The Genovese Crime Family is one of the Five Families of organized crime in America. Originating in Italy, it became, and still is, the most powerful crime family in the American Mafia.
Genovese Crime Family History
The Genovese Family, as it developed into the strongest borgata, had origins in several different towns in Sicily and later mainland Italy, making the Genovese Family the most diversified of the Five Families of New York City. Giuseppe (The Clutch Hand) Morello and Ignazio (Lupo the Wolf) Saietta were two early powers of what would eventually morph into the Genovese Family. Emigrating from Corleone and Palermo, Sicily, one settled in East Harlem’s “Little Italy" and the other settled in the Lower East Side in the Mulberry Street section of “Little Italy” in Manhattan. They ran a gang active in extortion, strong-arming, the Italian lottery, and a huge counterfeiting operation for its time.
Soon, a Sicilian strongman would come to power named Giuseppe Masseria who would look to dominate the Italian underworld. This would lead to the so-called “Castellammarese War," pitting Masseria’s forces and allies against those of Salvatore Maranzano and his allies. The war raged for over a year-and-a-half with Maranzano and his allies claiming victory with Masseria’s assassination in a Coney Island restaurant in 1931. Within months, Maranzano would also be killed in a purging of several old-guard Sicilians, making way for the formulation of the Five Families as we know it today and the formation of The Commission, a regulatory body of the strongest bosses across the country.
Salvatore (Charlie Lucky) Luciano would rise to be a first among equals with Vito Genovese serving as underboss and Francesco (Frank Costello) Castiglia as consigliere. This Family welcomed many men of Neapolitan and Calabrian heritage as well as Jewish hoodlums setting the stage for what would become the most diversified, pervasive, and powerful Cosa Nostra Family in America to this very day.
With a roster topping 225 formally inducted members and over 2000 associates, it boasted a powerhouse lineup of top mafiosi such as (Joe Adonis) Doto, (Little Augie Pisano) Carfano, (Trigger Mike) Coppola, Jerry Catena, and (Richie the Boot) Boiardo, among many other of the mob’s glitterati. With power bases in the Fulton Fish Market, the garment district, the New York-New Jersey waterfront through the (ILA) International Longshoreman’s Union, trucking, slot machine and jukebox vending, and hidden ownership in several Las Vegas casinos. The Family had satellite regimes in Massachusetts, Florida, and California and worked in tandem with Families in Chicago, Pittsburgh, New England, and elsewhere representing some of them before the Commission.