Has the Mafia Always Been at Odds with the Law?

During World War II, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence apparently made Mafia boss Salvatore C. Luciano an offer he couldn’t refuse. The war was in full swing, and the Allies were planning the invasion of Sicily in 1943. Luciano, known as "Lucky" Luciano and considered the father of organized crime in the United States, was persuaded to help provide intelligence and assistance, including the recruitment of Sicilian associates who could produce detailed maps and photos of the Sicilian coastline. In return, Luciano -- who was serving 30 to 50 years in prison -- was transferred to a facility much closer to New York City.

Support for the Allied war effort:

  • In the summer of 1945, Luciano petitioned the state of New York for clemency, citing his assistance. At first, the U.S. Navy wouldn’t confirm that he’d helped the war effort, but eventually the truth was revealed.
  • In 1946, on the recommendation of the state parole board, N.Y. Governor Thomas Dewey commuted the sentence, and Luciano was deported back home to Italy.
  • Mob boss Vito Genovese offered his services as an interpreter and an adviser to U.S. forces in Naples. In addition, Luciano associate Albert Anastasia allegedly guaranteed that there would be no dockworker strikes throughout the war.
More Info: Time Magazine

Discussion Comments


Dear wiseGEEK, Try reading Lucky Luciano's autobiography. He boosts that the "Fix was in" for a quid pro quo: Luciano gives politicians a large amount of dirty money to corrupt politicians in exchange for lighter sentences... period. Luciano stated that he didn't actually know anybody in positions of power in WWII Italy, or anybody else in Italy for that matter. He didn't help win the war because there was no way he was able to do it, by his own admission. The reason why the insiders didn't want this to go public are obvious in this light. wiseGEEK's post regarding Lucky Luciano is idiotic. My advice in this case is to "wise-up".

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