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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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When he went on trial in 2004, Massino faced charges related to seven murders, loan-sharking, arson, gambling, money laundering, and extortion. The trial lasted for nine weeks and featured more than 70 witnesses, including his own brother-in-law and six other members of the Bonanno family. They placed him at the scenes of four of the murders.
In July 2004, Massino was convicted on 11 counts,
including the murders of the three captains and Dominick Napolitano. But the FBI still wasn't finished with him yet. Massino was going to be tried for the 1999 murder of a Bonanno captain named Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft wanted to seek the death penalty.
Now facing the death penalty, Massino began to reconsider his position on cooperating with the authorities. He also worried for his wife and daughters after the government sought to seize all of his assets, a move that might leave his family homeless and broke. In 2005, Massino decided to make a deal.
While in prison, Massino helped the authorities gather evidence against another inmate Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, who had become the acting head of the Bonanno family. He also reportedly told them where some of the mob's murder victims were buried. In 2005, Massino pled guilty to the Sciascia murder. He received a life sentence for that crime, and another life sentence for his previous convictions. The authorities lowered the amount of money they wanted to take from him, from over $10 million to $9 million.
Today, Massino is serving his time at an undisclosed prison. The Bonanno crime family has been in disarray since his conviction. Several acting bosses and other top players in the organization have ended up in jail, including Basciano who received a life sentence in 2007. It is unclear whether this crime family can revive itself again as it did in the wake of the Donnie Brasco convictions.
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