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The Commission

The Commission is a governing body of the Mafia in the United States. Although its makeup has changed several times since its 1931 creation, the bosses of the New York Five Families still provide the core membership of The Commission. The predecessor organization was the National Crime Syndicate which was a national alliance with many organized crime figures.

Reasons for The Commission's formation

Pre-Commission situation

The Commission was established in 1931 by Lucky Luciano in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The purpose of the Mafia Commission was to replace the old Sicilian mafia regime and establish rule by consensus among the new crime families. Historically, such a system has always been in place. In Sicily, heads of different cosche would meet periodically to discuss business, and in America, the same was true. In his memoirs, Nicola Gentile, a Sicilian-born Mafioso, does not regard the Commission as either particularly new or innovative. He viewed its creation as merely a formalization of already existing consultative practices widespread among the mafia.
In early 1931, after winning the bloody Castellammarese War among the New York gangs, New York Boss Salvatore Maranzano divided all the national criminal gangs into several crime families and then assumed the title capo di tutti capi ("boss of all bosses"). Maranzano then proceeded to impose a dictatorial regime on the families. Since there had never historically been a "boss of all bosses", reaction to this move among the mafia's ranks was largely negative. Luciano, then a Maranzano ally, soon chafed under this harsh control and in September 1931 engineered Maranzano's assassination. Luciano then became the top mobster in the country.
Unlike Maranzano, Luciano did not want to become a "boss of all bosses". At the same time, Luciano wanted to avoid the chaos that had led to bloody and self-destructive gang wars in New York and Chicago during the 1920s. Luciano and Meyer Lansky realized that the best solution was to let the families run themselves, but establish a central organization for settling their differences without bloodshed. This would preserve family control, prevent warfare, promote their business interests, and keep the mob away from public and law enforcement attention.
Luciano established a mob board of directors—to be known as "The Commission"— to oversee all Mafia activities in the US and serve to mediate conflicts between families. Luciano assumed the position of chairman and Lansky served as his chief advisor. The Commission would meet every five years or when needed to discuss family problems. Even though the commission was meant to replace the role of capo di tutti capi, there would be various bosses over the years who would assume the role through the de facto process of controlling other dons on the commission. Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Stefano Magaddino, Carlo Gambino, and Vincent Gigante are examples of influential family bosses who exercised control over the Commission.


The formation of the Commission did not stop all gang wars, but it did reduce their scale and frequency. When one family declared war on another, the aggressor family usually found itself at war with the Commission and the rest of the families. This provided a powerful incentive to the families to negotiate their disputes.
To settle wars or internal conflicts, the Commission would appoint a new Don of the Family and have the usurper or the previous Don assassinated. An example of this is the case of the Bonanno family in the Bonanno War.


The Commission officially comprised seven family bosses: the leaders of New York's Five Families (Lucky Luciano, Joseph Bonanno, Joe Profaci, Vincent Mangano, and Tommy Gagliano) and the "Fathers" from Chicago (Al Capone), representing everything in the Western United States, and Buffalo (Stefano Magaddino).However, after the 1957 Apalachin Convention, it was decided that two more leaders of the families were allowed into the Commission. These turned out to be Angelo "Gentle Don" Bruno of the Philadelphia crime family, and Joseph "Joe Z." Zerilli of the Detroit Partnership, although these positions declined much over the 1960s and 1970s.
Jack Dragna, boss of the Los Angeles crime family for 25 years, also held a seat on the National Commission. Since his death in 1956, the crime family has been represented by the Chicago Outfit.
In 1931, Luciano and Lansky set up a multi-ethnic board, commonly referred to as the national syndicate or "combination". Non-Italian Jewish mobsters such as Louis Buchalter, Longy Zwillman and Jake Guzik were also allowed to participate in the syndicate's meetings per the Murder Inc. investigation by Brooklyn DA's office (William O'Dwyer) in late 1930's thru mid 1940's and surveillance by Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Although largely acting in the shadows (which helped explain Lansky's eventual "untouchability"), Lansky was able to exercise a good deal of influence (even talking Luciano and the Commission out of putting out a contract on Bugsy Siegel on two occasions.)
With the demise of Murder Inc and the deaths of many leading members such as Bugsy Siegel, the national syndicate seems to have been defunct by the late 1950s.

Executive position

There was no "ruler" of the Commission, but there was a nominated Chairman or Head of the National Commission. This was used as a substitute to the role of capo di tutti capi, as that had the connotations of the old Mustache Pete system of one-man rule. However, after the Havana Conference, Lucky Luciano took this title anyway so as to solidify his rule after being deported from the United States by the actions of Governor Thomas Dewey.


