There are five Mafia families in New York. Of the five families, only one boss was left on the street, the rest were all locked up, with “acting bosses” or panels running in their absence.
The last one left on the street was Joey Massino, boss of the Bonanno family. Joey Massino had been in prison when Rusty Rastelli, the previous Bonanno family boss had passed away. The captains voted him in as boss and he inherited a family that had been in constant conflict for 25 years. The ranks had been thinned and the remaining family was about 80 made members strong.
Joey started to change things for the better right away. He suggested that his men close the Social Clubs because they made easy targets for the FBI. The feds could set up surveillance and watch 50 men very easily at once. Joey’s logic was simple, if his men were scattered the FBI could not be in 50 places at once.
He also dropped the mandatory attendance of weddings, wake and other family events for the same reason. Then he changed the rules on being made, he wanted anyone proposed for membership be around the crew for a minimum of 8 years. After Donnie Brasco he decided there was no way the FBI would keep a Special Agent undercover for 8 years just to be made.
Joseph Bonanno, the founder of the modern Bonanno family had written a book. The book spoke about the Cosa Nostra and even the Commission. Joey felt that this was huge breach of Omerta and it was an embarrassment. Joey changed the family name internally to the Massino Family. He then started building up the family after so many years of neglect. Each family was allowed to fill positions of those who had died and they were also allowed 10 new members a year. A list would be passed among the families of those proposed. The family would swell to 190 made members and 17 capos with people in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Canada.
Joey decided to break up his Massino family, so he put Sal Vitale in charge of so many capos, TG aka Anthony Graziano in charge of others and Tony Green Urso in charge of the rest. He made this move for a number of reasons, but a main reason was that his brother-in-law, Sal Vitale, and John Gotti had plotted to get rid of him and take over the family in 1993. Joey has stated that it was a good thing John Gotti had been away when he got home or he would not be on the stand testifying.
Joey called a meeting of the heads of the 5 families in the year 2000 and told the men to only come if they could make decisions. Louie Bagels attended from the Lucchese Family, Joe Waverly came representing the Colombos, Peter Gotti came for the Gambinos and Skinny Larry attended for the Genovese. They were to set important policy for the mafia across the country. They wanted guys who came home from prison to have to wait 10 years before they could be made. They didn't want guys who took drug beefs still doing the same thing in the families. They finally settled on a 5 year waiting period. He told the other families at the meeting that the Massino family would only be inducting full-blooded Italians. That was the only big meeting of all the five families while Joey was the boss.
Early January 2003 Joey could see that the FBI was all over him. They watched him day and night. No matter where he went they followed him and they had guys outside of his house all night. He knew that they were going to arrest him. He knew that they had gotten his accountant to turn over all his records. The noose was tightening, so on January 7 he slipped the FBI and met Bruno and Vinny Basciano at a diner close to his house. There he told them he was going away and that he was leaving a panel to run the family. He had found out from a lawyer on New Years’ Eve that Frank Coppa had flipped so he knew he was finished. Vinny wanted to kill Sal Vitale before he was arrested, but Joey squashed it. On January 9th the FBI came and took Joey away. He asked them if they had gotten Sal and they said yes. Joey knew that it was over and soon he found out how many guys had flipped on him. It would turn out to be 7 guys who flipped on him, including his brother-in-law Sal Vitale.
In January of 2004 the FBI came down with another massive indictment and took down the Bonanno family’s panel. Joey sat through the trial where all his closest friends testified against him and he was convicted and facing life. It was then he learned that the Feds were putting together a death penalty case against him for the murder of George from Canada. They said it was because George had accused TG Graziano of being on cocaine but it was because he murdered a wiseguy’s son in Canada.
Joey decided to flip but not until he saw what happened with the trial. He was in his 70’s at the time, and he learned that the FBI was going to go after his wife. He had married Josephine Vitale in 1960 and he had worked hard first in a factory and then on a food truck to provide for her. He had built up his food truck business branching out to stocking other peoples trucks. He had a deli and a catering business and he had saved this cash. He had won the lotto 4 times and put that money away. He had invested heavily in real estate for his family. The FBI was going after his wife for money laundering. The Bonannos had stopped giving him money from his book and shylock on the street. Vincent Basciano had made himself acting boss and told people that the Commission okayed it. Vinny took Joey’s money guys and placed them in his crew. He made guys and broke and promoted Capos. Then he had Randy Pizzola killed to show people he was boss. The Genovese wanted to kill Vinny because they said he was like John Gotti in his suits but Joey told them no. Joey went to a proffer with Edward McDonald as his shadow council. When the Government decided against the death penalty he started wearing a wire.
Vinny Basciano now locked up with him and was running his mouth. He had made Michael Mancuso the acting boss but the rest of the family wanted to hear from Joey. The Family was split into factions again. Then it came out that Joey had flipped, the first official boss in the Cosa Nostra to flip and wear a wire. Josephine gave the FBI 7 million in cash, over 500 gold bars and 5 properties to satisfy the forfeiture judgement against him. She was allowed to keep 6 properties including her home, his mother’s house and four rental properties. The rentals gave his wife an income of 270k a year.
Joey would be sentenced to time served in 2013.
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