What It's Like Growing up in a Mafia family
What It’s Like Growing up in a Mafia family

What It’s Like Growing up in a Mafia family

Larry Holzwarth - October 15, 2021

What It’s Like Growing up in a Mafia family
Aftere taking over the Profaci crime family, Joe Colombo made its name his own. Wikimedia

20. Joseph Colombo followed his father into the Profaci crime family

At the end of the 20th century, the Five Families dominated organized crime in New York. One of them, the Colombo family, descended from the Profaci crime family, originally a bootlegging and racketeering group founded in the 1920s. Anthony Colombo was an enforcer in the Profaci crime family in the 1920s and 1930s. His son, Joseph, was born in 1923 and spent most of his childhood in Brooklyn. In 1938, Anthony Colombo was murdered along with a mistress, his body found strangled in a car. Joseph attended high school in Brooklyn, dropped out to enlist in the Coast Guard, and received a medical discharge in 1945. He then worked in various jobs, including a ten-year stint as a longshoreman on the docks of New York. Eventually, he joined the Profaci family, encouraged by friends of his late father as well as relatives.

He rose through the criminal ranks quickly. During the early 1960s, Colombo learned of plans for the Profaci family to murder several high-ranking Mafiosi, including the heads of the Lucchese and Gambino families. Colombo maneuvered around the plans deftly, exposing them to the Commission and as a result was rewarded by being made the new head of the Profaci family, Joseph Profaci having died a year earlier. Having learned the business originally at his father’s knee, Joe Colombo became the head of one of the mob’s most notorious families at the age of just 41. Paralyzed after a shooting in 1971, he died in Newburgh, New York, in 1978 after years of being comatose. His business fell to his son, Anthony, and the third generation of Colombo’s. The latter worked to polish his and his father’s images as Italian-American community leaders, rather than participants in organized crime.

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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