From 1976 -1981 Donnie Brasco (aka FBI agent Joe Pistone) spent almost six years undercover in the Bonanno crime family of the New York Cosa Nostra. During that time he was befriended and mentored as an associate of Benjamin (Lefty) Ruggiero. However in March 1981 dangerous and violent internal developments were unfolding in the Bonnano family.
Unknown to him at the time, it would prove to be the last year in the mob for Donnie Brasco.
In March of that year Lefty had some questions and concerns for Donnie. He let him know about them in a rambling 32 minute phone call.
The call was recorded by Joe Pistone in his undercover role as Donnie Brasco.
Louise (Lefty’s wife): Hello?
Louise: Listen he’s not here now, but he said that uh, he was just at some kind of a meeting.
Louise: A very important meeting and he wants you to call him every hour until you get him.
Louise: It’s important.
Louise: Okay bye Donnie.
Donnie: Bye Louise.
As a Bonnano associate Donnie had to check in with Lefty every day. Made guys were responsible for their associates. Lefty was in a crew based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn under crew captain Sonny Black (Dominick Napolitano)
Sonny Black was a powerful and well respected captain within the Bonanno family and a close loyalist of family boss Philip Rastelli (Rusty)
The seeds of 1981 were sown in 1979. Donnie Brasco’s undercover assignment was about to get more complicated and violent. But also more rewarding.
The Cigar extinguished
By Summer 1979 Carmine Galante (Lillo) had already proclaimed himself as boss of the Bonanno family. He felt it was his due.
He had been released from Lewisburg penitentiary following a 12 years narcotics sentence. He was a well respected and feared captain/streetboss in the family. He was also a mean little guy. He went way back in the family. A former driver to family boss Joe Bonanno.
He had gone to Palermo with Bonanno in 1957 to attend a heroin summit with the Sicilian clans. He recruited Sicilians to New York to help operate an international heroin pipeline. He was dispatched to Montreal in the 60’s to establish a Bonanno crew in Canada and oversee the flow of heroin.
Heroin moved by the ton from Sicily to New York via Montreal and flooded the streets of New York. The addiction rate in the 60’s and 70’s skyrocketed making New York one of the most crime ridden cities in the world.
Galante was Mr Heroin. The official edict in the mob was no drug dealing under penalty of death. It was all bullshit. The mob bosses knew it and pleaded ignorance to their crews dealing. The drug money was too vast to ignore. There were no moral grounds involved. Family bosses didn’t want to get arrested and sentenced to 40 years narcotics conspiracy based on flipped testimony from men in their own family. The penalties were too harsh. Everybody knew the risks involved.
Galante strutted around Brooklyn as the family’s boss completely ignoring the family’s officially appointed boss – Rusty Rustelli who sat in prison.
Galante appointed himself the boss of the Bonanno Sicilian contingent as well, and personally used two of them as his personal bodyguards. The zips as they were derisively known in New York were a powerful faction within the family. Heroin dealers and killers. Galante had imported them so took to running them. If Galante ran the zips then he ran the Heroin trade. Including the lions share of the profits.
By this time the New York bosses who sat on the Commission had had enough. The mobs governing body felt Galante was out of control. They had two ample reasons;
they wanted a bigger slice of the drug profits and they had already vetoed Rusty Rastelli as Bonanno boss.
On 12th July 1979 Galante walked out to the rear terrace of his favourite Italian restaurant, Joe and Mary’s in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. He had his two Sicilan bodyguards with him, Cesar Bonventre and Baldo Amato. They were dressed in leather jackets despite the sweltering day.
Three men in ski masks burst into the rear garden and shot Galante to death. His Sicilian bodyguards made the pretence of ducking under tables with their guns drawn. They did nothing. The Commission had already decided. Carmine Galante was not the boss of the Bonanno family.
The Sicilian faction had already decided as well. Galante was not their boss. They responded to the New York Commission and to their Sicilian street boss, Sal Catalano.
