What is a Crime Boss? – Mafia Family Structures

Short Version: The Boss of a family is also known as the Don in many Mafia crime family structures, they will control the whole of the family and hand down orders and decision to his underboss, capo’s, and soldiers.

Click for Other Crime Family Roles: AssociateSoldierCapoUnderbossConsigliere

Description of a Mob Boss

The boss is usually feared by his subordinates for his ruthlessness and willingness to take lives in order to exert his influence, and profits from the criminal endeavours in which his organization engages.

In more recent years the boss will typically put up layers of insulation between himself and his men in order to defeat law enforcement efforts to arrest him. One particular example of this was during the Vincent Gigante reign as the Genovese boss.

The orders are then passed down the line to the soldiers. This makes it difficult under most circumstances to directly implicate a boss in a crime, since he almost never directly gives orders to the soldiers. Only the boss, underboss or consigliere can initiate an associate into the family, allowing them to become a made man. The boss can promote or demote family members at will. If the boss is incarcerated or incapacitated he places an acting boss who responsible for running the crime family. When a boss dies the crime family members choose a new boss.

The Boss of all Bosses

Despite this position being abolished by the Mafia, and never really recognized as a true position internally, the media created the name “Boss of all Bosses” or Capo Di Tutti Capi, and even Godfather. This name was given to the most powerful boss, but it was usually the Commission that decided on any inter-family issues that arose.

Notable Bosses

The early crime bosses consited of the likes of:

  • Vito Cascio Ferro
  • Giuseppe Morello
  • Ignazo Lupo

These bosses were all 19th Century mob bosses.

At the turn of the 20th century and before Prohibition you had names such as:

  • Jim Colosimo
  • Salvatore D’Aquila
  • Vito Di Giorgio
  • Owney Madden
  • Ciro Terranova

During the heigh of Prohibition the Mafia started to grow and therefore more crime bosses came out of the woodwork which included key names such as:

  • Joe Adonis
  • Joe Aiello
  • Joseph Bonanno
  • Al Capone
  • Jack Dragna
  • Waxey Gordon
  • Louis Buchalter
  • Charles Luciano
  • Stefano Magaddino
  • Salvatore Maranzano
  • Giuseppe Masseria
  • George Moran
  • Dean O’Banion
  • Raymond Patriarca
  • Joe Profaci
  • Gaetano Reina
  • Paul Ricca
  • Arnold Rothstein
  • Dutch Schultz
  • Stephanie St. Clair
  • Johnny Torrio
  • Hymie Weiss

You then had the post world war II mob bosses from 1945 through to the beginning of the 1970’s which included some more familiar names:

  • Tony Accardo
  • Frank Costello
  • Albert Anastasia
  • Angelo Bruno
  • Nicholas Civella
  • Mickey Cohen
  • Joe Colombo
  • Sam DeCavalcante
  • Carlo Gambino
  • Sam Giancana
  • Vito Genovese
  • Luciano Leggio
  • Carlos Marcello
  • Michele Navarra
  • Santo Trafficante, Jr.
  • Carmine Tramunti

Finally we bring you to the modern era of the mob, which we look at crime bosses that operated from the 1970’s onwards:

  • Joseph Aiuppa
  • Vic Amuso
  • Leroy Barnes
  • James Bulger
  • Anthony Casso
  • Paul Castellano
  • Anthony Corallo
  • John DiFronzo
  • Jimmy Fratianno
  • Carmine Galante
  • Vincent Gigante
  • John Gotti
  • Joseph Lombardo
  • Joseph Massino
  • Carmine Persico
  • Bernardo Provenzano
  • Philip Rastelli
  • Salvatore Riina
  • Vito Rizzuto
  • Anthony Salerno
  • Nicodemo Scarfo
  • John Stanfa
  • Philip Testa