Lucchese crime family
The Lucchese crime family (pronounced [lukˈkeːze]) is one of the "Five Families" that dominate organized crime activities in New York City, United States, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra).
|Founded by||Gaetano Reina|
|Named after||Gaetano Lucchese|
|Founding location||New York City|
|Years active||c. 1920s-present|
|Territory||Various neighborhoods in New York City, New York. Territory in New Jersey, South Florida and Las Vegas.|
|Ethnicity||Made men (full members) are men of Italian descent. Other ethnicities are employed as "associates."|
|Membership||130-150 made members, 1,200 associates (2017 estimate)|
|Criminal activities||Racketeering, robbery, gambling, drug trafficking, smuggling, bribery, loan sharking, fraud, assault, fencing, money laundering, extortion, murder, arms trafficking, and theft|
Gambino crime family|
Colombo crime family
Bonanno crime family
Genovese crime family
DeCavalcante crime family
Buffalo crime family
Velentzas crime family
|Rivals||Various gangs in New York City including their allies|
The family originated in the early 1920s with Gaetano Reina serving as boss up until his murder in 1930. It was taken over by Tommy Gagliano during the Castellammarese War, and led by him until his death in 1951. The family under Gagliano was peaceful and low key, concentrating their criminal activities in the Bronx, Manhattan and New Jersey. The next boss was Tommy Lucchese who served as Gagliano's underboss for over 20 years, who turned the family around to become one of the most powerful families to sit on the Commission. Lucchese teamed up with Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino to control organized crime in New York City. Lucchese had a stronghold on the garment industry in New York and took control of many crime rackets for his crime family. When Lucchese died of a brain tumor in 1967, Carmine Tramunti controlled the family for a brief time; he was arrested in 1973 for funding a major heroin network and died five years later. Anthony Corallo then gained control of the family. Corallo was very secretive and soon became one of the most powerful members of the Commission. He was arrested and convicted in the famous Commission case of 1986.
For most of its history, the Lucchese family was reckoned as one of the most peaceful crime families in the nation. However, that changed when Corallo named Victor Amuso his successor shortly before going to prison. Amuso later promoted one of his longtime partners, Anthony Casso to underboss. Starting with the Windows Case in 1986, they instituted one of the bloodiest reigns in Mafia history, ordering virtually anyone who crossed them to be murdered. It is estimated that Casso himself has murdered between 30-40 people and has ordered over 100 murders during his reign; he was sentenced to 455 years in prison. Casso also had authority over NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa: both carried out at least 8 murders for him. Amuso was arrested in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison. Several Lucchese wiseguys, fearing for their lives, turned informant. The highest-profile of these was acting boss Alphonse D'Arco, who became the first boss of a New York crime family to testify against the mob. This led to the arrest of the entire Lucchese family hierarchy, with Casso also becoming an informant. Testimony from these informants nearly destroyed the family, with as many as half of its members incarcerated. Amuso has continued to rule the family from prison.
The early history of the Lucchese crime family can be traced to members of the Morello gang based in East Harlem and the Bronx. Gaetano "Tommy" Reina would leave the Morellos around the time of World War I and created his own family based in East Harlem and the Bronx. As the family's leader, Reina avoided the Mafia-Cammora War for control over New York City. He instead focused on controlling the home ice distribution business throughout New York City. During the early 1920s, Reina became a powerful prohibition era boss and aligned himself with Joseph Masseria, the most powerful Italian-American crime boss in New York. Masseria soon became involved in the Castellammarese War, a vicious gang war with rival Sicilian boss Salvatore Maranzano. At this point, Masseria started demanding a share of Reina's criminal profits, prompting Reina to consider changing allegiance to Maranzano. When Masseria learned of Reina's possible betrayal, he plotted with Reina lieutenant Tommy Gagliano to kill him. On February 26, 1930, gunman Vito Genovese murdered Reina outside his aunt's apartment. With Reina dead, Masseria bypassed Gagliano, who expected to take control of the Reina gang, and installed his underling Joseph "Fat Joe" Pinzolo as boss. Furious with this betrayal, Gagliano and Tommy Lucchese secretly defected to Maranzano. In September 1930, Lucchese lured Pinzolo to a Manhattan office building, where Pinzolo was murdered.
The Two TommiesEdit
With Masseria's murder on April 15, 1931, Maranzno held a meeting at the intersection of 187th and Washington Ave. in the Bronx proclaiming himself the new Capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) of the American Mafia. Maranzano outlined a peace plan to all the Sicilian and Italian Mafia leaders in the United States. There would be 24 organizations (to be known as "families") throughout the country who would elect their own bosses. Maranzano also reorganized all the Italian-American gangs in New York City into five families to be headed by Lucky Luciano, Vincent Mangano, Joseph Profaci, Gagliano, and himself. Gagliano was awarded the old Reina organization, with Lucchese as his underboss.
However, Luciano and other mob members were not willing to serve under Maranzano. When Maranzano learned about Luciano's disaffection, he hired a gunman to kill him. However, in September 1931 Luciano struck first. Several Jewish assassins provided by Luciano associate Meyer Lansky murdered Maranzano in his office. Luciano now became the most powerful mobster in New York.
Luciano kept the family structure as created by Maranzano, but removed the boss of bosses in favor of a ruling body, The Commission. The Commission's responsibility was to regulate the families' affairs and resolve all differences between the families. The first Commission members included Luciano, Gagliano, Bonanno, Profaci, Mangano, Chicago Outfit boss Al "Scarface" Capone and Buffalo family boss Stefano Magaddino, with Luciano as chairman. Although the Commission was technically a democratic institution, it was actually controlled by Luciano and his allies.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Gagliano and Lucchese led their family into profitable areas of the trucking and clothing industries. When Luciano was sent to prison for pandering in 1936, a rival alliance took control of the Commission. The alliance of Mangano, Bonanno, Buffalo crime family boss Stefano Magaddino, and Profaci used their power to control organized crime in America. Understanding his vulnerability, Gagliano was careful to avoid opposing this new alliance. Gagliano was a quiet man who avoided the media and stayed off the streets. He preferred to pass his orders to the family though Lucchese and a few other close allies. In contrast, Lucchese was the public face of the family who carried out Gagliano's orders. In 1946, Lucchese attended the Cosa Nostra Havana Conference in Cuba on behalf of Gagliano. Gagliano kept such a low profile that virtually nothing is known about his activities from 1932 until he retired or died between 1951 and 1953.