Galante’s murder was supposed to unify the Bonanno family. It had the opposite effect.
At first moves were made to consolidate crews. Sonny Black who was loyal to family boss Rusty Rastelli was promoted to captain for his assistance in the planning of Galante’s murder.
Lefty Ruggiero’s captain in Manhattan was demoted to soldier as he had been a Galante guy. Lefty would now be under Sonny Black. As Donnie was with Lefty he also moved across to Sonny’s crew.
Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Through 1980 and into 1981 tensions simmered within the family. Three high ranking captains didn’t recognise Rusty as the boss and formed a splinter group;
Al Indelicato (Sonny Red)
Dominick Trinchera (Big Trin)
Phillip Giaccone (Philly Lucky)
Sonny Black and another well respected solider Joe Massino sided with official boss Rusty. Although neither men particularly cared for each other.
Within this environment Lefty was trying his hardest to officially claim Donnie as his own. Lefty had brought Donnie around the crew. Donnie was considered a decent earner.
Technically though another made guy, Anthony Mirra was presenting a counter claim for Donnie. Before going to prison Mirra had provided Donnie with the first introductions to Bonnano wiseguys. Although never officially, which is an important distinction.
“I had a four and a half hour meeting about you again today”
March 26th 1981 – recorded phone call – Donnie and Lefty.
The context of the conversation in italics.
Lefty: Yeah lemme tell ya somethin, this whole conversation with my wife for the last 15, 45 minutes has been based on you.
Donnie: Well what’s the matter now?!
Lefty: Hey Donnie, Donnie, come off your fuckin high horses. Lemme tell ya somethin, now listen to me carefully.
Donnie: I’m listenin
Lefty: You gotta listen. I had a four and half hour meeting about you again, again today.
(Lefty says the sit down involved him, Anthony Mirra and other Bonnano captains.
Anthony Mirra was a soldier in the family who first introduced Donnie to other Bonnano wiseguys. He effectively vouched for him but never officially claimed him as his own. In mob protocol a made guy must go on record and claim an associate as his own to his crew captain. That means he’s responsible for him and is entitled to the proceeds from any money they make together. A percentage of which is kicked up to the crew captain. It means another made guy cannot claim that associate as his own.
Mirra never did this with Donnie. When he went to prison Lefty officially claimed Donnie. Mirra was out of prison now and claiming Donnie belonged to him.)
Donnie: So what’s this guy want? (Mirra)
Lefty: What did I tell you, you son of a bitch you got me aggravated, about this Rocky? (another undercover agent)
Donnie: what about him?
Lefty: Rocky admitted you made $250, 000 in excess amount of money, I’m not going to bring it up you know what I’m talkin about, and you took $125,000 off of him.
Donnie: From where?
Lefty: You say from where? Donnie, Donnie, Rocky admitted. I went at Mirra today, I got in trouble, I had another big sit down…
Donnie: Well who you believe, you believe him or you believe me?
Lefty: Lemme tell you somethin, How many times was you in uh, in uh, in uh Cecils?
Donnie: How many times was I in Cecils? I was like there two, two three times.
Lefty: You says to me once you was in there.
Donnie: No, no. I told you once I worked there.
Lefty: I asked you the question, you said once but you were there two, three times, okay. Alright now Rocky admitted, admitted to bosses, I won that decision because the guy had no right to go at him, Mirra. Lemme tell you somethin my friend, lemme tell you somethin. I had a big fight today with Sonny over you, it was about a half hour ago, an hour ago.
Donnie: About what?
Lefty: Why? Because they went to him (Rocky)
(As well as the dispute over who first claimed and therefore has rightful ownership of Donnie. There is the question as to how Rocky became associated with the Bonannos in New York and the question of this $250,000 that Donnie and Rocky made together.
Rocky was brought into the operation by Donnie in Florida as part of a gambling club sting.
Through pressure from Mirra, Rocky has now admitted the existence of this $250,000. A dangerous amount of money to withhold from Mafia hierachy.)
