Robby Grondelle, Crime Journalist
Rob Grondelle, age 35, married (this year) to Pamela (no, not the famous
one) living in Utrecht, The Netherlands,Europe. Work for pay-roll
administration at a big transport comp. Intrested in the Mob since 1980.
Likes 50 ties music, clothing, cars etc. Almost since the start of Rick
and Thom's website, a visitor on a daily basis. Now writing for the European
Section. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
A Meeting Must Take Place.
By Robby Grondelle
The personel was busy that day. They were sweating like hell. A lot of important guests are comming, they were told. They didn´t have a clue of who they where. The Grand Hotel des Palmes, or in Italian Albergo e delle Palme, was put on high alert.
A meeting must take place. The idea came from Charlie Luciano. He was in 1957 still the top boss of the American Mafia, while living in Napoli and Palermo in excile. His power was not as it was, how could that be living that far away, but all the bosses came to him for advise.
The American Mafia was heavy in dealing drugs, in fact the five Family´s from New York had 95% of the heroine trade under control for all the USA. A lot of members were arrested because of this. One in every three members of the Bonanno´s, one in every three members of the Colombo´s, one in every two members of the Genovese´s, two in every five members of the Gambino´s and three in every five members of the Lucchese Family.
They had serious problems. Not only this, but the U.S. Congress passed in 1956 a severe Narcotics Control Act. It meant that, if cought, you could get 40 years in prison.
Enough, is enough said Luciano. The man on the other end of the ocean, who agreed with him was Joe Bonanno.
A meeting must take place. A meeting between the two Mafia´s. A meeting in Palermo. A meeting that would have much inpact on both the Mafia´s. For the Sicilians much good, but for the Americans….
WHO WERE PRESENT.
The meeting was from October 10 till 14th 1957. From the American delegation the following men were present: from the Bonanno Family, Joe Bonanno, boss , Frank Garafolo, underboss, Carmine Galante, consigliere, and John Bonventre, capo. From the Buffalo Family, Antonio, Giuseppe and Gaspare Maggadino. From Detroit, John Priziola and Santo Sorge.
What strikes you most about this delegation is that Joe Bonanno only took his Administration and cousins, the Maggadino brothers with him. Santo Sorge was cousin from Don Genco Russo, the most important boss from Sicily. Ofcourse was Charlie Luciano also present.
Not only that, but there was nobody else from the Commssion. Kinda strange. Maybe because at the time Joe Bonanno already saw himself as the chairman of the board and trusted only his top aids and family. He was important. When he arrived in Rome, the Italian foreign trade minister, Bernardo Mattarella was waiting for him. Even a red carpet was rolled out for him.
The minister came from the same village in Sicily as Joe Bonanno; Castellamare del Golfo.
The Sicilian delegation were: Genco Russo, Salvatore ‘Cichiteddu’ (Little bird) Greco from the Ciaculli Family, Calcedonio DiPisa, his underboss, the La Barbera brothers from the Porta Nuova Family, Geatano Badalamenti from the Cinisi Family and Tommaso Buscetta, also from the Porta Nuova Family.
WHAT´S ON THE AGENDA?
Since no Mafia member ever told about this meeting, we can only quess what was on the agenda. When you look at the Mafia closely after the meeting, some of the topics become clear.
- The drug trade.
It was decided that the Sicilian Mafia would handle the entire heroine shipment to the USA.
The Sicilian soldiers had no mug shots, no fingerprints and no background. They would bring the drugs from Asia to Sicily, from there to the USA, ready to be picked up by Sicilian Mafia soldiers operating in the USA.
- The Sicilian Commission.
Because the Commission in the US worked very good, the Americans advised that the Sicilians should do the same. After the meeting they did just that. Not only a national Commission, but also a Commission on a Provencial scale. But the national one was the most important and was called the Cupola.
The Sicilian Mafia, just finished the take over of Palermo. They mainly came from small towns or villages.
- The Anastasia problem.
Albert Anastasia was the head of the Gambino Family in New York. He was a friend of most bosses around the USA, including Luciano. But in 1957 Albert was running amok. Luciano said: He was of his rocker! It was at this meeting, that they decided to kill Albert.
He was shot to death 10 days after the meeting. Carlo Gambino took his place.
A Cosa Nostra member from one country could visit his friends or relatives in the other country, but could do no ‘work’ while he was there. If they did want to ‘work’ they would have the boss OK where they want to operate.
This was a mistake for the Americans. The Sicilians at American and Canadian soile who came after the meeting for the drug trade, became later in years too much of a presence.
When Paul Violi, a capo from the Bonanno Family who had a crew in Montreal, said to one of the Sicilians that they could do no ‘work’ here, he was shot to death by the Sicilians.
The Americans did not see the treachery of their Sicilian counterparts.
In America the Sicilian Mafia ‘worked’ most on the turf of the Bonanno´s and Gambino´s.
They were called ‘zips’. Some of them even became members of the American Mafia. That´s strange, given the fact that they were already made in Sicily. Like John Gambino. One of the three ‘Cherry Hill Gambino`s’. He even became a capo in the Gambino Family. Sal Catalano, also made in Sicily, became a capo in the Bonanno Family. He even ran the Family for about three years, but gave up, because he couldn´t speak English very well. He became boss, after Carmine Galante was shot dead. His Sicilian bodyguards didn´t do nothing tp protect him. They were more loyal to Catalano.
John Stanfa was also a zip. He became the boss of the Bruno/Scarfo Family. But I´m drifting away here, the zips operating in the USA, is a story by itself.
AFTER THE MEETING.
At the end of 1957 a new meeting took place. This was for the Americans only. Joe Bonanno and Carlo Gambino had too explain a few things to the rest of the American Cosa Nostra. This meeting took place in Apalachin.
Before this meeting Carlo Gambino went to Italy and had a sit-down with Luciano. Luciano ordered Bonanno to inform the Mob back home, about their meeting in Palermo.
Others, like Vito Genovese wanted also a meeting, but for other reasons.
We all know how this ended!
THE TRUTH HURTS.
Tommaso Buscetta decided he had enough. He, and many others, fled Sicily because he was part of the losing faction during the Second Great Mafia War. When the winning faction went after his family and killed a few cousins and/or brothers, because they couldn’t find him,
He became a Goverment witness. During his tales about the Mob, he never said nothing about the summit in Palermo. He did say, that he had dinner with Luciano , Bonanno and other Mobsters, but there was no meeting. While they were having a ball, Bonanno said to him that they should have their own Commission.
I find this hard to believe. Joe Bonanno, or even Luciano, did not know about Buscetta. Buscetta in 1957 was a capo, or maybe even less. But he was a rising star, so the La Babera brothers brought him along.
Even Joe Bonanno had enough. He quit the Mob. In his book ‘Men of Honor’ he ‘ratted out’ on his former friends. But like Buscetta, he also said that there was no summit in Palermo.
Why did they not tell us about it? Well, I can´t give no answer to that question. Maybe this famous meeting never took place.Most of the men who attended the meeting are dead. They only ones who can tell us, don´t.
We can only speculate why not. Maybe a ‘third’ power was present. Some believe that Michael Sidone, a banker, from the famous P2 loge was present. That could be.
Anyway, Buscetta never said nothing about this meeting while he was spilling his guts in front of a judge in Palermo. Behind him where about 400 Mafiosi in small cells, standing trail because of him. Many vhere convicted.
The truth hurts, but was it the whole thruth?