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|Born||February 21, 1910
East Harlem, New York, USA
|Died||July 12, 1979
Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Carmine Galante aka "Lilo," "Cigar" (February 21, 1910 – July 12, 1979) was the boss of the Bonanno crime family, a New York City Mafia crime organization from 1974 to 1979. He was rarely seen without a cigar clenched in his teeth, which led to his rather unimaginative nickname, "Cigar".
The son of a fisherman who immigrated from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Galante was born in an East Harlem tenement. His career in crime started when he was only eleven, forming a juvenile street gang on New York's Lower East Side. As a teenager Galante became an associate mafioso during Prohibition, becoming leading enforcer by the end of the decade. In 1930 Galante, with several others, were caught by New York police officer Joseph Meenahan while attempting to hijack a truck in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. In the resulting gun battle Galante wounded Meenahan in the legs. A six-year-old girl who happened to be nearby was struck by a stray bullet. Although both survived Galante was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison.
Galante was released on parole in 1939. By 1940, he was carrying out "hits" (murders) for Vito Genovese, one of the most powerful mobsters in New York. He is widely believed to have murdered the left-wing anti-Mafia journalist Carlo Tresca in 1943, on orders from Genovese. Galante went from being the chauffer to the boss of the Bonanno Family, Joseph Bonanno, to capo in the organization.
Galante's rise to power was halted temporarily in 1962 when he was sentenced to twenty years for drug offences in a drug bust engineered by Frank Costello and other enemies. When Joseph Bonanno was forced into retirement Phillip Rastelli took over the Bonanno Family. Galante was released on parole in 1974 and tried to take over the Bonanno family while Rastelli was still in prison. While Galante was serving his sentence, the prison psychiatrists had diagnosed him with psychopathic personality disorder, a diagnosis that had some basis in fact. Although Costello had died in 1973 of natural causes, Galante nevertheless had his tomb bombed, blowing off the doors to the mausoleum.
During the 1970s, Galante is suspected of organizing the murders of at least eight members of the Gambino Family, with whom he had an intense rivalry, in order to take over a massive drug-trafficking operation. He was briefly jailed in 1978 for violating his parole by associating with known criminals, but he was released after being defended by the famous Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn.
On July 12, 1979, Carmine Galante was murdered just as he finished eating lunch at Joe and Mary Italian-American Restaurant at 205 Knickerbocker Ave. in Bushwick, Brooklyn along with his bodyguard Leonard Coppola, 40, and restaurant owner/cousin Giuseppe Turano. Cigar in mouth, the 69-year-old mobster was blasted in the face and chest at point-blank range with a shotgun, his watch was still ticking but Galante's time was up. He was murdered by Anthony Indelicato, Dominick Trinchera, Sonny Black, Cesare Bonventre and Louis Giongetti.
After the murders, Indelicato and the others fled in a stolen car. After abandoning the car Indelicato went to his father, Alphonse Indelicato, his Uncle J.B. Carnone who waited at a Manhattan social club. A survelliance video tape shows Indelicato being congratulated by Carnone. Indelicato, Trinchera and Bonventre were all promoted to capo, or captains of the Bonnano family.
It is suspected his death was arranged by the heads of the other major Mafia Families in New York, who had decided Galante's greed and ambition over the control of the multimillion-dollar heroin business were a threat to all their interests, although it is possible Phillip Rastelli may have also been involved, as he was still the boss of the Bonanno Family once Galante was out of the way.
The gunman who shot Galante was 23-year-old Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato, but it was not until 1986 that Indelicato was convicted of the murder. He served twelve years. Indelicato's father, Alphonse Indelicato, was murdered during the power struggle resulting from Galante's death. In the book "The Ice Man" by Philip Carlo, a biography of notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski it is said that Kuklinski (by his own word) was the shooter.
|Bonanno Crime Family Boss