Messina, Gaspare (1879-1957)

Born Salemi, Sicily, Aug. 7, 1879.
Died June 15, 1957.

Messina
Gaspare Messina was one of just two men known to have served as temporary boss of bosses of the American Mafia. He is also distinguished among Mafia leaders by his lack of arrests and apparent competence as a legitimate businessman.

Messina was born August 7, 1879, to Salvatore and Gasparina Clemente Messina in the inland western Sicilian town of Salemi, province of Trapani. He moved to the United States when he was twenty-six, shortly after his marriage to Francesca Riggio, twenty-five. The couple sailed from Palermo on Nov. 10, 1905, aboard the S.S. Citta di Napoli and arrived in New York City on Nov. 25. They went to meet Messina's cousin, Francesco Accardi, at 715 Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn.

The Messinas settled in Brooklyn for a time, where Gaspare ran a bakery. They resided at 143 Throop Street, near Flushing Avenue, with two of Francesca's siblings at the time of the 1910 U.S. Census. They remained in the borough through the births of two sons, Salvatore Joseph on Jan. 1, 1911, and Luciano on Jan. 31, 1913. In 1915, the family relocated to Boston. Son Vito Anthony was born in that city on April 27, 1915. Daughter Gasparina Francesca was born there about two years later, on May 4, 1917. The family home was located at 330 North Street, in an Italian immigrant community close to the North End Boston wharves. Almost immediately upon his arrival, Messina was recognized as an underworld authority in his new city, suggesting he was backed by important people.

Mafioso Nick Gentile noted in his memoirs that reigning boss of bosses Salvatore D'Aquila inserted loyal men into Mafia organizations around the country as spies. It is possible that Messina's move to Boston was initiated by D'Aquila. Law enforcement learned by 1919 that Messina was regarded as "rappresentante" of the Boston Mafia. The term "rappresentante" has become synonymous with "boss," but it may have held a different meaning at the time. The Italian word translates to "representative," which does not suggest "boss." The position may have been related to regional and national councils of Mafiosi, as discussed by Gentile. If so, we are left to wonder whether Messina was a representative from the Boston area to a greater council or a representative from a council seeking to impose order on the Boston-area underworld.

Messina initially ran a bakery business across the street from his Boston home. With the arrival of the Prohibition Era, he launched a wholesale grocery at the North End's 28 1/2 Prince Street, across from the massive St. Leonard's Roman Catholic Church. His partners in that business were Paolo Pagnotta and Frank Cucchiara.

Pagnotta quickly disappeared from the partnership following an unfortunate arrest-related appearance in the local newspapers. On Feb. 17, 1925, Boston Police investigated a report of a gunshot-damaged automobile at the Court Garage on Arlington Street. Two officers waited at the garage for the vehicle owner to show up. After a short time, they encountered and arrested Pagnotta, 50, of 462 Saratoga Street; Filippo Arrigo, 47, of 119 Hemenway Street;  Jerry Longobardi, 35, of Fleet Street; and Frank Ferra, 28, of Fleet Street. None of the men could adequately explain the damage to the car. Pagnotta and Arrigo said they were not even present when the damage occurred. Longobardi claimed that occupants of a passing vehicle shot at them without provocation. Longobardi and Ferra were found to have handguns. They were charged with carrying concealed weapons. (Pagnotta may have been related to Rocco Pagnotta of East Boston. Rocco was a suspect in the murder of Francesco Mondello in the summer of 1908. Rocco died in October of 1926.)

Cucchiara, who like Messina was originally from Salemi, continued on in the wholesale business for some time. He later became owner of a cheese company in the North End. Police suspected Cucchiara of involvement in gangland murders late in 1931, and Cucchiara would later be identified as the only New England Mafioso known to have been in attendance at the 1957 convention in Apalachin, New York. (In January of 1976, Cucchiara, then seventy-nine, and his sixty-nine-year-old wife were found dead of gunshot wounds in their Belmont, MA, apartment. Cucchiara's wound appeared to be self-inflicted.)

The wholesale food business apparently paid well. In August 1924, Gaspare Messina took a trip to Italy. He returned Dec. 2 aboard the S.S. Patria with four hundred dollars in his pockets. (With him on this return voyage was Antonino Passannanti, who years earlier had been suspected of involvement in the assassination of New York Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino.) The following year, the Messinas moved across the Charles River to a home at 49 Pennsylvania Avenue in Somerville. By the summer of 1927, Messina also had another address. He had a New York City home at 346 East 21st Street. It was while living at that address that he filed his petition for citizenship with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 4, 1930.

The move out of Boston to Somerville coincided with a move by boss of bosses D'Aquila from Brooklyn, New York, to the Bronx. D'Aquila had been waging a losing war against Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and his Morello-Terranova allies since the early 1920s, and his Bronx move had the look of a retreat. In Boston, Messina had shown some independence from D'Aquila during the period, as he treated warmly visiting anti-D'Aquila Mafioso Nick Gentile. Messina's independence may have won him admiration and a measure of security. Shortly after Messina's return to New York, on Oct. 10, 1928, D'Aquila was shot to death on a Manhattan street less than half a mile from the Messina residence.

War again erupted for the Sicilian underworld society in 1930, as Castellammarese Mafiosi across the country joined with former D'Aquila followers to oppose the rule of new boss of bosses Giuseppe Masseria. As Mafia leaders struggled to find a diplomatic solution to the trouble, Masseria stepped down from his post and Gaspare Messina was selected temporary boss of bosses - apparently in recognition of his even-handedness. Messina organized a large convention at Boston in December 1930 but was unable to resolve the difficulties. The Castellammarese War concluded with Masseria's assassination on April 15, 1931.

As Prohibition drew to a close, Messina set aside his apparently lucrative food wholesaling business and became president of Neptune Oil Corporation, based at T Wharf in Boston. The Messina family returned to its Somerville home.

Messina's wife Francesca died in the middle of the 1940s (records differ on whether it was 1946 or 1947). Years later, the seventy-three-year-old former Mafia boss traveled back to Sicily for a visit of several months. He sailed from New York on Aug. 9, 1952, aboard the S.S. Conte Biancamino. He returned on the S.S. Saturnia on Dec. 10.

Messina died in Somerville five months before the ill-fated Apalachin convention.

Sources:
  •  Boston City Directory, 1919, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1938, 1941, 1942.
  •  Certificate of Arrival, 2-39510, March 7, 1930, Bureau of Naturalization.
  •  Declaration of Intention, filed U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Sept. 15, 1916.
  •  Flynn, James P., "La Cosa Nostra," FBI report no. 92-914-58, NARA no. 124-10337-10014, July 1, 1963.
  •  List of In-Bound Passengers, S.S. Saturnia, departed Palermo on Nov. 29, 1952, arrived New York City on Dec. 10, 1952.
  •  List of Outward-Bound Passengers, S.S. Conte Bianamano, departed New York City on Aug. 9, 1952, bound for Palermo, Sicily.
  •  Massachusetts Vital Records, Index to Deaths 1946-1950 Kettles-Mulvehill, Volume 109, Boston: Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  •  Massachusetts Vital Records, Index to Deaths 1956-1960 Kimel-Morandis, Volume 121, Boston: Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Citta di Napoli arrived New York City Nov. 25, 1905.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Patria departed Palermo on Nov. 20, 1924, arrived New York City on Dec. 2, 1924.
  •  Petition for Citizenship, no. 167233, filed U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York on April 4, 1930.
  •  SAC Boston, "La Cosa Nostra AR-Conspiracy," FBI Memorandum, file no. 92-6054-2516, NARA no. 124-10302-10009, Feb. 19, 1969.
  •  Somerville MA City Directory, 1927, 1939.
  •  Somerville City Directory, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929-1930, 1934, 1940.
  •  United States Census of 1910, New York State, Kings County, Ward 21, Enumeration District 504.
  •  United States Census of 1920, Massachusetts, Suffolk County, City of Boston, Precinct 1, Ward 5.
  •  United States Census of 1930, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, City of Somerville, Ward 1, Enumeration District 9-410.
  •  World War I Draft Registration, Sept. 12, 1918, Boston, MA.
  •  World War II Draft Registration, serial no. U-728.
  •  "Seize four in garage on Arlington St," Boston Daily Globe, Feb. 17, 1925, p. 14.
  •  "Three slay man in street and flee," New York Times, Oct. 11, 1928.
  •  "Racket chief slain by gangster gunfire," New York Times, April 16, 1931, p. 1.
  •  "Police mystified in slaying of 'Boss,'" New York Times, April 17, 1931, p. 17.
  •  Bonanno, Joseph, with Sergio Lalli, A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983
  •  Gentile, Nick, Vita di Capomafia, Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1963.
  •  Valachi, Joseph, The Real Thing - Second Government: The Expose and Inside Doings of Cosa Nostra, unpublished manuscript, Joseph Valachi Personal Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 1964.


LePore, Vincenzo (1899-1931)

Born Abruzzo region, Italy, 1899.
Killed Bronx NY, Sept. 10, 1931.

Vincenzo "Jimmy Marino" LePore was one of a small number of Salvatore Maranzano loyalists murdered following Maranzano's Sept. 10, 1931, assassination. His killing helped to give life to the "Night of Sicilian Vespers" legend in the U.S. Mafia.

Vincenzo LePore was the third child (second son) born to Alphonse and Crescenza D'Altri LePore, residents of the Abruzzo region of Italy. In the early 1900s, the family emigrated from Italy to the U.S. Six-year-old Vincenzo crossed the Atlantic in October of 1905 with his mother, his grandmother Filomena Fadrianni D'Altri, his brothers Raffaele and Ettore, and his sisters Filomena, Carmela and Giovanna. The family settled initially on Carmine Street in Manhattan, but soon moved to Washington Avenue in the Bronx.

