||New York| Benjamin - Lefty - Ruggiero
Birth: April 19, 1926 - New York
Death: November 24, 1995 - New York
Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero, was a soldier in the Bonanno Family. He was part of the crew in which FBI agent Joe Pistone infiltrated. He was later depicted by Al Pacino in the hit movie "Donnie Brasco".
Raised in Little Italy, Manhattan, Ruggiero became a 'made' member of the Mafia in 1977, joining the Bonanno Family. He was involved in extortion and loansharking, although he reportedly spent most of his illicit income on his gambling habit. Lefty had four grown kids. His youngest daughter, at the time of the events portrayed in Donnie Brasco, was in her mid-twenties and lived with his ex-wife in the same building as her father and worked at a hospital. Every year she managed a booth at The Feast of San Gennaro where she sold soft drinks and fruits. Two of Lefty's daughters were married to wiseguys, and one was married to Marco. Marco was an expert safe-and-lock man, a drugdealer and loudmouth. He lived a flashy life and vacationed in Florida where he had a big boat. But one day Marco disappeared. Word on the street was that he got into skimming drug profits that were supposed to go to the organization. His body was never found. It is said that the contract had gone to Lefty, to whack his own son-in-law.
This is not accurate information, according to the book "Donnie Brasco: My undercover life in the mafia", Lefty Guns had to borrow money from Donnie Brasco in order to pay the Bonnanno Boss not to whack his son, it was alleged that he was to get the contract but never proved. Also it was not the fact that he was skimming off drug profits, it was because he got a tip, of a diamond theft, but it turned out that the person he stole from was a connected man in the mafia family.
Benjamin's son, Tommy, was twenty-eight at the time of Operation Donnie Brasco. He was a thief and had done some work for The Bonnanos as a freelancer. Tommy had problems with heroin and was an on-and-off junkie. He was a fan of soap operas like All My Children and became friends with Joe Pistone.
The Bonanno Family underwent great turmoil in 1979 when its head, Carmine Galante, was murdered, which created a power vacuum. Phillip Rastelli took over, running things from prison, but the Bonanno Family was split with one faction supporting Rastelli and the others not accepting his leadership. Ruggiero joined up with Sonny Napolitano's crew, who supported Rastelli. Ruggiero is believed to have taken part in the murder of three mobsters who did not support Rastelli, which seemed to finally settle the row and get everyone in line behind Rastelli.
During this period, Ruggiero had acted as the mentor and sponsor of a man named Donnie Brasco, who seemed to be a dealer of stolen jewelry and who looked on course to being a 'made' member of the Mafia after he impressed Napolitano. One day, however, 'Donnie Brasco' dropped out of sight and Ruggiero and his associates were told that Brasco was actually an undercover FBI agent. Panic set in and Sonny Napolitano was murdered shortly afterwards as punishment for being so foolish as to fail to spot an undercover FBI Agent in his midst after all this time. The FBI suspected Ruggiero would suffer the same fate so, for his own protection, they took him into custody on August 30, 1981.
Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero was sentenced to twenty-years imprisonment after turning down an offer to become an informant. He was released from prison on parole in 1992 and died of lung cancer on November 24, 1995.
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