Frank Costello

From Academic Kids

Francesco Castiglia (January 21, 1891 - February 18, 1973), known as Frank Costello, was a famous mafia leader.



Costello was born in (Lauropoli) Calabria, Italy, and in 1895 he boarded a ship to the United States alongside his mother and sister. Living in New York's East Harlem he become a member of a local gang by the age of 13, and started using the name of Frank. He continued to commit petty crimes and spent time in jail whilst a teenager and young adult, serving 11 months in 1915 after being found carrying a concealed weapon.

Crime business

After his release, he began dealing in the underworld, and teamed up with Lucky Luciano. Together, they prospered in such business areas as bootlegging, gambling and slot machines (Prohibition in the U.S. was from 1919 to 1933). Costello was considered by his fellow gangsters as an important link between the Mafia and politicians, judges, and the police, and he earned the respect of many of his gangmates, including Luciano, as a man who could pay off anyone. He had particularly strong links with Tammany Hall, a Democratic Party organization, and with Big Bill Dwyer. Costello was responsible for having Abe "Kid Twist" Reles thrown out of the window when he became a witness against the mob.

When Luciano went to prison in 1936, he was sent to Dannemora in upstate New York, almost at the border with Canada. Luciano attempted to rule his crime family from jail, but, being so far removed, he had to name an acting boss, and so chose Costello, with Vito Genovese acting as Underboss. It could be said that the period that Costello ruled as a boss of Luciano's family was the most profitable one. Costello was a cash register with rackets from coast to coast aside from running the family and had more political strength than any mobster in history. After Genovese fled to Italy in fear of a murder prosecution, Costello had the whole operation under his control, and he expanded the crime family's operations, the casinos in Las Vages and Cuba happened under Costello's rule, he even owned buildings on the Wall Street.

After Luciano was deported to Italy in 1946, Genovese wanted to return to the States. To this end Costello had the witnesses against Genovese poisoned while they were in protective custody. Upon his return, Genovese came to feel he should have been the boss all these years, but he had to move softly. Genovese was displeased at the way things had changed during Costello's period as boss; Costello had his soldier's respect and the police on his payroll. Genovese also hated the fact that Costello was good friends with Albert Anastasia. With Anastasia on his side, it was hard to challenge Costello but things started to change with the Kefauver hearings. Mafia leaders from across the country were interviewed as part of these investigations, and Costello became the most well-known gangster of the time. The hearings were called by the Kefauver commission, which wanted to investigate organized crime in the States.

By 1951, Genovese wanted to get rid of Costello but he was still too strong, so Genovese had to wait. Costello knew Genovese wanted to be the Boss, but Costello could not go to war to kill Vito Genovese. If Costello went to war the goverment would put him away in a snap. Costello spent the 1950s in and out of court and government crime hearings. Even if he went to war and won he would lose. Also it could not be a one, two, three, clean hit like the one done to Anastasia. Costello was the Boss but Genovese was the underboss, which meant he had a crew loyal to him. War was inevitable. Costello was first sentenced to 18 months of jail, accused of contempt of the Senate. He started serving that sentence in August, 1952, but was released after only 14 months, in October, 1953. In 1954, he was accused of tax evasion and sentenced to five years in jail, but didn't have to serve any time from that sentence. In 1956, he was once again convicted, and this time went to prison. However, he won his appeal and was released the next year.


In 1957 a powerful figure in the family loyal to Costello, Joe Adonis, was deported. Albert Anastasia was brutal to members of his family, even one time slapping Carlo Gambino, at a dinner in front of Joe Bonanno, (Bonanno talks about this in his first book). Genovese had found his ally. Also in 1957 Costello won his appeal and was released. Genovese had to strike now. An attempt was made on Costello's life soon after his release, when, one night, he was walking to the elevator in order to go up to his house, and was shot in the head by hitman Vincent Gigante, who supposedly warned him by shouting "Frank, this is for you!" before taking his shot. Costello turned around, and ducked when he realised what was happening. Because of that defensive reaction, he survived the attack. Gigante left him for dead and ran away, but the bullet had done little more than graze his head, passing through his right ear and slightly touching his neck. So many police came after Gigante that he later turned himself in; never in the history of the mafia has this happened. Costello had so many powerful friends it was like a failed hit on a mayor. Genovese went on to appoint himself as boss, even though his attempt on Costello had failed.

Some time after that, Costello had had enough and made it clear to Genovese that he no longer wanted to be a boss and wanted to make peace. Genovese agreed to leave Costello alone, but in return he made Costello give up all his gambling connections and go back to just being a soldier for the organization. Eventually Genovese made Costello agree to leave and forego any future involvement with organized crime. Genovese was still scared of Albert Anastasia, the most murderous man in the Mafia, so he pitched a deal with Gambino: get Anstasia and me and you rule the commission.

Costello later got his revenge by framing Genovese, Gigante, and others in a drug bust with the help of Luciano and Meyer Lansky. Genovese eventually died in prison


Costello's final years were relatively peaceful and quiet. Mob bosses like Carlo Gambino and others still payed visits to Costello at the Waldorf Astoria in order to ask for advice. In 1973, he died of a heart attack at a Manhattan hospital.


The character of Vito Corleone in The Godfather was clearly based on Frank Costello, from the voice, political pull, failed hit, no drug rule, regal style, hating mob war, and Costello ja:フランク・コステロ sv:Frank Costello


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools