As his nephew drove away from the drop-off, Galante walked into the restaurant, whose front windows were masked by yellow curtains. It was a favourite meeting place, where he often arranged sit-downs with his closest associates. Knickerbocker Avenue had for over 50 years been the turf of the Bonanno crime family, according to FBI files, and an ant-heap of underworld activity.
Galante had placed Salvatore ‘Toto’ Catalano, who had moved to New York from Sicily, in 1961, and was now one of his capos, in charge of the area. He based himself at Colosseo Imports, a magazine and record store, run by his brothers, Vito and Domick. ‘Toto’ had stepped up after Peter Licata, an old time Bonanno skipper had been shot dead in November, 1976, allegedly by Cesare Bonventre, now one of Galante’s bodyguards. Licata had been deep into drug trafficking along with Galante and Cristoforo Robino, a powerful capo in the Colombo crime family, until he was murdered. Catalano would himself become notorious for his connection into the famous ‘Pizza Connection’ case, a Mafia-backed drug racket, operated in part through pizza parlours, that imported an estimated $1.6 billion worth of heroin into the United States up to 1984, when Federal Bureau of Investigation raids broke the case.
The avenue was filled with violent and improbable mobsters, crowding the sidewalks and meeting at the major intersection points for the Bonanno family members in this part of Brooklyn-the Café Del Viale, Café Dello Sport and Café Bella Palermo.
Joe Turano, the owner of Joe and Mary’s restaurant, did a thriving business in hi-jacked meat. There was Luigi Ronsisvalle, an imported killer from Catania, with 13 hits to his credit. Paolo Laporte, an armourer for the hoods who filled the cafés and pizza shops. Vinceno ‘Enzo’ Napoli, a member of the Gambino family and a major fence for the New York underworld. Giusepp Ganci, known as ‘The Buffalo,’ a big time drug dealer working closely with Catalano. He had moved to Brooklyn from San Giuseppe Iato, the Sicilian Mafia stronghold across the hills from Corleone. Anthony Aiello, aka ‘Commerciante,’ a premier loan shark at the baccarat game held in the Café Del Viale, after it closed for normal business, on a busy block near Hart Street. Felice Puma, the godson of Carmine Galante, who ran the Café Scopello, and another drug dealer, who used Ronsisvalle as a driver and bodyguard, and Dominic ‘Mimmo’ Tartamella, who drove a red Porsche that was used to transport drug consignments between Florida and New York.
Inside the small, two dining room eatery, walls papered in brown velvet and tables covered in yellow oil cloth, two men, Joe Paravati and his friend Joe Polizzi, along with another man, were eating at a table in the rear, just to the left of the door that lead out onto the two hundred square feet patio in the back yard. Here, a table was laid out for lunch- fish, salad and a jug of red wine. No pasta to-day.
Galante stopped to talk to the old grandmother of the family, Constance, who was knitting at a table, and greeted his 48 year old cousin Joe, and his son and daughter, nodding at the cook-counterman, and then went through to sit outside, his back to the yard, a small garden of tomato vines. Here, he engaged in conversation with his other cousin, Angelo Presinzano, who was now aged 72.
They had been together a long time, but although he was getting on in years, 'Moey' had still not lost his quick and fiery temper. During the 'Banana War' in the 1960s, he had been on one occasion, a patient in University Hospital, Manhattan, and kept a loaded .38 calibre revolver in his bedside cabinet. There's no doubt had someone come after him, there would have been a shoot-out in the ward.
Galante and his cousin Joe, were also here to-day to meet with 40 year old Leonard 'Nardo' Coppolla, a close associate of Galante’s and former friend of Turano’s.
In February, 1979, Coppolla and Turano had fallen out over a dispute involving Mary Turano, Joe’s wife, and Coppolla had been banned from ever entering the restaurant again. The dispute had been brought to Galante’s attention, and he had decided to arbitrate in the matter over lunch on this day. Also, Joseph was scheduled to leave later in the day and travel to Sardinia to meet up with his wife and another daughter who were both there on holiday, and Galante had come to wish him 'bon voyage.'
At about one-thirty in the afternoon, the street door to the restaurant opened, and Coppolla walked in, accompanied by two tall, good-looking young Italians, both despite the heat, wearing heavy leather jackets to conceal handguns in their belts. They were two of Galante’s special, hand-picked bodyguards, Baldo Amato and Cesare Bonventre, cousins, who like Galante’s parents, came from Castellammarese del Golfo. The three men went out onto the patio and joined Galante, Turano and Presinzano. They chatted for a while, then the three newcomers went back into the restaurant and ate lunch. Galante and the other two met had already eaten and sat under the shade of a yellow-and-turquoise checked umbrella, smoking and talking among themselves.
