The nation’s longest-serving mafia don, Carmine (Junior) Persico of New York’s Colombo crime family, died in prison this week at 85 years old. Persico led the Colombo mob for almost a half-century, taking the reins in the early 1970s and heading the family from behind bars since the mid-1980s. Following his incarceration, he was forced to fight a war to remain in power when his acting boss Vittorio (Little Vic) Orena turned against him and convinced a number of capos to join his palace coup. Orena was jailed in December 1992 and although the attack on the throne ultimately proved unsuccessful, the power play damaged the syndicate’s internal political dynamics for years to come after the bullets stopped flying.

Below is a breakdown of the gangland strife in the Colombo clan of the early 1990s.

The Colombo War Hit List (1991-1993):

November 24, 1991 – Colombo soldier Henry (Hank the Bank) Smurra is killed behind the wheel of his car parked in front of a Dunkin Donuts in Brooklyn. Smurra was a Persico loyalist and a week earlier had been part of a hit team that opened fire on Persico’s primary muscle on the streets, Greg (The Grim Reaper) Scarpa, his young granddaughter and his daughter in their Brooklyn neighborhood in broad daylight.

December 2, 1991 – Aging Genovese crime family lieutenant Gaetano (Tommy Scars) Amato is shot to death in an attack on Colombo associate Joey Tolino on a Brooklyn street corner. Tolino was an Orena loyalisr.

December 5, 1991 – Aging Colombo soldier Rosario (Black Sam) Nastasi is slain inside his Belvedere Social Club in Brooklyn while he was playing cards. Natasi was a Persico loyalist.

December 7, 1991 – Colombo crime family soldier Vincent (Vinnie Venus) Fusaro is murdered in front of his house in the Bath Beach section of Brooklyn, gunned down as he hung his Christmas lights. Fusaro was an Orena loyalist,

December 8, 1991 – Innocent bystander Matteo Speranza, a teenage immigrant from Sicily, is killed by accident at a bagel shop in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn during an attack on a Persico loyalist.

January 7, 1992 – Colombo crime family captain Nicholas (Nicky Black) Grancio is shotgunned to death behind the wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser SUV on a Brooklyn street corner. Grancio was a high-ranking Orena loyalist.

March 25, 1992 – Colombo crime family lieutenants Johnny Minerva & Mike Imbergamo are gunned down sitting in Minerva’s car outside the Broadway Diner in North Massapequa. Minerva and Imbergamo were Orena loyalists.

May 22, 1992 – Colombo crime family soldier Larry Lampisi is shot-gunned to death in his Brooklyn driveway. Lampisi was an Orena loyalist.

October 7, 1992 – Colombo crime family lieutenant Steven (Stevie Lightning) Mancusi is killed as he is getting into his car. Mancusi was a Persico loyalist.

October 20, 1993 – Colombo crime family capo Joey Scopo is executed in the front yard of his house in Queens, ending the war and keeping power with the Persico group. Scopo was a leader of the Orena faction and holding the fort down for the insurgence with Little Vic behind bars.

*Orena’s main muscle in the war was charismatic capo William (Wild Bill) Cutolo, who in the aftermath of the feud would eventually get promoted to underboss as a peace gesture, but slain in the spring of 1999 when Persico felt he was poised to launch another offensive.

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