Vito Genovese (Vito Genovese)

Vito Genovese

Vito Genovese

Organized Crime Figure. Born in Naples, Italy. He and his family came to the United States in 1912, and lived in Queens, New York. Later, he moved to lower Manhattan to live with relatives. Vito started his criminal career stealing merchandise from pushcart vendors and running errands for mobsters. He later collected money from people who played illegal lotteries. One of Vito’s early friends was Lucky Luciano, a founding father of the Cosa Nostra. At age 19, Genovese spent time in prison for illegal possession of a firearm. In April 1931, Luciano orchestrated the assassination of Joe Masseria. Vito was one of the four shooters involved in the hit on his former employer. In 1937, Genovese fled to Naples, Italy to avoid the possibilities of facing a murder charge. While in Italy, he got involved with Benito Mussolini and became the main drug source for Count Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law. No one was ever indicted in the Masseria murder. After Masseria’s murder, Maranzano reorganized all the Sicilian and Italian gangs in New York into five crime families. Luciano took over Masseria’s family, with Vito as his underboss. His next goal was to take over the Luciano family and become “The Boss of Bosses” in the Mafia. He arranged to have Costello assassinated but Vincent Gigante, who was hired to do the hit, botched it and Costello remained alive. It was not until the murder of Albert Anastasia, that Costello stepped aside. In November, 1957, Vito reportedly coordinated what became known as the Appalachian Meeting, where he expected to be named Boss of Bosses. In 1959, Vito was sent to prison, where he continued to control the activities of his crime family. While in prison, he ordered his top aide Tony Bender, assassinated, because he believed him to be involved in the plot to have him framed for the narcotics deal. It was also Vito, who ordered the assassination of Joe Valachi for turning coat to the Federal agents. When Valachi heard about the hit, he decided to turn for protection and became one of the major informants ever, against the Mafia. Vito died in prison in 1969.


  • November, 27, 1897
  • Naples, Italy


  • February, 14, 1969
  • Springfield, Missouri

Cause of Death

  • Heart attack


  • Saint John Cemetery
  • Queens, New York

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