An FBI document that was filed away nearly 45 years ago, is a valuable record of a vote held in 1976 by New York’s ruling mob commission. For the first time in two decades, they are discussing admitting new members.
Carlo Gambino’s, fear that this will lead to informants infiltrating the organization is well documented. He clearly saw the threat new members posed to his multi-million-dollar empire. The “Boss of Bosses’ was however overruled by the heads of the Lucchese, Bonanno, and Colombo families. Gambino’s fears, as we now know, ended up being quite perceptive and right on the money.
That very same year, infamous FBI undercover agent Joe Pistone, took on the persona of Donnie Brasco and infiltrated the Bonanno family. Meanwhile, during the same time period, the Gambino family inducted someone they too would later regret – Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, who would become a witness for the prosecution some 15 years later, taking down the infamous John Gotti along with 38 other members.
The February 17, 1976 document, a memo sent to then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, said, “Source states Gambino adamantly opposed new membership for fear of informant penetration. However (he) was outvoted 4 to 1 and reluctantly agreed to go along with the proposal of 10 new members each for the five families. Source speculated that if Gambino had been able to persuade one other LCN (La Cosa Nostra) boss to oppose the proposal he would have been in a position to delay or prevent implementation.”
If there is one thing we can learn from all of this, it’s that the FBI must have already had a mole inside the mafia or this document and knowledge of what was said at the meeting, simply wouldn’t exist.
The document has come to light now due to a Freedom of Information Act request.
It has been suggested by mob experts that Gambino, who rose to power by arranging the 1957 hit of Albert Anastasia, and who died only eight months after losing the vote at the 1976 meeting, opposed the recruitment of new members due to his distrust of American-born mobsters and his continued craving to always benefit his own family.
Ex-head of the FBI’s Gambino squad, Bruce Mouw said, “Some of the old-timers didn’t like the new guys, the Americans, when people got made. They didn’t trust the new generation. They liked the old paisans. It’s the dinosaur theory: They didn’t like anything new.”
American journalist, author of “Five Families” and former investigative reporter Selwyn Raab, agreed but also offered an alternative, albeit more selfish motive.
“He had the largest family. What does he care about the Bonannos, the Colombos and the others? But the ‘Mustache Petes’ had to make room. Every generation distrusts the upcoming Mafia members. The idea was Gambino felt the whole school of ‘wanna-be’s couldn’t be trusted.”
Reports of the time suggested that opening of the books was given the green light by a national mob board. The FBI memo implies that it was at a meeting called by Gambino where the heads of New York’s five families made the decision.
According to the report, the Colombo family, reeling from a drawn out “civil war” against the Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo faction, quickly inducted 10 men on Feb 5, 1976.
The memo also said that “All of the above-named individuals are now ‘good-fellows’ (members of LCN) and recognized as such by all ‘families.’”
A note accompanying the memo reads “extremely sensitive and not to be disseminated outside Bureau under any circumstances at this time to prevent compromise of sources.”