|New York|  Vito Bonventre

Birth: 1875 - Castellammare Del Golfo, Sicily

Death: July 15, 1930 - New York

Vito Bonventre was one of the founding and early members of the Castellammarese community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which ultimately would go to war with Manhattan's Morello Gang during the Castellammarese War. Bonventre was also a leader of a now forgotten, but vicious and deadly crew of assassins which operated during the 1910's until the early years of prohibition.

The Good Killers
Vito Bonventre was born in 1875 in Castellammare Del Golfo and belonged to a well respected bloodline of mafioso. Back in Castellammare his family was allied with the Magaddino and Bonanno families, an alliance which would continue in America. Many Castellammare natives who moved to New York settled in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Castellammare community is believed to be raised by Giuseppe Bonanno, uncle of Joseph Bonanno. Vito also became family of the Bonanno's when his sister, Catherina, married Joseph's father Salvatore Bonanno (it is possible though they were related much earlier. Many mobsters were in fact family of each other, this was common in the mafia to strengthen their position). In Williamsburg Vito led a vicious gang which was dubbed 'The Good Killers' and carried out murders in and outside New York for whomever payed best. The gang was thought to have had it's headquarters in both New York and Detroit. The police credited the group with as much as 125 murders. About 20 murders they believed were committed in New York and most of the others took place in Detroit.

In 1919 Bonventre's nephews, Antonino and Stefano Magaddino, entered New York as illegal immigrants. Vito took them under his wing and granted them a job in his bakery. Vito however knew what they did best, handeling guns and knives. Thanks to his strong bloodline Stefano became a high ranked member in the Bonventre group together with fellow Castellammarese Gaspar Milazzo. Magaddino had now become part of the leadership amongst men such as Francesco Puma and Giuseppe Lombardi.

In 1919 they were believed to be responsible for the murders of Salvatore and Antonio Giannola and in 1920 that of another Detroit mob boss, John Vitale. Another one of their victims was a relative of the rival Buccelato family and alleged murderer of Stefano Magaddino's brother. The young Carmello Caizo was found murdered in a river. Sometime later the killer Bartolo Fontana, fearing for his own life, turned himself in to the police in change for protection. Fontana then revealed a lot of the inner workings of the "Good Killer" assassins and told them that they forced young immigrants to join their troops or where tortured or extorted instead. The Italian squad knew enough and thought of a plan to catch the crews leadership. In 1921 they lured Stefano Magaddino to a meeting place with Fontana and arrested him. Sometime later they also rounded up the other leaders, Mariano Galante, Bartolo DiGregorio, Francesco Puma, Giuseppe Lombardi and Vito Bonventre. All were taken to the prison tombs where they were imprisoned. Due to lack of evidence however the men were all set lose again. Turncoat Fontana was ironically the only one who was to be sentenced for his crime.

According to policeman Micheal Fiaschetti the gang started in 1907 following the murder of a Bonventre clan chieftain whose dismembered body had been stuffed into a bag and left on a Williamsburg street corner. It was said that the man's body had been taken inside the Bonventre Bakery on Roebling Street and placed piece by piece into the hot coal fire of a brick oven as his comrades gathered around. This was the beginning of the gangs motto 'We will burn you', referring to one being murdered.

Although they escaped conviction and were feared amongst the Italian community, they still had to deal with some of the last remaining Buccelato associates. At one time they tried to murder Gaspar Milazzo and Stefano Magaddino during a drive by shooting. Both Milazzo and Magaddino then decided to leave New York and head for other states where Castellammarese associates were settled down. Milazzo moved to Detroit and Magaddino went to Buffalo where he joined the crew of Giuseppe DiCarlo, a long time partner in crime.

After the Good Killers
During the early 1920's the Good Killer crew began to vanish. Magaddino and Milazzo had left New York and Francesco Puma, who was believed to cooperate with the police in a investigation about Sicilian criminal activity, was murdered in 1922. Whatever happened with men such as Giuseppe Lombardi and Mariano Galante is not known, but it is possible they kept their strong ties to Bonventre and later, Salvatore Maranzano. During the mid 1920's Vito stayed an influential and respected leader in the neighborhood of Williamsburg. Cola Shiro was said to be placed on top and during those years it stayed relatively calm around the Castellammarese. During these years however Brooklyn allies such as Salvatore D'Aquila and Frankie Yale were murdered by men or associates of the Morello Gang. The Castellammarese in the meanwhile kept on creating branches all over America and got more and more organized. Later, when Salvatore Maranzano entered America and climbed the throne of the Castellammarese they were heading for all out war. A couple of years earlier his young cousin Joseph Bonanno also entered New York and was offered a job in his bakery. Bonanno and Bonventre helped Maranzano closely in his strategic plans to attack the notorious gang of counterfeiters called the Morello/Masseria gang. Bonventre used his wealth to support Maranzano financially but was eventually shot and killed in 1930 in order of Peter Morello and Joe Masseria. The so called Castellammarese war was eventually won by Maranzano one year later and the Castellammarese community came under the control of Joseph Bonanno, who placed John Bonventre (Vito's son or cousin) as his second in command. To this day the organization still exists mostly out of Castellammarese natives or relatives.
(Source:, NYtimes "125 murders now charged to band", NYtimes "Three more death band killing")

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