The family was one of the five families that were founded in New York after the Castellammarese War of 1931. For most of the next quarter-century, it was a minor player in organized crime. Its most prominent member during this time was its underboss Albert Anastasia, who rose to infamy as the operating head of the underworld's enforcement arm, Murder, Inc. He remained in power even after Murder, Inc. was smashed in the late 1940s, and took over his family in 1951—by all accounts, after murdering the family's founder Vincent Mangano.
The rise of what was the most powerful crime family in America for a time began in 1957, when Anastasia was assassinated while sitting in a barber chair at the Park Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. Experts believe that Anastasia's underboss Carlo Gambino helped orchestrate the hit to take over the family. Gambino partnered with Meyer Lansky to control gambling interests in Cuba. The family's fortunes grew through 1976, when Gambino appointed his brother-in-law Paul Castellano as boss upon his death. Castellano infuriated upstart capo John Gotti, who orchestrated Castellano's murder in 1985. Gotti's downfall came in 1992, when his underboss Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano decided to cooperate with the FBI. Gravano's cooperation brought down Gotti, along with most of the top members of the Gambino family. Beginning in 2015, the family was headed by Frank Cali until his murder outside his Staten Island home on March 13, 2019.
The origins of the Gambino crime family can be traced back to the faction of newly transplanted mafiosi from Palermo, Sicily who were originally led by Ignazio Lupo. When he and his partner by business and marriage, Giuseppe Morello, were sent to prison for counterfeiting in 1910, Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila, one of Lupo's chief captains, took over. D'Aquila was an influential emigrant from Palermo who joined the Lupo gang based in East Harlem. Founded in the 1900s, the Lupo Mano Nera gang was one of the first Italian criminal groups in New York. Lupo was partner in many ventures with Morello, who was the original capo di tutti capi (boss of bosses), a title that would later be coveted by D'Aquila. As other gangs formed in New York, they acknowledged Morello as their boss of bosses. In 1906, D'Aquila's name first appeared on police records for running a confidence scam.
In 1910, Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio Lupo were sentenced to 30 years in prison for counterfeiting. With the Morello family weakened, D'Aquila used the opportunity to establish the dominance of what was now his own Palermitani family in East Harlem. D'Aquila quickly used his ties to other Mafia leaders in the United States to create a network of influence and connections and was soon a powerful force in New York.
New York gangs
By 1910, more Italian gangs had formed in New York City. In addition to the original Morello gang in East Harlem and D'Aquila's own, now growing gang, also in East Harlem (but expanding into Little Italy in Manhattan's Lower East Side), there were other organizations forming. In Brooklyn, Nicolo "Cola" Schirò established a second gang of Sicilian mafiosi from Castellammare del Golfo, west of Palermo, in Sicily. A third Sicilian gang was formed by Alfred Mineo in Brooklyn. Another Morello captain, Gaetano Reina, had also broken away in the Bronx, ruling that area with impunity. In south Brooklyn, first Johnny Torrio, then Frankie Yale were leading a new and rising organization. Finally, there were two allied Neapolitan Camorra gangs, one on Coney Island and one on Navy Street in Brooklyn, that were run by Pellegrino Morano and Alessandro Vollero.
In 1916 the Camorra had assassinated Nicholas Morello, head of the Morello gang. In response, D'Aquila allied with the Morellos to fight the Camorra. In 1917, both Morano and Vollero were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. With their leadership gone, the two Camorra gangs disappeared and D'Aquila and the Schiro family in Brooklyn took over many of their rackets in Brooklyn. Soon after, D'Aquila absorbed the Mineo gang, making Mineo his first lieutenant. D'Aquila now controlled the largest and most influential Italian gang in New York City. It was about this time that Joe Masseria, another former Morello captain, began asserting his influence over the Lower East Side's Little Italy and began to come into conflict with D'Aquila's operations there, as Prohibition approached.
In 1920, the United States outlawed the production and sale of alcoholic beverages (Prohibition), creating the opportunity for an extremely lucrative illegal racket for the New York gangs.
By 1920, D'Aquila's only significant rival was Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria. Masseria had taken over the Morello family interests, and by the mid-1920s, had begun to amass power and influence to rival that of D'Aquila. By the late 1920s, D'Aquila and Masseria were headed for a showdown.
On October 10, 1928, Masseria gunmen assassinated Salvatore D'Aquila outside his home. D'Aquila's second-in-command, Alfred Mineo, and his right-hand man, Steve Ferrigno, now commanded the largest and most influential Sicilian gang in New York City.
In 1930, the Castellammarese War started between Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, the new leader of Cola Schirò's Castellammarese gang, for control of Italian-American organized crime in New York. Mineo was a casualty; he and Ferrigno were shot dead during an assassination attempt on Masseria on November 5, 1930. In April 1931, Masseria was murdered in a restaurant by several of his gang members who had defected to Maranzano. Maranzano declared himself the boss of all bosses and reorganized all the New York gangs into five crime families. Maranzano appointed Frank Scalise as head of the old D'Aquila/Mineo gang, now designated as one of New York's new five families.
In September 1931, Maranzano was himself assassinated in his office by a squad of contract killers. The main beneficiary (and organizer of both hits) was Charlie "Lucky" Luciano. Luciano kept Maranzano's five families and added a Commission to mediate disputes and prevent more gang warfare.
Also in 1931, Luciano replaced Scalise with Vincent Mangano as head of the D'Aquila/Mineo gang, now the Mangano crime family. Mangano also received a seat on the new Commission. The modern era of the Cosa Nostra had begun.
