In a recent opinion poll on our Mob Fireside Chat YouTube Community Page, we asked: “Who, in your opinion, of these five iconic mafiosi representing his respective borgata (Michele Miranda, Vincent Rao, Joe N. Gallo, John Tartamella, or Benny D’Alessandro) was the most respected and powerful “consigliere” of New York’s Five Families during his time in that position?”
Many viewers shared their opinions, and “The Other Guy” shared his as well
Although each of these fellas were respected old-time mafiosi, in my opinion, several of them stand out more than the others, in both reputation and deed.
Admittedly, this was another very tough question. Because, as I mentioned, all of these men were very respected mafiosi. Each of them, both before, and during their time as “consigliere” for their respective Families, enjoyed long careers as racket figures.
That said, it’s still decision time. So if I gotta choose…here goes “nuttin” as they say.
A) My number one choice would probably result in a tie between Michele Miranda and Vincent Rao. Both of these men were at the very pinnacle of Mafia power since their earliest days in the New York underworld.
And Mike Miranda, as a top “capo di decina” under the Luciano/Genovese Family, for as far back as I can remember, was always a stand out in the crowd. And after Vito came into power, Miranda became even more important, serving as his trusted consigliere, Family advisor and general overseer. As one of Vito’s closest confidants (and in my opinion), consigliere of NYC’s most powerful Mafia Family, Mike was certainly a first among equals, to say the least. He was a powerhouse. And his word was respected.
Vinny Rao, on the other hand, was one of East Harlem’s most iconic mob figures since at least the 1930s. He served as a top Lucchese figure for many years, and later, the “official” consigliere for boss Tommy Lucchese himself. He became a very wealthy and influential mafioso. And one whose opinions and viewpoints were highly respected, not only by Tommy, by all the other Family bosses.
B) Joe N. Gallo runs a solid second in my opinion. Why? Because although he was always very well thought of, he was essentially a ‘soldier’ for much of his early career. Very capable, and reportedly, also very deadly in fact. He was said to have been a capable hitman in his younger days. But he didn’t gain real strength until a few years after Carlo Gambino came into power. Joe Riccobono was initially Gambino’s consigliere. It wasn’t until some time later that Joe Gallo replaced him and became a top family figure.
C) John Tartamella runs third in my view. He was born in the same Sicilian village as his boss, Joe Bonanno. In fact, the two of them were reportedly boyhood friends and classmates back in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. He was a longtime ally and pal of Bonanno. And is suspected of having been installed as the Family consigliere as far back as the late 1940s-1950s. But in my view, he wasn’t one of the most savvy or iconic consigliere the New York City area had ever seen. Tartamella essentially ran a barbers union for many years on behalf of the borgata, and also had a piece of a garment factory. He was the “official” consigliere, yet, I don’t believe he ever held anywhere near the same underworld power as a Miranda or a Rao.
D) Benny D’Alessandro. This man was arguably the most shadowy and unknown consigliere of the five men listed. He was reputed to have been, at one time, the “official” consigliere for the Colombo Family. Yet, previous to his appointment, he had never been a top mafioso or racketeer. He was a low-key, unremarkable racketeer, who basically later “filled” a required spot in the Family hierarchy. In my opinion, he was not a force to be reckoned with, in his own right. He was only respected because of the post he later held.
So there you have it folks! Lol. For better or worse, these are my viewpoints about who I believe was the most respected and powerful of the five consiglieri picks in our little opinion quiz.
~ “The Other Guy”
Join in on the conversation by visiting Mob Fireside Chat on YouTube!