Lucky Luciano

From Academic Kids

Charles Luciano (11 November, 189626 January, 1962), better known as Lucky Luciano, was a legendary mobster with a long criminal history.

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(see full mug shot)
Contents

Early Life

Luciano was born as Salvatore Lucania in the village of Lercara Friddi, located approximately 16 miles (26 km) east of Corleone, in Sicily. At the age of ten, his family moved to the United States. Luciano earned money in his younger years by getting kids to pay for his protection, and, in true mafia style, whoever wouldn't pay him one or two cents a day for his service would get beaten up. There was one kid who refused to pay, and when Luciano tried to beat him up, the kid gave him a good fight: The kid's name was Meyer Lansky, another legendary mobster in the making, and one who would remain friends with Luciano for life.

By 1916, Luciano and his Five Points Gang, which included Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, were suspected by the police of being involved in many murders. New York City mafiosos started taking notice, and by 1920, Luciano was working for various gangsters as a bootlegger and meeting such legendary mafiosi as Frank Costello and Vito Genovese.

Many old time mafiosi recommended that Luciano stay away from Costello. Luciano ignored the advice and maintained his friendship with Costello who introduced him to mobsters, politicians and powerbrokers of other nationalities, such as Big Bill Dwyer, Dutch Schultz and Arnold Rothstein. Luciano also admired the way in which Costello was able to buy over city officials and policemen.

Castellammarese War and rise through the ranks

By the late 1920s, Luciano became one of the leaders of another mafia family, that of Joe The Boss Masseria, while disagreeing with Masseria's bigoted mistrust of everyone who wasn't Sicilian. Luciano knew from his own experience that the Sicilians were wasting an opportunity to make more profits by shunning associations with other ethnic groups.

In 1930, the Castellammarese War broke out, pitting Masseria and his men against fellow Sicilian Salvatore Maranzano. When Maranzano gained the upper hand, Luciano, along with Vito Genovese, betrayed Masseria and threw their support behind Maranzano while also secretly plotting to turn against him. Luciano reasoned that he would become boss after both Masseria and Maranzano had been eliminated.

By 1931, Luciano was so eager to gain power and become a boss that he, along with Lansky, planned the assassination of Masseria at a Coney Island restaurant while Luciano washed his hands in the bathroom.

Maranzano, having become the winner of the Castellamarese War thanks to Luciano and his friends, made Luciano his second in command, but this was just part of a Maranzano plot to have Luciano, Genovese and Chicago's boss Al Capone eliminated. When Luciano and Lansky learned of this, they arranged to have four of Lansky's associates, disguised as government agents, come to Maranzano's office and murder him. After killing Marazano, the gang reportedly met Irishman Mad Dog Coll, who had been hired by Maranzano to kill Luciano and Genovese, coming up the stairs. They told Coll that the police were raiding the place and Coll fled too.

Formation of the syndicate

With the killings of Masseria and Maranzano completed, Luciano was able to achieve his vision by joining the major organized crime groups of different ethnicities in New York in what eventually became a national crime syndicate. Unlike Maranzano, who had tried to impose himself as the "Emperor" in an organization modeled after the Roman Empire, Luciano organized a decentralized structure in which the major crime families divided up territories and spheres of activities and met, when necessary, to mediate differences between the various families. This served to prevent the all-out wars that had wracked the Mafia in the 1930's while allowing organized crime to grow even richer and more entrenched.

In 1936, prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey managed to obtain Luciano's conviction for pandering, on evidence that was to some extent almost certainly perjured. Luciano was sentenced to 30 to 50 years (being sent to the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate Dannemora) and served 10 years. Even while Dewey was prosecuting him, Luciano took steps to prevent Dutch Schultz from going through with his plan to assassinate Dewey, arranging for Schultz to be murdered when it became clear he could not be deterred.

World War II

During WWII, America needed new allies to advance its invasion of Sicily, and Luciano was a perfect choice - imprisoned but with good connections in the Italian Mafia, which had been severely persecuted under Fascists in Italy. An American patriot and devoted to Sicily, the Mafia, and the USA alike, Luciano helped tremendously and was duly rewarded. Legend has it that during the 1940s, Luciano used to meet US military men during train trips throughout Italy, and he enjoyed being recognized by his countrymen, several times taking photos and even signing autographs for them.

In 1946, he was paroled on the condition that he leave the United States and return to Italy. He accepted the deal, although he had maintained during his trial that he was a native of New York City and was therefore not subject to deportation, but was deeply hurt about having to leave the USA, a country he had considered his own ever since his arrival at age ten. Later that year, he flew to Cuba for the Havana Conference, where he retook control of the American syndicate. At the meeting, Luciano ordered the execution of Siegel, who had cost the Mafia millions by opening money-losing casinos in Las Vegas. When the US government learned of Luciano's presence in the Caribbean he was forced to fly back to Italy.

Later years

When Albert Anastasia was killed in 1957 and Frank Costello was forced to retire, Vito Genovese plotted to have Luciano killed. However, Luciano, Lansky, and their men arranged for Genovese to be arrested and convicted for selling drugs, quite likely with drugs planted in Genovese's residence.

Luciano came into conflict with Lansky over the amount of money he was receiving from Mafia operations in the early 1960s, but his failing health prevented him from putting up a fight on the matter. In 1962, Luciano died of a heart attack at Naples International Airport. He was buried in St. John's Cemetery in the borough of Queens in New York City, after a federal court ruled that his burial on United States soil could not be blocked on the grounds that a corpse is not a citizen of any country and is therefore not subject to immigration control or deportation laws.

Fictional portrayals

In 1974 a movie about Luciano was made, called Lucky Luciano. It was directed by Franceso Rosi and starred Gian Maria Volont as Charles "Lucky" Luciano.</p>

The 1991 film Mobsters is about the rise of Luciano, Lanksy, Frank Costello, and Bugsy Siegel. It stars Christian Slater as Luciano, who narrates the film.

The 1997 film Hoodlum, about the gang war in Harlem between Dutch Schultz and Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, costars Andy Garcia as Luciano.

External links

fr:Lucky Luciano ja:ラッキー・ルチアーノ

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