“He Could Snap a Neck With His Fingers”
Sal Maranzano and Joe Masseria were in a power struggle to be the most powerful crime figure in New York. Maranzano had a successful bootlegging business, shipping in alcohol through the Mustache Pete era of organized crime. However, it was Joe The Boss who had a slight edge and was looked at as the Boss of Bosses.
They were both born in Castellammare del Golfo, in Sicily, and the power struggle that lead to some brutal deaths became known as the Castellammare War.
One up and coming mob figure, Lucky Luciano who ran a small gang under Joe The Boss thought that all the bloodshed was bad for business, and that the two crime bosses were to set in the old ways of crime. Lucky realised that crime had to become organized.
He knew that both bosses needed to be taken out, and as Maranzano was looking likely at winning the Castellammare War, Luciano plotted a successful hit with him against Joe The Boss. This would promote Maranzano to Boss of bosses, where he would organize the gangs into families, including the five families of New York.
The power unfortunately went to his head, and he had no time for Jewish gangsters. Again, Luciano thought this was a bad business decision especially as he had a great business partner in Meyer Lansky.
Maranzano actually knew of Luciano’s plot to kill him, so Maranzano struck first and hired Vincent ”Mad Dog” Coll to take out Luciano and his ally Vito Genovese. However, with Lansky’s help Luciano had the heads-up and assembled his own four-man hit squad to move quickly.
On September 10, 1931 the hitman entered Maranzano’s office building on the 9th floor of The Helmsley Building, posing as tax men to raid the building.
The guards were disarmed, and fled the scene (including Mad Dog Coll who was about to sit in a meeting with Maranzano).
The hitmen, said to consist of Vito Genovese, Albert Anastasia, Joe Adonis, and Samuel Levine stormed Maranzano’s office.
They first grabbed Maranzano and then pinned him to the wall where they proceeded to stab him 4 times in the chest, stomach and face (slicing his mouth) and then strangling him.
They finally finished off the Boss of Bosses by firing off 6 shots at him from close range.