New York Times
The Great Depression appears not to have severely impacted Vincenzo LePore's finances. The 1930 U.S. Census found the 31-year-old living with his wife, three children and his wife's uncle in a $6,000 home he owned on Barker Avenue in the Bronx. At the time, LePore is believed to have been a Mafioso associated with the organization run by Salvatore Maranzano. He soon moved his family into a large apartment at 1518 St. Peter's Avenue in the Bronx.

The Castellammarese War was under way in New York City at that time, and the Sicilian-Italian underworld was in a state of chaos. LePore was reputed to be a "muscle man" and racketeer in the Bronx, where the murders of several important Mafia leaders left organization hierarchies in shambles.

LePore may have been connected with a bootlegging scheme to create palatable whiskey by steeping shavings from the inside of old liquor barrels in alcohol. Newspaper accounts from June 1930 name a "John Lepore" as one of the 136 individuals and businesses accused of participating in that racket. Vincenzo LePore was known to be engaged in bootlegging, and the local press called him "the boss of the grape racket around the Webster Avenue yards of the New York Central Railroad." This was a reference to the sale of grape concentrate - known as "wine bricks" - used in winemaking.

Just two hours after Salvatore Maranzano was murdered in his Manhattan offices, Vincenzo LePore was gunned down in the Bronx. (Other Maranzano supporters were murdered in New Jersey and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additional Mafiosi were targeted in the Bronx. Years later, the deaths - greatly magnified in number - became the basis for a legendary "Purge" orchestrated by Charlie Luciano. There is no evidence to link Luciano to the killings and every reason to believe that individual Mafiosi took advantage of the elimination of Maranzano to act against rivals who had been supported by Maranzano.)

LePore had taken his two young daughters - ages 4 and 6 - to have their hair cut. He picked them up at his mother-in-law's home, 540 East 187th Street, and drove them to an Arthur Avenue barbershop. LePore was standing in the shop's doorway, complaining about the late summer heat, when he was struck in the head and chest by six bullets. He died at the scene. Some witnesses stated that LePore was shot by gunmen passing by in an automobile. Others said an auto stopped nearby, a gunmen emerged, walked up to LePore and shot him, and then returned to the auto.

When police went to LePore's home, they discovered a revolver, a rifle and a single-barreled shotgun, all loaded, in the apartment.

LePore was buried at St. Raymond's Old Cemetery in the Bronx. His surviving family moved from St. Peter's Avenue. By 1935, they resided in a Bathgate Avenue apartment.

Sources:

  •  Molloy, James T., "Crime conditions in the New York Division," FBI report, file no. 62-9-34-811, NARA record no. 124-10348-10069, Nov. 27, 1963, p. 4.
  •  Organized Crime and Illicit Traffic in Narcotics, Hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, U.S. Senate, 88th Congress, 1st Session, Part 1, Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1968, p. 232-233.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Citta di Napoli, departed Naples on Sept. 21, 1905, arrived New York on Oct. 6, 1905.
  •  United States Census of 1910, New York State, New York County, Ward 9, Enumeration District 134.
  •  United States Census of 1920, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 7, Enumeration District 407.
  •  United States Census of 1930, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 6, Enumeration District 3-506.
  •  United States Census of 1940, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 7, Enumeration District 3-1126.
  •  "La Cosa Nostra," FBI report no. 92-6054-740, NARA record no. 124-10205-10471, Aug. 21, 1964, p. 75.


  •  Maas, Peter, The Valachi Papers, New York: Putnam, 1968, p. 116.
  •  Perlmutter, Emanuel, "Informer tells more," New York Times, Oct. 3, 1963, p. 1.
  •  Valachi, Joseph, The Real Thing, Second Government: The Expose and Inside Doings of Cosa Nostra, unpublished manuscript, 1964, Joseph Valachi Personal Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, p. 365-366.
  •  "Rum shavings ring pays $14,800 fines," New York Times, June 5, 1930, p. 12.
  •  "Baccus bottle case last in rum chip drive," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 5, 1930, p. 3.
  •  "Silent on killing, 6 witnesses seized," New York Times, Sept. 11, 1931, p. 2.
  •  "Four witnesses indicted," New York Times, Sept. 12, 1931, p. 4.
  •  "James Le Pore," Find A Grave, findagrave.com (accessed March 25, 2016).


Alo, Vincent (1904-2001)

Born New York City, May 26, 1904.
Died Florida, March 9, 2001.

Vincent Alo
Vincent "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo was a key figure in the post-Prohibition Genovese Crime Family and a liaison between the Sicilian-Italian Mafia and the organization of Meyer Lansky. His career was the inspiration for a number of fictional underworld characters, most notably "Johnny Ola" of The Godfather Part II movie.

Alo was born in 1904 in East Harlem to Salvatore and Giulia (or Julia) Scalzo Alo, immigrants from Cosenza, Italy. Salvatore worked as a tailor in a clothing factory. Vincent Alo had an older sister, Elizabeth, and two younger brothers, Frank and Joseph. (Two other sisters show up in census records for 1905 and 1910, but they are missing from later censuses, suggesting they did not live long into childhood.) In the early 1910s, the Alo family moved to Hoffman Street near Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Alo left school and went to work as a clerk for a Wall Street company after just a single year of high school. Reportedly frustrated by the clerical work, in the early 1920s Alo began participating in robberies.

In October of 1923, he was caught by police following a jewelry store robbery. He was charged with second degree robbery and possession of a firearm. A conviction the following month resulted in a sentence of five to twelve years in prison. Inside Great Meadow State Prison in Washington County, New York, Alo did further work as a clerk.

Following his release, "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo became connected with Mafiosi engaged in rackets in the Bronx. This apparently provided him a measure of protection from prosecution. Alo was arrested in March 1932, once again for robbery and firearm possession, but managed to be discharged the following day. During the 1930s, he and his underworld colleagues were affiliated with the organization run by Charlie Luciano. Alo was believed to be among the leaders of a policy (lottery) ring operating in Bronx and Westchester Counties of New York in the mid-1930s.

In this period, Alo and his associates established gambling operations in eastern Florida. The FBI noted that Alo was one of the partners in the Plantation Casino in Broward County, Florida, in 1936. Other partners included Julian "Potatoes" Kaufman, Giuseppe "Joe Adonis" Doto and Jake Lansky, brother of Meyer Lansky. Alo rented a home on Dewey Street in Hollywood, Florida, which became his winter racket headquarters.

Meyer Lansky
Alo took a bride in August 1936. His wife, Florence Rose Gelinas Miller, was previously married and was the mother of two sons. Alo, his new wife and two stepsons, lived together on Holland Avenue in the Bronx and Dewey Street in Hollywood, Florida. While in Florida, Alo developed a love of the sport of golf.

The FBI learned that Alo became a partner in The Farm casino in Broward County by late 1939 and that in that winter he hosted a gathering at his Florida home attended by organizers from the International Longshoremen's Association in New York.

In the next decade, the FBI was told that "Jimmy Blue Eyes" had become a top Harlem lieutenant in the crime family then commanded by Frank Costello. Alo's home addresses changed. In New York, he moved into an apartment building at 315 Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In Florida, he moved to 1228 Monroe Avenue near Hollywood Lakes and Hollywood Beach.

His Florida business interests expanded to include a partnership with Meyer and Jake Lansky in the Club Greenacres casino in Hollywood; a seven-and-a-half percent interest in the Colonial Inn casino in Hollywood; and a share of the Ha-Ha Club in Hallandale. Alo was believed to be a stand-in for Joe Adonis in Florida. The Colonial Inn was a substantial underworld endeavor, involving Meyer and Jake Lansky, Frank Costello friend Frank Erickson, Joe Adonis and Richard Melvin. Alo was also alleged to be a partner with Frank Erickson in a horse race bookmaking racket operated out of the Hollywood Beach Hotel. Alo was one of a number of underworld figures who frequently visited the Wofford Hotel in Miami Beach. Other regular guests were Adonis, Costello, the Lanskys, Clevelanders George "King" Angersola and Alfred "Big Al" Polizzi, New Jersey racketeers Abner "Longie" Zwillman and Guarino "Willie Moore" Moretti, Youngstown Ohio gambling boss Joseph DiCarlo, and Detroit gambler William "Lefty Clark" Bischoff.

The FBI was told that the Ha-Ha Club in Hallandale was "a night club which catered to sex perverts." Later in the 1940s, perhaps after Alo ended his financial relationship with it, the club was targeted by local law enforcement. County officials shut the business down in 1947, stating that "its cast is composed of men who impersonate women and that its performances are conducted in a suggestive, indecent and obscene manner." The ownership of the Ha-Ha Club at that time was said to be Federal Amusement Company and Charles "Babe" Baker. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the closing of the club for conducting "lewd, indecent or nasty" performances and noted "the lawful evidence presents a dirty picture."

In the post-World War II years, Alo worked alongside Meyer Lansky in setting up gambling operations in Havana, Cuba. Alo was noted in immigration records returning with his wife from a brief trip to Cuba in April of 1946.

Alo was arrested for vagrancy by New York Police in August 1947. The vagrancy charge was baseless but it allowed the police to question Alo about his underworld relationships and about the Jan. 8 murder of waterfront labor leader Anthony Hintz. Alo admitted knowing Frank Costello, Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky. When presented with a list of names of suspects in the Hintz murder, Alo admitted not only knowing them but also seeing them in Florida shortly before the murder was committed. He claimed not to have any awareness of the murder plot, telling investigators, "If they wanted to kill someone, that's their business."

Federal agents determined that Alo was part of an "Eastern Criminal Syndicate," including Costello, Erickson, Adonis and the Lanskys, that in 1949 operated the plush Hallandale Beach casino known as Club Boheme. The same group was said to have run the Club Greenacres and the recently closed Colonial Inn. In May of 1950, records seized from the New York City offices of Frank Erickson defined his business relationships with alleged Syndicate members, as well as Mert Wertheimer and others in Broward County, Florida.


