The Genovese Family evolved from Joe "The Boss" Masseria's (right) powerful gang, taken over by Charles "Lucky" Luciano after the Castellammarese War. Luciano's decline began when he was sentenced in 1935 to a 30 - 50 year prison term for controlling prostitution in New york. This case was, in fact, a frame. Vito Genovese, Luciano's underboss, was in line to be "acting boss" of the Family, but he had fled to Italy one year later, in 1936, to escape a murder accusation. This made room for a capo named Frank Costello to take over as acting boss in 1937.
Shortly after World War II, in 1946, Luciano (left) was freed and deported to Italy. It seems that the U.S Government was afraid of sabotage along the New York docks. They enlisted the help of longshoremen, whose unions were mob-controlled. Luciano was asked to use his influence, and he apparently complied, leading to an early release. Luciano died in 1962 of a heart attack while meeting with a movie producer who wanted to make a movie of Luciano's life story.
In 1947, Costello became formal boss, and by 1950, Luciano's power was virtually a thing of the past. The question of who would control the Family arose between Frank Costello (right) and Vito Genovese (now exonerated of the murder charge). This dispute was settled in 1957 when Costello was wounded in a botched hit attempt by Vincent "The Chin" Gigante under orders from Genovese. Costello quickly retired, leaving Genovese in power. During his 20 years in power, Costello was known for preferring negotiation over violence.
Genovese (left) had gotten what he wanted, but in 1959 he was convicted in a major heroin conspiracy and received a long sentence. This heroin conspiracy also led to the first public betrayal of omerta -- by Joe Valachi, a low-level Genovese soldier. He revealed the true name of the mafia (La Cosa Nostra, which means "This Thing of Ours) along with the national structure. He referred to his Family as the Genovese Family, and that name has stuck.
After Genovese's prison sentence, Tommy Eboli became acting boss (1961). Gradually, he lost favor and, in 1972, was gunned down in the street. Since no great commotion was caused by this murder, it is believed that the hit was approved by the Commission under Carlo Gambino.
The next boss was Frank "Funzi" Tieri, who was supposedly, perhaps not so coincidentally, a long time friend of Gambino's. Tieri died in 1981. It is unknown who controlled the Family for a while, but suspicions point to Fat Tony Salerno (left), followed by Vincent "The Chin" Gigante (right) in 1987, after Salerno went to prison.
By this time, Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino Family after Carlo Gambino's death, had been murdered, and a brutal Gambino capo named John Gotti (below left) had taken over. Chin didn't like Gotti, particularly his unsanctioned hit on Castellano. In April 1986, Gotti's underboss, Frank DeCicco, was blown up in a car bomb intended for both DeCicco and Gotti.
On July 25, 1993, Chin was convicted of racketeering, and he went to prison in 1997. Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo is believed to be acting as boss currently. He, like Chin, avoids telephones and conducts business during "walk talks" instead.
The Genovese Family is believed to be the most powerful and richest family in New York and possibly the country (the only other candidate would be the Chicago Outfit).