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Deadly Dons

Heading an organized crime group requires savvy business skills, decisive leadership and a willingness to prematurely end potential rivals' lives. Here's a look at some of the most powerful Mob bosses of the twentieth century
Bruce Goldman
From the Print Edition:
Francis Ford Coppola, Sept/Oct 03

(continued from page 2)

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel Syndicate leader
As a teenager, Siegel formed the Bug and Meyer Mob with Meyer Lansky to handle contracts for bootleg gangs, frequently carrying out the murders himself. He ran the syndicate's West Coast rackets in the '30s, hobnobbing with Hollywood stars, before meeting his end in 1947 for skimming money from the Flamingo in Las Vegas.

 

Thomas "Three-Finger Brown" Lucchese Lucchese family, New York
A noted hit man early on, Lucchese later became one of the Mafia's most popular and powerful bosses. His main racket was garments, but he also ran gambling, loan sharking, narcotics and construction operations. He developed close ties with government and business leaders, many of whom attended his funeral in 1967.

 

Vito Genovese Genovese family, New York
Like Albert Anastasia, killing came easily to Genovese, but "Don Vito" also had brains. The narcotics kingpin tried to take control of the Luciano family in the '50s, ordering the rubouts of several high-ranking mobsters. But his rivals conspired to implicate him in a drug-smuggling deal, which resulted in Genovese's imprisonment.

 

Albert Anastasia Gambino family, New York
An exceedingly violent man, Anastasia was the chief executioner of Murder Inc., the enforcement arm of the 1930s national crime syndicate that was responsible for more than 400 murders. After he tried to cut in on Meyer Lansky's Havana casino action, Anastasia was mowed down in a Manhattan barbershop in 1957.

 

Carmine Galante Bonanno family, New York
The cigar-smoking Galante attempted, as Joe Bonanno had, to wrest control from the other New York families. After he ordered eight Genovese wise guys murdered—control of a lucrative drug operation was at stake—he got his comeuppance when he was gunned down in Brooklyn in 1979, cigar in mouth.

 


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