controlled by the Lucchese family.

The prosecution team of Gregory J. O'Connell, Charles E. Rose and Neil Ross sought to show that the defendants enforced the bid-rigging scheme by using McGowan's union, Local 580 of the Architectural and Ornamental Ironworkers Union, to pressure window contractors into cooperating.

In contrast, the defense lawyers contended that the Government resorted to using killers, crooks and liars to create a fictitious Mafia case against the defendants. The defense relied largely on its cross-examination to discredit the prosecution's witnesses. Secret Taping

The core of the case was provided by Savino, a Genovese associate who admitted that he had participated in six murders. As an informer, he secrectly taped his many conversations with the defendants and then testified in the trial for two months. He was allowed to plead guilty to a single racketeering charge and placed in the witness protection program.

Savino testified that the bid-rigging scheme began more than 10 years ago but that it ceased for awhile and that he revived it in his role as a Government informer in 1988.

Largely through Savino's testimony and tapes, the prosecution tried to show that the Mafia dominated the city's window business for a decade, with companies required to make union payoffs of $1 and sometimes $2 for each of the millions of windows that they installed.

Officials of Local 580 received the payoffs and passed on a substantial share to the Luchese crime family, the prosecutors charged. They said three other crime families -- Genovese, Colombo and Gambino -- controlled various window companies that provided profits and kickbacks.

Two more mobsters who became informers, Philip Leonetti and Peter Chiodo, testified about their roles in the Mafia.

As the last and most dramatic witness, Chiodo, who testified from a wheelchair because he was shot 12 times, admitted taking part in several murders as a Luchese captain.

Attacking the integrity of the prosecution, defense lawyers argued in their summations that overzealous prosecutors resurrected a dormant bid-rigging scheme, lured defendants into discussing it and then concocted the case.

Judge Raymond J. Dearie conducted the trial, which began with 10 defendants, but two of them, Dominic Canterino and Vincent Ricciardo, dropped out later because of heart attacks."

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