Soprano crime family

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DiMeo crime family
Founded 1950s
Founding location New Jersey, United States
Years active 1950s–present
Territory Northern New Jersey
Ethnicity Italian, Italian-American, made men with other ethnicities as "associates"
Membership 50-60 made men (based on 5-6 crews consisting of approx 10 men each), 200+ associates
Criminal activities Racketeering, fraud, loan-sharking, illegal gambling, drug trafficking, construction management, contract killing, waste management, prostitution, robbery, money laundering, extortion, theft, skimming, bootlegging, bookmaking, conspiracy, labor unions, truck hijacking and witness tampering
Allies Lupertazzi and the other Five Families, the Vittorio-Zucca Camorra clan, Cuban Mafia, Russian mafia.
Rivals Philadelphia crime family, Vipers motorcycle gang, African-American drug crews, Colombian drug crews and other New Jersey gangs, including some of their allies at various times

The DiMeo crime family, later referred to as the Soprano crime family, is a fictional Mafia family from the HBO series The Sopranos. It is thought to be loosely based on the DeCavalcante crime family, a real New Jersey Mafia family.[1]

The DiMeo crime family consists of an administration and six crews.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

In the series, the DiMeo crime family is believed to have been formed in Northern New Jersey in the 1950s. Ercole DiMeo is believed to have been the first official boss, although according to the book, The Sopranos Family History by Allen Rucker and David Chase, there was an earlier boss named Alfano, but that boss is never mentioned in the series. Key members from the 1960s include brothers John Francis "Johnny Boy" Soprano and Corrado "Junior" Soprano, as well as Michele "Feech" La Manna. The Sopranos were a key faction in the DiMeo crime family, running two separate crews led by Johnny Boy and Junior, and also had longstanding ties with the five New York Families (particularly the Lupertazzi crime family led by Carmine Lupertazzi). Despite DiMeo's reign as Boss, it is implied throughout the series and stated in the finale by Tony Soprano that the two Soprano brothers unofficially ran North Jersey.

Unrest of '83[edit]

During the early and mid-1980s many DiMeo crime family members and associates were arrested, causing the biggest blow to the family since its formation. Among those arrested were Tony Blundetto and Michele 'Feech' La Manna, sentenced to 17 and 20 years, respectively. When released in 2004, they were referred to in the media as the "Class of 2004".

It was during the Unrest of '83 that Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, a cat burglar and associate in the Johnny Boy Soprano crew, stood up for (i.e., carried out a killing on behalf of) Johnny Boy Soprano. Johnny Boy's son, Tony Soprano would make his bones, as shown in the episode Remember When, by killing a small-time bookie and become a made man shortly thereafter.

Rise of Tony Soprano[edit]

Johnny Boy Soprano died of emphysema in 1986. Before his death, he requested that his son become the capo of the Soprano crew. Tony, one of the fastest rising stars in the Family after holding up Feech La Manna's card game with Aprile crew chief Giacomo "Jackie" Aprile, was a relatively young man to be a capo at the age of 27. Tony's transition into captain was aided by the loyalty of Bonpensiero, longtime Johnny Boy Soprano soldier Peter Paul "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri, and childhood friend Silvio Dante. Tony would also avoid a long stint in prison when he missed a failed hijacking involving his cousin, Tony Blundetto. Caught by the police, Tony B. ended up getting charged under the RICO law and spending 15 years in prison, while Tony became one of the top earners in the DiMeo Family. At first, Tony said he was robbed by two black men, but he later admitted to Dr. Melfi and to Tony B. that he had a panic attack after arguing with his mother and passed out, missing the hijack.

Richie Aprile is arrested in 1990 and sentenced to ten years in prison. He gives control of his crew over to his younger brother, Jackie Aprile.

New acting boss[edit]

Ercole DiMeo was convicted and given a life sentence in prison in 1995. Jackie Aprile was named Acting Boss of the family by DiMeo, much to the chagrin of Junior Soprano. It was assumed that Junior would take over when DiMeo died or went to prison since he was one of the oldest and senior mobsters in the DiMeo family. DiMeo was impressed with Jackie Aprile's leadership abilities, the Aprile crew had been the top earner and best-run crew of the family for years. The years of Jackie's tenure as Boss (1995–1999) are generally considered to have been peaceful, prosperous years; Jackie was a well-respected and much beloved Boss who didn't "eat alone," much to the contentment of his Capos.