It was by now a stinking hot afternoon.
Galante was still sitting, in front of the table, with his back to the small garden. The three newcomers, having finished their meal, went out onto the patio and joined the group there. Amato sat to his left and Bonventre on his right. Joe Turano, who had stripped off his shirt and was only wearing pants and his undershirt, lounged on a chair with his back to the open door leading into the restaurant. Coppola, a tall, slim man with heavy black hair, wearing a white shirt, light coloured slacks and black shoes, sat across from Bonventre, tucked into the corner, between the wire fence that divided off the next door property, and cluster of potted plants sitting against the outside wall of the restaurant.
About two-thirty, the restaurant telephone rang. John Turano, the 18 year old son of Joe, answered it. He listened to the caller, James Galante who was calling to see if his uncle was still there. ‘I’ll be right over,’ he said.
'Little Moe' had been complaining about stomach pains, and Galante suggested he go home. He said his farewells and left. His were the most fortuitous cramps ever endured by anyone.
It was now approximately 2.40 in the afternoon as a four-door, blue Mercury Montego, registration 270 NYU, pulled up outside the restaurant and double-parked in the street. The car had been stolen from Ozone Park, Queens, on June 13th. The driver, a red-striped ski mask covering his face, stepped out. He was hefting a .3030 M1 carbine. Three men, also wearing ski masks, left the car and jogged into the building.
Just inside the doorway, hung a picture of 'The Last Supper.' On another wall was a signed, and fading photo of the old movie star, Fernando Lamas.
The first gunman in, was carrying a pump action shotgun. He was tall and slim in dark clothes, his face covered by an olive gray ski mask. Behind him, came a medium sized man, swinging a double-barrelled shotgun, also masked. The third masked man, was smaller, but solid and heavily built, with a pot-belly. He was hefting a pistol. The first man stopped, and said, 'In the back, Sally.' As the men rushed the patio, John Turano screamed out in warning: 'Pappa,' and then ran towards a storeroom alongside the kitchen. He knew there was a loaded .38 revolver here, on a shelf, just inside the door. As he struggled to reach it, and keep the door closed, the pot-bellied gunman turned, forced open the door and shot him twice, in the back.
Outside, Joe Turano was screaming: 'What are you doing?' The middle gunman stepped out on to the patio and levelled the double barrel shotgun and fired first, thirty pellets of buckshot catching Galante as he was rising from his chair.
Joe Turano yelled again: 'What are you doing?' The first shooter jacked his pump action, pressed it towards Turano’s chest and blew him off his feet, the buckshot going through the upper body, leaving the paper wadding from the shell, embedded in the flesh, the shot going through the chest, passing through the lungs and severing major blood vessels in the neck and heart, tearing away the side of his face and part of his right shoulder. The gunman then swung away from Turano, jacking and firing three times into Galante, tearing lumps of muscle from his right arm, ripping into the side of his face and blowing out his left eye. As the old man pitched from his patio chair, the killer with the double-barrel fired a final blast into his back.
Nardo Coppolla was pushing himself up and away from the table, as the man who had been sitting alongside him, pulled out a .30 calibre automatic and shot him once in the face, and then five times in the chest, tumbling him off his feet onto the concrete patio. As he sprawled face down, the killer with the pump action stepped forward, around the table, racked up a shell, and blasted off the top of his head, blowing his brains across the patio onto the restaurant wall, and then fired a final round into his back.
Constanza Turano, 18, the other daughter of the family, crouched in terror behind a refrigerator in the kitchen area. She stared in horror through the doorway at the carnage taking place outside on the patio. The noise was deafening; there was gun smoke everywhere. She saw the other leather-jacketed man, the one with dark hair, kneeling behind an overturned table, a .38 revolver in his hand.
Across the street at 202 Knickerbocker Avenue, a young woman, Migdalia Figuero, was preparing lunch. She looked out over the street on hearing the sound of gunfire, and saw the three gunmen race out of the building and jump into the car which sped off down the Knickerbocker, turning right into Jefferson Street and disappearing up towards Flushing Avenue. She memorized the plate number. She then saw two, tall, young men in leather jackets leaving. One, with dirty blond hair holding a handgun by his side, walked stiff-legged, as though he had wet himself. They quickly moved away down the Avenue, towards a blue Lincoln saloon, which they then climbed into, and then, they drove away. These two had been in an absolute blizzard of bullets, yet walked away dry.
Over the next few minutes, police emergency service operators received twenty-three calls reporting that there had been a shooting at 205 Knickerbocker Avenue.
A crowd was gathering outside the restaurant at exactly 3.20, as the first 83rd Precinct patrol car arrived. Officer John Bobot, gun drawn, was the first into the building. Soon ambulances arrived and Joe and John Turano were rushed away by ambulance. The son would survive. His father was not so lucky. He died on the way to Wyckoff Heights Hospital.
By four o’clock, detectives from the Queens Homicide Task Force were clustered around the two bodies outside in the backyard. The patio was splashed with blood, and littered with double-0 shotgun and pistol shell casings; nineteen in all would be recorded. The concrete wall to the left of the door was splattered with brain matter. Wedged between the garden wall and the dining table, his head cocked over, his right handing resting on his hip, and a cigar shot to pieces, but still clenched between his dead lips, lay the body of Carmine Galante, flies crawling across his face as his blood oozed away down the six-inch drain in the concrete floor. On his left wrist his Cartier watch was still ticking. On the table, a half finished lettuce and tomato salad, some rolls, a peach and a half-empty carafe of red wine were standing on the floral-pattern, plastic tablecloth. One like it, from an adjoining table, would later be used to cover Galante’s corpse. Cops from the intelligence unit and agents of the FBI started arriving, and soon the restaurant was crowded with hard-faced men, taking notes and talking quietly to each other. Twenty New York City police detectives would be assigned to the inquiry
The press arrived, and photographers were soon scrambling onto adjoining rooftops, anxious to get the best shots of the carnage carnival, photos that would fill the New York dailies the following morning.
The detectives stepped gingerly around the debris littering the courtyard. One of the cops estimated a piece of Coppola’s brain, from the body, by tape measure, recording the distance as over eleven feet.
Bill Clark, a lead detective on the investigation, attached to the organized-crime intelligence division, years down the track, became the executive producer of NYPD Blue, the popular cop show that ran for twelve years from 1993.
Galante’s body was eventually carried out to a waiting hearse, four hours after he was gunned down, under the sign across the front of the restaurant: ‘We give special attention to Outgoing Orders.’
The day after the hit, detectives from police intelligence, called on ‘Little’ Moe’ at his home on South 10th Street, in Brooklyn, not far from the East River.
‘We’re here to talk to you about Mr. Galante’s killing,’ one of the cops said.
‘Come back when I’m dead,’ said Moe, slamming the door in their face.
There had been rumours of an impending hit on Galante for over two years. Like the man he most probably killed thirty-six years earlier on the streets of Manhattan, Carlo Tresca, he had many enemies. When someone asked him about the risk of assassination, he boasted, 'No one will ever kill me, they wouldn’t dare.' He couldn’t have been more wrong. The instrument of his ambition, the zips, the men he had encouraged and nurtured within the Bonanno family, became the implement of his destruction. It had never apparently occurred to Galante that the best bodyguards also make the best killers.
After the autopsy, Galante’s body was laid out in Chapel B, on the second floor of the Provenzano-Lanza Funeral Home at 43 Second Avenue on the Lower East Side, and he was buried on July 17th at Saint John’s Cemetery in Queens, in section twenty-five. It was a small funeral, only fifty-nine mourners attended, including Helen Marulli, Nina in a black dress, and Galante’s lawyer, the infamous Roy Cohn. At the grave side, the priest pronounced that he would leave 'judgment to God,' as Nina placed a red rose on her beloved father’s coffin. Thirty four wreaths of flowers were delivered to the funeral home. One was contained in a purple ribbon that read ‘Dear Don Galante.’
His gravestone is relatively unassuming, unlike some of the monolithic monuments to mob bosses like Joe Profaci and Charley Luciano, who also lie here in everlasting sleep, and located on the far south of the cemetery close to the never-ending traffic stream on Metropolitan Avenue. The granite block carries the inscription: ‘Love goes on Forever.’
A federal agent who tracked the procession, remarked on the small entourage.
‘Galante was so bad,’ he said, ‘people didn’t want to see him, even when he was dead.’ Another commented on that fact that there wasn’t a made man to be seen.
Even the men of his own crime family didn’t like him. Funerals tell observers a lot about the wise guys. This one was simple a blank screen.
