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 THE MAFIA Big, Bad and Booming

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PostSubject: THE MAFIA Big, Bad and Booming   Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:33 am




THE MAFIA Big, Bad and Booming

Monday, May. 16, 1977



New Orleans Mafia Boss Carlos Marcello has doubled his force of bodyguards and shipped his family to a safe haven out of state. New York Don Aniello Dellacroce confuses his enemies by sometimes having a look-alike impersonate him in public. James ("the Weasel") Fratianno, a high-level mobster in San Francisco, rarely goes anywhere without two hulking companions. Other Mafia chieftains start their cars by remote control just in case bombs are wired to the ignitions.

Fear has always been a palpable part of life at the top in the Mafia, an almost feudal society in which men rise by murder and treachery and can never feel secure. But these are days of even greater tension than usual. The crime organization is going through one of its most crucial internal struggles since Prohibition, when the fight for control led to the bloody Castellammarese War (named for the Sicilian town of Castellammare del Golfo, birthplace of many of the leading thugs). Only when the smoke cleared from that battle and a nationwide commission of Mafia dons was set up to coordinate criminal operations did the closed brotherhood, which was imported by Sicilian immigrants in the 1860s, begin dominating the American underworld.

The present turmoil is centered in New York City, where ex-Mafia Executioner Dellacroce is struggling with Drug King Carmine Galante over leadership of the city's five crime clans. Mafiosi from coast to coast will look on the winner as the don with the most "respect," the capo di tutti capi (translation: boss of bosses); in a word, the Godfather. The loser may wind up dead.

The unrest within the Mafia—and the effect this has on all levels of organized crime—reaches far beyond the sidewalks and back alleys of New York. In Chicago, young toughs who are fighting over lucrative jobs in the organization have produced the worst intramural bloodbath since Al Capone seized control in the 1920s. The toll since December 1973: 21 dead. Observes Peter Vaira, chief of the Justice Department's anti-Mafia strike force in the city: "The younger faction wants more power and a bigger piece of the action. There will be more killings." At the same time, mobsters from New York and Chicago are invading California, shouldering aside the state's aging dons and grabbing a large share of the West's lucrative rackets.

Two developments have caused the underworld upheaval:

1) The death last fall of New York Don Carlo Gambino, who as capo di tutti capi had brought a measure of peace to the nation's Mafia families through guile, diplomacy and strong-arm discipline. His elaborate funeral marked the end of an era, for he was the last of the graybeard Godfathers who dominated the Mafia in the 1950s and 1960s. The others are either in their graves or living in expensive Sunbelt retirement homes in Florida, Arizona and Palm Springs, Calif.

2) A revolt by vicious young mobsters outside of New York against many of the remaining Mob elders, who had been spooked by repeated federal investigations from the 1950s until the early 1970s. For fear of letting in undercover agents, the old dons "closed the books" in 1965—that is, they stopped admitting new members. To keep a low public profile, they put the brakes on their men. To evade police wiretaps, they operated furtively from phone booths.


Things got so bad that a boss would rather leave his bodyguards at home than go out without a pocketful of change for the phone. The dons also began exchanging messages by courier, which sometimes slowed decision making so much that routine matters—like minor jurisdictional disputes between families—could take a month to settle. Hunkering down with hoards amounting to millions of dollars, the old dons could afford to advise Young Turks to wait for their share of the wealth. "Be patient. Your time will come," the late Chicago Mob boss Sam ("Momo") Giancana used to tell Anthony Spilotro, an ambitious associate.


