So said Mark Twain.
I was thinking of that quote when I read a surprising article this week, published in the Federalist (a publication which I greatly admire) about the death of the Mafia. The author, David Marcus, not only claims the Mafia, with all its magic and mythology, has finally passed away, but he celebrates it. I’m fine with celebrating the death of the mafia. It is involved in human trafficking through forced prostitution, it sells drugs, it has a murder-for-hire component and for much of its history (still possibly today) extorted money out of honest business owners trying to make a living.
None of that is honorable.
Perhaps, given what I just said, as well as my faith and work with the police, it may come as a surprise that I have a slight obsession with the Mafia. I’m currently reading a biography of Meyer Lansky which I highly recommend. All that to say, I could not disagree more with David Marcus: indeed, I think the truth could not be more further from his own point.
David’s thesis is based upon the death of Carmine “The Snake” Persico, who died in prison. Carmine was allegedly guilty of some things which they used in The Godfather, therefore, he is an old school gangster and with his passing the nastiness of the Mafia is gone. He also references events like The Commission Case and the RICO law and all of those tried and found guilty under it, as proof that the Mafia is gone.
Here’s the problem: the same week the article was posted Francesco Cali was fatally shot outside of his Staten Island home. Francesco was the alleged head of the Gambino crime family. The author acknowledges this, as well as the existence of the Five Families:
The five families still exist, and we still know who their bosses are, but they learned the lesson of camera-hungry godfathers like John “the Dapper Don” Gotti and Nicademo “Little Nicky” Scarfo. They stay off TV and try to keep a low profile. Notwithstanding, that, or the broader desire for the mob to lay low, killings still happen. Just yesterday, reputed Gambino boss Frank Cali was murdered outside his Staten Island home.
So the five families still exist and there are still hits being carried out but because they keep a low profile the Mafia has died. Here’s the problem: with the exception of Gotti, none of the Mafia ever wanted a high profile. They were brought into the lime light by a senator (Kefauver) in the 1950’s who was trying to make a name for it. With the exception of Bugsy Siegel, there is no record that any of them wanted that attention. It was bad for business.
The Mafia is still around and very active.
Exhibit A) In wire taps of Domenico Violi (December, 2018) it was revealed that before he was appointed Underboss of the Buffalo Mafia, permission had to be sought from The Commission (i.e. The Five Families) to make sure his promotion was acceptable.
Exhibit B) Cece Luppino is the third hit in 2 years in Hamilton. But this wasn’t a drive-by Compton hit. This wasn’t two violent gangs taking vengeance. This was performed by a hitman, hired for the specific purpose of eliminating someone and sending a message.
Exhibit C) On March 10th 2019, Napoleon “Nappy” Andrade is shot to death outside of a half-way house. Was this guy in the mafia? It doesn’t appear to be the case. However, he had made the mistake of robbing an associate of the Gambino family. Now, I am NOT saying the Gambino family then retaliated by eliminating him. That’s for the police to decide.
Exhibit D) Four days later, Francesco Cali’s car is hit. Surveillance video shows it was hit on purpose. Cali comes out of the home to see what happened. He and the driver of the other car talk, shake hands. The driver hands Cali the license plate which fell off of his Cadillac. Cali turns around and the driver shoots him to death, then gets in his car and drives away.
Exhibit E) Just for fun, I’ll throw one in unrelated (probably?) to the above links. In the 1990’s, there were a string of break-ins in the Todt Hill neighborhood of Staten Island. Some of the people hit were mobsters. Among the things found in the home of the mobsters was cash and jewelry. A lot of it. In one home they found $250,000 in cash. An associate of the Genovese crime family reached out to the NYPD and asked for information they had on the thieves and offered to eliminate them. Per the detective in the story: “It turned into a kind of race,” Detective Al Guarneri said. ”Who was going to find these guys first? The cops or the bad guys?”
Anyways, the Mafia isn’t dead. But most of the people in the links I just provided are dead. And they aren’t the only ones. I’ve read too many articles on the Gambino hit to find the right one, but one officer who specialized in organized crime said this hit wasn’t sanctioned by the Five Families because they didn’t want the publicity: it is bad for business.
Which makes me wonder why David Marcus wrote the article. Please understand me, I am not insinuating he has ANY affiliation with the Mafia. I just don’t understand why you’d write an article saying the sky isn’t blue, when everyone can see the color hasn’t changed.