Monday, September 10, 2012


9/10/1931 - Arrogance does in Mafia crime lord Salvatore Maranzano.  The winner of what is known as the Castellamarese War, a nation-wide battle to control Italian crime in America that kills dozens over a year's time, Maranzano upon the death of his New York rival, Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria (thanks to the betrayal of his second-in-command, Charles "Lucky" Luciano) calls a meeting of over 500 killers and crooks to let everyone know who is in charge and what the new rules will be governing their criminal activities.

                                    Masseria after Coney Island lunch with Lucky Luciano

At a large hall on Washington Avenue in the Bronx. Maranzano declares himself to be the "Capo de tutti Capi," the Boss of Bosses who will run a criminal underworld of Italians he calls "La Cosa Nostra" ("This thing of ours") in an organization patterned after Julius Caesar and his Roman legions.  Listening, young killers like Luciano, Vito Genovese, Thomas Lucchese and others are less than happy with the myriad of rules that must be followed and the tribute they must pay monthly to their new leader and immediately begin plotting to give Maranzano a Caesar-like sendoff.

                              Luciano                                  Genovese

No fool, at the same time as a plot is being hatched against him, Maranzano decides to have a purge of his own of the "Young Turks" in his new organization and authorizes hits on Luciano, Genovese, Al Capone, Frank Costello, Willie Moretti, Joe Adonis, and Jewish gangster Dutch Schultz.  A race of blood baths, at 2:50 in the afternoon Maranzano is in his Manhattan real estate office in the Eagle Building at 230 Park Avenue when four men arrive and flash badges and state they are police officers and tax agents come to inspect the books, an audit the crime boss is expecting.  Unfortunately for Maranzano, the group has not been sent by the local authorities, but consists of a squad of killers put together by Luciano buddy Meyer Lansky ... Red Levine, Bugsy Siegel, Albert Anastasia, and Lucchese (the core of a group that will soon be known as Murder, Inc.).

                                                                 Meyer Lansky

Fighting for his life once the actual occupation of his visitors is revealed when knives and guns are pulled, Maranzano is stabbed six times in the stomach and chest by Levine, and then to make sure he stays down, shot once by each of the killers.  Mission accomplished the murderers then flee, passing killer Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll on the stairs of the building, late for a scheduled meeting with Maranzano to discuss the execution of Luciano and his supporters.

                                                         The Boss of Bosses

The killing is not over though, and in real scenes that portend the end of The Godfather when Michael Corleone takes over, across the country a mass extermination of Maranzano allies takes place that leaves various police departments to deal with over forty corpses (Maranzano lieutenants Samuel Monaco and Louis Russo will wash ashore in Newark with their heads crushed, throats slashed, and various pieces of their body missing compliments of meat cleaver hacking).  Hold on power solidified, Luciano and his peers do away with the title of Boss of Bosses, and instead former a commission of criminal leaders that will vote on matters of importance to organized crime, while retaining some of Maranzano other ideas like the establishment New York City's Five Families ... Italians that will wreck mayhem over the city under the banners of the Lucchese Family, the Bonanno Family (now Massino), the Mangano Family (now Gambino), the Luciano Family (now Genovese), and the Profaci Family (now Colombo, the family that Mario Puzo is said to have used as the inspiration for his Godfather novel).  

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