Carlo Gambino


August 24, 1902 Caccamo, Palermo, Sicily, Italy


October 15, 1976 (aged 74) Massapequa, New York, U.S.


Gambino Crime Family Boss



Cause of death

Heart attack

Resting Place

Saint John Cemetery


Albert Anastasia


Paul Castellano

"Judges, lawyers and politicians have a license to steal. We don't need one." - Carlo Gambino

Carlo "Don Carlo" Gambino, (August 24, 1902 - October 15, 1976) was a Sicilian mafioso who became boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. He was one of several national bosses gathering at the 1957 Apalachin Convention. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive. Gambino lived to the age of 74, when he died of a heart attack in bed, "in a state of grace", according to a priest who had given him the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He had two brothers, Gaspare Gambino, who later married and was never involved with the Mafia, and Paolo Gambino, who was a caporegime (high ranking Mafia member) in his brother's family.

Early Life[edit | edit source]

Gambino was a native of the town Caccamo on the Italian island of Sicily. He was born to a family that belonged to the Honored Society. The Honored Society was slightly more complicated than the Black Hand of America, which was often confused with the American Mafia. The Black Hand, much like the pre-1920s Mafia, was a highly disorganized version of the real European mafia. Once Benito Mussolini chased a great deal of real mafiosi out of Italy, Italian-Americans such as Gambino benefited from the new, better-organized Mafia. Gambino began carrying out murder orders for new Mob bosses in his teens. In 1921, at the age of 19, he became a "made man", and was inducted into Cosa Nostra. He was later known as an "original". He was a cousin of Sicilian Gambino crime family mobster Paul Castellano.

Immigration[edit | edit source]

Gambino entered the United States as an illegal immigrant on a shipping boat. He ate nothing but anchovies and wine during the trip, and joined his cousins, the Castellanos, in New York City. There he joined a crew later called "The Young Turks", which was a group of Americanized Italians in New York which included mobsters like Frank Costello, Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia, Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese, Vito Genovese, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and was headed by one of the future's most powerful Mob bosses, Charlie "Lucky" Luciano. The crew became involved in robbery, thefts, and, illegal gambling, but with their new partner Arnold "The Brain" Rothstein, they turned to bootlegging during Prohibition in the early 1920s. Gambino also brought his cousin Paul Castellano into the organization. Castellano would later become a high ranking mafioso himself.

The Castellammarese War[edit | edit source]

By 1926, Luciano was considered to be a powerful gangster on the rise. Charles "Lucky" Luciano's immediate superior, Giuseppe Masseria was coming into conflict with Salvatore Maranzano, a recent arrival from Palermo who was born in Castellammare del Golfo. When Maranzano arrived in New York in 1925, his access to money and manpower led him to become involved in extortion and gambling operations that directly competed with Masseria. On October 10, 1928, Joe Masseria eliminated his top rival for the coveted title of "Boss of Bosses", Brooklyn boss Salvatore "Tata" D'Aquila. However, Masseria still had to deal with the powerful and influential Maranzano and his Castellammarese Clan. Gambino was thrown right into the line of fire.

Joe Masseria became an underworld boss of his neighborhoods, requiring absolute loyalty and obedience from the other criminals in his area. In 1930, Masseria demanded a $10,000 tribute from the leader of Maranzano's crime family and supposedly got it. The Castellammarese Clan leader, Nicola "Cola" Schiro fled New York in fear, leaving Maranzano as the new leader. By 1931, a series of killings in New York involving Castellammarese clan members and associates caused Maranzano and his family to declare war against Joe Masseria and his allies. These allies were Luciano and his associates,Costello, Vito Genovese, Joe Adonis and Gambino. Another Masseria ally was the large Mineo Crime Family (formerly D'Aquila), whose members included Luciano associates Albert Anastasia and Frank Scalice. The Castellammarese clan included Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno and Stefano Magaddino, the Profaci crime family, which included Joseph Profaci and Joseph Magliocco, along with former Masseria allies the Riena family, which included Gaetano "Tom" Reina, Gaetano "Tommy" Gagliano and Gaetano Lucchese.

