After two decades of peace the third and bloodiest war erupted in 1991 when Victor Orena undermined the imprisoned boss Carmine Persico. The family then split into two separate faction's one loyal to the boss Persico and others to Orena. The Persico faction attacked soldiers and capos who were supporting Orena and vice versa. In 1993 with twelve family members dead and Orena imprisoned the war was finally over. Since then, the family has been hit again and again by prosecutions, informants and convictions due to the third war. Recently the family turned to a resident of Massachusetts, Ralph DeLeo, to run the family for Persico.
In September 1921, Joseph Profaci arrived in New York City. Months before he had decided to make the voyage to America, leaving behind his small town of Villabate, Sicily. After some time of struggling in Chicago with his businesses he moved back to Brooklyn in 1925, becoming a well known olive oil importer. Profaci obtained his American citizenship on September 27, 1927. With his olive oil importing business doing well he made deals with friends from his old town in Sicily and one of his largest buyers was Tampa mobster Ignazio Italiano. He controlled his small gang of criminals that operated mainly in the borough of Brooklyn. The most dominate Cosa Nostra groups active in Brooklyn were led by Salvatore D'Aquila, Frankie Yale, Giuseppe Masseria and Nicola Schiro (leader of the Castellammarese Clan).
On July 1, 1928 Brooklyn mobster Frankie Yale was murdered by Chicago Outfit's boss Al Capone hit-men. Yale was murdered because he did not want to give Al Capone the control over the Unione Siciliana. Yale's murder allowed Joseph Profaci and his brother in-law Joseph Magliocco to gain territory for their small gang. The Profaci's gang gained territory in Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Red Hook and Carroll Gardens while the rest of Yale's group went to the Masseria family.
Months later on October 10, 1928 the capo di tutti capi Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila was murder resulting in a dispute over who would take over D'Aquila's family. In order to prevent a long and violent war in Brooklyn a mafia meeting was called. The meeting took place on December 5, 1928 in the Statler Hotel in Cleveland. The hotel was chosen in Cleveland, Ohio because it was under the Porrello crime family control and protection. The main topic discussed was the dividing of D'Aquila's territory. At the meeting the mobster representing Brooklyn were Joseph Profaci, Joseph Magliocco (Profaci's second ), Vincent Mangano (who reported to disputable D'Aqulia family boss Alfred "Al Mineo" Manfredi), Joseph Bonanno (represented Salvatore Maranzano), Chicago mobsters Joseph Guinta, Pasquale Lolordo and Tampa mobster Ignazio Italiano arrived to make a peace resolution. As a result of Profaci's connections present at the meeting he received a fraction of D'Aqulia's Brooklyn territory.
The Castellammarese War
Months after the D'Aquila murder, Joe Masseria began a campaign to become Capo di tutti capi (Boss of Bosses) in the United States demanding tribute from the remaining three mafia groups in New York City which included the Reina family, the Castellammarese Clan and the Profaci family. Masseria already had the support of the new D'Aquila family boss Alfred Manfredi. On February 26, 1930 Masseria ordered the murder of Gaetano Reina to make a point. This started the Castellammarese War, Masseria, and his allies Alfred Manfredi and new appointed Reina family boss Joseph Pinzolo fought Salvatore Maranzano and Joseph Profaci. The war would come to an end when Charles "Lucky" Luciano a lieutenant for Masseria betrayed him and worked with Maranzano. The secret alliance between the two had Masseria killed on April 15, 1931. Maranzano then became the new Capo di tutti capi in the United States. Five months later on September 10, 1931 Luciano had Maranzano killed and created the Mafia Commission. Now there would be five independent Cosa Nostra families in New York City and twenty one additional families across the United States.
The Gallo brothers revolt
Eventually, the anger of a few Profaci subordinates boiled over into a rebellion that would plunge the Profaci family into conflict for decades. Always the opportunist, Carlo Gambino, the boss of the Gambino crime family began stirring up unrest in the Profaci family. Gambino's goal was to undermine the rival Profaci-Bonanno alliance on the Mafia Commission. The three Gallo brothers (Larry Gallo, Joey Gallo and Albert Gallo) proved receptive to Gambino's overtures. Profaci had been taking a large chunk of the profits from the brothers' racketeering activities and they felt cheated. Profaci compounded these ill feeling by ordering the execution of Gallo crew member Frank Abbatemarco for disloyalty and disrespect in withholding tribute to Profaci.
