Produced in Italy on January 26, 1891, Frank “the Prime Minister” Costello began life a slum child, but grew up to direct the Luciano crime family, the strongest crime family in The Big Apple, after former mob leader Lucky Luciano went to prison in 1936. Costello retired as mob leader in 1957. The exact same year, he was imprisoned for contempt of a grand jury. Released from prison in 1961, he served as a Mafia elder statesman until his passing in 1973.
The so called “Prime Minister of the Underworld,” ill-famed gangster Frank Costello was born Francesco Castiglia on January 26, 1891, in Cosenza, Italy. When he was 4 years old, Costello moved with his parents, Calabrian immigrants, to Nyc. Costello considered the occupation a weight, for what he really craved in life—and would never get—was to escape the stigma of his criminal roots and be considered a good businessman.
Like so a lot of his New York cronies, Costello escaped the poverty of immigrant life by running alcohol. By the end of Prohibition, he invested in gaming businesses, bringing in millions from slot machines and casinos. By the 1940s, Costello had basically taken control of Nyc politics through his grasp on the Democratic Party at Tammany Hall. “I do not sell Bibles,” he acknowledged, but he resented press reports that described him as a crime czar.
Only when he reached the apex of his power, Costello’s lifelong wish of legitimizing himself in civilized society finished suddenly and disastrously. His court testimony would irrevocably taint Costello’s name, in addition to ruin his power base at Tammany Hall. Costello found himself pinced on one side by the authorities, which sent him to jail on charges of disrespect and tax evasion, as well as to another side by underworld competing Vito Genovese.
The exact same year, Costello was convicted of contempt of a grand jury. He’d serve many terms during the following several years. (Vito “Don Vito” Genovese, who’d ordered the hit on Costello, became the Luciano crime family’s new leader in 1957, and switched the family’s name to the Genovese crime family.) He served as a Mafia elder statesman until his departure, on February 18, 1973, in the age of 82, from a heart attack, in Nyc.