The Genovese Family evolved from Joe "The Boss" Masseria's (right) Joe The
Boss powerful gang, taken over by Charles "Lucky" Luciano after the
Castellammarese War. Luciano's decline began when he was sentenced in 1935
to a 30 - 50 year prison term for controlling prostitution in New york. This
case was, in fact, a frame. Vito Genovese, Luciano's underboss, was in line
to be "acting boss" of the Family, but he had fled to Italy one year later,
in 1936, to escape a murder accusation. This made room for a capo named
Frank Costello to take over as acting boss in 1937.
Lucky Luciano Shortly after World War II, in 1946, Luciano (left) was freed
and deported to Italy. It seems that the U.S Government was afraid of
sabotage along the New York docks. They enlisted the help of longshoremen,
whose unions were mob-controlled. Luciano was asked to use his influence,
and he apparently complied, leading to an early release. Luciano died in
1962 of a heart attack while meeting with a movie producer who wanted to
make a movie of Luciano's life story.
Frank CostelloIn 1947, Costello became formal boss, and by 1950, Luciano's
power was virtually a thing of the past. The question of who would control
the Family arose between Frank Costello (right) and Vito Genovese (now
exonerated of the murder charge). This dispute was settled in 1957 when
Costello was wounded in a botched hit attempt by Vincent "The Chin" Gigante
under orders from Genovese. Costello quickly retired, leaving Genovese in
power. During his 20 years in power, Costello was known for preferring
negotiation over violence.
Vito GenoveseGenovese (left) had gotten what he wanted, but in 1959 he was
convicted in a major heroin conspiracy and received a long sentence. This
heroin conspiracy also led to the first public betrayal of omerta -- by Joe
Valachi, a low-level Genovese soldier. He revealed the true name of the
mafia (La Cosa Nostra, which means "This Thing of Ours) along with the
national structure. He referred to his Family as the Genovese Family, and
that name has stuck.
After Genovese's prison sentence, Tommy Eboli became acting boss (1961).
Gradually, he lost favor and, in 1972, was gunned down in the street. Since
no great commotion was caused by this murder, Fat Tony it is believed that
the hit was approved by the Commission under Carlo Gambino.
The Chin The next boss was Frank "Funzi" Tieri, who was supposedly, perhaps
not so coincidentally, a long time friend of Gambino's. Tieri died in 1981.
It is unknown who controlled the Family for a while, but suspicions point to
Fat Tony Salerno (left), followed by Vincent "The Chin" Gigante (right) in
1987, after Salerno went to prison.
By this time, Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino Family after Carlo
Gambino's death, had been murdered, and a brutal Gambino capo named John
Gotti (below left) had taken over. Johnny Boy Chin didn't like Gotti,
particularly his unsanctioned hit on Castellano. In April 1986, Gotti's
underboss, Frank DeCicco, was blown up in a car bomb intended for both
DeCicco and Gotti.
On July 25, 1993, Chin was convicted of racketeering, and he went to prison
in 1997. Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo is believed to be acting as boss
currently. He, like Chin, avoids telephones and conducts business during
"walk talks" instead.
The Genovese Family is believed to be the most powerful and richest family
in New York and possibly the country (the only other candidate would be the