The discovery was made just in advance of hearings before the U.S. Senate's Kefauver Committee. In July, Daniel P. Sullivan, operating director of the Crime Commission of Greater Miami, testified before the Kefauver panel. He detailed the underworld gambling operations in Broward, Palm Beach and Dade Counties. According to Sullivan, the Colonial Inn gambling partnership included the Lanskys, Alo, Adonis, Erickson, Bert Briggs, Claude Litteral and Samuel L. Bratt. Originally, the group included Detroit gamblers led by Mert Wertheimer, Reubin Mathews and Danny Sullivan, but the Detroit interest was bought out by New Yorkers after 1946.

Following Kefauver hearings into Florida gambling rackets, Florida Governor Fuller Warren became involved in the fight against the rackets. Warren removed a local sheriff for accepting bribes and ordered an investigation of law enforcement corruption at Daytona Beach. Grand juries were formed to investigate the Florida rackets. These issued indictments against Alo, the Lanskys, Bischoff, Litteral, Bratt, George Sadlow, Frank Shireman and others for their roles in the running of Colonial Inn, Club Greenacres and Club Boheme.

On Sept. 16, 1950, Alo and nine other accused gambling racketeers appeared in criminal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They all entered guilty pleas to the gambling charges. They were sentenced to pay cash fines. Alo, Bischoff, Louis Oliver and T.E. Alexander were fined $1,000 each. Jake and Meyer Lansky, Bratt and Sadlow were fined $2,000 each. Litteral and Shireman were fined $3,000 each.

New York Police began a harassment campaign against known hoodlums in 1957. Alo was rounded up with more than 150 other reputed racketeers. Most were charged with vagrancy. Alo was held for questioning for several days. It probably was not a coincidence that Alo afterward began spending much more of his time in Florida. He gave up his Riverside Drive apartment, but maintained a presence in Manhattan by renting rooms at 19 West 55th Street.

FBI reports in 1958 suggested that Jake Lansky represented the financial interests of "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo and Meyer Lansky in the operation of the gambling casino at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba.  Those interests, along with other investments by American racketeers in Cuban gambling enterprises, were lost following the Castro  revolution. The hotel-casinos of the Havana area were nationalized by Castro in 1960.

A police raid in September 1963 turned up records of a Bronx loan shark racket apparently financed by Vincent Alo. Bronx District Attorney Isidore Dollinger brought evidence to a grand jury that Alo, a top lieutenant of crime boss Vito Genovese, backed the enterprise. According to Dollinger, the racketeers lent an estimated $4 million a year, preying on indebted gamblers and charging interest rates as high as 156 percent. Alo's brother Frank, a Bronx resident, was called to testify before the grand jury. Frank Alo refused to make any statement, citing Fifth Amendment protections.

Sixty-one-year-old Vincent Alo was himself called before a federal grand jury in December of 1965. Officials identified Alo as a top figure in Harlem and Bronx gambling rackets and said he also had influence in waterfront and garment center rackets.

A year later, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, California, investigated a fall 1965 gathering of mobsters in southern California. The meeting coincided with the Major League Baseball World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins. Attendees included Vincent Alo and Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno of the Genovese Crime Family, Miami Beach bookmaker Ruby Lazarus, and Jerome Zarowitz and Elliott Paul Price, gambling operators for Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Alo was believed to be part of another meeting of racketeers in 1969. That meeting reportedly occurred in Miami Beach, Florida. The meeting was said to have included Anthony "Big Tuna" Accardo, Paul "the Waiter" Ricca, John "Jackie the Lackey" Cerone and Dominic "the Angel" Angelini of Chicago; Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, Vincent Alo and Anthony "Tony Goebels" Ricci of New York. Officials surmised that fourteen Kansas City mobsters, arrested as they arrived in Miami a month earlier, were also to be part of the meeting. There was some speculation that Chicago racketeer Sam "Momo" Giancana, in self-imposed exile after serving a year in prison for contempt, was also to be present.

Though Alo was constantly under law enforcement scrutiny, he had avoided prison time since the jewelry store robbery sentence of his youth. The authorities began to catch up with Alo as he moved toward retirement. In October 1969, a federal grand jury in New York indicted "Jimmy Blue Eyes" for obstructing justice by giving false and evasive answers in a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. SEC previously questioned him about Mafia influence in the Tel-A-Sign advertising company.

'Johnny Ola'
Alo was convicted in September 1970 of two counts of giving false and evasive answers to the SEC. On Oct. 27, the sixty-six-year-old was sentenced to serve five years in Atlanta Federal Prison. He served three years of that sentence before being released. A year after he got out of federal prison, The Godfather Part II appeared in theaters. The character of "Johnny Ola" (played by Dominic Chianese), Italian aide to Havana's Jewish gambling czar Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg), paralleled Alo's earlier career.

"Jimmy Blue Eyes" was in his seventies when he next came to the attention of law enforcement. He was described in 1978 as a capodecina under Frank "Funzi" Tieri in the Genovese Crime Family. The Pennsylvania Crime Commission noted Alo's connection with Miami Beach attorney Alvin I. Malnik, who happened to own two resort hotels in the Pocono Mountains and who also happened to be a close friend of Meyer Lansky. According to the crime commission, Malnik once sent Alo to represent him in business negotiations. The commission stated that the Pocono resorts were home to money laundering, gambling, prostitution and other rackets.

Alo's old friend Meyer Lansky died at Miami Beach, Florida, early in 1983. Alo's wife Florence died in Las Vegas in April 1990. "Jimmy Blue Eyes" lived quietly another eleven years, dying in Florida in March 2001.

Sources:


  •  Arrest record of Vincent Alo, New York City Police Department, Feb. 24, 1951.
  •  Daniel P. Sullivan testimony, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce - Part 1, Florida, Hearings Before a Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, p. 152-174.
  •  Federal Amusement Company, a Florida corporation, and Charles (Babe) Baker, v. State of Florida, upon the relation of Frank Tuppen, appeal from the Circuit Court for Broward County, Supreme Court of Florida Division A, Oct. 3, 1947.
  •  Nevada Death index, April 8, 1990.
  •  New York City Birth Index, Certificate no. 23392, May 26, 1904.
  •  New York City Marriage Index, certificate no. 1907, June 6, 1902.
  •  New York City Marriage Index, Certificate no. 24281, Aug. 26, 1936.
  •  New York State Census of 1905, County of New York, Assembly District 33, Election District 10.
  •  New York State Census of 1915, Bronx County, Assembly District 34, Election District 68, Block 4.
  •  New York State Census of 1925, Washington County, Town of Fort Ann, Assembly District 1, Election District 1.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Britannia, arrived New York City on June 25, 1894.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S Monarch, departed Hamilton, Bermuda, on Aug. 9, 1939, arrived Miami, Florida, on Aug. 11, 1939.
  •  SAC Miami, "Criminal Intelligence Program," FBI memorandum, MM 92-515, Sept. 5, 1963, p. 1
  •  Salvatore Alo Declaration of Intention, Supreme Court of New York at Bronx, No. 106279, April 21, 1931.
  •  Social Security Death Index.
  •  U.S. Census of 1910, New York State, New York County, Ward 12, Enumeration District 295.
  •  U.S. Census of 1920, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 7, Enumeration District 395.
  •  U.S. Census of 1930, State of New York, Nassau County, Hempstead Town, Seaford Village, Enumeration District 30-132.
  •  U.S. Census of 1940, State of Florida, Broward County, Hollywood City, Enumeration District 6-41.
  •  Vincent Alo fingerprint record, Federal Bureau of Investigation, May 28, 1971.
  •  "Vincent Alo," FBI memo, March 28, 1952, p. 1- 6.


  •  Carr, Charlie, New York Police Files on the Mafia, Hosehead Productions, 2012, p. 388.
  •  Janson, Donald, "Crime figures found involved in Poconos," New York Times, April 17, 1978, p. 1.
  •  Lansky, Meyer II, "The Real Johnny Ola: Vincent 'Jimmy Blue Eyes' Alo," The Blog, huffingtonpost.com, Dec. 15, 2014, updated Feb. 13, 2015, accessed March 1, 2016.
  •  Whitney, Craig R., "Realty man denies he knew of employe's alleged link to Mafia," New York Times, Jan. 24, 1970, p. 14.
  •  "3 balk at inquiry on loan-shark case," New York Times, Oct. 24, 1963, p. 18.
  •  "Alo, reputed Mafia figure, faces jail in S.E.C. case," New York Times, Sept. 29, 1970, p. 48.
  •  "Fem impersonators irk Florida court," The Billboard, Oct. 18, 1947, p. 38.
  •  "Florida crime drive is suddenly speeded," New York Times, Aug. 25, 1950, p. 40.
  •  "Miami Beach secret Mafia meet probed," Cumberland MD Evening Times, April 8, 1969, p. 1.
  •  "Police jail 155 hoodlums in New York," Troy NY Times, June 15, 1957, p. 8.
  •  "Reputed Mafia man indicted after an S.E.C. investigation," New York Times, Oct. 28, 1969, p. 16.
  •  "Senate group hearings on crime open here tomorrow," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 11, 1951, p. 2.
  •  "U.S. jury on coast said to investigate gamblers' meeting," New York Times, Dec. 18, 1966, p. 71.
  •  "U.S. jury hears Mafia figure," New York Times, Dec. 4, 1965, p. 28.
  •  "Vincent 'Jimmy Blue Eyes' Alo," Find A Grave, findagrave.com, accessed March 2, 2015.


Carey, Arthur (1866-1952) - New York PD

Born New York City, July 1866.
Died New York City, Dec. 13, 1952.

Arthur A. Carey was a second-generation police officer who served for almost forty years on the New York Police Department and led the department's Homicide Bureau for eighteen years.

He reportedly was born on Staten Island in July 1866 (a birth year of 1865 is sometimes seen) into the already large family of Henry and Elizabeth Carey. Henry, born about 1824, was an immigrant from Ireland; Elizabeth, born about 1830, was a native New Yorker. Arthur was raised in an Irish neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan.

