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Vito "Don Vito" Genovese

One of the Most Feared Mafia Dons

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Vito Genovese

Vito Genovese

The following is a profile of Mafia boss Vito Genovese or "Don Vito" as he preferred to be called.

Born: 1897, in Naples, Italy.
He and his family came to the United States in 1912, and lived in Queens, New York. Later, he moved to lower Manhattan to live with relatives.

His Early Years

  • In 1917, he was arrested for the first time for carrying a gun and was sentenced to 60-days in jail.

  • During the years of Prohibition, he became associated with Lucky Luciano, an association that lasted for several decades.

1930 - 1939

  • In the 1930s, Vito took over the Italian Lottery, allowing him to have ample money to invest in nightclubs in Greenwich Village.

  • In April 1931, Luciano orchestrated the assassination of Joe Masseria. Vito Genovese was one of the four shooters involved in the hit on his former employer.

  • In 1937, Genovese fled to Naples, Italy to avoid the possibilities of facing a murder charge. While in Italy, he got involved with Benito Mussolini and became the main drug source for Count Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law.

  • It is also believed that, to impress Mussolini, he ordered the hit on editor, Carlo Tresca, who was a long-time enemy of Mussolini's.

  • When he later returned to the States, all the witnesses to his murdering had disappeared and he was able to remain free.

The Appalachian Meeting

  • His next goal was to take over the Luciano family and become "The Boss of Bosses" in the Mafia. He arranged to have Costello assassinated but Vincent Gigante, who was hired to do the hit, botched it and Costello remained alive. It was not until the murder of Albert Anastasia, that Costello stepped aside.

  • On November 14, 1957, Genovese reportedly coordinated what became known as the Appalachian Meeting, where he expected to be named Boss of Bosses.

  • A New York State Trooper, watching the location where the meeting was held began checking the license plates of the people coming and going, and based on what he felt was suspicious behavior, a road block was set up and many Mafia figures were apprehended.

  • Genovese, began strategizing on how to eliminate Costello, Lansky and Luciano, since their bond was too strong for him to infiltrate. Before he was able to accomplish this, the three involved him in a narcotics deal then tipped of the police and Costello was arrested.

His Prison Years

  • In 1959, Genovese was sent to prison, where he continued to control the activities of his crime family. While in prison, he ordered his top aide Tony Bender, assassinated, because he believed him to be involved in the plot to have him framed for the narcotics deal.

  • It was also Genovese, who ordered the assassination of Joe Valachi for turning coat to the Federal agents. When Valachi heard about the hit, he decided to turn for protection and became one the major informants ever, against the Mafia.

Genovese died in prison, of heart failure November 14 1969.

Currently the Genovese Family is considered the richest and most powerful family in New York with a membership of over 250 soldiers.

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