In February 1961, the Gallos struck against Profaci. They kidnapped several prominent Profaci loyalists, including underboss Joseph Magliocco and capo Joe Colombo. Profaci sent his consigliere, Charles Locicero, to negotiate with the Gallos. For the release of Magliocco and Colombo, the brothers demanded that Profaci change the way he divided profits between the crews. Profaci appeared to agree to these demands, and the Gallos released both men.
However, Profaci was simply waiting for the right opportunity to exact revenge on the Gallos. In September 1961, Profaci's men murdered Gallo crew member Joseph Gioelli. That same month, they attempted to murder Larry Gallo in a Brooklyn bar, but were interrupted by the police. Furious at Profaci's treachery, the Gallo brothers started attacking Profaci's men on sight. An all-out gang war erupted between the two family factions.
Death of Profaci
For much of 1961 and 1962, the Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese bosses pressured Profaci to retire. They felt that it was in the best interest of all the families to end the conflict with the Gallo brothers. On June 6, 1962, Profaci died of cancer and was replaced by Magliocco, a man very much in the Profaci mold.
Magliocco's appointment did nothing to placate the Gallo Brothers, who continued to battle the Colombo family. Two of Magliocco's chief enforcers, Carmine "Junior" Persico and one of his right-hand men, Hugh McIntosh, were targeted by the Gallo brothers but survived their respective attacks. The Gallos were likely planning further attacks against Maglicco, but never got to execute them. A number of Gallo gang members were convicted on racketeering charges and two others were murdered by Magliocco. Himself in prison, Joey Gallo was unable to reorganize his crew. For now, the Gallo Brothers conflict was over.
Magliocco's regime and treachery
With the Gallos temporarily out of the way, Magliocco was able to consolidate his position and concentrate on family business. However, he soon made a critical mistake. Magliocco's ally, Joseph Bonanno, proposed a bold plot to murder the bosses of the Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese families. Angry at their interference in Profaci family affairs, Magliocco agreed to the plot and tasked Joseph Colombo with organizing the assassinations. Sensing an opportunity for his personal advancement, Colombo instead betrayed Magliocco by revealing the murder plot to Carlo Gambino and Tommy Lucchese.
The Commission immediately called Bonanno and Magliocco to justice. Fearing for his life, Bonanno went into hiding out of state. Magliocco stayed in New York to face the Commission. Understanding that Bonanno was the mastermind of the murder plot, the Commission spared Magliocco's life. They fined him $50,000 and allowed him to retire from mob life. Magliocco died soon after of natural causes.
The Colombo era
With Gambino's blessing, Colombo became the new family boss. Gambino wanted to reward Colombo's loyalty and also figured that he could easily control him. To remove any association with the despised Profaci, the Profaci family was rechristened the Colombo family.
Colombo soon proved to be less pliable than Gambino expected. Following the arrest of his son on charges of debasing the currency, Colombo set up the Italian-American Civil Rights League. His stated aim was to defend Italian Americans from "prejudice" at the hands of the law enforcement authorities. Because of the League, Colombo frequently appeared on television and met with the press. In an organization that prided itself on secrecy and keeping a low profile, Colombo's peers did not appreciate his publicity seeking activities.
In February 1971, Joey Gallo was released from prison and the Colombo family again descended into chaos. On June 28, 1971, at a League rally in Manhattan's Columbus Circle, Colombo was shot as he pushed through the crowd to get to the stage. The shooter, a young African-American man called Jerome Johnson, was killed immediately by Colombo's entourage. Colombo survived the shooting, but was left in a vegetative state. Gallo was suspected of organizing the hit due to his ties with the African-American criminal fraternity of Harlem. Gallo believed an alliance with the Harlem group would present the mob with new opportunities, but few others in the families shared this belief. With Colombo permanently disabled, Vincenzo "Vinny" Aloi became "acting boss" until Carmine "Junior" Persico was released from prison.
On April 7, 1972, Colombo shooters shot and killed Joey Gallo at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy.The Gallo wars were finally over.
