The Ugly Rise and Fall of a New York Mobster
By Anthony M. DeStefano
(Lyons Press, Paperback, 9780762785414, 288pp.)
Publication Date: July 2013
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If ever there was a heartthrob in the Mafia, it was Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano. A vain man of good looks, small means, and no family links to the mob, this handsome, fastidious ladies man steadily worked his way from gopher to acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, asserting himself as leader when official boss Joseph Massino went to the clink in 2003. In that respect, Basciano was like many of the men who had risen in the world of organized crime—but he was also different. At a time when the mob was crawling with secret operatives and informants who caved to government pressure to flip and stand witness, Basciano remained steadfast to the code of La Cosa Nostra. “I got faith in one guy,” Basciano told a group of mobsters during a secretly taped breakfast meeting at a Long Island diner. That man was Joseph Massino, head of the Bonanno borgata, as the family is known. But for all his loyalty, Basciano was still a hot-headed, cold-blooded killer, which ultimately led to his arrest. Then, in a remarkable betrayal that shook the Five Families to their foundation, Massino secretly cooperated with the FBI—the first family head ever to roll over. As a result, Basciano faced the death penalty, but a federal jury, disturbed by the inequality of FBI protection of criminal informants, reached a surprising verdict. Veteran crime author Anthony M. DeStefano tells the riveting story of the last true believer in the Mob’s cult of brotherhood and how he was betrayed by the only man whom he ever trusted.
Anthony M. DeStefano is a staff reporter for Newsday, covering legal affairs and criminal justice in New York City. Formerly a staff reporter at the Wall Street Journal and Fairchild News Service, he has appeared on Biography Channel programs about Joseph Massino and Mafia killer Thomas Pitera as an expert on organized crime.
Critical acclaim for Anthony M. Destefano’s King of the Godfathers:
“DeStefano’s book tracks the downfall not only of Massino himself but all of the old
organized crime families. ... DeStefano gives us unique insights.”
—New York Law Journal
“The last word and best work on the life and times of Joe Massino ... DeStefano brings the story to life … and adds special insight into Massino.”
—Jerry Capeci, creator of GangLandNews.com
“Thrilling American crime writing.”
—Jimmy Breslin, author of The Good Rat and winner of the Pulitzer Prize