The Castellammarese War raged on between the Masseria and Maranzano factions for almost four years. This internal war devastated the Prohibition-era operations and street rackets that the five New York families controlled along with the Irish and Jewish crime groups. The war cut into gang profits and in some cases completely destroyed the underworld rackets of crime family members. Gang members started realizing that if the war did not stop soon, the Italian crime families could be left on the fringe of New York's criminal underworld while the Jewish and Irish crime bosses became dominant. The war and the "Old World" crime bosses, Masseria and Maranzano, were counterproductive to the aspirations of the Atlantic City delegates,Gambino, Luciano and their group of "Young Turks".

Gambino, Costello, Luciano, Genovese, Anastasia, Adonis, Lucchese, Lansky and Siegel decided to end the Castellammarese War and form a national syndicate. On April 15, 1931, Giuseppe Masseria was gunned down at Nuova Villa Tammaro restaurant in Coney Island by Luciano associates Albert Anastasia, Joe Adonis,Vito Genovese, and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. Salvatore Maranzano served as Capo Di Tutti Capi (Boss of all Bosses), for six months, until September 10, 1931, when he was killed in his ninth floor Helmsley Building office in Manhattan on the orders of Luciano and Meyer Lansky. Luciano hired Jewish mobsters dressed as Internal Revenue Service agents who disarmed Maranzano's body guards and walked right past Tommy "Three-Fingered Brown" Lucchese who fingered Maranzano in his office . They walked right in, shot and stabbed him several times and ran out.

The Commission[edit | edit source]

In 1931, after the killings of Masseria and Maranzano, Charles "Lucky" Luciano created The Commission, which was supposed to avoid big conflicts like the Castellammarese War. Luciano became the Don of the new Luciano crime family, Joseph Bonanno became the leader of the Bonanno crime family, Joseph Profaci became the leader of the Profaci crime family, Gaetano Gagliano became the leader of the Gagliano crime family and Vincent Mangano became the leader of the Mangano crime family, with Albert Anastasia as his underboss and Gambino as his caporegime. Also in the mix was Stefano Magaddino from Upstate New York.

Gambino married his first cousin, Paul Castellano's sister Catherine, in 1932, at age 30. They raised three sons and a daughter, living in a modest row house in Brooklyn. The house was well-kept, fitting in with other homes in area, as Gambino was low-key. Gambino was now a captain in the Mangano crime family, where his illegal activities were loansharking, illegal gambling and protection money from area merchants. His only real evidence of vanity was his license plate on his Buick, CG1.

Vincent and Philip Mangano[edit | edit source]

Mangano led his family for 20 years, but when he first confronted his underboss Albert Anastasia about his friendship with Charles Luciano and Frank Costello, Anastasia stopped asking permission for every "little thing." Anastasia had been, since 1946, the head of the Cosa Nostra's most notorious death squad, Murder, Inc., which was allegedly responsible for over 500 murders, from the 1940s to the 1950s. The Mangano brothers are supposed to have confronted Anastasia several times, in front of Gambino and the rest of the Anastasia crew. On April 19, 1951, Philip Mangano was found murdered and Vincent Mangano himself vanished the very same day and was never found. Though Anastasia never admitted to having a hand in the Mangano murders, he managed to convince the heads of the other families that Vincent Mangano had been plotting to have him killed, a claim backed up by Frank Costello, the acting boss of the Luciano crime family. Anastasia was named the new boss of the family, with Gambino as his underboss. Gambino was now one of the most powerful mobsters in the business, with a crew making profit of extortion, illegal gambling, hijacking, bootlegging and murder, Gambino could make his cousin and brother-in-law, Paul Castellano, his caporegime.

Anastasia,Genovese and Gambino[edit | edit source]

Anastasia was the boss during the mid 1950s. His methods were always convincing and the family made more money than ever, but at the same time, he was questioned for being too angry. He was known for his temper and violent behavior, which earned him the name "Lord High Executioner". Anastasia's violent ways could be contained as long as Luciano and Frank Costello pulled the strings, but certain mobsters were starting to wonder if they could handle his temper.

