Joseph Massino
American mobster
Joseph Massino
Joseph Charles Massino, also known as "Big Joey" or "The Ear", was the boss of the Bonanno crime family before he became a government witness in 2004. He was convicted in July 2004 of racketeering, seven murders, arson, extortion, loansharking, illegal gambling, conspiracy and money laundering. To avoid the death penalty Massino agreed to turn state's evidence and testify against his former associates. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2005.
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Rizzuto snitch to be freed from U.S. prison
Calgary Sun - over 3 years
Joseph Massino, the former Mafioso turned snitch responsible for putting Vito Rizzuto in a U.S. prison, is scheduled to be released in a few weeks, even though Massino was found guilty of eight murders.
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Calgary Sun article
Former New York mob boss wins early release from prison
Yahoo News - over 3 years
By Noreen O'Donnell NEW YORK (Reuters) - Joseph Massino, the first boss of a New York organized crime family to break the code of silence and testify against a former associate, will be released from prison early for helping the government, according to federal court documents. Convicted of eight murders, Massino, the 70-year-old former head of the Bonanno crime family, will be set free in 60 days, giving the government time to make arrangements for his safety, his lawyer Edward McDonald told Reuters on Thursday. U.S. ...
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Yahoo News article
'Mikey Scars' Gets Repaid For Informing - Wall Street Journal
Google News - over 5 years
He noted the recent testimony of Joseph Massino, the former boss of the Bonanno crime family, who turned cooperating witness and became the first head of a Mafia family to testify against his associates. But Justice Koeltl appeared to side with
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Google News article
NYC mobster Vinny Gorgeous gets 2nd life term - The Associated Press
Google News - over 5 years
The government's case relied on the testimony of former Bonanno boss-turned-cooperator Joseph Massino. Massino was the highest-ranking member of the city's five Italian crime families ever to take the witness stand for the government
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Google News article
New England Mafia is weakened but still pursued - The Associated Press
Google News - over 5 years
"Because somebody is not a young man doesn't mean they are not dangerous and cannot order acts of violence," said Sallet, who arrested Bonnano family crime boss Joseph Massino in New York in 2003. Massino, who later was convicted of orchestrating a
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Google News article
Finally! Mafioso Vincent "Chin" Gigante Appears In A Vicious Political Attack ... - The Smoking Gun
Google News - over 5 years
In addition to Gigante, Gambino, and Luciano, other wiseguys in the clip are Al Capone; Meyer Lansky; Bugsy Siegel; Abe Reles; ex-Bonanno boss Joseph Massino; and Liborio “Barney” Bellomo, the Genovese gang's reputed street boss
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Mobster Vinny Gorgeous avoids death penalty - Telegraph.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
Prosecutors used the unprecedented testimony of former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino to try to portray Basciano as a stone-cold killer who deserved death. Massino - the highest-ranking member of the city's five Italian organised crime families to ever
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Google News article
Mob boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano dodges death penalty, sentenced to ... - New York Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
The former Bronx hair salon owner was spared the death penalty Wednesday by a federal jury that found his crimes less heinous than those of turncoat witness Joseph Massino - killer of a dozen people. ... - -
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Google News article
NY judge troubled by testimony at mob trial - Wall Street Journal
Google News - over 5 years
The testimony came this week from ex-Bonanno head Joseph Massino at the trial of convicted mobster Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano. Jurors are deciding whether to give Basciano the death penalty. Massino alleged lawyers Murray Richmond and David
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Surprising testimony in Basciano case - Newsday (subscription)
Google News - over 5 years
By AP By Anthony M DeStefano May 25--Former crime boss Joseph Massino unexpectedly testified Wednesday that he failed two FBI lie detector tests while he was trying to become a cooperating witness, an admission defense attorneys will use to attack his
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Google News article
Ex-mob boss: 'Vinny' wanted to kill prosecutor - The Associated Press
Google News - over 5 years
Testimony from ex-Bonanno head Joseph Massino ranged from a list of mob victims, claims that his underling Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano wanted to kill a federal prosecutor and talk of having to wash their own clothes in prison. ... -
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Google News article
Mob rat Joseph Massino to take stand against Vinny Gorgeous in death penalty phase - New York Daily News
