Tieri in the 1970s
February 22, 1904
Castel Gandolfo, Lazio, Kingdom of Italy
|Died||March 29, 1981 (aged 77)|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Resting place||Saint John's Cemetery, Queens, New York, U.S.|
|Other names||Funzi Tieri|
The Old Man
|Allegiance||Genovese crime family|
|Criminal penalty||10 years' imprisonment|
Frank Alphonse "Funzi" Tieri (//; born Francesco Tieri, Italian: [franˈtʃesko ˈtjɛːri]; February 22, 1904 – March 29, 1981) was an Italian-American New York mobster who eventually became the front boss of the Genovese crime family.
Tieri was born on February 22, 1904 in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, to Carmela Tofano and Augustino Tieri, and had two sisters, Assunta and Antonietta. With his family, from Naples immigrated to New York in 1911. Tieri was denied US citizenship twice living as a resident alien in Brooklyn. Tieri lived in a modest home in the Bath Beach section of Brooklyn with his wife and two granddaughters. His mistress, a former opera singer from Italy, lived in a house a few blocks away. Tieri claimed to be an employee of a sportswear manufacturer.
In 1972, after the murder of Genovese acting boss Thomas Eboli, Tieri became the boss of the Genovese family. At that time, it was speculated that Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino had ordered Eboli's murder because Eboli owed him $4 million. According to this theory, Gambino wanted Tieri to be boss of the Genovese family. However, most experts now believe that Tieri was merely a front for the Genoveses' actual boss, Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo. Luigi Angelo Martino, "the architect" for money laundering for the Genovese family, served directly under him.[clarification needed]
Tieri was considered a low-profile and diplomatic mobster, a good earner for the family who believed in sharing the wealth with his capos and soldiers. He was convicted of armed robbery when he was aged twenty but avoided further indictments until the end of his life. Given that Tieri was a front boss, it is unknown how much power Lombardo allowed him. However, Tieri did have a reputation as orderly and smart manager who used violence only as a last resort.
In 1980, Tieri played a key role in the assassination of Philadelphia crime family boss Angelo Bruno and the opening of Atlantic City, New Jersey to the New York crime families. The State of New Jersey had announced the introduction of legal casino gambling in Atlantic City and the New York families wanted to open operations there. However, Atlantic City belonged to the Philadelphia family and Bruno wasn't willing to share it. In March 1980, Tieri sent a message to Philadelphia capo Antonio Caponigro that the Mafia Commission would support him as boss if he assassinated Bruno. What Caponigro didn't know was that the Commission had no intention of sanctioning Bruno's murder. On March 21, 1980, Bruno was murdered in his car on a Philadelphia street. The Commission immediately summoned Caponigro to New York for a meeting; two weeks later, his body was discovered in New York with $20 bills stuffed in his orifices. However, the New York families did achieve access to Atlantic City.
Conviction and death
Federal prosecutors eventually charged Tieri with being the head of a crime family that was involved in racketeering, extortion and illegal gambling. On January 23, 1981, the ailing Tieri, using a wheelchair and an oxygen tank, was convicted of violating the RICO act. At the sentencing, Tieri's lawyers argued for leniency, saying that he was dying. Prosecutors told the judge it was an act, and the judge sent Tieri to prison for ten years.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (March 27, 2017). "Frank Tieri". Internet Archive. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- Ledbetter, Les (March 31, 1981). "FRANK TIERI, 77, CONVICTED NEW YORK CRIME LEADER". The New York Times. p. 22. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
Frank Tieri, who Federal authorities said was the first person ever convicted of heading an organized-crime family, died at Mount Sinai Hospital Sunday after a long illness. He was 77 years old. [...] Born in 1904 in Castel Gandolfo, the Italian village about 15 miles south of Rome that is best known as the papal summer residence, Mr. Tieri emigrated to the United States from Naples in 1911.
- "Crime Strike Force Gets New Chief". The New York Times. May 22, 1974. p. 47. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
His office also indicted Frank Tieri on charges of interstate traffic in aid of racketeering, extortion and gambling.
- Lubash, Arnold H. (January 23, 1974). "TIERI GETS 10-YEAR TERM FOR ROLE AS CRIME CHIEF". p. 26. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
Frank (Funzi) Tieri received a 10-year sentence yesterday for his conviction as "the boss of a family of La Cosa Nostra" in New York City.
- Capeci, Jerry (2002). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books. ISBN 0-02-864225-2.
- Jacobs, James B.; Panarella, Christopher; Worthington, Jay (1994). Busting the Mob: The United States Vs. Cosa Nostra. New York: NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-4230-0.
- Milhorn, H. Thomas (2005). Crime: Computer Viruses to Twin Towers. Boca Raton, Florida: Universal Publishers. ISBN 1-58112-489-9.
- Raab, Selwyn (2005). Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires. New York: St. Martin Press. ISBN 0-312-30094-8.
| Genovese crime family
| Genovese crime family