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The Mafia Commission Trial, 1985

Agenda: United States v. Anthony Salerno, et al

The 1980s unfolded as an indelible chapter in the future of New York City, the age of the Mafia Commissions Trials. The world held its collective breath as these Trials commenced,  aiming to dissect the intricate web of corruption, power and resilience that is characteristic of the New York Mafia.

The Mafia held a firm, notorious grip on the criminal underworld in the 1980s. This period of unprecedented wealth saw the Mafia using coldblooded violence to exert its influence over various illicit activities in the city, including gambling, extortion, and labour racketeering.

The roots of organized crime in New York City trace back to the early 20th century when Italian-American criminal groups began forming alliances and establishing their presence in the underworld. By the mid-20th century, the Mafia had transformed into an established, powerful force in the city; a hierarchical system with five dominant families controlling specific territories and criminal enterprises in the city. It operated with a level of discipline and structure that allowed it to thrive for decades. Each area-specific family resolved disputes through a system of mediation known as the ‘Mafia Commission’, which aimed to maintain order and enforce discipline within the Mafia.

By 1980, the Mafia had accumulated vast amounts of wealth and power. They controlled substantial amounts of the illegal gambling market, major construction industries and drug trade, amongst many other criminal fields. This wealth, coupled with their ability to intimidate, ensured their continued monopoly over the world’s fastest developing city.

Most would wonder how this criminal organization could avoid the immense authority of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) for so long. A combination of factors facilitated this: a strict code of silence, corruption within law enforcement and the Mafia’s astute understanding of surveillance techniques.

However, 1985 marked a volta for the Mafia Commission. Through forensic expertise, technological development, increase in public awareness and especially, the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act, the FBI was able to successfully target and prosecute key members of the Mafia.

This committee’s focus will be the landmark Mafia Commission Trials in 1985 with a freeze date of July 1st, 1985, under the agenda, ‘United States vs Anthony Salerno et al’.

The trial’s defendants included the heads of the Five Families of the New York Mafia: the Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Colombo, and Bonanno families. These heads were charged with numerous charges relating to their management of organised crime operations in the city. A few examples include racketeering, conspiracy, gambling, loan-sharking, murder and extortion.

And so, the stage is set, a gripping conflict between the forces of law and order and the masters of deception and violence. The Mafia Commission Trials will leave a lasting mark on the annals of crime history. Lives will be forever altered, alliances shattered, and dark truths unearthed by this historic event in the pursuit of justice.

Letter from the Director

Dear Delegates,

It is my privilege to welcome you to The Mafia Commission Trial, 1985, at the Cathedral Model United Nations 2023. This committee is a specialised court that will indubitably prove to be one of the most challenging and unique ones of the conference. My name is Shikhar Sehgal, and I, as well as my remarkable Executive Board, strive to give you three days of exceptional debate and an unparalleled experience.

Entrenched within the historical archives of organized crime lies the inception of the infamous Mafia Commission, an indomitable testament to the veiled authority wielded by New York’s criminal underworld. Coalescing in 1931, this alliance of Sicilian families cast a long-lasting shadow over society – one that entangled numerous lives, property, and members of the higher bureaucracy in their schemes.

Yet, contrary to any assumption that the Mafia Commission only committed wrongs, the Commission, through its intricate networks, exerted influence over certain spheres of society, including labour unions and construction industries; they were involved in securing work opportunities for commoners, particularly those who had limited access to conventional employment.

However, through all the lies and deception, a gust of justice began to stir through the halls of power. The commencement of the Mafia Commission Trial marked a pivotal moment in the annals of justice; it marked the day when the secrecy surrounding the clandestine dealings of organized crime began being slowly dissected. This is the juncture at which your involvement is paramount.

As a member of the Commission, the prosecution, or the jury, you will be surfeited with tasks ranging from proving your innocence, proving someone else’s guilt, or deciding the future of an innocent or guilty man to forming unions, accepting bribes and forming illicit pacts, or even committing murders and extortions.

I would advise all of you to find a balance between negotiation and forceful actions, aggression and passivity, war and peace. In such a committee, with a frenetic pace of activity and an abundance of tasks handed to you at all moments, it is best to arrive composed with a robust strategy for the committee.

Before I conclude, a little bit about myself – I am a Year 12 student of the IBDP at The Cathedral and John Connon School. My academic interests lie mainly in Mathematics, Physics, and Finance. Additionally, I’ve been a violist and swimmer for over a decade. I’d love to chat about the Millennium Problems, Poker Theory, Fluid Dynamics, clean energy, the Miami Heat, Novak Djokovic, Drake, Marvin Gaye, Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra, or Martin Scorsese at any point.

CMUN 2023 will be my fifth CMUN and my second as a member of the executive board. Moreover, it will be my final conference – drawing a close to my journey of 12 MUNs. MUN has been a significant journey in my life and has left me with skills no other activity ever could. Whether this is your first conference or even your last as a delegate, I have faith in the fact that all of you will triumph in this committee and learn something new – whether for MUNning or for life.

“The fox is smart enough to recognize traps, and the lion is strong enough to scare away the wolves. Be like a lion and a fox, and no one will ever beat you.” - Carlo Gambino.

Until August,

Shikhar Sehgal,
The Mafia Commission Trial, 1985.

Shikhar Sehgal MCT.jpg

Shikhar Sehgal


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