The Genovese crime family is one of the Five Families that dominate organised crime activities in New York City and New Jersey as part of the Mafia. The Genovese crime family are rivalled in size only by the Gambino crime family and are unmatched in terms of power. They have generally maintained a varying degree of influence over many of the smaller mob families outside New York, including ties with the Philadelphia, Patriarca, and Buffalo crime families.
The current “family” was founded by Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and was known as the Luciano crime family from 1931 to 1957, when it was renamed after boss Vito Genovese. Originally in control of the waterfront on the West Side of Manhattan and the Fulton Fish Market, the family was run for years by “the Oddfather”, Vincent “the Chin” Gigante, who feigned insanity by shuffling unshaven through New York’s Greenwich Village wearing a tattered bath robe and muttering to himself incoherently to avoid prosecution.
The Genovese family is the oldest and the largest of the “Five Families”. Finding new ways to make money in the 21st century, the family took advantage of lax due diligence by banks during the housing bubble with a wave of mortgage frauds. Prosecutors say loan shark victims obtained home equity loans to pay off debts to their mob bankers. The family found ways to use new technology to improve on illegal gambling, with customers placing bets through offshore sites via the Internet.
Although the leadership of the Genovese family seemed to have been in limbo after the death of Gigante in 2005, they appear to be the most organised family and remain powerful. Unique in today’s Mafia, the family has benefited greatly from members following Omertà, a code of conduct emphasising secrecy and non-cooperation with law enforcement and the justice system. While many mobsters from across the country have testified against their crime families since the 1980s, the Genovese family has only had 8 members turn state’s evidence in its history.