The family under Persico
Following the high-profile media exposure of Joseph Colombo and the murderous excesses of Joe Gallo, the Colombo family entered a period of comparative calm and stability. With Colombo in a coma, the family leadership went to Thomas DiBella, a man adept at evading the authorities since his sole bootlegging conviction in 1932. However, DiBella was unable to prevent the Gambino family from chipping away at Colombo rackets, and the Colombos declined in power. Poor health forced DiBella to retire in 1977, and Colombo died in 1978. The Colombo family was facing another power vacuum.
During the 1970s, Carmine Persico had grown in stature within the family and was considered to be the clear successor as boss. However, Persico had spent much of this time in prison, and it was unclear if he could effectively rule the family from prison. Nevertheless, Persico took control, designating Gennaro "Jerry Lang" Langella as his street boss. In 1986, both men were convicted on massive Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges and were sentenced to 100 years. In 1988, Persico named Victor Orena as the new acting boss.
Third Colombo war
Orena, an ambitious capo from Cedarhurst was not content with being acting boss to Persico. In 1990, using his strong ties to Gambino boss John Gotti, Orena petitioned the Mafia Commission to declare him the official boss of the Colombo family. Unwilling to cause more conflict, the Commission refused. On June 21, 1991, an enraged Persico sent gunmen under the leadership of Carmine Sessa to murder Orena at his house. Orena managed to escape before the gunmen could strike. The third Colombo war had begun.
While both sides appealed to the Commission for help, the war continued. On November 1991, Gregory Scarpa Sr., a Persico loyalist, was driving his daughter and granddaughter home when several Orena gunmen ambushed them. Scarpa and his relatives managed to escape. The war continued on until 1992, when law enforcement placed Orena and most of his loyalists in prison.
Twelve people, including three innocent bystanders, died in this gang war. More than 80 made members and associates from both sides of the Colombo family were convicted, jailed or indicted. These included Persico's brother Theodore "Teddy" Persico and his son Alphonse Persico, DeRoss, and Orena's two sons, Victor Jr. Orena and John Orena.
While the Colombo war raged, the Commission refused to allow any Colombo member to sit on the Commission and considered dissolving the family and splitting its manpower and resources among the remaining families. In 2002, with the help of Bonanno family boss Joseph Massino, the Commission finally allowed the Colombos to rejoin them.
Carmine "Junior" Persico, at age 76, allegedly remains boss of the much-weakened Colombo family. He is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina. Persico had designated his son Alphonse "Little Allie Boy" Persico as his successor. However, in December 2007, Alphonse Persico and Underboss John "Jackie" DeRoss were convicted of ordering the 1999 killing of William Cutolo and were sentenced to life in prison.
John "Sonny" Franzese, 92 years old and a bitter Persico enemy, is allegedly underboss. Franzese has spent much of his life in prison and is under tight parole restrictions, but has still assumed a top spot in the family. In May 2007, Franzese was arrested on parole violation charges stemming from meetings with Colombo caporegimes and high ranking members of other crime families. Franzese was released from jail in 2008.
Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo, longtime capo and former street boss, assumed the role of acting boss after the 2008 arrest of Thomas Gioeli.Vincenzo "Vinny" Aloi is said to be the current Colombo Consigliere. He is currently living in Florida and considered to be semi-retired.
Recent criminal prosecutions
In June 2008, acting boss Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, underboss John "Sonny" Franzese, former consigliere Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace, captain Dino Calabro, mob soldier Dino Saracino and several members and associates were indicted on multiple racketeering charges. These charges included drug trafficking, loan sharking, extortion and three murders dating back to the Colombo Wars. As of October 2010, Gioeli is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. If convicted, he faces life in prison. On December 24, 2008, Franzese was released from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. However he is still under indictment and is scheduled to go on trial sometime in 2009 along with Gioeli and Calabro. If convicted, they are all facing life sentences.
