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.


Abbatemarco, Frank (1899-1959)

Born Brooklyn, NY, July 4, 1899.
Killed Brooklyn, NY, Nov. 4, 1959.

A link between the older Frank Yale organization of Brooklyn and the Giuseppe Profaci Crime Family, Frank Abbatemarco was one of several members of the Abbatemarco-Magnasco clan to be gunned down in mob hits.

Frank Abbatemarco was born in Brooklyn on July 4, 1899, fourth son of Anthony and Rose Abbatemarco and younger brother of Prohibition Era-racketeer Michael "Mike Schatz" Abbatemarco. Abbatemarco's parents left the Salerno province of Italy in the mid-1880s and settled in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. They lived and raised their family in the Italian neighborhoods of Carroll Street, President Street and Union Street. They formed a close relationship with their neighbors, the Cardello family. (Four Cardellos also became members of the Profaci-Colombo Crime Family.)

As a teenager, Frank Abbatemarco found work in a local lumber yard. Within a couple of years, he was a employed as a teamster for a firm on Manhattan's lower west side. But legitimate work was not for him.

About 1921, Abbatemarco married. He and his wife Mary settled into a home on President Street in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, just east of Gowanus. In the spring of 1922, their son Anthony was born.

In October of 1922, Abbatemarco was sentenced to two years in Atlanta Federal Prison following a conviction for conspiracy to sell morphine. Abbatemarco confessed that he alone was guilty of the charge in an apparent effort to win the release of a number of codefendants. One defendant, Michael Esposito, was discharged. However, Giovanni Bombara, Vincenzo Raiola, John Panico and Gaetano Sorentino were also convicted.

Following the assassination of Brooklyn gang leader Frank Yale on July 1, 1928, Yale-affiliated gangsters appear to have been divided between regional crime families. Those from South Brooklyn, including the Abbatemarcos, seem to have been assigned to the Profaci Crime Family. It was not a smooth transition. Michael "Mike Schatz" Abbatemarco, reportedly the head of a beer monopoly, was murdered that October after leaving an all-night poker game with some of the Cardellos.

Frank Abbatemarco, on the other hand, became an important member of Profaci's organization and ran a lucrative lottery in South Brooklyn. The authorities seem to have been aware of Abbatemarco's criminal activities in the early 1930s. He was arrested in New York City on Aug. 27, 1931, for vagrancy and discharged two weeks later. The following year, he was taken in by Jersey City, New Jersey, police on suspicion, and later released. New York Police arrested him again in May of 1934, releasing him a few days later.

At some point, Abbatemarco acquired his late brother's nickname and was known as "Frankie Schatz" or "Frankie Shots."

As his importance in the underworld increased, so did his independence. By the early 1950s, he was a Mafia capodecina leading an independent-minded crew of policy racketeers and burglars based in the Gowanus and Park Slope areas of South Brooklyn. The members of his crew would later figure prominently in a civil war within the Profaci organization.

The 53-year-old Abbatemarco and a number of his men were arrested by the Special Rackets Squad of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office on March 25, 1952. Frank Abbatemarco and his son Anthony, 30, were accused of leading a policy racket believed to rake in $2.5 million a year. Initially held as material witnesses in the case were Lawrence Gallo, 24; his brother Joseph Gallo, 23; Carmine Persico, 18; and several other men. Lawrence Gallo was found to be in possession of 20 new suits recently stolen from a warehouse in Manhattan.

In mid-April, Frank and Anthony Abbatemarco, Lawrence Gallo, Carmine Persico, Frank Iliano, Charles Brown, Walter Hare, Charles Wilson and Willie Huff were charged with conspiracy to operate a lottery. All initially pleaded not guilty. On June 24, Frank and Anthony Abbatemarco pleaded guilty to lottery charges. Frank was sentenced to a year in Riker's Island Penitentiary. Anthony was sentenced to nine months in the facility.

In the later 1950s, the independence of the South Brooklyn crew became a problem for crime boss Joe Profaci. The Abbatemarcos, the Gallos and Persico, feeling entitled to retain the bulk of the policy racket proceeds, began withholding required tribute payments to Profaci.

The late Frank Abbatemarco.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 6, 1959.

On Nov. 4, 1959, Frank Abbatemarco became the second member of his family to be murdered after socializing with the Cardellos. At 7:55 p.m., he was leaving a tavern owned by Anthony Cardello when he was confronted by two men wearing topcoats, fedoras pulled down low and scarves across their faces. Abbatemarco was shot at the door of the tavern and turned and ran back inside. The gunmen pursued. As Abbatemarco shouted, "No, no," they fired repeatedly into his body. They then turned casually and walked out the door.

Rumors indicated that the Gallos themselves had been persuaded by Profaci to set up or possibly even to perform the murder of their old friend and underworld chief Abbatemarco. The Gallos reportedly believed their reward would be control over the old Abbatemarco lottery. Profaci made a bad situation worse when he snubbed the Gallos and presented that racket to his own relatives.

Frank Abbatemarco's son Anthony, rumored also to be a Profaci target, went into hiding. He later became a puzzling character in the Gallo civil war against Profaci, but survived to lead a powerful faction within the Profaci-Colombo Crime Family.