War of '99[edit]

When Jackie Aprile was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1998, Tony Soprano, his closest friend and Junior's nephew, basically took over Jackie's responsibilities, again to Junior's displeasure. Uncle Junior and Tony were, at that point, at each other's throats because Junior plotted to have a rival, Gennaro "Little Pussy" Malanga, killed in Malanga's favorite restaurant, Vesuvio, a restaurant owned by Tony's childhood friend Artie Bucco. Tony foiled Junior's plans by ordering Silvio Dante to set fire to Artie's restaurant to prevent the hit from happening. Also, Tony's nephew, Christopher Moltisanti and his associate Brendan Filone, were hijacking trucks from Comley Trucking, a business that paid protection to Junior. Junior's enforcer, Mikey Palmice, killed Brendan, and hired Russian hitmen to perform a mock execution on Christopher under Junior's orders. When Jackie Aprile died in spring of 1999, and tensions between Junior and Tony were at an all-time high, it was assumed that the two would go to war over the top position. Tony instead deferred to Junior, giving him the official title as Boss. This was effectively in name only, as Tony still controlled the capos in the family and was the main conduit to the Lupertazzi Family, represented by underboss John "Johnny Sack" Sacrimoni.

Tensions flared up between Junior and Tony after Tony's mother, Livia Soprano, revealed that Tony was seeing a psychiatrist and had been meeting secretly with his capos in Livia's nursing home. An assassination attempt on Tony was made, but Tony luckily escaped with just an injury to the ear, leaving one hitman dead when the other accidentally shoots him while aiming at Tony. The FBI revealed to Tony that his mother's retirement home was bugged and let Tony listen to the tapes in a failed attempt to get him to flip. The tapes revealed that the assassination attempt was concocted by Junior and made it sound like his mother was in on it, too. In retaliation, Tony ordered the deaths of key members of Junior's crew: soldier Chucky Signore, consigliere Mikey "Grab Bag" Palmice, and acting capo (after Junior's arrest) Phillip "Philly Spoons" Parisi. Junior Soprano was spared when he was indicted by the federal government, along with underboss Joseph "Beppy" Sasso and capo Lawrence "Larry Boy" Barese, and because Tony wished to keep him as the lightning rod that took the hits for the Family. Tony then took over virtually all of Junior's business and became the Boss of the now renamed Soprano Crime Family. Former Junior Soprano soldiers Gigi Cestone and Pasquale "Patsy" Parisi defected over to various crews on Tony's side. Gigi Cestone went to the Aprile crew. Tony named Silvio Dante as his consigliere, and promoted long-time soldier Peter Paul "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri to captain of his old crew, renamed the Gualtieri crew. Patsy Parisi went to the Gualtieri crew.

Although Junior had been usurped of nearly all power and was under house arrest awaiting trial, he still retained the title of Boss, as Tony wanted the FBI to think they had indicted the head of the family, and acted as an adviser to Tony. Two of the factors that brought the two closer together was when Junior informed Tony of Richie Aprile's plot to kill Tony, and take over the family, and when Junior was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2001. However, Tony continued to punish Junior through business arrangements, and only allowed him to earn on a "subsistence level." Junior managed to beat the disease before the RICO trial against him started.

FBI investigations[edit]

After years of investigating Tony Soprano (at one point trying to turn him into an informant) and failing to connect him to the murder of associate Matthew "Matt Drinkwater" Bevilaqua (which was tossed out when an eyewitness retracted his statement upon learning one of the shooters may have been Tony Soprano), the FBI arrested Tony in 2000 when it was discovered that he had been extorting Davey Scatino. While busting out Scatino's sporting goods store, Tony had been receiving stolen airline tickets, discovered by way of information given by turncoat Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero and Tony's giving one of the stolen tickets to his mother, Livia. The case fell through when Big Pussy "disappeared" and Livia dies of a stroke. The FBI continued to build a case against Tony, but fell on difficult times when a wiretapping of his basement was compromised (when Tony's daughter Meadow Soprano took the lamp they had bugged) and because of the deaths of several FBI informants.

In 2002, the RICO trial against Junior Soprano ended in a hung jury, but the government moved to schedule a re-trial, meaning Junior had to stay under house arrest. Due to his diminished position in the family because of the house arrest, longtime Junior Soprano loyalist Robert "Bobby Bacala" Baccalieri was named acting Capo of the Junior Soprano crew after it became clear that his elderly, senile Capo, Murf Lupo, wasn't up for it anymore.

