Guest Author - Vance Rowe
Frank Costello was born, Francesco Castiglia in Calabria, Italy in 1891 and like many from Italy around that time, immigrated to the United States with his mother in 1895.
Lack of work and lack of proper schooling, caused Costello to turn to crime to make his fortune. As young as thirteen, Francesco changed his name to Frank Costello and was a member and the eventual leader of the 104th Street gang and at age twenty-four; Frank Costello was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and given a year in jail. It wasn’t until he was in his early thirties that he began associating with the likes of Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lansky. In the movie “Mobsters” starring Christian Slater and Patrick Dempsey, Hollywood would have you believe that they were friends since they were kids. However, that’s Hollywood for you. Speaking of Hollywood, it is also been said that the gravely, raspy voice of Frank Costello was the inspiration for Marlon Brando’s role of Vito Corleone in the movie “The Godfather.”
Frank Costello became involved with bootlegging and gambling while with Luciano and his personable acumen was well liked by his friends and those who met him. He was given the nickname of the “Prime Minister of the Underworld” because he was able to befriend police officers and important political people. He was liked so much by Luciano that when Luciano went to jail in 1936, Frank Costello was made acting boss while Vito Genovese was named the under boss of the Luciano crime family. Vito Genovese fled back to Italy shortly after as he was afraid that he was going to be prosecuted for murder.
In 1946, Charles Luciano was deported to Italy and Vito Genovese came back to the States.
Frank Costello was called before the Kefauver Committee in 1951 as “the alleged boss of the Luciano Crime Family” and Frank Costello’s popularity began to dwindle over the eight days of testimony from over fifty witnesses about the Luciano family. He was convicted of contempt of Congress in 1952 and in 1954; Costello was convicted of tax evasion and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 1957, he was out on bail and there was an attempt on his life, presumably by Vincent “The Chin” Gigante on the orders of Vito Genovese. The bullet grazed his head but did not kill him. After this, Vito Genovese declared himself as crime boss and Frank Costello said that if Vito wanted to be boss, he would not stand in his way. Thus was born, the Genovese Crime Family.
Frank Costello lived until 1973 when he died of a heart attack. For more on Frank Costello and his underworld ties, please check out the links I have supplied.