Lefty: I told you to get away from that son of a bitch (Rocky) Did you bring him in town? (Sonny Black’s Bonnano crew)
Donnie: What do you mean did I bring him in town?
Lefty: Did you bring Rocky in town? ( did you introduce him into the crew and therefore vouch for him)
Donnie: Yeah he come up there, why?
Lefty: He come up there, he come up there, why?
Donnie: You know, you know you’re talking in circles…I don’t know what, first tell me what the argument was over.
Lefty: Forget about argument, you’re going to be sent for..
(At this stage Lefty is trying to convey how serious this sit down was. By saying Donnie is going to be sent for and have to justify Rocky to crew captain Sonny Black, he’s saying serious issues of trust are at stake.)
Lefty: You’re going to be sent for, but I promise you one thing, nothing’s going to happen to ya, because I stuck up for you. All the way.
Donnie: Well who did Rocky tell that I made $125,000 with..
Lefty: Anthony Mirra. You shook em down and you’s made it in fucking junk money! (heroin or cocaine. A serious transgression for dealing in drugs and withholding the profits.)
Lefty: I tell you, I’m fucking fed up with this.
Donnie: I didn’t hear you what?
Lefty: Junk money. Yeah that’s right, Rocky admitted to them.
Donnie: Anything I ever did you know about. What do you mean junk money?
(The conversation continues with Lefty pointing out that he never saw this Rocky outside of Miami beach but Rocky has admitted the existence of the money to Anthony Mirra and his people. Donnie tells Lefty that Mirra is lying. Lefty agrees.
Lefty keeps bringing up the money and although he seems to believe Donnie, he’s is still probing. It ultimately comes down to trust. Lefty has chosen to believe Donnie and has gone on record with it. He wants Donnie to know the importance of this and gives him a hard time. Lefty can’t reveal too much as Donnie is not a made guy.)
Lefty: I went at the captains. I’m in trouble today. I went right to the top.
Lefty: Sonny took my word for it.
Lefty: I won you and I’m going to keep you. I’m not giving you up. And so is Sonny. Sonny said we own Donnie.
Donnie: Well what’s with this guy? (Mirra)
Lefty: Donnie, Donnie, you don’t understand anything. It’s going to the top.
Lefty: I got sent for today, I got sent for.
(Lefty’s aggravated with Donnie over this sit down. What complicates matters was Anthony Mirra claiming Rocky (who belonged to him) had made a large amount of money with Donnie and Donnie had seemingly withheld it. Lefty’s trying to confirm where Donnie had met Rocky.
It didn’t help that Lefty was drunk or at least semi drunk during his conversation with Donnie.)
Lefty: Between you and him (Rocky) there’s something wrong. I can’t figure it. I tell you one thing I didn’t drink. I drank a few drinks. I was at the bar with them. Donnie from you putting him there (Rocky working at a club in Florida) remember you gave him the job. Somebody put him there. The guy that put him there was on the boat.
(The FBI had provided Donnie with a yacht to entertain wiseguys in Florida and improve his standing. Unknown to Donnie at the time was that same yacht had been previously used in an undercover sting with FBI agents posing as wealthy Arabs in order to trap US Congressmen taking bribes. When the operation was completed and arrests made the events were written about in Newsweek magazine. The yacht was featured on the cover. Lefty saw the Newsweek cover and remembered the name of the yacht – The Left Hand. Easy for Lefty to recall as the name of the yacht was similar to his own. Lefty now suspected that anyone on that yacht who wasn’t a verified wiseguy was actually a federal informant. Lefty kept this information to himself though as he trusted Donnie. He didn’t tell anyone else in the crew or his captain Sonny Black. It didn’t sit easily with him though.)
Lefty: The guy is a federal stool pigeon (Rocky) They don’t know that there yet (Sonny Black and the other captains.)
Lefty: Now Rocky come in through you (introduced into the Bonnano family) Now when the meeting comes up, how I know Rocky? Is through you.
