Balsamo was a Mafia leader in Brooklyn at the dawn of the 20th Century, according to some of his descendants, self-described experts in Brooklyn underworld history. The descendants say he was a transplanted Sicilian Mafioso who settled in Brooklyn in 1895 and became Brooklyn's "first godfather."
Giuseppe Balsamo reportedly retired from Mafia leadership in the 1920s, turning his organization over to Vincent and Phillip Mangano.
These claims have been made in two books. The first of the books was published under a number of different titles, including Under the Clock and Crime Incorporated (authored in 1988 by William Balsamo and George Carpozi). The second book, Young Al Capone, by brothers William and John Balsamo, was published in 2011. Both books contain fiction elements and unsupportable assertions.