A two-part look at the rise and fall of a father-and-son Mafia team
by Carl Russo
GASPARE PULIZZI WAS DIGGING at a plate of tortellini with sea bass when a car pulled up to his house. Inside the vehicle were two men, one freshly killed, and Pulizzi was told he’d been assigned to bury him by the bosses responsible for the murder: Salvatore Lo Piccolo and his son Sandro.
The dead man was racketeer Giovanni Bonanno, the son of tough Palermo gangster Armando Bonanno, who had disappeared when Giovanni was still a teen. Now it was Giovanni's turn to vanish, into the soil of a makeshift Mafia graveyard by the freeway a few miles west of Palermo. Pulizzi, following orders, stepped into the car.
Giovanni Bonanno had been in desperate straits during Christmas of 2005. Fallen into debt and out of favor with the Lo Piccolos and fellow bosses of the Madonia family, the 36-year-old extortioner’s regular shakedowns of shopkeepers were now met with, “We already paid somebody else.” Bonanno was not only unable to meet his obligation to support the families of imprisoned mafiosi, he was also suspected of embezzling mob funds. Just as serious, he stood accused of calling Salvino Madonia’s son the fruit of an affair carried on behind the boss’s back.