Crime boss

A crime boss, crime lord, don, kingpin, or mob boss is a person in charge of a criminal organization. A boss typically has absolute or nearly absolute control over their subordinates, is greatly feared by their subordinates for their ruthlessness and willingness to take lives to exert their influence, and profits from the criminal endeavors in which their organization engages.[1][2]

Some groups may only have as little as two ranks (a boss and his soldiers). Other groups have a more complex, structured organization with many ranks, and structure may vary with cultural background. Organized crime enterprises originating in Sicily differ in structure from those in mainland Italy. American groups may be structured differently from their European counterparts, and Latino and African American gangs often have structures that vary from European gangs. The size of the criminal organization is also important, as regional or national gangs have much more complex hierarchies.[3]

Italian Mafia

The boss in the Sicilian and American Mafia is the head of the crime family and the top decision maker. Only the boss, underboss or consigliere can initiate an associate into the family, allowing them to become a made man. The boss can promote or demote family members at will, and has the sole power to sanction murders inside and outside the family. If the boss is incarcerated or incapacitated he places an acting boss who responsible for running the crime family. When a boss dies the crime family members choose a new boss from inside the organisation.

The typical structure within the Mafia in Sicily and America is usually as follows:[4]

  • Boss of all bosses – also known as the capo di tutti capi or godfather, has been given by the media to the most powerful boss, although the Mafia never recognized the position itself. The highest body to decide on inter-family issues is the Commission (see also Sicilian Mafia Commission).
  • Boss – Also known as the capofamiglia, capo crimini, representante, Don or godfather, is the highest level in a crime family.[2][4][5]
  • Underboss – Also known as the "capo bastone" in some criminal organizations, this individual is the second-in-command. He is responsible for ensuring that profits from criminal enterprises flow up to the boss, and generally oversees the selection of the caporegime(s) and soldier(s) to carry out murders.[2][4] The underboss may take control of the crime family after the boss's death. He keeps this position until a new boss is chosen, which in some cases was the Underboss.
  • Consigliere – Also known as an advisor or "right-hand man," a consigliere is a counselor to the boss of a crime family. The boss, underboss, and consigliere constitute the "Administration."[6] The consigliere is third ranked in the hierarchy but does not have capos or soldiers working for him.[2][4] Like the boss, there is usually only one consigliere per criminal organization.[2]
  • Caporegime – Also known as a captain, skipper, capo, or "crew chief," the caporegime was originally known as a "capodecina" (captain of ten) because he oversaw only 10 soldiers. In more recent times, the caporegime may oversee as many soldiers as he can efficiently control.[2][4] A caporegime is appointed by the family boss to run his own borgata (regime, or crew) of soldato (soldiers). Each caporegime reports directly to the underboss, who gives him the permission to perform criminal activities. If the family needs to murder someone, the underboss normally asks a caporegime to carry out the order. The caporegime runs the day-to-day operations of his crew. The caporegime's soldiers give part of their earnings to him, and then he gives a share to the underboss. A caporegime can recommend to the underboss or boss that a recruit be allowed to join his crew as a mob associate.
  • Soldato – Also known as a sgarrista, soldier, "button man," "made man", "wiseguy" or "goodfella", is the lowest level of mobster or gangster.[2][4] A "soldier" must have taken the omertà (oath of silence),[2][4] and in some organizations must have killed a person to be considered "made."[7][8] A picciotto is a low-level soldier, usually someone who does the day-to-day work of threatening, beating, and intimidating others.[9]
  • Associate – Also known as a "giovane d'onore" (man of honor), an associate is a person who is not a soldier in a crime family, but works for them and shares in the execution of and profits from the criminal enterprise.[2] In Italian criminal organizations, "associates" are usually members of the criminal organization who are not of Italian descent.[9]

A boss will typically put up layers of insulation between himself and his men to defeat law enforcement efforts to arrest him. Whenever he issues orders, he does so either to his underboss, consigliere or capos. The orders are then passed down the line to the soldiers. This makes it difficult under most circumstances to directly implicate a boss in a crime, since he almost never directly gives orders to the soldiers.

Mr Big

The term Mr Big is used within the underworld, and additionally during media reportings of persons associated with criminal activities, to refer to a leader of a body of persons functioning in the capacities of roles within organised crime. Sometimes bosses of the so-called gangland are referred to as being Mr Big, as for example in the case of a report of the attempted assassination of an apparent leader of the Irish Republican Army, a person named Alan Ryan.[10] The term implicitly indicates a degree of a possession of a higher intelligence of an individual.[11]

The term especially indicates the existence of involvement in what is known as big-time crime, which would include for example armed robbery, and the more organised aspects of careers within crime.[11][12]

In the vernacular of underworld lexiconography within the 1940s of the United States of America, one source does not include the term as a known slang term, but does list Big Brains, as referring to a gang leader.[13]

Popular culture

Crime lords are highly popular key figures in the popular culture world.

