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Profile: Bonanno family associate Joseph Gambina

By David Amoruso

Did you hear the story about the mob associate who received an offer he couldn’t refuse? Long story short: He refused. In 2004, Bonanno crime family wiseguy Joseph “Giuseppe” Gambina was asked by his boss, Vincent Basciano, to murder fellow mobster Randolph Pizzolo.

If he did as he was asked, the then-thirtysomething mobster would almost certainly become a made member of the Bonanno crime family. If, however, he refused, he would be marked for death by his superiors.

For someone who, for the past decades, spent all his time hanging around mobsters, scheming and hustling, it should’ve been a no-brainer. But Gambina had a change of heart. Thieving and scheming was one thing, beating a guy up with a hammer – to which he had pleaded guilty - another. Murder, however, was something entirely different.

To the surprise of his boss, he said no.

Rather than wait for his Mafia assassins to come knocking, he made a call to the FBI and joined the government in its fight against the mob. He testified against Vincent Basciano, who was eventually found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

After Gambina turned down Basciano’s offer, the murder contract was passed on to Gambina’s cousin Anthony “Ace” Aiello, who didn’t hesitate and pumped several bullets in Pizzolo. Aiello is now serving a thirty-year sentence for his deadly actions.

Gambina went on to testify against Gambino crime family captain Bartolomeo Vernace as well. For his testimony and cooperation, Gambina was sentenced to zero time in prison on April 21, 2016. The 46-year-old was now free to start his new life away from the mob.

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