Organized Crime Leader. Russell Bufalino was born Rosario Alberto Bufalino in Monteforo, Sicily, but he grew up in Buffalo, New York where he became involved the Cosa Nostra criminal organization. He was allegedly involved in labor-racketeering in the coal and garment industries, illegal gambling, loan-sharking and drug trafficking. In 1940, he become underboss to Joseph Barbera's Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family. Although the organization was small, it was influential due to its central location and its ties to the Bonanno and Buffalo crime families. Bufalino helped organize the Alpalachin mob meeting that took place in Alpalchin, New York on Nov 14, 1957. He took over the organization when Barbera died in 1959. In the 1960s, he was named among the top Mafia bosses by Joseph Valachi during his testimony to the U.S. Senate. It was rumored that Bufalino had contacts in the CIA and took part in the Cuban Project (Operation Mongoose) plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. In 1978, he was convicted of extortion and sentenced to four years. In the early 1980s, he was sentenced to 10 years for conspiring to kill the witness from his earlier conviction. He was released in 1989 after serving 7 1/2 years. While he was in prison his position in the Northeastern family was given to Bill D'Elia, but he continued to be a significant influence in the Cosa Nostra organization. Bufalino denied that he was a crime boss, and claimed he worked in the garment business in Pennsylvania and a Florida computer business. He died of natural causes at the age of 90.
Catherine Sciandra Bufalino
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