September 22, 1947 |
|Occupation||Former underboss of the Bonanno crime family|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (October 2011)|
Salvatore "Good Looking Sal" Vitale (born September 22, 1947 Maspeth, Queens) was a New York City caterer and former underboss of the Bonanno crime family of the American Mafia before becoming a government informant.
Salvatore Vitale was born on September 22, 1947 in Maspeth, Queens in New York City. He was the son of Giuseppe and Lilli Vitale, who had emigrated from the village of San Giuseppe Jato in Sicily after World War II; the couple had already had three daughters, but Salvatore was their only son to survive childbirth. Salvatore was described by his family as emotionally distant as a child.
When Joseph Massino dropped out of seventh grade and began earning a reputation as a mob associate, he caught the attention of Salvatore Vitale's eldest sister Josephine, who was seven months younger than Massino. She had been voted best looking in her eighth grade class. Massino and Josephine began dating in 1956, married in 1960, and had a daughter, Adeline.
In 1968 he served a short tour of duty in the U.S. Marines, as a paratrooper. He tried being legitimate and spent two years serving as what he would later say was a job as a "narcotics correction officer" with the New York City Sheriff's Office. He fathered four sons, including Anthony Vitale, who would later become a small-time criminal. Joseph Massino often pressured the fathers in his crime family to recruit their boys, but Vitale wanted a better life for them.
He and Diana moved to Long Island, a safe distance from mob-entrenched Maspeth, Queens, to have a better life for themselves. Salvatore managed his own social club in Maspeth, Queens not far from Joseph Massino's CasaBlanca Restaurant and Catering Service where he would meet with his underlings. His son Anthony would later work for mob associate Robert Perrino at The New York Post after he dropped out of college.
When he quit that job, Vitale approached Joseph Massino for criminal work. He soon became involved in burglaries and transport truck hijacking. His first real piece of work was helping dispose of Paul Castellano's son-in-law Frank Amato in 1975. He was given a no-show job as a food consultant for King Caterer's. He suffered from poor health, and had his first heart attack at the age of 38 and another in 2001. Vitale was one of the gunmen who killed three Bonanno captains; Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone.
Vitale was put under house arrest in 2001, and was allowed to go to work at his no-show job at King Caterers in Farmingdale, Long Island as a "food consultant" and owner, but had to be home by 6pm. He was allowed to take his wife out to dinner three times a week. The probation officer just required Vitale to fax over the name of the restaurant. He would later be involved directly in murdering four individuals with Gerlando Sciascia, loansharking, bookmaking, extortion and illegal gambling. By that time, the stress of home detention and his ensuing legal problems aggravated the already strained marriage.
He became a second father to his niece Joanna Massino, when her father became a wanted fugitive during her freshman year at high school. He arranged her 16th birthday party in the absence of Joseph and danced with his niece. His niece Adeline, who would become a psychology major in college, did not trust Vitale, and thought he seemed full of himself. With Joseph he was disrespected and belittled as underboss of the Bonanno crime family, which caused Vitale to resent Massino for many years. He was a close friend and business associate of Bonanno crime family capo James Tartaglione. His vanity was a well-known subject of gossip. He relished in the aura of being a mob boss. His favorite cologne was Gray Flanel.
Although Vitale was underboss of the Bonanno crime family, he chafed at the paltry power Massino had given him, going so far as to forbid him from speaking to the capos under his leadership in the family. Massino did not assign any captains to work for Vitale and was not even given Christmas gifts from the family. It was thought by many of his fellow capos that he was power hungry and greedy and knew too much intimate criminal knowledge to be trusted by others. Some wished that he was dead and thought Massino's judgement in promoting him to underboss was clouded because he was married to Vitale's sister.
He was a successful business man and co-owner and manager of the successful J & S Catering Social Club and Casablanca Restaurant, both in Maspeth where he grew up. When Sal Vitale was arrested he was informed by the FBI that Massino was plotting to kill him. After learning this information he decided to turn on Massino and have the last laugh.
In January 2004, a secret recording by capo James Tartaglione showed that Diana Vitale had been so frightened of Massino that Salvatore stayed away from him during the time leading up to his arrest. He had not aged well, his face was puffy and his hair had gone mostly gray. In 2003, Vitale and Joseph Massino were arrested by the FBI and charged with racketeering and murder. Vitale was also indicted for another murder. Soon after Vitale's arrest, prosecutors found out that Massino suspected Vitale of turning informer and wanted him killed. When the FBI informed Vitale of this, he agreed to testify against Massino in exchange for sentencing leniency.
Vitale's testimony centered around a series of murders allegedly orchestrated by Massino and John Gotti. Vitale told the FBI about both his and Massino's involvement in over 10 murders, including: Indelicato, Trinchera, Giaccone, Dominick Napolitano, Anthony Mirra, Cesare Bonventre, Gerlando Sciascia, Gabriel Infante, Joseph Pastore, John Favara and Vito Borelli. This information helped lead to the conviction of Massino.
As of 2010, Vitale had testified against 51 organized crime figures. On October 29, 2010 Vitale was sentenced by Judge Nicholos Garufis to time served for 11 murders and other crimes. After leaving the courtroom he entered the federal Witness Protection Program. Vitale returned to the stand again in March 2012 to testify against Thomas Gioeli.
See also↑Jump back a section
- The Mafia in New Jersey – La Cosa Nostra – State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation 1989 Report – The Bonanno/Rastelli/Vitale Family
- DeStefano, pp. 41-42
- "Betrayed by a Mafia Underboss". New York Times. October 28, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- Rosenberg, Noah (2012-03-20). "Former Underboss Offers Primer on Mob Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- DeStefano, Anthony (2006). King of the Godfathers: "Big Joey" Massino and the Fall of the Bonanno Crime Family (2007 paperback ed.). New York: Pinncle Books. ISBN 978-0-7860-1893-2.
- Crittle, Simon, The Last Godfather: The Rise and Fall of Joey Massino Berkley (March 7, 2006) ISBN 0-425-20939-3
- Pistone, Joseph D.; & Woodley, Richard (1999) Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-66637-4.
- Pistone, Joseph D.; & Brandt, Charles (2007). Donnie Brasco: Unfinished Business, Running Press. ISBN 0-7624-2707-8.
- Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires. New York: St. Martin Press, 2005. ISBN 0-312-30094-8
Joseph "Big Joe" Massino
|Bonanno crime family
Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora