The Mafia Commission

The Commission New York Mafia

Lucky Luciano established a mob board of directors to oversee all Mafia activities in the US and serve to mediate conflicts between families. There was no "ruler" of the Commission, but there was a nominated Chairman or Head of the National Commission. This was used as a substitute to the role ofcapo di tutti capi.

Luciano assumed the position of chairman and Meyer Lansky served as his chief advisor. The Commission would meet every five years or when needed to discuss family problems.

Original Mafia Commission

The Commission officially comprised seven family bosses.

The leaders of New York's Five Families (Lucky Luciano, Joseph Bonanno, Joe Profaci, Vincent Mangano, and Tommy Gagliano) and the "Fathers" from Chicago (Al Capone), representing everything in the Western United States, and Buffalo (Stefano Magaddino).

The formation of the Commission did not stop all gang wars, but it did reduce their scale and frequency. When one family declared war on another, the aggressor family usually found itself at war with the Commission and the rest of the families. This provided a powerful incentive to the families to negotiate their disputes.

To settle wars or internal conflicts, the Commission would appoint a new Don of the Family and have the usurper or the previous Don assassinated.

Mafia Good Ol Days

The Mafia thrived by following their strict set of rules that originated in Sicily that called for an organized hierarchical structure and a code of silence that forbade its members from cooperating with the police (Omertà). Failure to follow any of these rules was punishable by death.

During the 1980's and 1990's, RICO laws were used to convict numerous high-level mobsters. Some Mafiosi, faced with long prison sentences, broke the once-sacred code of Omerta and testified against their fellow mobsters in exchange for a place in the federal witness-protection program. At the same time, Mafia membership declined as insular Italian-American neighborhoods, once a traditional recruiting ground for mobsters, underwent demographic shifts and became more assimilated into society at large.

The Commission is still reported to exist today, though its current membership is composed of only the bosses of the Five Families, the Chicago Outfit, and the Philadelphia crime family leaders. Its activities, like much of the Mafia in general, have receded from public view as a matter of necessity.

Thomas Reppetto, author of "American Mafia," said the summits had been a key element in organized crime's structure. "Today it is too dangerous for it to meet," Reppetto said.

"The de facto destruction of the commission is one of the reasons that the New York Mafia is a shadow of its old self."

New York