For the Mafia, and indeed for all organized crime, that time may well be right now. Business has seldom been better. As during Prohibition, big-time criminals profit by providing goods and services that are either downright illicit or, where legal, are handled by people who are highly vulnerable to underworld pressures. The Mafia now dominates the manufacture and distribution of pornographic books, magazines and movies, a business that has doubled in a decade to $2.2 billion a year. It has become heavily involved in bootleg cigarettes and coffee. Most of the Mob's mainstay businesses are doing better than ever: gambling, loan-sharking, narcotics, hijacking, extortion and labor racketeering. No one outside the tight-knit Mafia organization knows the full extent of its operations, but estimates culled from a variety of law enforcement agencies suggest that the Mafia takes in at least $48 billion in annual gross revenues and nets an incredible $25 billion or so in untaxed profits. By contrast, Exxon, the largest industrial corporation in the U.S., reported sales of $51.6 billion and net profits of $2.6 billion in 1976.

The criminals plow lots of their profits back into their rackets or, even more ominously, into a wide range of legitimate businesses that affect Americans' lives from cradle (diaper services) to grave (funeral parlors). Increasing amounts of Mob money are pouring into real estate, construction companies, liquor stores, meat-packing companies, trucking firms, hotels, bars, restaurants, laundries and vending machines. Indeed, no facet of U.S. commercial life is safe from Mafia infiltration in the form of investment offers—often handled through lawyers or front men, of course. Justice Department officials believe that the Mafia may own as many as 10,000 legitimate firms, which generate annual profits estimated at $12 billion.

In addition to the sums that Americans pay directly for the mobsters' wares, there are substantial hidden charges. Chicago authorities estimate that because of Mob operations, the average citizen pays an additional 2¢ on the dollar for almost everything he purchases on the legal market—the passed-along business costs of extra theft insurance, additional security forces and outright extortion.

Organized crime flourishes in part because of a peculiar moral obtuseness—or anger at tax-happy authorities—on the part of many Americans. Extraordinary numbers of otherwise honest people see little harm in patronizing discount cigarette vendors and neighborhood bookmakers, in buying "hot" merchandise at bargain prices, even in using the expensive and illegal services of loan sharks. The cut-rate cigarettes are a way of beating the state out of its own very
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PostSubject: Continued   Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:39 am

substantial tax cut; the bookie is merely a private entrepreneur trying to survive in competition with state-run betting operations; the loan shark's 20%-a-week bite seems almost reasonable to a businessman who must raise cash fast but cannot qualify for a loan at a bank. Abetting this ethical blind spot are the romanticized accounts of the Mafia in novels and movies. Says Stephen Schiller, executive director of the Chicago crime commission: "The public doesn't realize how bad these people are. The Mob makes for good talk. We have made these bums folk heroes." Adds Ralph Salerno, formerly the New York City police department's leading Mafia expert: "America has come over to them. We've accepted the Godfather syndrome." In addition, dramatic changes in American moral attitudes —the new sexual permissiveness, relaxed concern over marijuana and cocaine, and the drive to legalize gambling —create an ever-increasing appetite for organized crime's services. On almost any given day, newspaper headlines attest graphically to the size and variety of that appetite. Last week, for example, two organized crime figures and seven associates were indicted in Detroit on charges of luring rich businessmen to sex and gambling parties and then extorting large sums of money from them —in one case, more than $200,000. In Manhattan that same night, police raided a luxurious casino near Rockefeller Center, equipped with crystal chandeliers, thick red carpets and six blackjack tables that were being used by more than 80 well-heeled customers.


Organized criminals react like any big businessmen: when they see customer potential they go after it. The potential is reflected to some extent in the statistics for legal gambling. In the last decade, gross wagering revenues have tripled in Nevada's casinos, to nearly $1.2 billion.

Americans in 44 states last year legally gambled $18.5 billion—in lotteries and on horse and dog races; ten years earlier, when only 32 states allowed gambling, the total was about $6 billion.

