Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bill Bonanno, son of crime boss, dies at 75

Salvatore 'Bill' Bonanno
Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno (left), son of late crime boss Joseph Bonanno, died yesterday morning, according to reports of Arizona television stations KVOA-4 and KOLD-13. The 75-year-old Tuscon resident and author reportedly succumbed to a heart attack on New Year's Day.

Bonanno was the subject of the Gay Talese work, "Honor Thy Father," and went on to write, "Bound by Honor," an account of his experiences as a leading figure and short-time acting boss in the Bonanno Crime Family. He and Joe Pistone - the former FBI agent who infiltrated the Bonanno Crime Family in the 1980s - collaborated on a Mafia-related novel, "The Good Guys," in 2005. During his father's 1960s disappearance, Bonanno engaged a rebellious faction of the family in a struggle that became known as the Banana War.

Recently he posted messages to a blog at The last entry was a Christmas message dated Dec. 20. An Aug 23 post explained his involvement in the Space is Special Foundation, introducing high school special needs students to NASA Space Camp. Two posts in mid-June touched on a Newsweek article by Talese. That article updated the lives of the children of Bill and Rosalie (Profaci) Bonanno. Rosalie is the niece of late crime boss Joseph Profaci. She also penned her memoirs.

Bill Bonanno went into federal prison twice, once related to a stolen credit card charge. He claimed to have retired from the Mafia in 1968.

According to a report by Enric Volante of the Arizona Daily Star, Bill Bonanno's survivors include his wife of 51 years, Rosalie; sister Catherine R. Genovese of California; sons Charles and Joseph of Phoenix, AZ; son Salvatore of Scottsdale, AZ; daughter Felippa Pettinato of California; 18 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Funeral services have reportedly been scheduled for Monday in Tucson, AZ.

Joseph Bonanno and sonsJoseph Bonanno Jr., the younger of the crime boss's two sons, died two years ago at the age of 60. He was living at his 20-acre horse ranch in Ione at the time a heart attack took his life on Nov. 2, 2005. The senior Joseph Bonanno died in 2002 at age 97.

(Photo at right: Joseph Bonanno and his sons in 1984. Bill is on the right.)

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; author of Wrongly Executed?; coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime; contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime; writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.