After Gagliano's retirement or death, Lucchese became boss and appointed Vincenzo Rao as his consigliere and Stefano LaSalle as his underboss. Lucchese continued with Gagliano's policies, making the now Lucchese family one of the most profitable in New York. Lucchese established control over Teamsters union locals, workers' co-operatives and trade associations, and rackets at the new Idlewild Airport. Lucchese also expanded family rackets in Manhattan's Garment District and in related trucking industry around New York City. Lucchese built close relations with many powerful New York politicians, including Mayors William O'Dwyer and Vincent Impellitteri and members of the judiciary, who aided the family on numerous occasions. Throughout his regime, Lucchese kept a low profile and saw to it that his men were well taken care of.
When Lucchese became boss, he helped Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino in their fights to take control of their families. The three plotted to take over the Mafia Commission by murdering family bosses Frank Costello and Albert Anastasia. On May 2, 1957 Costello survived an assassination attempt and immediately decided to retire as boss in favor of Genovese. Then on October 25, 1957, the Gallo brothers (from the Colombo family) murdered Anastasia, allowing Gambino to become boss. Lucchese and Gambino started conspiring to remove their former ally Genovese. After the disastrous 1957 Apalachin meeting of mob leaders in Upstate New York, Genovese lost a great deal of respect in the Commission. In 1959, with the assistance of Luciano, Costello, and Meyer Lansky, Genovese was arrested.
Gambino and Lucchese assumed full control of the Mafia Commission. In 1960, they backed the Gallo brothers in their rebellion against Profaci family boss Joe Profaci. Gambino and Lucchese saw the war as a way to take over rackets from the distracted Profaci's. After uncovering a plot by Joseph Bonanno to assassinate them, Lucchese and Gambino used the Commission to strip Bonanno of his role as boss. This power play started a war within the Bonanno family and served to strengthen both the Lucchese and Gambino families.
In 1962, Gambino's oldest son Thomas married Lucchese's daughter Frances, strengthening the Gambino-Lucchese alliance. Lucchese led a quiet, stable life until his death from a brain tumor on July 13, 1967. At the time of his death, he had not spent a day in jail in 44 years. Lucchese left his family in a very powerful position in New York City. The Lucchese family had a stronghold in East Harlem, the Bronx and consisted of about 200 made members. Lucchese intended for longtime capo Anthony Corallo to succeed him. However, since he was imprisoned at the time, he named another longtime capo, Carmine Tramunti, as acting boss until Corallo's release.
Tramunti and the French ConnectionEdit
Around the time of his appointment as temporary boss, Carmine "Mr. Gribbs" Tramunti was in ill health. With boss-in-waiting Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo in prison, Tramunti was expected to hold power until Corallo's release. Tramunti faced a number of criminal charges during his time as acting boss and was eventually convicted of financing a large heroin smuggling operation, the infamous French Connection. This scheme was responsible for distributing millions of dollars in heroin along the East Coast during the early seventies.
Before the French Connection trial, the seized heroin was stored in the NYPD property/evidence storage room pending trial. In a brazen scheme, criminals stole hundreds of kilograms of heroin worth $70 million from the room and replaced them with bags of flour. Officers discovered the theft when they noticed insects eating the so-called heroin. The scope and depth of this scheme is still unknown, but officials suspect the thieves had assistance from corrupt NYPD officers. Certain plotters received jail sentences, including Vincent Papa (he was later assassinated in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia), Virgil Alessi and Anthony Loria. In 1974, after Tramunti's incarceration, Corallo finally took charge of the family.
Corallo and the JaguarEdit
After Tramunti's incarceration in 1974, Anthony Corallo finally took control of the Lucchese family. Corallo came from the Queens faction of the family. Known as "Tony Ducks" from his ease at 'ducking' criminal convictions, Corallo was a boss squarely in Lucchese's mold. Corallo had been heavily involved in labor racketeering and worked closely with Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters president, during the 1940s and 1950s. Corallo also enjoyed close ties to the Painters and Decorators Union', the Conduit Workers Union, and the United Textile Workers Union. Corrallo appointed Salvatore "Tom Mix" Santoro as the underboss and supervisor of all labor and construction racketeering operations in New York, and Christopher "Christie Tick" Furnari as the reputed consigliere. The family prospered under Corallo's leadership, particularly in narcotics trafficking, labor racketeering, and major illegal gambling.
Corallo never discussed business during sit-downs, fearing that the FBI was monitoring the conversations. Instead, he used the car phone in the Jaguar owned by his bodyguard and chauffeurs. Corallo was driven around New York while on the phone discussing business. Salvatore "Sal" Avellino and Aniello "Neil" Migliore shifted as Corallo's chauffeurs during the 1970s and 1980s.
Corallo, a huge fan of the New Jersey faction of the family, reputedly inducted and promoted Anthony "Tumac" Accetturo and Michael "Mad Dog" Taccetta into the organization and put them in charge of the Jersey Crew, which reportedly controlled most of the loansharking and illegal gambling operations in Newark, New Jersey at the time.
In the early 1980s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) finally managed to plant a bug in the Jaguar. The FBI recorded Corallo speaking at great length about mob affairs, including illegal gambling, labor racketeering, drug trafficking, and murder. Corallo was arrested and put on trial along with all the heads of the Five Families at the time. This trial became legendary as the Mafia Commission Trial.
On December 16, 1985, Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano was murdered without Commission approval. The Genovese and Lucchese family teamed up and plotted John Gotti's murder. The alliance had Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco murdered but failed its attempts to kill Gotti.