While law enforcement officials know the identity of the major mobsters and the nature of their crimes, turning up enough hard evidence to put them in prison is often impossible. The Mafia's reputation for vengeance frightens many victims, witnesses and potential informers into not cooperating with authorities. To make matters even easier for the Mob, the growing public concern over street violence has prompted city and state police to concentrate less of their limited resources on organized crime. Federal strike forces, made up of investigators from several Government law enforcement agencies, were established as front-line squads in the fight against big-time criminals in 18 cities. But after ten years of efforts and the expenditure of $800 million, a General Accounting Office study concluded in March that "organized crime is still flourishing." Most of the strike forces are now being disbanded. Because of abuses, the Government has also lost two of its best weapons: virtually unrestrained bugging and wiretapping, which once provided 80% of the information about Mob activities, and easy access to hoodlums' tax returns.

For all of its impact on American life, the Mafia is a remarkably small organization. As reckoned by the FBI, the Mafia numbers about 5,000 "made men," or members.


All are of Italian ancestry, most with roots in Sicily. Of course, the nationwide number of mobsters involved in organized crime is far higher and knows no ethnic limits. Rednecks dominate the Georgia underworld. Blacks and Hispanics run most of the rackets in their neighborhoods. Jews, Greeks, Chinese and Irish Americans all help swell the totals.

Then why does the Mafia attract so much attention? Many Italian Americans complain that the notoriety is excessive, and damaging to millions of law-abiding citizens; to assuage their sensibilities, the Justice Department has stopped referring to the Mafia by name. No matter what the organization is called, it dominates much of American crime. Many nonmember gangsters are allied to it, usually kicking back a share of their take to the dons; some criminologists estimate that at least 50,000 hoods can be considered confederates of the Mafia. The Mafia is by far the best organized criminal group in the U.S. and the only one with a national structure: 26 families—five of them in New York City* —of from 20 to 1,000 "button men," or soldiers.

The familiar Mafia lore that has become commonplace knowledge through movies and fiction is essentially true. All the made men are bound by a loyalty oath of blood and fire. They are divided into regimes, or squads, under the command of caporegimes, or lieutenants, who in turn take their orders from the clan's dons. Years ago, the don was both a prince of crime and social arbiter among Italians in his territory. But the breakup of the old Italian neighborhoods has stripped away his social functions—and any romanticism that might have surrounded him. Today he is no more than a hoodlum who has reached the top by outwitting, frightening, maiming or killing his rivals. Says Schiller: "We are dealing here with brutality and inhumanity beyond belief."

The Mafia is overseen nationally —but loosely—by the Commission, a dozen or so dons who usually, but not always, defer to the dominant boss in New York because he controls the most men and rackets. He may not get his hand kissed as often as Marlon Brando and Al Pacino did in the Godfather films, but he is first among equals. Since Gambino's death, two New York dons have been competing for his crown as capo di tutti capi. They are:

> Chunky, balding Carmine Galante, 67, who has spent nearly half his life in prison for bootlegging, gambling, narcotics trafficking, extortion, assault and homicide. Known to associates as "Lillo" and "the Cigar," he has an unrivaled reputation for ruthlessness. During his latest term in prison, 15 years at Lewisburg federal penitentiary, even the guards feared him. Says a Mafia defector: "If you don't jump when he says to, there's no second chance." Comparing Galante with Gambino, New York Mafia Expert Salerno says: "If someone got out of line, Gambino would say, 'Lean on him a little,' and then six months later, 'Lean on him again.' Galante would say, 'Hit him.' "

After being paroled in 1974, Galante took over control of the Mafia family once run by Joseph ("Joe Bananas") Bonanno, who retired to Tucson, Ariz., in 1964. At first, Interim Boss Philip Rastelli was unwilling to step aside. Gunmen killed his stepson, James Fernandes, on a Brooklyn street. Rastelli got the
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PostSubject: Continued   Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:44 am

message. Since becoming boss, Galante has pushed his underlings deeper into drug importing and distribution, long one of the family's most profitable enterprises. He has begun re-establishing the family's Southeast Asian connection, broken by federal narcotics agents six years ago. One sign of his success is the white Asian heroin that has begun reaching New York to compete with the more common Mexican brown.