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 (Kindle version), p. 196.
  •  Frank Abbatemarco Identification Record, Record no. 461 379, Federal Bureau of Investigation, published within Carr, Charlie, New York Police Files on the Mafia, Hosehead Productions, 2012, p. 644.
  •  Cook, Fred, MAFIA! Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Gold Medal, 1973, p. 205-207.
  •  Cressey, Donald R., Theft of the Nation, New York: Harper Colophon, 1969, p. 201.
  •  Raab, Selwyn, Five Families: The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2006, p. 322-323.
  •  New York State Census of 1915.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Cheribon, sailed from Naples, arrived New York City March 9, 1887.
  •  United States Census of 1910.
  •  United States Census of 1920.
  •  United States Census of 1930.
  •  “Drug sellers jailed pending an appeal,” Brooklyn Standard Union, Oct. 31, 1922.
  •  “Uale’s successor slain in auto by lone gunman, jealousy in gang hinted,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 6, 1928, p. 1.
  •  “Uale friend slain in car as he sits at driving wheel,” Brooklyn Standard Union, Oct. 6, 1928, p. 1.
  •  Daniell, F. Raymond, “Yale successor slain near place where chief died,” New York Evening Post, Oct. 6, 1928, p. 1.
  •  “Uale gang leader slain like his chief,” New York Times, Oct. 7, 1928, p. 1.
  •  “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.
  •  “Racket jurors to get more policy ring info,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 27, 1952, p. 3.
  •  “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.
  •  Buckley, Thomas, “Ex-detective chief says gang war dooms Gallos,” New York Times, Aug. 15, 1963.
  •  Gage, Nicholas, “Colombo family underboss flees after failure to overthrow chief,” New York Times, June 5, 1977.
  •  Krajicek, David J., “Frankie Abbatemarco is the opening casualty in the Profaci family civil war,” New York Daily News, Sept. 19, 2010.


Abbatemarco, Michael (1894-1928)

Born Brooklyn, NY, Sept. 3, 1894.
Killed Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 6, 1928.

Known as "Mike Schatz" ("Schatz" is a German word for "sweetheart") or "Mike Shots," Michael Abbatemarco was an influential Brooklyn gangster of the Prohibition Era. He was a top lieutenant in the Frank Yale organization of Brooklyn. His relatives are counted among the early building blocks of the Profaci Crime Family presence in the Gowanus area.

The Abbatemarco family roots extend back to the southern portion of the Province of Salerno in Italy. Michael Abbatemarco's parents, Anthony and Rose, traveled to the the United States in the mid-1880s. By 1910 they were settled in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. Michael was born Sept. 3, 1894, in Brooklyn. He grew up in the Italian neighborhoods of Carroll Street, President Street and Union Street. As a teenager, he worked for a time with his father at a "manure dump," making fertilizer. He later worked for a meat market and as a truckman. In the Great War, Abbatemarco served his country in Europe with the Army's Sixteenth Engineers and returned home in April 1919.

Early in 1920, he was living in his parents home, 265 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, in the same Gowanus neighborhood where he grew up. His brother Frank, then 21, and 17-year-old sister Christina also lived there. Their neighbors and close friends were the Cardellos. Michael Cardello, a stonecutter, and his wife Antoinette, had six sons and four daughters ranging in age from one year to 25 years.

The Prohibition Era provided enormous rewards for those willing to break the law, and Michael Abbatemarco apparently gave into the temptation. He moved to Manhattan's Catherine Street, just across the East River from Brooklyn, and became involved in rum-running. At about the same time, Abbatemarco took a bride, an Irish-American woman, Tessie McNab. The couple had a son in 1921 and named him Anthony.

The dangers of illegal activity quickly became apparent. Michael Abbatemarco and two companions were arrested for smuggling Jan. 7, 1922, at the South Fourth Street Pier in Brooklyn. A customs inspector arrived at the pier while Abbatemarco and his associates were moving an unknown cargo from the S.S. St. Mary, just arrived from Havana, to a motorboat. Shots were fired, and one of the smugglers, Richard Price, was wounded. Several other men who were part of the smuggling effort escaped in the motorboat. Abbatemarco appears to have avoided any significant punishment for his activities at the South Fourth Street Pier.

Michael moved himself and his family back to Brooklyn around 1923. His young son, Anthony, was killed in a motor vehicle accident in January of 1926. For years, memorial notices were posted in newspapers to mark the sad anniversary of the incident.

Through the Prohibition Era, Michael Abbatemarco increased in importance within the Brooklyn underworld organization of Frankie Yale. Some suggested Abbatemarco held a monopoly on Prohibition Era beer sales. He became a leading figure in the underworld following the murder of Yale in July 1928, though most sources agree that Anthony "Little Augie Pisano" Carfano succeeded to the leadership of Yale's organization.

