A&E will be airing their two-part documentary special on the Gambino Crime Family, Gotti: Godfather & Son, tonight. Ahead of the special, they will also be airing their biography The Gambinos: First Family of Crime, that focuses on the history of the infamous organization and its major members.
Here’s what you need to know about the Gambino crime family:
1. It Is Named After Carlo Gambino
According to Five Families NYC, Carlo Gambino was the boss of the crime family “at the time of the McClellan hearings in 1963 when the structure of organized crime first gained public attention.” They report that “experts believe Carlo Gambino helped orchestrate the hit to take over the family. Gambino partnered with Meyer Lansky to control gambling interests in Cuba.” Ultimately, Gambino passed his title on to his brother-in-law Paul Castellano in 1976.
The National Crime Syndicate says that he earned the Gambino family $500 million a year and ran the family for over 20 years. He died at home of a heart attack on October 15, 1976, while watching the New York Yankees.
2. Salvatore D’Aquila Founded it in the Early 1990s
AmericanMafiaHistory.com says that D’Aquila immigrated from Sicily in 1906 when he was 29. He aligned himself with the powerful Giuseppe Morello, who was already a New York boss; when Morello was imprisoned and it was clear that D’Aquila wouldn’t get the backing to take over the Morello family, he started his own gang in East Harlem and the Bronx.
According to CrimeMuseum.org, Salvatore D’Aquila is credited with founding the Gambino crime family, and it quickly became one of New York’s “Five Families.” FiveFamiliesNYC.com lists the other families as Lucchese, Genovese, Colombo, and Bonanno.
3. John Gotti Sr. Took Over the Gambino Family in 1985
Biography.com reports that Castellano was gunned down at Sparks Steak House on December 16, 1985. Shortly after, Gotti was made the boss of the Gambino family. Salvatore Gravano was his underboss; according to Biography.com, Gravano “would later defect to become a government witness against Gotti” saying that Gotti arranged the killing of Castellano.
In 1992, he was sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty for “14 accounts of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering.” According to American Mafia History, Gotti was diagnosed with throat cancer in the late 1990s. Despite surgeries done in an effort to treat him, his health deteriorated and he died at the age of 61.
4. John Gotti Jr. Took Over the ‘Family Business’ Following his Father’s Arrest
According to AllThatsInteresting.com, Gotti joined the Gambino family in 1988. They quote him as saying “When my father embraced me, put his arm around me, and looked at me as a street guy, as a knock-around guy, a bounce-around guy like himself, proudest moment of my life. Was proudest moment of my life because I was slowly becoming like him.”
According to CrimeMuseum.org, after his father was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, John Gotti Jr. took over as head of the Gambino Crime Family as Gotti Sr.’s “heir.” Biography.com says, however, that Gotti Jr. was sentenced to 6 years in prison for racketeering charges in 1999. AllThatsInteresting.com reports that after a series of mistrials in 2009 let Gotti Jr. walk free, he turned his focus to his wife, kids, and the book he wrote about his father.
5. Frank Cali Is the Family’s Current Leader
The NY Post reports that Cali took over for the Gottis in 2015. They say he runs the family way differently than it was run in the Gotti era: “No more press conferences or TV appearances. No more weekly meetings with capos at favorite restaurants or social clubs. No more shootouts between warring factions. No more wire rooms for taking wagers.”
Cali’s parents are immigrants from Sicily, who raised him in New York. According to Aboutthemafia.com, Cali is the polar opposite of John Gotti and they describe him as “lowkey” and “unassuming.” His nickname is “Franky Boy.”