Graying, grandfatherly Aniello Dellacroce (translation: "little lamb of the Cross"), who has spent only six of his 62 years in prison, for attempted burglary, assault and tax evasion. He was long Gambino's underboss and chief peacemaker. As befits an ex-assassin for Albert Anastasia's Murder, Inc., Dellacroce settled disputes between rival clans by a direct method: having troublemakers eradicated. He took over the Gambino family soon after his release from prison last December after serving 4½ years for tax evasion and contempt of court.

Fond of disguises, Dellacroce sometimes dons a priest's cassock and goes about as Father O'Neill (a play on his often mispronounced first name). Father O'Neill will commiserate with policemen on the beat about their hard lot. Dellacroce enjoys tormenting the authorities. Once he arranged to have the bodies of two murder victims dumped in the parking lot of a Manhattan police station. When he and his bodyguards discovered two policemen tapping his phone, they forced the wiretappers, at gunpoint, to chew and swallow some of their tapes. When Dellacroce learned that his line was again being tapped, he ordered his men to make false comments on the phone about "the mayor's end" and "the greedy chief." The eavesdroppers soon disconnected the tap.

Dellacroce makes his money from loan-sharking and gambling. He is now moving his aides and muscle into Atlantic City, where legal casino gambling is expected to be the salvation of the moribund resort and possibly the source of a bonanza for the Mob. By legalizing casino gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey has given New York and Pennsylvania a strong incentive to follow suit —a situation the Mob relishes.

In Atlantic City, Gambino family members are scouting hotels that are up for sale and have invested in some bars and pizza parlors. U.S. Attorney Jonathan Goldstein expects increased Mob involvement in Atlantic City service industries: linen supply, liquor distribution and the like. The Gambino men are pushing aside local gangsters who work for Angelo Bruno, Philadelphia's ailing and unimposing Mafia don. Had Bruno been stronger, the invasion might not have occurred. To mollify Bruno, the New Yorkers are willing to toss his people some Atlantic City scraps—services like garbage hauling, vending machines and pest control.

When the Godfather contest was joined after Gambino's death, Galante and Dellacroce adopted sharply contrasting tactics. Galante roams the country openly, accompanied by bodyguards and sometimes by his attractive daughter Nina, 21. A few weeks ago, two federal agents lost him at New York's Kennedy Airport. As the agents frantically scanned the crowd, one of them nudged his companion and whispered: "Wow! Get a load of that chick!" The other agent recognized Nina, and they were soon on Galante's trail again. Agents have followed Galante to Disneyland


and to Hawaii. He stays so visible that, in a flurry of stories two months ago, New York newspapers concluded that he had already become the new capo di tutti capi (TIME, March 7).

It was a hasty anointment, one that failed to reckon with the cunning of Dellacroce. In contrast to Galante, he dropped out of sight. But he recruited one or more look-alike stand-ins to appear publicly in his place. He will have a double either check in at a New York hospital, to create the impression that he is sick, or relax outside the Dellacroce vacation home on Key Largo, thus setting off rumors that he has retired. The real Dellacroce, meanwhile, is running things from his discreet haunts in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

TIME has learned that the Galante-Dellacroce conflict is ranging from Manhattan to Canada. The first casualties were two Galante spies discovered among Dellacroce's followers. The Little Lamb acted quickly to get rid of the black sheep; their bodies have not been found. Next, Dellacroce sent gunmen to Harlem to shoot a number of heroin dealers—then spread the word that Galante had ordered the hits. Dellacroce's goal was to disrupt Galante's connections with black Narcotics King Leroy ("Nicky") Barnes. Federal agents arrested Barnes on March 16, confiscating $1 million worth of heroin (he was released on $300,000 bail, which he raised by pledging $1.25 million worth of property that he owns in Pontiac, Mich.).

