One of the things that makes the Mafia so dangerous when compared to drug trafficking groups or other criminal groups is their ability to keep doing business no matter what. The Bonanno family has been hit hard in the recent years. The FBI went after them with a vengeance and they took down the administration. The Bonanno family had been the only one of the five families in New York that had never had a made guy turn rat. That all changed when underboss Sal Vitale flipped on the family and his brother in law the boss Joey Massino. Then Joey Massino did the unthinkable: he flipped. Joey not only flipped, he also wore a wire on acting boss Vinny Basciano and took him down. One of the guys caught up in the prosecution was John Palazzolo.
Palazzolo was inducted into the Bonanno family in 1977 just like Massino, during that time it was under the leadership of boss Rusty Rastelli. Palazzolo was tasked with killing another made guy named Anthony Coglitore, who was involved in blowing up another member.
In 1991 Palazzolo was called again to take part in another murder. This time it was another made guy, Russell Mauro. Mauro had been involved in selling drugs, but when everyone else went down and he did not, the Bonannos figured he was cooperating. They decided to murder him and Palazzolo was the guy to lure him to the murder site. Mauro was killed, stuffed into a body bag and placed in the trunk of a 1985 Lincoln that was left on a street in Queens.
The body was badly decomposed by the time the cops found it and there were few clues.
Palazzolo, as you can see, has a long criminal history that included fraud, theft of interstate shipments, loansharking and extortion. When he was picked up in the big Bonanno family take down, he had just finished parole. He ended up pleading guilty to conspiracy to murder Mauro in aid of racketeering in April of 2006, and he was sentenced to 10 years.
Palazzolo was released in 2012 at the age of 80, and he was right back to work with the Bonanno family. He was on parole and was not supposed to associate with felons. Palazzolo was soon the street boss of the Bronx faction of the Bonanno family. Things were not going well and the Bronx faction was losing power to the others in Queens, so Palazzolo decided to make his move.
He started meeting with various men in the family. One of those he met with was Fat Anthony Rabito. Fat Anthony is the Consigliore of the family and is a long time member of the family. Fat Anthony had taken part in the murder of the three Capos during the internal war and had pleaded guilty to Racketeering.
The problem is the FBI was watching when Palazzo and Fat Anthony had a lengthy meeting outside a Bayside Queens Diner parking lot. Palazzo then met with another family man who was close to the boss Mikey “Nose” Mancuso.
The FBI decided they needed to make a move because they believed that Palazzo was going to make a move and it would cause more violence in the family.
Last week they took him down, which is surprising because the last time Palazzo was sentenced, back in 2006, he claimed that he had prostate cancer, Crohns disease and that he had to take 12 pills a day. Today he is 82 years old and a veteran of the mafia. Guys like him are the most dangerous because they have the years of knowledge.
The judge who was on his last case back in 2006 was the same judge on his case this week. The judge asked the US Attorney. “Is there still a leadership of the Bonanno family?” and she replied “Unfortunately, yes.” No matter who is locked up, or who dies, there is always someone else willing to step up and take the role.