Immediately after Yale's death, Abbatemarco purchased a flashy new automobile and changed his address. He moved from his home at 321 First Street in Brooklyn to a two-story yellow brick home at 38 Seventy-Ninth Street in the borough's Bay Ridge section. But Abbatemarco did not have long to enjoy his new riches.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 7, 1928.
On the evening of October 5, 1928, Abbatemarco played poker at a coffeehouse, Union Street and Fourth Avenue, with several other men, including Tony and Jamie Cardello. It was after 3 a.m. when Abbatemarco left the card game for home. Jamie Cardello reportedly walked him to the curb. A gangster by the name of Ralph Sprizza may have been with Abbatemarco at the time. Abbatemarco got into his coupe and drove away. He and the car were next seen at 4:15 a.m. in front of 2421 Eighty-Third Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Abbatemarco was slumped dead behind the wheel with bullet wounds in his neck, forehead, right cheek and chest. The car's engine was still running.

A young man named Jack Simon, who was walking by just before the killing, told police he saw a man get out of the stopped car. He recalled hearing some gunshots a short time later and turned to see the man walking through a vacant lot to 84th Street. Police discovered a just-fired handgun in the lot.

Detectives explored a number of motives for the slaying of Abbatemarco: He may have been double-crossed by an underworld associate, he may have been disciplined for double-crossing someone else, he may have been a casualty of a civil war in the former Yale gang, or he may have been killed due to a personal grudge or romantic affair.

Abbatemarco's funeral
Abbatemarco's funeral was nearly as impressive as that of his former underworld boss, Yale. His coffin, of silvered bronze, had an estimated value between $6,000 and $10,000. The funeral cortege included more than 100 cars and fourteen cars of floral decorations. Due to his service in the Great War, a military honor guard - eight riflemen from the Eighteenth Infantry, First Division, at Fort Hamilton - participated in the funeral. Anthony Carfano was conspicuously absent from the funeral, though he reportedly sent a large floral piece - a tower of roses topped by a fluttering dove. Newspapers noted that Carfano had not been in Brooklyn, except for quick visits, since the murder of Yale. John "Ross" DeRosa, believed to be a manager of Carfano's interests in the borough, did attend the Abbatemarco services. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery. Abbatemarco's wife Tessie and mother Rosa wept and swooned at the gravesite.

In February of 1929, police arrested Ralph "The Captain" Sprizza, 33, in connection with the murder of Michael Abbatemarco. Sprizza, originally from Naples, was largely a product of the same Gowanus neighborhood as Abbatemarco and had served two prison sentences for burglary. A member of Profaci's crime family, he was said to have been the last person to see Abbatemarco alive. Police suggested to the press they had evidence that Sprizza fired the bullets that took Abbatemarco's life. Sprizza denied any involvement in the killing.

Abbatemarco's brother Frank, nephew Anthony Abbatemarco and relative Joseph Magnasco went into the Brooklyn-based Profaci Crime Family. They became associated with the President Street crew that later became controlled by the Gallo brothers. Frank Abbatemarco and Joseph Magnasco were both murdered. Anthony Abbatemarco increased in underworld stature as Joseph Colombo took over the leadership of the Profaci family. He became a strong faction leader in the Profaci-Colombo organization and eventually rose to the position of crime family underboss.

Sources:

  •  New York State Census of 1915.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Cheribon, sailed from Naples, arrived New York City March 9, 1887.
  •  SAC New York, FBI memo, NARA #124-10287-10228, June 22, 1964.
  •  United States Census of 1910.
  •  United States Census of 1920.
  •  United States Census of 1930.
  •  World War I Draft Registration Card of Michael Abbatemarco, June 1917.
  •  “Brooklyn engineers home on the Panaman,” Brooklyn Standard Union, April 23, 1919, p. 12.
  •  “Man fleeing from customs inspector is shot twice,” New York Tribune, Jan. 8, 1922, p. 14.
  •  “Obituaries,” Brooklyn Standard Union, Nov. 2, 1922.
  •  “In memoriam,” Brooklyn Standard Union, Jan. 5, 1928, p. 16.
  •  “Uale friend slain in car as he sits at driving wheel,” Brooklyn Standard Union, Oct. 6, 1928, p. 1.
  •  “Uale’s successor slain in auto by lone gunman, jealousy in gang hinted,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 6, 1928, p. 1.
  •  Daniell, F. Raymond, “Yale successor slain near place where chief died,” New York Evening Post, Oct. 6, 1928, p. 1.
  •  “Uale gang leader slain like his chief,” New York Times, Oct. 7, 1928, p. 1
  •  Rogers, Wilbur E., “Search for rival whom slain gang chief had defied,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 7, 1928, p. 1.
  •  “Beer racket clue at Philadelphia in gang slaying,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 8, 1928, p. 1.
  •  “Gang chief buried with honor guard,” New York Evening Post, Oct. 10, 1928, p. 1.
  •  “Wife of slain beer racketeer swoons in rite at son’s grave,” Brooklyn Standard Union, Oct. 10, 1928, p. 13.
  •  “Throng at funeral of slain Uale aide,” New York Times, Oct. 11, 1928.
  •  “Arraign suspect in gang murder of Abbatemarco,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb. 5, 1929, p. 5.
  •  “Killing of aide to Uale is laid to man in quiz,” Brooklyn Standard Union, Feb. 5, 1929, p. 1.