The evening that Barnes was arrested, Dellacroce Confidant Guido ("Dolls") DeCurtis was shot to death on Manhattan's East 28th Street in full view of passers-by and a policeman. The officer arrested a suspect, Canadian Joseph Djaija, 26. Some law enforcement officials believe DeCurtis was killed because of a private quarrel over gambling rights in the Astoria section of Queens. But Dellacroce was suspicious and sent henchmen to Montreal, an important link in Galante's narcotics network. The avengers pushed around several Galante associates but found no proof that he had ordered DeCurtis' murder.

Besides gunfire, Dellacroce has loosed a propaganda fusillade against his rival. He complains to associates that the splashy publicity given to Galante's trips and narcotics deals draws too much attention to the Mafia and thus is bad for business. Eventually, he is expected to argue before the Commission that Galante is a troublemaker who cannot do business quietly and is therefore unqualified for Mafia leadership.

Galante may have an edge in the quarrel, partly because of his forceful personality. Says New York Police Lieutenant Remo Franceschini: "He has people supporting him right across the U.S. Dellacroce is a little provincial. His base has always been Little Italy, and I don't think he has the will or the intellect to control a large group of men."

Some mobsters have tried to win Galante's favor by turning over their businesses to him at distress-sale prices. In one deal, he scooped up the betting and loan-shark rackets in Pennsylvania Station, which net at least $500,000 a year. Other mobsters, including some nominally under Dellacroce, sold Galante a number of Manhattan sweatshops in which black and Hispanic women, many working at less than $3 an hour (the union scale is $4.81), stitch garments that are sold in legitimate clothing stores across the country.

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PostSubject: Continued   Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:50 am

estimate the take from one of Galante's new shops at $100,000 a year.

Should Galante and Dellacroce destroy each other, waiting in the wings is Anthony ("Tony Ducks") Corallo, 64, who earned his nickname by beating almost every rap against him, including grand larceny, possession of narcotics and bribery of public officials. Imprisoned for extortion on one of the few occasions when he failed to duck the prosecutors, Corallo lost control of his family to one Andimo Pappadio. He regained it last September by arranging—with Galante's help—for Pappadio's murder.

A remote candidate to become New York's crime czar is Galante's former boss, Joseph Bonanno. His age (71) works against his ambitions. So did the murder in February of Frank ("Bomp") Bompensiero, who was Bonanno's chief ally on the West Coast—and an FBI informer. Bomp was one of the 20 people who have been executed over the past two years by professional hit men armed with silencer-equipped .22-cal. pistols (TIME, April 18).

A different sort of generational struggle is going on in Chicago, where the 250-member Mob, known as the Outfit, is still nominally in the hands of Anthony ("Big Tuna") Accardo, 71. He spends most of his time at his $126,000 condominium in Palm Springs, leaving day-to-day operations in the hands of Underboss Joseph Aiuppa, 69, nicknamed "Doves" because he once slaughtered hundreds of the birds while hunting in Kansas. But Aiuppa's grip is shaky—some authorities say he has no executive ability—and eager young thugs are on the warpath against the old guard. So far, they have not gone after Accardo or Aiuppa but have settled for promotion by gunfire to the Outfit's middle and upper echelons.

A few of the war's 21 victims over the past 3½ years have been police informants and potential prosecution witnesses. But most have been mobsters. Among those killed were Sam Giancana, who abdicated as the Outfit's leader in 1965, and Richard Cain, an ex-cop who served as a top aide to Giancana. The latest to die was top Triggerman Charles (Chuck) Nicoletti, 62, an Accardo protégé. He caught three .38-cal. slugs in the head on March 29 while sitting in his blue Oldsmobile sedan outside the Golden Horns Restaurant in suburban Northlake. For good measure, the assassins fire-bombed his car.

Among the Chicago Mob's rising stars is James ("Turk") Torello, 46, a native of Cicero, Al Capone's old base. According to the FBI, Torello did so well as an executioner for Giancana that he was given several West Side bookmaking rings in the early 1960s. Moving swiftly into other neighborhoods, Torello now supervises all of the Outfit's gambling operations. He lives modestly in Cicero with his wife "Doodles."