This service had to be authorized by the Commission by vote first, along with the number of targets. Even then the number of targets was usually limited to one or a few individuals. This way the Commission avoided a confusing situation that could result in a war, and minimized possible press exposure.

Historical leadership of the commission

Chairman of the commission
  • 1931-1936 - Lucky Luciano (arrested in 1936 stayed chairman, but had less authority over the commission. He was deported in 1946, and finally lost his title in late 1950s.)
  • Acting 1936-1951 – was a 4 family alliance which was considered the conservative faction. The alliance consisted of the of Buffalo family boss Stefano Magaddino, Mangano family (later called Gambino family) boss Vincent Mangano, Profaci family (later called Colombo family) boss Joe Profaci and Bonanno family boss Joe Bonanno.
  • Acting 1951-1957 – the alliance that was considered a liberal faction. Supported by Lucky Luciano in Italy, the members were Frank Costello (leading the Luciano family), Albert Anastasia (who replaced Mangano), Tony Accardo (of the Chicago outfit) and later Tommy Lucchese.
  • 1957-1959 – Vito Genovese - boss of Genovese Crime Family and disputed head of the commission. Genovese and his new liberal faction of Carlo Gambino, Tommy Lucchese. He was later disposed of by the Costello, Luciano, Gambino and Lucchese alliance. Genovese's fall began at the Apalachin Conference in New York. He was later arrested in 1959 ending his regime.
  • 1959-1976 – Carlo Gambino - boss of Gambino Crime Family and head of commission until his natural death. He was allied with Tommy Lucchese (boss of Lucchese family) and retired Frank Costello.
  • 1976-1985 - Paul Castellano –boss of Gambino family and head of commission until his was murdered in December 1985.
  • 1986-2005 – Vincent Gigante –boss of Genovese family and head of commission until his natural death.
  • 2005 – Present - Unknown

The Commission today

The Commission is still reported to exist today, though its current membership is composed of only the bosses of the Five Families, the Chicago Outfit, and the Philadelphia crime family leaders. Its activities, like much of the Mafia in general, have receded from public view as a matter of necessity.
The current heads of the families believed to be on the Commission are:
  • Bonanno crime family - Vacant
  • Chicago Outfit - Boss John DiFronzo
  • Colombo crime family - Unknown
  • Gambino crime family - Daniel Marino, Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace, and John Gambino (Ruling Panel)
  • Genovese crime family - Unknown
  • Lucchese crime family - Aniello "Neil" Migliore, Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna (Ruling Panel)
  • Philadelphia crime family - Boss Joseph Ligambi

Fictional portrayals

  • The Commission played a prominent role in both The Godfather and The Godfather, Part III.
  • In the Godfather world, the Five Families are known as the Corleone, Barzini, Tattaglia, Stracci, and Cuneo crime families. A Commission meeting occurs after the murder of Vito Corleone's son, Sonny, in order to broker a peace between the warring Corleone and Tattaglia families. Don Barzini appears to hold the executive position on The Commission. At the meeting, Vito realizes that the Tattaglia, Stracci, and Cuneo families had secretly aligned themselves with the Barzini family in order to force the Corleone family into sharing its political protection with the rest of The Commission, which was involved in a burgeoning drug trade that Vito was opposed to. Vito reluctantly agrees to share his political influence to protect the drug trade, thus avoiding further bloodshed and ending the war. The film ends with Vito's youngest son and successor, Michael, exacting revenge by having Don Barzini, Tattaglia, Stracci, and Cuneo assassinated in dramatic fashion, effectively wiping out The Commission and consolidating the now-hegemonic power of the Corleone family.
  • By the start of The Godfather, Part III, The Commission had reformed while the Corleone family had receded from criminal activity in an effort to become "legit" through corporate endeavors. Michael still appeared to exercise de facto control over the body, as he was personally responsible for blocking Joey Zasa's progress through The Commission. As a result, Zasa is believed to have organized a helicopter raid during a Commission meeting at an Atlantic City, New Jersey hotel, but it is later revealed in the film that the person who was trying to kill Michael was in fact his temporary ally, Don Ozzie Altobello who asked for the meeting in the first place. Most of the bosses were killed, but Michael and Altobello were able to escape.
  • Another fictional depiction of The Commission is the movie Mobsters starring Christian Slater as Lucky Luciano. In the movie Luciano is caught in the conflict of rival families, and ultimately arrives at the idea to start The Commission to end the bloodshed, setting himself up as the "chairman of the board".
  • The video game Grand Theft Auto IV makes several references in dialogue to the commission during Jimmy Pegorino's missions. The game is set in a virtual version of New York City called "Liberty City" and the characters are heavily involved with the fictional mafia and criminal underground in New York.
  • Rapper The Notorious B.I.G. called his rap supergroup "The Commission" but the group never released an album after his murder.
  • In the 1997 crime drama Hoodlum, there are two scenes where the commission meet to discuss mafia business and strategies.