Yale, Frank (1893-1928)

[This bio is an excerpt from a larger article, "What do we know about Frankie Yale?"]

Born Longobucco, Italy, Jan. 22, 1893.

Killed Brooklyn, NY, July 1, 1928.

Frankie Yale
Frankie Yale was a Brooklyn gangster and businessman with ties to Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and Al Capone. His 1928 assassination coincided with dramatic changes in the Brooklyn underworld and the Mafia of the United States.

Yale was born Jan. 22, 1893, in Longobucco, a town in the southern mainland Italian region of Calabria. His father, Domenick Ioele, was born about 1860. His mother, Isabella DeSimone Ioele, was born between 1863 and 1865. Frank had two brothers, John and Angelo, and a sister, Assunta. Domenick Ioele crossed the Atlantic to America in 1898. John and Frank joined him in New York in the early 1900s. Isabella, Assunta and Angelo followed on Sept. 4, 1907. Domenick worked as a wholesale produce merchant. John was employed as a postcard printer. Frank "Yale" found early work as a railroad guard.

Yale's first arrest occurred in October 1912. He was convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $10. In July 1913, he was arrested with Michael Petro and Andrew Bombara for first-degree robbery and second-degree assault. In court, the victim refused to identify the defendants. Yale become involved in some gang conflicts, including a brawl that drew police officers to a Bath Beach, Brooklyn, coffeehouse on Feb. 1, 1917. Yale, then 23, and two other men were arrested for carrying revolvers. On May 21, Yale was convicted on a weapons charge and was given a stay in the penitentiary on Blackwell's Island.

In the same year, Yale married Mary DeLapere. In June 1918, daughter Isabella was born to the couple. Another daughter, Rose, was born in October 1919. In January, 1920, the young Yale family lived with Mary's parents in a multi-family home at 6605 14th Avenue in Brooklyn. At that time, Yale reported that he was employed as an undertaker.

Yale was noted in Chicago at the time of "Big Jim" Colosimo's May 1920 murder and was briefly considered a suspect in the killing.

Yale was wounded in the chest during a two-day gang fight at Manhattan's Park Row in February 1921. Another brawling gangster, Michael Demosci, was killed in a shootout. In June, Yale was arrested in connection with the decapitation murder of Ernesto Melchiorre at Coney Island. He was quickly released for lack of evidence. A short time later, on July 15, Yale's car was riddled with heavy-caliber bullets fired from a passing vehicle. Robert (Rocco) Lawrence of 72nd Street and Yale's brother Angelo were wounded in the attack. Frank Yale and companions Anthony "Little Augie Pisano" Carfano and "Babe" Cannalle were unharmed. Silvio Melchiorre, brother of the recently murdered Ernesto, was killed eight days later. Yale was suspected of involvement but there was no evidence to hold him.

In the early 1920s, Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria eliminated a bothersome rival and assembled a strong Mafia organization in Manhattan. He quickly welcomed Yale and Carfano into his growing underworld empire.

As a businessman, Yale was involved in a funeral home, in a restaurant, some laundries, a taxi company and a cigar manufacturing plant. "Frankie Yale" cigars included with the crime boss's image on the box. Yale provided generously to charities in Brooklyn and was a donor to St. Rosalia's Roman Catholic Church.

In the early morning of July 9, 1923, another attempt was made to murder him. Gunmen shot and killed the only occupant of the Yale automobile, driver Frank Forte. Police and press concluded that Forte was killed by accident.

Yale made another trip west to Chicago in November 1924, following the death of highly regarded Chicago Mafia leader Michele Merlo. Yale traveled along with Brooklyn Mafioso Saverio "Sam" Pollaccia. The visit of the Brooklyn mobsters coincided with the Nov. 10 murder of Chicago's North Side Gang boss, Dean O'Banion.

Chicago Police recalled that Yale had been in town when Colosimo was killed and suspected him of involvement in the O'Banion murder. Yale and Pollaccia were held, as police checked into their alibis. When their stories checked out, they were released.

Yale's father, Domenico, died at his Brooklyn home on March 3, 1926. His March 6 funeral was said to be among the largest recalled in Brooklyn.

That summer, Yale and his wife separated. Yale began spending time with a woman in Manhattan, though he continued to support Mary and their daughters. He quietly sought a divorce. That summer, Yale married again. He and his wife Lucita were joined in a civil ceremony in Brooklyn. Some said that Lucita had formerly been married to a murdered Mott Street restaurateur.

When friction began between Capone and Sicilian Mafia bosses in Chicago, Masseria stepped in to make Capone his personal vassal, a capodecina in the Masseria organization. At about the same time, Masseria became quite close to Yale lieutenant Carfano. Yale, targeted by rivals for many years, was growing less important to his primary underworld protector, Masseria.

Capone and Yale reportedly partnered in a rum-running operation. Rumors got back to Capone that Yale was cheating him. Capone responded by having a spy named James DeAmato inserted into Yale's organization. In July 1927, DeAmato was found dead on a Brooklyn street.

On May 2, 1928, a daughter was born to Frank and Lucita Yale. Later in the year, Mary Yale was granted an interlocutory divorce decree including alimony of $35 a week.