Torello revels in the sadistic side of his work. An FBI wiretap once recorded him plotting in Miami to murder a Chicago union boss by taking him out to sea in a powerboat, slitting his throat, chopping up his body and feeding the pieces to the sharks. The FBI intervened. Another FBI wiretap overheard Torello telling how he had hung William Jackson, a 350-lb. loan shark, on a meat hook and tortured him with an electric prod. "He was on that thing three days before he croaked," Torello said excitedly. "He was floppin' around on that hook. We tossed water on him to give the prod a better charge, and he's screamin' ..."

Despite the bloodletting in Chicago, the Outfit has been rapidly expanding its Western operations. Although freelance Mafiosi and other big-time criminals have operated in California since the heyday of Bugsy Siegel in the 1940s, the only important criminal clan was Jack Dragna's family in Los Angeles. When Dragna's nephew Louis turned down a chance to become boss in 1974 —he was promptly dubbed "the Reluctant Prince"—the Outfit and New York's Gambino clan made an extraordinary agreement to exploit the West together. Frank Bompensiero, consigliere (chief adviser) of the fading Dragna family, outlined the arrangement to the FBI before he was executed.

The Chicago and New York gangsters gave the task of enforcing the West Coast realignment to an intimidating trio of very mean thugs: Chicagoan Tony Spilotro, Brooklyn-born Mike Rizzitello and San Francisco's James Fratianno. "Animals," an FBI agent calls them. "Those guys are dangerous enough when the Mob keeps them in check. But when their keepers unsnap the leash, a lot of people are going to get hurt."

Fratianno, 62, is believed by police to have made up to 16 hits as the Mob's West Coast executioner. When the Gambino and Chicago mobsters decided in 1975 to move into the West, they tapped Fratianno as their point man. With their blessing, he recruited Rizzitello, now 50, a handsome stickup artist who migrated to Los Angeles in the early 1960s because he wanted an easy racket and the respect that he had never got from the hoodlums back home. Both were a long time coming, but now he is rising quickly in influence and power. Says a West Coast lawman: "Rizzitello sounds like he is the boss and running things."

Rizzitello helped the Mafia take over 80% of the $100 million-a-year Los Angeles pornography business. His approach is not sophisticated. In January, for example, he extracted $20,000 from a porno film company simply by proclaiming: "Los Angeles is our town. You can't operate here unless we're in." He has ranged north to San Francisco, working with Teamsters on shakedowns of employers. But Rizzitello may soon be taken off the streets for up to three years. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 23 for a penny-ante crime—fraudulently collecting $21,780 on a false insurance claim that his business-supply firm had been burglarized.

Spilotro, 38, learned his trade at the knee of Felix Alderisio, lord high executioner of the Chicago Mob in the 1950s and 1960s. Spilotro has been tried for killing an informer with an ice pick (he was acquitted) and suspected by the FBI of eliminating Mafia foes with bombs and bullets. He went to Las Vegas about five years ago and by 1975 was overseeing the Outfit's operations in the city. Stocky and short (5 ft. 4 in.), he came on as a swaggering, street-wise punk. Introduced to a federal agent one day at the Las Vegas airport, Spilotro looked him coldly in the eye, stuck out his forefinger and moved his thumb up and down like the hammer of a gun.

Nevada authorities are investigating Spilotro for his alleged involvement in skimming* millions from the slot machines of the Stardust casino. FBI agents meanwhile are investigating Detroit gangsters who, working through fronts,
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PostSubject: Continued   Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:54 am

are said to own 24% of the Aladdin Casino and virtually to control its operation. A court affidavit disclosing the probe was the first official word of Mob holdings in a Las Vegas casino since Nevada authorities supposedly ran them out of town about ten years ago.