On December 17, 2009, the FBI charged members of the Colombo family with allegedly engaging in drug trafficking, extortion and loansharking. The crew was operating in Massachusetts, Arkansas, Rhode Island, New York and Florida. The leader of the crew is the current "Street Boss", Ralph F. DeLeo. He grabbed a piece of territory in Boston for the family. As the new street boss, DeLeo is not a New York City based mobster. He met Alphonse Persico in prison in the early 1990s and when he was released he became a made member in the family. DeLeo became street boss after the Gioeli arrest in 2008. On January 26, 2010 capo Dino Calabro, facing trial for murdering a New York police officer, became a government witness. His testimony could be devastating to the family leadership. On July 20, 2010. Michael Souza became a government witness, testifying against Anthony Dentico of the Genovese crime family.
Historical leadership of the Colombo Crime Family
Boss (official and acting)
* 1928–1962 — Joseph Profaci (Died of natural causes)
* 1962–1963 — Joseph Magliocco (Forced to retire by Mafia Commission)
* 1964–1971 — Joseph Colombo (Left in vegetative state by assassination attempt)
o Acting - 1971 — Joseph Yacovelli (returned to Consigliere)
o Acting - 1971–1973 — Vincenzo "Vinny" Aloi (semi-retired in 2008)
* 1973–present — Carmine "Junior" Persico (Boss) ("The Snake") (imprisoned 1973 to 1979, 1981 to 1984, 1985 to present)
o Acting - 1973 — Joseph "Joey" Brancato
o Acting - 1974–1979 — Thomas DiBella
o Acting - 1981-1982 — Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico (Carmine Persico's brother, serving life in prison)
o Acting - 1983–1984 — Gennaro "Jerry Lang" Langella (in prison until 2052)
o Acting - 1986—1987— Alphonse "Little Allie Boy" Persico (Carmine Persico's son, serving life in prison)
o Acting - 1987 — Anthony "Scappy" Scarpati
o Acting - 1987–1988 — Three-man Ruling Panel: Vittorio "Vic" Orena, Joseph Russo, Benedetto "Benny" Aloi (disbanded 1988)
o Acting - 1988–1992 — Vittorio "Vic" Orena (serving life in prison)
o Acting - 1992–1993 — Joseph Scopo (acting boss)
o Acting - 1993–1994 — Three-man Ruling Panel: Theodore "Teddy" Persico, Joseph Baudanza, Joseph Tomasello (disbanded 1994)
o Acting - 1994–1996 — Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo
o Acting - 1996–2000 — Alphonse "Little Allie Boy" Persico
o Acting - 2000–2003 — Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace (in prison, awaiting trial on Dols murder)
o Acting - 2003–2006 — Alphonse "Little Allie Boy" Persico (serving life in prison)
o Acting - 2006–present — Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo
* 1991—1994 — Joseph "Joe T" Tomasello
* 2003—2008 — Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli (jailed in 2008)
* Acting 2008–2009 — Benjamin Castellazzo (sentenced to life in 2009)
* 2008—2010 — Ralph F. DeLeo (operated from New England)
* 1927-1962 — Joseph "Joe Malyak" Magliocco (promoted to Boss)
* 1962-1963 — Salvatore "Sally the Sheik" Mussachio
* 1963-1967 — John "Sonny" Franzese
* 1967-1971 — Charles "Charlie Lemons" Mineo
* 1971-1973 — Sebastian "Buster" Aloi
* 1973-1977 — Anthony "Abbie Shots" Abbattemarco
* 1977-1981 — Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico (Carmine Persico's brother; promoted to Acting Boss)
* 1981-1994 — Gennaro "Jerry Lang" Langella (promoted to Acting Boss)
o Acting -1986-1993 — Joseph "Joey" Scopo
* 1994-1999 — Joel Cacace (moved to Consigliere)
o Acting - 1993-1999 — Benedetto "Benny" Aloi
* 1999 — William "Wild Bill" Cutolo (Murdered 1999)
* 1999-2004 — John DeRoss (serving life sentence)
o Acting - 2001-2003 — Thomas Gioeli (promoted to Acting Boss)
* 2004–present — John "Sonny" Franzese (free, awaiting racketeering trial 2010)
o Acting 2009–present — Theodore "Teddy" Persico Jr.
