Articles/Biographies/Criminals/Napolitano, Dominick "Sonny Black"

Dominick Napolitano aka Sonny Black was born in New York City in 1930.

After a short stint as a solo criminal, Napolitano was recruited by the Bonanno crime family, headed by Carmine Galante. Over the years, he established himself as a leader in the family, reaching the rank of capo. As such, he had a crew of men underneath him that made money by doing odd crimes such as theft, hits, and bribery. They conducted their business out of Napolitano's New York social club.

Napolitano was good friends with a man named Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero, who was also a member of Napolitano's crew. When an undercover FBI agent named Joe Pistone became close friends with Lefty under the assumed name Donnie Brasco, Napolitano accepted Pistone into his crew. Napolitano had no idea that Pistone was an FBI agent and conducted many crimes with him.

After Galante died in the 1970s, the Bonanno family was taken over by Phillip Rastelli. Several high-ranking capos did not approve of Rastelli being the leader and attempted to overthrow him, but Napolitano, as a loyal supporter of Rastelli, helped to kill the dissenting capos. One of the dissenting capos was Alfonse Indelicato aka Sonny Red. Napolitano scheduled a meeting with Sonny Red and his crew in an old house, then ambushed them with guns. Their bodies were hacked up and never found, but with Sonny Red out of the way, Napolitano was free to take more power in the family.

At the suggestion of Pistone, Napolitano decided to expand operations into Florida. The primary purpose of the move was to establish trust between Pistone and Napolitano, therefore it was arranged by the FBI. The FBI set up an undercover agent with a restaurant to pose as Pistone's friend. Napolitano bought the restaurant and even put caged lions in the place to attract customers.

To help make sure their operations weren't considered a threat by the local mafia, Napolitano set up a meeting on a yacht with the local crime boss. The party appeared to cement their move to Florida, but ultimately failed after police busted up the restaurant and arrested the crew.

In spite of the incident, Napolitano's trust for Pistone grew and he brought him closer into the mafia. He ended up recommending that he be "made" in the Bonanno family and Pistone felt himself losing touch with his FBI roots. The FBI finally intervened after Napolitano asked Pistone to murder an informant and visited Napolitano's social club to tell him that Pistone was an undercover agent.

The revelation spread through the family and Napolitano was sentenced to death by the family for allowing the breach of security. Napolitano refused to become a witness for the FBI and accepted his looming fate. On August 17, 1981, he went to a meeting arranged by Ron Filocomo, a fellow member of the family. At the meeting, he was ambushed by the two men and shot to death.

His body was found a year later on August 12, 1982 on the corner of South Avenue and Bridge Street, Staten Island. His hands had been cut off and his face was badly decomposed, but the FBI was able to verify his identity using his dental records.

A film was later made about the relationship between Napolitano and Pistone, 1997's "Donnie Brasco". In the film, Napolitano was portrayed by Michael Madsden.