See also


  1. ^ Pistone, Joseph D. The Way of the Wiseguy: The FBI's Most Famous Undercover Agent Cracks the Mob Mind. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2005. ISBN 0-7624-2384-6
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Manning, George A. Financial Investigation and Forensic Accounting. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8493-2223-5
  3. ^ Albanese, Jay, Contemporary Issues in Organized Crime. Monsey, N.Y.: Criminal Justice Press, 1995. ISBN 1-881798-04-6
  4. ^ a b c d e f g DeVico, Peter J. The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra. Tate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-60247-254-8
  5. ^ Raab, Selwyn. The Five Families: The Rise, Decline & Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empire. New York: St. Martins Press, 2005.
  6. ^ "Genovese Indictment" U.S. District Court. Southern District of New York.
  7. ^ Maas, Peter. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia. Paperback reissue. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-06-109664-4
  8. ^ DeStefano, Anthony M. King of the Godfathers: Big Joey Massino and the Fall of the Bonanno Crime Family. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2008. ISBN 0-8065-2874-5
  9. ^ a b Nash, Robert Jay. World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 1993. ISBN 0-306-80535-9
  10. ^ Alan Sherry – Article titled: Drug lord avoids death after gardai intelligence stops attempted hit Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Sundayworld Friday 23 May 2014 [Retrieved 2015-07-27]
  11. ^ a b Fiona Brookman; Mike Maguire; Harriet Pierpoint; Trevor Bennett (2010-02-01). Handbook on Crime. Routledge 1 February 2010. ISBN 9781317436751. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  12. ^ J. Ridings – Chicago to Springfield:: Crime and Politics in the 1920s Arcadia Publishing 18 September 2012
  13. ^ Vincent Joseph Monteleone (1949). Criminal Slang: The Vernacular of the Underground Lingo. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. 1949. ISBN 9781584773009. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
Blood Money (1933 film)

Blood Money is a 1933 American Pre-Code crime drama about a crooked bail bondsman named Bill Bailey, played by George Bancroft, with Chick Chandler as crime boss Drury Darling, Judith Anderson as Drury's sister and Bailey's lover, and Frances Dee as a thrill-seeking, larcenous beauty who fatefully catches Bailey's eye. The film was considered to be lost for nearly forty years before reappearing.This marked the film debut of Anderson (better known for her next role, housekeeper Mrs. Danvers in the 1940 Rebecca).

Capo dei capi

Capo di tutti i capi or capo dei capi is Italian for "boss of all bosses" or "boss of [the] bosses". It is a phrase used mainly by the media, public and the law enforcement community to indicate a supremely powerful crime boss in the Sicilian or American Mafia who holds great influence over the whole organization. The term was introduced to the U.S. public by the Kefauver Commission (1950).

Crime Boss (film)

Crime Boss (Italian: I familiari delle vittime non saranno avvertiti) is a 1972 Italian crime film directed by Alberto De Martino.

Crime Boss (rapper)

Crime Boss is an American rapper formerly signed to Suave House Records.

Crime Boss debuted on 8Ball & MJG's album On the Outside Looking In in 1994. He signed with Suave House and issued his debut the following year entitled All in the Game. The album peaked at No. 113 on the Billboard 200. He followed up in 1997 with his most successful album, Conflicts & Confusion, released by Relativity Records, which went to No. 25 on the Billboard 200. Despite the success of the album Crime Boss left Suave House and released his third and final album, Still at Large in 1998 for his own Crime Lab Records. After Still at Large, Crime Boss appeared on Spice 1's 2000 album, The Last Dance and Sean T's 2001 album, Can I Shine?, but he has not been heard of since. In 1996, he was arrested, found not guilty by reason of insanity, and committed to a state mental facility in Vernon, Texas. Shortly thereafter, he was released.

Enrico Colantoni

Enrico Colantoni (born February 14, 1963) is a Canadian actor and director, best known for portraying Elliot DiMauro in the sitcom Just Shoot Me!, Keith Mars on the television series Veronica Mars, Louis Lutz on the short-lived sitcom Hope & Gloria, and Sergeant Greg Parker on the television series Flashpoint. He has also had supporting roles in such films as The Wrong Guy, Galaxy Quest, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Contagion, and guest appearances on Monk, Numb3rs, Party Down, Stargate SG-1, and Bones. More recently, he starred as Allen Conner in Remedy, and played crime boss Carl Elias in a recurring role on Person of Interest. He played Laura Hollis' father in season three of the online web series Carmilla. He most recently appeared as Vincent Ingram in Travelers.

Colantoni directed two episodes of the TV series iZombie.