Spilotro, who operates from his modest, $55,000 stucco house, also watches over the Chicago Mob's investments in Las Vegas casinos and controls loansharking, narcotics and prostitution along the Strip. Says a Justice Department official: "Spilotro has become the most powerful man in Las Vegas, next to Moe Dalitz [a legendary mobster on the Strip]. Spilotro takes a cut of all illegal activities of any consequence." He spends much of his time traveling by private jet on Mob business in California, where he has helped Fratianno and Rizzitello guide new Mob investments in narcotics trafficking, bookmaking, loan-sharking and extortion from legitimate businessmen as well as from illegal Mexican immigrants who work in garment-manufacturing firms owned by the mobsters. The Eastern and Midwestern hoodlums have run into stiff competition from entrenched indigenous gangs in at least one field—narcotics. This is still largely in the hands of the so-called Mexican Mafia, the Nuestra Familia, the Black Guerrilla Army and other independents.

Despite the dangers of life in the Mafia, Mob recruiters find no shortage of eager applicants. To replenish the ranks, depleted during the years of intense federal pressure, Mafia clans across the country reopened their membership books in 1975. Since then scores of new soldiers have signed up. Among them were a number of "greenies," immigrant gunmen from Sicily.

What motivates someone to enlist? A Mafia defector summed it up for TIME: "Money, power, recognition and respect." Most grew up in slums, where the neighborhood's most visibly successful men were connected with the Mob. Says Chicago Police Commander William Hanhardt: "The man with the big money and a fancy car is a man of prestige. It's something to aim for." There are practical benefits to membership: protection from competition, easy access to skilled lawyers and, if a Mafioso is jailed, financial support for his family.

A new soldier starts at the bottom, breaking in as a senior thug's driver, bodyguard or shylock debt collector. He earns about $20,000 a year, in the form of cash from his boss, a salary from a phantom job in a Mob-infiltrated business or a share in the proceeds of a racket. If his superior approves, the new man can start some minor enterprise of his own—loan-sharking, bookmaking, labor racketeering. If he demonstrates a taste for violence, business acumen and organizational skill, he will rise rapidly.

For some hoodlums, the ultimate goal is to become a boss and enjoy "the feudal respect and tribute paid all dons by their soldiers. Says Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau: "Power is as important to these people as money."

An ironic fact of life in the Mafia is that its mobsters always have money problems. For one thing, the tidal wave of cash from the rackets, mostly in small bills, is difficult to handle. The Gambino family solves this by paying friendly bank employees to exchange small bills for big ones that can be transported easily in satchel-size bundles.


York's Chemical Bank was fined $225,000 and fired 25 employees after pleading guilty to a charge of failing to report $8.5 million in hundreds of all-cash transactions. But a felony count specifically charging the bank with laundering $1 million in illicit funds was dropped.


If wealthy mobsters live like millionaires, Internal Revenue Service agents can ask discomfiting questions. Some Mafiosi have large sums in secret bank accounts overseas, most notably in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as nest eggs in case they ever have to flee abroad. Other mobsters keep their escape money in bank safe-deposit boxes or hiding places called "traps." Anthony ("Fat Tony") Salerno, a gambler and loan shark who was indicted last week on charges of running a $10 million-a-year numbers operation in Manhattan, used to keep more than $1 million in small bills packed in shoe boxes stacked from floor to ceiling in a closet of his apartment on West End Avenue.

Successful Mafia men have several gambits for laundering enough cash to live exceedingly well by most Americans' standards, if not like the jet-set multimillionaires that their net worth would enable them to be. Some pass money to very cooperative bankers, who lend it back. Others own legal businesses with large cash flows—bars, pizza parlors, restaurants, jukebox companies or vending-machine firms. No matter how poorly the business may do, its books show huge profits because the mobster is pumping in the rackets money, thereby converting it into cash that can be spent openly. Other Mafiosi have no-show jobs, with either their own firms or companies run by businessmen who owe them favors; they are paid large salaries with money that originally came from rackets. The Mafia defector interviewed by TIME drew a $50,000 salary from a travel business in 1968 and $30,000 from his share of a legitimate finance company, enabling him to have an $80,000 house, two Lincoln Continentals for himself and a Ford for his wife, horses for his children and the use of a $112,000 yacht owned by his firm.

