Cesare "The Tall Guy" Bonventre (January 1, 1951 - April 16, 1984) was a Sicilian mobster who was a bodyguard and drug trafficker for the New York Bonanno crime family.
Born in Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily, Bonventre was brought to the United States by mobster Carmine Galante. Bonventre soon was appointed underboss of the "Zips." He appeared to be of German-Dutch descent, and not to be of Sicilian or Italian descent. "Zips" was a derogatory term for the young Sicilian men brought to the U.S. by the five New York crime families to serve as soldiers and hitmen. Bonventre was a relative of Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Bonanno and many other important family members. Soon Galante was using Bonventre as his bodyguard. His mob monicker "The Tall Guy" was given to him for standing close to six feet tall and not the 1988 film by the same title
On July 12 1979, Galante was dropped off for lunch at an Italian restaurant in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. After a short while, Bonventre and another Sicilian bodyguard, Baldo Amato, joined Galante's party. Suddenly three men in ski masks appeared and opened fire on Galante and two other family members. Bonventre and Amato allegedly joined in the attack, then fled the scene after the three hitmen. Galante died on the scene. Bonventre was arrested by federal agents a week later, then released. It was later rumored that the Mafia Commission, which oversaw all the crime families, had sanctioned Galante's murder and arranged for Bonventre and Baldi to betray him. Philip Rastelli succeeded Galante as boss of the family and Joseph Massino became underboss (although some believed Massino was the real power in the family). After Galante's death, Bonventre joined the Brooklyn "crew" of caporegime Salvatore Catalano. Bonventre soon became involved in the importation and drug trafficking of heroin from Sicily into New York pizza parlors, known as the "Pizza Connection
The ascension of Rastelli as boss triggered a period of discontent and rivalry in the Bonanno family. As a result, Rastelli and Massino started purging their opponents in the family. In 1984, Massino decided that Bonventre represented a threat to the Bonanno leadership and should be eliminated. In April 1984, Bonanno mobsters Salvatore Vitale and Louis Attanasio picked up Bonventre one day to bring him to a meeting with Rastelli. As Vitale drove into a garage, Attanasio shot Bonventre twice in the head. Surprisingly, Bonventre still struggled, forcing the two hitmen to stop the car. Bonventre crawled out of the car onto the concrete before Attanasio finished him off with two more shots. Bonventre's body was hacked into two pieces and dumped into two 55-gallon glue drums in a Garfield, New Jersey warehouse. After the body was recovered, it took forensic technicians three months to
No arrests were ever made in the Bonventre murder. A government informant later claimed that one of the killers was mobster Cossimo Aiello. However, Aiello was never questioned as he turned up dead five weeks after the discovery of Bonventre's body.identify it. One month later, federal agents broke up the Pizza Connection with a series of arrests.