At about 4 p.m. on July 1, 1928, Yale was driving his Lincoln automobile along 44th Street in Brooklyn, when he was overtaken by a black sedan. Shots were fired into the Lincoln's rear window, and Yale accelerated in an effort to escape. The two cars came abreast between 9th and 10th Avenues, and a volley was fired by pistols and a sawed-off shotgun into Yale's car. Yale's skull was crushed by the slugs, and his car veered off the road, crashing into the stone steps in front of 923 44th Street. He died immediately.

Yale was given an elaborate gangland sendoff, arranged by the Graziano & Janone Funeral Home and his lieutenant Anthony Carfano. A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Rosalia's Church. An estimated 15,000 people turned out to catch a glimpse of Yale's reported silver coffin, believed to be worth $15,000. The funeral cortege included 200 automobiles of mourners and a "mountain of floral tributes, gaudy enough to have satisfied even the show-loving gang leader."

The police investigation of Yale's killing eventually pointed to Capone. Three of Capone's associates reportedly had left him in Miami Beach and headed north on a train that reached New York City hours before the murder. Investigators learned that Capone had threatened Yale following the slaying of James DeAmato. Later, ballistic evidence linked the weapons used in the Yale killing with those used in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago. Police arrested various individuals in connection with the Yale murder but were unable to assemble a convincing case against any of them.

Though the loss of his powerful Brooklyn group leader should have negatively impacted Giuseppe Masseria, Masseria appears to have suffered no ill effect. By the end of the 1928, Masseria was proclaimed boss of bosses of the Mafia in the United States. Two other men appear to have benefited greatly from the elimination of Yale. Anthony Carfano took charge of many of Yale's lucrative rackets. And Giuseppe Profaci, who quietly led a small Mafia organization comprised of relatives and fellow immigrants from Villabate, Sicily, assumed control of Yale men and territory in southern Brooklyn. The added strength and prestige instantly made Profaci a significant player in the national Mafia network.

Sources:

  •  "1,000 suspects seized by Chicago police," New York Times, Nov. 17, 1924.
  •  "10,000 guarded in Frank Yale's $50,000 burial," New York Evening Post, July 5, 1928, p. 18.
  •  "2 men wounded when gangsters attack in motor," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 15, 1921, p. 18.
  •  "Auto gunmen wound two in car and flee," New York Tribune, July 16, 1921, p. 13.
  •  "Capone subpoenaed in murder of Yale," New York Times, July 8, 1928, p. 3.
  •  "Decision reserved in case of justices' pistol permits," New York Tribune, Feb. 25, 1922, p. 7.
  •  "Frank Yale saved again in gang feud; friend shot dead," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 9, 1923, p. 18.
  •  "Gangster shot dead in daylight attack," New York Times, July 2, 1928, p. 1. 
  •  "Give up monument at Uale son's request," Brooklyn Standard Union, March 12, 1926, p. 6.
  •  "Gun that slew Yale traced to Chicago and Capone arsenal," New York Times, Jan. 18, 1930, p. 1.
  •  "Gunmen kill man in crowded street; old feud suspected," New York Tribune, July 24, 1921, p. 7.
  •  "Gunmen kill one, wound 2, in Park Row," New York Tribune, Feb. 7, 1921, p. 3.
  •  "Hold merchant for perjury," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 9, 1913, p. 2.
  •  "Hunt Yale's slayer at showy funeral," New York Times, July 6, 1928.
  •  "In the real estate market: Parochial school to cost $175,000," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 24, 1928.
  •  "Permits by justices to carry guns valid," New York Evening World, March 2, 1922, p. 2.
  •  "Police reports clash on fatal Yale bullet," New York Times, Jan. 29, 1930. 
  •  "Prison, then exile for daring robber," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 21, 1917, p. 3. 
  •  "Question gangster in Marlow murder," New York Times, July 19, 1929, p. 16. 
  •  "Ruby Goldstein stops Cecolli in first round," Brooklyn Standard Union, May 3, 1927, p. 11.
  •  "Say three carried guns," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb. 2, 1917, p. 20.
  •  "Shot dead for another," New York Times, July 9, 1923.
  •  "Uale breaking ground for parochial school," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 2, 1928, p. 3.
  •  "Uale, gangster, left estate of $3,000 only," New York Times, Oct. 15, 1930.
  •  "Warren rebuffs plea to fight gangs," New York Times, July 12, 1928, p. 1.
  •  "Yale killed by Chicago gun," New York Sun, Jan. 18, 1930, p. 2.
  •  Critchley, David, The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia, 1891-1931, New York: Routledge, 2009.
  •  Domenico Ioele Death Certificate, No. 5158, Kings County, NY, March 3, 1926.
  •  Frank Uale Death Certificate, Borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, No. 14764, July 1, 1928, filed July 3, 1928.
  •  Gentile, Nick, Vita di Capomafia, Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1963.
  •  Pasley, Fred D., Al Capone: The Biography of a Self-Made Man, Garden City NY: Garden City Publishing Company, 1930.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Nord America, departed Naples on Aug. 22, 1907, arrived New York City on Sept. 4, 1907.
  •  Thompson, Craig, and Allen Raymond, Gang Rule in New York: The Story of a Lawless Era, New York: Dial Press, 1940.
  •  U.S. Census of 1910, Brooklyn borough, New York, Supervisor's District 2, Enumeration District 1073, Ward 30. 
  •  U.S. Census of 1920, Brooklyn borough, New York, Supervisor's District 3, Enumeration District 955, Ward AD-16.
  •  U.S. Census of 1930, Brooklyn borough, New York, Supervisor's District 32, Enumeration District 23-1389, Ward AD-16.
  •  World War I draft registration card of Frank Uale, June 1917.
  •  World War I draft registration card of Angelo Ioele.