Henry had died by the time of the 1880 federal census. With several children already off on their own, Elizabeth then was raising Arthur and three other siblings in an apartment on Christopher Street in Manhattan.

Arthur joined the police force on March 1, 1889. He learned his craft under Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes and Captain George W. McClusky. He was made a detective in 1892.

He took a bride, Lucy, in 1895. They eventually had seven children together. The family lived at first at 124 West 115th Street in Manhattan, but subsequently moved north to the Bronx. They lived in a number of locations in that borough, including an apartment on Nelson Avenue near Boscobel, within the Highbridge neighborhood, and a private home at 2792 Bainbridge Avenue, just northwest of Fordham University and the New York Botanical Garden.

Around the turn-of-the-century, Arthur's police work focused almost exclusively on homicide cases. He participated in the investigation of the 1903 barrel murder case and in the related arrest of the dangerous Tomasso "the Ox" Petto.

Carey was promoted to lieutenant in 1906 and captain the following year. He assumed temporary leadership of homicide detectives in 1908. Carey was moved out to command a Brooklyn precinct between 1910 and 1914 but then returned to the Homicide Bureau.

As a "murder man," Carey was regularly called upon to investigate the most horrific of crimes. He was a leader in the investigation of the 1920 Wall Street terrorist bombing that claimed dozens of lives. In 1921, he worked on a case in which the upper half of a woman, who had been beaten and strangled to death, turned up in a sewer excavation at Long Island City. He also worked on a number of gangland murders, including the Barrel Murder, the 1921 killing of Joseph "Joe Pep" Viserti and the 1928 killing of Arnold Rothstein.

He reached the rank of deputy inspector in 1926. Late in 1928, Police Commissioner Grover A. Whalen forced him into retirement, as the centralized detective system was dismantled.

He briefly continued his work as a sleuth for the Westchester County district attorney. In this period, Arthur, his wife and three of their children, lived on Seminary Avenue in Yonkers.

Carey's autobiographical Memoirs of a Murder Man was released in 1930. The book focuses on Carey's detective work in homicide cases and features a chapter on the Morello Mafia's infamous 1903 Barrel Murder. (Read this chapter on our website.)

By 1935, Arthur and Lucy were in retirement, living a 321 Bedford Park Boulevard in the Bronx, quite close to their former Bainbridge Avenue home.

Carey died Dec. 13, 1952, at his Bronx residence. He was 86 years old. His two oldest sons, Donald and Arthur Jr., had followed him into the New York Police Department. They were serving as detectives at the time of his death.

Sources:

  •  New York State Census of 1915.
  •  New York State Census of 1925.
  •  United States Census of 1870.
  •  United States Census of 1880.
  •  United States Census of 1900. 
  •  United States Census of 1930.
  •  United States Census of 1940.
  •  Anderson, Isaac, "A murder man blows the gaff on crime," New York Times, July 6, 1930, p. Book Review 13.
  •  Carey, Arthur A., with Howard McLellan, Memoirs of a Murder Man, Garden City NY: Doubelday, Doran and Company, 1930.
  •  "Arthur Carey, 87, ex-inspector, dies," New York Times, Dec. 14, 1952, p. 90.
  •  "Detectives say they hope to find driver of horse," New York Evening World, Sept. 27, 1920, p. 8.
  •  "Half of slain woman's body found in pool," New York Tribune, Oct. 23, 1921, p. 8.
  •  "'Joe Pep,' ruler of Little Italy in Harlem, slain," New York Tribune, Oct. 14, 1921, p. 1.


Lucania, Salvatore (1897-1962)

Born Lercara Friddi, Sicily, Nov. 24, 1897.
Died Naples, Italy, Jan. 26, 1962.

Salvatore "Charlie Lucky" Lucania is probably the most talked about New York Mafia boss. He is the subject of numerous legends, many of them false, while his actual underworld career remains largely unknown. He was a pivotal figure in the Castellammarese War of 1930-31, benefited greatly from the assassinations of two who occupied the position of Mafia boss of bosses and participated in the dismantling of the boss of bosses system and the creation of a Commission system for resolving underworld disputes.

Lucania was the third child born to Antonino and Rosalia Lucania in the Sicilian sulfur-mining community of Lercara Friddi. The family grew to include five children before its migration to America. Lucania, his mother and two of his siblings, reached New York in 1907, joining his father in an apartment in Manhattan's East Village.

A chronic truant from school and frequent gambler, Lucania in his childhood acquired the nickname "Lucky," a result of the first syllable of his surname sounding like "Luck." The source of the "Charlie" portion of his nickname is uncertain. Often, Italian boys seeking to Americanize the name "Salvatore" opted for "Sam." Possibly, "Charlie" came about through the mispronunciation of "Turi," the Italian familiar form of "Salvatore." (In later years, Lucania was known in the press as Charlie "Luciano." The "Luciano" surname appears to have been the result of a persistent misspelling by reporters. Though he is now known to history as "Luciano," Lucania is not believed to have personally used that surname.)

At this time, he became close friends with orphan Michael Lascari and reportedly with future gangland leaders like Meyer Lansky and Benjamin Siegel. He dabbled in criminal activity and was caught in possession of narcotics in 1916. He was served six months in prison as a result.

During the early Prohibition Era, Lucania worked for a number of non-Italian underworld leaders, including Arnold Rothstein and Jack "Legs" Diamond. He often served as a driver, and referred to himself as a professional chauffeur. He was again caught with narcotics in 1923. By taking authorities to a cache of narcotics at 163 Mulberry Street in Manhattan he avoided prosecution.

By the mid-1920s, Lucania was drawn into the growing Manhattan Mafia organization of Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria but continued his affiliation with the Legs Diamond gang. Near the end of 1926, Lucania was believed involved in two shootings related to the Diamond gang. Authorities could not assemble enough evidence to prosecute him.

Lucania (right) arrested with members of the Legs Diamond gang.

Lucania and other known Rothstein associates were questioned by police following that underworld leader's 1928 murder. About a year later, Lucania was taken for "a ride" and severely beaten. Police and press reported that underworld rivals were responsible, but Lucania later revealed that he was beaten by detectives trying to locate Legs Diamond. (Many have said that Lucania's good fortune in surviving this adventure was the inspiration for his "Lucky" nickname, but he was already widely known by that nickname when the incident occurred.)

By the start of the Castellammarese War, Lucania led a lucrative bootlegging division in the Masseria crime family. Others affiliated with Joe the Boss were Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, Willie Moretti, Ciro Terranova and Albert Anastasia. Masseria had risen to the position of boss of bosses of the Mafia in the United States, and was meddling in the affairs of crime families around the country. Groups quietly rose up against him in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and upstate New York, as well as in New York City. As war broke out and Masseria men began to be attacked and killed, it seems that Masseria did not yet know who his enemies were. Over time, he identified them as Mafiosi from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, led by Buffalo, New York, boss Stefano Magaddino. Only later, did he learn that a wide alliance had formed against him and that the opposition leader was New York City-based Salvatore Maranzano. By then, Masseria had already lost a number of his important allies to assassination.

In 1930, Lucania was twice noted far from New York. In February, he was found gambling with Masseria and others at Miami Beach, Florida. In August, he was reported to be on a transatlantic steamship with Legs Diamond, heading to Germany. Some have suggested that the trip was conducted in order to arrange for narcotics imports to the U.S.

Secret defections from Masseria's organization resulted in the end of Joe the Boss. Following the April 15 murder of Masseria by his own men, Lucania emerged as new leader of that organization. Masseria's death brought about the end of the Castellammarese War and allowed Maranzano to assume the boss of bosses position.

Conflict seemed likely to continue, however, as Maranzano began plotting against Lucania and others he felt he could not work with. Like Masseria, Maranzano was assassinated on orders from Luciano. The September 10 murder left vacant the coveted boss of bosses position. Luciano could have attempted to claim it for himself but instead threw his weight behind a proposal for a dispute-resolving Commission comprised of the nation's most powerful crime family bosses.

Lucania (left) and Lansky arrested
in Chicago in 1932.
As Lucania and the Commission-governed Mafia began forging new alliances and entering into new rackets in the final days of Prohibition, police suspected Lucania involvement in 1933 attacks against racketeer Waxey Gordon and in the 1935 killing of gang boss Arthur "Dutch Schultz" Flegenheimer. With Schultz gone, Lucania's organization absorbed Schultz's rich numbers rackets.

In 1936, New York Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey brought Lucania and a dozen codefendants to trial for profiting from the coordination and protection of prostitution. Lucania testified in his own defense, but was torn apart on cross examination. He was convicted on sixty-two counts and sentenced to serve 30 to 50 years in Clinton Correctional Facility at Dannemora, near the Canada border. His legal appeals were exhausted by spring 1938.

During Lucania's imprisonment, leadership of his crime family first fell to underboss Vito Genovese. Genovese, however fled the country for Italy to escape prosecution for murder. Frank Costello filled the void as the day-to-day manager of the criminal empire.

In March of 1942, Commander Charles Radcliffe Haffenden of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) attempted to gain underworld assistance in securing U.S. wartime ports and shipping. He reached out to Lucania defense attorney Moses Polakoff. Haffenden was somehow assured that Lucania could assist the war effort and managed to have Lucania transferred  in May from Dannemora to the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, just north of Albany and hours closer to New York City. During the rest of 1942 and through to the end of 1945 (months after the war was concluded), Lucania was permitted regular meetings with underworld associates Meyer Lansky, Joseph "Socks" Lanza and Frank Costello. ONI appeared satisfied that Luciano was helping to safeguard American maritime interests and promoting Italian cooperation with Allied landings in Sicily and Italy. After victory in Europe was achieved, the ONI launched an investigation into the relationship between Haffenden and Luciano.

On Jan. 3, 1946, then-Governor Thomas Dewey commuted the remainder of Lucania's sentence on the condition that he be deported to Italy. Dewey noted the alleged assistance provided by Lucania to the U.S. war effort. Lucania met with Lansky, Costello, Lascari and Polakoff at Ellis Island in early February before setting sail for Italy.

