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Old Joe Profaci

Old Joe Profaci


By
John William Tuohy

(Colombo crime family)  Profaci Joe, Born Oct. 2, 1897 in Villabate in the province of Palermo Died June 6, 1962.  Profaci is reported to have arrived in the United States from Sicily in 926, with strong ties to the Magaddino’s and Bonanno’s, although his front was as olive oil importer. By 1960, Profaci was the leading importer of tomato paste and olive oil in the United States. He became a naturalized as a citizen on September 27, 1927, in Brooklyn, New York although in 1954 the Justice Department took steps to have him deported by revoking his citizenship on the grounds that Profaci had given false testimony on entering the United States.
   He was among the Unione Siciliana members arrested at a Cleveland convention in 1928, and although he had reportedly only been active in the American Mafia for several years, was already considered a power player in the mob. By 1929, he was a leader in the Brooklyn Underworld and aligned himself on the winning side in the Castellamarese War in 1930-31. He was given his own family, The Profaci’s and later renamed The Colombo’s, in 1931 with Charlie Luciano's reorganization of the Mafia.
   Profaci appeared to be a devout Catholic who attended St. Bernadette's Catholic Church in Brooklyn and had a private altar constructed in his basement so that mass could be celebrated at family gatherings. It was reported that when a thief stole a jeweled crown from one of St. Bernadette's statues, Profaci passed the word that the crown was to be returned. It was. No fence in all of New York would handle the stolen items. It was said that Profaci then ordered the thief strangled with a rosary. 
    In 1949 a group of prominent Italian Americans petitioned Pope Pius XII to confer a knighthood on Profaci, as a "son of Sicily" due to his “generosity to the Italian-American community.” The Brooklyn district attorney Miles McDonald, protested and wired the
Vatican that Profaci was a leading racketeer, extortionist, and murderer and Mafia leader. The petition was withdrawn.
   He ruled with an iron fist for three decades and was widely hated by his men. In the old Sicilian style, he required every member of the family to pay him monthly dues of $25 in addition to the cut he took for simply being the boss. The extra $25 tax was supposed to cover of legal fees, bribes and support payments to a soldier's family if he was imprisoned, but few if any in the family actually reaped the benefits yet anyone who held out was killed. Although he ruled over Brooklyn, Profaci lived in a massive mansion on a 328-acre estate on Long Island, which held a hunting lodge and private airport.
In 1961, a group led by Joey Gallo rebelled against Profaci’s rule (In part stirred behind the scenes by power mad Carlo Gambino) in early in 1962, Gambino suggested that Profaci retire. The Mafia's national Commission, however, gave him a vote of confidence that year. But Profaci died of cancer shortly after receiving the Commission's backing.
Upon his death, Joe Magliocco took the reins of the Profaci Family, and civil war with the Gallo group broke out.

    The Gallo brothers waged war against Profaci from 1960 until 1962 over money. Profaci had ordered the Gallo's to kill a Brooklyn policy banker, Frank "Frankie Shots" Abbatemarco. Who had denied Profaci a $50,000 tribute. Profaci had promised the Gallo's, who knew and liked Abbatemarco, a sizable portion of his racket for dispatching him. However, Profaci reneged and divided up the Shot’s empire among his family and friends.  War followed. The Gallo's joined forces with Jiggs Forlano, a loan shark operator, and Carmine Persico Jr. and kidnapped several Profaci big shots and barely missed kidnapping Profaci himself, who was tipped off and fled to Florida where he checked into a hospital for safekeeping.    The contest was still unresolved at Profaci's death.   Most Mafia leaders resented Joe Colombo, who had the reputation of being  a man who got ahead through opportunism, "a fink for Carlo"  But Colombo had, in fact, put in his time on the streets, including being a member of a five-man hit team for Profaci, which included Larry and Crazy Joe Gallo. The police attributed at least 15 killings to the team.

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