Costello had other practical motivations for wanting Anastasia in control of the crime family. At that time, Costello was facing a serious challenge from Vito Genovese, who wanted to take over Luciano's organization now that Luciano was in exile in Italy. Until 1951, Costello relied on New Jersey crime boss Guarino "Willie" Moretti for "muscle," but Moretti was losing his mind, blurting out mafia business in public, and would soon be murdered. Costello needed new muscle, and Anastasia, with a family of gunmen behind him, would make a strong foil to Genovese's plan. Unfortunately, as boss, Anastasia became more brutal than ever. In 1952, he even ordered the murder of a young Brooklyn tailor's assistant named Arnold Schuster, after watching Schuster talking on television about his role as primary witness in fugitive bank robber Willie Sutton's arrest. It is alleged that Anastasia raged to his men, "I can't stand squealers! Hit that guy!" In killing Schuster, Anastasia had violated a cardinal mafia rule against killing outsiders; as Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel once quaintly put it, "We only kill each other." The murder brought unnecessary public scrutiny on mafia business. Luciano and Costello were horrified, but they could not take action against Anastasia as they needed him to counter Genovese's growing ambition and power.

Gambino was approached by Genovese, trying desperately to get Gambino and the rest of the Gambino crew on his side against Anastasia, Costello and Luciano, but he needed more allies, more "muscle", but most importantly, more money. That's why Gambino took Genovese's advice and lured Anastasia into realizing that they were not making enough money from the casinos at Cuba, which belonged to Meyer Lansky. When Anastasia confronted Lansky, he was furious, and ultimately gave his support to the Genovese-Gambino alliance. In 1956, everybody assumed Genovese was smart enough to realize that now was the time to move against Anastasia, but instead, he moved against Costello, by hiring Vincent "Chin" Gigante to assassinate him, but the attempt failed. Costello then asked the Commission of permission to retire, which they accepted. Now Vito Genovese was the head of the Luciano crime family, which would later be named after him following the FBI's MAFIA Commission Trial to which all five of the New York families were named after the incumbent bosses at the time.

In October, 1957, Albert Anastasia thought himself as the new Boss of Bosses, but a new alliance had already formed. The Costello-Lansky-Luciano alliance was working fast to get rid of all the "Rotten Apples" in the Cosa Nostra. Their first victim was Anastasia. All they needed was somebody who he trusted. Here Gambino was convinced to give his support, by giving the order to "Joe the Blonde" Biondo, who selected Stephen Armone, Arnold "Witty" Wittenberg, and Stephen "Stevie Coogin" Grammauta to carry out the hit. They allegedly shot Anastasia on October 25, 1957, in the barbershop of the Park Sheraton Hotel (now the Park Central Hotel) in New York City. (The Anastasia murder was finally solved in 2007, 50 years later). Gambino now became the new boss of the Mangano crime family, which was renamed the Gambino crime family.

The Apalachin and Genovese's fall[edit | edit source]

The Apalachin Meeting was a historic summit of the American mafia held on November 14, 1957 at the home of mobster Joseph "Joe the Barber" Barbara in Apalachin, New York. It was attended by roughly 100 mafia crime bosses from the United States, Canada and Italy. Expensive cars with license plates from around the country aroused the curiosity of the local and state law enforcement, who raided the meeting, causing mafiosi to flee into the woods and the surrounding area of the Apalachin estate. Over 60 underworld bosses were detained and indicted. The direct and most significant outcome of the Apalachin meeting was that it helped to confirm the existence of a National Crime Syndicate. Gambino, Genovese, Profaci and Joe Bonanno, the head of the Bonanno crime family escaped with 50 other top bosses, but still, the whole operation just made it worse. It was now a race to control the Commission and it would show who had the power to reorganize the mob. The Costello-Lansky-Luciano-alliance met face to face in Italy, where also Gambino entered as Genovese's rival. Although unfounded rumors exist that Gambino may have been handed sole control of the Commission, organized crime experts unanimously disagree, citing that the entire purpose of the Commission since its inception was so bosses nationwide had equal control in a wide variety of matters, resulting in a cohesion and balance of control among the nationwide organized crime syndicates.

