Genovese, Vito

Document Type



Born in Risiglianio, near Naples, Italy, Vito Genovese (1897–1969) immigrated with his family to the United States as a young man and became one of the most powerful American organized crime figures of his era. He was a member the ambitious cohort of criminals born between 1892 and 1900 that historian Mark Haller identifies as ascending in power in the criminal underground during Prohibition, courtesy of their youth and determination. Within this group of predominantly Italian and Jewish immigrants and first-generation American slum-dwellers, Genovese assumed an influential position, though he was decidedly a rung below leaders like “Lucky” Luciano and Frank Costello. During Prohibition, Genovese proved a brutal and effective enforcer, and his star rose along with those of his peers. Following Luciano's 1931 rise to power, Genovese was, some observers believed, third in the underworld hierarchy, behind Luciano and Costello. Following Luciano's 1936 imprisonment on prostitution-related charges, Genovese expected to occupy a position of greater influence. However, Genovese faced indictment for a gangland murder the following year and fled the United States rather than stand trial.


Genovese; Vito; 1897-1969; History; Mafia; Organized crime; Prohibition; United States


American Studies | Criminal Law | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Social History | United States History


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Publisher Citation

Schwartz, D. (2012). Genovese, Vito. In Wilbur R. Miller (Ed.), The social history of crime and punishment in America: An encyclopedia. (pp. 689-690). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781452218427.n267

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