I’m very pleased to announce that Edmond Valin has provided the American Mafia history website with a short article discussing a 1960s-era informer within the Bonanno Crime Family of New York. That informer provided law enforcement with a good deal of background information on crime family members during the period of the so-called “Banana War.” Edmond Valin argues that crime boss Joseph Bonanno’s son Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno was the informer. (Click here to read the article.)
I agree with Valin’s assessment and actually reached the same conclusion through some independent research. I found it interesting that the initial claim that Joseph Bonanno was kidnapped by Buffalo boss Stefano Magaddino reached law enforcement and the media at approximately the same moment, in December 1964. At that time, Bill Bonanno was leading a shrinking group of Bonanno loyalists against the interference of Magaddino and the Mafia Commission.
The story of Magaddino’s involvement in the alleged kidnapping (I am one of those who believe the kidnapping was staged by Bonanno, by the way) was first mentioned in a column by Hearst newspaper personality Walter Winchell. (Winchell is believed to have had a role in leading Lepke Buchalter to the FBI a generation earlier.)
After just a few days, Joseph Bonanno’s attorney William Maloney confirmed the Winchell report, citing details provided to him in a telephone conversation with Bill Bonanno.
(BTW: Maloney really stuck his neck out for the Bonannos, and he probably regretted doing so. When Joseph Bonanno reappeared a year and a half later than Maloney told law enforcement he would, he did so with brand new legal counsel. Maloney no longer represented the crime boss.)