Sunday, December 14, 2014

Big Joey Massino (Part I)

Joey Massino went on record with Rusty Rastelli, the boss of the Bonanno family in 1973, and Rusty put him in for induction when he opened the books in 1975 after 19 years of remaining closed.  Joey passed because he felt he didn't need it at the time.  Joey had been involved in killing a Family associate named Tommy Zummo.  The killing had not been authorized, Joey had done what is known as “Cop A Sneak” a killing not okayed by the family.  Rusty would have killed him if he found out that Joey had done the hit.  Instead, Rusty thought highly of him. So, on June 14, 1977 he was inducted into the Bonanno Family in a bar along with some others.  Carmine Galante, the acting boss, Stevie Beef the Consigliere, Nicky Glasses, Capo and Al Walker ran the ceremony.  Those along with Joey to be made that day were Joe Chili, Joe Indelicato, Anthony Spero and Manny from the Bronx.    

Joey was soon back to work after the Boss of the Gambino Family, Paul Castellano, asked the Bonanno boss for a favor.  Paul’s daughter had been dating a man named Vito Borelli and Vito had been going around talk bad about Paul.  The Gambinos were having trouble setting him up for a hit so Paul reached out for Rusty for help.  Joey ended up helping the shooter, John Gotti, take him out.  This helped him become even closer to the Gottis during their reign.  He was also highjacking cargo out of JFK and he did well at that.  

One of his arrests came after he and his crew had taken a truck and they were driving it down the street.  Joey was following behind it when he saw an FBI Agent following the truck.  Joey pulled up next to up to the truck and told them the FBI was behind them.  Joey was recognized by the FBI and he was arrested.  Joey’s defense in the trial was simple: the truck had cut him off and he was yelling at the men.  The jury bought his story and he was found not guilty.

One of the most storied hits in the Mafia is the shooting of Carmine Galante in the rear of Joe and Mary’s Italian restaurant.  The picture of Carmine dead with a cigar clenched in his teeth is a classic.  Carmine was made acting boss while Rusty was away but it went to his head.  He stopped listening to Rusty’s directions and started making his own moves.  He angered the other families and the Commission with his actions.  Carmine felt safe because he had imported a bunch of Sicilians or “Zips” but he thought wrong.  The Zips sided with Rusty.  Cesare Bonventre, one of his bodyguards, turned on him during the hit.   Cesare was made a Capo after the hit but he would not last long.  

Joey had gone into hiding in Pennsylvania because the FBI had built a case on him.  While he was there, Rusty sent word that he was going to kill Cesare and Baldo Amato.  Joey went to bat for Baldo because he was listening to his Capo and doing what he was told.  Cesare was another story, he had been shaking down drug dealers but he forgot to kick up the cash.  Cesare had taken 10-15 kilos of heroin from Anthony Aiello Sr (roughly 600k) and he had not kicked up a cent.  Anthony was friends with Rusty and told him what went down, so Rusty sent for Cesare.  Cesare came to the meeting at Marty Rastelli’s home with John Ligamatti, another Capo.  Rusty questioned Cesare and Cesare denied it.  He turned to John and said, “Come on, lets go.” That is the type of attitude you cannot use when dealing with the Boss of the family.  And that is why Cesare was found in two 55 gallon drums in a warehouse.  

Joey turned himself in rather than staying low, and he got a short sentence. But, in 1986 while he was away, Rusty died.  He was voted in as boss while he was still away.   He made Sal Vitale, his brother-in-law, his underboss but he ran the family most of the time by panel.  Joey started closing the social clubs.  He also made it a rule that you had to be a full Italian to be made, and he also required that a guy be around them for 8 years before he could be proposed to be made.  Everyone was forbidden to mention his name, you instead had to tug your ear.  He told guys they no longer had to go to weddings and wakes, it was up to them.  He built the family back up and he had 17 Capos that reported to Sal Vitale, Tony Green and TG  Graziano.

