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joseph colombo

1923 – 1978

Colombo crime family, New York City.

Joseph Colombo inspired

the movie The Godfather.

Colombo was born in New York City, where his father was an early member of what was then the Profaci crime family. In 1961, the First Colombo War unfolded, instigated by the kidnapping of four high-ranking members in the Profaci family by Joe Gallo. Later that year, Gallo was imprisoned, and in 1962, family leader Joe Profaci died of cancer. In 1963, Bonanno crime family boss, Joseph Bonanno made plans with Joseph Magliocco to assassinate several rivals on The Commission. When Magliocco gave the contract to one of his top hit men, Colombo, he revealed the plot to its targets. The Commission spared Magliocco's life but forced him into retirement, while Bonanno fled to Canada. As a reward for turning on his boss, Colombo was awarded the Profaci family. His only prison term would come in 1966, when Colombo was sentenced to 30 days in prison for contempt of court by refusing to answer questions from a grand jury about his financial affairs. In 1970, Colombo created the Italian-American Civil Rights League. Later that year, the first Italian Unity Day rally was held in Columbus Circle to protest the federal persecution of all Italians everywhere. In 1971, Gallo was released from prison, and Colombo invited Gallo to a peace meeting with an offering of $1,000, to which Gallo refused, instigating the Second Colombo War. On June 28, 1971, Colombo was shot three times by Jerome A. Johnson, once in the head, at the second Italian Unity Day rally in Columbus Circle sponsored by the Italian-American Civil Rights League; Johnson was immediately killed by Colombo's bodyguards. Colombo was paralyzed from the shooting. On May 22, 1978, Colombo died of cardiac arrest.