Google News - almost 6 years
Joseph Massino (right) will try to convince jury that Vinny Gorgeous (left) deserves death penalty. The mob's fat man sang - and now he's coming back for an encore. Joseph Massino, the highest ranking Mafia canary to ever testify in a
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Mobster Convicted in Case That Featured Boss's Testimony - New York Times
Google News - almost 6 years
The federal trial of Mr. Basciano featured testimony by a former Bonanno boss, Joseph Massino, the highest-ranking member of the city's five Italian organized crime families to testify against one of his own. Mr. Massino, 68, began talking with ... - -
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Google News article
Jurors ask to hear tapes again in 'Vinny Gorgeous' murder trial - New York Post
Google News - almost 6 years
The jury in the death penalty murder trial of former Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano listened to tapes made by longtime boss Joseph Massino, which contains a segment where Basciano uttered the phrase "let
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Jury deliberates in murder trial of Bonanno mob boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous ... - New York Daily News
Google News - almost 6 years
Basciano's lawyer has argued that he was lying to Mafia chieftain Joseph Massino about giving the order to kill Pizzolo when he was secretly taped in prison. Jurors requested a playback of the Massino tape and transcripts of mob rats who testified
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Google News article
Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano confessed role in murder plot on tape ... - New York Daily News
Google News - almost 6 years
Let's go," Basciano said in a conversation taped by his boss Joseph Massino in jail. That says it all, Frank said in his closing argument. "Those are the words of a cold-blooded, remorseless killer," Frank said. "The words of a man that would let
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Google News article
Mafia Boss Says in Court Gotti Plotted to Kill Him
NYTimes - almost 6 years
John J. Gotti plotted with the No. 2 figure in the Bonanno crime family to assassinate Joseph C. Massino, the former Bonanno boss, Mr. Massino testified on Monday. The plot was interrupted in December 1990 when Mr. Gotti, the Gambino boss, was arrested on murder and racketeering charges, Mr. Massino said in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, where
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NYTimes article
At Mafia Murder Trial, Federal Judge Criticizes Defense Lawyers' Actions
NYTimes - almost 6 years
A federal judge in Brooklyn chided defense lawyers on Friday for their actions during the trial of a Mafia boss accused of murder. The trial of the defendant, Vincent Basciano, who is charged with ordering the 2004 murder of a fellow mobster, Randolph Pizzolo, has gained widespread attention because a former leader of the Bonanno family, Joseph C.
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NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Joseph Massino
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2013
    Age 70
    In June 2013 the U.S. Department of Justice filed a request to Judge Garaufis for a reduction of Massino's sentence; prosecutors cited both the impact of Massino's unprecedented cooperation and his failing health as reasons for a reduction of his sentence.
    More Details Hide Details Garaufis granted their request on July 10, resentencing Massino to time served and supervised release for the remainder of his life.
    Massino had also been considered as a witness in the 2013 murder trial of Colombo acting boss Joel Cacace, but was dropped after he was unable to fully remember the meeting where he claimed Cacace indicated his involvement in the murder of NYPD officer Ralph Dols.
    More Details Hide Details
    Massino was not replaced as Bonanno boss until 2013 when Michael Mancuso, who had replaced Basciano as acting boss, was reported to have formally assumed the title.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 2012
    Age 69
    Massino testified again in the 2012 extortion trial of Genovese capo Anthony Romanello, primarily to provide background as an expert on the American Mafia.
    More Details Hide Details While Massino had not worked closely with Romanello, prosecutors decided to use him after another mobster-turned-witness was dropped; the case ended in an acquittal.
  • 2011
    Age 68
    He finally made his debut as a witness at Basciano's trial for the murder of Randolph Pizzolo in April 2011; Massino's testified both during the trial itself and, after Basciano was convicted, on behalf of the prosecution's unsuccessful attempt to impose the death penalty.
    More Details Hide Details During his testimony Massino noted, as a result of his cooperation, "I’m hoping to see a light at the end of the tunnel."
  • 2006
    Age 63
    Massino was conspicuously absent from the prosecution witnesses at the 2006 racketeering trial of Basciano, the prosecution deciding he was not yet needed; he was also expected to testify against Vito Rizzuto regarding his role in the three capos murder, but the Montreal boss accepted a plea bargain in May 2007.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 2005
    Age 62
    In a hearing on June 23, 2005, Massino finalized his deal and plead guilty to ordering the Sciascia murder.