His life-style was typical; so, too, was the rigid insulation of his family from his life in the rackets. At home, a Mafioso cultivates the image of a solid, churchgoing, charity-supporting citizen (see box). On the job, he keeps up a flashy front by wining and dining associates at expensive restaurants and resorts. Nearly every important Mob figure sports a well-kept mistress at gangster affairs. The dichotomy of Mafia life was nowhere seen better than at a flashy Manhattan restaurant where mobsters used to entertain their wives and children on Sunday afternoons and return in the evening with their girl friends.

For all their washday efforts, top Mafiosi can never launder more than a fraction of their illegal earnings. Thus a valued member of each clan is the "money mover," who specializes in finding ways of putting Mob money to work. Loan-sharking is a favorite because of its quick and huge returns. California officials estimate that Chicago mobsters have invested $50 million in Palm Springs bars, restaurants, hotels and real estate. As the Mafia defector said: "Money layin' around in your pocket don't do nothin' but get wrinkles."

Some mobster money ends up in the pockets of the high-priced lawyers who keep them out of jail. Carlo Gambino's cousin Joseph Gambino, 47, entered the U.S. illegally in 1957, was ordered deported to Italy in 1967 and has used ten years of legal maneuvers to keep from returning to his homeland. Last week he was charged with extortion and strong-arm tactics in an attempt to take over most of the private trash-collection business in The Bronx.

Although several notorious gangsters are being prosecuted, pressure on organized crime has eased considerably in the past few years because of disarray among federal law enforcement agencies, notably the FBI, IRS and Drug Enforcement Administration. They are still suffering from the backlash against the civil rights violations committed by some overzealous agents in the 1960s and early 1970s. In addition, the FBI has not yet settled down from the inevitable turmoil that followed the death of Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1972; its parent, the Justice Department, has been disoriented by a revolving door at the top: five chiefs since 1972.

During those years, an attempt at a broad-scale attack on organized crime by the federal strike forces broke down because of internal rivalries. Says William Aronwald, former leader of the strike force in New York: "Cooperation among agencies is the exception rather than the rule." But without joint efforts by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government, Aronwald and other investigators fear, organized crime can never be attacked successfully. He adds: "You've got to be ballsy. You've got to be aggressive. You can't wait until they come to you." A successful assault will probably require:

> Concentrating more money and manpower on fighting the Mob. According to a study by G. Robert Blakey, director of the Cornell Institute on Organized Crime, all levels of government employ only 400 lawyers who specialize in organized crime. Says he: "The Mafia now has more lawyers than we have."

> Permitting easier bugging and wiretapping of known members of organized crime. The courts now require investigators to demonstrate that a specific crime has probably been committed. If the eavesdropping does not turn up enough evidence and the suspects are not promptly indicted, they must be informed about the bugs or taps.

> Enacting stronger legislation. The Carter Administration last week moved in this direction by proposing laws that would prohibit the laundering of Mob money, tighten loan-sharking statutes and provide stiff prison sentences for operating racketeering syndicates. The proposals, however, do not solve the central problem: the very difficulty of proving charges of money-washing, loan-sharking and running illegal rackets.

> Giving convicted racketeers longer prison sentences. The GAO study found that over a four-year period, 52% of the sentences imposed on organized criminals by federal courts involved fines but no imprisonment and only 20% were for jail terms of two years or more. One reason: many judges feel that the mobsters' crimes, except the killings of each other, are nonviolent and thus less serious than, say, mugging. When jailed, mobsters are generally model prisoners and, with their high-priced legal help, win paroles more easily than the average convict.

Above all, there must be an end to Americans' tolerance for any kind of organized crime. Romantic notions about the dons and winking acceptance of their goods and services
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