Real Life Sopranos
Uncle Junior Soprano
When Nicky Scarfo, Jr. moved to New Jersey for protection, the Philadelphia familys top man in North Jersey was Joey Sodano, who along with several others became responsible for Scarfo Jr.s safety. Ironically Sodano was not a big fan of Scarfos father and had by this time reduced his $4,000 monthly tribute to Little Nicky to $1,200. Sodano didnt do it out of arrogance, and he wasnt trying to usurp the bosss position. Just the opposite. He was a mob traditionalist who didnt approve of the way things had deteriorated under Scarfo Sr.s leadership, and this was his comment on the poor state of affairs within the family.
Like Uncle Junior, Joey Sodano tried to keep an even keel within a turbulent crime family, and just as Junior looks back longingly to the good old days, Sodano longed for the consistency of Angelo Brunos leadership. Of course, of all the crews in the Bruno-Scarfo family, the North Jersey branch had always been fraught with troubles. The Jersey crew was simply too far from Philly to be managed effectively and too close to New York to avoid temptations.
The plot against Angelo Bruno had been hatched in Newark by the then-capo of the North Jersey faction, Anthony Tony Bananas Caponigro. The reasons for the Gentle Dons execution were the usual ones. From Caponigros point of view, old man Bruno was getting in the way of new businessspecifically drug business. Caponigro and others within the family saw large profits slipping away from them because of the ban on narcotics sales. Finally, he decided hed had enough. Spearheading the conspiracy, Caponigro assembled a group of supporters within the Philadelphia family. Like John Gotti after him, Caponigro planned to kill the boss and take the throne for himself, but before he made his move, he asked for approval from the Commission. He was eventually assured by a capo from New Yorks Genovese family that the commission had approved the Bruno murder. The hit was carried out efficiently; the single shotgun blast killed Bruno instantly. But with that blast, Caponigro sealed his fate.
The commission had never actually approved the hit. The supposed sanction was a double-cross from mobsters in the Genovese family who wanted to settle an old score with Caponigro over who controlled gambling operations in Hudson County, New Jersey. Less than a month after Brunos murder, Caponigros body was found in the trunk of a car in the South Bronx. Caponigros naked body was a bloody, bruised mess; hed been beaten severely, stabbed, and shot. Twenty dollar bills had been stuffed into his mouth and anus, the Mafias symbolic comment on the greed that had brought on Caponigros demise.
Preserving the old traditions isnt easy, even in a tradition-bound organization like the Mafia. Joey Sodano tried to do what he thought was right, but ultimately it cost him his life. Uncle Junior may have his problems with wiseguys who dont value tradition the way he does, but at least hes still breathing.