    More Details Hide Details For this and his 2004 conviction he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, with a possible reduction depending on his service as a witness. That same day Josephine Massino negotiated a settlement to satisfy the forfeiture claim, keeping the homes of herself and Massino's mother as well as some rental properties while turning over, among other assets, a cache of $7 million and hundreds of gold bars, and the Casablanca restaurant.
    By the end of January 2005, when Basciano was indicted for the Pizzolo murder, Massino was identified by news sources as the then-anonymous fellow mobster who secretly recorded his confession, to the public disgust of Massino's family.
    More Details Hide Details Further confirmation of Massino's defection came in February as he was identified as the source for the graveyard, then in May when the Justice Department dropped the threat of the death penalty regarding the Sciascia case.
  • 2004
    Age 61
    After deliberating for five days the jury found Massino guilty of all eleven counts on July 30, 2004.
    More Details Hide Details His sentencing was initially scheduled for October 12, and he was expected to receive a sentence of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. The jury also approved the prosecutors' recommended $10 million forfeiture of the proceeds of his reign as Bonanno boss on the day of the verdict. Immediately after his July 30 conviction, as court was adjourned, Massino requested a meeting with Judge Garaufis, where he made his first offer to cooperate. He was facing the death penalty if found guilty of Sciascia's murder – indeed, one of John Ashcroft's final acts as Attorney General was to order federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Massino. Massino thus stood to be the first Mafia boss to be executed for his crimes, and the first mob boss to face the death penalty since Lepke Buchalter was executed in 1944. In hopes of saving his life, Massino decided to break his blood oath and turn informer. Massino subsequently claimed he decided to turn informer due to the prospect of his wife and mother having to forfeit their houses to the government. Mob authors and journalists Anthony D. DeStefano and Selwyn Raab both consider the turning of so many made men as a factor in disillusioning Massino with Cosa Nostra, the former also assuming Massino had decided to flip "long before the verdict". Massino was the first sitting boss of a New York crime family to turn state's evidence, and the second in the history of the American Mafia to do so (Philadelphia crime family boss Ralph Natale had flipped in 1999 when facing drug charges).
    Massino's trial began on May 24, 2004, with judge Nicholas Garaufis presiding and Greg D. Andres and Robert Henoch heading the prosecution.
    More Details Hide Details He now faced 11 RICO counts for seven murders (due to the prospect of prosecutors seeking the death penalty for the Sciascia murder, that case was severed to be tried separately), arson, extortion, loansharking, illegal gambling, and money laundering. By this time, Time magazine had dubbed Massino as "the Last Don", in reference to his status as the only New York boss not serving a prison sentence at that point. The name stuck. Despite a weak start, with opening witness Anthony Gilberti unable to recognize Massino in the courtroom, the prosecution would establish its case to link Massino with the charges in the indictment through an unprecedented seven major turncoats, including the six turned made men. Vitale, the last of the six to take the stand, was of particular significance. He had spent most of his three decades in the Mafia as a close confidant to Massino, and his closeness to his brother in law allowed him to cover Massino's entire criminal history in his testimony. Brietbart's defense rested primarily on cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses, with his only witness being an FBI agent to challenge Vitale's reliability. His defense was also unusual in that he made no attempt to contest that Massino was the Bonanno boss, instead stressing the murders in the case took place before he took over and that Massino himself "showed a love of life because the murders ceased."
  • 2003
    Age 60
    On January 9, 2003, Massino was arrested and indicted, alongside Vitale, Frank Lino and capo Daniel Mongelli, in a comprehensive racketeering indictment.
    More Details Hide Details The charges against Massino himself included ordering the 1981 murder of Napolitano. Massino was denied bail, and Vincent Basciano took over as acting boss in his absence. Massino hired David Breitbart, an attorney he had originally wanted to represent him in his 1987 trial, for his defense. Three more Bonanno made men would choose to cooperate before Massino came to trial. The first was James Tartaglione; anticipating he would shortly be indicted as well he went to the FBI and agreed to wear a wire while he remained free. The second was Salvatore Vitale. In custody Massino again put out the word, to a receptive Bonanno family, that he wanted Vitale killed. After learning of Massino's earlier plans to kill his brother-in-law from Coppa and Cantarella, prosecutors informed Vitale. Vitale was already dissatisfied by the lack of support he and his family received from Massino after his arrest. On the day he was arraigned with Massino, Vitale decided to flip as soon as it was safe to do so; he formally reached a deal with prosecutors in February. He was followed in short order by Lino, knowing Vitale could implicate him in murder as well. Also flipping was longtime Bonanno associate Duane Leisenheimer, concerned for his safety after an investigator for Massino's defense team visited to find out if he intended to flip.