Donnie: Yeah and I met him down there.
Lefty: You met him down there, where did you meet him?
Donnie: I met him at the bar. I told ya that.
Lefty: The guy belong to you?
Donnie: Left.. you know.
Lefty: I asked you the question Donnie. Lets find out the truth what’s goin on, cause I’m in the fuckin middle. Listen I’m askin you the question, you met him down where? Donnie I told you I’m puttin my life on the line.
Donnie: I met him in Lauderdale, at the bar down there, I told ya that. At Pier 66.
Lefty: Donnie, he’s sayin different.
(Lefty tells Donnie he cant represent himself at any further sit downs as it’s against mob protocols, a made guy has to put forward his case.)
Lefty: Donnie, you trust me?
Donnie: Of course I do.
Lefty: Okay good enough I’ll take it from there.
Donnie: Now let me ask you the question, you trust me? you think I made that kind of money with him?
Lefty: No. I said no, Sonny says the same thing. Now lemme ask you the question. I’m gonna go all the way, but I’m gonna go my own route.
(Lefty reaches a point now where he’s made up his mind and will go all the way in sticking up for Donnie, but still seems to have some reservations.)
Lefty: You sure this guy… (long pause) Forget about it lemme handle it.
Donnie: I’m sure he’s okay, that what you’re talkin bout?
Lefty: No he can’t be okay, he’s a fucking stool pigeon (informant) Otherwise why would he rat you out?
Donnie: Because probably he’s scared of Mirra.
(Donnie’s on shaky ground with lefty here. He knows Rocky is an undercover agent but he can’t fully vouch for him with the Bonanno’s. Rocky has been pressurised into admitting the existence of this money. He may have thought he was qualifing himself to the Bonanno’s – and by extension Donnie. Donnie now has to skirt around the issue saying Rocky’s probably okay (not an informant) but never fully endorsing him. He’s lucky in the sense that Lefty is a little drunk and tends to go off on tangents about himself saying he can’t get any satisfaction in Brooklyn, within his own crew. Lefty is a hit man but is also a degenerate gambler who was frequently broke. He garners a certain amount of respect within the crew but is not considered a high earner. He seems dissatisfied with Sonny Black at times but tells him he will go all the way with Donnie and die for the kid (Donnie) He asks for Sonny to back him up and talk to Rusty in prison over his endorsement of Donnie.)
Lefty: Ain’t nobody havin you, it ain’t the question.
(Lefty moves onto complaining about Anthony Mirra. Lefty and Mirra lived in the same apartment building on Mulberry street in Manhattan. Lefty complains that Mirra tells his people that he sometimes goes up to Lefty’s apartment wanting to borrow coffee and butter.)
Lefty: In front of his men he say’s well some mornings I’ll stop and knock on Lefty’s door. I said I’ll tell you what Anthony Mirra. You stop by my door I’ll shoot you right in the head. Cause you’re not my friend. I injected that. Sonny Black collected that. That remark.
(Lefty points out to Donnie that he effectively threatened Mirra in front of Sonny. A no no in the wiseguy world. Made guys aren’t allowed to threaten each other. He then goes on to say he had a bad feeling about the sit down today, even though he didn’t know what it was about.)
Lefty: I got six dollars in my pocket. I got sixteen dollars in my pocket.
(Lefty complains that he got to Brooklyn in the afternoon for the meeting and Sonny told him to come back later as it was another crew members birthday. Lefty moaned that he couldn’t even buy a drink.)
Lefty: But by hook or by crook I found myself back in Brooklyn.
Donnie: Where does Sonny stand tonight with us?
Lefty: Where does Sonny stand? He’s not givin you up. Not givin you up.
(Donnie gets along well with Sonny and has earned Sonny’s endorsement of trust. Lefty already knows this and tells Donnie that Sonny’s not on his side though. He wants Donnie to know that he fought for him not Sonny. He also doesn’t want Donnie getting too close to Sonny and bypassing Lefty in importance.)
