Gaetano Reina

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Gaetano Reina
BornSeptember 27, 1889
DiedFebruary 26, 1930 (aged 40)
Cause of deathMurdered
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx
OccupationCrime boss, Mobster, Businessman
Known forFirst Boss of the Lucchese crime family

Gaetano "Tommy" Reina (September 27, 1889 – February 26, 1930) was a Sicilian-born American gangster and founder of the Lucchese crime family in New York City.[1]

Early years[edit]

Gaetano Reina was born in September 1889 in Corleone, Sicily to Giacomo Reina and Carmela Rumore.[2] In the early 1900s, the Reina family moved to New York City and settled on 107th Street in East Harlem. Reina along with his brother Antonio began working with members of the Morello family.[2] In July 1913, Reina's sister Bernarda married Vincenzo Terranova.[3]

He married Angelina Olivera, and the couple had six children; three sons, (one, Giacomo, became a member of the Lucchese family [4]) and three daughters (one, Carmela "Mildred", married Joe Valachi in 1932[4][5]). The family lived in a home on Rochambeau Avenue in the Norwood section of the Bronx.[6]

In November of 1914, wealthy poultryman, Barnet Baff, was murdered in a plot staged by a cabal of Jewish competitors who hired Sicilian gunmen to commit the crime. The investigation and trial, which dragged on for years, became known as the most sensational killing in New York history. At one point, Reina and Jack Dragna were implicated as the actual gunmen; however, it was later determined they were merely red herrings.[7]

Mafia boss[edit]

Reina had long been a captain in the Morello family, being in charge of many men and operations within the Morello organization. As the Morello family fell into chaos during the 1910s, Reina, along with Salvatore D'Aquila and Joe Masseria, split off to form their own families. Thus, by 1920, he ruled as boss of his own crime family controlling criminal operations in The Bronx and parts of East Harlem. His crime family held a monopoly over the ice box distribution in The Bronx.[8] Reina's underboss was Tommy Gagliano, a former Morello gang member.

In the late 1920s, Reina formed an alliance with Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria, who had absorbed into his now powerful organization the remnants of the much weakened Morello crime family.[8] In 1925, Salvatore Maranzano arrived in New York and took over the second oldest mafia family that operated out of the Williamsberg section of Brooklyn, the Castellammare family. The two Mafia bosses began fighting in what became known as the Castellammarese War.[8] Reina switched sides and began supporting Maranzano.[8] Masseria learned of Reina's betrayal and ordered Charles "Lucky" Luciano to arrange Reina's murder.[9]


On the evening of February 26, 1930, Reina left his mistress Marie Ennis's apartment on Sheridan Avenue in the Claremont section of the Bronx[6][10] (other sources claim he was leaving his aunt's apartment after dinner[11]) when he was ambushed (some suspect Vito Genovese[11][12] while others suspect Joseph Pinzolo[13]) and shot in the head with a double barreled shotgun, instantly killing him.[10][14] The two hit men left the weapon under a parked car and escaped.[6] Police found on his body a handgun and $804 in cash.[6]


Gaetano Reina is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City.

In popular culture[edit]



  • In Martin A. Gosch and Richard Hammer's The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano

According to Charles Luciano, Reina was:

"...a man of his word, he had culture, and was a very honorable Italian."



  1. ^ Devico p. 175
  2. ^ a b Critchley p. 86
  3. ^ Critchley p. 52
  4. ^ a b Capeci p. 61
  5. ^ Critchley p. 135
  6. ^ a b c d DeStefano p.127
  7. ^ Critchley p. 81
  8. ^ a b c d The American Mafia - Gaetano Reina ( Archived 2006-05-26 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Casillo p. 519
  10. ^ a b Critchley p. 174-175
  11. ^ a b Milhorn p. 221
  12. ^ Sifakis p. 277
  13. ^ Nash. p. 543
  14. ^ Maas p. 65
  15. ^ IMDb: The Valachi Papers (1972)
  16. ^ IMDb: Gangster Wars (1982)
  17. ^ IMDb: Mobsters (1991)


  • DeVico, Peter J. The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra. Tate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-60247-254-8
  • Critchley, David. The origin of organized crime in America: the New York City mafia, 1891-1931. Routlege Publishing, 2009
  • Capeci, Jerry. The complete idiot's guide to the Mafia. ISBN 0028642252
  • Nash, Jay Robert. The Great Pictorial History of World Crime. ISBN 1928831206
  • Milhorn, H. Thomas Crime: Computer Viruses to Twin Towers
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3
  • Maas, Peter. The Valachi Papers
  • Casillo, Robert. Gangster priest: the Italian American cinema of Martin Scorsese
  • DeStefano, Anthony M. Gangland New York: The Places and Faces of Mob History. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

External links[edit]

American Mafia
New title
Crime family established by Reina
Lucchese crime family

Succeeded by
Bonaventura "Joseph" Pinzolo