Natale (Joe Diamond) Evola – aka “Joseph Evola”, “Nat Evola”, “Natale Giuseppe Evola” (TN) – was born in 1907 in Brooklyn to parents originating from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. As a young boy, he returned to Sicily with his parents where he lived for a time until returning to the United States.
He was raised and became a lifelong resident of the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn area residing for decades at 972 Bay Ridge Parkway.
Evola never married, instead living as a bachelor caring for his elderly mother Francesca until her death.
He was blood-related to several prominent Sicilian mafiosi including Ignazio (Sonny) Cannone and his brother Frank, who were formally affiliated with Binghamton Family Boss Joseph Barbara, Sr.
Another blood nephew was Bonanno captain Joseph Buccellato. He was also related to several mafia figures back in their homeland in Trapani province in Sicily.
FBI # 449296, NYCPD # E-8624
His activities included garment racketeering, heroin importing-trafficking, labor extortion, shylocking, and strong-arm.
Evola knew a plethora of mafiosi spanning the entire United States and Italy too.
His associates included:
• Salvatore Maranzano
• Nicola Schiro
• Joseph Bonanno
• Francesco Garofalo
• Carmine Galante
• Gaspare Di Gregorio
• Stefano Magaddino
• Joseph Profaci
• Vito Genovese
• John Ormento
• Andimo Pappadio
• Carlo Gambino
• Paul Sciacca
• Nicolo Guastella
• Santo Manfre
• Joseph Barbara, Sr.
• Rosario Bufalino
• Gaspare Milazzo
….. and virtually The Who’s who in the Mafia. Everybody who was ever anybody!
And yet Natale Evola is often largely overlooked in mob history books.
Upon closer review of his life and career, we see a hugely important “original” founding member of what would become not only the Bonanno Family, but who was also at the very foundation of Italian organized crime in this city and country as well.
He was a staunch adherent and follower, together with several boyhood friends of an early Castellammarese oriented group allegedly headed by Nicola (Cola) Schiro, who although not Castellammarese himself, headed a large group of Sicilian mafiosi with many who hailed from the seaside fishing village of Castellammare del Golfo.
Soon Evola would become embroiled in the infamous Mafia conflict known as the “Castellammarese War” of 1929-1931. He would fight as a “soldier” in the army, and under the flag of Capo Salvatore Maranzano, and with their war victory,
Evola soon gained prominence and future “position” as a key “Capo di decina”serving Giuseppe (Joe) Bonanno, who had risen to power after the murder of Maranzano.
As a good indication of his mob standing, he served as an “usher” in 1932 at the marriage of the boss Joe Bonanno and his new wife Fay Bonanno (nee’ LaBruzzo).
“Joe Diamond” as he was now called in the underworld, focused his attentions in Manhattan’s garment district.
By the 1940s, he was either the owner or had partnered in several major garment-trucking firms in the heart of the district’s “rag trade”. Consigliere John Tartamella was said to have been a partner of Evola in several dress factories. His main firm was the Amity Trucking Co., managed by his kid brother Joseph Evola.
He was also reported to hold a part interest in the Filippo Berio Olive Oil Co., a major importer/supplier to the public to the present day.
He had a limited but very serious arrest record that started in 1930:
• 1930 – gun possession (arrested with Joe Barbara and several other mafiosi in Brooklyn while “laying” on a potential murder victim. They were stopped by police suspicious of the group)1932 – coercion
• 1958 – heroin-narcotics conspiracy (arrested with Genovese and other top hoods. sentenced to 10 years in federal prison)1959 – perjury
• 1959 – obstruction of justice (5 years – reverses on appeal)
Note: In the early-1950s he had allegedly sponsored his nephew Joseph Buccellato for induction into the Family.
“Joe Diamond” Evola would soon face a level of public exposure and law enforcement scrutiny as never before.
In 1957, he was one of the 62 reputed mafiosi from all across the country nabbed at the ill-fated Apalachin Meeting in a Upstate New York. A mob barbecue that his old “compare” and 1931 arrest partner Joe Barbara has hosted.
Evola would suffer through multiple grand jury subpoenas, newspaper headlines for years, and a federal “obstruction of justice” indictment and conviction that would eventually be reversed on appeal.
Back to back with this, was a 1958 sweeping federal arrest and indictment by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) for being a pivotal figure, and a Bonanno capo overseer in a massive heroin network that spanned several continents, and involved multiple Mafia Families; Genovese, Lucchese, Gambino, Magaddino, and Dragna/Licata among others.
Evola was among a group of the most important narcotics traffickers in this country, internationally in fact, that were indicted by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) for the smuggling and nationwide distribution of hundreds of kilo-lot shipments of the pure white powder. Brought into the United States from Europe (France and Italy), and then wholesaled throughout the nation to other “amici” in San Francisco, San Jose, Detroit, Chicago, Texas, Florida, Cleveland and Philadelphia were just a few of the major cities that they distributed to.
This vast multi-year conspiracy included some of the most important of mafiosi, involving many varied “borgatas”.
Vito Genovese, probably the single most powerful mafia boss in the nation at the time allegedly headed the ring. Vito and Evola were said by prosecutors to have been the two most important “executives” of the narcotics ring, who stayed far in the background planning strategy and away from the actual narcotics.
After a lengthy and often contentious trial, top mafiosi including Genovese, underboss Carmine Galante, Lucchese capo’s Andimo Pappadio, John Ormento and Salvatore Santora, Rocco Mazzie, Louis Fiano, Evola and many other important figures were convicted and received long prison terms….with Evola receiving 10 years. He served his prison term at Leavenworth, Kansas.
By the mid-late 1960s, he was paroled. Evola had missed the entire “Banana War” of the 1966-1969 period. Had he been on the street, it would have been interesting to see which faction he would have sided with – Joe Bonanno or the dissidents”.
I suspect he would have stayed loyal to Bonanno.
At any rate, Natale Evola was soon back in the thick of things having maintained his high status as a senior “capo di decina”.
After establishing himself again, and navigating borgata politics, he found himself “elected” to the boss chair. This was in approximately late 1971-early 1972 after the previous interim leaders Paul Sciacca and Philip (Rusty) Rastelli had been repeatedly indicted and jailed.
Evola had been elected by the membership and ratified by The Commission to serve as the “official” Capo of the entire Bonanno Family.
Some debate his actual position, whether he served as the “official” boss or the “acting boss”. Either way he was a strong, intelligent choice. Unfortunately he would only serve for approximately one to two years.He was stricken with cancer and died within months of contracting the disease.
Natale “Joe Diamond” Evola died in April of 1973 at the age of 66 years old.
Had Evola lived, I suspect the Bonanno Family would have been solidified and strengthened back to close to what it had been “pre-war”.
Joe Diamond had been a highly-respected original founding member of the Family. Well versed in the ways of the underworld. He knew proper mob decorum, all the key players (and they knew and respected him as well). He had the correct bloodline – his family having hailed from the borgata’s homeland in Trapani.
And with over forty-five years of having been knee-deep in the heart of the Mafia’s most important rackets; including garment district operations and international narcotics smuggling, having seen active “ duty” as a participant inthe bloody Castellammarese War,and having been an intimate of Vito Genovese, Joe Profaci, Carlo Gambino and many others, I see Evola as having the influence, respect and know how to console and gather all dissident factions together so as to solidify the rank and file troops back into the fold. They would have respected him and followed his lead.
He would have made a wonderful “Representante”!
Unfortunately for the Bonanno crew, he died a bit too soon!
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