Lefty: He’s not on your side I tell you that much. (Sonny) In other words anything happens, I take the weight.
Donnie: You got one, you got another meeting tomorrow?
Lefty: No I ain’t got no meeting tomorrow, I’m busy all day. With no money.. nothin (hinting that Donnie should kick some cash up to him)
Donnie: l mean was it settled or wasn’t settled?
Lefty: Was settled I went right to the top with you. Forget about it. Right to the top my man. You’ll be settled, I ‘ll win the situation. But you’re not settled. See the trouble you’re havin amongst ourselves. One guy is gonna check both of you’s out.
Donnie: Well you know they got no problem checkin me out.
Lefty: I don’t give a fuck. If you did something wrong or right that’s for me to handle.
(Lefty then starts to lecture Donnie about proper wiseguy decorum. Donnie had told Lefty to collect his own bags at the airport baggage collection once and Lefty didn’t forget it. It embarrassed him. A mob associate is supposed to defer to a made guy and show the proper respect which means doing things for him. Lefty tells Donnie that he already has two strikes against him and only has one left.)
Lefty: Forget about get your own bags or somethin like that. I never did it. When I’m with a man (mob hierachy) I jump for him. I think before he thinks. And that’s why I become successful. When your man is there I come first because see what I’m doin now. You don’t know what I’m goin through. You know what’s goin on with you today. About you? four and a half hours sittin down with politicians.
Donnie: Oh I know.
Lefty: No you don’t know, see the fuckin trouble with you is you don’t know! He sat there for three hours you know.
Lefty: Sonny. Over you.
(Lefty seems annoyed that Donnie doesn’t realise the importance of this sit down over him and the implications involved. He tells him that he went at everybody, including the Zips (The Sicilian faction within the Bonanno family) and that he’s put himself out over Donnie.)
Lefty: And all for my friend Donnie who tells me this and tells me that. You understand what I’m talkin about?
Donnie: Yeah I understand.
Lefty: No you don’t understand. I wish to God you did.
(Lefty starts to question why Donnie isn’t mad at Rocky for making up the $250,000. Donnie says he is but has to tread a fine line.
As a wiseguy he should be furious and wanting to take action against Rocky. But as an undercover agent he can’t threaten or conspire something over the phone with Lefty.)
Lefty: Now I’m gonna stick up for you all the way. Nothin’s gonna happen to you. I promise you that much. They’re lookin for more information especially they mention the word junk that involves you. You know I care for you, I’m tellin you the truth. I got to see what I gotta do tomorrow. Lay the cards on the table. I swear that you’re innocent.
Donnie: Well I am.
Lefty: Okay, well, I’ll take it from there pal.
Lefty won the sit downs and claimed Donnie. He was officially under Lefty now in Sonny’s Brooklyn crew.
It was fortunate that Donnie had built a mutual friendship with Sonny Black. His word went a long way.
Two months later all hell would break loose in the Bonanno family.
Red team/Black team
In 1981 the Bonannos were split. Two factions had formed. Captains and crews loyal to family boss Philip (Rusty) Rastelli.
Captains and crews opposed to him as boss.
Sonny Blacks crew recognised Rusty as the boss.
Sonny Reds crew didn’t.
Alongside Sonny Red were two other captains, Big Trin and Philly Lucky.
These three captains were plotting to overthrow Rusty’s supporters and take over the family.
Sonny Red had his son in his crew, Anthony (Bruno) Indelicato. Bruno had been one of the shooters in the Carmine Galante hit.
Joe Massino was the wild card. Massino was still a soldier but everyone knew it was only a matter of time before he became a captain.
Massino was with Rusty and sided with the Black team.
The New York commission was aware of the tension. The four other bosses for the mobs ruling council gave their edict. Stay neutral, no nonsense until Rusty gets out of jail.
In May 1981 Joe Massino heard some disturbing news. He got word that the red team’s three captains were stocking up on automatic weapons. It only meant one thing.