In 1959, Genovese was heading to Atlanta where a huge shipment of heroin was arriving. But when he arrived, Genovese was surprised by local police, the FBI and the ATF. He was convicted for selling a large quantity of heroin and was sentenced to 15 years in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, Genovese finally realized that this was all staged from beyond, but when he heard of Gambino as the new Boss of Bosses, he couldn't understand. Gambino had kept a low profile, sneaked around and still managed to become the most powerful mob boss in the U.S. With Luciano's blessing, Gambino was now bigger, stronger and richer than ever. With Joseph Biondo as a solid underboss, Joseph Riccobono as Gambino's own consigliere, and with his top caporegimes, Aniello "Mr. Neil" Dellacroce, Paul Castellano, Carmine "The Doctor" Lombardozzi, Joseph "Joe Piney" Armone and Carmine "Wagon Wheels" Fatico, the Anastasia loyalists could never make a move, and had to follow the orders of "Don Carlo" Gambino, the new head of the Gambino family, and now the Commission.

Don Carlo (1957-1976)[edit | edit source]

The Boss of Bosses

In the early 1960s, Gambino took out the rest of the Anastasia loyalists, headed by Gambino crime family caporegime, Armand "Tommy" Rava, and expanded his rackets all over the country. New Gambino rackets were created in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Gambino also, to regain complete control of Manhattan, took over the New York Longshoremen Union, where more than 90% of all New York City's ports were controlled. It was a profitable time, when money rolled in from every Gambino racket in the U.S. and became, with the exception of the Chicago Outfit, America's most powerful crime family. Gambino also made his own family policy: "Deal and Die." This was Gambino's message to every Gambino family member; heroin and cocaine were highly lucrative, but were dangerous, and would also attract attention. The punishment for dealing drugs, in Gambino style, was death. It is documented that in 1962, the Gambino family had about 30 crews and over 1,000 soldiers alone, making the family to a $500,000,000-a-year-enterprise. In 1962, his eldest son Thomas Gambino married the daughter of rival mob boss Gaetano Lucchese, the new head of the Gagliano crime family, whom Gambino would become close to as a partner, friend and relative. More than 1,000 people, relatives, friends and "friends of ours," were present during the wedding-ceremony. It has been rumored that Gambino personally gave Lucchese $30,000 as a "welcome gift" that same day. As repayment, Lucchese cut his friend into the airport rackets that were under Lucchese control, especially in the John F. Kennedy International Airport, where all unions, management, and security were controlled by Lucchese himself. It was the beginning of a perfect partnership.

Profaci, the Gallos and Gambino

In February, 1962, the Gallo brothers kidnapped a number of prominent members of the Profaci family including underboss Joseph Magliocco and capo Joe Colombo. In return for their release, the brothers demanded changes in the way profits were divided between crews, and at first Profaci appeared to agree, following negotiations between the captors and Profaci's consigliere, Charles Locicero, but Profaci was simply biding his time before taking revenge on the Gallos. Gallo crew member Joseph "Joe Jelly" Gioelli was murdered by Profaci's men in September, and an attempt on Larry Gallo's life was interrupted by policemen in a Brooklyn bar. The brothers set about attacking Profaci's men wherever they saw them as all-out war erupted between the two factions. Plus, Gambino and Lucchese was putting pressure on the other bosses to convince Profaci of stepping down from his title and family, but on June 6, 1962, Profaci lost his battle against cancer. He was replaced as boss of the family by Joseph Magliocco, a man very much in the Profaci mould, much to the disgust of the Gallo brothers who had no intention of ending the fight simply because Profaci was out of the way. Gambino saw this as a way of making more profit, since everybody in the Profaci crime family took sides and fought themselves to death, instead of concentrating about the income of the family. That's why Gambino and Lucchese gave their support to the Gallo crew, where Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, the longtime Don of the Bonanno crime family, gave his support to Magliocco and the Profacis.