Petro, Julius (1922-1969)

Born Cleveland, OH, June 13, 1922.

Killed Los Angeles, CA, Jan. 10, 1969

Julius Anthony Petro was born June 13, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio, to John and Lydia Petro, Italian immigrants. One of three children, he grew up in a residential area several blocks from the rail yards in the South Collinwood neighborhood on Cleveland's east side.

As a young man, Petro became involved in a gang of robbers and safecrackers in northwest Ohio. As a result of his illegal activities, he came close to death at least twice.

He survived an Ohio execution sentence handed down following his October 1946 conviction for murder. He was believed responsible for killing Theodore "Bobby" Knaus, his accomplice, following the robbery of $4,000 from Green's Cafe in Cleveland. While on death row, Petro won a retrial on appeal. He was acquitted of the murder on June 16, 1948.

Just three months later, Petro was identified as one of five gunmen who robbed the Green Acres casino in Struthers, just outside of Youngstown, Ohio. Two hundred and fifty patrons were inside the casino at the time of the 4 a.m. robbery on Sept. 17, 1948. An estimated $30,000 of cash and jewels was taken from the casino and its gamblers. According to rumors, a three-and-a-half-carat diamond ring belonging to Joseph DiCarlo was part of the loot. DiCarlo and regional gambling racketeer Frank Budak were believed to be the operators of the Green Acres.

During the robbery, shots were exchanged between the intruders and casino guards, and, on Sept. 18, Petro was brought into Cleveland's Emergency Clinic Hospital with gunshot wounds to his right chest and arm. Petro recovered from his wounds and went back to his old ways.

At 9:40 in the morning of Aug. 14, 1952, Petro and accomplice Joseph J. Sanzo stopped a car driven by Charles J. Foley, branch manager of Union Savings and Trust Company in Warren OH. The two men, wearing burlap hoods, approached the car. One broke the passenger window of the car with a sawed-off shotgun, while the other stood at the driver's side window with a revolver. Foley turned over a money bag containing $71,000.

Petro and Sanzo were identified fleeing from the scene. They had also been seen in the vicinity at the time of the robbery and previous to it. When arrested, each had in his possession money taken from Foley.
Petro was convicted of armed bank robbery and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He served about 13 years of that term, and was released in May of 1966.

Upon his release, he joined a number of Cleveland racketeers who had relocated to southern California. There he reportedly became an enforcer for a gambling operation. By the end of 1968, Petro was seen as a threat to John G. "Sparky" Monica, who ran the gambling rackets. Monica approached another former Cleveland-affiliated gangster, Raymond W. Ferrito of Erie, Pennsylvania, to deal with the threat.

On Jan. 10, 1969, Petro borrowed a 1966 Cadillac convertible from friend Roberta Miller in order to make a drive to Los Angeles International Airport.

Two days later, police were alerted to a man slumped over the steering wheel of a car in the airport parking lot. They found the man dead with a small caliber gunshot wound at the base of his skull. No identifying papers were found with the body. Through fingerprints, police identified the murder victim as Petro.

A federal grand jury was convened in Los Angeles in 1969 to look into the activities of the regional underworld, in particular the murder of Petro. Nick Licata, 72, believed to be the Mafia boss of southern California, was brought in for questioning early in July. Though granted immunity from prosecution, Licata refused to answer questions and was jailed for contempt of court.

Nine years later, Ferrito turned informant and admitted to being the gunman in the Petro murder. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder. He told authorities that John Monica paid him $5,000 to kill Petro. Monica denied ordering the murder. Ferrito also claimed responsibility for the October 1977 bombing murder of racketeer Daniel Greene in Cleveland.

