According the government reports, it is estimated there are 2,500 members of the "La Cosa Nostra" and thousands of associate members. Reports also are said to include the Italian-American Mafia as the largest organized crime group in the United States and continues to hold dominance over the National Crime Syndicate, despite the increasing numbers of street gangs and other organizations of non-Italian or Sicilian ethnicity.
Peter "Little Pete" Tambone, a drug trafficker and former member of the Gambino crime family, is reinstated by John Gotti. Tambone had been previously banished from the crime family by former leader Paul Castellano after his participation in the (Angelo)Ruggerio-(Gene)Gotti heroin operation.
February 10 – Start of the Maxi Trial against Cosa Nostra in Palermo. The trial took place next to the Ucciardone (the Palermo prison) in a bunker specially built to try the defendants. A total of 474 defendants were facing charges, although 119 of them were to be tried in absentia as they were fugitives. (Salvatore Riina and Michele Greco were among these absent defendants.) Amongst those present were Luciano Leggio, Riina's predecessor, who acted as his own lawyer, and also Giuseppe "Pippo" Calò. Most of the crucial evidence came from Tommaso Buscetta a mafioso captured in 1982 in Brazil. He had lost many relatives during the Mafia war, including two sons, as well as many allies such as Stefano Bontade and Salvatore Inzerillo. He decided to cooperate with the Sicilian magistrates. The Corleonesi continued its vendetta against Buscetta by killing several more of his relatives. Testifying against the Corleonesi was the only way to avenge his murdered family and friends. The information that Buscetta had given the investigative judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino allowed a new understanding to how the Mafia functioned and how the clandestine groups of hierarchy in the Sicilian Cupola (the Sicilian Mafia Commission) actually agreed on policy and business. For the first time the Mafia had been prosecuted as an entity rather than a collection of individual crimes. Known as the Buscetta theorem it showed that Cosa Nostra was a single hierarchical organisation ruled by a commission and that its leaders could be held responsible for criminal acts that were committed to benefit the organisation.
September - The Commission Case goes to trial in Manhattan. The heads of the five New York Families called the Commission are all charged and brought to trial for the first time. There were 11 defendants indicted, but only eight make it to trial. The defendants are Genovese crime family boss (front boss) Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno, Lucchese crime family boss Antonio "Tony Ducks" Corallo, Lucchese underboss Salvatore "Tom Mix" Santoro, Lucchese consigliere Christopher "Christie Tick" Furnari, Colombo crime family boss Carmine "Junior" Persico, Colombo acting boss/underboss Gennaro "Jerry Lang" Langella, Colombo soldier Ralph Scopo and Bonanno crime family soldier Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato. Defendant Philip "Rusty" Rastelli, Bonanno crime family boss was severed from the trial, as he was subsequently indicted in another RICO case along with his underboss Joseph "Big Joey" Massino. Gambino crime family underboss Aniello "Mr. Neil" Dellacroce died of brain cancer Dec 2, 1985. Gambino crime Family boss Paul "Big Pauly" Castellano and his new underboss Tommy Bilotti were assassinated in front of Sparks Steak House in Manhattan Dec. 16, 1985.
September 25 - Gambino crime family leader John "Johnny Boy" Gotti is brought to trial for the first time and charged with crimes over an 18-year period including illegal gambling, loan-sharking, armed robbery, and murder.
October 24 - Members of the Colombo crime family including Colombo Family boss Carmine "Junior" Persico, two former leaders, four capos, four other members and two associates are charged with involvement in widespread racketeering and other criminal activities.
October 31 - Philadelphia mobster Nicodemo Scarfo is indicted with several others by a New Jersey grand jury for racketeering, loansharking, illegal gambling, and extortion.
November 5 - Harry Davidoff, Vice President of the Lucchese crime family-controlled IBT Local 851, is convicted under the RICO Act for conspiracy (as well as beinging charged with conspiracy and extortion under the Hobbs Act) at a jury trial in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). This would be the first in a series of trials, in which a federal investigation focused on the control of the air freight industry at JFK International Airport by New York's Five Families, using its influence within the Teamsters Union.
October 10 - During the Davidoff trial, Lucchese capo Paul Vario, with soldiers Frank Manzo and Pasquale Raucci plead guilty of conspiracy and convicted under the RICO Act.
November 19 - All 8 defendants are found guilty on all RICO counts-151 of them. They will be sentenced soon.
November 24 - Genovese crime family "front boss" Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno, with three other Genovese members are indicted for labor racketeering charges concerning "exerting influence and control over Jackie Presser's selection as General President for the scandal-plagued 1.7 million member union (IBT) in 1983 and then influencing his decisions and acts to benefit the mob."