‘Was he an actor?’ a young boy asked one of the police officers on guard duty.
‘No,’ replied the cop. ‘He was a gangster.’
In a strange quirk, the mortician in charge of Galante’s embalming, moonlighted as the maitre’d at one of Lillo’s favourite restaurants, on the corner of 1st Avenue and 10th Street, also called Lanza‘s. Here, was a man who truly served Carmine Galante in life and death!
Five days earlier, another epitaph had been recorded at the site of his murder. As the van taking Galante’s body drove off from the restaurant, a man in the crowd that had gathered, leaned forward and spat on the hearse. Someone asked him why he had done so. 'It was during the war and I was working very hard against the fascist Mussolini with my friend and hero, Carlo Tresca,' said Joseph Bricolli. 'Galante was the man who killed Tresca…..Garbage is what he was. He killed a hero and sold heroin to children.'
Just why Galante was really killed and who all the killers were, will never be officially known. Benjamin Ruggiero, a soldier in the Bonanno family, claimed 'he got hit because he wouldn’t share his drug business with anyone else in the family.'
According to Robert Stewart, head of the Newark Organized Crime Strike Force, and one of the lead prosecutors in the famous 'Pizza Connection Trial,' Galante was killed because he stood as an obstacle to Sal Catalano, Giuseppe Ganci and other major zips who were orchestrating the Bonanno family’s main drug distribution ring.
In fact the government's allegation, in its opening statement to the jury during the famous 1985 'Pizza Connection Trial,' stated that Catalano was involved in the 1979 murder of Carmine Galante. Luigi Ronsisvalle told FBI agents that if they were looking at Catalano for the hit on ‘Lilo,’ they were on the right track.
The Commission Case indictment, unsealed on February 26th 1985, included as one of the predicated acts of racketeering: ' that the murder of Carmine Galante and two of his associates was in furtherance of the Commission’s efforts to resolve a Bonanno family leadership dispute.'
So as often in gangland hits, you pays your money, and takes your pick.
The law did however, get one of the killers, and it is safe to assume the identity of the other two, or at least an educated guess. Bruno Indelicato, son of 'Sonny Red' a capo in the family, had certainly been in that blue Mecury Montego saloon. His palm print was found on the car when it was discovered abandoned only a few blocks away, on Ingraham Street, near Gardner Avenue, less than half a mile from the scene of the shooting, in an industrial area to the north of the restaurant. That was enough to get him tracked down and arrested. Underworld sources claimed his father was in on the hit also, maybe the driver. Then again, the driver, or indeed one of the killers, may have been Louis ‘Louie Gaeta’ Giongetti, who was named in a U.S. Court of Appeals judgement determined on January 13th 1989 as part of the conspiracy. He may however, have only been the armourer for the hit.
Bruno was tried as part of the Commission Case, for the murder of Carmine Galante, and sentenced to forty years in prison. A fingerprint clue on a door handle, led to another soldier in the Bonanno family, a man called Santo Giordano, an auto-mechanic and part-time pilot, but he died in a plane crash in 1983, at Edwards Airport, near Blue Point, Long Island, before a case could be developed against him. The third shooter, the thickset thug with the big belly, may well have been Dominic Trinchera, who was promoted to the position of capo, or crew boss, in the family, not long after Galante was killed. The identity of the car driver was never established for certain.
In a Supreme Court appeal judgment on petition for a writ for certiorari Number 88-1881 in 1989, following the prison sentence of Bruno Indelicato, the following information appeared:
Petitioner, a soldier in the Bonanno family, and fellow Bonanno soldier Dominic Trinchera, among others, carried out the Commission's plan to assassinate Galante and his associates. They prepared for the murders for several months, obtaining a stolen getaway car and a cache of firearms. The man who supplied the weapons testified that Trinchera had boasted that his position in the family would improve after the executions. Pet. App. 7a, 47a, 49a; Gov't En Banc Br. 9-11.
Trinchera’s dizzy rise to power didn’t last for long. In 1981 he, and two other family capi, 'Sonny Red' Indelicato, Bruno's father, and Philip Giaccone were all murdered as a result of a power struggle taking place in the Bonanno family, which may have had its roots in the events leading up to Galante’s murder. Interestingly, in the wild shoot out that occurred in a building owned by Sammy Gravanao of the Gambino Family, one of the shooters, was Santo Giordano, who was accidentally hit, and as a result became a paraplegic. Because of his disability, whenever he flew his aircraft, he always needed a co-pilot, who unfortunately was with him that day when the plane did a nose-dive, shortly after take off.
