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Joe Bonanno

Bonanno, Joe (Joseph Bonanno), 1905–2002, American crime boss nicknamed "Joe Bananas," b. Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. He came to the United States illegally in 1924, settled in Brooklyn, and soon became a bootlegger and mob enforcer. In 1931 he founded the Bonanno crime family, one of five families that dominated organized crime in New York City, and also became one of the original members of the Commission, which settled internal Mafia disputes. Bonanno's crime family, which he ruled until the mid-1960s, eventually extended from Brooklyn to Arizona, California, and Canada and controlled such illegal enterprises as gambling, loan-sharking, and drug trafficking. During the 1980s, well after his retirement (c.1968), Bonanno served his only prison terms, one for obstruction of justice, the other for civil contempt of court.

See his autobiography (with S. Lalli; 1983, repr. 2003); Joe Bonanno: The Last Godfather (video documentary, 1999).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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