  • FIFTIES
  • 2002
    Age 59
    Graziano would assume Spero's duties, but he too plead guilty to racketeering charges in December 2002 and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
    More Details Hide Details Vitale would also plead guilty to loansharking charges in June 2002. Vitale was not immediately sentenced, and was placed under house arrest in the interim, but the relatively low maximum sentence he was eligible for lead Massino to wrongly suspect he was cooperating with law enforcement. He secretly ordered that, if he was arrested, Vitale was to be "taken down" - demoted or killed. Until 2002, the Bonannos had been the only family in the modern history of the New York Mafia (i. e., since the Castellammarese War) to have never had a made man turn informant or government witness. Massino used this as a point of pride to rally his crime family. That year Frank Coppa, convicted on fraud and facing further charges from the FBI's forensic accounting investigation, became the first to flip. He was followed shortly by acting underboss Richard Cantarella, a participant in the Mirra murder, who was facing racketeering and murder charges. A third, Joseph D'Amico, subsequently turned state's evidence with the knowledge that Cantarella could implicate him for murder as well. All of these defections left Massino, at last, vulnerable to serious charges.
  • 2000
    Age 57
    In January 2000, however, Massino did preside over an informal Commission meeting with the acting bosses of the other four families.
    More Details Hide Details As the most powerful Mafia leader in both New York and the nation, Massino was in a position to make general policies for the Five Families. Under his direction, the Commission tightened qualifications to become a made man, requiring candidates have full Italian descent (previously having an Italian-American father was the minimum requirement) and imposed restrictions on initiating associates convicted on drug charges. According to Capeci, the murder of Sciascia soured relations between the Bonanno and Rizzuto families. Originally considered merely a Canadian Bonanno crew, the Rizzutos responded by taking even less heed from New York. At the beginning of his reign as boss, Massino enjoyed the benefit of limited FBI attention. In 1987, with the Bonannos weakened, the FBI merged its Bonanno squad with its Colombo family squad, and this squad was initially preoccupied with the Colombos' third internal war. Another dedicated Bonanno squad would be established in 1996.
  • 1999
    Age 56
    Vitale remained loyal, however, and helped Massino organize the March 18, 1999 murder of Gerlando Sciascia.
    More Details Hide Details Massino indicated to fellow mobsters that Sciascia was killed for feuding with fellow Massino-confidant capo Anthony Graziano, accusing him of using cocaine, while in his own testimony Massino claimed Sciascia was killed for killing another mobster's son. Sciascia's body was not covertly buried but instead left to be discovered in a street in the Bronx, an attempt to make the hit look like a botched drug deal rather than a Mafia-ordered hit, and Massino had his capos attend Sciascia's funeral. Shortly after becoming boss, Massino announced that his men should no longer consider themselves as part of the Bonanno family. Instead, he renamed it the Massino family, after himself. Like many mafiosi, he was angered at family namesake Joseph Bonanno's tell-all autobiography, A Man of Honor, and regarded it as a violation of the code of omertà. He told Vitale that in his view, "Joe Bonanno disrespected the family by ratting." The new name was first disclosed after Massino was indicted in 2003 and did not catch on outside the Mafia.
  • 1996
    Age 53
    He returned to his job at King Caterers, and in 1996 became co-owner of Casablanca, a well-reviewed Maspeth Italian restaurant.
    More Details Hide Details Massino was 48 years old at the time of his accession, and knew that he potentially had a long reign ahead of him. With this in mind, he was determined to avoid the pitfalls that landed other Mafia bosses in prison. Inspired by Genovese boss Vincent Gigante, Massino forbade his men from saying his name out loud due to FBI surveillance. Instead, they were to touch their ears when referring to him. Massino gained the nickname "The Ear" because of this. Massino took a great number of precautions in regards to security and the possibility of anything incriminating being picked up on a wiretap. He closed the long-standing social clubs of the Bonanno family. He also arranged family meetings to be conducted in remote locations within the United States. In some cases, he held meetings in foreign countries, and had his capos bring their wives along so they could be passed off as vacations. Remembering how Pistone's infiltration had damaged the family, he also decreed that all prospective made men had to have a working relationship with an incumbent member for at least eight years before becoming made, in hopes of ensuring new mafiosi were as reliable as possible. Unusually for bosses of his era, he actively encouraged his men to have their sons made as well. In Massino's view, this would make it less likely that a capo would turn informer, since if that happened the defector's son would face almost certain death.