Massino took this news to the Colombo and Gambino bosses who sat on the commission. The answer he got back was:
“protect yourselves, do what you gotta do.”
A peace meeting was arranged by Massino at a mob social club. Lets all sit down and resolve this. The meeting date was set for 5th May 1981.
Massino had arranged everything. He brought down two Bonnano guys from their Canadian wing in Montreal as shooters.
Massino arranged for the three captains to be walked into the rear storefront of the club when they arrived for the meeting
A signal had been devised; when one of the Montreal guys (George from Canada) slowly ran their fingers through their hair the shooting was to start.
Mafia protocol stated no weapons were to be brought to sit downs.
Sonny Red should have listened to his instincts. Before the meeting he reportedly told the others, “If shooting starts it’s everyman for himself.”
The red team’s three captains arrived for the sit down and were led into the back storefront.
The Massino led shooters burst out of closets and shot the three captains to death.
Massino and the shooters immediately exited and Lefty and another Sonny Black crew member were present to take care of the clean up.
Following the murder Donnie was filled in by members of Sonny Blacks crew;
“Big Trin was so fat that chunks of his flesh went flying when the shotgun blasts hit him.”
1981 – before the three captains murders – Joe Massino on far right waits to get into the car with Bonnano guys from Montreal
Joe Massino’s standing in the family grew. He was a real power under now. He had made a mistake though.
The body of Sonny Red turned up in Queens a few days later.
The three captains were supposed to just disappear.
Sonny red’s son, Bruno wanted immediate revenge and disappeared to plot.
Sonny Black had gotten close to Donnie Brasco and wanted him to become a made guy. An official member of the family. This was the perfect opportunity.
He made him a proposition; find Bruno and kill him. Then I can sponsor you for membership. Bruno was a coke head, a loose cannon, and was supposedly down in Florida.
Donnie was working for Sonny’s crew in Florida and was instructed to look out for Bruno. Donnie never found him. A few weeks later Donnie was informed that Bruno was back in New York and to come back up.
Joe Pistone aka Donnie Brasco had informed his FBI handlers that this was the perfect opportunity to severely undermine the mob by a federal undercover agent becoming an official member. An FBI agent becoming a made guy. Donnie was convinced that Sonny liked and trusted him to such an extent that he would lie for him to the commission. He would tell them that Donnie had killed someone when proposing him for membership but wouldn’t actually require Donnie to do it.
The FBI were not convinced and pulled the plug on the Donnie Brasco operation on July 26th 1981. Joe Pistone had been undercover in the Bonnano family since 1977.
An FBI agent had infiltrated the Bonnano crime family and interacted with some of it’s highest members.
The fall out
Sonny Black knew what was coming. He had been sent for.
He took off his watch and jewellery and left them with his favourite bartender in his social club. He also left the keys to his apartment which was situated above the social club. He requested that his pet pigeons be looked after in their coop on the roof of his apartment.
He had liked and respected Donnie Brasco so much that after learning that he was an FBI agent, he reportedly told his girlfriend that if it was going to be anybody, he was glad that it was Donnie.
Two Bonanno soldiers picked up Sonny and drove him to the house of another associate.
When Sonny arrived at the sit down he was pushed down the stairs to the basement of the house. A gun misfired. Sonny told his shooter, ” hit me one more time and make it good.”
His murder had been arranged by Joe Massino who had already been wary of this Donnie Brasco before he was confirmed as an FBI agent.
Following Sonny Black’s murder and for the unforgivable breach of mob security, Joe Massino was overheard saying, ” I had to give him the receipt for the Donnie Brasco situation.”
For arranging the murders of the three captains Joe Massino had been promoted to captain.
For arranging Sonny Black’s murder he was recognised as Bonanno street boss by other mobsters under Rusty Rastelli.
