IS THE MAFIA ON ITS LAST LEG? by Nick Christophers

There is a saying that if you take one man out there are two in the wings to replace him and if you take out two there are four in the wings. This may be the case for some situations but when it comes to the lifeline of the mafia that theory goes out the window. The once awesome and untouchable traditional mafia has lost its “talent pool” that was at once abundant. It is believed since the fall of John Gotti the mob has went underground and has attempted to stay out of the spotlight and the headlines.

There are many rumors that they have been recruiting men from Sicily to replenish the ranks that have been vacated due to lengthy jail terms or death. This seemed to be evident in Philadelphia were like Gotti, past boss Nicky Scarfo left a disaster behind him. There have been other ethnic groups who have tried to fill that vacuum and take over but that has seemed impossible. Groups like the Albanians who were once a threat under their leader Alex Rudaj or the Russians with ruthless mob boss Ivankov.

In Astoria for example after Greek mob boss Spiro Velentzas went away for life the Albanians decided to move in. The Greeks were under the Luchese wing, yet the Albanians planted their flag in Queens and the Bronx. In 2001 they had a fire fight with the Greeks over gambling rackets in Queens. Three years later Rudaj along with what the FBI termed “the sixth family” were all in custody. By 2006 Rudaj was sentenced to twenty-seven years in prison. At this point is where the Albanians became a fractured group. Like the Russians they are not even close to what the traditional mafia is or was.

For the Russians, their main base of operations has always been Brighton Beach the hub for Russian immigrants. The once powerful leader was Vyacheslav Ivankov who ran a much-feared organization in New York when he came from Russia. Yet his reign was not exceptionally long when he was arrested in 1995 on extortion of close to $3 million from an investment advisory firm known as Summit. He was soon deported back to Russia to face murder charges in 2004. Ivankov was acquitted of the charges and released in 2005. While he tried to regain his criminal hold in Russia in 2009, he was shot and killed while leaving a restaurant in Khoroshevskoye Road in Moscow.

As we mentioned earlier after the fall of John Gotti in 1992 the rules of the game began to change. There are very few if any social clubs left where the wiseguys would gather for their espresso or discuss schemes. Supposedly, in the quiet neighborhood of Carroll Gardens there are still three discreet clubs located off Sackett and Union streets. Yet you will never see guys congregated on the street or any corner. Those days are gone. Gotti was famous for outside gatherings that attracted too much FBI attention. Hence, the rule of no more public meetings came into effect.

“The current status of today’s Cosa Nostra Is in a rebuilding state decades of FBI takedowns has diminished the power and ranks within all five families. For the last decade the influence that the five families once had in society’s marketplaces is no longer!! Organized crime today has turned into small groups of men doing such crimes has identity theft, offshore gambling sites selling prescription medications etc. The meat and potatoes of the income that the families once had such as construction trade infiltration of industry is no longer the forefront of their earning  capacity I saw within the Italian communities throughout the city the gene pool Of young Italian men Are a mere shell Of the upcoming men from generations ago, in turn  weakening the ranks across all five families so much in fact that they have gone to outsource murders because finding somebody to trust and who is capable of such an act these days is hard to find nobody’s willing to go to prison these days for such crimes,” said ex-Gambino member Andrew DiDonato.

According to ex-mobster and bodyguard to John Gotti Jr, John Alite, he believes the same theory that it is in a decline. The new, if any, members are naïve to mob culture and do not have the same toughness or loyalty that he grew up in. He also pointed out that families do not trust each other and do not have that fear factor that once gave them the power they once welded. It is scary when you watch such mob enclaves like Little Italy in Manhattan and Bensonshurst, Brooklyn become over-run by Chinese business. Law enforcement has taken down most of the members in every family leaving their strong-holds unprotected and exposed.

In another known mob strong-hold, Chicago, the Outfit as it was called is a shell of itself. Allegedly it is currently run by Albert “Albie the Falcon” Vena, 69. He was the number 3 man before leaders John “No Nose” DiFronzo (passed on) and Joe “The Clown” Lombardo (doing a life bid) were taken out of the game. Supposedly, Salvatore “Solly D” DeLaurentis who was the consiglieri has gone legit. According to ex-mobster Frank Calabrese Jr the Outfit is no more and has no chance of reviving itself.

“The mob or Outfit, whichever way you like to phrase it is no longer a factor in Chicago. After the many trials and deaths, the “pool” is empty of anyone worth carrying the torch. No one wants to do long prison time, most of these guys have went into legit business realizing that they could make the same kind of money legitimately so why take a risk. New York and maybe South Philly are still somewhat on life-support.”

Yet ex-mob associate Kenji Gallo see’s it quite different that Andrew, Frank, and Johnny A do.

“I know that they still have family structures in New York, I think right now, they are no longer in decline. They do not have the same law enforcement pressure, the locals, NYPD has disbanded the units who went after them.  Those who knew who all the players have retired. The FBI no longer has a squad for every family.  I think if they stay secret, don’t make headlines they can gain power.”

His theory may be somewhat true but what Johnny A, Frank and Andrew have expressed seems to be on the ball. But there are those who believe that the traditional mafia will never die it will become active in some fashion. Below are the assumed leaders and number of active members within the five families in New York.

Gambino Crime Family –

•             Boss: Lorenzo Mannino

•             Consigliere: Michael “Mickey Boy” Paradiso

•             New Jersey Faction Boss: Nicholas “Nicky Mita” Mitarotonda

•             Estimated Membership: About 180 Made Members

 Genovese Crime Family –

•             Official Boss: Liborio S. “Barney” Bellomo

•             Street Boss: Michael “Mickey” Ragusa

•             Underboss: Ernest “Ernie” Muscarella

•             Consigliere: Unknown

•             New Jersey Faction Boss: Unknown

•             Estimated Membership: About 200 Made Members

Bonanno Crime Family

•             Official Boss: Michael “Mickey Nose/The Nose” Mancuso

•             Acting Boss: John “Johnny P/Johnny Skyway” Palazzolo

•             Panel:  Unknown

•             Underboss: Unknown

•             Consigliere: Unknown

•             New Jersey Faction Boss: Joseph “Sammy/Sammo” Sammartino Sr.

•             Estimated membership: About 110 Made Members

Lucchese Crime Family –

•             Official Boss: Vittorio “Vic/Little Vic/Vic the Terminator” Amuso (Life Imprisonment)

•             Acting Boss: Michael “Big Mike” DeSantis

•             Underboss: Steven “Stevie Wonder/Wonderboy/Herbie” Crea (Life Imprisonment)

•             Acting Underboss: Patrick “Patty Red” Dellorusso

•             Consigliere: Andrew DeSimone

•             New Jersey Faction Boss: Ralph Vito Perna

•             Estimated Membership: About 100 Made Members

Colombo Crime Family –

•             Official Boss: Candidates include Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace (Halfway House), Theodore “Skinny Teddy” Persico Jr.

•             Acting Boss: Andrew “Andy Mush/Mush” Russo

•             Underboss: Benjamin “The Little Guy/The Claw/Benji” Castellazzo

•             Acting Underboss: Dominick “Donny Shacks” Montemarano

•             Consigliere: Unknown

•             Acting Consigliere: Thomas “Tom Mix/Mr. T” Farese

•             Estimated Membership: About 90 Made Members

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