The Gallos gives up

The Gallo crew gave up later that year. With their caporegime Joseph "Crazy Joe" Gallo behind bars for racketeering and murder, the Gallo crew from Red Hook didn't have enough manpower to continue the war against the rest of the Profacis. Magliocco had won the Gallo war, and intended to "take care" of their Boss of Bosses, Carlo Gambino.

Conspiracy against the Commission

With the Gallos out of the way, Magliocco was able to consolidate his position and concentrate on the business of running the family's affairs. However, Joe Bonanno hatched a plot to murder the heads of the other three families, which Magliocco decided to go along with. The assassinations went to Profaci capo, Joseph Colombo, who was after Magliocco position, warned Gambino about Magliocco and Bonanno's conspiracy against the Commission. Bonanno and Magliocco were called to face the judgement of the Commission. While Bonanno went into hiding, Magliocco faced up to his crimes. Understanding that he had been following Bonanno's lead, he was let off with a $50,000 fine, and forced to retire as the head of the family, being replaced by Joseph Colombo. One month later, Magliocco died of high blood pressure, but Gambino had other plans for Bonanno.

The Banana war (1962-1967)

After Magliocco's death, Bonanno had few allies left. Many members felt he was too power hungry, and one, a boss from Florida, Santo Trafficante, Jr., once said in anger, "He's planting flags all over the world!" Some members of his family also thought he spent too much time away from New York, and more in Canada and Tucson, where he had business interests. The Commission members decided that he no longer deserved leadership over his family and replaced him with a caporegime in his family, Gaspar DiGregorio. Bonanno, however, would not accept this result, breaking the family into two groups, the one led by DiGregorio, and the other headed by Bonanno and his son, Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno. Newspapers referred to it as "The Banana Split."

Since Bonanno refused to give up his position, the other Commission members felt it was time for drastic action.

Gambino was the one who would give the order to have Bonanno killed, but took pity on him and decided to give Bonanno one last chance to retire while he had his life. In October 1964, Bonanno was kidnapped by Buffalo crime family members, Peter and Antonino Magaddino. According to Bonanno, he was held captive in upstate New York by his cousin, Stefano "Steve the Undertaker" Magaddino. Supposedly Magaddino represented the Commission and Gambino, and told his cousin that he "took up too much space in the air", a Sicilian proverb for arrogance. After much talk, Bonanno was released and the Commission members believed he would finally retire and relinquish his power.

Eventually, DiGregorio promised a peace meeting on whatever territory Salvatore wanted. It was an ambush. DiGregorio's men opened fire with rifles and automatic weapons on Salvatore and his associates, who were armed only with pistols. The police estimated that over 500 shots were fired but remarkably, no one was hurt. The war went on for another two more years. The Commission originally thought they could win, but when Joseph Bonanno returned, their hopes were dashed. Bonanno sent out a message to his enemies, saying that for every Bonanno loyalist killed, he would retaliate by hitting a caporegime from the other side. The Bonanno loyalists were starting to see victory, but when Bonanno suffered a heart attack, he decided that he and his son would retire to Tucson, leaving his broken family to another capo, Paul Sciacca, who had replaced DiGregorio. Gambino stood as the victorious and most powerful mob boss in the US. Having the reputation of Gambino's "mercy", made him even more respectable in front of the Commission.

Gambino and the "Cement Overcoat"

Even though Cosa Nostra members show utmost respect to their superiors, there have been cases of members disrespecting and/or humiliating another made man. One case is especially notorious which is the case of Carmine "Mimi" Scialo - a feared and respected soldier of the Colombo family who had control over the vast area of Coney Island. When under the influence of alcohol, Scialo would become very arrogant, loud and disrespectful. One day in October 1974, Scialo was at a popular Italian restaurant, he spotted Carlo Gambino and began to harass him, insulting Gambino in front of others. Gambino stayed calm, as he always was, didn't retaliate and didn't say a word. Scialo's body was found not long after at Otto's Social Club in South Brooklyn encased in the cement floor.

