Season 1, Episode 6
The Mob at War
World War II begins, and the military asks Charles “Lucky” Luciano to secure the New York docks and aid the invasion of Sicily. After the war, the Navy pressures Thomas Dewey to free Luciano. Dewey agrees... deporting Luciano to Italy.
The Making of the Mob is currently not in-season.
After two years behind bars, Lucky Luciano’s appeal is rejected, forcing him to confront the reality that he may spend the rest of his life in jail. Meanwhile, acting boss Frank Costello focuses on keeping the family working together while Luciano is locked up, while Meyer Lansky looks to build a casino in Cuba and Bugsy Siegel goes Hollywood as he becomes involved with running the motion picture unions.
Having successfully locked up Luciano, Thomas Dewey begins looking to take down other Mafiosos. His next target: Murder Inc.’s Louis Lepke. Dewey is able to track down seven witnesses willing to testify against Lepke, but is stymied when the still-at-large Lepke is able to kill almost all of them.
Running out of options, the FBI contacts Frank Costello and asks him to reach out to Luciano on their behalf to request help with finding Lepke. Knowing that giving up Lepke will put the authorities in his debt and potentially help him get out of prison, Luciano agrees. In an attempt to help Lepke avoid the imminent death sentence hanging over his head, Luciano convinces Lepke to turn himself in to answer only to heroin charges.
Lepke reluctantly consents, and turns himself in to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. However, it’s a set-up: Lepke is immediately hit with both heroin and murder charges. On December 2, 1941, Lepke is found guilty of four counts of murder and sentenced to death. Luciano realizes he’ll need to do even more in order to earn his freedom. Five days later, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, and the United States is drawn into World War II.
In February 1942, the S.S. Normandie, a luxury liner-turned-troop transport, is sabotaged while moored at a New York City dock. Since the New York waterfront is substantially under the control of the Mafia, Luciano realizes he’s capable of helping secure New York’s harbor against future attacks, and he sends Meyer Lansky to meet with the U.S. Navy and offer help with the war effort. For the first time in history, the government partners with the Mafia, with mob enforcers helping increase security on the docks and providing intelligence to the Navy.
Still in hiding in Italy, Vito Genovese makes a deal with the enemy. In an agreement struck with Benito Mussolini himself, in exchange for a $250,000 donation to the Fascist party, Mussolini looks the other way as Genovese begins exporting heroin into the United States.
As the war rages on, Luciano provides additional help to the U.S. war effort, including assisting with mapping the coast of Sicily. In July of 1943, the Allied invasion of Sicily begins.
After the fall of Mussolini, Genovese switches his allegiance back to America and becomes a translator for the U.S. Army. However, true to form, he also finds a way to steal Army supplies and sell them on the black market. Genovese is eventually caught, and the military learns he is wanted for murder in the U.S. After seven years in hiding, Genovese is sent home to stand trial.
Back in the United States, the Luciano family sees Genovese’s return as a threat to the political goodwill they’ve built up during the war. In order to protect themselves, they manage to take out the one witness in Genovese’s murder trial, a man named Pete LaTempa, by having him poisoned in his jail cell.
As the war draws to an end, Luciano is hoping to cash in on his favors to the U.S. government, and he sends a letter pleading for parole to New York’s newly-elected Governor: Thomas Dewey. Dewey deliberates over the letter for months, but is pressured to free Luciano by the U.S. Navy. Finally, Dewey decides to release Luciano, but with one caveat: Luciano will be deported to Italy.
Before his deportation, most of Luciano’s original crew, including Bugsy Siegel, Frank Costello, and Meyer Lansky, gathers together for the first time in 10 years to say goodbye to their leader. Meanwhile, Vito Genovese is released from jail.