ONI and the FBI quickly concluded that no information of value had ever been obtained through the relationship with Lucania and that Haffenden had made his arrangements with the imprisoned crime boss out of a continuing mutually beneficial friendship with Frank Costello.

Lucania did not remain long in Italy. By the fall of 1946, he was in Cuba, planning investments in Havana-areas gambling enterprises and entertaining Mafia visitors from the U.S. American officials pressured the Cuban government in February 1947 to return Lucania to Italy. That was finally accomplished on March 20.

Settling into a life in Italy, Lucania reportedly married dancer Igea Lissoni. He was visited by Lansky in June 1949, by Lascari and by former Tampa bootlegger Salvatore "Red" Italiano in May 1950.

The following year, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics asserted that Lucania was the key figure in the international drug trade. Under pressure to keep an eye on Lucania's activities, Naples authorities in 1954 imposed "admonition" (curfew, authorization of police raids, travel restrictions) on Lucania. The admonition restrictions are removed by a court order in summer 1956.

Vito Genovese returned as boss of the former Luciano Crime Family in 1957. Genovese had been back in the U.S. since 1946 and had been cleared of the earlier murder charge. His ambition to lead the crime family became evident through a 1957 assassination attempt on Frank Costello. Costello reportedly resigned as boss, turning the crime family reins over to Genovese.

Igea Lissoni died in October 1958 at the age of 37.

Movie producer Martin Gosch, based in Spain, contacted Lucania in 1960, asking for his assistance with the script of a fictional movie based upon his life. In the spring, Lucania is repeatedly visited by New York Mafioso Pat Eboli. Pat's brother Tommy Eboli, a lieutenant to Vito Genovese, visited in December. The visits are widely believed to have been efforts to discourage Lucania from any work on an autobiographical project. Another visit from Pat Eboli occurred Jan. 17, 1962. After that visit, Lucania contacted Gosch to sever their business relationship. (While many suggested that Lucania was ordered by Genovese to pull the plug on the Gosch project, some heard Lucania expressing his personal disapproval of a Gosch effort to tell a more fact-based Lucania life story.) Gosch flew to Naples to meet with Lucania on Jan. 26. Shortly after his arrival, Lucania collapsed in the airport, the victim of a fatal heart attack.

Witnesses reported seeing Gosch putting a pill into the mouth of a disabled Lucania. This resulted in stories that Lucania had been poisoned. Gosch insisted, however, that he was aware that Lucania had a heart condition and carried medication for it. When he saw Lucania collapse, he said, he found a bottle of pills in Lucania's clothes and put one of the pills in his mouth.

Lucania's remains were transported to Queens, New York, for burial.

Some attention was directed toward Gosch's movie project at the time. Gosch told the authorities the script was largely fiction. In 1972, apparently abandoning the movie project, Gosch appeared at the New York office of the FBI seeking assistance with a book he hoped to write about Luciano. The FBI turned him down. Gosch reportedly provided notes (at one point, a book publisher insisted incorrectly that there were audio tape recordings) to author Richard Hammer, relating to conversations between Gosch and Lucania. Hammer produced a book, claiming he based it on the Gosch notes. Gosch died in October 1973. When challenged to produce the Gosch notes, Hammer claimed they all had been burned following Gosch's death. The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano by Gosch and Hammer was published by Little, Brown and Company in February 1975. By the time it was released, it had already been labeled fraudulent by the FBI and by Mafia historians Nicholas Gage, Peter Maas and Hank Messick.

Links:



Sources:
  •  Bonanno, Joseph, with Sergio Lalli, A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983.
  •  Dewey, Thomas E., Twenty Against the Underworld, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1974.
  •  Feder, Sid, and Joachim Joesten, The Luciano Story, New York: Da Capo Press, 1994 (originally published in 1954).
  •  Gentile, Nick, with Felice Chilanti, Vita di Capomafia, Rome: Crescenzi Allendorf, 1993.
  •  Gosch, Martin A. and Richard Hammer, The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1975.
  •  Turkus, Burton B., and Sid Feder, Murder, Inc.: The Story of the Syndicate, New York: Da Capo Press, 1992 (originally published in 1951).
  •  Vizzini, Sal, with Oscar Fraley and Marshall Smith, Vizzini: The Story of America's No, 1 Undercover Narcotics Agent, New York: Pinnacle, 1972

  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Roma, departed Naples on Nov. 18, 1905, arrived New York City on Dec. 3, 1905.
  •  Salvatore Lucania World War I draft registration card, serial no. 4468, order no. A1769, Local Board 114 of City of New York, Sept. 12, 1918, stamped 31-9-114-C.
  •  United States Census of 1920, New York State, New York County, Eight Assembly District, Enumeration District 619.
  •  "Charles Luciana, with aliases," FBI memorandum, file no. 39-2141-X, Aug. 28, 1935.
  •  Receiving blotter, Chas. Luciano, no. 92168, Sing Sing Prison, June 18, 1936.
  •  Appeal of the People of the State of New York v. Charles Luciano, et al., May 7, 1937.
  •  Appeal of the People of the State of New York v. Charles Luciano, et al., April 12, 1938.
  •  "Salvatore Lucania...," FBI report Albany 100-5170, Oct. 16, 1942.
  •  "Lucky Luciano," FBI memorandum to Mr. Rosen, file no. 39-2141-2, Feb. 21, 1946.
  •  FBI teletype, Luciano FBI file, Feb. 25, 1946.
  •  Conroy, FBI teletype, file no. 39-2141-6, Feb. 27, 1946
  •  Conroy, E.E., Letter to Mr. Hoover, Charles Luciano FBI file, no. 39-2141-8, March 1, 1946.
  •  Rosen, A., "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano's parole and deportation," FBI memorandum to E.A. Tamm, March 6, 1946.
  •  "Salvatore Lucania…," FBI report NY 62-8768, file no. 39-2141-10, March 13, 1946.
  •  Rosen, A., "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano parole," FBI memorandum to E.A. Tamm, April 3, 1946.
  •  "Salvatore Lucania...," FBI report NY 62-8768, May 5, 1946.
  •  Cornelius, A. Jr., "Charles Lucky Luciano, Miscellaneous, Information concerning parole and deportation," FBI letter, May 9, 1946.
  •  Hoover handwritten note, FBI memorandum from A. Rosen to E.A. Tamm, May 17, 1946.
  •  "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano parole miscellaneous; information concerning," FBI memorandum to Rosen, June 6, 1946.
  •  "Salvatore Lucania,…" FBI report NY 62-8768, July 2, 1946.
  •  Rosen, A., "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, Miscellaneous Information," FBI memo to E.A. Tamm, Feb. 10, 1947.
  •  "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano," FBI report, Feb. 12, 1947.
  •  "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano," FBI report, March 22, 1947.
  •  Director, FBI, "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, Foreign Miscellaneous," FBI memo to Legal Attache, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 25, 1947.
  •  Virgil W. Peterson testimony of July 6, 1950, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee), U.S. Senate, 81st Congress 2nd Session, Part 2.
  •  Meyer Lansky testimony of Oct. 11, 1950, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee), U.S. Senate, 81st Congress 2nd Session and 82nd Congress 1st Session, Part 7.
  •  Willie Moretti testimony of Dec. 13, 1950, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee), U.S. Senate, 81st Congress 2nd Session and 82nd Congress 1st Session, Part 7.
  •  Vincent Spoto testimony of Dec. 29, 1950, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee), U.S. Senate, 81st Congress 2nd Session and 82nd Congress 1st Session, Part 1-A.
  •  Gerald Catena testimony of Feb. 14, 1951, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee), U.S. Senate, 81st Congress 2nd Session and 82nd Congress 1st Session, Part 7.
  •  Meyer Lansky testimony of Feb. 14, 1951, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee), U.S. Senate, 81st Congress 2nd Session and 82nd Congress 1st Session, Part 7
  •  Michael Lascari testimony of Feb. 15, 1951, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee), U.S. Senate, 81st Congress 2nd Session and 82nd Congress 1st Session, Part 7.
  •  "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, General Investigative Intelligence File," FBI memo, Nov. 20, 1952.
  •  "Charles Luciano, Anti-Racketeering," FBI memo, Jan. 22, 1959.
  •  "Charles Luciano, Anti-Racketeering," translations of Italian language articles appearing in the Jan. 11, Jan. 18 and Jan. 25, 1959, issues of L'Europeo magazine, FBI memo, Feb. 18, 1959.
  •  FBI cablegram to Director, Charles "Lucky" Luciano FBI file, Jan. 26, 1962.
  •  "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano," FBI memo, Feb. 12, 1962.
  •  "Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, information concerning," FBI memo, Feb. 19, 1962.
  •  Flynn, James P., "Crime conditions in the New York Division," FBI memo, NY 92-2247, Dec. 3, 1962.
  •  "The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano," FBI memorandum to Mr. Cleveland, Oct. 2, 1974.