Vincent Mangano now took over the family, with Joseph Biondo as consigliere and Albert Anastasia as underboss. Vincent Mangano still believed in the Old World mob traditions of "honor", "tradition", "respect" and "dignity." However, he was somewhat more forward-looking than either Masseria and Maranzano. To compensate for loss of massive revenues with the end of Prohibition in 1933, Vincent Mangano moved his family into extortion, union racketeering, and illegal gambling operations including horse betting, running numbers and lotteries.
Vincent Mangano also established the City Democratic Club, ostensibly to promote American values. In reality, the Club was a cover for Murder, Inc., the notorious band of mainly Jewish hitmen who performed contract murders for the Cosa Nostra nationwide. Anastasia was the operating head of Murder, Inc.; he was popularly known as the "Lord High Executioner".
Vincent Mangano also had close ties with Emil Camarda, a vice-president of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA). Through the ILA, Mangano and the family completely controlled the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts. From 1932 onward, the president of ILA Local 1814 was Anthony "Tough Tony" Anastasio, Albert Anastasia's younger brother (Anthony kept the original spelling of their last name). Anastasio was one of the family's biggest earners, steering millions of dollars in kickbacks and payoffs into the family's coffers. Anastasio made no secret of his ties to the mob; he only had to say "my brother Albert" to get his point across. With the family's backing, the Brooklyn waterfront was Anastasio's bailiwick for 30 years.
Anastasia and Mangano were usually in conflict, even though they worked together for 20 years. On numerous occasions, Anastasia and Vincent Mangano came close to physical conflict. Vincent Mangano felt uncomfortable with Anastasia's close ties to Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Joseph Bonanno and other top mobsters outside his family. Mangano was also jealous of Anastasia's strong power base in Murder Inc. and the waterfront unions. In April 1951, Vincent Mangano disappeared without a trace, while his brother Phillip was found dead. No one was ever charged in the Mangano brothers' deaths and Vincent's body was never found. However, it is generally believed that Anastasia murdered both of them.
Called to face the Commission, Anastasia refused to accept guilt for the Mangano murders. However, Anastasia did claim that Vincent Mangano had been planning to kill him. Anastasia was already running the family in Vincent Mangano's "absence" and the Commission members were intimidated by Anastasia. With the support of Frank Costello, boss of the Luciano crime family, the Commission confirmed Anastasia's ascension as boss of what was now the Anastasia crime family. Carlo Gambino, a wily character with designs on the leadership himself, maneuvered himself into the position of consigliere.
The former boss of Murder, Inc., Anastasia was a vicious murderer who inspired fear throughout the New York families. With Costello as an ally, Anastasia came to control the Commission. Costello's bitter rival was Vito Genovese, a former underboss for Lucky Luciano. Since 1946, Genovese had been scheming to remove Costello from power, but was not powerful enough to face Anastasia.
Plot against Anastasia
Anastasia's own brutal actions soon created a favorable climate in New York for his removal. In 1952, Anastasia ordered the murder of a Brooklyn man Arnold Schuster who had aided in the capture of bank robber Willie Sutton. Anastasia did not like the fact that Schuster had helped the police. The New York families were outraged by this gratuitous killing that raised a large amount of public furor. Anastasia also alienated one of Luciano's powerful associates, Meyer Lansky, by opening casinos in Cuba to compete with Lansky's. Genovese and Lansky soon recruited Carlo Gambino to the conspiracy by offering him the chance to replace Anastasia and become boss himself.
In May 1957, Frank Costello escaped a Genovese-organized murder attempt with a minor injury and decided to resign as boss. However, Genovese and Gambino soon learned that Costello was conspiring with Anastasia to regain power. They decided to kill Anastasia.
On October 25, 1957, several masked gunmen murdered Anastasia while he was sitting in the barber shop at the Park Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. As Anastasia sat in the barber's chair, the three assailants rushed in, shoved the barber out of the way, and started shooting. The wounded Anastasia allegedly lunged at his killers, but only hit their reflections in the wall mirror. Anastasia died at the scene. Many historians believe that Gambino ordered caporegime Joseph Biondo to kill Anastasia and Biondo gave the contract to a squad of Gambino drug dealers led by Stephen Armone and Stephen Grammauta.
With Anastasia's death, Carlo Gambino became boss of what was now called the Gambino crime family. Joseph Biondo became underboss, supposedly as a reward for the Anastasia killing. However, Gambino was upset by Biondo's misbehavior and replaced him with Aniello Dellacroce in 1965.
By all accounts, Vito Genovese was angling to become boss of all bosses, and believed that Gambino would support him. Gambino, however, had his own plans. He secretly joined forces with Charles Luciano and Frank Costello to get Genovese out of the way as well. Gambino helped lure Genovese into a lucrative drug deal, then paid a small-time Puerto Rican dealer to testify against him. In April 1959, Genovese was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, where he died in 1969.
Gambino quickly built the family into the most powerful crime family in the United States. He was helped by Meyer Lansky's offshore gaming houses in Cuba and the Bahamas, a lucrative business for the Cosa Nostra.
In 1971, Gambino allegedly used his power to orchestrate the shooting of Colombo. Gambino and his allies were unhappy about Colombo's high public profile. Jerome Johnson shot Colombo on June 28, 1971 at the second "Italian-American Unity Day" rally. Johnson was tentatively linked to the Gambino family, but no one else was charged in the shooting. Colombo survived the shooting, but remained paralyzed until his death in 1978.
In 1972, Gambino allegedly picked Frank "Funzi" Tieri to be front boss of the Genovese crime family. Gambino had allegedly ordered the murder of Tieri's predecessor Thomas Eboli after Eboli failed to repay a $3 million loan to Gambino. Others believe that Eboli was killed by his own crime family for his erratic ways.
