Christopher was also named by Tony as his successor, but that was compromised when Christopher was found out to have a serious heroin addiction and was sent to rehab. More complications occurred in the organization when Vito Spataforethe top earning captain of the Aprile crew and cousin-in-law to Phil Leotardo, fled New Jersey after his homosexuality was revealed.
Phil suffered a massive coronary soon afterwards and FBI Agent Harris informed Tony that someone on his crew could be in danger.
Tony considered the request, but ultimately decided that Vito needed to be taken out in order to placate Phil Leotardo, who was incensed about Vito's lifestyle. Junior Soprano was spared when he was indicted by the federal government along with underboss Joey Sasso and capo Larry Boy Bareseand because Tony wished to keep him as the lightning rod that took the hits for the Family.
Tony retaliates by nearly beating him to death. Tony conducted the execution of Millio with caution, bringing in two men from Naples to carry out the hit on Rusty and his soldier, Eddie Pietro. Inthe RICO trial against Junior Soprano ended in a hung jury, but the government moved to schedule a re-trial, meaning Junior had to stay under house arrest.
Ralph also owned a racehorse named Pie-O-My that died due to a stable fire. Junior Soprano was arrested and questioned about the shooting, which he insisted must have been a self-inflicted gunshot by Tony, whom he labeled as a "depression case". However, when Fat Dom went to Satriale's on a delivery stop and made jokes about Vito's death and implied Carlo was a homosexual, Silvio and Carlo killed the New York soldier.
Tony, realizing that Phil was sending the message that New York can do whatever they want, decided to hurt Phil financially as payback for Vito. Butch was particularly vocal in his desire to kill Tony, but Phil had more sense than that, and decided against it.
He blamed the disappearance of Ralph on the New York family, particularly Johnny Sack, who had a problem with Ralph due to a joke that was made about his wife, Ginny. One problem in his family was solved when Feech La Manna was sent back to prison after stolen flat-screen televisions were found in his garage by a probation officer called on the orders of Tony Soprano. However, Tony continued to punish Junior through business arrangements.
Richie became a threat to Tony's power, crippling associate Beansie Gaeta and disobeying Tony repeatedly when it came to selling cocaine on garbage routes. Silvio is rushed to a hospital where he is left in a coma. Richie also came to Junior about overthrowing Tony, but Junior decided that he would be better off with his nephew.
The Soprano Family began patrolling the area's gas stations looking for Phil. Tony refused at first, but had a change of heart after talking to Johnny Sack at his daughter's wedding. At the same time, Phil had a war-room discussion where he arranged for New Jersey to be wiped out.
During this meeting the New York Family agreed that Phil Leotardo's decision to go to war with North Jersey was a bad one; and had gone too far with killing Bobby and that they would back off. Silvio responds by betraying Burt Gervasi, and strangles him to death in his home with a garotte.
Periods of Unrest Edit In the meantime, the Soprano Family continued to stay in a period of transition, with Richie Aprileolder brother of Jackie Aprile, taking over the previously defunct due to the death of Jackie Sr. Junior's enforcer, Mikey Palmicekilled Brendan, and Russian associates performed a mock execution on Christopher under Junior's orders.
It was also during this period that the working relationship between the Lupertazzi Crime Family and the Sopranos reached a rocky point inwhen the two families joined together to control the Esplanade construction site in Newark, New Jersey. Junior's increasingly diminished capacity led him to shoot Tony in the abdomen, mistakenly thinking that Tony was former already deceased nemesis "Little Pussy" Malanga.
Dominic DiMeo is believed to have been the first Official Boss.
Tony's response to Vito's murder was to blow up a wire room held by Phil in Sheepshead Bay — Benny Fazio was on the scene for the explosion. Tony also demanded that they give him a location on Phil to pay back for killing Bobby. Tony then took over virtually all of Junior's business and became the Boss of the now renamed Soprano Crime Family. Convinced that Ralph killed the horse in order to pay for his disabled son's medical bills, Tony attacked and killed Ralph.
Due to his diminished position in the family because of the house arrest, longtime Junior Soprano loyalist Robert "Bobby Bacala" Baccalieri was named Deputy Capo of the Junior Soprano crew. Caught by the police, Tony B. Christopher, already a young made man, was named acting Capo of the Gualtieri crew when Paulie Walnuts was jailed on a gun charge which was later dropped.
Tony and some soldiers head to a safe house to hide, as the search for Phil continued, and Tony attempts to sleep while holding the AR rifle in his arms, which Bobby gave to him on his 47th birthday, surrounded by bodyguards. Vito Spatafore was named captain of the Aprile crew in Faced with threats of war and torture from Johnny Sack and Phil Leotardo plus unease in his own family, Tony Soprano was left with no choice but to kill Tony B.
Soprano knew what had to be done, and arranged for Phil Leotardo to be executed. During his disagreement with Phil about an asbestos removal project, Tony reminds him of their discussion in the hospital but Phil snubs him. Both Johnny Sack and boss Carmine Lupertazzi blamed one another for the conflict, and reached out to Tony to whack the other as a means of ending the conflict.