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January 31, 1918|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
June 24, 1991 (aged 73)|
Queens, New York, U.S.
Rastelli was born and raised in Maspeth, Queens. He had three brothers (Carmine, Marinello, and Augustus) and two sisters (Justina Devita and Antonette Brigandi ). Rastelli was married to Connie Rastelli.
Rastelli was heavily involved in loansharking, extortion and drug trafficking activities before joining the Bonanno crime family. Rastelli also had a lunch wagon business. After moving to Greenpoint, Brooklyn where he lived until his incarceration, he met and became close friends with Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, Carmine Galante, Joseph Bonanno and Joseph Massino.
On December 3, 1953, Rastelli and an associate allegedly shot Michael Russo in Queens. However, Russo survived the shooting and Rastelli, fearing identification, went into hiding. Over the next year, Rastelli's wife Connie repeatedly approached Russo's wife Rose with an offer of $5,000 if her husband did not identify Rastelli. Rose refused the bribe each time. In early December 1954, Russo was shot again and killed in Brooklyn. On December 13, 1954, Connie Rastelli was indicted on charges of attempting to bribe a witness. No one was ever charged in the Russo murder.
In 1969, in an attempt to restore order to the Bonanno family, the Commission appointed a three-man panel to run the family. This panel included Rastelli, Joseph DiFilippi, and Natale "Joe Diamonds" Evola.
On July 21, 1971, Rastelli was indicted in Riverhead, New York on loansharking charges. The loansharking ring, centered in Babylon, New York and Islip, New York, charged victims from 250 to 300% interest annually and generated over $1 million per year in revenue for the Bonanno family. On December 28, 1972, Rastelli was convicted in state court on seven counts of loansharking.
On August 28, 1973, Evola died and Rastelli became acting boss of the Bonanno family. On February 23, 1974, at a meeting at the Americana Hotel (now the Sheraton New York) in Manhattan, the Commission named Rastelli as boss. He was the first member of the Queens faction to lead the family; the previous bosses had all come from the family's birthplace in Brooklyn.
On March 6, 1975, Rastelli was indicted on racketeering charges involving extortion. Nine years earlier, Rastelli had established a trade association of lunch wagon operators and taken control of the industry. Any operator who refused to join the Association and pay its stiff fees faced vandalism and physical assault. On April 23, 1976, Rastelli was convicted of extortion. He was convicted of the anti-trust and extortion on August 27, 1976 and given one year on the anti-trust violation and three concurrent ten-year sentences on the extortion.
In 1979, the imprisoned Rastelli allegedly ordered Galante's murder. The other Commission members had decided that Galante was bad for their business and gave Rastelli permission to remove him. Napolitano was later promoted to caporegime for his efforts. Rastelli was now the undisputed boss, controlling things from behind bars through the use of acting bosses such as longtime Bonanno mobster Salvatore "Sally Fruits" Ferrugia.
There was a dispute within the Bonanno crime family about whether Rastelli should be the boss, which led to an internal war in 1981. This resulted in the murders of several people including opposition leader Bonanno caporegime Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, who was one of those who opposed Rastelli remaining the boss. This power struggle and its bloody results were witnessed by FBI agent Joseph "Donnie Brasco" Pistone, who was working undercover.
Rastelli was paroled from prison in late 1983 and quickly began an attempt to restore order, unity and respect to his crime family which had been greatly damaged and diminished from underworld power and influence due to the constant infighting since Joe Bonanno's ousting in 1964 and the Donnie Brasco incident, which caused the Bonanno crime family leadership and its members to lose credibility within the American Mafia.
By 1983, Rastelli had delegated much of his authority to Massino, who was his most frequent visitor in prison. Although he was not acting boss, it was understood that he was Rastelli's deputy.
Over the years, there has been the belief that the American Mafia was not directly involved in the drug trade, as some bosses had ordered their men not to get involved with drugs. Many disobeyed, however, and for the Bonanno family, the drug trade became one of its most lucrative rackets; its Montreal branch was heavily involved in the drug trade, importing narcotics into Canada and transporting them to America, where the Bonanno family's Zip, or Sicilian faction, along with the other crime families, controlled the wholesale distribution of the drugs to other crime groups across the country.
In 1985, Rastelli was indicted along with other Cosa Nostra leaders in the famous Mafia Commission Trial. Getting kicked off the Mafia Commission because of the Donnie Brasco infiltration actually prevented the Bonanno family from getting caught up in the Commission Trial, which sentenced many Mafia bosses and members to prison. However, when Rastelli was indicted on separate labor racketeering charges, prosecutors decided to remove him from the Commission trial. Having previously lost their seat on the Commission, the Bonanno suffered less exposure than the other families in this case.
On October 14, 1986, Rastelli was convicted on 24 counts of labor racketeering.
On January 16, 1987, Rastelli was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. Shortly before then, he named Massino underboss, though he had been operating head of the family for some time before then. With Rastelli all but assured of dying in prison, he also designated Massino acting boss. Unusually, Rastelli gave him two powers rarely given to acting bosses—approving new members and ordering murders.
Joseph Massino took over leadership of the Bonanno family after Rastelli's death.
Natale "Joe Diamonds" Evola
| Bonanno crime family
| Bonanno crime family