Stories about criminals need heroes and villains too. In The Sopranos, New York’s Lupertazzi Crime Family serves as the rival faction to New Jersey’s DiMeo Crime Family headed by Tony. Though it’s a fictional family, the Lupertazzi faction is said to have been formed when real-life mobster Lucky Luciano rewarded Giovanni Lupertazzi with his own large crew.
Over the course of the series, 10 members of the Lupertazzi family are involved in the proceedings. Chief among them is Phil Leotardo who wages war against Tony in the final season. While everyone in the family can be classified as “badass,” smart is an adjective that fits only a few of the New York mobsters.
Faustino “Doc” Santoro
Doc’s reign as the don of the Lupertazzi Crime Family ends before he can even collect his first set of weekly payments from his Capos. Soon after assuming power, he wears the bloodthirsty dictator mask. He quickly made the decision to kill Gerry Torciano, who happens to be both Silvio and Phil’s friend.
This action sees him get the Paul Castellano treatment by getting shot on the street. The don’s quick rise and fall and fall is largely due to his inability to exercise prudence. Whacking a man who has powerful friends in both the New York and New Jersey mob is not the best way for a boss to start his reign.
When he is not killing, Phil spends his time reminding everyone that he served 20 years in prison without snitching. As tough as Phil is, he can barely stop to think before acting. He keeps provoking Tony despite the New Jersey’s dons numerous attempts to create peace between them. Sanctioning hits on Tony’s brother-in-law and nicest mobster of all time Bobby Baccala, as well as Silvio Dante, proves to be his biggest mistake.
Phil’s all muscle and no brains policy causes his own crew to turn against him in the series finale. The remaining members of his crew approve a planned execution by Tony. Consequently, Phil gets the goriest death scene in the series. Even as he is lying on the concrete, it’s hard to sympathize with the man since he had dozens of chances to sign a peace treaty but chose to remain a bully.
Rusty is one of the conspirators in the murder of Joe Peeps, a death that ends up causing a major war. He betters his previous actions and embraces insubordination by refusing to take orders from acting boss Phil Leotardo.
Not a firm decision-maker, Rusty turns down the chance to be boss of the Lupertazzi Crime Family only to regret it. His stubbornness and failure to bow down to authority earn him enemies in both Phil and Johnny Sack. Afraid that Millo might organize a coup against him, Sack has him killed.
There are two sides to Angelo, one wise and one not-so-wise. The former Consigliere wears his thinking cap after Carmine Lupertazzi’s death when he backs the idea of power-sharing between him, Little Carmine, and Johnny Sack. Though never achieved, this action could have stopped the infighting in the family.
Angelo shows his reckless side too when he recruits his old prison friend who also happens to be Tony Soprano’s cousin, Tony Blundetto, to whack Phil’s street soldier Joseph “Joey Peeps” Peparelli. The effect? Phil and Billy to revenge-kill Angelo. A war also brews between the DiMeo and Lupertazzi families since Blundetto kills Billy as retaliation.
Johnny “Sack” Sacrimoni
Sack is the most likable among the entire New York crew. It helps that he is one of Tony’s closest friends. Sadly, his life is a tragic one. He gets arrested and while in prison, he succumbs to cancer.
As decent as Sack is, he exercises poor judgment on a few occasions. He lies to DiMeo Capo Paulie that Carmine Lupertazzi likes him only for Paulie to find out that Carmine doesn’t know him. This results in friction between him and Paulie, who had previously held him in high regard. Sack’s lack of awareness is seen when he fails to spot FBI agents coming to arrest him. Tony, who is with him at the time of arrest, runs for his life and throws an illegal gun that would have him in jail too.
Like Johnny Sack, Gerry is on good terms with most members of the rival DiMeo Crime Family. The fact that he is Phil’s protégé doesn’t prevent him from warming up to Tony and Silvio.
When Gerry roughs up Tony’s associate, the loan shark Hesh Rabkin, he is decent enough to apologize. He even pays for Hesh’s hospital bills. Gerry’s ability to charm everyone makes him a well-liked figure even on his home turf. He is suggested as a candidate for boss only for Faustino “Doc” Santoro to sanction a hit on him.
Carmine Lupertazzi’s son enjoys wallowing in luxury rather than dipping his fingers too much in the underworld. When the struggle for power within the family escalates, Little Carmine is quick to pull his hat out of the ring. By doing this, he makes himself less of a threat and no one comes after him.
Little Carmine’s maturity is also evident from how he frequently acts as a mediator between the Lupertazzi Crime Family and the DiMeo Crime Family. He gets Tony to sit with Phil on a couple of occasions, something the two would have never done on their own. Though his efforts don’t prevent violence, they delay them for a while.
Being an FBI informant is the deadliest sin in the Cosa Nostra. While some snitches get stitches, others get riches. Credit can be given to Jimmy for being an informant for 23 years without being detected. In Season 5’s finale, it’s revealed that Johnny Sack’s Consigliere has been feeding information to the feds since 1981.
Jimmy’s intel enables the FBI to arrest and charge Johnny Sack with a number of crimes. He refrains from giving up any information on Tony’s DiMeo Crime Family, a smart move that prevents two separate families from going after him. He eventually goes into the witness protection program in a secret suburb, never to be heard from again.
A lot of respect is given to a man who manages to live long enough to die of natural causes in the violent world of the mob. Carmine gets crowned as the boss of his family in 1957 and avoids being arrested or killed during his reign. His trick is maintaining a low profile at all times. Unlike other mobsters, he doesn’t frequent prime whacking zones such as nightclubs and restaurants.
There’s further proof of his intellect after his death when Bobby credits him with inventing a popular type of match-fixing known as “Point Shaving.” This involves players being instructed to deliberately refrain from scoring points/goals.
Butch “The Little Guy” DeConcini
Phil Leotardo’s right-hand man proves to be a lot smarter than him. Unlike Phil, Butch is willing to talk things out. He attends Little Carmine’s conveniently labeled “meeting of minds” to find a truce between New York and New Jersey when Tony blows up Phil’s Sheepshead Bay wire room as a response to Phil killing his high-earning Capo, Vito.
Though Butch is confrontational with Tony on a number of occasions, he still knows when it’s the right time to reason with the man. When Phil’s reckless actions threaten the future of the Lupertazzi Crime Family, Butch secretly meets with Tony and gives him content to hunt and whack Phil. This brings an end to the war between the two families.