They still call Joseph Massino “the Last Don.” But the 62-year-old boss of New York’s Bonanno crime family doesn’t have much of an organization to run anymore. Even Casablanca, the three-star restaurant in Queens that he co-owns, is now part of his past. On Thursday, June 23 a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y. made certain of that. “As boss of the Bonanno family, I gave the order,” said Massino. He was referring to his order to murder Gerlando Sciacia, a family captain whose body later was found in the Bronx. Massino was convicted for that crime, and for racketeering, last year. He was ordered to pay $10.3 million to the government as proceeds, a figure reduced to $9 million at the June hearing. U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis handed down two consecutive life sentences.
This past January Massino had done something unthinkable in Mafia circles; as a don, he’d violated omerta, the traditional Mafia code of silence. Massino cooperated with prosecutors, secretly taping a prison conversation with family capo Vincent “Vinnie Gorgeous” Basciano who was outlining a plan to kill lead prosecutor Greg Andres. Massino had a long string of murders and other felonies attributed to him, though being wise to the ways of law-enforcement surveillance, he avoided prosecution for a long time. But he did have at least one prison stretch behind him; back in 1986 he was sent packing on charges stemming from Bonnano family control over Teamsters Local 814, which represents furniture movers. A lot of the evidence in that case was amassed by FBI undercover agent Joe Pistone posing as a jewel thief named “Donnie Brasco.” The 1997 movie, “Donnie Brasco,” starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino, was based on Pistone’s experiences.
Massino took over as family boss in 1993, two years after the death of his predecessor, Philip “Rusty” Rastelli. Massino’s title, “the Last Don,” seems well-deserved at this point. The heads of the four other New York Mafia families – Lucchese, Colombo, Gambino and Genovese – also have been convicted and sentenced to prison terms. (New York Times, 6/24).