"When a man assumes leadership, he forfeits the right to mercy." - Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo
Gianfranco Costelli, born in 1888, was a man of honor in Sicily. In 1932, Costelli and most of his extended family immigrated to Chicago. The Costelli clan began extorting businesses across their own neighborhood and other neighborhoods in addition to hosting underground casinos across the city. In 1956, with the rise of Las Vegas as the prime gambling hotspot, Gianfranco decided he wanted in on the action. He sent his nephew Dominick Costelli and a small crew to Las Vegas with a large sum of money in an attempt to get in on the mafia’s action in Vegas. Costelli’s crew was able to buy into the operation of a high profile casino in 1957 after a lot of effort and persuasion, as well as 2.3 million dollars, but by the end of 1957 the gangsters controlling Vegas decided to expel the Costelli clan from Las Vegas. This was done with full knowledge that the small and decidedly powerless Costelli Family would not be able to retaliate.
Vincent Botini (left) and three undisclosed associates. Captured by an FBI surveillance team, 1983.
The Mafia in Las Vegas was correct that the Costelli Family would not retaliate, but instead, an outraged Gianfranco Costelli ordered Dominick and his crew to move further west and attempt to establish a new and better gambling hotspot. Gianfranco decided to establish his “Baby Vegas” in Los Santos, and in 1962, The Bighorn Casino and Resort opened its doors. As the overseer of The Bighorn Casino, Dominick became a sort of boss in San Andreas. Although he still kicked up to New York, he was allowed to establish a few street crews in the Los Santos area that engaged in extortion, murder for hire, loan sharking, and sale of goods on the black market.
Gianfranco Costelli died in 1979 in Chicago, leaving his underboss Vincent Botini in command of the Chicago branch of the family. Dominick Costelli controlled the San Andreas operation until 1985 when he died of a massive stroke. In recent years, Botini’s grandson Thomas controlled the Chicago operation and had placed Stogie in charge of the San Andreas operation, including The Bighorn, in 2008. To this day, The Costelli Crime Family continues to engage in illegal gambling operations, vehicle theft, and black market trading, including narcotics and firearms.
About a decade after Stogie had taken control of the San Andreas operation, he had piled up a large amount of debt with the Chicago branch, creating a minor tension between the two. In 2014, Arturo was found dead in his home with 8 gunshot wounds scattered throughout the upper-body and head area. It is assumed that his son has recently taken the reigns of operations and some theories within the family have surfaced that it was he who orchestrated the murder of his own father.
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CC BY Image courtesy of The Courtroom Sketches of Ida Libby Dengrove, University of Virginia Law Library