Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
The governing body of the entity known as the American Mafia is a conglomerate of crime family bosses known as the Commission. The Commission was formed in 1931 by Charles “Lucky” Luciano. Luciano was also voted in as the chairman of the Commission.
Before the formation of the Commission, the “ruler” of the Mafia Crime families was called the capo di tutti capi which literally means “the head of all heads”. Two bosses in New York City fought each other in an attempt to claim that renowned title. Joe “The Boss” Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano each tried to claim the title in their battle which would come to be known as the Castellammarese War. Joe Masseria was finally killed in 1931 and this allowed Salvatore Maranzano to claim the “boss of bosses” title.
Charles Luciano was not happy with the way that Maranzano was doing business, he and his associates met and voted that Maranzano be removed. Maranzano was killed and this paved the way for Luciano to take over. He held a meeting in Chicago with the bosses of the five families in New York City, the boss of the Outfit in Chicago and the boss of the Buffalo, New York family. The five family bosses in attendance at this meeting besides Luciano were Vincent Mangano, Joseph Profaci, Joseph Bonanno, and Tommy Gagliano. The boss of the Buffalo family in attendance was Stefano Magaddino. The leader of the Outfit was Al Capone.
The Commission agreed to meet every five years or when a problem came up in one of the families. The power of the Commission was such that only they could approve someone to be a new boss and before anyone in the Five Families could become a “made man”, the families had to vote on it. Although they could never be made men in the American Mafia, Jewish mobsters such as Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz, and Ben “Bugsy” Siegel to work alongside with the Commission and make money. Some of these mobsters were allowed to sit in on Commission meetings as well.
When Charles Luciano was imprisoned in 1936, Vincent Mangano, Joe Profaci Joseph Bonnano, Tommy Gagliano, and Stefano Magaddino took over control of the Commission with Magaddino being voted in as the new chairman and Profaci as the secretary of the Commission.
In 1946, Charles Luciano was out of prison and called for a commission meeting in Havana, Cuba. This would be known as the Havana Conference and was organized to discuss the future of the American Mafia. At the conference, Charles Luciano was voted back in as the chairman. It was here that it was decided that the Mafia would dip their toes in the Narcotics trade. At the Apalachin Summit in Apalchin New York, a small town upstate from the city and near the Pennsylvania border, two more mafia bosses were awarded seats on the Commission. Joseph “Joe Z.” Zerelli of the Detroit Partnership and Angelo “Gentle Don” Bruno of the Philadelphia crime family.
The Commission hasn’t met since the murder of crime boss Paul Castellano in 1985 and currently the Commission is still reported to exist but only with the heads of the Five Families in New York City. Due to increased law enforcement scrutiny, the Commission no longer meets a s a whole but vote on issues and send the information to other bosses by messenger.