Corallo, Santoro and Furnari were indicted in the Mafia Commission Trial in 1986. As the trial wore on, Corallo realized that the entire Lucchese hierarchy was about to be decimated. Not only was it all but certain that he, Santoro and Furnari would be convicted, but they faced sentences that, at their ages, would all but assure they would die in prison. In the fall of 1986, Corallo chose Anthony "Buddy" Luongo as acting boss. However, Luongo disappeared in 1986. Corallo's ultimate choice was Vittorio "Vic" Amuso, the capo of Furnari's old crew. Allegedly both Amuso and another longtime protègé of Furnari's, Anthony "Gaspipe " Casso, were candidates for the job. Evidence suggests that Corallo wanted Casso, but Casso convinced him to select Amuso instead. Amuso officially became boss in January 1987, when Corallo, Santoro and Furnari were sentenced to 100 years in prison. Amuso made Casso his underboss in 1989, allowing him to exert great influence over family decisions. Corallo and Santoro died in prison in 2000, while Furnari was released in 2014.
The iron fists of Amuso and CassoEdit
During the late 1980s, the Lucchese family underwent a period of great turmoil. Vittorio "Vic" Amuso and his fierce underboss, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, the first members of the family's Brooklyn wing to head the family, instituted one of the most violent reigns in American Mafia history. Both men were heavily involved in labor racketeering, extortion, drug trafficking and committed many murders. Amuso and Casso were strong rivals of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti and strong allies of Genovese crime family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante. They made their reputations earlier in 1986. Angry over the murder of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, Corallo and Gigante conspired to murder Gotti. Corallo gave the contract to Amuso and Casso. On April 13, 1986 a car-bombing killed Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco, but missed Gotti. This assassination attempt sparked a long and confusing 'tension' between these three crime families with many deaths reported on all sides.
During the late 1980s, Amuso began demanding 50% of the profits generated by the Jersey Crew. New Jersey leaders Anthony Accetturo and Michael Taccetta refused Amuso's demand. In retaliation, Amuso and Casso ordered the entire Jersey Crew killed—the now-infamous "whack Jersey" order. He summoned them to a meeting in Brooklyn. Fearful for their lives, all the Jersey crew members skipped the meeting and went into hiding.
Taccetta and Accetturo were later put on trial in 1990, as both Amuso and Casso were implicated in a case involving the fitting of thousands of windows in New York at over-inflated prices, and the pair went into hiding of that same year, naming Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco as acting boss. For the next few years, Amuso and Casso ruled the family from afar and ordered the execution of anyone they deemed troublesome, either they were considered rivals or potential informants. All of this convinced many Lucchese wiseguys that Amuso and Casso were no longer acting or thinking rationally.
What followed next was a series of botched hits on family members suspected of being informants. Ironically, these hits caused several family members to actually turn informer. Amuso ordered the slaying of capo Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo, who along with Casso was in charge of the Windows Case operation. He was shot 12 times, but still survived. After Amuso ordered hits on Chiodo's wife and sister in violation of longstanding rules against women being harmed, Chiodo turned state's evidence and provided the entire windows operation that eventually controlled $150 million in window replacements, sold in New York City. As Amuso also sanctioned the hit on Anthony Accetturo, who was on trial in 1990, he also cooperated with the government.
The planned executions went as high as acting boss D'Arco. Furious over the failed hit on Chiodo, Amuso set up D'Arco to be killed at a Manhattan hotel. However, this hit also came undone after D'Arco saw a man hide a gun in his shirt, then slip it into the bathroom. Recognizing this as a classic setup for a hit, D'Arco fled for his life and turned himself over to the authorities to spare him and his family from Amuso and Casso and their increasingly erratic demands. He was the first boss of a New York crime family, acting or otherwise, to become an informant.
Casso had reportedly conspired with reputed consigliere Frank Lastorino and Brooklyn faction leaders George Zappola, George Conte, Frank "Bones" Papagni and Frank Gioia Jr. into murdering Steven "Wonderboy" Crea, Amuso's acting underboss of the Bronx, as well as Gambino crime family acting boss John "Junior" Gotti, son of the imprisoned John Gotti, along with members of the Genovese crime family once again. But due to massive indictments, none of the plots were committed.
Law enforcement eventually caught up with the two fugitives. On July 29, 1991, the FBI captured Amuso in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and on January 19, 1993 the FBI captured Casso in Mount Olive, New Jersey. Amuso steadfastly refused all offers from the government to make a deal and become a government witness. He was convicted on all charges in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison. Believing that Casso had tipped off the FBI in hopes of taking over the family, Amuso removed Casso as underboss and declared him an outcast. Facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison, Casso agreed to a deal on March 1, 1994 and started revealing family secrets. One of the biggest secrets was that two New York Police Department detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, had been on Casso's payroll. For years, Eppolito and Caracappa had provided Casso with sensitive police information; Casso had even used them on hits. Casso related how Eppolito and Caracappa, on Christmas Day 1986, murdered an innocent Brooklyn man who had the same name as a suspected government informant. Casso told the government that in 1992 Lucchese hit men tried to kill the sister of another suspected informant, violating the alleged Mafia "rule" barring violence against family members. However, in 1998, prosecutors tore up the deal after accusing Casso of lying about other mob turncoats and bribing guards, among other things. As a result, they recommended no leniency for Casso at his sentencing, and he was sentenced to 13 consecutive terms of life in prison.
When Amuso went to prison, he chose Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede to be his acting boss. Throughout the mid-1990s Amuso continued to control the family from prison. DeFede, who supervised the powerful Garment District racket, reportedly earned more than $40,000 to $60,000 a month. DeFede placed Steven Crea in charge of the family's labor and construction racketeering operations. Crea increased the Lucchese family earnings from these rackets between $300,000 and $500,000 every year. But as US law enforcement kept pressuring the organized crime activities in New York, DeFede was arrested and indicted on nine counts of racketeering in 1998. DeFede pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to five years in prison. Angry at DeFede's guilty plea, Amuso promoted Crea as the new acting boss.
Steven "Wonderboy" Crea's success with the labor and construction rackets convinced Amuso that DeFede had been previously skimming off these profits. In late 1999, Amuso placed a contract on DeFede's life. On September 6, 2000, Crea and seven other Lucchese members were arrested and jailed on extortion charges, mostly to the supervising of the construction sites with various capos Dominic Truscello and Joseph Tangorra.