  • FORTIES
  • 1992
    Age 49
    Upon his release on November 13, 1992 Massino retained Vitale as his messenger during his probation and promoted him to underboss.
    More Details Hide Details He could not associate with convicted mafiosi during his probation. While the FBI suspected Vitale was a mafioso, he had never been convicted of a crime, and the FBI would have no reason to be suspicious of him associating with Massino since they were brothers-in-law.
  • 1991
    Age 48
    However, in the spring of 1991, Massino ordered Vitale to "make me boss" as soon as Rastelli died.
    More Details Hide Details Rastelli died in June 1991. A few days after his funeral, Massino instructed Vitale to call a meeting of the family's capos, and Massino was acclaimed as boss.
    In 1991, while Massino was in prison for a 1986 labor racketeering conviction, Rastelli died and Massino succeeded him.
    More Details Hide Details Upon his release the following year he set about rebuilding a family that had been in turmoil for almost a quarter-century. By the dawn of the new millennium, he was reckoned as the most powerful Mafia leader in the nation. Massino became known as "The Last Don", the only full-fledged New York boss of his time who was not in prison. In July 2004 Massino was convicted in a murder and racketeering indictment based on the testimony of several cooperating made men, including Massino's disgruntled underboss and brother-in-law Salvatore Vitale. He was also facing the death penalty if convicted in a separate murder trial due to be held later that year, but after agreeing to testify against his former associates he was sentenced to life imprisonment for both indictments in 2005. Massino testified twice for the government, helping win a murder conviction against his acting boss Vincent Basciano in 2011, and was resentenced to time served in 2013, though he will be on supervised release for the rest of his life.
  • 1987
    Age 44
    On April 1987, Massino and Vitale went on trial for truck hijacking and conspiracy to commit the triple murder, defended by Samuel H. Dawson and Bruce Cutler respectively.
    More Details Hide Details Prosecutor Michael Chertoff, describing Massino's rise in his opening statements, would characterize him as the "Horatio Alger of the mob." Raymond Wean and Joseph Pistone testified against Massino, but both proved unable to conclusively link Massino with any of the murder charges. On June 3, while both men were convicted on hijacking charges they were cleared of the murder conspiracy charges. Further, the only proven criminal acts took place outside the RICO act's five-year statute of limitations; without evidence that the "criminal enterprise" was still active in this timeframe the jury returned a special verdict clearing Massino and Vitale of these charges as well. During Massino's imprisonment at Talladega Federal Prison for his 1986 conviction Vitale functioned as his messenger, effectively becoming co-acting boss alongside Spero. On Massino's orders, Vitale organized the murder of Gabriel Infanti, who had also botched a 1982 hit on Anthony Gilberti and was suspected of being an informant.
    On January 16, 1987 Massino was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, his first prison term.
    More Details Hide Details Rastelli, also convicted and in poor health during the trial, was sentenced to twelve. Around this time Massino was believed to be the Bonanno family's official underboss. With Rastelli in declining health, Massino was also reckoned as the operating head of the family, though consigliere Anthony "Old Man" Spero was nominally acting boss.
  • 1986
    Age 43
    While Massino protested in confidence to other mobsters he never had the opportunity to profit from the racket, he was implicated by both Pistone and union official Anthony Gilberti, and on October 15, 1986 was found guilty of racketeering charges for accepting kickbacks on the Bonannos' behalf.
    More Details Hide Details
    The labor racketeering trial began in April 1986, with Massino as one of twelve defendants including Rastelli and former underboss Nicholas Marangello.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1985
    Age 42
    In 1985 Massino was indicted twice more, first as a co-conspirator with Rastelli in a labor racketeering case for controlling the Teamsters Local 814, then with a conspiracy charge for the Pastore murder that was added to the original three capos indictment.
    More Details Hide Details The second indictment also charged Vitale as a co-conspirator in the hijacking cases.