Under Gambino, the family gained particularly strong influence in the construction industry. It acquired behind-the-scenes control of TeamstersLocal 282, which controlled access to most building materials in the New York City area and could literally bring most construction jobs in New York City to a halt.
On October 15, 1976, Gambino died of a heart attack. Following Gambino's wishes, control of the family passed to Paul Castellano, whose sister was married to Gambino. Castellano kept longtime underboss Aniello Dellacroce in his position. Many Dellacroce allies were bitterly disappointed by Castellano's ascension, but Dellacroce insisted that they obey Gambino's instructions.
When Castellano became boss, he negotiated a division of responsibilities between himself and Dellacroce. Castellano took control of the so-called "white collar crimes" that included stock embezzlement and other big money rackets. Dellacroce retained control of the traditional Cosa Nostra activities. To maintain control over the Dellacroce faction, Castellano relied on the crew run by Anthony "Nino" Gaggi and Roy DeMeo. The DeMeo crew allegedly committed from 74 to 200 murders during the late 1970s and mid-1980s.
During his regime, Castellano vastly expanded the family's influence in the construction industry. His new alliance with the Irish-American Westside Gang made millions of dollars for the family in construction rackets. For all intents and purposes, the Gambinos held veto power over all construction projects worth over $2 million in New York City. The DeMeo gang also ran a very lucrative car theft ring. Castellano relied on a four-man ruling panel to supervise family operations. This panel consisted of powerful Garment District leader Thomas Gambino, bodyguard and later underboss Thomas Bilotti, and powerful Queens faction-leaders Daniel Marino and James Failla.
Gambino family case
In response to the rise of the Gambino family, federal prosecutors targeted the family leadership. On March 31, 1984 a federal grand jury indicted Castellano and 20 other Gambino members and associates with charges of drug trafficking, murder, theft, and prostitution. This group included John Gotti's brother Gene Gotti and his best friend Angelo Ruggiero. In early 1985, Castellano was indicted along with other Cosa Nostra leaders in the Mafia Commission case. Facing the possibility of time in prison, Castellano announced that Thomas Gambino would become acting boss in Castellano's absence, with Bilotti as acting underboss to replace the ailing Dellacroce.
The Gambino family was making more money, but the internal strife continued to grow. The Dellacroce faction considered Castellano a businessman, not a mob boss. They grew infuriated when Castellano increased their tribute requirements while building himself a grand mansion in Staten Island. Castellano became increasingly detached from family members, conducting all family business at his mansion. Castellano's announcement about Gambino and Bilotti further enraged the Dellacroce partisans.
Conflict with Gotti
Castellano's most vocal critic was John Gotti, a Queens-based capo and Dellacroce protégé. Gotti was ambitious and wanted to be boss himself. He was also angry that Castellano allowed the DeMeo crew to deal in narcotics while forbidding him from doing it. Gotti and his men conducted their drug trade in secret. The 1983 Ruggiero indictment came from phone conversations that Federal agents had recorded on Gotti's phone. The taped conversations included Ruggiero discussing drug deals and expressing his contempt for Castellano. By law, the defendants were allowed transcripts of these wiretap conversations to aid their defense. Castellano immediately demanded copies for himself. Dellacroce kept the transcripts from Castellano – the drug dealing and disrespectful language on the transcripts would have given Castellano cause to kill both Ruggiero and John Gotti. In turn, Dellacroce prevented Gotti from deposing Castellano, citing his promise to Carlo Gambino.
On December 2, 1985, Dellacroce died of cancer. With Dellacroce gone, Ruggiero could no longer keep the incriminating transcripts away from Castellano. Gotti quickly realized that now was the best time to murder Castellano and seize power. He recruited three major earners from his generation into the plot along with Ruggiero: capo Frank DeCicco and soldiers Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano and Robert "DiB" DiBernardo. To win the support of family old-timers, he recruited longtime capo Joseph "Joe Piney" Armone into the conspiracy, who dated back in the family's history to the Mangano brothers.
On December 16, 1985, Bilotti and Castellano arrived at Sparks Steak House in Manhattan for a dinner meeting with capo Frank DeCicco. As the two men were exiting their car, four unidentified men shot them to death.
In January 1986, John Gotti was acclaimed as the new boss of the family. Gotti appointed Frank DeCicco as underboss and promoted Angelo Ruggiero and Sammy Gravano to capo. Gotti was known as "The Dapper Don", renowned for his hand-tailored suits and silk ties. Unlike his colleagues, Gotti made little effort to hide his mob connections and was very willing to provide interesting sound bites to the media. His home in Howard Beach, Queens was frequently seen on television. He liked to hold meetings with family members while walking in public places so that law enforcement agents could not record the conversations. One of Gotti's neighbors in Howard Beach was Joseph Massino, underboss of the Bonanno crime family. Gotti and Massino had a longstanding friendship dating back to the 1970s, when they were known as two of the most proficient truck hijackers in New York.
Gotti was tried three times by federal and state officials, but was acquitted each time, earning him the nickname "The Teflon Don". It turned out that the trials had been compromised by witness intimidation, juror misconduct, and jury tampering.
Gotti's flamboyance, however, proved to be his undoing. The FBI had managed to bug an apartment above his headquarters in the Ravenite Social Club in Little Italy, where an elderly widow let mobsters hold top-level meetings. Gotti was heard planning criminal activities and complaining about his underlings. In particular, he complained about Gravano, portraying him as a "mad dog" killer.
Gravano responded by turning state's evidence and testifying against Gotti and other members of the family. Gotti and acting consigliere Frank "Frankie Loc" LoCascio were convicted on all charges on April 2, 1992, largely on the strength of Gravano's testimony, and sentenced to life without parole.