As the shooting was taking place in Brooklyn, across the East River in Manhattan’s Little Italy, Detective John Gurnee of the NYPD was staked out on surveillance of the Gambino crime family’s Mulberry Street headquarters.
Sitting in an apartment across the street he and his team, had cameras zoomed onto the frontage of the Ravenite Social Club, the base of Anniello Dellacroce, the powerful under boss of the family. About thirty minutes after the shooting went down, Gurnee filmed a brown Lincoln limousine pull up and double park on the sidewalk. The driver, a tallish, thin man, was observed taking a pistol from the dashboard and tucking it into his waistband. The cops on surveillance recognized him as Bruno Indelicato. Then, his father, 'Sonny Red' arrived followed by the Bonanno consigliere, Stefano Cannone, J.B. Indelicato, the brother of ‘Sonny Red,’ and Phillip Giaccone. They were all welcomed and hugged by Dellacroce. What was the possible connection to this meeting and the death of Galante?
Were the Gambino and Bonanno families working in conjunction? According to indictments in the Commission case, the hit on Galante was cleared specifically by Aniello Dellacroce, in conjunction with Philip Rastelli.
Only a few days previously, the ‘other’ ruling head of the Bonanno family, 'Rusty' Rastelli, imprisoned in the MCC building in Manhattan having been convicted of Hobbs Act and criminal anti-trust violations in 1976 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment had been inundated with visitors, including Joey Massino and Dominick Napolitano, both seasoned veterans in the family, Nicky Marangello, Stefano Cannone, Philip Giaccone, Armand Pollastrino and Frank Lupo.
Underworld informers confirmed that a top level meeting had gone down in Florida, at the Boca Raton home of Gerry Catena, the retired Genovese family capo, who many believed actually ran the family, after Vito Genovese was sent off to prison on drug charges in 1959.
It was rumoured that Frank Tieri, the current boss of that family, along with Paul Castellano, head of the Gambino crime family, and Anthony Corallo, boss of the Luchese family, were among the powerful underworld heads of state who arbitrated, then agreed that Galante had to go. It was even rumoured that Joseph Bonanno, the seventy-four year old, disposed former family boss, was contacted at his home in Arizona to put the final stamp of approval on the plan. It's possible that Aniello Dellacroce himself, travelled to Tucson, where the elder Bonanno lived, to confirm that the hit was going down and to ensure that Joe would not use the killing as an opportunity to re-ignite his interest in the families affairs.
Vito De Filippo, the nephew of Joe Bonanno, was a capo in the family. He had moved to New York from Sicily in 1955, and may have been running a casino in Port au Prince, Haiti for Joe. He was family, and he was close to the patriarch. Some sources claim it was he in fact who was ordered by the Commission to make the journey to Tucson and break the news about the intended Galante killing.
The only reigning family head in New York to oppose the hit was apparently Carmine Persico, leader of the Colombo family. This came out in the 1986 Colombo Family trial testimony of Fred DeChristopher, the cousin of Persico, who recalled a conversation he’d had with Persico, who’d said, ‘……quite frankly, I voted against him getting hurt.’
In the appeal hearing following the famous ‘Commission Case’ the judges of the 2nd Circuit found in 868 F. 2nd 524 1989:
Finally, there was testimony from an undercover agent that, because of the Bonanno family's internal dissension and instability, the Commission controlled that family very closely. At the time of the murder, there was an internal dispute between rival Bonanno bosses Philip Rastelli and Galante. [**25] There was specific testimony that after Galante was murdered, the Commission actively reorganized the Bonanno family under Rastelli and returned autonomous control to the family for the first time in a decade. The jury could reasonably conclude that the Commission approved the murder of Galante in order to resolve the Rastelli-Galante dispute and to restore order and autonomy to the Bonanno family.
So, putting the pieces together, law authorities concluded that the murder of Galante was an organized hit, with consent and approval coming down from the highest level.
Whatever his crime, he had paid the ultimate price. He joined an illustrious alumni of New York mob bosses who had all completed a baccalaureate in the art of dying on the job, so to speak:
Vincent Terranova gunned down 1922
Salvatore D'Aquila shot dead on an East Village street in 1928.
Joseph Morello (perhaps the foundling father of the New York Mafia) killed in his office in East Hartem in 1930
Tom Reina, gunned down in the Bronx, in 1930.