Las Vegas, Sinatra and Gambino

Gambino was seen at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas on August 2, 1967, where he is supposed to have met Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, who all are known as "The Rat Pack". They were excellent singers, and the mob, Gambino especially, lived for their music. Gambino allegedly gave each of them $10,000 after performing at the Desert Inn, while Gambino was present in the VIP-lounge. Gambino also allegedly said to Castellano: "I want a picture of me and Frankie". Sinatra of course, happily obliged and Gambino, Castellano and other mobsters got a picture with Sinatra in the middle. Sinatra would later testify about this in court, but announced that he didn't know any Carlo Gambino, but it got to a point where he had to explain why he was attending the Havana Conference in Cuba in 1946, showing up with $2,000,000 in a silver suitcase and a picture that showed Sinatra, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Albert Anastasia and Carlo Gambino having a drink by a pool.

The Death of Charles "Lucky" Luciano

Gambino was also the only mob boss of the Five Families who attended the burial of the longtime friend and Boss of Bosses, Charles Luciano. In his later years Luciano was told not to promote or participate in a movie about his life, as it would have attracted unnecessary attention to the mob. Luciano relented until after his girlfriend died of breast cancer, and was scheduled to meet with a movie producer arriving by plane at the Naples Airport. As fate would have it, the man who engineered the assassination of Dutch Schultz and his gang would never live to see his own name in lights. On January 26, 1962, Lucky Luciano's luck finally ran out, and he died of a heart attack at the age of 64 at Naples International Airport. He was buried in St. John's Cemetery in Queens, 1972, more than ten years after his death because of the terms of his deportation in 1946. More than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral, where Gambino gave his own speech in memory of Lucky Luciano, his friend and companion. Now, Carlo "Don Carlo" Gambino was Boss of Bosses in name also.

Death of Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese

Lucchese led a quiet, stable life until he developed a fatal brain tumour and died at his home in Lido Beach, Long Island on July 13, 1967. His funeral at the Calvary Cemetery in Queens, was attended by over 1,000 mourners, including politicians, judges, policemen, racketeers, drug pushers, pimps, hitmen and Gambino, who allegedly arranged the whole funeral. Lucchese was succeeded as boss by Carmine "Gribbs" Tramunti, whom Gambino had picked out personally.

Colombo Assassination

It has also been theorized that Gambino went so far as to organize the shooting of Joe Colombo, head of the Colombo crime family, on June 28, 1971. Colombo survived the shooting, but remained in a coma until his death in 1978. The other theory is that Gallo organized the attack himself. It seems that the rest of the Colombo family believed he was as he was famously gunned down himself not long after. Colombo's increasing media attention was definitely not liked by the other commission members as Lucchese withdraw support as evidenced by Capo Paul Vario rescinding his membership from the Italian-American Civil Rights League. However Gambino resorting to killing Colombo seems unlikely as there was nothing really substantial for Gambino to benefit from doing it. Gallo and his crew had already started one war against Profaci, during which time they had kidnapped Colombo, and as Colombo had allegedly carried out a number of hits during that war it seems understandable that Gallo would not like him and have designs on becoming boss himself.

However, the theory that Gallo was responsible ignores several pertinent factors. It is true that many powerful members were angry with Joe Columbo for having founded the Italian-American Civil Rights league and glorying in publicity. Gambino hated publicity, always preferring to work in the shadows and was said to have been quite upset with Columbo about this. As was his style, Gambino did not make a public show of his anger. Gallo had recently been in prison where he had formed close associations with black prisoners who could serve as muscle, a fact that was well known to Gambino. Colombo was shot at a CIAO (Congress of Italo-America Organizations which was an umbrella organization that included Colombo's Italian-American Civil Rights League) rally by a black man who was almost instantly shot and killed. If Gambino did it, or set the wheels in motion, it was a master stroke. He was rid of a publicity seeking thorn in his side and he got the Colombo family to eliminate Gallo whose propensity for disruptive violence also displeased the Don. It was also the way Gambino operated, very intelligently, very quietly but with final brutality.

