||New York| Salvatore Vitale
Birth: September 22, 1947
Salvatore "Good Looking Sal" Vitale was the underboss of the Bonanno family from 1991 until 2003. He is the brother-in-law of former boss Joseph Massino against who'm he testified as a government witness.
Involvment in the Bonanno family
Salvatore Vitale was born to Italian immigrants in Queens, New York. As a child he met and befriended Joseph Massino, who was living a few blocks away. Both would become best friends and Massino was even chosen to be the best man at Vitale's wedding. He started his career as a paratrooper but soon turned his back to the military and joined the Bonanno Family. Amongst his first tasks were hijacking trucks, burglary and cleaning up after mob rubouts.
In 1981 then boss Phillip Rastelli ordered the murder of 3 of his capo's, Sonny Red, Dominick Trinchera and Phillip Giaccone. Rastelli knew the men were opposing him and were even planning to overthrow him. He chose his most trusted capo Joseph Massino to organize the hit. On May 5 Sonny Red, Trinchera and Giaccone were lured to a meeting place where all of them were beaten and shot to death. Vitale, who was part of the hitsquad, later told prosecutors that Massino was also present during the rubout and had hit one of the 3 men in the face before they were gunned down.
In 1981 Vitale was involved in another hit within Bonanno's Family circles. This time Dominick Napolitano had to go. Napolitano, nicknamed Sonny Black, was held responsible for letting undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone, who infiltrated Napolitano's crew as "Donnie Brasco", get to deep inside the organization. On August 17, 1981, Sonny Black was last seen by his girlfriend before going to meet with Frank "Curly" Lino. One year later his mutilated body washed up in Staten Island. During Vitale's later testimonies he revealed that Massino had ordered him to participate in 8 murders. In total he would plead guilty to his involvment in as much as 11 murders.
In 1991 Phillip Rastelli died after a long lasting illness and Joseph Massino became the new boss of the family. The close relationship with Massino led to Vitale's elevation within the family ranks as the new underboss. Massino and Vitale were also partners in several legal ventures. They shared a trucking concern, a harmless-sounding shop in Queens and J&S Cake, which sold baked goods. The J stood for Joe, the S for Sal. In addition to the cakes, Vitale later explained the shop was a Bonanno meeting place.
Together with family consiglieri Anthony Spero, Massino and Vitale strenghtened the family again after the unstable years of murders and infiltraters. Vitale managed to stay away from law enforcements as he could, his last racketeering case dated back from 1987 for hijacking a pair of trucks. However, in 2001 Vitale's luck was up as he and six others were indicted for fraud involving a Long Island based bank, gambling, money laundering and loansharking charges. For these crimes he was sentenced to 44 months in jail. During his jailtime he was convicted again for racketeering charges together with Joseph Massino. He was also charged with the 1992 murder of a Bonanno associate, Robert Perrino, who was a delivery driver. Facing a life sentence Vitale made his choice and decided to become a federal witness.
Vitales descision of becomming a Federal witness made him of great importance for the FBI. By this he followed in the footstept of other high leveled turncoats such as Salvatore Gravano, Jimmy Fratianno, Vincent Palermo and Philip Leonetti. He admitted in his involvment in 11 murders but most of all turned against his brother-in-law and best friend Joseph Massino. In court he explained that Massino had ordered several murders and led the crime organization. He also told that Massino, "a man for who'm he would die", once said to him that he was not well liked within the Bonanno Family. Joseph Massino was sentenced to life afterwards but would eventualy shock the underworld by becomming a federal witness himself. Vitale's testimonies also led to Project Colisee, in which several members of the Montreal Mafia were arrested.
In October 2010 Vitale was released from prison after nearly serving 8 years. Out of jail he was placed in the witness protection program under a new identity.
(Source: "U.S. Arrests 7 in Mafia Use of a Bank on L.I" Nytimes November 7, 2001; "From Witness Stand, Tales of Murder and Mob Betrayal" Nytimes June 29, 2004; "Lawyer Tries To Muss Hair Of Informant" Nytimes July 1, 2004; "Career of a Crime Boss Ends With Sweeping Convictions" Nytimes July 31, 2004; "King of the Godfathers" by Anthony DeStefano, www.nytimes.com/2010/10/30)
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