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Adrian Humphreys

author, journalist, underworld observer

The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto

EXCERPT: according to witness testimony:


"We were in the closet. We all had our weapons loaded. We sat there and waited for the doorbell to ring," said Salvatore Vitale, a slender New York mobster known as Good-Looking Sal. "We left the door open a smidge to look out."

The ringing of the bell at the private social club's entrance signaled the arrival of the first of the invited guests. Vito Rizzuto crouched low, peeking out from his vantage point. Through the swelling crowd and loud chatter from tough men all accustomed to having their say, Vito kept his eyes on one man, Gerlando Sciascia, a fellow Sicilian who was a long-time Rizzuto family friend.

Breathing deeply beneath his mask, Vito watched for the secret signal that would draw him from the closet, a signal that came when Sciascia slowly ran the fingers of his lean, right hand through the silver hair on the side of his head. That simple act of preening brought mayhem to the social club and radically changed the balance of power.

"Don't anybody move. This is a holdup," Vito said as he confronted the roomful of powerful mobsters, his words muffled by a woolen ski mask pulled down over his long, thin face. Despite those words, this was not about robbery. Nothing would be taken but three lives and the rights to an underworld throne.

The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto

By Lee Lamothe and Adrian Humphreys

(Wiley; August 2006; hardcover)

In their new book, The Sixth Family, authors Adrian Humphreys and Lee Lamothe chronicle a 40-year war by a Montreal family to become the world's wealthiest and most influential Mafia clan — a "perfect" Mafia that has now eclipsed the notorious Five Families of New York and the bloody clans of Sicily.

Already a national bestseller, this dramatic, major new work reveals the hidden history of Vito Rizzuto, the reputed head of "the Sixth Family," who is a wanted man in the United States (after three important gangland murders) and in Italy (after a $6-billion public works scandal).

In time for Vito Rizzuto's upcoming trial in Brooklyn in 2006, The Sixth Family draws on extensive research and international travel to trace the family's unrelenting rise from an agricultural village in the Mafia's stronghold in Western Sicily to the pinnacle of power across the United States and Canada, with financial holdings and operatives around the world — from China to Cuba, Saudi Arabia to England, Venezuela to Algeria.

It was May 5, 1981, when a daring bloodbath took place inside a Brooklyn social club. When the bullets finally stopped, three captains of the powerful New York-based Bonanno crime family lay dead. For 25 years, the details of the slaughter remained a closely-guarded secret. The killings resulted in an immediate power-shift within the New York underworld but this was only one act in a lengthy cross-border campaign of murder and treachery to secure the key transit points necessary to flood America with illicit drugs. The Brooklyn purge protected a hard-won, billion-dollar drug franchise. Now, mob turncoats have come forward, abandoning their oath of omertà , to point their finger at the man they say was the lead triggerman that night: Vito Rizzuto.

The Sixth Family is the chilling modern-day underworld saga of a criminal cult, deftly researched and compellingly told. It provides an unparalleled look inside the secretive and elusive underworld of murder, drugs and tangled webs of power.

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