Sources:
  •  California Death Index.
  •  Demaris, Ovid, The Last Mafiosi, 1981.
  •  Dye, Lee, “Parolee’s murder mystifies police,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 16, 1969, p. 1
  •  Farr, Bill, “’Hit man’ admits murder at airport,” Los Angeles Times, May 19, 1978, p. 5
  •  Hazlett, Bill, “1969 gangland slaying case headed for trial,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 8, 1982, p. C6.
  •  Hertel, Howard, and Gene Blake, "Reputed Mafia chief defies court, jailed," Los Angeles Times, July 10, 1969, p. 1.
  •  Hunt, Thomas, and Michael A. Tona, DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime, Volume II, 2013.
  •  "In the matter of proceedings to compel Robert J. McAuley as a witness in a criminal proceeding in California," Court of Appeals of Ohio, decided Aprl 12, 1979.
  •  "Informers said to give key testimony on crime figures," New York Times, Feb. 8, 1978, p. 16.
  •  Petro v. United States, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Feb. 12, 1954. (Also Joseph J. Sanzo v. U.S.)
  •  “Petro, freed in killing, is found shot,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sept. 18, 1948.
  •  Porrello, Rick, Superthief, 2006.
  •  Porrello, Rick, To Kill the Irishman, 1998.
  •  U.S. Census of 1930
  •  U.S. Census of 1940

Zwillman, Abner "Longie" (1904/5-1959)

Born Newark, NJ, July 27, 1904/5.
Died (apparent suicide) West Orange, NJ, Feb. 26, 1959.

Abner Zwillman was born July 27, 1905 (some records indicate 1904) in Newark, New Jersey. He was one of seven children born to Reuben and Anna Slavinsky Zwillman, Russian immigrants. Zwillman was raised in one of Newark's poorer neighborhoods. He reportedly dropped out of grammar school in the eighth grade. Zwillman's departure from school roughly coincided with the disappearance of his father from available records.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, as Zwillman advanced in rank within the Newark underworld, he had his first brushes with the law. He was arrested by the Newark Police Department on March 8, 1927, for assault and battery. The charge was later dismissed. In November 1928, an additional charge of assault and battery was filed against him, this time by the Essex County Sheriff's Office. Zwillman remained free until December 1930. He was convicted on the charge on Dec. 11, 1930, and was sentenced to six months in Essex County Penitentiary and a $1,000 fine.

Outwardly a fruit and vegetable dealer, Zwillman actually controlled much of the illicit alcohol flowing into the State of New Jersey during Prohibition. Around 1926, he had begun a close association with New York racketers Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro, Morris Samuel "Dimples" Wolinsky and Benjamin "Cuddy" Kutlow, and also became acquainted with Mafiosi Willie Moretti, Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, Frank Costello, "Trigger Mike" Coppola, Giuseppe "Joe Adonis" Doto, Anthony "Little Augie Pisano" Carfano, Gerardo Catena and Charles and Rocco Fischetti.

His underworld relationships were not always positive. Press reports discussed a rivalry between Zwillman, de facto political boss of Newark's Third Ward, and Ruggiero "Richie the Boot" Boiardo of the First Ward. At one point, Zwillman's Third Ward Political Club at Waverly and Avon Streets was held up by armed intruders, presumably Boiardo men. There followed a peace conference between the Newark factions, brokered by Mafia leaders.

With the end of Prohibition, Zwillman moved to 120 Hansbury Avenue and later to South Munn Avenue in East Orange from 1936 to 1946. On July 7, 1939, he married Newark native Mary Mendels Steinbach, previously divorced mother of a five-year-old son. The wedding was attended by 300 people, and the press indicated that most of the attendees were racketeers from eastern U.S. criminal syndicates. After returning from a honeymoon lasting 40 days, Zwillman found himself in a federal courtroom. Called as a witness before a Southern District of New York grand jury looking into the disappearance of Lepke Buchalter, Zwillman was asked about his business and business associates. He refused to answer the questions. Judge Johnson J. Hayes found Zwillman in contempt and sentenced him to six months in prison. The conviction was overturned on appeal.

The Zwillman family moved to 50 Beverly Road in West Orange in 1946. Costly improvements made to the household in the following years caught the attention of federal investigators, who determined that the improvements could not have been paid for with the meager income Zwillman and his wife reported on their tax returns.

In the summer of 1950, Zwillman appeared before the U.S. Senate's Kefauver Committee for questioning in its investigation of organized crime in interstate commerce. At that time, Zwillman was regarded as the boss of the New Jersey underworld. His rackets included gambling operations and coin-operated vending and jukebox machines (a racket allegedly shared with Charlie Luciano). His legitimate business interests included Public Service "PS" Tobacco cigarette vending company (shared with Luciano's close friend Michael Lascari), Federal Automatic washing machine company, E&S Trading scrap iron company, A&S Trading machinery company and Greater Newark GMC Truck Sales Co.He was said to have considerable influence in politics and labor unions.

A first effort to prosecute Zwillman for tax evasion failed in summer 1953, when a federal grand jury would not indict. In the spring of 1954, Zwillman was indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark on two counts of income tax evasion. The charges related to tax returns filed by Zwillman and his wife in 1947 and 1948. Trial began before Judge Reynier J. Wortendyke Jr. in January 1956 and concluded with a hung jury on March 1.

In January 1959, an FBI microphone installed at Newark's Supreme Beverage Company overheard Zwillman men conversing about steps that were taken to ensure that Zwillman would not be convicted in the 1956 trial. Federal prosecutors early in February filed charges against Peter Dominick LaPlaca, Samuel "Big Sue" Katz and Edward A. Goodspeed for offering and paying bribes to two jurors in the 1956 Zwillman tax trial.