  •  "Routs six gunmen in Broadway fight," New York Times, Dec. 12, 1926.
  •  "Broker is wounded in hold-up that fails," New York Times, Dec. 22, 1926.
  •  "Refuses to identify gunman suspects," New York Times, Dec. 30, 1926.
  •  "Robbery suspect questioned," New York Times, Nov. 18, 1928, p. 24.
  •  "M'Cabe gives alibi in Rothstein case; Banton clears him," New York Times, Nov. 18, 1928, p. 1.
  •  "Admit search fails for Rothstein clue," New York Times, Nov. 19, 1928, p. 1.
  •  "Three freed of robbery suspicion," New York Times, Nov. 24, 1928, p. 2.
  •  "Arrest 19 at Miami in gambling clean-up," New York Times, March 2, 1930, p. 33.
  •  "Gang guns slay 2, wound 1 in Broadway night club battle," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 13, 1929, p. 1.
  •  "Whalen to face bungling charge in Marlow case," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 14, 1929, p. 2.
  •  "Gangster 'taken for ride' lives to tell about it," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 17, 1929, p. 1.
  •  "'Ride' victim wakes up on Staten Island," New York Times, Oct. 18, 1929.
  •  "Harlem racket gang murders two in raid," New York Times, Aug. 16, 1930, p. 1.
  •  "Car clue in Morello case," New York Times, Aug. 17, 1930.
  •  "Ireland will refuse landing to Diamond," New York Times, Aug. 30, 1930.
  •  "Two men shot dead in Bronx gun-trap," New York Times, Nov. 6, 1930, p. 27.
  •  "Bail runner shot in street ambush," New York Times, Feb. 4, 1931.
  •  "Catania dies of wounds," New York Times, Feb. 5, 1931.
  •  "Seize New York hoodlums, here on mystery trip," Chicago Daily Tribune, April 20, 1932, p. 14.
  •  "2 women wounded as gangs open fire in upper Broadway," New York Times, May 25, 1933, p. 1.
  •  "Gang shots linked to war over beer," New York Times, May 26, 1933.
  •  "Federal men list racket 'big shots' in tax drive here," New York Times, May 20, 1935, p. 1.
  •  "Schultz dies of wounds without naming slayers; 3 aides dead, one dying," New York Times, Oct. 25, 1935, p. 1.
  •  "Extradition stay is won by Luciano," New York Times, April 8, 1936, p. 24.
  •  "Lucania is jailed in $350,000 bail," New York Times, April 19, 1936, p. 1.
  •  "Three admit guilt as vice trial opens," New York Times, May 12, 1936.
  •  "Lucania is forced to admit crimes," New York Times, June 4, 1936, p. 1.
  •  "Lucania convicted with 8 in vice ring on 62 counts each," New York Times, June 8, 1936, p. 1.
  •  "Bribery is bared in vice ring trial; 2 face disbarment," New York Times, June 9, 1936, p. 1.
  •  "Lucania is called shallow parasite," New York Times, June 19, 1936.
  •  "Lucania sentenced to 30 to 50 years; court warns ring," New York Times, June 19, 1936, p. 1.
  •  "Fight for freedom begun by Lucania," New York Times, Aug. 12, 1936, p. 5.
  •  "Luciano loses freedom appeal," New York Times, Jan. 15, 1937, p. 3.
  •  "Big liquor concern faces license loss," New York Times, May 7, 1940.
  •  "Dewey commutes Luciano sentence," New York Times, Jan. 4, 1946, p. 25.
  •  "Luciano rules U.S. narcotics from Sicily, senators hear," New York Times, June 28, 1951, p. 1.
  •  Grutzner, Charles, "Luchese presents study in contrasts," New York Times, Oct. 11, 1952, p. 26.
  •  "Luciano dies at 65; was facing arrest," New York Times, Jan. 27, 1962, p. 1.
  •  "Luciano's links to underworld investigated by Italian agents," New York Times, Jan. 28, 1962, p. 66.
  •  "In the end 'Lucky' Luciano was not really so terribly lucky after all," Bridgeport CT Sunday Post, Feb. 4, 1962, p. 14.
  •  Anderson, Jack, "The Last Days of Lucky Luciano," Parade, June 17, 1962.
  •  Gage, Nicholas, "Questions are raised on Lucky Luciano book," New York Times, Dec. 17, 1974, p. 1.
  •  Gage, Nicholas, "F.B.I. tells agents not to trust book on Luciano," New York Times, March 14, 1975.
  •  Scaduto, Tony, "Letters to the Editor: Luciano," New York Times, April 27, 1975.

Petto, Tomasso (1879-1905)

Born Province of Palermo, Sicily, c1879.
Killed Browntown, Pittston, PA, Oct. 21, 1905.

Tomasso Petto, also known as Luciano Perrino (also written about as Luciano Parrino and Tom Carrillo), was a brutal enforcer for the early Morello Mafia in New York City. He participated in counterfeiting operations and "Black Hand" extortion schemes. After establishing himself as a Black Hand leader in northeastern Pennsylvania in 1905, he was murdered in an apparent gangland "hit."

Petto acquired the nickname "Il Bove," meaning "The Ox," because of his physique. He stood about five-feet-eight-inches tall and weighed approximately 220 pounds, nearly all of it muscle. His shoulders, arms, legs and neck were massive. Once, when he was being placed under arrest, he put his arms around the body of a detective - said to be the most powerfully built man on the New York police force - and nearly squeezed the life out of the man.

Petto became the prime suspect in the Barrel Murder case of April 1903, when police found him in possession of a pawn ticket for a watch owned by the victim, Benedetto Madonia. The murder was closely linked with the counterfeiting operations of Mafia boss of bosses Giuseppe Morello - a disciplinary action against Madonia's imprisoned brother-in-law Giuseppe DiPrimo, who was believed (wrongly) to have cooperated with the authorities. Though Petto was indicted for the murder, he never stood trial. State witnesses hesitated to testify against him, evidence linking him to the murder was lacking and there was official confusion over his identity - some mixed him up with Morello mobster Giovanni Pecoraro. After months locked in the Tombs prison awaiting trial, Petto was discharged on Jan. 29, 1904.

He returned to his old haunts on Mulberry Street and Mott Street and celebrated his release with friends. U.S. Secret Service operatives kept an eye on him, as he remained a counterfeiting suspect. During the evening of Jan. 29, he reportedly received a telephone call at a Mott Street restaurant. After the call, he apologized to his friends and quickly left the city. Secret Service agents tracked him to Port Chester, New York. He did not remain in Port Chester for long.

In the spring of 1905, Petto reportedly ran into some trouble with the Secret Service, as he had been involved in the sale of unlicensed cigars in West Virginia. He and his young family had just settled into a new residence in Old Forge, Pennsylvania (between Scranton and Pittston), when he was arrested for the offense and made to pay a heavy fine.

Petto, his wife and two young children relocated to Browntown, just south of Pittston, in the summer of 1905. There, under the name of Luciano Perrino, he quickly established himself as leader of a band of Black Hand terrorists. As fronts for his underworld activities, he opened a grocery and a butcher shop along South Main Street in the downtown area, a short distance from the Susquehanna River.

At about the time of his arrival, a Browntown resident named Frank Culloro was murdered. Culloro's body was found along Cork Lane near an old mine shaft. His head was found later at the bottom of the shaft. Some in the area believed the newcomer was responsible.

On the evening of Saturday, Oct. 21, 1905, Petto remained at his butcher business until quite late and then began the long walk across town to his home on Lincoln Street. At about 10:30, just a few paces from his front door, he was alerted to some danger and pulled out the .38-caliber revolver he carried with him. He would not have the opportunity to use the weapon. At that moment, he was struck in the right side by a blast of small-caliber shot fired at close range. The pellets embedded into his right arm, right side and right hip. At almost the same moment, additional shots were fired, and larger caliber slugs pierced Petto's body.

A large chunk of lead tore into the right side of his chest and proceeded downward, severing the spinal column and leaving the body below the spleen, leaving a gaping exit wound. Another projectile, more than a half inch in diameter and with jagged edges, struck Petto between his eighth and ninth ribs and lodged in his liver. A third slug smashed Petto's handgun and ripped apart his hand. A fourth cracked into his right elbow and smashed the bones almost to dust.

Neighbors initially thought little of the autumn evening explosions, as hunting was common in the area. But the blasts brought Petto's wife out of the house. She found her husband dead on the ground. She saw little if anything of the gunmen who took his life. At a coroner's inquest the next week, she testified that she recalled seeing one man dressed in white in the area.

Following the inquest, the coroner's jury decided that Petto was killed by person or persons unknown. No clues were ever found to the identities of Petto's killers, but many were sure they knew who was responsible. Newspapers and law enforcement officers speculated that Giuseppe DiPrimo, recently released from Sing Sing Prison, had avenged himself on the murderer of his brother-in-law Madonia. It was a good story, but Petto reportedly had many enemies other than DiPrimo. William Flynn of the U.S. Secret Service stated that DiPrimo could have had nothing to do with the Petto killing, as he was not yet out of prison at the time it occurred. (The timing of DiPrimo's release is uncertain as of this writing. He was sentenced to four years and could have been paroled in plenty of time to track down and kill Petto. If not paroled, his sentence with good time allowance would have expired too late.)

Petto was buried in the Market Street Cemetery, also known as St. John the Evangelist Cemetery, in Pittston. After the household contents were sold off, his wife took the children to New York City and moved in with her parents there.

Sources:

  •  "Came from Buffalo,” Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, Apr. 21, 1903, p. 7.
  •  "Mafia murder gang are all in police net," New York Evening World, April 25, 1903, p. 1.
  •  "No pistols for Mafia," New York Evening World, April 29, 1903, p. 2.
  •  "Have complete chain of evidence," New York Tribune, April 30, 1903, p. 6.
  •  "Six held in Mafia case," New York Evening World, May 8, 1903, p. 1.
  •  "'The Ox' goes free in barrel murder," New York Evening World, Jan. 29, 1904, p. 2.
  •  "'The Ox' may yet be put on trial," New York Evening World, Feb. 3, 1904, p. 5.
  •  "Black Hand leader killed," Scranton PA Republican, Oct. 23, 1905, p. 4.
  •  "Mysterious murder in village of Browntown," Pittston PA Gazette, Oct. 23, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "No clue discovered," Wilkes-Barre PA Record, Oct. 24, 1905, p. 5.
  •  "Perino murder still unsolved," Scranton PA Truth, Oct. 24, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "No clue whatever yet," Pittston PA Gazette, Oct. 24, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "Petto, the Ox, murder victim," New York Sun, Oct. 24, 1905, p. 5.
  •  "May have good clue," Pittston PA Gazette, Oct. 25, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "Revenge on Black Hand," Washington Post, Oct. 26, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "The murder mystery," Pittston PA Gazette, Oct. 27, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "Parrino inquest," Wilkes-Barre PA Record, Oct. 28, 1905, p. 5.
  •  "Reign of crime near Pittston," Wilkes-Barre PA Times Leader, Dec. 20, 1905, p. 26.
  •  Carey, Arthur A., with Howard McLellan, Memoirs of a Murder Man, Garden City NY: Doubelday, Doran and Company, 1930, p. 121.
  •  Flynn, William J., Daily Report, April 20, 29, 30 1903, Department of the Treasury, United States Secret Service Daily Reports, R.G. No. 87, Roll 109, Vol. 9, National Archives.
  •  Flynn, William J., The Barrel Mystery, New York: James A. McCann Company, 1919, p. 13-14, 16-17, 22.
  •  Petacco, Arrigo, translated by Charles Lam Markham, Joe Petrosino, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1974, p. 9, 14.

