Outside of New York City’s infamous “Five Families” and another Family based upstate in Buffalo, NY, the Angelo Bruno Family of Philadelphia has arguably been one of the more vibrant and active Cosa Nostra borgatas in U.S. history.
With a traditional 1940s-1980s membership thought to have hovered at around 75-100 inducted soldiers, a hundred or more “proposed” associates of Italian ethnicity waiting in the wings to be brought into the fold, and hundreds more second-tier associates of varying ethnicities, Philadelphia’s Cosa Nostra was always a formidable bunch.
And although this Mafia Family has most often been identified with their 1960s-1970s leader Angelo Bruno Annaloro, both before and after Bruno’s reign, this particular borgata produced a long line of important leaders and had a rich history.
Origins of the Philly Mob
The original founding father of this Cosa Nostra network was thought to have been Salvatore Sabella, a Sicilian-born mafioso from the historic Mafia-laden town of Castellammare del Golfo on the Mediterranean island’s northwestern coastline. Sabella’s appointment was allegedly orchestrated by the infamous Mafia leader Salvatore (Don Turiddo) Maranzano.
But sources say Sabella was a weak leader and was soon replaced with Giovanni (Big Nose John) Avena, who led the troops for the next five years until he was murdered. Over the next decade or so, Philadelphia’s Cosa Nostra was then led by Giuseppe (Joe) Dovi.