BOSS—”Capo di Tutti Capi” The head of the family, usually reigning as a dictator, sometimes called the don or “godfather”. The Boss receives a cut of every operation taken on by every member of his family. Depending on the Family, the Boss may be chosen by a vote from the Caporegimes of the family. In the event of a tie, the Underboss must vote. In the past, all the members of a Family voted on the Boss, but by the late 1950s, any gathering such as that attracted too much attention.
UNDERBOSS—”Capo di Capi Re” The Underboss, usually appointed by the Boss, is the second in command of the family. The Underboss is in charge of all of the Capos, who are controlled by the Boss. The Underboss is usually first in line to become Acting Boss if the Boss is imprisoned or dies.
CONSIGLIERE—The Consigliere is an advisor to the family and sometimes seen as the Boss’s “right hand man”. They are often low profile gangsters that can be trusted. They are used as a mediator of disputes or representatives or aides in meetings with other Families. They often keep the Family looking as legitimate as possible, and are, themselves, legitimate apart from some minor gambling or loan sharking. Often Consiglieres are lawyers or stock brokers, are trusted and have a close friendship or relationship with the Boss. They usually do not have crews of their own, but still wield great power in the Family. They are also often the liaison between the Don and important ‘bought’ figures, such as politicians or Judges.
CAPOREGIME (or Capo)—A Capo (sometimes called a Captain) is in charge of a crew. There are usually four to six crews in each family, possibly even seven to nine crews, each one consisting of up to ten Soldiers. Capos run their own small family, but must follow the limitations and guidelines created by the Boss, as well as pay him his cut of their profits. Capos are nominated by the Underboss, but typically chosen by the Boss himself.
SOLDIER—Soldiers are members of the family, and can only be of Italian background. Soldiers start as Associates that have proven themselves. When the books are open, meaning that there is an open spot in the family, a Capo (or several Capos) may recommend an up-and-coming Associate to be a new member. In the case that there is only one slot and multiple recommendations, the Boss will decide. The new member usually becomes part of the Capo’s crew that recommended him. Some soldiers work by themselves, earning money for the Family alone though most are part of crews. Sometimes a soldier will be called a button man, because, in theory, when a capo presses a button, someone dies. They are also called made men, who have made their bones, by committing a murder in front of Mafia witnesses or committed a murder by orders from a high member of the Family. This ensures the soldier’s reliability: he will never testify against a man who could testify against him. Being made is the beginning but not the end of a Mafia career. (The definitions of made man and making one’s bones are inferred: Most books on the Mafia—fiction or nonfiction—assume these terms but never define them.)