* Related site, opens new tab/window.
Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno's quick rise within the Bonanno Crime Family divided the membership and set off a shooting war that the press dubbed the “Banana War.” The conflict reshaped the New York underworld and took down the last remaining boss of New York’s original five families. The Federal Bureau of Investigation had a front row seat to it all after they developed a secret source at the crime family's highest levels.
Declassified FBI documents show that more than ten Chicago Outfit members began to "talk" soon after Sam Giancana was deposed as boss and fled Chicago. The turnaround, up from virtually zero high-value informants in 1965, was due primarily to a more aggressive approach by law enforcement and the ongoing turmoil within the Outfit after a succession of bosses were quickly jailed.
According to Roemer, the three “best” Outfit informants were Richard Cain and two others who to this day are known only by their codenames, "Sporting Goods” and “Romano.” But who were "Sporting Goods" and "Romano"? A careful reading of Roemer’s books provides compelling clues. When combined with declassified FBI reports, the identities of these informants can finally be revealed.
As the FBI entered the fight against organized crime on a national level in the early 1960s, it benefited from considerable information supplied by confidential informants from within the Mafia families of northern California. The identities of the sources were kept secret, but declassified FBI documents from the period include enough clues to finally reveal them.