Gotti continued to rule the family from prison, while day-to-day operation of the family shifted to capos John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico and Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo. The latter was due to take over as acting boss but was himself sentenced to eight years in prison on racketeering charges. Gotti's son John "Junior" Gotti took over as head of the family, but he pleaded guilty to racketeering in 1999 and was sentenced to 77 months in jail.
John Gotti, Sr. died in prison in 2002, and his brother Peter Gotti took over as boss. The family's fortunes have dwindled to a remarkable extent, given their power a few decades ago when they were considered the most powerful criminal organization in America. Peter Gotti was imprisoned as well in 2003, and the leadership allegedly went to administration members Nicholas Corozzo, Jackie D'Amico, and Joseph Corozzo. Peter Gotti remained the official boss while in prison.
Gotti's rivals regained control of the family, mostly because the rest of Gotti's loyalists were either jailed or under indictments. Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, the former head of the family's white collar operations and one of the last Gotti supporters, turned state's evidence due to increased law enforcement and credible evidence to be presented in his racketeering trial. He chose to testify against mobsters from all of the Five Families. DiLeonardo testified against Peter Gotti and Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone, among others, from 2003 to 2005, and then disappeared into the Witness Protection Program.
In 2005, Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo and his longtime underling Leonard "Lenny" DiMaria were released from prison after serving ten years for racketeering and loansharking charges in New York and Florida. That same year, US law enforcement recognized Corozzo as the boss of the Gambino crime family, with his brother Joseph Corozzo as the family consigliere, Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri as the acting underboss, and Jackie D'Amico as a highly regarded member with the Corozzo brothers.
On Thursday, February 7, 2008, a federal grand jury issued an indictment which led to the arrest of 54 Gambino family members and associates in New York City, its suburbs, New Jersey, and Long Island. This indictment was the culmination of a four-year FBI investigation known as Operation Old Bridge. It accused 62 people of murder, conspiracy, drug trafficking, robberies, extortion, and other crimes. The FBI used informant Joseph Vollaro as a government witness.
Operation Old Bridge broke up a growing alliance between the Gambinos and the Sicilian Mafia, which wanted to get further into the drug trade. One of those arrested in the raids in the US was Frank Cali, future boss of the Gambino family. He is allegedly the "ambassador" in the US for the Inzerillo crime family. Most of those arrested ended up pleading guilty, thus getting sentenced less than three years in prison.
Current position and leadership
When federal and New York State authorities rounded up the entire Gambino family hierarchy in early 2008, a three-man panel of street bosses Daniel "Danny" Marino, John Gambino and Bartolomeo Vernace took control of the Gambino family while the administration members were in prison. In July 2011, it was reported that Domenico Cefalù had been promoted to acting boss of the crime family, putting an end to the Gotti regime. Cefalù's reign saw the Sicilian faction, better known as "Zips", gain control of the Gambino crime family. It was reported by crime reporter Jerry Capeci that Cefalù stepped down in 2015 and his underboss, Frank Cali, took full control. However, a week later, Capeci issued a correction reporting that Cefalù remained the acting boss. The current family is believed to have between 150 and 200 members as well as over 1100 associates.
The family continues to be active in a variety of criminal enterprises including gambling, loan sharking, extortion, labor racketeering, fraud, money laundering and narcotic trafficking. Today the Gambino family still has some control on piers in Brooklyn and Staten Island through infiltrated labor unions. Indictments from 2008 to 2014 show that the family is still very active in New York City. During 2009, the Gambino family saw many important members released from prison. On November 18, 2009, the NYPD arrested 22 members and associates of the Luchese and Gambino crime families as part of "Operation Pure Luck". The raid was a result of cases involving loan sharking and sports gambling on Staten Island. There were also charges of bribing New York City court officers and Sanitation Department officials.
In 2014, FBI and Italian police arrested altogether 17 members and associates of the 'Ndrangheta Mafia, in particular the Ursino clan, and 7 members and associates of the Gambino and Bonanno families. The arrested have been accused by prosecutors and law enforcement officials of organizing a transatlantic drug ring with aim of shipping 500 kg of pure cocaine from Guyana in South America to the port of Gioia Tauro in Calabria. US Attorney Loretta Lynch singled out Gambino family associate Franco Lupoi as the linchpin of the operation, accusing him of conspiring with his father in law to set up the network, Nicola Antonio Simonetta, a member of the Ursino clan.
On December 12, 2017, five associates of the Gambino family, Thomas Anzaone, Alessandro “Sandro” Damelio, Joseph Durso, Anthony Rodolico, Anthony Saladino and 74-year old captain John "Johnny Boy" Ambrosio, were arrested and accused of operating an illegal empire from January 2014 to December 2017, on charges of racketeering, extortion, drug trafficking, loansharking and illegal gambling. Bonanno crime family soldier, Frank "Frankie Boy" Salerno, was also arrested and has been accused of conspiring with the Gambino crime family. Associates Anzaone, Damelio and Durso together with Bonanno soldier Saladino, were alleged to have sold cocaine, marijuana and Xanax in large quantities. Prosecutors said Salerno and Saladino sourced the drugs in kilograms then sold it to the others to be distributed, both face a minimum of 10 years in prison. An undercover agent alleged that he paid $1,250 for an ounce of cocaine and also bought nearly a kilogram in 12 different sales between February and June in 2016. Ambrosio was said to have been the head of a very profitable loansharking and illegal gambling operation, including unlicensed gambling parlors, electronic gaming machines and internet sports betting. Prosecutors said that he and Rodolico attempted to obstruct the federal grand jury proceeding into their criminal activities by intimidating a loan shark victim into lying to law enforcement.