J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai

J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai (ジャッカー電撃隊, Jakkā Dengekitai) is the second installment in the Super Sentai metaseries. It aired from April 9, 1977 to December 24, 1977. It was created by Shotaro Ishinomori, and ran for thirty-five episodes. Toei distributes the series internationally under the title The Jackers.

Japan Organized Crime Boss

Japan Organized Crime Boss (Japanese: 日本暴力団 組長, Hepburn: Nihon boryoku-dan: Kumicho) is a 1969 Japanese yakuza film directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

Jewish-American organized crime

Jewish-American organized crime emerged within the American Jewish community during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been referred to variously in media and popular culture as the Jewish Mob, Jewish Mafia, Kosher Mafia, Kosher Nostra, or Undzer Shtik (Yiddish: אונדזער שטיק‎). The last two of these terms are direct references to the Italian Cosa Nostra; the former is a play on the word kosher, referring to Jewish dietary laws; while the latter is a direct translation of the Italian phrase Cosa Nostra (Italian for "our thing") into Yiddish, which was at the time the predominant language of the Jewish diaspora in the United States.

In the late 19th century in New York City, Monk Eastman operated a powerful Jewish gang that competed with Italian and Irish gangs, notably Paul Kelly's Five Points Gang, for control of New York City's underworld. Another notorious gang, known as the Lenox Avenue Gang, led by Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz, consisted of mostly Jewish members and some Italian members (such as Francesco Cirofisi). It was one of the most violent gangs of the early 20th century and became famous for the murder of gambler and gangster Herman Rosenthal.

In the early 1920s, stimulated by the economic opportunities of the roaring twenties, and later prohibition, Jewish organized crime figures such as Arnold Rothstein were controlling a wide range of criminal enterprises, including bootlegging, loansharking, gambling, and bookmaking. According to crime writer Leo Katcher, Rothstein "transformed organized crime from a thuggish activity by hoodlums into a big business, run like a corporation, with himself at the top." Rothstein was allegedly responsible for fixing the 1919 World Series. At the same time, the Jewish bootlegging mob known as The Purple Gang dominated the Detroit underworld during prohibition, while the Jewish Bugs and Meyer Mob operated in the Lower East Side of New York City before being absorbed into Murder, Inc. and becoming affiliates of the Italian-American Mafia.

The largely Jewish-American and Italian-American gang known as Murder, Inc. and Jewish mobsters such as Meyer Lansky, Mickey Cohen, Harold "Hooky" Rothman, Dutch Schultz, and Bugsy Siegel developed close ties with and gained significant influence within the Italian-American Mafia, eventually forming a loosely organized, mostly Jewish and Italian criminal syndicate known in the press as the "National Crime Syndicate." Jewish and Italian crime groups became increasingly interconnected in the 1920s and 1930s, as they often occupied the same neighborhoods and social statuses of the time. The two ethnic crime groups became especially close in New York City following the establishment of the close relationship between partners Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky and their subsequent elimination of many of the so-called "Mustache Pete", or the Sicilian-born gangsters that often refused to work with non-Italians and even non-Sicilians. The Cohen crime family of Los Angeles and Las Vegas was notably part of both the Jewish Mafia and Italian-American Mafia, and lines between the two ethnic criminal organizations often blurred throughout the 20th century. For decades after, Jewish-American mobsters would continue to work closely and at times compete with Italian-American organized crime.

Nicky Barnes

Leroy Nicholas Barnes (born October 15, 1933) is an American former crime boss, active in New York City during the 1970s.

In 1972, Barnes formed The Council, a seven-man African-American organized crime syndicate that controlled a significant part of the heroin trade in the Harlem area of New York City. Barnes led The Council into an international drug trafficking ring, in partnership with the Italian-American Mafia, until his arrest in 1978. Barnes was sentenced to life imprisonment, eventually becoming a federal informant that led to the collapse of The Council in 1983.

In 2007, Barnes released a book, Mr. Untouchable, written with Tom Folsom, and a documentary DVD of the same title about his life.

Political boss

For the similar term, see Crime boss

In politics, a boss is a person who controls a unit of a political party, although they may not necessarily hold political office. Numerous officeholders in that unit are subordinate to the single boss in party affairs. Each party in the same ward or city may have its own boss; that is, the Republican boss of Ward 7 controls Republican politics, while the Democratic boss controls the Democratic party there. Reformers sometimes allege that political bosses are likely guilty of corruption. Bosses may base their power on control of a large number of votes. When the party wins, they typically control appointments in their unit, and have a voice at the higher levels. They do not necessarily hold public office themselves; most historical bosses did not, at least during the times of their greatest influence.

Rupert Thorne

Rupert Thorne is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character is a crime boss and enemy of Batman.