In August of that year FBI surveillance showed Sonny Black’s pigeon coops being dismantled on the roof above his social club. Roughly a year later a body was discovered in Staten island. Heavy rains unearthed a shallow grave. The body’s hands had been removed as a symbol. It would take many years and the subsequent trial of Joe Massino to confirm the details.
It was Sonny Black. He was blamed for endorsing and vouching for Donnie and had failed to follow correct mob procedure when introducing persons into the family – the ritual of shaking hands.
Lefty Ruggiero also knew what was coming. So did the FBI. Lefty was sent for but was intercepted by an FBI team before he reached his house of death.
Lefty still believed that Donnie was the Donnie he knew though and told his lawyer “He’ll never go against us.”
After agent Pistone testified against him at trial, he changed his tune, “I’ll get that motherfucker Donnie if it’s the last thing I do.”
Lefty ultimately received a 15 year sentence for racketeering conspiracy based on Pistone’s evidence and testimony. He never cut a deal to become a federal witness although the question was posed to him. A prosecutor once asked Pistone if Lefty would ever be open to flipping sides. Pistone told him to go ahead and ask but he knew what the answer would be. The prosecutor reported back, “you were right he told us to fuck off.”
Lefty lived omerta through and through. He died of cancer in the early 90’s having been released from prison.
Anthony Mirra was also held responsible for bringing Donnie around the Bonnanos in the first place. Mirra was the pain in the ass who caused Lefty to attend all those long sit downs with the crew captains in March 81. Mirra had claimed Donnie was his, but Lefty had won the rights to Donnie.
In 1982 Mirra, paranoid and unpredictable, went into hiding. Mirra had an uncle and two cousins as fellow members of the Bonnanos. Joe Massino ordered the uncle and both cousins to lure him out. Mirra only trusted direct family.
He agreed to meet his cousin in a parking garage in lower Manhatttan and subsequently shot in the head in his own car.
It’s how it’s done in the mob. Always use a close friend or family member to set up another wiseguy to be murdered.
The Bonnano family became a national disgrace having allowed an FBI agent to infiltrate it’s ranks so deeply. They were kicked off the commission.
It ended up working in their favour.
In 1986 the huge mafia commission trial led by Rudy Giuliani arrested, tried, and convicted all of the ruling New York mob bosses.
Apart from thinking Fat Tony Salerno was the ruling Genovese boss. He wasn’t. He was their front boss installed by the real power, Vincent Gigante.
The Bonnano boss wasn’t convicted in the commission trial as he already been kicked off the commission.
Being removed from the commission because of Donnie Brasco worked to the Bonanno’s advantage in the long run.
Joe Massino in 2000’s
The Bonnano’s grew in strength. Joe Massino became the official boss. Throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s they were back on the commission and considered New York’s strongest family. Until Massino was arrested and did the unheard of and unthinkable in Cosa Nostra. He flipped.
The only ranking mob boss to ever become an informant.
His court testimony would clarify several Bonnano murders and body dump sites, including Sonny Black’s.
FBI agent Joe Pistone testified at several trials over the years and provided countless crucial intelligence on the inner workings of the Bonanno family and Cosa Nostra in general. His testimony led to over 200 indictments and over 100 convictions of mob members.
In the beginning it took at least a year of being seen around bars and mob hangouts in New York before he was introduced to any wiseguys.
He got to be known as Don the jeweller by a bar tender. He laid off jewels to the bar tender to be fenced by wiseguys.
He eventually came to the attention of some Colombo family guys and circled around the periphery of Jilly Greco’s crew before even meeting and being brought into the Bonanno’s by Anthony Mirra.
In the Bonanno’s he got close to Sonny Black and got to know him well. He could relate to him more than Lefty.
Did he feel any remorse for Sonny Black once he was murdered?
He was doing his job. Although he did say he went into the undercover operation to convict guys not to get them killed.
For his six years undercover his wife and 3 young daughters lived in another part of the US.
During that time the Bonnano family held more precedence than his own family. That takes a huge toll.
He received a $500 bonus from the FBI as thanks at the end of the operation.