Periods of unrest[edit]

In the meantime, the Soprano Family continued to stay in a period of transition, with Richie Aprile, older brother of Jackie Aprile, taking over the previously defunct (due to the death of Jackie Sr.) Aprile crew after his release from prison in 2000. Richie became a threat to Tony's power, crippling associate Beansie Gaeta and disobeying Tony repeatedly when it came to selling cocaine on garbage routes. Richie also came to Junior about overthrowing Tony, but Junior decided that he would be better off with his nephew. Tony caught wind of Richie's plot and set the wheels in motion to have him killed, but he was spared the trouble when Richie was killed in the heat of an argument by his fiancée, who coincidentally happened to be Tony's sister Janice Soprano.

When Gigi Cestone, a Soprano crew soldier set to take over and spy on the Aprile crew, dies of a heart attack, Tony has no choice but to install rival Ralph Cifaretto as captain. Tony had longtime problems with Ralph, despite the two having grown up together (along with Jackie Aprile and Silvio Dante). At one point, Tony, in a fit of rage, hits Ralph after the latter murders a Bada Bing dancer named Tracee. Ralph also took under his wing, Jackie Aprile, Jr., even though Tony and Jackie Sr. both wanted to keep Jackie Jr. out of the family business. When Jackie Jr. held up one of Ralph's underling's poker games and shoots at made men Furio Giunta and Christopher Moltisanti in an attempt to emulate his father, Ralph had no choice but to order Jackie's death (the contract carried out by Vito Spatafore).

Complicating matters is that Ralph is the family's best earner, running lucrative construction deals such as the Esplanade Construction site and HUD scams in Newark. When a racehorse owned by Ralph (and beloved by Tony) named Pie-O-My dies in a stable fire, Tony becomes convinced that Ralph cruelly and intentionally killed the horse to help pay medical expenses for his hospitalized son (wounded in an accident while playing with a friend) with the insurance money. In a fit of anger and outrage, Tony attacks and kills Ralph. Christopher then helps Tony dispose of the body, dismembering it and placing the several body parts in different dump sites. Tony blames Ralph's disappearance on the New York family--specifically Johnny Sack, who had had a beef with Ralph over a characteristically tasteless joke of Ralph's about Johnny's wife, Ginny, told at a Soprano family dinner. Vito Spatafore was named captain of the Aprile crew in 2002.

During that time, Tony Soprano began to groom his cousin/nephew, Christopher Moltisanti, for a leadership role. Christopher, already considered young to have been "made," was named acting Capo of the Gualtieri crew while Paulie Walnuts was in jail facing a gun charge (later dropped). Patsy Parisi was dissatisfied with this choice, as was Silvio Dante who wanted to see Patsy as Capo. In addition, Tony names Christopher his successor, a move that is severely compromised when Christopher is discovered to have a serious heroin addiction and is sent to rehab. Christopher temporarily cleans up and proves his loyalty to Tony by giving up his fiancée, Adriana La Cerva for execution when it is discovered that she has been cooperating with the FBI. As a reward for putting the Family above his fiancée, Chris is made captain of the Gualtieri crew (with Paulie Gualtieri promoted to Underboss.)

It is during this period that the working relationship between the Lupertazzi Crime Family and the Sopranos reaches a rocky point in 2002, when the two families join together to control the Esplanade construction site in Newark, New Jersey. Disagreements over the split of the money of the Esplanade, plus the HUD projects that Tony was keeping secret from Lupertazzi and the displeasure of Johnny Sack with Ralph Cifaretto, nearly cause the two families to go to war. Johnny Sack and boss Carmine Lupertazzi blame one another for the conflict, and each of them reach out to Tony to whack the other as a means of ending the conflict. In both cases, cooler heads prevail and the two families work out a deal...

Class of 2004[edit]

The prison release of "The Class of 2004" (Phil Leotardo, Angelo Garepe, Michele "Feech" La Manna, and Tony Blundetto) along with the death of Carmine Lupertazzi set off another series of conflicts. "Little" Carmine Lupertazzi and Johnny Sack went to war over the position of Boss in New York, and Tony had to deal with the insubordination of Feech La Manna and his cousin, Tony Blundetto. One problem in his family was solved when Feech La Manna was sent back to prison after stolen flat-screen televisions were found in his garage by a probation officer called on the orders of Tony Soprano. The other problem was complicated when Tony B. killed Lupertazzi associate Joe Peeps on the orders of Lupertazzi Capo Rusty Millio and consigliere Angelo Garepe. When Angelo was killed in retaliation, Tony B. went after Phil Leotardo and killed his brother, Billy Leotardo, in an unsanctioned hit. Faced with threats of war and torture from Johnny Sack and Phil Leotardo plus unease in his own family, Tony Soprano was left with no choice but to kill Tony B. himself.

The relationship between New York and New Jersey families was further complicated when Johnny Sack was busted by the FBI and sent to prison to await trial, and Phil Leotardo, still nursing hard feelings about Blundetto, was named Acting Boss of the Lupertazzi Family.