* 1931-1954 — Salvatore Profaci
* 1954-1962 — Salvatore "Sally the Sheik" Mussachio (promoted to Underboss)
* 1962-1963 — John "Johnny Bath Beach" Oddo
* 1963-1967 — Giovanni "John" Miscuraca
* 1967-1973 — Joseph "Joey Yack" Yacovelli (was Acting Boss 1971)
* 1973-1979 — Vacant
* 1979-1988 — Thomas "Old Man" DiBella
* 1988 — Vincent "James" Angellino
* 1988-1993 — Carmine Sessa
o Acting - 1988-1993 — Benedetto "Benny" Aloi (promoted to Acting Underboss)
* 1993-1999 — Vincenzo "Vinny" Aloi
* 1999-2008 — Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace (promoted to Acting Boss)
o Acting - 2001-2004 — Ralph "Ralphie" Lombardo
o Acting - 2004-2008 — Vincenzo "Vinny" Aloi
* 2008–present — Richard Fusco
* Paul "Paulie Guns" Bevacqua – acting capo of the Gieoli crew in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island. Bevacqua supported Orena in the third family war in the 1990s, but later reconciled with the family.
* Benedetto "Benny" Aloi - capo and brother to Vincent Aloi. During the third family war in the 1990s, Aloi was Orena's underboss. In 1991, Aloi was convicted in the Window Case, was released from prison on March 17, 2009.
* Thomas Petrizzo - soldier who controlled contracting company in Middlesex, New Jersey.
* Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli – Persico supporter who ran a crew operating in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island. Gioeli's acting capo is Paul Bevacqua.
* Theodore "Teddy" Persico - brother to Carmine Persico, uncle to Alphonse "Little Allie Boy" Persico, and father to Theodore Persico Jr. The 71 year-old mobster has been a capo in Brooklyn since the 1970s. Persico served on the family ruling panel in the early 1990s until his arrest. His projected release date is October 9, 2013.
* John "Jackie" DeRoss – capo serving life in prison after his 2009 conviction for the 1999 William Cutolo murder. DeRoss is a cousin to Carmine Persico and was underboss from 1999 to 2004.
* Anthony "Chucky" Russo - capo related to Carmine Persico. Russo’s cousins are Joseph "Jo Jo" Russo and William "Billy" Russo, who also operate in Brooklyn and Long Island.
* Michael Catapano - nephew of Franzese, Catapano is currently serving a 6½ year sentence after pleading guilty to extorting a pizzeria and a gambling club.
* Frank "Frankie Shots" Abbatemarco (Murdered in 1959)
* Anthony "Big Tony" Peraino (Died of natural causes in 1996)
* Vincenzo "Vinny" Aloi (semi-retired in 2008)
* Dominick "Little Dom" Cataldo (Died in prison 1990)
* Vincent DeMartino (imprisoned until 2025)
* Michael "Yuppie Don" Franzese - a former capo, his father is Colombo family underboss John "Sonny" Franzese. In the late 1980s, Michael retired from the family and became a Christian public speaker.
* Antonio Cottone - worked with Joe Profaci, lived in Villabate Sicily.
* Ralph "Little Ralphie" Scopo
* Charles "Moose" Panarella
* Nicholas "Nicky" Bianco
* Salvatore "Sally" D'Ambrosio
* Hugh "Apples" MacIntosh
* Peter "Pete the Nap" Napolitano
* Gerard Pappa
* Thomas "Tommy" Genovese
* Kenny "Kenji" Gallo
* Frederick "Fred" Devine
* Antonio-Anthony Rodriguez
* Gregory Scarpa, Sr.
* Dino "Big Dino" Calabro - a former capo who murdered NYPD officer Ralph Dols in 1997 with mobster Dino Saracino. Was convicted of murder in 2009, became a government witness in 2010 to avoid death penalty.
* Joseph "Joe Pesh" Luparelli
In popular culture
The 2008 Rockstar North's video game GTA IV the fictional Ancelotti family could loosely be based on the Colombo crime family. The Ancelotti family is the least influential family in Liberty City and like the Colombos they are the smallest family in the City. In The Ballad Of Gay Tony The Ancelotti family has a bigger part in the story having Luis Fernando Lopez deal with a soldier named Rocco Pelosi, where you do business with Liberty City Triad's and the Bahama Mamas night club manager for the family, which is the only time you can enter the club. The song Put 'Em High is plays at Bahama Mamas.