Manfredi Mineo dropped by a shotgun blast as he left an apartment in the Bronx, also in 1930.
Giuseppe Masseria hit in a Coney Island restaurant in 1931.
Salvatore Maranzano shot and stabbed to death in his office, in Manhattan, in 1931.
Vincent Mangano, “disappeared” in 1951.
Frank Scalice shot by two killers in a Bronx fruit shop.
Albert Anastasia shot out of his barber chair at a Sixth Avenue hotel, in 1957.
Joe Colombo gunned down and vegtableized on Columbus Circle in 1971.
Tommy Eboli, blown out of his socks in Brooklyn, in 1972.
And yet to come, six years down the track, the same Paul Castellano who had voted on Galante's death, who never got around to celebrating Xmas, 1985, dyeing in the gutter of East 46th Street in mid-town Manhattan on December 16th.
Some sources claim Galante was in fact never elected head of the family that he was simply a capo, or crew boss, and that Rastelli stayed in the position until his death in 1991. If that was the case, it's hard to fathom why so many top bosses had to gather in concave to arbitrate on ways of removing him. Soldiers and capi were regularly killed in mob families, simply on the order of their administration. There had to be something special about 'Lilo' and I'm sure it just wasn't his bad temper.
Crime historians postulate that his hatred of the Gambino family, his frenzy to control the drug trafficking trade in New York, his passion to head up the Bonanno family and his apparent dominance of the uncontrollable zips, was a mixture that was surely going to lead to serious indigestion among the other four mobs, maybe even lead to another war to equal the one back in 1930-31. That being the case, his removal, obviously took up a lot of time and generated some serious thinking by his peers.
After long and careful debate, these powerful mob bosses no doubt came to the conclusion that people don't change when they see the light. They change when they feel the heat. Lillo had forgotten one of the basic tenets that rules the life of the mobster:
‘There’s one thing to be said for inviting trouble. As a rule, it generally accepts the invitation.’
Galante was a strange little fellow.
Redoubtable, fearless, daunting are just some of the adjectives that were used to describe him. Remo Francescheni, a New York police officer, one time head of the NYPD organized crime squad, said of him:
' He was into everything-narcotics, pornography, loan-sharking, labour rackets. He was trying to turn all the other crime families upside down. He was a vicious guy. A cold, cold fish. Very perceptive. He paid his dues. You don’t get many people who spend as much time in jail as Galante did, and still retain and build power. The rest of them are copper. He is pure steel.'
Ralph Salerno, the New York detective, long considered one of the top experts on organized crime in New York, said, ‘If someone got out of line, Carlo Gambino would say, Lean on him a little. Galante would say, Hit him!’
Lefty Ruggerio, a soldier in the crew skippered by Napolitano thought of Galante
‘as a mean son of a bitch. Lots of people hate him,’ he told FBI undercover agent Joe Pistone. ‘They feel he is only out for himself…..There’s a lot of people out there who would like to see him get whacked.’
Like many men who are vertically retarded, he made up for his lack of inches by a precocious nature that was driven, in his case, by a fierce and frightening unpredictability. Over and over again, FBI reports compiled over many years, are captioned:
in view of subject’s record, that he has carried firearms in the past and is known to have shot a law enforcement officer, HE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS.
His nemesis, The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, knew him only too well. Their agents characterized him as paranoid, and ‘the most violent of racketeers. A real freak.’
And yet, a man assessed by a prison psychiatrist as being almost an illiterate moron, could find times to sit and talk at length almost like a college professor, quoting St. Augustine, Plato and Descartes, often emphasizing the point he was making by waving around one of his innumerable cigars. Something would trigger him off however, and he would fly into a white, spittle inducing rage. He was at times, a real Hotspur of a man. People who came into contact with him, called him a psychological gamesman. He hated to lose arguments or to be humiliated. He would offer praise one minute and be abusive the next in order to unnerve those around him. He had a reputation in the mob as a stone killer, a man who would murder without fear or compunction, any time, anywhere, with a clinical detachment which made him even more deadly and effective.
He was a person of almost total contradictions. Although the mob stressed honour, but turned a blind eye to a member’s proclivity to extramarital relationships, assuming he would remain faithful to the family ethic, Galante spent the last thirty years of his life separated from his wife, enjoying the fruits of an illicit relationship.
