You know them from movies like The Godfather, Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco or maybe from the TV Show Soprano’s, in which actors like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, or Al Pacino made them look human or even charming. The real face of the mobsters that inspired these movies is however a bloody one: without blinking, they didn’t hesitate to kill whomever stood in the way of their ascension or in the way of making money. And, as an irony, they also ended up murdered, or, in jail.
As many of the mobsters that didn’t wanted to be arrested by the police carrying illegal fire arms, Anthony Mirra, member of the Bonnano Family, always had a knife on him. He wasn’t very popular within his ranks because of his violent temper and unpleasant personality. He was known as a womanizer which was violent with women, once the threatened a woman to kill her, in the moment he found out she was a lesbian.
Still, Anthony Mirra remained in the history as athe person who introduced to the Bonnano family the FBI Agent Joseph Pistone, also known as Donnie Brasco. After 5 years, when he found out that Brasco is an undercover agency, Anthony hid, aware that nobody will take his side with the bosses. In 1984, Mirra was shot in the back of the head by Joseph D’Amico, another member of the Bonnano family, while he was driving his Mercedes.
Raised on the street and nicknamed The Cigar because he always had on in his mouth, Carmine “Lilo” Galante started his criminal career from an early age, he was part of a gang when he was a teenager. He was arrested for the first time when he was 14 and sent to a Juvenile facility. He was arrested again, under the change or aggression and robbery and was sent to prison, 2 years later.
Without fear and with a good sense for business, Galante joined the Mob during Prohibition. After 9 years in jail, The Cigar became a hitman for the Vito Genovese family, being also involved in drug trafficking. His contribution to the family business brought him 12 years in a federal prison, where he received special privileges. He was allowed to have three cats.
While he was in detention, Carmine Galante was diagnosed with psychotic behavior. After he was released on probation, he became the head of the Bonnano family, and from his new “job” he ordered the killing of many rivals.
Galante was also executed in 1970, along with his bodyguard and the owner of the italian restaurant he had lunch at. The order came from Alphonse Sonny Red Indelicato.
Roy DeMeo and Metoda Gemini
Member of the Gambino family and fierce killer, Roy DeMeo remained in history for creating a group of professional killers which operated under the Gemini Method. The name comes from Gemini Lounge, a bar in Brooklyn owned by DeMeo, where according to the FBI estimations, between 75 and 200 people have “disappeared”. Usually, the victim was attracted in the apartment behind the bar, then shot using a silencer gun by Roy DeMeo. Immediately after that, a towel was wrapped around the head of the victim to absorb the blood. Then the victim was stabbed into the chest and left in the bathroom, until parts of the body were cut off. Part of the body, placed in bags and boxes were then sent to the local trash dump.
It is unclear who is responsible for DeMeo’s assassination in 1983, when he was found shot to death.
Albert Anastasia was the leader of a feared group of hitmen. Named Murder, Inc by the media, Anastasia’s team committed almost 700 killings. Eventually, Anastasia became the boss of the Gambino family. Cruelty and power brought him respect, but at the same time the hate of other gangsters. Albert Anastasia was the victim of a power war. He was shot to death while he was at the barber.
Abe “Kid Twist” Reles
One of the most popular “employees” of Murder, Inc was Abe “Kid Twist” Reles. He entered into business in the mafia through extortion and then he started to do loan sharking, and had very brutal methods of conviction. In 1940, Reles became an informant and testified against his business partners, including Albert Anastasia. He died after diving to death from an hotel window, in 1941. It is not established if he committed suicide or if he was executed.
A butcher’s son, Paul Castellano was the head of the Gambino family. With good sense for business, Castellano strategically eliminated the family members which broke the unwritten rules. One example is Nicholas Scibetta, brother in law of Sammy “The Bull” Gravan, which was a known junkie and which, practically, signed his own death sentence – he insulted the daughter of a respectable member of the Gambino family and then went to the police after he was beaten up by the son of a business partner. Castellano ordered the hit on Scibetta and the only piece of Scibetta’s body that was ever found was one of his hands.
Castellano also gave the order to have Roy DeMeo killed, because he suspected him of being an informant.
Richard “Ice Man” Kuklinski
Considered a disgusting but creative killer, Richard Kuklinski was nicknamed “The Ice Man” because of his method of freezing the bodies to stop the police to establish the time of death. He said that he killed more than 100 people, and in an interview he gave in prison, he also described his killing methods, from poisoning or grenades, to leaving the victim, tied up, in a cave full of rats.
After a 30 years career as a hitman, Kuklinski was finally arrested in 1986 and two years later he was sentenced to life in prison, for 5 murder counts. He died behind bars in 2006, at the age of 70. His death left room for speculations, because Richard was supposed to testify in the trial of Sammy The Bull Gravano, accused of murdering a NYPD police officer.
Born in Brooklyn, Anthony Casso bragged that he has many police officers in his pocket, which kill for him. Two of them were sentenced to jail for black mail and murder. Hunted by the authorities and also boss of the Lucchese family, without his willl, he managed to hide in New Jersey, leading the family from there.
Like any gangster, Anthony Casso has publicly declared his hate on informants, but he eventually ended up being one after a prosecutor offered him a deal, in return for his testimony. The deal did not finished however, so Anthony is still in jail, however with a bad reputation.
Sammy The Bull Gravano
He committed his first killing in 1970, in self defense. The victim was Joe Colluci, who intended to kill Gravano and one of his associates, Tommy Spero, the lover of his wife. The killing, first of the 19 which he confessed later on, made Sammy Gravano’s name, which eventually ended up being a full member of the Cosa Nostra.
Although he did not pull the trigger, Gravano participated in 1985 at the plot that lead to the murder, in 1985, by the order of John Gotti, of Paul Castellano, the head of the Gambino family. One year later, when Gotti was sent to prison, Gravano helped him run his business from jail.
However, Sammy Gravano turned on Gotti, becoming an informant and testifying against him. Included in the witness protection program, he was sent in Arizona. Gravano started to deal ecstasy, along with a white power organization. Currently he is serving a 19 years prison term for drug trafficking.
The head gangster of Milwaukee, Frank Balistrieri was also known as The Crazy Bomber, because he often used home made exploding devices, method that made many of his enemies to buy remote controls for their cars, used to start the engine.
An educated man, with a lot of good taste,Balistrieri had business with the bosses of the Las Vegas casinos, who were giving part of the profit to the Chicago Mafia.
In 1985, Balistrieri was found guilty under the charges of black mail and illegal gambling and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released in 1991 and died because of some heart problems, two years later.