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Gambino Crime Family

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

By Christian Cipollini exclusively for MobCity Productions

Salvatore D’Aquila

Manfredi ‘Al’ Mineo

Vincent Mangano

Albert Anastasia

Carlo Gambino

“…and this is gonna be a Cosa Nostra til I die.” - John Gotti, January 1990, FBI bug

recording of meeting in apartment above the Ravenite Social Club.

Some have described it as the biggest and most powerful of the five New York crime families.

The Gambino organization also produced one of, if not the most infamous of twentieth century

mafia dons - John Gotti. The family’s roots can be traced back to 1931 when Lucky Luciano’s

grand reformation unfolded, thus creating the governing mob commission and five family system

in New York City. The five original families consisted of Luciano, Gagliano, Bonanno, Profaci

and Mangano. Two brothers, Vincent and Philip, were at the helm of the Mangano faction,

though Vincent has been widely considered the top boss of the family. Like the other four

families, Mangano’s pulled revenue from the usual sources of vice. One of their most profitable

businesses centered on the docks and Mangano’s second in command, Albert Anastasia, ensured the family had a strong grip on Brooklyn’s waterfront rackets.

Philip Mangano’s body was discovered on April 19, 1950 in a marshy area of Bergen Beach

Brooklyn. He had been shot three times in the head and neck regions.

Many known gangsters were questioned, but in typical fashion - no conclusions and no prosecution. Also, Philip’s brother Vincent had gone missing… and presumed dead (though his body has never been found). With the absence of two leading Manano’s the top position duties shifted to Albert Anastasia (who is largely considered responsible for the deaths of both Manganos).

Underworld lore tells of the devious two-pronged plot for hostile takeover of both the Mangano

Family and the Luciano family. The purported co-conspirators - Vito Genovese and Carlo

Gambino - needed to depose Anastasia, who was not only running the Mangano family (what

Carlo wanted), but also a fearsome, loyal ally to the head of the Luciano family (what Vito

wanted). Leading the Luciano organization (as Lucky was in exile in Italy) was Frank Costello -

he would be the first target. Genovese sent minion Vincent Gigante to take out Costello, but the

hit proved both a failure and a success.

Gigante’s bullet grazed Costello’s head on May 2, 1957.

Costello never revealed the identity of the shooter, but a doorman did describe him. Gigante was acquitted the following year and, allegedly, thanked Costello for not cooperating with investigators.

Vito Genovese’s success in all this was that Costello basically took the hint and

went into retirement.

Control of the Mangano family remained with Anastasia until October 1957. He was shot dead while receiving a shave and a haircut on October 25. The hit on Anastasia may have even been approved (or not overly disputed) by some of his old pals, but it’s still up for debate. Some theorize that Anastasia’s temper was in question, he was a loose cannon, especially after ordering a hit on a civilian, Arnold Schuster, in 1952 because the guy ratted out another infamous criminal - Willie Sutton.

Carlo Gambino took over the family but his, Genovese’s and a slew of other mob heavyweights had their celebrations cut short that November. A raid on the home of Joseph Barbara in Apalachin New York served a dose of embarrassment and unwanted media notoriety to the gangsters present. After the fiasco, Gambino remained very low key while building the

organization into one of biggest and most powerful of the five. However, during Joe Valachi’s

testimony in 1963, Gambino was revealed as a very potent and influential boss. The Feds

considered his and Genovese’s organizations the most powerful at the time.

Aniello Dellacroce and Carmine (Lillo) Galente emerged yesterday as the leading

contenders for the rulers’ mantles in the New York City and nationwide organized crime

famili es left leaderless by the death of Carlo Gambino. - Newsday, October 17,1976

Gambino maintained a low key, grandfatherly image up through to his death in 1976.

At the time, investigators weren’t positive who would be the successor. Some speculated the

Underboss Anellio Dellacroce, naturally. Others suggested Carmine Galante or Joe Gallo (no

relation to Crazy Joe Gallo). It would take another several years however before authorities

understood that the reigns had been passed to Gambino’s relative (by marriage) - Paul

Castellano. Dellacroce had been in prison at the time of Gambino’s death and couldn’t

challenge the boss’s dying decision, but more than a few capos and soldiers were dismayed

and angered.

‘Big’ Paul didn’t have full support of his troops. He ran the family more akin to a white collar

company and was viewed as such - no grit. The deadly turning point for Castellano’s reign came

as the perfect storm of variables collided at once. First, Castellano’s most violent henchmen -

Roy Demeo - was out of the picture in 1983. Demeo’s crew had a gore-filled history of murder and dismemberment. He was, at least according to lore, the one person even Gotti felt was too dangerous, hence nothing could be done to Paul as long as Demeo’s crew was around.

Demeo’s murder didn’t have anything to do with Gotti’s crew, nor were they involved, but it left

Castellano more exposed. Big Paul also faced legal woes. During this period he found out one

of other the crews in the family got wired-tapped talking about drug dealing. That crew was run

by John Gotti and overseen by Dellacroce. Big Paul had a zero tolerance policy for dope, which

meant death sentence to any member caught dealing. Gotti and Dellacroce stalled Castellano’s

insistence they turn over the damning tapes. That kind of effort however only lasts for so long

and Castellano was able to get the tapes - because they were also being used in the case

against him. Also, Dellacroce - Gotti’s mentor and the only one standing between him and Big

Paul’s wrath - passed away. Once all this happened, Gotti and company had limited options in

averting the impending doom they faced. So, the plot ensued to gather allies for one of the most

brazen mob hits of the latter twentieth century.

Paul Castellano and body guard/underboss Tommy Bilotti were gunned down on December 2,

1985 in front of Sparks Steakhouse and lots of holiday shopping bystanders. Nobody had any

doubts as to whom would be taking over the Gambino family.

“He lives on a neat Queens street with manicured lawns and homes adorned with statues

of saints and Santas, but authorities describe John Gotti, the heir apparent to slain mob

chief Paul Castellano, as a throwback to the crime czars of the Roaring Twenties.” - NY

Daily News, December 18, 1985

Gotti became a media sensation. This publicity was not appreciated by the other family heads,

nor was Gotti’s overthrow of a sitting boss, of course. The other heads wanted Gotti whacked,

and an attempt was made, but failed to get Gotti, instead killing his underboss. Interestingly,

having so much media attention actually worked to Gotti’s favor in the sense it made any would-

be attempts on his life much more difficult. The government was another story. They made

major efforts to remove Gotti from the streets. That however made the boss even more of a

media darling - The Dapper Don - and after several acquittals - he was dubbed The Teflon Don.

The government finally got something to stick in 1992; Gotti was sentenced to life in prison. Still,

he had a son and brothers in the mix and running the show, at least for a while.

This raises an interesting question. So here’s a parting shot - why didn’t John Gotti, perhaps the

most bold of modern day mobsters, not change the organization’s name to his own? Or, did he

try? We asked former FBI agent Joaquin ‘Jack’ Garcia his thoughts on that query.

“Great question open for all kind of theories.” Says Garcia, “we all know Gotti’s ego.” He tells us Gotti may have pondered changing the family name, being he installed so many members of his

blood family into leadership positions, but maybe - “it just didn’t catch on.” Garcia also tapped an

old source for insight on the question, who said - “Gotti never thought about it.”

All rights reserved @ MobCity Productions Inc. 2022.

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