After Crea's imprisonment, the consigliere Louis "Lou Bagels" Daidone, took control of the family. However, Daidone's tenure was short lived. After his release from the prison, the scared DeFede became a government witness and helped the government convict Daidone of murder and conspiracy. Daidone's conviction was also helped by the testimony from Alphonse D'Arco in September 2004.
In 1994, Casso revealed that two respected New York City police detectives worked as hitmen and informants for Casso during the 1980s and early 1990s before their retirement. They were Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who spent much of their combined 44 years with the NYPD committing murders and leaking confidential information to the Lucchese family. Between 1986 and 1990, Eppolito and Caracappa participated in eight murders and received $375,000 from Casso in bribes and payments for murder 'contracts'. Casso used Caracappa and Eppolito to pressure the Gambino crime family by murdering several of their members. This is because Casso, along with the imprisoned Amuso and Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante, wanted their rival John Gotti out of the way. Caracappa and Eppolito are now seen as the main source of 'tension' between these three families during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
For one contract, Eppolito and Caracappa kidnapped mobster James Hydell, forced him into their car trunk, and delivered him to Casso for torture and murder. Hydell's body was never found. The two detectives also shot Bruno Facciolo, who was found in Brooklyn in the trunk of a car with a canary in his mouth. After pulling Gambino crime family captain Edward "Eddie" Lino for a routine traffic check, the detectives murdered him on the expressway in his Mercedes-Benz. In April 2006, Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted of murdering Hydell, Nicholas Guido, John "Otto" Heidel, John Doe, Anthony DiLapi, Facciolo, Lino, and Bartholomew Boriello on the orders of Casso and the Lucchese family. They were sentenced to life imprisonment.
With the arrest of acting boss Louis Daidone in 2003, imprisoned boss Vic Amuso put a three-man ruling panel to run the family. The panel consisted of capos Aniello Migliore, Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna who brought the family's power back into the Bronx.
On December 18, 2007, two members of the panel Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna were arrested along with New Jersey faction capo Ralph V. Perna, soldier Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. and others. The arrested came after New Jersey law enforcement agencies revealed that through investigation Operation Heat the New Jersey faction controlled a $2.2 billion illegal gambling, money laundering and racketeering ring based in New Jersey and Costa Rica.
On October 1, 2009, the Lucchese family was hit with two separate indictments charging 49 members and associates with bribery and racketeering. In the first indictment, 29 members and associates of the Lucchese family were arrested. The indicted charged Joseph DiNapoli, Matthew Madonna and acting capo Anthony Croce with running operations that nearly grossed $400 million from illegal gambling, loansharking, gun trafficking, bribery and extortion. In the second indictment obtained from investigation "Operation Open House" 12 more Lucchese mobsters were charged with bribery. Acting capo Andrew Disimone and other mobsters were charged with bribing New York Police Department (NYPD) detective and sergeant posing as crooked cops to protect illegal poker parlors.
Although in prison for life, Victor Amuso remains the official boss of the Lucchese crime family. A February 2004 New York Post article stated that, the Lucchese family consisted of about 9 capos and 82 soldiers. In March 2009, an article in the New York Post stated that the Lucchese family consisted of approximately 100 "made" members.
In late 2009, the Lucchese family was handed three federal indictments showing that the family continues to be very active in organized crime, especially in labor racketeering, illegal gambling, and extortion. In one of the indictments, ruling panel members Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna were charged with controlling a ring that extorted and bribed businesses and construction sites in Manhattan and the Bronx. Also in 2009, Steven Crea's parole expired and former consigliere Joseph Caridi was released from prison after serving almost six years.
On January 16, 2013, the FBI arrested 29 members and associates of the Genovese, Lucchese and Gambino crime families on racketeering charges related to their involvement in carting companies in Westchester County, Rockland County and Nassau County in New York, and Bergen County and Passaic County in New Jersey. Members and associates of the Genovese, Lucchese and Gambino crime families controlled waste disposal businesses by dictating which companies could pick up trash at certain locations and extorting protection payments preventing further extortion from other mobsters.
In June 2013, the New York FBI office reduced the number of agents, focused on investigating the five crime families to thirty-six agents, divided into two squads. In the past the FBI had a separate squad of 10 to 20 agents investigating each crime family. Currently, the FBI has "squad C5", which at one time solely investigated the Genovese family, but will now also be investigating the Bonanno and Colombo families, and "squad C16", which previously investigated just the Gambino family, but will now be investigating the Lucchese family as well.
On May 31, 2017, 19 members and associates of the Lucchese crime family were indicted and charged by the FBI and NYPD with racketeering, assault, attempted murder, armed robbery, murder, firearms, fraud, witness tampering, money laundering, illegal gambling, narcotics and contraband cigarettes trafficking offences, which dated back to at least 2000. Members of the Lucchese administration Matthew Madonna, Steven Crea and Joseph DiNapoli were among the accused. Lucchese associate Terrence Caldwell and soldier Christopher Londonio were accused of participating in the shooting and murder of Michael Meldish, a former leader of the East Harlem Purple Gang and Lucchese Bronx-based hitman, on November 15, 2013. Caldwell was already in custody for the May 29, 2013, attempted murder of Bonanno crime family soldier Enzo Stagno, who was shot in the chest in East Harlem, Manhattan. In late 2012, Crea ordered Vincent Bruno and soldier Paul Cassano to murder a Bonanno associate who disrespected him, the 2 men went to his home with guns however the contract was not carried out. According to the FBI, Crea gave his approval in October 2016 to soldier Joseph Datello to murder an informant in New Hampshire but he was unsuccessful in finding the informer. Datello himself was accused of operating a drug smuggling ring from South America into the United States with other Lucchese mobsters, with five kilograms of cocaine, more than one kilogram of heroin and over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana allegedly brought into the country. Crea was personally charged with mail and wire fraud in connection with a skimming operation involving the construction of a New York City hospital. Originally all but two of the defendants faced the death penalty or life in prison, however in May 2018 the U.S. Attorney's Office announced that they would not seek the death penalty for Crea, Madonna, Londonio, Crea Jr. and Caldwell.
