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.