Mafia Retains Media Allure As Influence Dwindles


The Italian-American Mafia has been diminished by relentless prosecutions and by a weariness of Mob life that has led some younger members to consider getting out, reports USA Today. Wiretap transcripts and other court filings, as well as interviews with former mobster Michael Franzese and historians of organized crime, show how its influence is dwindling Cosa Nostra, once a nationwide organization, is down to one outfit in Chicago and New York City’s five organized crime families – the Bonannos, Colombos, Gambinos, Genoveses and Luccheses. During the past eight years, men alleged to have been bosses of all five crime families in New York have been convicted and imprisoned.

The Mafia’s traditions – besides secrecy, members’ vow to defend their family’s honor – along with books and films like The Godfather series fostered an enduring mystique that has helped make The Sopranos a ratings hit. “It’s a lifestyle that has as much to do with ignorance and pathology as anything else,” says Randy Mastro, a federal Mob prosecutor in the 1980s and later New York City’s deputy mayor. But “they still have media allure.” Indictments suggest that Cosa Nostra continues to make much of its money through unglamorous crimes such as labor racketeering, bookmaking, and lending cash at exorbitant rates.


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