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Italian for boss of all bosses?

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May 13, 2014 6:03PM

This title means capo di tutti capi in Italian, and was often used as a phrase by law enforcement and the media to describe an extremely powerful Mafia boss who held de facto control over the Mafia Commission in the United States. Many mob bosses were powerful, but none of them (except for Salvatore Maranzano) dared to declare themselves one lest they faced the ire of the other mafia families. The only person to ever declare himself boss of all bosses was Salvatore Maranzano, who was killed in 1931 by Lucky Luciano as a result of that; Luciano knew this title caused trouble and wanted to avoid further bloodshed among the families, and as a result abolished the title in favor of a Commission that set the rules for the mafia. The term is now seen as outdated since Joe Massino, the last person to hold the title, gave state's evidence against his fellow mafiosi in 2004.

The following mob bosses were seen as capo di tutti capi in the United States:

  • Giuseppe "Peter" Morello (1890s-1910) - imprisoned on counterfeiting charges in 1910
  • Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila (1910-1928) - killed
  • Joseph "Joe the Boss" Masseria (1928-1931) - murdered by assassins in hire of Luciano in 1931
  • Salvatore "Caesar" Maranzano (1931) - murdered by assassins in hire of Luciano in 1931
  • Charles "Lucky" Luciano (1931-1946) - imprisoned & deported to Italy in 1946
  • Frank "the Prime Minister" Costello (1946-1957) - retired after assassination attempt by Vito Genovese in 1957
  • Vito "Don Vitone" Genovese (1957-1959) - imprisoned on narcotics charges in 1959
  • Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno (1959-1962) - forcibly retired in 1968
  • Carlo "the Godfather" Gambino (1962-1976) - died
  • Paul "Big Paulie" Castellano (1976-1985) - murdered by assassins in hire of Gotti in 1985
  • John "the Dapper Don" Gotti (1985-1992) - imprisoned on racketeering & murder charges in 1992
  • Vincent "the Chin" Gigante (1992-1997) - imprisoned on racketeering charges in 1997
  • Joseph "Big Joey" Massino (1999-2004) - imprisoned, then gave state's evidence in 2004.