The standard tenet in the Mafia was no to drugs, although many members circumnavigated this. Galante’s approach was to embrace narcotic trafficking with open arms, as an acceptable income earning objective. He was one of America’s most consecrated and rapacious drug dealers, and was reported to be the inventor of the black man test, an infallible experiment devised to ascertain the purity of heroin. A black addict would be kidnapped and injected with a double-bag. If he became comatose within a specific time, the narcotic was judged to be the correct purity.
Carmine Galante had told his friends that his boss, Joe Bonanno had taught him the one great rule in organized crime was that there was nothing that came close to making money like dealing in heroin.
He had a fierce reputation for meanness. According to a conversation recorded on a wiretap, Joe Zicarelli was overheard saying: ' I only learned here of late that Don Peppino (Joe Bonanno) is of this nature (mean.) But I got my lesson from Lilo and Lilo got his lesson from trying to duplicate him (Bonanno.) The more work you did, the broker this guy kept you.' Another FBN enquiry revealed that Zicarelli may have taken over as the narcotics manager for the Bonanno family when Galante was sent to prison in 1962.
Carmine Galante developed a reputation for giving his men a loose rein in running their operations, provided they kept their tributes flowing in. In 1962, law enforcement placed a bug in the office of Angelo ‘The Gyp’ De Carlo a crew captain in the New Jersey Genovese family. He was heard musing on this, with two of his men, Joe ‘The Indian’ Polverino and Carl ‘Lash’ Silesia, talking about Harold ’Kayo’ Konigsberg, a ruthless killer and mob enforcer, who is near to being whacked for some mob transgression. Konigsberg worked for Joseph Zicarelli, based in Bayonne.
‘It’s Joe’s fault,’ says De Carlo on the tape, referring to the lack of control exercised over Konigsberg. It’s also Lilo’s fault, that’s who it is. Lilo gives his men a wide latitude, tells them they can do anything they want, go anyplace they want.’
He was also a big softy when it came to his favourite child, Nina. Evidence that emerged from the Commission Trial, showed that he had this wistful dream of uniting the Bonanno and Colombo families through a marriage between Nina, and Alphonse Persico, the son of Carmine 'The Snake' Persico, the boss of the Colombo family.
Nina apparently had a ‘crush’ on Allie.
Galante apparently, even thought of making Nina the first ever, female button, or made member of the Mafia.
If nothing else, Carmine Galante’s passing calmed things down for a while in the New York underworld. Rastelli was re-confirmed as boss of the Bonanno family, a position he maintained, although either in prison or on bail, until he died. His place was taken by big Joey Massino, who ran the family until his own arrest. He had eased off on the drug dealing, reverting to the more traditional mob activities, loan-sharking, extortion, hi-jacking, gambling and has also got his members into white collar crimes, such as pump-and-dump stock scams on Wall Street.
Nicky Marangello, the dark haired, unassuming gopher who had visited Galante all those years before in Binghampton, was seen as a potential threat to the conspirators who had arranged Galante’s killing, and he was also marked for death. Reason prevailed however, and instead of killing him, Rastelli simply demoted him down off his position on the family’s administration, from under boss to capo. He died of natural causes in 1999.
In 1987, the Federal Government, for the first time, under the R.I. C.O. law, filed a civil racketeering suit against an organized-crime family-the Bonannos- to prevent it from enrolling new members and to stop it from reaping ‘enormous financial windfalls’ through unlawful and even legal business activities.
Joe Bonanno kept on going, and eventually died at the age of 96, in 2002. He had lived in seemingly perennial retirement in Arizona, no doubt still agonizing over the ethics of honour, and regretting the passing of the true age of mobsters.
Perhaps, at times when he reflected on his past glories, over a snifter of his favourite brandy, he gave a passing thought to the man who, all those years ago, drove him around New York- the little guy with the hard, arctic stare and the tightly strung temperament- who was always chewing on a stogie.
After the death of her husband, and the shooting of her son, Mary Turano presumably had enough of the food trade, and closed the restaurant. At some stage, certainly by 1989, it was an Asian take-away, called 'Ko-Kei,' and to-day, it is one of the very few shops on this busy thoroughfare that is closed and empty.
Just about everyone involved in the whack-out on Carmine Galante is dead and gone, or in the slams.