The police were happy to accept the Gallo theory as was the Colombo family, but as time went on the theory that Gambino masterminded it gained a lot of currency within the "mob". Who knows what the truth is but it is dubious that Gallo would have committed suicide by using a black assassin, though it is true that "Crazy" Joey could have illogical fits of rage. Nonetheless, the true benefit was stability of the Gambino empire as the old Don faded.

The murder of Tommy Eboli

After the imprisonment of Vito "Don Vito" Genovese in 1959, Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli was made acting boss and kept his position toward 1969, when Genovese died in jail. About that time, Eboli was the only one who could re-organize the Genovese crime family, but Eboli needed money to start his reign as boss, which is why he borrowed $4,000,000 from Gambino, the richest Don of New York City. The only problem was that Eboli's crew was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison, which was allegedly arranged by Gambino because he wanted his friend Frank Tieri as boss. When Gambino came to be repaid, Eboli refused and said he didn't have enough money. Under the influence of Gambino, the selection of Frank Tieri as boss of the Genovese crime family was made (Philip Lombardo's secretive control of the Genovese family makes any kind of Gambino influence over Genovese affairs highly unlikely, since Tieri was merely Lomboardo's front), subsequently after the murder of Tommy Eboli on July 16, 1972. To this day, no one has been arrested for his murder.

Constant Surveillance[edit | edit source]

In December, 1972, on Ocean Parkway, a van began to park outside Gambino's home. In that car, sat the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Mob squad, with cameras, lip-readers and audio-surveillance equipment, including microphones and wire-taps that were planted in Gambino's home. The FBI was kept on a 24-hour standby, hoping to connect Gambino to organized crime. The van was marked "Organized Crime Control Bureau".

But even though Gambino had every corner in his house recorded, he knew how to conduct business in silence. According to FBI officials, they once recorded a meeting between Gambino, Aniello "Mr. Neil" Dellacroce and Joseph Biondo, where Biondo is just to have said: "Frog legs” and where Gambino simply nodded. The recording tapes came out empty.

The Kiddnaping and Murder of Emanuel " Manny" Gambino[edit | edit source]

In early 1973, Gambino's nephew Emmanuel "Manny" Gambino was kidnapped by Thomas Genovese (a distant relative of Vito Genovese), James McBratney, "Crazy" Eddie Maloney, Warren "Chief" Schurman and Richie Chaisson. The gang believed they could get $100,000 for each kidnapping. They had previously kidnapped a Gambino crime family capo, Frank “Frankie the Wop” Manzo. For Manny Gambino, the kidnappers asked for $200,000, but Gambino claimed he could only come up with $50,000. Manny's car was located at the Newark Airport. His corpse was found to be stiff from rigor mortis before being buried in a sitting position in a New Jersey dump near the Earle Naval Ammunition Depot. Robert Senter was arrested and charged with his murder. Robert was a gambler and had fallen in debt with Manny Gambino. On June 1, 1973, he pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

Gambino, seeking revenge, hired John Gotti, a known heavy lifter, on the advice of his underboss Neil. Gotti met with boss Gambino, underboss Aniello "Mr. Neil" Dellacroce, consigliere Joseph Armone and Gambino's own brother-in-law and top caporegime, Paul "Big Paulie" Castellano. Gotti was given the assignment of killing James McBratney, who played a large role in Manny Gambino's murder. Castellano also wanted Gambino family soldier Ralph Galione to assist Gotti and longtime Gambino family associate Angelo Ruggiero in carrying out the murder. Jim McBratney was shot three times at close range by Galione, after he had overpowered Ruggiero and Gotti, on the night of May 22, 1973, at Snoope's Bar & Grill.