  • 1984
    Age 41
    Through Gotti associate Angelo Ruggiero, Massino was able to meet with defense attorney John Pollok in 1984 to negotiate his surrender.
    More Details Hide Details He finally turned himself in on July 7 and was released on $350,000 bail. That year, Massino and Salvatore Vitale secured no-show jobs with the Long Island based King Caterers in exchange for protecting them from Lucchese extortion.
    In 1984, Rastelli was released from prison, and he and Massino ordered the murder of Bonanno soldier Cesare Bonventre.
    More Details Hide Details Still a fugitive, Massino summoned Vitale, Louis Attanasio and James Tartaglione to his hideout and gave them the order. By this time, Massino was considered by most mobsters to be the boss in all but name, even though Rastelli was still officially head of the family, as well as heir apparent for the title itself. According to Vitale, Massino had Bonventre killed for giving him no support when he was in hiding. Bonventre was called to a meeting with Rastelli in Queens. He was picked up by Vitale and Attanasio and driven to a garage. En route, Attanasio shot Bonventre twice in the head but only wounded him; he would kill Bonventre with two more shots when they reached their destination. The task of disposing of Bonventre's corpse was handed to Gabriel Infanti. Infanti promised Vitale that Bonventre's remains would disappear forever. However, after a tipoff, the remains were discovered on April 16, 1984, in a warehouse in Garfield, New Jersey, stuffed into two 55-gallon glue drums.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1982
    Age 39
    On March 25, 1982, Massino was also charged with conspiracy to murder Indelicato, Giaccone and Trinchera and truck hijacking.
    More Details Hide Details In hiding, Massino was able to see the prosecution's strategy and better plan his defense as well as eventually face trial without association with other mobsters. Pistone later speculated Massino also feared retaliation upon the revelation that his associate Raymond Wean had turned state's evidence. Massino was visited by many fellow mobsters, including Gotti, and Vitale would secretly deliver cash to support him.
    In March 1982, Massino was tipped off by a Colombo-associated FBI insider that he was about to be indicted and went into hiding in Pennsylvania with Leisenheimer.
    More Details Hide Details
    Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero, who helped Pistone formally become a Bonanno associate, was also targeted, but was arrested en route to the meeting where he was expected to be murdered. On February 18, 1982, Anthony Mirra, the soldier who first "discovered" Pistone, was assassinated on Massino's orders.
    More Details Hide Details Mirra had gone into hiding upon Pistone's exposure but was ultimately betrayed and murdered by his protégé and cousin Joseph D'Amico. On November 23, 1981, based on information gained by Pistone's infiltration, six Bonanno mobsters, including the then-missing Napolitano, were indicted on racketeering charges and conspiracy in the three capos hit.
  • 1981
    Age 38
    Massino, Napolitano and Gerlando Sciascia, a Sicilian-born capo linked to the Montreal Rizzuto crime family, arranged a meeting at a Brooklyn social club with the three capos for May 5, 1981.
    More Details Hide Details The three had four gunmen, including Vitale and Bonanno-affiliated Montreal boss Vito Rizzuto, hiding in a closet to ambush them. When Trinchera, Giaccone and Indelicato arrived with Frank Lino to meet Massino they were shot to death, with Massino himself stopping Indelicato from escaping. Lino escaped unscathed by running out the door. The hit further improved Massino's prestige, but was marred by both Lino's escape and the discovery of Indelicato's body on May 20. Massino quickly won Lino over to his side, but Indelicato's son Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato vowed revenge. Napolitano assigned associate Donnie Brasco, who he hoped to make a made man, to kill Indelicato. "Brasco", however, was in fact an undercover FBI agent named Joseph Pistone; shortly after the hit was ordered Pistone's assignment was ended and Napolitano was informed of their infiltration. Already skeptical of Napolitano's support of "Brasco", Massino was deeply disturbed by the breach of security when he learned of the agent's true identity. Vitale would later testify that this was the reason Massino subsequently decided to murder Napolitano as well; as he would later quote Massino, "I have to give him a receipt for the Donnie Brasco situation." In his own testimony, Massino instead claimed Napolitano was targeted for trying to take over the Bonannos himself. On August 17 the former renegade Frank Lino and Steven Cannone drove Napolitano to the house of Ronald Filocomo, a Bonanno family associate, for a meeting.
    The Commission initially tried to maintain neutrality, but in 1981, Massino got word from his informants that the three capos were stocking up on automatic weapons and planning to kill the Rastelli loyalists within the Bonanno family to take complete control.