Lucchese crime family soldier, Dominick Capelli, and 9 associates were arrested on March 27, 2018, as part of operation "The Vig Is Up". Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that it was the biggest loan sharking case investigated by the United States Attorney General Office. Over 47 people were identified as loansharking victims, the victims were allegedly charged exorbitant weekly loan rates averaging over 200 percent per year, effectively creating a high-cost debt trap for all individuals taking out such loans. The accused were alleged to have operated out of New Rochelle, New York and the Bronx. It was also said that the defendants ran an illegal bookmaking operation which generated over $1.5 million in annual wagers. In a separate indictment in April 2018, Lucchese soldier Anthony Grado and associate Lawrence "Fat Larry" Tranese, were arrested and accused of forcing a doctor to prescribe them with over 230,000 oxycodone pills in order to sell them, from 2011 through to 2013. It was noted that Grado ordered one of his peer's to stab the unidentified Brooklyn-based doctor during a visit, who complied with the task. Grado was recorded threatening the doctor "if the prescriptions go in anybody’s hands besides mine, I’ll put a bullet right in your head”. Both men plead guilty on April 5, 2018, and face 20 years in prison. The investigation was conducted by wiretaps, surveillance cameras, car bugs, undercover officers, hidden cameras and cost over $1 million.
Boss (official and acting)Edit
- 1922–1930: Gaetano "Tommy" Reina: murdered on February 26, 1930
- 1930: Bonaventura "Joseph" Pinzolo: murdered on September 5, 1930
- 1930–1951: Tommaso "Tommy" Gagliano: retired in 1951, died on February 16, 1953
- 1951–1967: Gaetano "Tommy Brown" Lucchese: died on July 13, 1967 
- 1967–1973: Carmine "Mr. Gribbs" Tramunti: imprisoned in October 1973
- 1973–1986: Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo: indicted on February 15, 1985, convicted on November 19, 1986 in the Mafia Commission Trial and sentenced on January 13, 1987 to 100 years in prison.
- 1986–present: Vittorio "Vic" Amuso: arrested in 1991, received a life sentence in January 1993
- Acting 1990–1991: Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco: demoted, became a member of a ruling panel
- Acting 1993–1998: Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede: imprisoned in 1998
- Acting 1998–2000: Steven "Wonderboy" Crea: imprisoned on September 6, 2000
- Acting 2000–2003: Louis "Louie Bagels" Daidone: imprisoned March 2003, received life sentence in January 2004
The street boss is considered the go-to-guy for the boss and is responsible to pass on orders to lower ranking members. In some instances a Ruling panel (of capos) substituted the Street boss role.
- 1986–1987: Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso: promoted to consigliere
- 1990–1991: Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco: promoted to acting boss
- 1991: Ruling panel: Anthony Baratta, Salvatore Avellino, Frank Lastorino and Alphonse D'Arco (On September 21, 1991, D'Arco became a government witness)
- 1991–1993: Ruling panel: Anthony Baratta (imprisoned June 1992), Salvatore Avellino (imprisoned April 1993) and Frank Lastorino (Consigliere was imprisoned April 1993)
- 2003–2009: Ruling panel: Aniello Migliore, Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna: two members DiNapoli and Madonna were indicted in 2007 and indicted in 2009
- 2009–present: Matthew Madonna: indicted 2007 and 2009; imprisoned 2015–present; indicted 2017
Underboss (official and acting)Edit
- 1922–1930: Tommaso "Tommy" Gagliano: promoted to boss
- 1930–1951: Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese: promoted to boss
- 1951–1972: Stefano "Steve" LaSalle: retired
- 1973–1978: Aniello "Neil" Migliore: resigned
- 1978–1986: Salvatore "Tom Mix" Santoro Sr.: imprisoned in the Commission Case
- 1986–1989: Mariano "Mac" Macaluso: retired in 1989
- 1989–1993: Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso: imprisoned January 19, 1993; became government witness in 1994
- 1993–present: Steven "Wonderboy" Crea: acting boss 1998–2000; imprisoned 2000–2006; indicted 2017
Consigliere (official and acting)Edit
- 1931–1953: Stefano "Steve" Rondelli: retired
- 1953–1973: Vincenzo "Vinny" Rao: imprisoned from 1965 to 1970, retired
- 1973–1981: Vincent "Vinnie Beans" Foceri: retired
- 1981–1986: Christopher "Christie Tick" Furnari: imprisoned in 1986
- 1986–1987: Ettore "Eddie" Coco: retired
- 1987: Aniello Migliore: imprisoned 
- 1987–1989: Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso: promoted to underboss
- 1989–1991: Unknown
- 1991–1993: Frank "Big Frank" Lastorino: imprisoned in April 1993
- 1993–1996: Frank Papagni: imprisoned in September 1996
- 1996–2002: Louis "Louie Bagels" Daidone: promoted to acting boss in 2000
- 2002–2009: Joseph "Joe C." Caridi: imprisoned 2003—2009
- 2009–present: Joseph DiNapoli: indicted 2007 and 2009; indicted 2017
Current family membersEdit
- Boss Vittorio "Vic" Amuso – became boss in 1986 and remains the official boss of the crime family. Amuso has been imprisoned since 1992 and continues to rule the family from prison.
- Street Boss Matthew "Matt" Madonna – is the current Street boss. Madonna served on a ruling panel that ran the family from 2003–2009 along with Aniello Migliore and Joseph DiNapoli. In December 2007, Madonna and DiNapoli were arrested along with members of the New Jersey faction on illegal gambling charges. On October 1, 2009 Madonna and DiNapoli were indicted on racketeering, illegal gambling and bribery charges. In 2015, he pled guilty to his 2007 and 2009 charges and will serve both sentences concurrently. In May 2017, Madonna was indicted along with other members of the crime family.
- Underboss Steven "Wonderboy" Crea – is the current underboss. He became underboss in 1993 then acting boss in 1998. On September 6, 2000, Crea along with other Lucchese family members was indicted and charged with extortion and supervising various construction sites in New York City. In January 2004, Crea was sentenced to 34 months in prison. Crea was released from prison on August 24, 2006.
