Phillip Rastelli was born and raised in Maspeth, Queens and was heavily involved in loansharking, extortion and drug trafficking activties before joining the Bonanno crime family. After moving to Greenpoint, Brooklyn where he lived until his incarceration, he met and became close friends with Dominick Napolitano, Carmine Galante and even Joseph Bonanno himself.
He took over the Bonanno Family in 1973 as acting boss after the death of Natale "Joe Diamonds" Evola. Rastelli was named official boss of the Bonanno crime family in early 1974, but by 1975 he was indicted and in jail on charges of extortion and violating an anti-trust law. He was convicted of the anti-trust and extortion on August 27, 1976 and given 1 year on the anti-trust violation and 3 concurrent 10 year sentences on the extortion. Carmine "Lilo" Galante effectively took over the crime family following his release from prison in 1974, but Rastelli remained the official boss. He made Sonny Black street boss after his help in murdering Carmine Galante in 1979. Following Galante's murder in, Rastelli was once again the undisputed boss, controlling things from behind bars through the use of acting bosses such as longtime Bonanno crime family member Salvatore "Sally Fruits" Ferrugia. There was a dispute within the Bonanno crime family about whether Rastelli should be the boss which led to an internal war in 1981. This resulted in the murders of several people including opposition leader, Bonanno caporegime Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, who was one of those who opposed Rastelli remaining the boss while behind bars. This power struggle and its bloody results were witnessed by FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone working undercover under the guise of Donnie Brasco.
Rastelli was paroled from prison in early 1984 and quickly began an attempt to restore order, unity and respect to his crime family which had been greatly damaged and diminished from underworld power and influence due to the crime families second insurrection in 1981 and the Donnie Brasco incident which caused the Bonanno crime family leadership and its members to lose face within the American mafia. Over the years there has been a belief that the American mafia was not directly involved in the drug trade as some bosses ordered their men not to get involved with drugs, but many disobeyed, and for the Bonanno crime family's the drug trade became one of its most lucrative rackets as the Montreal branch was heavily involved in the drug trade, importing narcotics into Canada and transporting it to America where the Bonanno crime family's Zip or Sicilian faction, along with the other crime families controlled the wholesale distribution of the drugs to other crime groups across the country.
Rastelli was indicted in the famous Mafia Commission Trial of 1986, but severed from the trial as prosecutors were in favor of pursuing extortion charges concerning Rastelli and his Underboss, Joseph "Big Joey" Massino. Bonanno crime family boss Rusty Rastelli received a 12 year prison sentence in 1987, removing the 69 year old mafia boss from the streets and preventing him from leading his crime family in freedom. On July 21, 1991 Rastelli was released from prison once again on humanitarian grounds, he died in a Queens hospital 3 days later on July 24, 1991 of liver cancer at the age of 73.
Contract Killer: The Explosive Story of the Mafia's Most Notorious Hit Man Donald "Tony the Greek" Frankos by William Hoffman and Lake Headley
REPUTED MOBSTER CONVICTED SUSPECTED KILLER INDICTED BUILDING MAY LOSE 12 STORIES MURDER SUSPECT MAKES PLEA.(Local)
Oct 16, 1986; Byline: Associated Press Philip Rastelli, the reputed head of the Bonanno crime family, and officials of the Teamsters union were...