Shooting of Tony Soprano[edit]

During his house arrest and trials/re-trials, Junior developed signs of dementia. He suffered a head injury after being hit with a boom microphone and knocked down the courthouse steps. Several mini-strokes over the years increasingly diminished his capacity and led him to shoot Tony in the abdomen, mistakenly thinking that Tony was his already deceased nemesis "Little Pussy" Malanga.

The shooting of Tony Soprano set off a media frenzy, with reporters stalking the Soprano house and outside the hospital where Tony lay in a coma. Junior Soprano was arrested and questioned about the shooting, which he insisted must have been a self-inflicted gunshot by Tony, whom he labeled as a "depression case". The captains of the Family agreed to cut all ties to Junior and allow Tony to decide what happens to him. Junior was judged to be mentally unstable and was sent to a mental rehabilitation facility.

With Tony incapacitated, his consigliere Silvio Dante took over as Acting Boss of the Soprano Crime Family; however, Silvio was unable to handle the pressure of being boss, and suffered an asthma attack that put him in the hospital. Tony, after a near-death experience, would awake from his coma soon after, just in time to settle a dispute over the future of Barone Sanitation with Johnny Sack and Phil Leotardo.

Tension with New York[edit]

While in prison, Johnny Sack reached out to Tony through Phil Leotardo to whack his insubordinate capo, Rusty Millio. Tony refused at first, but had a change of heart after talking to Johnny Sack at his daughter's wedding. Tony conducted the execution of Millio with caution, bringing in two men from Naples to carry out the hit on Rusty and his soldier, Eddie Pietro. Johnny Sack later plead guilty in his RICO trial to lessen his sentence, thus making Phil Leotardo the boss in all but title.

More complications occurred in the organization when Vito Spatafore, the top earning captain of the Aprile crew and cousin-in-law to Phil Leotardo, fled New Jersey after his homosexuality was revealed. Carlo Gervasi was named by Tony as the replacement point man for the Family's construction interests. After hiding in New Hampshire for months, Vito returned to New Jersey, approaching Tony about starting up a separate operation in Atlantic City involving prostitution. Tony considered the request, but ultimately decided that Vito needed to be taken out in order to placate Phil Leotardo, who was incensed about Vito's lifestyle. However, Phil got to Vito first, breaking into his hotel room and watched while soldiers Dominic "Fat Dom" Gamiello and Gerry Torciano beat his cousin-in-law to death. Tony, realizing that Phil was sending the message that New York can do whatever they want, decided to hurt Phil financially as payback for Vito. Tony reasoned that a war with New York would prevent his family from earning. However, when Fat Dom went to Satriale's on a delivery stop and made jokes about Vito's death and implied Carlo was a homosexual, Silvio and Carlo killed the New York soldier.

Tony's response to Vito's murder was to blow up a wire room held by Phil in Sheepshead BayBenny Fazio was on the scene for the explosion. After a sit-down between the New Jersey and New York Families, a truce was nearly reached before a reference from Little Carmine to the death of Billy Leotardo resulted in Phil Leotardo storming out. At a conference with Gerry Torciano, Albie Cianfiore, and Butch DeConcini, a decision was reached to take out a high-ranking member of the Soprano crime family. Butch was particularly vocal in his desire to kill Tony, but Phil had more sense than that, and decided against it. Phil suffered a massive coronary soon afterwards and FBI Agent Harris informed Tony that someone on his crew could be in danger. In an attempt to clear the air between them, Tony paid a visit to Phil's hospital bed, telling him of his own near-death experience. During his disagreement with Phil about an asbestos removal project, Tony reminds him of their discussion in the hospital but Phil snubs him. Tony retaliates by taking two members of Phil's crew off a project payroll, after which after one of them threatens Tony's daughter Meadow. Tony retaliates by curb-stomping him on a wooden step in a restaurant in front of Butch DeConcini, shattering all of the threatener's teeth. Phil refuses to meet with Tony after this incident and war between the two families seems imminent.

The War of 2007[edit]

It becomes clear that there is no compromise available between NY and NJ, and as a result the wheels begin to turn. New York convinces Burt Gervasi to switch sides, and he approaches Silvio Dante to join in on a coup d'état attempt on Soprano. The likely idea is that if Tony is killed, Silvio will take over and make peace, and Gervasi will be rewarded. Silvio responds by strangling Burt Gervasi at his house with a garotte. Soprano knew what had to be done, and arranged for Phil Leotardo to be executed. At the same time, Phil had a war-room discussion where he arranged for New Jersey to be wiped out. Phil gives orders to "decapitate the leadership" of the Sopranos and "do business with what's left", and orders contracts on Tony Soprano, Silvio Dante and Robert "Bobby Bacala" Baccalieri. The Sopranos attempt to hit Phil went awry however when Phil's Ukrainian mistress and her father were mistaken for Phil and were mistakenly killed by the non-English-speaking Italians who were brought over from "the other side" specifically to perform this contract.

