Salvatore "Sal" Tessio (1890-1955) is a fictional character in Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather and the film based on it. In the film, Tessio was portrayed by Abe Vigoda, and as a younger man in the sequel by John Aprea.


Tessio began with his friends Peter Clemenza and Vito Corleone as low-level hoodlums in New York City's Little Italy. As Corleone rose to prominence in the Mafia underworld, Tessio and Clemenza rose with him, each eventually settling into the caporegime roles. Tessio owned the Embassy Club in Brooklyn and made it his base of operations. From there, he managed his Mafia soldiers and was very well-connected throughout the borough. Most federal investigators considered Tessio the smarter and savvier of the two capos.


His regime included soldiers Nick Geraci, Momo Barone, Eddie Paradise, and Tommy Neri. Although Tessio was initially the more trusted of the two capos during the war with the Five Families, and was issued the task of assassinating Bruno Tattaglia, he in turn never completely trusted Vito's son Michael, and so began plotting against him after Michael took over the family following his father's death. Ultimately, Tessio arranged for Michael's assassination at a peace summit set up by his enemies. However, Michael had anticipated the plot by way of a warning from his father, who intimated that the person who approached him about the peace summit would be the family traitor. As a result, Michael had Tessio killed instead. Before his execution, Tessio asked Tom Hagen to tell Michael that his betrayal was not motivated by any personal animosity but simply business. Tessio was executed with a gunshot at point blank range by enforcer Nick Geraci in the book The Godfather Returns. His former soldier Nick Geraci replaced him.
 

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