- Consigliere Joseph "Joey Dee" DiNapoli – is the current consigliere. DiNapoli served on a ruling panel that ran the family from 2003–2009 along with Aniello Migliore and Matthew Madonna. In December 2007, DiNapoli and Madonna were arrested along with members of the New Jersey faction on illegal gambling charges. On October 1, 2009 DiNapoli and Madonna were indicted in a racketeering scheme that involved mob-tied building inspectors and soliciting bribes to overlook violations.
The Bronx faction
- Steven Crea Jr. – is a current capo in the family and the son of Steven Crea. On May 31, 2017, Crea Jr. along with his father and others members of the crime family were indicted and charged with racketeering, murder, narcotics (cocaine, heroin, marijuana, prescribed medication), and firearms offenses. The indictment builds on charges previously filed against a reputed Lucchese soldier and associate in February 2017 with the murder of Michael Meldish in the Bronx on November 15, 2013; Mathew Madonna, Crea, and Crea Jr. were charged and suspected of serving as co-conspirators in the Meldish gangland exuection too.
- John "Johnny Hooks" Capra – was indicted in 2005 along with members of the Gambino crime family on extortion and illegal gambling charges. Capra was released from prison on September 10, 2008.
- Anthony "Blue Eyes" Santorelli – during the 1990s, he led The Tanglewood Boys, a Mafia recruitment gang.
- Joseph "Big Joey" Lubrano – a capo alleged to have ties across New York more strongly to the Bronx faction. During the 1990s, he was wrongfully convicted of beating and robbing a black police officer and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, during his second year in prison for the crime he was released after authorities mistook him for another Lucchese family look-alike mobster. It was at the trial that he was identified as having ties to the crime family. In May 2010, the FBI listed him as wanted for armed robbery and racketeering, he was captured in September of that year. He was released four years later after capture.
Manhattan & Long Island
- Dominic "Crazy Dom" Truscello – runs the Prince Street Crew. On September 6, 2000, Truscello, Steven Crea and Joseph Tangorra were charged with bid rigging, corrupting construction labor officials among other crimes. In 2003, Truscello pled guilty to extortion. On January 9, 2006, he was released from prison.
- Carmine Avellino – current captain in the Lucchese family. He is the brother of Salvatore Avellino who was the driver of deceased Lucchese crime family boss Tony Ducks Corallo. He is alleged to have been the trigger man in a double-murder dating back to 1989. Avellino was sent to prison for conspiracy to commit extortion from 1997 to 2004. In 2014, Avellino was charged with ordering two Lucchese family associates to assault a 70-year-old man over a late payment of $100,000 in 2010. When the man could not pay the remainder of the debt, 3 of the associates and member' used intimidation and threats of violence to obtain the payment. On August 12, 2016, Avellino was the last to plead guilty, Daniel and Michael Capra plead had plead guilty earlier. On May 23, 2017, Avellino was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest, 5 years probation and fined $100,000. His lawyer said at the trial that Avellino has suffered 2 heart attacks and is suffering from Parkinson's disease.
- (Acting) Tindaro "Tino" Corso – an acting capo operating from Staten Island and Manhattan. Corso was indicted along with Anthony Tortorello in 1997. In 2017, Corso was indicted along with Truscello, Crea and Madonna on racketeering charges.
- John "Big John" Castellucci – runs the Bensonhurst Crew. On November 12, 2000 Castellucci was charged along with brother underboss Eugene Castelle and others on drug trafficking, extortion and loansharking operations in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. On October 20, 2004 he was released from prison.
- Domenico "Danny" Cutaia – runs the Brownsville Crew. On October 25, 2009, he was sentenced to three years in prison for bank fraud. Cutaia was released from prison on October 4, 2013.
New Jersey faction
The Lucchese family has taken over unions across United States. The crime family has extorted money from the unions in blackmail, strong-arming, violence and other matters to keep their control over the market. Similar to the other four crime families of New York City they worked on controlling entire unions. With the mob having control over the union they control the entire market. Bid-rigging allows the mob to get a percentage of the income on the construction deal only allowing certain companies to bid on jobs who pay them first. The mob also allows companies to use non-union workers to work on jobs the companies must give a kickback to the mob. Unions give mob members jobs on the books to show a legitimate source of income. The Mafia members get into high union position and begin embezzling money from the job and workers.
- Clothes manufacturing – In the Garment District of Manhattan, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees Locals 10, 23, 24, and 25 were controlled by members of the Lucchese family. Lucchese associates would extort the businesses and organize strikes. Today some unions still are working for the family.
- Kosher meat companies – In the early 1960s Giovanni "Johnny Dio" Dioguardi merged Consumer Kosher Provisions Company and American Kosher Provisions Inc. together. Dio was able to control a large portion of the Kosher food market, forcing supermarkets to buy from his companies at his prices.
- Food distribution – At the Hunts Point Cooperative Market in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, the Lucchese family controlled unions involved in the food distribution industry.
- Airport services and freight handling – At John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty, the unions were controlled by the Lucchese family.
- Construction – Teamsters unions in New York City and New Jersey have been under Lucchese control; Mason Tenders Locals 46, 48, and 66 were controlled by the old Vario Crew.
- Newspaper production and delivery – In November 2009, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau sent search warrants to investigate the Newspaper Mail Deliverers Union. This union controlled circulation, production and delivery offices at The New York Times, The New York Post, The New York Daily News and El Diario La Prensa. When the Cosa Nostra took control over the union, the price and costs for newspapers increased. Charges were put against many union members as well as the former union President Douglas LaChance. LaChance is accused as being Lucchese crime family associate. In the 1980s LaChance was convicted on labor racketeering charges and served five years in prison. He was also involved in the Manhattan 1990s case where the New York Post was being strong-armed into switching their delivery companies, but was acquitted in the case.
