Prosectors failed to capture him on wiretaps, but found weak links in other family members. Vitale, one of the highest Mafia members ever to turn on his leader, is considered a prize catch -- the capstone of "one of the most far-reaching investigations ever conducted into organized crime," said U.S. Atty. Roslynn Mauskopf.
But if Massino gets a life sentence, or the death penalty, no one should expect it to mean the end of organized crime in New York, cautioned Goldstock.
Long after a crime boss goes to prison, he explained, there will still be members of the five families hijacking trucks, selling drugs and running gambling rings. Yet the glue that has long held them together -- a tightly organized command structure built on loyalty and obedience to crime family leaders -- will have further lost its grip.
"For those of us on the outside, it may seem that there is still organized crime out there on the streets," Goldstock said. "But to those on the inside of the Bonanno family, who see the impact of these prosecutions, there will be chaos and disarray."