Murder of Frank Cali
Frank Cali was shot dead on March 13, 2019 outside his home on Staten Island by a lone gunman. Cali's murder was the first murder of a boss since the 1985 assassination of Paul Castellano. Three days later, 24-year-old Anthony Comello was arrested and charged with the murder. Authorities reportedly believe the crime was related to a personal dispute rather than any organized crime activity.
1910–1928 – Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila – took over the Brooklyn Camorra in 1916 and merged with Al Mineo's gang forming the largest family in New York. He was killed on orders of boss Joe Masseria in 1928.
During the 1980s and 90s, the Gambino crime family had 24 active crews operating in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, South Florida, and Connecticut. By 2000, the family had approximately 20 crews. However, according to a 2004 New Jersey Organized Crime Report, the Gambino family had only ten active crews.
Brooklyn/Staten Island faction
Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone – Capo of the Gambino crew on the Brooklyn waterfront. Ciccone was convicted on extortion charges in 2003. He was released from prison on April 24, 2013.
Joseph "Sonny" Juliano – Capo of a Brooklyn crew that operates illegal gambling, loansharking, fraud and wire fraud activities. Juliano previously managed a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling ring in 30 New York City locations.
Carmine Sciandra – Capo of a crew in Staten Island who also co-owns three "Top Tomato" vegetable and fruit markets. In December 2005, Sciandra was shot and wounded by a retired policeman while working at his Staten Island market. On March 25, 2010, Sciandra pled guilty to state charges of enterprise corruption and grand larceny for running a massive sports betting and loan shark operation and was sentenced to serve between 1½ to 4½ years in prison. He was released on January 5, 2012.
Salvatore "Mr. Sal" Franco – Capo of a Manhattan crew.
Joseph "Joe the Blond" Giordano – Capo of a Manhattan and Long Island crew.
Joseph "Joe" Lombardi – Capo of a Manhattan and Staten Island crew.
Vincent "Vinny Butch" Corrao – Capo of a Little Italy, Manhattan crew. Vincent's grandfather, "Vinny the Shrimp", operated the same crew and passed it to his son Joseph Corrao. Joseph later passed the crew to his son Vincent.
The Sicilian faction of the Gambino crime family is known as the Cherry Hill Gambinos. Gambino boss Carlo Gambino created an alliance between the Gambino family and three Sicilian clans: the Inzerillos, the Spatolas and the Di Maggios. Carlo Gambino's relatives controlled the Inzerillo clan under Salvatore Inzerillo in Passo di Ragano, a neighborhood in Palermo, Sicily. Salvatore Inzerillo coordinated the major heroin trafficking from Sicily to the US, bringing his cousins John, Giuseppe and Rosario Gambino to the US to supervise the operation. The Gambino brothers ran a Cafe on 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst and took their name Cherry Hill Gambinos from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The Gambino family in America began increasing in size with more Sicilian members.
In Northern New Jersey, the Gambino family operates crews in Bergen, Passaic, and Essex Counties. In Southern New Jersey, the family operates crews in South Trenton, and Atlantic City. The two Gambino crews operating in New Jersey are the Mitarotonda crew and the Sisca crew.
Alphonse "Funzi" Sisca – Capo of a crew in New Jersey. He was a John Gotti ally and a former drug dealing partner of Angelo Ruggiero and Arnold Squitieri. Prior to being convicted in 2006, Sisca had spent 20 of the past 30 years in prison. He was released from prison on September 27, 2010.
Nicholas "Nicky Mita" Mitarotonda – Capo of a crew in Elizabeth, New Jersey. In August 1996, he was sentenced to almost 7 years in prison for running a loan sharking operation and fined $40,000. Mitarotonda was also convicted of running an illegal gambling business worth $5 million however the charges were dropped as he agreed to a plea agreement. He was released in 2002. He was released from federal prison on March 1, 2011.
Steven Kaplan – A family associate was the manager of the Gold Club, a strip club in Atlanta. He employed women to provide sexual services in his club.
Blaise Corozzo – Soldier and another of the Corozzo brothers. He is serving a one to three-year sentence in state prison for a 2008 illegal gambling operation. His son Nicholas Corozzo, also involved with the Gambino family, was arrested in 2004. In 2009, Blaise Corozzo was released from prison.
Andrew "Andy Campo" Campos – Soldier and former acting capo of the Bronx-based LoCascio crew. Campos supervised Tore LoCascio's crew while he was in prison.
Richard "Richie" Gotti - Soldier in the Gambino family and served as a member of his father Richard V. Gotti's crew. He is a nephew of John, Peter, Gene, and Vincent Gotti and cousin of former acting boss John A. Gotti.
Vincent Gotti - soldier in the Gambino family. Vincent is the youngest of the Gotti brothers and was inducted as a made man in 2002, the year his brother John died. In 2008, Vincent pled guilty to 8 years in prison for attempted murder and was released on February 22, 2015.
Michael Murdocco – Soldier in Carmine Sciandra's crew. Murdocco and his son-in-law Sanitation Deputy Chief Frederick Grimaldi, rigged bids to help a New Jersey firm win a sanitation contract. In exchange for kickbacks, Grimaldi allegedly leaked bid information to Murdocco in May 2009. Currently serving two to six years in state prison after pleading guilty in March 2010 to enterprise corruption, grand larceny and receiving bribes. Murdocco was paroled on July 7, 2012.