On Feb. 26, 1959, Zwillman was found dead in his West Orange home. That morning, his wife discovered his lifeless body suspended from its neck by an electrical cord tied to a basement rafter. She told police she recalled her husband getting up in the middle of the night complaining of chest pains. Zwillman had reportedly battled deep depression since Senate investigators recently began examining his role in the jukebox industry.

(See an expanded Zwillman article on the American Mafia website: The Capone of New Jersey - Abner 'Longie' Zwillman.)

Sources:

  •   Abner Zwillman FBI files.
  •  Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee) hearings, Volume 12.
  •  New York Times archives.
  •  Washington Post archives.
  •  1910 and 1940 U.S. Census.
  •  1927 Newark City Directory.



Lombardo, Antonino (1891-1928)

Born Galati, Sicily, Nov. 23, 1891.

Killed Chicago, IL, Sept. 7, 1928.

Antonino Lombardo

Lombardo, a trusted Capone adviser and perhaps his organization's consigliere, was one of the tools used by Capone in his effort to penetrate Chicago's Unione Siciliana.

In the chaos following Unione leader Mike Merlo's death in November 1924, Samuel Amatuna briefly held the presidency of the Sicilian underworld network in the Chicago area. Amatuna got in the way of some bullets five days after the first anniversary of Merlo's death, and the Unione leadership was once again vacant.

According to legend, Capone, who had taken over Johnny Torrio's operations in January of that year, used his influence to shove Lombardo into the president's chair. Reportedly many objected to the move but were too fearful of Capone's wrath to oppose it. The legend is probably inaccurate. Capone's authority within Chicago's Sicilian-Italian underworld was limited in 1925. However, it could be the case that Lombardo - a respected figure in the immigrant Sicilian community - took Capone under his wing.

Antonio Lombardo was born to Salvatore and Rosaria Lombardo on Nov. 23, 1891. Little is known for certain of his early life. It appears he entered the United States early in 1909. By the Prohibition Era, he was living in Cicero, Illinois, and running a successful wholesale grocery in Chicago.

Legend says that, by 1926, Lombardo was preparing the way for a direct takeover of the Chicago-area Unione Siciliana fraternal organization by Capone. Lombardo supposedly opened the membership of the group to non-Sicilian Italians, allowing the Neapolitan Capone to become a member. As a sign of the policy change, the organization changed its name to the Italo-American National Union. While the name change portion of this legend is accurate, the Unione fraternal organization had actually been open to non-Sicilian Italians for some time but remained closed to any who had criminal records. So, either the legend of Capone's takeover is incorrect or the name Unione Siciliana was applied at the time to more than the fraternal organization. If Unione Siciliana was a term used to refer to an underworld network in the Chicago area, it would explain Capone's long struggle to earn its recognition.

By 1927, Capone's meddling in the Unione and his aggressiveness in the Chicago rackets had forced the Aiello Brothers into an alliance with the North Side Gang against Capone. In January 1928, there were demands that Lombardo surrender the local Unione presidency to Joe Aiello. That did not happen.

The Sicilian underworld in Chicago took aim at Lombardo and blew him away in early September. He was shot in the head in front of 61 East Madison Street on Sept. 7, 1928. Lombardo's funeral was elaborate, in the gangland tradition. Mourners lined the streets, and floral decorations filled his home and spilled out onto the lawn. An enormous floral heart containing the words, "My Pal," was provided by Capone. Lombardo was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery on Sept. 11.

After Lombardo, there followed a succession of short-lived presidents of the Chicago Unione, and the Unione itself began to diminish in importance as the Chicago Sicilian-Italian criminal societies consolidated.

Lombardo death certificate


Lolordo, Pasqualino (1885-1929)

Born Ribera, Sicily, June 28, 1887.

Died Chicago, IL, Jan. 8, 1929.


Lolordo was one of the unfortunate leaders of the Chicago Unione Siciliana of the late Prohibition Era. He stepped to the Unione presidency upon the death of Antonio Lombardo in September of 1928.

Lolordo's place of birth appears to have been Ribera, Sicily. The date of his birth was June 28, though the year is recorded differently in public records. A 1917 World War I draft registration shows his birth year as 1887. Lolordo's Cook County, Illinois, death certificate states that he was born in 1885. The later year seems the more reliable of the two. Lolordo entered the U.S. about 1907 and initially settled in New York City. He married Lena Mule. After serving time in a New York prison before Prohibition, he migrated westward to Chicago, where he became a successful merchant.

Police initially suspected Pasqualino's brother Joseph Lolordo - a Lombardo bodyguard - of performing the 1928 assassination of Lombardo. Newspapers noted that Joseph Lolordo and Al Capone had the same attorney at that time.

Pasqualino Lolordo's dreams of becoming a second Mike Merlo - and, in fact, his dreams of anything at all - stopped abruptly on Jan. 8, 1929. On that day, he was assassinated by visitors to his home. It is believed that the killing was ordered by the Aiello Mafia clan.

After Pasqualino's death, his wife Lena returned to New York City and lived with in-laws there.

Joseph "Hop Toad" Giunta, who had begun a Sicilian revolt within the Capone organization, bravely took over the Unione presidency. But he wouldn't survive to see the summer.