||New York| Joseph Biondo
Birth: April 16, 1897 - Sicily
Death: July 1, 1973
Joseph "Joe Bandy" Biondo was an early member of the Gambino family and was the overseer of the families drug trafficking business during the late 1940's and 1950's. After the death of boss Albert Anastasia Biondo became the underboss for Carlo Gambino.
The drug trade
Biondo was born near Messina, Sicily, in 1897. After his arrival in New York Biondo became affiliated with streetgangs in which many of his fellow Sicilians were grooming. As prohibition was law Biondo also worked as a bootlegger. During the 1920's he became associated with the elder Vincent Mangano and gangleader Frankie Yale in Brooklyn, but also with Bronx beer baron Dutch Schultz.
When the Castellammarese war broke out between the Castellammarese from Brooklyn and the Morello gang from Manhattan, Biondo and Mangano chose sides with their fellow Brooklyn gangsters. Allie and boss of bosses Salvatore Maranzano eventually won the war and Vincent Mangano was recognized as one of the 5 New York bosses. Biondo stayed by Mangano's side as a capo. In 1938 Biondo was arrested due to his involvement in a taxicab racket led by Charles Luciano. The arrest was made by a rookie detective who happened to recognize Biondo due to the shape of his nose. Biondo was eventually released after the $50,000 bail was payed.
In 1949 Mangano send Biondo to Italy for a couple of months to supervise the drug trafficking of the family. There he briefly met with his old associates Charles Luciano who was deported to Italy 3 years prior, and Nicola Gentile, an influential Sicilian Mafia leader. In 1951 Mangano went missing and the position of boss was taken over by Albert Anastasia. During this period Biondo kept on working as the overal overseer of the drug trafficking business for the Mangano/Anastasia family. In 1951 Biondo and 3 others, amongst them New Jersey kingping Abner Zwillman, were sought by senate crime investigators to be questioned. Biondo didn't receive big penalties afterwards.
The Anastasia hit
On October 25, 1957, the mad hatter Albert Anastasia was shot and killed while sitting in a barber chair. It is believed that Carlo Gambino gave Biondo the green light to organize the murder of the boss so that Gambino could take over the organization. The team Biondo had set up consisted out of Steven Grammauta, Steven Armone and Arnold Wittenburg, a crew of Lower East Side heroin dealers. After the hit Biondo was rewarded with the position of underboss by Gambino wich he kept until the mid 1960's. In 1965 Gambino learned that Biondo had been hiding money from the family and replaced him with former Albert Anastasia loyalist Aniello Dellacroce. Biondo was demoted back to a soldier. He eventually died of natural causes in 1973.
(Source: "Lucania aide held in texicab racket" NYtimes July 14, 1938; "Joseph Biondo sought" NYtimes July 17, 1951; "Zwillman sought by land and sea" NYtimes August 15, 1951)
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