Strollo, Antonio (1899-1962)

b. New York, NY, June 14, 1899.
disappeared from Fort Lee, NJ, April 8, 1962.

A longtime leader in the Genovese Crime Family, Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo oversaw rackets in Greenwich Village and on the East Side of Manhattan. Strollo was a longtime ally of Vito Genovese, but the two apparently had a serious falling out after Genovese was convicted on narcotics charges. The conflict proved fatal for Strollo.

Antonio Strollo was born in New York City on June 14, 1899, to Leone and Jennie Strollo, immigrants from Italy. He had two older siblings, brothers Samuel and Dominick. In the early 1900s, Leone Strollo was a laborer, and the family lived at 181 Thompson Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. The family address changed only slightly, to 177 Thompson Street, by 1920. At that time, Leone Strollo ran his own candy store and his sons Antonio and Dominick worked as teamsters / truck drivers.

Antonio Strollo appears to have been married just after 1920. He and a wife named Rose can be found in the 1930 U.S. Census in a Thompson Street apartment. Strollo still claimed to be working as a truck driver at the time, but he was already engaged in racketeering, likely as a part of the Giuseppe Masseria Mafia organization. The marriage with Rose did not survive long after 1930 (Rose's fate is uncertain as of this writing).

During the 1930-31 Castellammarese War, Strollo sided with Masseria, Charlie Luciano and Vito Genovese. Following the brief reign of Salvatore Maranzano, Strollo became a lieutenant in the Luciano organization and a key ally of Genovese. Joseph Valachi was one of the Mafiosi under the command of Strollo.

Strollo's business interests at the time included numerous night clubs and restaurants. He also oversaw rackets at Manhattan's West Side docks.

At the end of March 1932, Strollo married again. This time, his bride was Edna Goldenberg, a New York native. The couple traveled to Bermuda in the spring for a honeymoon, returning to New York on May 25. Their home for a time was 45 Christopher Street in the Village. The 1940 U.S. Census shows two daughters in the home.

Soon after, the Strollos relocated across the Hudson River in the area of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Strollo's racket territory increased, and he became a power on the Jersey City docks by the early 1950s. A political scandal was triggered when news got out of a March 14, 1952, meeting between Strollo and Jersey City Mayor John V. Kenny. Kenny tried for a time to deny the meeting, arranged by actor Phil Regan and held in Regan's suite at Manhattan's Warwick Hotel, but eventually acknowledged that it took place. Kenny said he met with Strollo in order to resolve some conflicts with labor along the docks.

Strollo is believed to have pushed Anthony Provenzano into leadership positions of Local 560 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Provenzano started his career in organized labor (and likely also in labor racketeering) as the Local 560 shop steward for the H.P. Welch Company. He eventually won election to the local presidency. Provenzano would become a strong ally and later a determined enemy of Teamsters President James R. Hoffa.

By the late 1950s, the New York Police Department reported that Strollo oversaw loan sharking, bookmaking and gambling activities in the Greenwich Village area and managed his underworld enterprises from a growing collection of nightclubs, bars and coffee houses.

As one of the last people to see Anthony "Little Augie Pisano" Carfano alive, Strollo was a leading suspect in the Carfano murder in September 1959. Strollo, Carfano, Mrs. Alan Drake and several others spent time together at the Copacabana and at Marino's Restaurant, 716 Lexington Avenue, before Carfano and Drake hurriedly left together, following a telephone call to Carfano at Marino's. Carfano and Drake were found shot to death in a car parked in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Federal narcotics charges resulted in hefty prison sentences for Vito Genovese, Joe Valachi and others around 1959. Strollo escaped punishment but was a likely participant in the narcotics offenses. When Valachi attempted to jump bail and leave the country, Strollo convinced him to return to New York City. Valachi may have provided information to federal authorities before this time, but his experiences in prison - particularly his sense that then-crime family boss Vito Genovese had branded him a traitor - led him to cooperate fully and enthusiastically with the Justice Department.

At almost the same moment that Genovese turned on Valachi, Genovese ordered that Strollo be eliminated. At about 10 p.m. on April 8, 1962, Strollo told his wife he needed to go out. She later reported to police that he drove off with an unknown associate in a 1961 Cadillac. Strollo was never seen or heard from again.

Strollo's rackets in the Genovese Crime Family were handed over to Pasquale "Patsy Ryan" Eboli, brother of Thomas Eboli.

Later in the year, the FBI monitored a conversation between Mafiosi Anthony Russo and Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo. In that conversation, Russo told of an earlier talk he had with Ruggiero "Richie the Boot" Boiardo and Chicago Outfit boss Sam Giancana. Boiardo apparently was taking complete credit for the murder of Antonio Strollo and made no mention of an order from Vito Genovese.

Sources:

  •  New York City Birth Records, Certificate no. 22743, June 14, 1899
  •  United States Census of 1900, New York State, New York County, Enumeration District 1062.
  •  United States Census of 1920, New York State, New York County, Ward 8, Assembly District 2, Enumeration District 204.
  •  New York State Census of 1925, Kings County, Assembly District 7, Election District 22.
  •  United States Census of 1930, New York State, New York County, Assembly District 2, Enumeration District 31-68.
  •  New York City Marriage Index, Certificate no. 7134, March 30, 1932.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Monarch of Bermuda, departed from Hamilton, Bermuda, on May 23, 1932, arrived New York on May 25, 1932.
  •  United States Census of 1940, New York State, New York County, Assembly District 10, Enumeration District 31-884.
  •  Grutzner, Charles, "Kenny admitted lie to jury on talk with pier gangster; police got $108,000 bribe bid," New York Times, Dec. 18, 1952.
  •  Perlmutter, Emanuel, "New lead on Pisano slaying provided by racketeer friend," New York Times, Oct. 1, 1959, p. 30.
  •  "Pisano hurried to his death after mysterious phone call," New York Times, Oct. 2, 1959, p. 16.
  •  Hindes, Eugene J., "Salvatore Granello...," FBI report 92-3960-30, NARA no. 124-90066-10093, June 27, 1962, p. 44.
  •  Flynn, James P., "Crime conditions in the New York division," FBI report CR 62-9-34-692, NARA no. 124-10348-10068, Dec. 3, 1962, p. 21-22.
  •  Andrews, Leon F. Jr., "La Causa Nostra Buffalo Division," FBI report 92-6054-296, NARA no. 124-10200-10453, June 14, 1963, p. 24-27.
  •  "Sketches of gangland figures named by Valachi in Senate testimony," New York Times, Sept. 28, 1963, p. 6.
  •  Donnelly, Frank H., "Anthony Provenzano aka Tony Pro," FBI report 92-7195-2, NARA no. 124-10221-10186, Dec. 20, 1963, p. 6-7.
  •  Valachi, Joseph, "The Real Thing: Second Government: The Expose and Inside Doings of Cosa Nostra," Joseph Valachi Personal Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 1964, p. 370.
  •  Durkin, Paul G., "Harold Konigsberg," FBI report CR 9205177-161, NARA no. 124-10348-10067, Aug. 16, 1965, p. 135.
  •  "F.B.I.-taped conversation sheds light on 1962 gangland slaying of Strollo," New York Times, Jan. 8, 1970, p. 33.

Abbatemarco, Anthony (1922-2005)

b. Brooklyn, NY, April 6, 1922.
d. July 17, 2005.

Related to several independent-spirited Profaci-Colombo Crime Family mobsters who met with violent ends, Anthony Abbatemarco attained a leadership position within the organization and reached a ripe, old age.

Born in Brooklyn on April 6, 1922, Anthony Abbatemarco was the first child of Frank and Mary Abbatemarco. The family lived at 702 President Street in the Park Slope section, just outside of Gowanus. On the same city block resided Anthony's grandmother Rosa and his uncle Dominick.

Frank Abbatemarco and his brother, Anthony's uncle Michael (known as "Mike Schatz"), were members of Frankie Yale's Brooklyn underworld organization at the time of Yale's assassination on July 1, 1928. The Yale gangsters appear to have been absorbed into the Mafia families of Giuseppe Masseria and Giuseppe Profaci. Michael, a Prohibition Era beer baron, may not have approved of the new arrangements. He was murdered just three months after his former boss. Frank Abbatemarco, who acquired his brother's "Schatz" nickname, apparently was more agreeable and became a soldier in the Profaci family. Anthony eventually would follow his father into that organization.

Frank grew in importance in the underworld of Brooklyn through the 1930s, specializing in gambling. Anthony, after serving in the military during World War II, joined in his father's policy (numbers) rackets. He became known to his associates as "Tony Shots."

In March of 1952, father and son were arrested along with young Gowanus-area mobsters Carmine Persico, Lawrence Gallo and Joey "Joe the Blond" Gallo, and several others involved in the Brooklyn numbers. Anthony, who claimed to be unemployed, was found to be holding a thick roll of bills totaling $2,400, and police noted he had recently purchased a new Lincoln automobile valued at $3,800. Authorities labeled Anthony the No. 2 man in the ring managed by Frank. Frank and Anthony pleaded guilty to lottery conspiracy charges on June 24, 1952. Both were sentenced to terms at Riker's Island Penitentiary - Frank for a year and Anthony for nine months.

