Gambino, Carlo (1902-1976)

Born Palermo, Sicily, Aug. 24, 1902.

Died Massapequa, NY, Oct. 15, 1976.


Gambino was born in Palermo, Sicily, to Tommasso and Felice Castellano Gambino. He is believed to have entered the United States in December 1921 through Norfolk, Virginia. U.S. officials charged that he entered the country illegally as a stowaway on the S.S. Vincent Florio. Gambino settled on East 182nd Street in the Bronx, where he worked as a butcher and associated with the D'Aquila Mafia faction dominated by his relatives the Castellanos of Brooklyn. The Castellanos also were engaged in the butcher business. Behind the scenes, Gambino ran a successful bootlegging operation.

On Dec. 1926, Gambino married Catherine Castellano (born 1907 in New York to Joseph and Concetta Cossato Castellano) in Brooklyn. Gambino's brother Paulo served as his best man. (In 1930, Paolo married Catherine Castellano, born 1912 to Frank and Providencia Guglemini Castellano. Carlo Gambino was his best man.)The couple settled in Brooklyn. Their first child, Felicia (later Phyllis Sinatra), was born in 1927 while they lived at 1692 83rd Street in Brooklyn. A son, Thomas, was born in 1929. At that time, the family lived at 8302 17th Avenue in Brooklyn.

During the Castellammarese War, the Castellano wing of the old D'Aquila organization was loyal to Al Mineo, a boss imposed on the crime family by boss of bosses Giuseppe Masseria. After Mineo's November 1930 murder, Gambino and the Castellanos sided with Masseria rival Salvatore Maranzano, the ultimate victor in the war.

In 1934, alcohol tax authorities charged Gambino with possessing untaxed alcohol and with running an unlicensed wholesale and retail liquor business. The charges were later dismissed. In the same year, he was charged with stealing $1000 through a "pill game" in Brockton, Massachusetts. Gambino paid back the money, and he was not prosecuted.

He first ran into trouble with immigration authorities when he visited Montreal, Canada, in 1935 and attempted to return to New York. He was refused a visa by the U.S. consulate in Montreal. He was permitted reentry into the U.S. at Rouses Point, NY, but a warrant was subsequently issued for his arrest. That warrant was later cancelled by an immigration official.
In the late 1930s, U.S. authorities discovered evidence that Gambino was engaged in large-scale stock speculation under assumed identities. He was closely affiliated with the management of the Bank of Sicily Trust Company at that time.

In 1939, he was sentenced to serve 22 months in prison for violating tax laws. He served that sentence at the federal penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. After his release, he and his brother engaged in the theft and sale of American wartime ration stamps.

He became prominent in the Mangano Family (which had been led by D'Aquila, Al Mineo and then Frank Scalise in the years leading up to 1931 underworld reorganization) He established a residence at 2230 Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn and served as a principal owner in the S.G.S. Associates labor consulting firm.

Narcotics agents felt strongly that Carlo and Paolo Gambino were smuggling illegal aliens and heroin into the U.S. from Sicily in cooperation with Sicilian underworld leader Santo Sorge.

After Vincent Mangano's disappearance in 1951. He was named underboss to Albert Anastasia in 1956. Anastasia was killed the next year, and Gambino took over family leadership. He was noted among the attendees at the Apalachin convention of the nation's Mafiosi in 1957. It is likely that his election as boss of the former Anastasia Crime Family was on the agenda of that meeting. His rival within the organization, Armand Thomas Rava, was also present. Rava subsequently disappeared. Gambino purchased the support of Rava's close friend Aniello Dellacroce by appointing him underboss.

Following the convention, the Immigration and Naturalization Service considered deporting Gambino. Agents located him in the Flower Hospital at Fifth Avenue and 105th Street in New York and were told that he was suffering from a serious heart condition.

Gambino is believed to have been at least partly responsible for inciting revolts within the conservative Mafia clans of Profaci (later known as Colombo) and Bonanno.

He was a one-time supporter and later opponent of both Joe Colombo and Joe Gallo, big names in the former Profaci Family. Colombo's assassination in 1971 was probably masterminded by Gambino. Gallo's death a year later also looks to have been his work.

In 1970, Gambino was charged with conspiracy to transport stolen property. He was granted a severance from other defendants in the case due to poor health. Gambino won release on his own recognizance, and the trial was postponed for years.

Gambino died of a heart attack Oct. 15, 1976, at his home at Massapequa, Long Island. His underboss Aniello Dellacroce had much support to take over the family but agreed instead to serve under Paul Castellano, who was a relative and an apprentice of Gambino.

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