    More Details Hide Details Massino turned to Colombo crime family boss Carmine Persico and Gambino boss Paul Castellano for advice; they told him to act immediately.
  • 1979
    Age 36
    The hit was approved and executed on July 12, 1979; Rastelli subsequently took full control of the family and rewarded Massino's loyalty by promoting him to capo.
    More Details Hide Details By the beginning of the 1980s Massino ran his crew from the J&S Cake social club, a property just behind J&J Catering. The building was seized in 1988 during a crackdown on the Bonannos' gambling activities. Following the Galante hit, Massino began jockeying for power with Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, another Rastelli loyalist capo. Both men were themselves threatened by another faction seeking to depose the absentee boss led by capos Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Dominick "Big Trin" Trincera and Philip Giaccone.
  • 1977
    Age 34
    On June 14, 1977, Massino was inducted into the Bonanno family along with Anthony Spero, Joseph Chilli, Jr. and a group of other men in a ceremony conducted by Carmine Galante.
    More Details Hide Details He worked as a soldier in James Galante's crew, and later worked in Philip "Phil Lucky" Giaccone's crew. Massino nevertheless remained loyal to Rastelli, then vying to oust Galante despite his imprisonment. Fearing Galante wanted him dead for insubordination, Massino delivered a request to the Commission, the governing body of the American Mafia, on Rastelli's behalf to have Galante killed.
    Massino was scheduled to go on trial in 1977, but the charges were dropped after he successfully argued that he had not been properly mirandized, disqualifying statements Massino gave to police from being used in trial.
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  • 1975
    Age 32
    In March 1975, Massino was arrested at the scene of the arrest of one of his hijackers, Raymond Wean, and charged with conspiracy to receive stolen goods.
    More Details Hide Details
    In 1975, Massino and Vitale participated in the murder of Vito Borelli, who Massino claimed was primarily executed by Gotti, at the behest of Paul Castellano of the Gambino crime family.
    More Details Hide Details The Borelli hit was significant for Massino "making his bones" – proving his loyalty to the Mafia by killing on its behalf – putting him close to becoming a made man, a full member, in the Bonanno family. Massino also arranged the murder of one of his hijackers, Joseph Pastore, in 1976 after having Vitale borrow $9,000 from him on his behalf. While later acquitted of the crime, both Vitale and Massino would admit to participation after turning state's evidence.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1973
    Age 30
    Massino's mentor Rastelli was expected to become Bonanno boss upon the 1973 death of Natale Evola, but he had been convicted the previous year of loansharking and then of extortion in 1976, leaving him imprisoned.
    More Details Hide Details In his absence Carmine Galante, a former consigliere and convicted drug trafficker, seized control of the Bonannos as an unofficial acting boss.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1956
    Age 13
    Massino first met his future wife Josephine Vitale in 1956, and married her in 1960.
    More Details Hide Details The couple had three daughters. Massino also befriended Josephine's brother, Salvatore Vitale, who, after briefly serving in the Army, became one of Massino's most trusted allies. While athletic in youth, Massino was an avid cook, and he grew overweight in adulthood. His weight gained him the nickname "Big Joey" and during a 1987 racketeering trial, when he asked FBI agent Joseph Pistone who was to play him in a film adaptation of his undercover work, Pistone joked that they could not find anyone fat enough. By 2004, Massino was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure as well. After he turned state's evidence, Massino claimed his first murder victim was a Bonanno crime family associate named Tommy Zummo, whom he shot dead some time in the 1960s. The killing gained the ire of a Maspeth-based Bonanno caporegime Philip Rastelli, but he remained unaware of Massino's participation, and a nephew of Rastelli ultimately helped Massino become his protégé. Rastelli would set Massino up as a lunch wagon operator as part of his "Workmen's Mobile Lunch Association", an effective protection racket; after paying a kickback to Rastelli in the form of membership dues, Massino was assured no competition where he operated.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1943
    Age 0
    Joseph Massino was born on January 10, 1943 in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details He was one of three sons of the Neapolitan-American Anthony and Adeline Massino. Raised in Maspeth, Queens, Massino has admitted to being a juvenile delinquent by the age of 12 and claimed that at 14 he ran away from home to Florida. He dropped out of Grover Cleveland High School in tenth grade.
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