Gerlando Sciascia

One of the newer rules passed by the new Mafia leaders during the recent resurgence of the mob was "thou shalt not speak ill of other wise guys." In the old days there were no hit, no killing, and no drugs rules in action, under the pain of death. Now a no slander rule also applies. It is the bosses' way of offering no additional openings for crime busters to find out inner secrets of the mob.

Of course, there always was a no slander rule against lower-ranking minions for bad-mouthing the godfather or other high-ranking mob figures, but now the edict was extended to others. The reason was the same, to keep the bad-mouthing from rebounding on the new bosses. The new bosses know their new setups are fragile indeed and under constant pressure by the law. Silence therefore is imperative.

This is the reason that Gerry Sciascia had to die. Sciascia, a capo in the Bonanno crime family, openly criticized another capo in the same outfit, one Anthony Graziano, for having a cocaine problem. There was a time when such criticism might have been tolerated, but not under the new order.

The family boss, Joe Massino, would not tolerate Sciascia's blabbing. Massino had recently elevated Graziano in the leadership and now Sciascia was tearing down not only Graziano but the boss as well. For this offense, it was said, Massino told underlings that Sciascia "had to go." The victim went under the boss's careful ministrations, according to the law, as Massino sent out the order for the job, assigned the killers, and arranged for the untraceable murder weapon.

Next, say informants, Massino and his wife went on an extended Mexican trip. In March 1999 Sciascia was invited to meet with another capo. The meeting resulted in Sciascia having three bullet holes in his head and three others in sundry places. When Massino returned from Mexico he told others, "It served him right for telling me how to run the family."

The new Mafia may be changed, but like its predecessors, it is not a democratic society and allows no strings for the law to work back to the all-powerful boss.