Louis Vallario – current Gambino family soldier and influential member during the 1980s. He was a close and trusted friend of John Gotti. Due to Gotti's incarceration, he led the family as a member of the Ruling Panel which consisted of other Gambino family members, until 2002. Vallario was most recently released from prison in 2013.
Andrew Merola – Former acting capo of the Mitarotonda crew. Merola is connected to Lucchese crime familyJersey faction leader Martin Taccetta. Merola's crew operates illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion and labor racketeering. Pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. His projected release date is June 5, 2020.
Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo – Brother of consigliere Joseph Corozzo, uncle of Joseph, Jr. and currently the most influential caporegime in the crime family. Became a fugitive for almost four months, currently incarcerated on a 13-year sentence. His projected release date is March 2, 2020.
Joseph Sclafani – current soldier who used to operate in Staten Island. Before his 2013 sentence of cocaine and marijuana trafficking, he was planning on marrying Ramona Rizzo, a star on Mob Wives. Rizzo is also the granddaughter of deceased Bonanno crime family soldier Benjamin Ruggiero. Sclafani was a friend and drug partner of Bonanno family associate Costabile Farace and was also alongside him when he was murdered in 1989, having been seriously wounded himself. He is the son of recently deceased Gambino captain Augustus Sclafani. He is scheduled to be released on August 4, 2019.
Michael Roccaforte – a reputed rising star in the Gambino family. He was reported to be the only member from the Gambino family under the rank of Captain to attend the 2010 conference consisting of members from the New York crime families and the Philadelphia crime family. He served under capo Alphonse Trucchio, son of Ronnie Trucchio. Roccaforte was sentenced alongside Anthony Moscatiello for racketeering, selling narcotics, gambling, loansharking and numerous other offenses. He was released on December 14, 2018.
Gennaro "Jerry" Bruno - currently serving a 21-year prison sentence for shooting drug dealer Martin Bosshart in the back of his head over a marijuana dispute in 2002 in Queens; convicted for the crime in May 2017. Gambino associate Todd LaBarca was convicted for his role in the murder in 2012 and was sentenced to 23 years in prison. The 82nd Attorney General Eric Holder refused to seek the death penalty for Bruno. He held a top ranking position within the official Gambino crime family crew the Ozone Park Boys. He is a close ally of consigliere Joseph Corozzo and previously sided with his faction in the family.
(1953–1985) between Carlo Gambino, Tommy Lucchese, and Vito Genovese began with a plot to take over the Mafia Commission by murdering family bosses Frank Costello and Albert Anastasia. At that time, Gambino was Anastasia's new underboss and Vito Genovese was the underboss for Costello. Their first target was Costello on May 2, 1957. Costello survived the assassination attempt, but immediately decided to retire as boss in favor of Genovese. Their second target was Anastasia on October 25, 1957. The Gallo brothers (from the Colombo family) murdered Anastasia in a Manhattan barber shop, opening the war for Gambino to become the new boss of the now-Gambino crime family. After assuming power, Gambino started conspiring with Lucchese to remove their former ally Genovese. In 1959, with the assistance of Lucky Luciano, Costello, and Meyer Lansky, Genovese was arrested and Gambino assumed full control with Lucchese of the Mafia Commission. Under Gambino and Lucchese, the Commission pushed Bonanno boss Joseph Bonanno out of power, triggering an internal war in that family. In the 1960s, the Commission backed the Gallo brothers in their rebellion against Profaci family boss Joe Profaci. In 1962, Gambino's oldest son Thomas married Lucchese's daughter, strengthening the Gambino and Luchese family alliance. Lucchese gave Gambino access into the New York airports rackets he controlled, and Gambino allowed Lucchese into some of their rackets. After Lucchese death in July 1967, Gambino used his power over the Commission to appoint Carmine Tramunti as the new Luchese family leader. Gambino later continued the alliance with Tramunti's successor, Anthony Corallo. After Gambino's death, new Gambino boss Paul Castellano continued the Luchese alliance. In 1985, the original Gambino-Luchese alliance dissolved when John Gotti ordered Castellano's assassination and took power in the Gambino family without Commission approval.
(1999–present) was initiated by acting Luchese boss Steven Crea in 1999. The two families extorted the construction industry and made millions of dollars in bid-rigging. In early 2002, Luchese capo John Capra worked with Gambino acting boss Arnold Squitieri, acting underboss Anthony Megale, and Bronx-based acting capo Gregory DePalma. The group was involved in illegal gambling and extortion activities in Westchester County, New York. The members were arrested in 2005 leading to the revelation that Gambino acting capo DePalma had allowed an FBI agent Joaquín García (known as Jack Falcone) work undercover with his crew since 2002. In late 2008, Gambino family acting capo Andrew Merola teamed with Luchese Jersey faction acting boss Martin Taccetta in an illegal gambling ring, shaking down unions, and extorting car dealerships. Merola was indicted in 2008 and Taccetta was returned to prison in 2009.
(1962–1972) was between Carlo Gambino and Genovese family acting boss/front boss Thomas Eboli. The alliance was short-lived because Eboli was unable or unwilling to repay Gambino money from a bad narcotics deal. The alliance ended when Gambino ordered Eboli's murder on July 16, 1972.
(1991–2004) started with John Gotti and new Bonanno boss Joseph Massino. As a member of the Mafia Commission, Gotti helped Massino regain the Bonanno commission seat that was lost in the early 1970s. The Gambino family influenced the Bonanno family to give up narcotics trafficking and return to more traditional Cosa Nostra crimes (loan sharking, gambling, stock fraud, etc.) By the late 1990s, the Bonannos had become almost as strong as the Gambinos.
