Bill Bonanno, mob chieftain, dies

Jan. 3, 2008 at 2:12 PM

TUCSON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno, son of the boss of the Bonanno crime family and a possible model for Michael Corleone in "The Godfather," has died in Arizona. He was 75.

Anthony Tarantola, a nephew, said that Bonanno suffered a fatal heart attack New Year's Day after being stricken with what may have been food poisoning the previous evening, The Tucson Citizen reported.

Bonanno spent his later years involved in books, movies and television shows about the Mafia. He even formed an odd-couple partnership with Joe Pistone, the FBI agent who had infiltrated the Bonanno family as Donnie Brasco, and the two men co-authored a novel.

Bonanno's father, Joseph Bonanno, who headed the crime family, also spent his later years in Arizona, where he died at 97 in 2002. While the son did not attain his father's position in the mob world, he spent more time in prison.

Bonanno appeared to be proud of his family history.

"Anybody who takes the past 70 years in the history of this country and doesn't take into account the story of this small group of men from a small Mediterranean country is telling a false history,'' he told the Citizen in 1999. "We're not ashamed of who we are.''

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