He got about 4k a month from his Capos.  They had a book that he and Sal Vitale split.  Joey and Sal also 500k in Shylock cash on the street that they made a couple grand a week from.  He got 30k a year from the Feast Of San Gennaro because a Bonanno was the president of the Feast.  If anyone wanted a good booth or lights they had to pay.  The family had a Baccarat game they split with the Gambinos for the last 60 years that was held in coffee shops from November through mid-January.  Everyday at noon all the coffee shops would close and the one that was open hosted the game.  For a while he was getting 10k a month from a trucking company at JFK until changing times caught up and it dropped to 800 a month.  Every year at Christmas he got about 160k from his Capos, so Joey Massino was doing pretty well.  He used to meet Capos in the “weeds” in Queens, a street that had weeds on it. The FBI was playing catch up until it all came down.   Next week more on Joey Massino.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bonanno Family

The best inside secrets come from the guys who turn.  Nobody was a bigger coup for the government than Joey Massino.  Joey was Boss of the Bonanno family and not just any boss but the man who built it back up.  The Bonanno family had been decimated by internal strife and embarrassed by Donnie Brasco aka Joseph Pistone infiltrating the family.

Joey shut the social clubs and made a secret gesture where they tugged on their ear lobe to signify the Bonanno family.  He was able to get the family back on the Commission and he brought new blood into the family.  

Joey Massino wanted to flip even before his conviction.  He had attended a couple of proffer sessions in prison and the Government was still on the fence about a deal or no deal.  

Vincent Basciano, aka Vinny, had been in charge on the street as acting boss of the Bonanno family while Joey was behind bars.  He was able to make Captains or break them if necessary, and was the last word on the street for the Bonanno family.  Then Vinny was also arrested and housed at Brooklyn MDC. In November of 2004 Joey called a family meeting by using lawyers to set up co-defendant meeting so they could go over family business.

It was at one of these prison meetings that Joey Massino wore a wire for the FBI.  He got Vinny to talk about Randy Pizzolo, a guy who was an associate of his crew who was found murdered in Brooklyn.   Vinny spoke freely to Joey because, after all, he had been boss for over 13 years.  
Vinny had sent Joey’s wife 50k in a bottle of Dom while he was locked up.

Vinny told Joey that he had given the order to kill Randy Pizzolo because the kid was a rat and scumbag that he had brought a pistol to a meeting at Villa Sonoma with a made Bonanno family guy.  He had then gotten drunk and started running his mouth.  Vinny had chased him and he was told to go to Florida.  Randy would not leave New York and this bothered Vinny a lot.
Randy was lured to Greenpoint Brooklyn early one day and he was shot seven times by Anthony “Ace” Aiello, a made Bonanno man.  Vinny had told Joey on tape in MDC that Ace was his Luca Brasi, a fictional character from the The Godfather.  

Joey Massino also gave up how the Bonanno family inducted new members.  A Capo would place a guy who had been around them for a number of years on a piece of paper and give it to Joey.  Joey would then at his leisure look into the guy to see if he was “stand up.”  If he passed, Joey would put his name next to the name of a soldier who had died or gone away and that would be passed among the other five families.  If they had no objections he would induct them into the family.  He told the FBI that he personally attended 60-70 induction ceremonies over the years.

The Bonannos would bring a guy or two or even three into the room and say something along the lines of, “This is the life you chose. If not, there is the door, you can leave now.  If you choose this life, you are here until you die.” Once they say yes they start the ceremony.  They then go over the rules: you dont mess with a Wiseguy’s wife or daughter, you don’t sell drugs (which is a joke because they all make money this way), never bring a gun to a meeting, and you put everything on record with your Capo.

Then he said they would tell them if your wife is dying, your kids, your mother and you are called you must come. The Family, the Mafia comes first. They tell you to murder, your brother is dying, your kid, you have to murder, the Bonanno family always comes first.   They then told them that if they were told to kill their brother or best friend they had to right away.  After that they swear allegiance to the family and Omerta.  Then they are put with a Capo.  If it was a Capo who proposed them, then they are put with him.  If it was a soldier that proposed them, they are instead put with a Capo who needs another guy.