Evola, Natale (1907-1973)

Born New York, NY, Feb. 22, 1907.

Died New York, NY, Aug. 28, 1973.

Natale "Joe Diamond" Evola stepped up to the leadership of the Bonanno Crime Family in the late 1960s, after Joseph Bonanno's second term as boss ended with retirement.

Some sources indicate that the Bonanno family was so demoralized after years of civil war and disgrace before the national Commission that Evola took over by default. Low-key Evola, who had significant investments in trucking and garment companies, has largely escaped the notice of history. Even Joe Bonanno's "A Man of Honor" barely mentioned him (Evola was an usher at Bonanno's wedding). Evola had close relationships with other crime families, including the Gambino and Genovese clans. Some say he was serving as a capo in the Lucchese Family when he was called upon to assume a leadership role for the Bonannos.

Sources generally agree that he cooperated with - rather than resisted - powerful underworld bosses, Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino.

In 1957, Evola was among the crowd of Mafiosi identified as attending the Genovese-called Apalachin convention. He and other attendees were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with their post-Apalachin statements to investigators. The convictions were later overturned.

Shortly after Apalachin, Evola was convicted along with Genovese of a conspiracy to violate narcotics laws.

The Commission meddled considerably in Bonanno family matters during the 1960s. After endorsing Gaspar DiGregorio as boss over the missing Joe Bonanno's son Salvatore "Bill," the Commission soured on DiGregorio and attempted to move Paul Sciacca into the boss position just as Joe Bonanno reappeared and decided to retake the reins. Bonanno's sudden departure from New York in the late 1960s left the clan leaderless and in chaos.

It seems Evola was unable to completely restore order to the family. If he had been installed as boss by the Commission (like DiGregorio and Sciacca), rather than through agreement of the Bonanno membership, it would explain the continued divisions in the family.

In 1971-72, investigators gained significant information on Evola's operation, as well as that of then-Lucchese-boss Carmine Tramunti, by bugging a trailer used by the bosses and their lieutenants as a meeting place. Evidence suggested that Evola was engaged in garment district labor racketeering, drug trafficking and hijacking.

Evola's health was failing by then. He died of cancer in 1973. He was reportedly unmarried and lived at the time of his death with his elderly mother at 972 Bayridge Parkway in Brooklyn.

Evola was replaced for a time by his underboss Philip "Rusty" Rastelli. Rastelli, not yet popular with the Bonanno capos, was thought to be merely keeping the seat warm. Former Bonanno underboss Carmine Galante, a genuine power in the family, was finishing a jail term for drug trafficking.

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