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Gerardo "Jerry" Catena (January 2, 1902 – 2000) was a New York mobster and a top member of the Genovese crime family during the 1950s and 1960s, along with Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli, Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo and Michael "Big Mike" Miranda. He was ranked as the fourth richest mobster in the United States by Fortune magazine.
Catena was born in 1902 in South Orange, New Jersey, and subsequently became familiar with legendary mobsters Guarino "Willie" Moretti, Thomas Greco, Cosmo "Gus" Frasca, and Abner "Longy" Zwillman. Later, it has been confirmed that Catena moved to New York City to join the forces of Charlie "Lucky" Luciano and Meyer Lansky during the early 1920s, when the rise of two Mafia dons named Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, began fighting a bloody internal battle called the Castellammarese War.
Little is known of Catena in his early days of the Luciano crime family, but reportedly he was a soldier in the crew that became the powerful Genovese crew during the late 1920s, headed by later underboss Vito "Don Vito" Genovese. As the time passed, and Charles Luciano went to prison and later deportation in the 1940s, Genovese organized the shooting of the boss of the Luciano crime family, Frank Costello, in 1957, which forced Costello to retire. Apparently, Catena is to have risen through the ranks, as he was listed as the underboss in the late 1950s, heading the New Jersey faction of the Genovese crime family, under the leadership of Vito Genovese.
Catena was attending the so-called Apalachin Meeting in 1957, and was one of the hundred mafiosi who were indicted after the convention, following the arrest of Vito Genovese in 1959. As Genovese and many others of the Genovese crime family were under indictment, Catena began cooperating with longtime captains Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo, Michele "Big Mike" Miranda and Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli, and were unofficially running the Genovese crime family.
After the imprisonment of Genovese in 1959, a "Committee/Ruling Panel" was to run the Genovese crime family, which consisted of Catena, Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo, Thomas Eboli (who was murdered in 1972) and Michele Miranda. This administration continued to run the family throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, as Catena was jailed from 1970 to 1975.
Catena was incarcerated at the Yardville State Prison (now the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility) from 1970 to 1975 because he had refused to testify before the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation.
After his incarceration, Catena was allegedly semi-retired due to illness, and became officially retired after his release in 1975, as he moved to Boca Raton, Florida that same year. Gerardo Catena died in 2000 of natural causes, as he wasn't named in any indictments for almost 30 years, and died in retirement at the age of 98. .
Catena was a secret investor in slot machine manufacturer Bally Manufacturing during its early years. This resulted in William T. O'Donnell, the chairman and CEO, resigning from the company in 1979 in order for them to receive a casino permit to operate Bally's Atlantic City casino.
| Genovese crime family
Carmine "Little Eli" Zeccardi