The hits on the Sopranos in New Jersey took place with more finesse, however. Bacala is killed at a model train shop when two assassins ambush him. Word comes down that Leotardo has vanished, and the Soprano Family decides to do the same. However, as Patsy Parisi and Silvio Dante attempt to go on the lam, they are ambushed by a pair of New York hitmen outside the Bada Bing. In the ensuing carnage, Silvio Dante is shot multiple times but Parisi escapes. Silvio is rushed to a hospital where he is left in a coma. Tony and some soldiers head to a safe house to hide, as the search for Phil continued. Tony, surrounded by bodyguards, attempts to sleep while holding an AR-10 rifle in his arms, which Bobby gave to him on his 47th birthday,

Tony came out of hiding shortly after and arranged a sit down with Butch DeConcini and Albie Cianflone through "Little" Carmine Lupertazzi and retired Five Families Boss, George Paglieri. During this meeting the New York Family agreed that Phil Leotardo's decision to go to war with North Jersey was a bad one, has gone much too far and that consequently the New York leadership would back off. Tony also demanded that they give him a location on Phil, but Butch refused to tell of Phil's whereabouts (either because he didn’t know or still felt loyal to his boss). Butch did, however, give Tony implicit permission to take Phil out should he find him, without retaliation from Butch and New York. Butch also agrees to financially compensate Bobby’s widow. Since Tony had previously given FBI Agent Harris information on two Pakistani men that used to be small time associates of the family, Harris eventually told Tony that Phil had been making calls from a pay phone at a gas station in Oyster Bay. The Soprano family began patrolling the area's gas stations looking for Phil. It wasn't long before Walden Belfiore, a soldier in the Gervasi crew, caught up with Phil at the gas station. Phil was shot in the head and chest in front of his wife and grandchildren. His vehicle was in gear and, while Phil was on the ground, the driverless SUV ran over his head. The New York/New Jersey war was brought to its final conclusion.

Current family members[edit]

The DiMeo Crime Family Organization

Administration[edit]

  • Boss Anthony "Tony" Soprano — he served as acting boss (de facto behind boss) from 1999 to 2005 when he took over as the official boss. In 2006, Tony Soprano was shot and went into a coma, he later recovered and took over as boss again.
  • Consigliere Silvio "Sil" Dante — has served as Tony Soprano's Consigliere from early 2000. In 2007, he was critically injured during an assassination attempt and fell into a comatose state.
  • Underboss Paulie Gualtieri - officially a caporegime of Tony Soprano's old crew, but simultaneously served as Tony's number 3 man, semi-demoted in 2006-2007. Likely serving same role as before, simultaneously capo/underboss 2007-present.

Capos[edit]

Historical leadership[edit]

Boss (official and acting)[edit]

Underboss (official and acting)[edit]

Consigliere (official and acting)[edit]

Crews[edit]

Barese Crew[edit]

The Barese crew is known for its large crew of made men. Although it's the biggest crew in the family, very few members are actually seen or named on the show. The Barese crew is shown to be involved in the garbage business. Larry Barese's brother Albert took over the crew since his incarceration and has been running it ever since.

Current organization[edit]
Former members[edit]
Territory and businesses[edit]
  • A percentage of Barese crew profits come from drug trafficking.
  • The Barese Crew is also involved in waste management, and in 2000 they were involved in a brief conflict with the Aprile crew over territory that resulted in several fires.
  • The Bareses were also involved in calling card and stock scams up until Larry Boy's arrest; these were later replicated by the Soprano/Gualtieri crew.

Curto crew[edit]

It is currently unknown of who took over the Curto crew after the passing of its Capo, Raymond Curto.

La Manna crew (defunct)[edit]

Territory and businesses[edit]
  • Feech La Manna used to run a high stakes card game. One was famously held up by Jackie Aprile, Sr. and Tony Soprano.
  • Legitimate interests included a La Manna Landscaping — a gardening company run by his nephew Gary — and the La Manna bakery, run by Feech himself.

Miscellaneous members[edit]

Unofficial associates[edit]

Front operators[edit]

FBI cooperators[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anthony Bruno. "All about the Real Life Sopranos overview". crimelibrary.com. Retrieved 2007-06-12.