  1. Chicago was one of the biggest helpers in making the commission!!!

    1. and thanks to Al Capone!

    2. Jersey, always at the root of all evil and my loyalty stands nowhere else in the world.

    3. Gangsters = Losers

    4. if they were still in power today the united states would be a much better place

    5. Barbara Kock aka Barbara pelican Koch aka Barbara esther pelican aka Barbara Koch and Richard Pelican stole 50 billion dollars in gold investments that did not belong to them working with their lawyers from Graham and curtin llc namely Christopher J. carey and Kathleen Fennelly.

    6. Mafia is filled with rats and John gotti was setup on the paul castellano murder Carlo Gambino was alive until the 90s and he's the one who called the hit down on big paul castellano

    7. My great grandfather Carlo Gambino was once one of the most powerful bosses in New York and head of the commission and allied with Thomas Lucchese.

  2. the good old days, to bad there gone.

  3. Marasco family has some say in todays Commission. He's stands beside the New York Bonanno family, against the farting around Gambino family and betraying rats of Luchese family. He is Jewish and has associates who are also. Francesco, and Tony Marasco usually run ops in New York. Andrew Marasco runs errands with Colombo from Columbus, OH to Pittsburgh, PA. Amato also has dealings with Marasco. Omerta.

  4. I believe most of the mob families today are less organized and don't have the authority like they used to because of their children groups . Most of the high organized Mobs have tied with the black mofia and they seem to just run everything down.

  5. what happens when the familes don't agree and there is just less aprooval with all. All the good days were gone when they united with the Arian Brotherhood.

  6. Long live Al Capone a real man of honor

  7. Tony "the gerbil" Greasamoki

  8. The Commission has been up and running since 2007. Bonanno crime family is mainly in charge with contacts in Arizona. We already had a meeting at a undisclosed location.

  9. Old cowardly rat snitches. The new 7 crime families of The Commission are Bonanno, Lucchese, Amato, Marasco, Colombo, Buscemi, Graziano. Rizzuto's still controlling Montreal. Italian/American are starting newly. A new age is dawning. John_-_Giovanni; aka (SH!TT3R); what the f@<k ever of NYC. Gambino and Genovese are kicked out.

  10. Esposito and Graziano N.J. As far as Buscemi-Chicago Outfit.

  11. We all know the niggas run things now, especially in prison. Good luck keeping afloat guys. FUGGETTAABOUTTT ITTT

  12. NiGGer(s). Not niggas. In prison-a good amount. Can't control them 8!7che(s).

  13. Providence mafia is runnin things now

  14. Replies
    1. you are no doubt not Italian. the Mafia has done many good things for our people over the years.

      if it wasn't for prosecutors and government officials trying to make a name for themselves and ladder climbing, this country would be a lot better off. they never seem to go very hard after the black mafia, do they now.

    2. the black groups will never achieve anything near what the Mafia had or has, because they have no honor,love of family. heck most don't even have the same last name as their daddy.

    3. Your mother didn't have the same last name as her father either.. And you don't even know who your father is....

  15. Rhode island mafia

  16. Doesn't matter what state mafia activity. MOB Period.

  17. Nothing about the petriarca family, new york city is split 5 ways while the Raymond petriarca runs all of new england, Boston ,fall river,new Bedford, Connecticut and Rhode island out of little Italy federal hill in providence Rhode island.(the office) on atwells ave.

  18. Chris Paciello rats out top Mob guys, isn't even hiding. No wit sec.. He's flashing his cash from his rat book and rat lifestyle. Wheres the fucking contract?

  19. When he gets thrown into prison and asked where he got all the cash and jewelry, he'll begin ratting. They don't lay low.

  20. there all fucking idiots.

  21. The Mafia, is only getting stronger, thanks to all the movies about the ratting out some used to do. The old and new guys have learnt from these mistakes and have gone under ground , while the Black's carry on with this apparent music they sing stating what crimes there into

  22. Detroit mob is the best to do. The boss here die of old age not in jail or in the streets if you want to see a true mob family and how power is pass down. That the family to learn from.

  23. That's the Detroit Mob. The New York City five crime families are The Commission. They take an oath of omerta. Dying of old age is a probability. The bosses are most likely in the streets. You don't just die of old age once you are a made member. You usually are spending jail or prison time. It is no game.

  24. Who are the Philadelphia bosses if any... Because they are sucking at their job

  25. You guys are funny!!!

  26. Pennsylvania has the deadliest mob in and around carbon county area

  27. Pennsylvania has the deadliest mob in and around carbon county area