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Philip Lombardo

Philip Lombardo (pronounced "loam-BAR-doh") (October 6, 1908 in New York City – April 1987) also known as "Benny Squint" and "Cockeyed Phil", was the boss of the Genovese crime family from the late 1960s until the beginning of the 1980s. Lombardo began his career as a soldier on Michael "Trigger Mike" Coppola's powerful 116th Street Crew in the East Harlem section of New York. During the 1940s, Lombardo served a brief prison stretch for narcotics trafficking, his only imprisonment. Due to his thick eyeglasses Lombardo earned the nickname, "Benny Squint."

In 1959, family boss Vito Genovese was sent to prison. However, Genovese used a series of acting bosses to maintain control of the family from prison. His three acting bosses, or Ruling Panel, were Capo Michele Miranda, underboss Gerardo "Jerry" Catena, and acting boss Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli. The trio panel was known to authorities but in 1962 former mobster turned government witness Joseph Valachi stated before a US Senate subcommittee that Lombardo was also a part of this same panel. In that same year Anthony Strollo disappeared and was presumed murdered. Strollo's role as a front or acting boss was given to Thomas Eboli. Eboli himself was later gunned down in 1972. It had been theorized that Commission chairman Carlo Gambino had orchestrated Eboli's murder in order to install his own candidate for Genovese boss in the form of Alphonse Frank "Funzi" Tieri who would replace Eboli as front boss shortly after Eboli's murder. However, according to FBI informant Vincent Cafaro, Lombardo had been boss since 1969 and had been using Eboli and Tieri as decoys to insulate himself from the FBI. According to Selwyn Raab in his book Five Families Lombardo then coincided his retirement with Tieri's death and named Vincent Gigante as his successor, while at the same time making Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno the new front boss in order to disguise Gigante's transition into the new boss. This way the FBI would still not know who was really in charge and would continue to go after the wrong people, which they did sentencing Salerno to 100 years in prison in 1986. While this information is open to conjecture Valachi's and Cafaro's testimonies corroborate each other. Additionally research by journalists Jerry Capeci and Selwyn Raab published in their books and websites lend credibility to it.[1]

During the 80's Tieri manipulated members of the Philadelphia crime family into murdering their boss Angelo Bruno, who was shot to death in his car in 1980, and then killed off those same members of the Philly mob to cover their tracks. Lombardo was probably involved in this too as he was at the very least the de facto boss, and probably the official boss during that time, he probably had the final say on whether the plan could go ahead.

By 1981, Lombardo was in poor health and played a more relaxed role in the day-to-day operations of the family. Although he resided in Englewood, New Jersey, he spent his remaining winters in Hollywood, Florida. He made it clear that Gigante was to become the new boss, and Salerno would continue as the front boss. He was 78 years old and living in Florida when he died in April 1987.

References

Further reading

  • Raab, Selwyn. "Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires". New York: St. Martin Press, 2005. ISBN 0-312-30094-8
American Mafia
Preceded by
Thomas Eboli
as acting boss
Genovese crime family
Effective boss

1965–1969
Succeeded by
Himself
as boss
Preceded by
Vito "Don Vito" Genovese
Genovese crime family
Boss

1969–1980
Succeeded by
Vincent "Chin" Gigante