Revenge of John Gotti

Gotti did not accept the fact that Galione had taken away his honor of doing "Don Carlo" a favor so, without either Gambino's or Castellano's approval, he had Galione murdered. This enraged Castellano, who went to his brother-in-law and demanded justice (the head of John Gotti). Gambino, however, saw potential in Gotti, and told Castellano to spare Gotti's life. At the same time, Gambino decided to use the opportunity to restructure the Gambino family.

Gambino Family Regroups[edit | edit source]

Gambino was disappointed with both his own underboss, Aniello Dellacroce and now his new caporegime(Gotti was never made a capo by Gambino he was merely inducted into the Family as reward for his actions in the McBratney killing when he was released from jail), John Gotti, so Gambino reorganized. Now, with a weak heart, he decided there was to be two acting bosses who both reported to him, Dellacroce and Gambino's own brother-in-law, Paul "Big Paul" Castellano. Castellano took over the white-collar crimes in Brooklyn like union racketeering, solid and toxic waste, recycling, construction, fraud and wire fraud, while Dellacroce would have free rein over those crews who carried out more traditional, 'hands-on' Mafia activities and the blue-collar crimes, such as murder for hire, loansharking, gambling, extortion, hijacking, pier thefts, fencing, and robbery. This strategic restructuring also created confusion in the FBI in the mid 1970s as to who the official underboss in the family was. In reality, the Gambino family was split into two separate factions, with two underbosses and one Don.

Final Decision[edit | edit source]

In his last years, Gambino still ruled his family and the other New York families with an iron fist, while keeping a low profile both from the public and law enforcement. (This is why Gambino wore his fedora with the brim turned up "like an innocent old man" instead of down "gangster style"). He had to choose who he would appoint as his successor after his departure. He chose his cousin and capo, Paul Castellano, over his underboss, Neil Dellacroce. Dellacroce, while disappointed, trusted "The Godfather's" judgement, and remained silent.

Death and Burial[edit | edit source]

Gambino died of a heart attack on October 15, 1976 at his home. Unverified Mob rumours at the time went so far as to suggest that a rival ordered his spies within the Gambino family to persuade Gambino to take a swine-flu shot, knowing that a frail individual with a heart ailment and hardening of the arteries might succumb. According to federal sources, Gambino did get his flu shot shortly before his death. He was buried in Saint John's Cemetery, Queens in New York City, as was Charles Luciano, and more than ten other lifetime friends. His funeral was said to have been attended by at least 2,000 people, including police officers, judges and politicians. Gambino left behind sons Thomas, Joseph and Carlo, daughter Phyllis Sinatra, and a family with a crew of 1,000 soldiers, after leading the Gambino crime family for 20 years, and The Commission for more than 15.

Popular Culture[edit | edit source]

  • In the 1996 TV film Gotti, Gambino is portrayed by Marc Lawrence as the head of the Gambino family towards his death in 1976.
  • In the 2001 TV film Boss of bosses, Al Ruscio as elderly and William DeMeo as a younger Carlo Gambino, from his early years in the Cosanostra till his death when Paul Castellano was chosen to succeed him.
  • "The Godfather" was one of Gambino's nicknames and possibly the origin of the title of Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Gambino's permanent residence was a modest house located at 2230 Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, New York. Gambino's first Long Island residence, at 34 Club Drive in Massapequa, served as his summer home. The two-story brick house, surrounded by a low fence with marble statues on the front lawn, was at the end of a cul-de-sac in Harbor Green Estates, over looking South Oyster Bay. Gambino also maintained the house next door as a residence for his bodyguard. Later, Gambino moved to an estate bordering Jones Creek on Whitewood Drive, in the Bar Harbour Estates neighborhood in Massapequa Park, where he resided until his death in 1976.
  • Gambino had many cousins in Sicily. One of them, Maria Gambino, eventually married Salvatore Biondo, a relative of Joseph "The Blonde" Biondo. Gambino's distant cousin Giovanni Gambino, born in Sicily 1940, is currently one of the 3 bosses running the Gambino family.

Movie Pictures[edit | edit source]

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