FRENCH CONNECTION Crew (1967-1973)
- Virgil Alessi
- Louis Cirillo
- Anthony Loria
- Vincent Papa
- Anthony Pasero
This organization, closely aligned with the Lucchese Family were responsible for the theft of approximately $70 million in heroin taken from the NYPD property room. (*NY Newsday "THE HEROIN TRAIL" Investigative journalism Series)
Government informants and witnessesEdit
- Eugenio "Gino" Giannini - he was born in 1906 in Calabria. In 1925, he was imprisoned at Sing Sing for robbery, he began serving time at Dannemora prison for possession of a handgun and larceny in 1928 upon his release. By the early 1930s, he became associated with the American Mafia. In mid 1934, he was arrested for armed robbery and for the May 1934 murder of New York police officer, Arthur Philip Rasmussen. His last known arrest was in 1942 for trafficking narcotics and served over 1 year in prison. It is noted that Giannini was heavily involved in the narcotic trade from the 1930s until his murder in 1952. In the heroin trade, he was acquainted with Pasquale Moccio, Vincenzo Mauro, Salvatore Shillitani, Giovanni Ormento and Joseph Valachi. He became an informer around 1950 for the FBN and began informing on his heroin connection, Charles Luciano. It is believed his murder was ordered by Genovese crime family captain Anthony Strollo, who tasked Valachi to murder Giannini. Valachi then ordered Joseph and Pasquale Pagano and Fiore Siano to carry out the shooting on September 20, 1952.
- Dominick "the Gap" Petrilli - former soldier. He served time at Sing Sing prison during the 1920s and befriended future Genovese soldier Joseph Valachi. In 1928, Valachi introduced him to Girolamo Santuccio and Gaetano Gagliano, who was the underboss of the Lucchese family at the time. Petrilli later served as a driver for Gagliano. In 1942, he was deported to Italy after he was convicted of narcotic charges. Ten years later, Petrilli reentered the United States and was murdered one month later in the Bronx by 3 gunmen, on December 9, 1953. It was later revealed that Petrilli was an acquaintance of Dutch Schultz, who had hidden at his home in Newburgh, New York.
- Henry Hill - he is best known as the basis for 1990 film Goodfellas. Hill was active since 1955 until his cooperation in 1980, after facing a minimum of 25 years in prison for drug charges. He became associated with Paul Vario and his crew in Brooklyn, and later Jimmy Burke. By the late 1970s, he became an alcoholic and cocaine addict, and even sold narcotics himself. Vario disowned him and Burke was planning his murder as he believed Hill would eventually turn due to his excessive cocaine use. It is noted that he testified against Lucchese soldier Frank Manzo, Vario and Burke in the late 1980s. He would later breach his Witness Protection Program policies several times and be expelled. Though he would continue selling cocaine and other narcotics, it is believed he quit using cocaine in 2002. Hill died in 2012.
- Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo - former capo. Chiodo was initiated into the Lucchese family in 1987. He became a government witness in 1991 after a failed assassination attempt, which resulted in Chiodo being shot 12 times at a gas station in Staten Island. His failed murder attempt was believed to be ordered by Anthony Casso who disapproved of his plea deal in the "Windows case". According to Chiodo, he had turned down several attempts by the government to persuade him into becoming an informer however the threats against his wife and father eventually persuaded him. As a result of his cooperation with the government, Casso and Lucchese boss Vic Amuso ordered murder contracts on his sister and uncle. His uncle, Frank Signorino, was found shot in the head inside of the trunk of his car in 1993, and his sister was shot several times in 1992 however she survived. By 2007, he had testified in 7 American Mafia trials, including against Genovese boss Vincent Gigante, and admitted to his involvement in 5 murders. Chiodo died in 2016.
- Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco - the first boss, acting or otherwise, of the American Mafia to turn informer. D'Arco was active since the 1950s. He admitted to receiving dozens of murder contracts by Casso and Amuso, including an assignment to "wipe out the entire New Jersey faction" in 1988 which consisted of 15 men. He became the acting boss of the Lucchese family for several months until his cooperation in late 1991. According to D'Arco, he became a government witness as he was responsible for the failed murder attempt on Lucchese capo Peter Chiodo who survived 12 gunshots, and believed he was next to be murdered as a result of "screwing it up". His testimony almost destroyed the Lucchese family. Jerry Capeci and novelist Tom Robbins released a book about D'Arco in October 2013.
- Joseph D'Arco - former soldier and son of acting boss Alphonse D'Arco. It is noted that he participated in the February 1990 murder of Anthony DiLapi, an unpredictable Lucchese soldier based in California, after receiving orders from his father.
- Anthony "Tumac" Accetturo - former capo and leader of the Lucchese-New Jersey faction. Accetturo was known for his brawler characteristics on the street and became active with the Lucchese family in 1955. In 1988, he was acquitted of racketeering and other crimes alongside 19 other Lucchese mobsters. At his trial, prosecutors alleged that he controlled most of New Jersey's illegal gambling, drug dealing, loansharking and credit card scam operations. Though he has denied any involvement in murders, he admitted to being aware of at least 13 murders. According to an informant in 1992, Accetturo ordered a contract on Caesar Vitale, who was murdered after he failed to repay $800,000 which he was given to fund his cocaine business. Accetturo was convicted of racketeering in August 1993 and faced a maximum of 60 years in prison, and a death sentence ordered by the Lucchese family hierarchy in New York. In late 1993, he agreed to become an informer and to provide information for the government. Accetturo was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1993 and was released in 2002.
- Thomas Angelo Ricciardi - former soldier who was based around Toms River, New Jersey. Like his superior, Anthony Accetturo, he decided to turn informer in 1993. He was also convicted in the August 1993 trial which targeted the Lucchese family and the New Jersey faction, for racketeering and the 1984 murder of Vincent J. Craparotta Sr. who was beaten to death with a golf club. In September 1993, before he was to appear in a bribery case involving the Newark sanitation department, it was confirmed that he had flipped.
- Frank "Goo Goo" Suppa - former soldier who was based in South Florida. Suppa was a member of Anthony Accetturo's New Jersey faction, however it was later revealed that he was mostly active in Florida. He was indicted in 1985 for several crimes alongside 19 others and was acquitted in 1988. In 1993, he was arrested on cocaine charges, pleaded guilty and began to cooperate with the government.
- Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso - he is regarded as the most ruthless Lucchese crime family mobster, and arguably one of the most vicious gangsters in history. Casso has been suspected of being the trigger man in at least 100 murders and ordering more than 1,000 deaths. According to Alphonse D'Arco, he had prepared a hit list of 49 potential informants which was given to him in 1990, and by 1992, ten out of the 49 were murdered. Casso became an associate of Christopher Furnari during the late 1950s and was inducted into the Lucchese family in the 1970s. In 1961, he was arrested for attempted murder and later acquitted. [Anthony Corall appointed him as boss in 1987 however Casso suggested that his longtime friend Vic Amuso should take the reins, with Casso instead becoming consigliere and later underboss at the time of his downfall. It is believed Casso was in charge despite not being official boss. He became a fugitive in May 1990, two days before he was scheduled to be indicted in a $142 million bid-rigging case and for ordering 11 murders, including conspiring to order 3 more, Casso was captured by 25 FBI agents in January 1993. While in custody, he planned the murder of Eugene Nickerson, the presiding judge in his case, and tried to figure a way for Lucchese mobsters to ambush his prison transportation bus and then free him. Before his plans were carried out, Amuso banished him from the Lucchese family due to suspicions of Casso attempting to seize control of the crime family. Casso became an informer in March 1994 and pleaded guilty to extortion, racketeering and 15 murders. He also admitted to having two NYPD officers on his payroll, who were convicted of murdering 8 people on behalf of Casso.
- Frank "Spaghetti Man" Gioia Jr. - he was initiated into the Lucchese family in October 1991. Gioia was arrested in June 1992 on gun charges and then in 1993 for operating a heroin trafficking ring from Manhattan to Boston. Gioia was planning to murder current Lucchese underboss Steven Crea, along with George Zappola and Frankie Papagni, for the purpose of avoiding a power shift in the Lucchese hierarchy. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison and agreed to cooperate in late 1994 while imprisoned, after hearing that his sponsor, Lucchese capo George Zappola and his original sponsor, was planning to murder his father; Gioia was released in 1999. It is noted that by 1998, his testimony secured the convictions of more than 60 American Mafia members and associates, including Louis Vallario and Michael DiLeonardo from the Gambino crime family, and 3 other captain's from the New York crime families. He entered the Witness Protection Program upon his release and relocated to Phoenix, Arizona.
- Frank Gioia Sr. - the father of Frank Gioia Sr. and a former soldier. After facing a contract on his life, he cooperated with the government along with his son in 1994.
- Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede - born in 1934. DeFede was originally an associate of the Colombo crime family, but he renewed his friendship with Vic Amuso and later became inducted into the Lucchese family in 1989. He is the former acting boss, appointed by Amuso in 1993. In 1998, he admitted to involvement in the Lucchese-infiltration of the New York garment district. DeFede was active in Queens and Brooklyn, and operated gambling, extortion and loansharking operations. In his later years, he commented that he and his wife essentially did not have a life and couldn't visit his children in New York due to reprimands of the New York crime families and that he extremely struggled each week in terms of gaining money. He died in Florida in 2012.
- Vincent "Vinny Baldy" Salanardi - former soldier who turned in 2004. In 2002, he was arrested on racketeering and other charges alongside 21 other Lucchese mobsters, he was also overheard discussing a few assaults on a wiretap, and ordered an associate to find a debtor who owed him money, insisting that the associate should "bring him back bloody". He was sentenced to over 11 years in prison and ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution and immediately began cooperating after his arrest.
- Frank Lagano - former soldier. Lagano was arrested in 2004 on gambling and loansharking charges, as part of "Operation Jersey Boyz", it is believed he became an informer shortly after his arrest. In 2007, he was shot to death in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
- Burton Kaplan - former Jewish-associate. In 1973, he was sentenced to 4 years in prison for theft. It is noted that he acted as a liaison between Lucchese underboss Anthony Casso and 2 of his NYPD hitman-cops, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito. In 2004, while serving a 27-year sentence for operating a $10 million marijuana trafficking ring, he decided to cooperate with the government. It was revealed in 2005 that he had invited dozens of American Mafia mobsters to his daughter's wedding as a way of bringing her more clients as she practised law and was a defence attorney, he also admitted to failing his daughter. Kaplan died in July 2009. In 2017, his daughter Deborah Kaplan, was appointed as an administrative judge in New York.
- Steven LaPella - former associate (possibly soldier). It is believed he became an informer shortly after his February 2008 indictment for racketeering.
In popular cultureEdit
- In 1969, in the novel The Godfather (and in the 1972 film and 2006 video game), the Cuneo crime family is based on the Lucchese crime family. As the Lucchese, the Cuneo family is largely active in The Bronx and New Jersey.
- In the 1981 film Gangster Wars, Gaetano "Tommy Brown" Lucchese was played by actor Jon Polito.
- The 1990 film Goodfellas was based on Henry Hill's recollections about his involvement with The Vario Crew of the Lucchese family.
- In the 1991 film Mobsters, Tommy Reina was played by actor Christopher Penn.
- In the 1991 film Out for Justice, the William Forsythe character "Richard Madano" was allegedly based on Lucchese mobster Matthew Madonna.
- In the 1999–2007 HBO TV show The Sopranos, main character Anthony Soprano was based on Lucchese mobster Michael Taccetta.
- In 2005 and 2006, a fictionalized version of The Tanglewood Boys was featured on CSI: NY, in episode 1.13 "Tanglewood" and in episode 2.20 "Run Silent, Run Deep".
- The 2006 film Find Me Guilty was based on the 1980s trial of 20 members of the Lucchese Jersey Crew.
- In the 2007 film American Gangster, the Armand Assante character Dominic Cattano was allegedly based on Lucchese mobster Carmine Tramunti.
- In the 2008 Rockstar North video game Grand Theft Auto IV, the fictional Lupisella family resembles on the Lucchese family. The Lupisella family is mainly based in Bohan, the Grand Theft Auto IV version of the Bronx, and is operating in Liberty City, the game's version of New York City.
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