(1970s–1990s) this alliance resulted from an ongoing war between the Genovese family and the Westies, an Irish-American street gang in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan. Genovese front boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno wanted to seize control of lucrative construction rackets at the new Jacob Javits Convention Center from the Westies. When the Westies balked, Salerno ordered the murder of the top gang leaders. Eventually, the Genovese family invited the Gambinos to broker a peace agreement with the Westside Gang. As part of this agreement, the Westies formed an alliance with Gambino soldier Roy DeMeo.
Government informants and witnesses
Alphonso "The Peacemaker" Attardi - the first confirmed Gambino crime family informant. Attardi was born in Sicily in 1897 and allegedly joined the Sicilian Mafia before immigrating to New York in 1919. He became a bootlegger and joined the D'Aquila gang during the 1920s – later evolved into the Gambino crime family. It is noted that Attardi was heavily involved in the narcotic trade from the 1930s to late 1940s. By 1947, he was an informant for the FBN and by 1952, Attardi was informing on the American Mafia, he disappeared shortly thereafter. Attardi gave an interview to columnist Jack Anderson in 1968. Depending on the sources, he died in 1970 or 1972 in Suffolk County, New York.
Alfredo "Freddie the Sidge" Santantonio - he was initiated into the Gambino family in 1953. Santantonio was reportedly very close to Albert Anastasia and he was also the brother-in-law of Jack Parisi, a Gambino soldier and former Murder, Inc gunman. It is believed Santantonio became an informant in 1961. In 1962, he avoided a prison sentence for attempting to sell stolen bonds, with two other criminals. On July 11, 1963, he was shot dead 5 times by two men whilst inside of a Brooklyn florist shop.
Wilfred "Willie Boy" Johnson - former associate and confidant of John Gotti. He could never become a member of the Gambino family due to his Native-American heritage, for which he was named "Wahoo". Johnson became an informer in 1966 for the FBI due to apparent dissatisfaction with the mob. During a public hearing in 1985, federal prosecutor Diane Giacalone revealed that Johnson was cooperating with law enforcement. Johnson immediately refused to enter the Witness Protection Program and was subsequently murdered on August 29, 1988.Bonanno crime family hitmen Vincent "Kojak" Giattino and Thomas Pitera murdered Johnson as a favor for Gotti, Johnson was reportedly shot 19 times and found face-down in a pool of his own blood.
Dominick Montiglio - former associate who testified in 1983. He attended the wake of Gambino underboss Frank Scalise in 1957 with his uncle and future Gambino capo Nino Gaggi. In 1973, he met Roy DeMeo, then an associate in the Gambino family, and Chris Rosenberg. He served as an errand boy for his uncle which required him to collect payments from the DeMeo crew. DeMeo had offered him the opportunity of selling narcotics however Gaggi ordered Montiglio not to get involved. Montiglio was involved in the April 1975 attempted murder of Vincent Governara. He fled to California in 1979 after believing Roy DeMeo and his uncle Nino Gaggi were planning to murder him, after Gambino boss Paul Castellano heard gossip of Montiglio selling and using heroin. His testimony in 1983 led Gaggi to be sentenced to 5 years in prison, where he would die in 1988. His testimony has brought down at least 60 American Mafia mobsters, with a confirmed number of 56 people before vanishing into the Witness Protection Program in 1983.
Dominick "Big Dom" LoFaro - former associate. In 1983 or 1984, depending on the source, LoFaro attempted to sell a kilogram of heroin to undercover FBI and DEA agents, he shortly became an informer after his arrest due to the fact that he faced over 20 years in prison. In 1986, he was one out of three American Mafia informers to testify against Gambino boss John Gotti, alongside James Cardinali and Colombo crime family associate, Salvatore Polisi. LoFaro received probation for his testimony against Gotti. On 7 January 1987, he admitted to fabricating stories in order to make a deal with the government. He later admitted to murdering Salvatore Calabria at his home in 1982, and served as an accomplice in the murder of Calabria's wife in 1983. Also during January 1987, he pled guilty to attempted murder, illegal gambling and loan sharking. He died in 2003.
Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano - the first underboss to break his blood oath. Gravano admitted to the killings of 19 people and cooperated with the government in 1991. He also admitted to fixing John Gotti's trials, which led Gotti to be called "the Teflon Don" due to his evasion from prosecution. He was released from prison in 1994 and immediately entered the Witness Protection Program which allowed him to flee to Arizona under protection. Gravano gave several publicised interviews, including with Dianne Sawyer, however Peter Gotti ordered a death-contract on Gravano after his 1999 Vanity Fair interview. The plan consisted of murdering Gravano with a land mine or shooting him with a hunting rifle. After his 2002 drug-related arrest, the assigned Gambino hitmen, Thomas "Huck" Carbonaro and Eddie Garafola, planned to send a nail bomb into his prison cell via mail. Gravano was released from prison in 2017.
Dominic "Fat Dom" Borghese - former soldier. He served in the crew of Jackie D'Amico and later John A. Gotti. Borghese was very close with John A. Gotti, he even attended his wedding in 1990 and were partners together in several lucrative Staten Island illegal bookmaking operations; he later testified against him in 1998. Borghese admitted to helping dispose of 2 murdered bodies however he was unable to dig underneath due to the fact that he weighed over 400 pounds. He entered the Witness Protection Program in 1995.
Andrew DiDonato - he was a former associate of the Gambino family and protegee of former Gambino acting boss and captain, Nicholas Corozzo. DiDonato was suspected of participating in 2 murders. He became an informant in 1997 and later testified against John A. Gotti.
