Vito Genovese (Italian: ['vi?to d?eno've?se, -e?ze]; November 21, 1897 – February 14, 1969) was an Italian-American mobster who rose to power during Prohibition as an enforcer in the American Mafia.
A long-time associate and childhood friend of Charles Luciano, Genovese took part in the Castellammarese War and helped shape the rise of the Mafia and organized crime in the United States.
He would later lead Luciano's crime family, which was renamed the Genovese crime family by the authorities.
He was known as Boss of all Bosses from 1957 to 1959 when he ruled one of the wealthiest, most dangerous, and most powerful criminal organizations in the world and maintained power and influence over other crime families in America.
Along with childhood friend and former boss Luciano, he is deemed responsible for expanding the heroin trade to an international level.
For a brief period during World War II, he supported Benito Mussolini's regime in Italy for fear of being deported back to the United States to face murder charges.
Genovese served as mentor to Vincent "Chin" Gigante, the future boss of the Genovese crime family.While he helped usher in a new era in organized crime, his tenure as boss led to several incidents that were detrimental to the American Mafia's power.
He ordered several highly publicized murders and when he called a meeting with all the Mafia bosses in the country to consolidate his power, the meeting was raided by the police.
He also scared underling Joe Valachi into becoming the first member of the American Mafia to publicly acknowledge its existence and testify as a government witness.