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Mobster Joseph Massino became boss of the Bonanno crime family when other crime bosses were being sent to jail for life. The press called him "the Last Don."
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Angered at this betrayal, Massino helped organize the murder of Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano. Napolitano had been close to Brasco and even nominated him to become an official member of the family.
In August 1981, Napolitano was killed by some of Massino's associates. His body wasn't discovered until the following year. In the meanwhile,
the first of the indictments stemming from the Donnie Brasco operation were handed down in November 1981. Massino was not in this first wave of arrests, largely because he had been very cautious about government surveillance. He did not usually let people refer to him by name; they just tugged on their ear instead.
Massino, however, knew it was only a matter of time before he, too, would be facing charges. To avoid arrest, he went into hiding in March 1982. Meanwhile, he was indicted on racketeering charges. After first hiding the Hamptons, he then spent most of his time away in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Still, he frequently met with associates and managed his many illegal enterprises. In July 1982, Massino was indicted again on conspiracy charges in the case of the three captains' murders. In July 1984, Massino decide to return to New York City after consulting with a lawyer. He thought he had a good chance of winning in court.
In 1986, Massino went on trial for the labor racketeering with Rastelli and members of the Teamsters union. They had been running a scam in the moving and storage industry. Massino was found guilty in that case and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The following year, he had better luck with the conspiracy case against him in connection to the 1981 murders of the three Bonanno captains. Massino was acquitted of that charge. In the same trial, he also was found guilty in connection with a 1975 hijacking and theft case, but he was acquitted on a technicality.
While in prison, Massino is believed by some to have taken the reins of the Bonanno family after Rastelli's death in 1991. He was released the following year, and it was soon clear to all that he had become boss of the Bonanno family. Massino flourished at a time when other crime bosses, such as his close friend John Gotti of the Gambino family, were being sent to jail for life. The press took to calling him "the Last Don."
In 2001, Massino's underboss, Salvatore Vitale, was arrested. His brother-in-law eventually decided to testify against Massino to save himself. Many other members of the Bonanno family soon offered up what they knew to get a better deal for themselves, too. In the meanwhile, "Big Joey" continued to hold court at his Maspeth restaurant, CasaBlanca. His nickname came from his size—weighing as much as 300 to 400 pounds at one point. But Massino would not be enjoying fine meals for long.
On January 9, 2003, the FBI picked up Massino at his home in Howard Beach, Brooklyn, to face 19 federal charges. More charges soon followed. "Massino was the most powerful mobster in the country" when he was arrested, explained Pasquale J. D'Amuro, FBI assistant director.
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