Rastelli died from liver cancer, not long after he was released from prison. Paul Castellano was extremely surprised to be shot in the face one cold, December night in 1985, as he climbed out of his limo, en-route to a prime rib at Sparks Steak House in mid-town Manhattan. Annielo Dellacroce had pre-deceased him by a week or so, another victim to cancer. Sonny Red, if indeed he was part of the hit team, got his, along with Trinchera and the other family capo Philip Giaccone, in a Bonanno double cross a couple of years after Galante was hit. Cesare Bonventre was a further victim of the family's duplicity. He was shot and then his body cut up and sank into three drums of glue.
It's what's known in the underworld, ‘as coming to a sticky end.’
Twenty years after his murder, authorities charged Louis "Louie Ha-Ha" Attanasio, 59, of Toms River, who they said was later promoted to acting underboss of the Bonanno family. Also charged were Attanasio's brother, Robert "Bobby Ha-Ha" Attanasio, 57, and Peter "Peter Rabbit" Calabrese, 55, both of Staten Island.
The only major players in Galante's actual killing, still around, are Bruno ( well, perhaps the driver of that blue Mercury is maybe kicking,) and Baldo Amato.
Amato went down in October 2006 for a double murder.
'Mr. Amato,' said the presiding judge, making no effort to mask his disgust, 'you’re just a plain, wanton murderer and a Mafia assassin. The sentence I’m going to give you, as far as I'm concerned, is a gift.'
The gift was life in prison.
Bruno Indelicato went to prison on his conviction, at the famous 'Commission Trial,' and stayed there until 1998, serving thirteen years for his part in the murder of Galante. While in prison, he met up with Cathy Burke, daughter of another famous New York mobster, Jimmy 'The Gent' Burke, when she was visiting her father who was in the same federal facility, and they married in 1992, while Bruno was serving out his sentence at Terra Haute.
On his release, he went to work as a salesman in the garment industry, and according to the feds, went back into the life. He had been promoted to capo in 1981, but on his return to the streets, went into his uncle, 70 year old Joe Indelicato’s crew, as just a soldier. It was an interesting move because by all accounts he hated his father's brother, with a vengeance.
He was seen on a number of occasions meeting up with mobsters, including another Bonanno soldier, Vince Basciano, who subsequently became a capo in the family and then it's de-facto boss when big Joey Massino went down and rolled over like a beached whale, in 2004, the first sitting mob boss in New York to achieve this distinction.
Bruno has been arrested and imprisoned a number of times for parole violation since his release in 1998.
At the moment, that's where he is, prison, in a federal detention centre in Brooklyn. He's awaiting trial, on a charge of plotting to kill a rival by masquerading as a police officer, along with Michael "Mikey Nose" Mancuso, the acting, acting boss of the family, after Basciano was arrested and jailed.
In the mob, what goes around comes around.
Looking for these kinds of people, the best place to start is the B.O.P.- the Bureau of Prisons. Chances are, if you can't find them anywhere else, that's where they will be living.
Like the man who brought this group altogether, their sticky fingers lead them less into the honey pots than the mousetraps.
Under the FOIA, the F.B.I. have made available a file on Carmine Galante that contains over 1200 pages. Most of it, probably in excess of 80%, is useless, so severely redacted as to be incomprehensible. There are the occasional nuggets worth scavenging for, and this is one incorporated in an agent's report dated December 1974:
'Galante has long been considered a vicious, cold blooded killer who talks and acts like the movie conception of a gangster......'
How could a movie even come close to exploring a man like this?
Perhaps Carmine Galante felt he was somehow, anointed, consecrated as a king of crime, his whole life destined to be a kind of tragic Sicilian theatre, playing out images and scenes that fulfilled the nourishment of the demands he found himself compelled to fulfil. The killings, the drug dealings, the never ending quest for power within the underworld, the seemingly endless banishment to various penitentiaries, the abuse of his marital status, everything was perhaps part of an enduring sacrifice he forced upon himself; forever searching for a rate of exchange in a currency system that would leave him in credit, and never did.
Then again, maybe it simply all came down to the fact that he was short. He was undoubtedly a man displaying a classic Napoleon complex, being small in stature, but aggressively ambitious and seeking absolute control to indemnify for this failing. It’s therefore quite possible, something in his ego, compensating for his lack of inches, might have driven him beyond the edge of reason in order to achieve his aspirations.
It’s interesting to consider whether a man as widely read as Carmine Galante ever read any of the works of Shakespeare. If he did, he may have come across one of the Bard’s more famous quotes:
‘The very substance of the ambition is merely the shadow of a dream.’
My thanks to Jim Ruffalo for the information on Galante in Southern California.
To Mora for pointing me to the right copy of the New York Herald.