By David Amoruso
“What the fuck is there? Everybody runs to the law. Everybody’s a fucking rat. Everybody, they’re fucking horrible.” – Bonanno gangster Jack Bonventre
Bonanno mobster Jack Bonventre knows all about “the life” and its many hardships. Bonventre was convicted of a federal charge of illegal gambling in 2007, for which he was sentenced to nine months behind bars, to be followed by three years’ supervised release, and a $30,000 fine. Prior to that, in April of 2005, he was convicted in New York state court of falsifying business records in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor, for which he was sentenced to conditional discharge, five days community service and a $250 fine.
The hardships, however, are compensated by the money, power, respect, and beautiful women. That’s what draws men to a life of crime over and over. But lately, “the life” has been changing, and, well, it isn’t what it used to be. Especially when you are part of the New York Bonanno crime Family.
Ravaged by informants and turncoats, this family had its own boss become a witness against his former underlings. When your own boss flips on you, who can you trust?!
For Bonventre, it seems, that man is Jerome Asaro. Bonventre has been a soldier in Asaro’s crew since 2003 and, despite all the rats that jumped the Bonanno ship during and since that time, Bonventre is extremely content with Asaro as his skipper.
So much so that he even turned down a promotion to consigliere. On March 8, 2013, Jerome’s father Vincent Asaro was caught on a wire stating that Bonventre had been offered the administration position of “consigliere,” but that he had turned the offer down because he “didn’t want to leave Jerry [Asaro].”
Things were fine as they were for Bonventre. Why mess up a good thing? That seemed to be his attitude. Besides, when Jerome Asaro was behind bars, Bonventre had stepped up to become acting capo of his crew.
Authorities claimed he managed a “lucrative overseas illegal gambling operation involving sports betting.”
FBI recordings of Bonventre and others confirm his participation in such illegal activity. They also show how things have changed compared to the days of the crime family’s namesake Joseph Bonanno, during the Mafia’s heyday in the 1950s. For example, during a December 21, 2009 recording, Bonventre expressed his annoyance at how he has to deal with bettors who refuse to pay up.
“You can’t put pressure on these people because they run to the law,” Bonventre is overheard saying. “They run to the law. And then, you know what, it’s a lot cheaper to fucking, take a fucking hit for a few thousand then it is to pay a fucking lawyer. Because that’s what’s gonna happen. The minute you squeeze ‘em a little bit they run to the law. They run to the fucking law immediately. Immediately. Immediately . . . What the fuck is there? Everybody runs to the law. Everybody’s a fucking rat. Everybody, they’re fucking horrible.”
Unbeknownst to Bonventre, the Bonanno wiseguy he was telling this to had himself decided to “fucking rat” and was taping the entire conversation.
In late January, 2014, Bonventre, Jerome and Vincent Asaro, John Ragano, and Bonanno acting boss Thomas Di Fiore were arrested and hit with racketeering charges. Father and son Asaro had even been linked to the 1978 Lufthansa heist made famous by the movie Goodfellas.
Fortunately for Bonventre, he only faced extortion and gambling charges. He pleaded guilty to collecting a loansharking debt from another mobster and awaited his sentencing at home under house arrest.
The feds, meanwhile, pulled no punches in trying to get the judge to hand Bonventre the harshest sentence possible. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Argentieri and Alicyn Cooley pointed out how Bonventre was offered the position of consigliere. Such an offer is not made to just any wiseguy, they claimed, the offer was proof that Bonventre holds a powerful and prominent position within the Bonanno family.
Bonventre’s attorney, however, says the prosecutors were making things much bigger than they are. “Assuming that this is even true, traditional organized crime families in New York are now weaker than 20 or 30 years ago and the Bonanno family in particular has been largely decimated by arrests and defections. Being considered for consigliere does not have the same meaning as it once did,” he wrote to the presiding judge.
On April 15, 2015, the judge sentenced 46-year-old Jack Bonventre to 21 months in prison.