Craig DePalma - son of deceased Gambino acting captain Gregory DePalma. DePalma was a soldier and was proposed for membership by John Gotti, he later served in the crew of John A. Gotti. He cooperated in 2000 and died in December 2010 from eight years spent in a coma after a failed jailhouse suicide in 2002.
Michael "Mickey Scars" DiLeonardo - former Gambino capo. DiLeonardo was active since the 1960s. His brother was shot to death in 1981 in a dispute related with the Gambino and Colombo crime families, DiLeonardo was denied permission to avenge the murder by boss Paul Castellano. He was inducted into the Gambino crime family alongside John A. Gotti on December 24, 1988. In 1989, he helped arrange the murder of publisher and sanitation business owner Fred Weiss, who was shot to death by the New Jersey DeCavalcante crime family as a favor to John J. Gotti. He became a government witness shortly after his June 2002 arrest, he was accused of labor racketeering, extortion, loan sharking, witness tampering, and the murder of Fred Weiss. He later testified against former Gambino boss Peter Gotti, captain Louis Vallario, hitman Michael Yanotti, Richard G. Gotti and the brother of John Gotti, Richard V. Gotti. His testimony has secured the convictions of more than 80 American Mafia members and associates.
Primo Cassarino - former soldier and was part of Anthony Ciccone's crew. He was convicted of racketeering and extortion in 2003, alongside former boss Peter Gotti and several other Gambino members. In 2004, he was additionally convicted of racketeering, money-laundering and for the extortion of action-film star Steven Seagal. Cassarino became a government witness in 2005 after he was sentenced to over 11 years in prison. In 2005, he confessed about the infiltration of the International Longshoremen's Association. He testified in the trial of Genovese capo Lawrence Ricci in November 2005, who was later murdered a few weeks after, and also testified against Gambino soldier Anthony "Todo" Anastasio.
Joseph "Little Joe" D'Angelo - former soldier who cooperated in 2005. D'Angelo was once the driver for John A. Gotti. He testified against Gotti alongside former Bonanno crime family captain Dominick Cicale in 2009. He confessed to 2 murders and served as the driver during the attempted murder of Curtis Sliwa in 1992. Former United States federal judge Shira Scheindlin announced at his July 2012 trial that D'Angelo's testimony has brought down at least 40 mobsters, he was sentenced to four years time already served.
Lewis Kasman - former associate. He was close to the Gotti family. John Gotti considered Kasman as a son. He cooperated in 2005. In 2015, he was arrested on felony grand theft and fraud charges in Florida. Kasman reportedly lived in a $900,000 mansion on Delray Beach.
John Alite - former associate and Albanian mobster who testified against John A. Gotti and hitman Charles Carneglia. The best man at his wedding was John A. Gotti. He and Gotti were allegedly partners in the cocaine business together in Queens. Alite pleaded guilty to 2 murders, 4 murder conspiracies, at least 8 shootings and 2 attempted shootings as well as armed home invasions and armed robberies in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. His testimony against Carneglia resulted in the defendant receiving a life sentence after being found guilty of 4 murders. On April 26, 2011, Alite was sentenced to 10 years in prison however he was released in 2013.
Robert Mormando - former soldier and hitman for the Gambino crime family. In October 2009, Mormando became the first mobster to admit in open court that he is gay. He was involved in the 2003 shooting of a Queens bagel store owner.
Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli - former soldier who was active in New Jersey, he was a member of Nicholas Corozzo's crew. He became an informant in 2010. Stefanelli reportedly murdered an informant in February 2011, Joseph Rossi, who he blamed for forcing him into becoming an informer. He committed suicide two days after he murdered Rossi, he was found dead in a hotel room.
Anthony Ruggiano Jr. - former soldier. He is the son of Gambino captain Anthony Ruggiano Sr, who died in 1999. He lured his brother-in-law, Frank "Geeky" Boccia, to his death in 1988, Ruggiano spent three days in prison for his role in the murder after his cooperation in 2012. Ruggiano later testified against high-ranking members of the Gambino, including Dominick Pizzonia, Bartolomeo "Bobby Glasses" Vernace and hitman Charles Carneglia.
Giovanni "Johnny" Monteleone - former associate who turned informer in 2013. Sopranos actor Tony Darrow asked Monteleone and Gambino soldier Joseph Orlando to recover money from a debt owed to him. Facing extortion charges, it was revealed in 2013 that Monteleone had cooperated, he received no prison time.
In the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV, in which the setting is based on New York and New Jersey, the Gambetti family is a reference to the Gambinos. Also during the mission "Waste not Want Knots" en route to a Mafia controlled waste management plant Michael Keane (a character) mentions the Gambinos while reciting numerous fictional and real Mafia families.
Law & Order commonly references the Gambinos as a literary flourish but does not involve actual persons except to allude to them by the court cases that were inspired by actual events, commonly 'Ripped from the headlines'. The character of Frank Masucci and the Masucci crime family were based on John Gotti and the Gambino crime family.
In Frasier season 4 episode 23, Frasier tells Daphne and Martin "It's like Christmas morning in the Gambino's household", at the end of their argument regarding their exchange of gifts.
In Gilmore Girls season 5 episode 19, Lorelai asks Rory, "Who are they, the Gambino's?"
In the 2016 film The Accountant, Christian Wolff kills ten members of the Gambino crime family as revenge for their killing and torture of his mentor
^"Man Arrested in Connection to Killing of Gambino Mob Boss Francesco Cali: NYPD". NBC New York. March 16, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019. NYPD cameras positioned on the pair of roadways that lead in and out of Todt Hill ... The two shake hands, the license plate from the suspect's vehicle falls off, the suspect picks up the license, hands it to Cali, then pulls a gun and shoots as Cali puts the license in his own car, according to the source.