Sam Maceo

Salvatore Maceo, also known as Sam Maceo, was a businessman, community leader, and organized crime boss in Galveston, Texas in the United States. Because of his efforts, Galveston Island became a nationally known resort town during the early and mid 20th century, a period known as Galveston's Open Era. He and his brother, both Sicilian immigrants, owned numerous restaurant and casino venues including the now-vanished Hollywood Dinner Club and the Balinese Room. Sometimes known as the "Velvet Glove," Sam's smooth style and ability to influence people were legendary. He was able to wield influence comparable to an elected official and he held relationships with celebrities and politicians throughout Texas and the United States. During his lifetime he and his island home were known nationwide.The culture and economy Sam and the Maceo syndicate helped create on the island engendered the nickname "Free State of Galveston." He was also involved in the development of the Las Vegas Strip during the late 1940s, particularly the establishment of the Desert Inn.

San Francisco crime family

The San Francisco crime family, also known as the Lanza crime family, was an American Mafia crime syndicate in San Francisco. The syndicate was organized in the early 1930s by Francesco "Frank" Lanza. The San Francisco family was a small organization with 20–25 made members.

Sebastiano DiGaetano

Sebastiano DiGaetano was an Italian-born New York City mafia boss of what would later become known as the Bonanno crime family. He briefly attained the title capo dei capi (English: "Boss of bosses") of the Sicilian-American mafia, after Giuseppe Morello had been convicted of counterfeiting money in 1910. DiGaetano stepped down as boss of his crime family in 1912, and disappeared shortly thereafter.

Semion Mogilevich

Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich (Ukrainian: Семе́н Ю́дкович Могиле́вич, Semen Yudkovych Mohylevych [sɛˈmɛn ˈjudkɔwɪtʃ mɔɦɪˈlɛwɪtʃ]; born June 30, 1946) is a Ukrainian-born, Russian organized crime boss, believed by European and United States federal law enforcement agencies to be the "boss of bosses" of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world. Mogilevich is believed to direct a vast criminal empire and is described by the FBI as "the most dangerous mobster in the world." He has been accused by the FBI of "weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale."Mogilevich's nicknames include "Don Semyon" and "The Brainy Don" (because of his business acumen). According to US diplomatic cables, he is said to control RosUkrEnergo, a company actively involved in Russia–Ukraine gas disputes, and a partner of Raiffeisen Bank.He lives freely in Moscow, and has three children. He is most closely associated with the Solntsevskaya Bratva crime group. Political figures he has close alliances with include Yury Luzhkov, the former Mayor of Moscow, Dmytro Firtash and Leonid Derkach, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine. Oleksandr Turchynov, who was designated as acting President of Ukraine in February 2014, appeared in court in 2010 for allegedly destroying files pertaining to Mogilevich. Defector Alexander Litvinenko, shortly before his assassination, claimed that Mogilevich had allegedly a "good relationship" with Vladimir Putin since the 1990s.

Slightly Scarlet (1956 film)

Slightly Scarlet is a 1956 Technicolor film noir crime film based on James M. Cain's novel Love's Lovely Counterfeit. It was directed by Allan Dwan, and its widescreen cinematography was by John Alton.

The picture tells the story of Ben Grace (John Payne), a man working for a powerful metropolitan crime boss—Solly Caspar (Ted de Corsia) -- and their involvement with two sisters (Rhonda Fleming and Arlene Dahl).

Tony Lip

Frank Anthony Vallelonga Sr. (July 30, 1930 – January 4, 2013), better known as Tony Lip, was an American actor and occasional author, best known for his portrayal of crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi in the HBO series The Sopranos.

He portrayed real-life Bonanno crime family mobster Philip Giaccone in Donnie Brasco, and real-life Lucchese crime family mobster Francesco Manzo in Goodfellas. It was at the Copacabana nightclub where he first met Francis Ford Coppola and Louis DiGiamo, leading to a small role in The Godfather, his film debut. He also co-wrote the book Shut Up and Eat! (2005).

His time in the early 1960s, when he was the driver and bodyguard for the African-American classical pianist Don Shirley, was dramatized in the 2018 film Green Book.

Widows (2018 film)

Widows is a 2018 heist film directed by Steve McQueen from a screenplay by McQueen and Gillian Flynn, based upon the 1983 British television series of the same name. The plot, set in Chicago, follows a group of women who attempt a heist in order to pay back a crime boss after their criminal husbands are killed on a botched job. A British-American co-production, the film features an ensemble cast consisting of Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson.

Widows premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2018, and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on November 6, 2018 and in the United States on November 16, by 20th Century Fox. The film has grossed $76 million worldwide and received praise for its direction, screenplay and performances (particularly Davis, Debicki and Kaluuya), with critics crediting it for blending "dramatic themes with popcorn thrills". It received several award nominations, among them one for Davis, who was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

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