Philip Lombardo

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Philip Lombardo (pronounced "loam-BAR-doh") (October 6, 1908 in New York City – April 1987) also known as "Benny Squint" and "Cockeyed Phil", was the boss of the Genovese crime family from the late 1960s until the beginning of the 1980s. Lombardo began his career as a soldier on Michael "Trigger Mike" Coppola's powerful 116th Street Crew in the East Harlem section of New York. During the 1940s, Lombardo served a brief prison stretch for narcotics trafficking, his only imprisonment. Due to his thick eyeglasses Lombardo earned the nickname, "Benny Squint."

In 1959, family boss Vito Genovese was sent to prison. However, Genovese used a series of acting bosses to maintain control of the family from prison. His three acting bosses, or Ruling Panel, were Capo Michele Miranda, underboss Gerardo "Jerry" Catena, and acting boss Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli. The trio panel was known to authorities but in 1962 former mobster turned government witness Joseph Valachi stated before a US Senate subcommittee that Lombardo was also a part of this same panel. In that same year Anthony Strollo disappeared and was presumed murdered. Strollo's role as a front or acting boss was given to Thomas Eboli. Eboli himself was later gunned down in 1972. It had been theorized that Commission chairman Carlo Gambino had orchestrated Eboli's murder in order to install his own candidate for Genovese boss in the form of Alphonse Frank "Funzi" Tieri who would replace Eboli as front boss shortly after Eboli's murder. However according to FBI informant Vincent Cafaro, Lombardo had been boss since 1969 and had been using Eboli and Tieri as decoys to insulate himself from the FBI. It then seems that he coincided his retirement with Tieri's death and named Vincent Gigante as his successor while at the same making Anthony Salerno the new front boss to disguise Gigante's transition into boss. This way, the FBI would still not know who was really in charge and would continue to go after the wrong people, which they did sentencing Salerno to 100 years in prison in 1986. Although there is no definitive evidence, Valachi's and Cafaro's testimonies have made it widely believed that he had been boss all along.

Tieri and Gigante manipulated members of the Philadelphia crime family into murdering their boss Angelo Bruno, who was shot to death in his car in 1980, and then killed off those same members of the Philly mob to cover their tracks. It is worth noting that Lombardo may also have been involved. As he was at least the de facto boss, and probably the official boss during that time he probably had the final say on whether the plan could go ahead. Adept at remaining behind the scenes he may have been privy to this scheme also, this is purely speculation however.

By 1981, Lombardo was in poor health and played a more relaxed role in the day-to-day operations of the family. Although he resided in Englewood, New Jersey, he spent his remaining winters in Hollywood, Florida. He made it clear that Gigante was to become the new boss, and Salerno would continue as the front boss. He was 78 years old and living in Florida when he died in April 1987.

Further reading[edit]

  • Raab, Selwyn. "Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires". New York: St. Martin Press, 2005. ISBN 0-312-30094-8
Business positions
Preceded by
Thomas Eboli
as acting boss
Genovese crime family
Effective boss

1965–1969
Succeeded by
Himself
as boss
Preceded by
Vito "Don Vito" Genovese
Genovese crime family
Boss

1969–1981
Succeeded by
Vincent Gigante