When they were released from prison, the Abbatemarcos rejoined their old organization and went right back to work in the lucrative policy racket.

In the late 1950s, Frank Abbatemarco's crew began withholding tribute payments expected by crime family boss Profaci. As a result, the boss ordered the murders of both Frank and Anthony, and he called on the Gallos to perform the executions. Frank was executed on Nov. 4, 1959.

Learning of his father's murder, Anthony went into hiding. The Gallos expected to be rewarded for their efforts by being granted control of the policy racket, but Profaci instead gave that to his own relatives. Lawrence and Joey Gallo, their brother Albert and a number of allies openly rebelled against Profaci. Carmine Persico, initially part of the rebellion, switched to Profaci's side very early in the conflict. The Gallos forced concessions from Profaci early in 1961 by kidnapping several high-ranking Profaci crime family leaders, but Profaci reneged and condemned the rebels to death.

Gallo gunmen Joseph "Joe Jelly" Giorelli disappeared in August 1961. After he had been missing a few days, Profaci sent the rest of the gang a message: A bundle was thrown from a passing car near the gang hangout. It contained Giorelli's coat wrapped around a dead fish.

Later that month, Anthony Abbatemarco reappeared. Perhaps learning of the Gallos' insurrection and of their involvement in his father's murder - but not yet of Profaci's own role in those events - Anthony assisted in the Profaci-approved Aug. 20 attempted murder of Lawrence Gallo at a South Brooklyn restaurant. Carmine Persico is believed to have led Gallo to the location. The hit was interrupted by a passing patrolman, who was shot as Gallo's attackers fled. From his hospital bed, the patrolman identified Anthony Abbatemarco as the person who shot him. Abbatemarco was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of a police officer.

On the afternoon of Oct 4, Abbatemarco's cousin Joseph Magnasco - an important member of the Gallo faction - was shot to death on the sidewalk. Knowing of Magnasco's underworld connections, police immediately raided the headquarters of Direct Vending Corporation at 51 President Street, a front for Gallo rackets. They took 11 men in for questioning. The group included Lawrence and Joey Gallo, and, somewhat surprisingly, Anthony Abbatemarco. During the six weeks following the attempt on Lawrence Gallo's life, the Gallos apparently had an opportunity to set Abbatemarco straight on who was ultimately to blame for his father's murder.

Abbatemarco was with Lawrence and Albert Gallo (Joey Gallo was in prison), Leonard Dello, Alfonso Serantino, John Commarato and Frank "Punchy" Illiano on Jan. 31, 1962, as they entered a burning third-floor apartment to rescue six children. The group was interviewed and photographed for the newspapers. at the time, Albert Gallo commented, "We'll probably get locked up for putting out a fire without a license."

Anthony Abbatemarco (top left), with Albert Gallo,
Frank Illiano and the six children they rescued
from a burning apartment in 1962.

The Gallo rebellion continued through the death of Profaci on June 6, 1962, and through the troubled reign of Profaci's successor Giuseppe Magliocco. By 1964, Joseph Colombo took leadership of the crime family with the approval of the Mafia Commission. Colombo entered into negotiations with the Gallo faction in an effort to put a stop to the long conflict.

In this period, Abbatemarco abandoned the Gallo cause and supported Colombo, though the Gallo group's cooperation with Colombo quickly ended. Abbatemarco became part of a crew commanded for a time by the aging Salvatore "Charlie" Mineo (who also served in a top leadership post in the crime family). Also in the crew was Joseph Yacovelli. Early in 1965, the leadership of the crew was changed due to Mineo's poor health, and Abbatemarco found himself directly (and probably uncomfortably) subordinate to Carmine Persico.

After just a few years of relative calm, the crime family once again became unsettled. Persico was convicted of hijacking in 1968. Lawrence Gallo succumbed to cancer in the same year. Crime boss Joseph Colombo was shot and critically wounded on June 28, 1971, and "Crazy Joey" Gallo was believed responsible. Colombo was incapacitated by the shooting but did not die until May 22, 1978. Joey Gallo did not live as long. He was murdered while dining with friends at Umberto's Clam House in Manhattan in April 1972. A new "Gallo War" raged in the crime family, and the Gallo faction was split with the defection of John Cutrone and his allies to a growing Persico faction.

A series of interim bosses were selected in the crime family, and Joseph Yacovelli reportedly served in that role. However, real power settled on Carmine Persico and his brother and son. Abbatemarco and Yaccovelli became leading figures in a dissident faction, and gradually Abbatemarco emerged as the top man in that faction.

Abbatemarco fell into the habit of having "business-related" conversations in his automobile, a habit that was noticed by the FBI. Between May and September of 1974, the FBI listened in on his conversations through a surveillance device installed in the car. As the listening device was removed, the FBI informed Abbatemarco that it had been used. The recorded conversations, a number of them dealing with Abbatemarco's analysis of the strength of the Gambino Crime Family and its declining boss Carlo Gambino, were brought before a federal grand jury. Abbatemarco was subpoenaed but did not appear in U.S. District Court. Abbatemarco was plagued with alcoholism and anxiety and was unfit to testify in court, his attorney argued. The court received a doctor's note indicating that Abbatemarco's "judgment, thinking and memory" were "severely impaired."

The following year, Staten Island-based capodecina Thomas DiBella was placed in control of crime family operations. Under DiBella's watch an agreement was finally reached in the long struggle with the Gallo gang. Albert Gallo, the last surving Gallo brother, and other members of the group (including Frank "Punchy" Illiano) were permitted to leave the Colombo Crime Family and join with the Genovese organization.

In the mid-1970s, federal investigators learned that Abbatemarco was serving as the Colombo Crime Family underboss. In the fall of 1976, several crime family lieutenants approached him and Yaccovelli, then reportedly consigliere, to complain about the Persico-favoritism demonstrated by DiBella. New York crime families had agreed to "open the books" and induct new members in 1976, and DiBella reportedly gave 15 of the crime family's 33 approved new membership slots to the Persico faction, splitting the remainder among the other crime family crews. Reports indicate that Abbatemarco and Yaccovelli took the complaints to the Mafia leadership Commission, asking that DiBella be removed. The request was denied.

This amounted to a dangerous break between the Abbatemarco faction and DiBella. A meeting was called to resolve the dispute in May 1977. Abbatemarco and Yacovelli kept a safe distance. But ally Salvatore Albanese, a tough enforcer for the faction, attended a dinner sit-down with Persico and DiBella-aligned mobsters. Albanese was not seen after the dinner.

Abbatemarco reportedly went into hiding in upstate New York, turning operation of his gambling empire over to subordinates, and Yacovelli stopped following his normal daily routines.

While removed from the day-to-day activities of the crime family, Abbatemarco lived long enough to see the Persico faction split into two warring factions. He died in the summer of 2005.

Sources:

  •  Bonanno, Bill, and Gary B. Abromovitz, The Last Testament of Bill Bonanno: The Final Secrets of a Life in the Mafia, New York: Harper, 2011.
  •  Carr, Charlie, New York Police Files on the Mafia, Hosehead Productions, 2012.
  •  Cook, Fred, MAFIA! Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Gold Medal, 1973.
  •  Cressey, Donald R., Theft of the Nation, New York: Harper Colophon, 1969.
  •  Gage, Nicholas, Mafia USA, New York: Playboy Press, 1972. 
  • Raab, Selwyn, Five Families: The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2006.
  •  New York State Census of 1925.
  •  SAC New York, “La Cosa Nostra,” FBI memo, Jan. 21, 1965, NARA no. 124-10223-10353.
  •  Social Security Death Index.
  •  U.S. Census of 1930.
  •  “Ex-convict seized in policy ring raid,” New York Times, March 26, 1952.
  •  “Raids smash $2,500,000 policy ring,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 26, 1952, p. 1.
  •  “9 deny lottery charges,” New York Times, April 16, 1952.
  •  “Two gunmen kill gambling figure,” New York Times, Nov. 5, 1959.
  •  “Mafia strikes boro again! Police hunt killers here,” Brooklyn Daily, Nov. 6, 1959, p. 3.
  •  Clark, Alfred E., “Gallo case figure slain in Brooklyn,” New York Times, Oct. 5, 1961, p. 1.
  •  “Gallo figure gunned down,” Long Island Star-Journal, Oct. 5, 1961, p. 1.
  •  “Fear shooting may cause new violence,” Brooklyn Daily, Oct. 6, 1961, p. 3.
  •  “Gallo gang saves 6 tots from blaze,” Syracuse NY Post Standard, Feb. 1, 1962, p. 2. 
  •  “Cops praise mobsters for saving 6 in fire,” Bridgeport CT Post, Feb. 1, 1961, p. 16.
  •  “Profaci dies of cancer; led feuding Brooklyn mob,” New York Times, June 8, 1962.
  •  Buckley, Thomas, “Ex-detective chief says gang war dooms Gallos,” New York Times, Aug. 15, 1963
  •  Farrell, William E., “Colombo shot, gunman slain at Columbus Circle rally site,” New York Times, June 29, 1971, p. 1.
  •  Gage, Nicholas, "Yacovelli said to succeed Colombo in Mafia Family," New York Times, Sept. 1, 1971.
  •  “U.S. agents wiretapped Colombo aide 4 months,” New York Times, Oct. 8, 1974.
  •  Gage, Nicholas, “Colombo family underboss flees after failure to overthrow chief,” New York Times, June 5, 1977.
  •  “Joseph A. Colombo Sr., 54, paralyzed in shooting at 1971 rally, dies,” New York Times, May 24, 1978.
  •  Krajicek, David J., “Frankie Abbatemarco is the opening casualty in the Profaci family civil war,” New York Daily News, Sept. 19, 2010.