Tagliagambe, Silvio (1893-1922)

Born Finali, Sicily, June 23, 1893.
Killed New York, NY, May 9, 1922.

Silvio Tagliagambe was part of the Brooklyn- and Bronx-based Salvatore D'Aquila Crime Family as it unwisely attempted to take control of rackets in Manhattan. Tagliagambe lost his life in the war between D'Aquila and Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria.

Born in the Sicilian coastal village of Finali in the eastern reaches of Palermo province, Tagliagambe came to the United States as a youth, arriving in 1906-1907. His early residence in the U.S. was in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, home to an "old-school" Mafia faction transplanted from the area of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. During his short life, he was linked with a conservative Mafia faction.

As a young adult, Tagliagambe became involved with a Manhattan gang commanded by James "Jimmy Curley" Carioggi. (Carioggi, whose surname was sometimes spelled "Carrogio," was also known as "Gold Mine Jimmy.")

NY Tribune
In 1913-1914, the Jimmy Curley Gang feuded with a rising Manhattan racketeer named Antonio Celentano. Evidence of the feud first reached the newspapers when Celentano was taken into custody for the July 16, 1913, fatal shooting of Joseph Donato of 57 Kenmare Street. A police officer from the Mulbery Street Station witnessed part of the gunfight between Celentano and Donato in a saloon near the corner of Kenmare and Mott Streets. The officer arrested Celentano, who was found to be unarmed. The officer indicated that another unseen gunman also was involved. Donato died at St. Vincent's Hospital of a bullet wound to the forehead.

Seven members of the Curley Gang struck back just after midnight on February 12, 1914. Celentano was having a late supper with his wife at the Tivoli Restaurant, 341 Broome Street. Eight or nine other diners were also inside the small establishment. At about twelve-thirty, the seven gangsters entered quietly, one at a time, and positioned themselves along the restaurant walls.

The seven drew firearms, as one pointed out Celentano. Gangster Antonio Santini approached Celentano, moved his handgun from his right to left hand and drew a knife with his right. Celentano responded by standing with his hands raised.

The remaining gangsters proceeded to rob everyone in the establishment, including proprietor Raymond Perrette, of cash and jewelry. A diamond ring valued at $500 was taken from Mrs. Celentano. When that was finished, Santini stabbed Celentano repeatedly in the side and abdomen. Celentano fell to the floor, bleeding badly.

The gangsters fled. Screams from the restaurant alerted three nearby police officers, who gave chase. The gangsters took off in different directions, some were observed tossing away handguns. The police managed to catch up with three of them: Antonio Santini, twenty, of 348 East Thirteenth Street in Manhattan; Leo Belanca, twenty, of 504 East Thirteenth Street; and Tagliagambe, then a resident of 741 Park Avenue in Brooklyn. Tagliagambe was the only one of the three found to be in possession of a revolver.

Santini initially was charged with assault, as Celentano underwent treatment at St. Vincent's Hospital. Celentano was believed to be near death but miraculously recovered. (This may have been the same Antonio Celentano who was arrested in 1917 as leader of an extensive lottery racket.)

Records indicate that Santini and Belanca were convicted of second degree robbery in Manhattan General Sessions Court and sentenced to serve five and a half to seven and a half years in Sing Sing.  There is no such record for Tagliagambe, suggesting that he avoided serious penalty for his involvement in the Tivoli Restaurant incident.

It seems likely that the Jimmy Curley Gang was affiliated with a Mafia organization in New York City. Tagliagambe, as the only known member from outside the East Village, may have served as a link between the gang and Brooklyn Mafia bosses. Such a position would have provided him with help in avoiding prosecution/conviction.

Other members of the gang were not as fortunate. Police tracked down Joseph "Orlando" Lopanto and Joseph "Little Mike" Perillo, and they were charged with participating in the Tivoli holdup.

Jimmy Curley, himself, did not last long after the attack against Celentano. On March 3, 1914, following a visit to his ailing mother at 200 First Avenue, the twenty-two-year-old gang leader was fatally shot in the abdomen. The shooting occurred on Twelfth Street between First Avenue and Avenue A. Three men, residents of Thirteenth and Fourteenth Street, were close when the shooting occurred and helped Carioggi into a nearby store. The Rev. Francis Edwards of Grace Chapel heard the gunshots and called for police. Investigators rounded up known members of the Curley Gang and also questioned Antonio Celentano, still recovering at St. Vincent's. "I don't know anything about it," Celentano insisted.

Four months after the death of Jimmy Curley, Tagliagambe served as best man in the wedding of "conservative" Mafioso Paul Palmeri and Elena Curti in New York City. (Palmeri, approximately the same age as Tagliagambe, was originally from Castellammare del Golfo. He was the younger brother of Benedetto Angelo Palmeri, who became a key figure in the Mafia organization in Buffalo, New York. In the 1920s, Paul Palmeri joined his brother and former Brooklyn boss Stefano Magaddino in western New York and opened a successful funeral home business. He sided with Magaddino and Salvatore Maranzano during the Castellammarese War but later became disenchanted with the "conservative" Mafiosi. In the early 1940s, Palmeri followed Willie Moretti from Buffalo to New Jersey, and reportedly became close to New York racketeer Frank Costello. Palmeri's daughter Marie married Moretti's son Frank in 1947. Paul Palmeri died in Passaic, New Jersey, on May 7, 1955.)

Tagliagambe married Francesca Vecchione in Manhattan in December of 1916. When he registered for the World War I draft the following year, he and Francesca were still living at the Park Avenue, Brooklyn, address, and he reported that he was employed as a cigarette maker in Manhattan.

By the time of the 1920 U.S. Census, Tagliagambe, his wife and their son were living on Manhattan's Fourth Street in the East Village, about a half mile from the Ninth Street home of top D'Aquila enforcer Umberto Valente.

Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila became the boss of bosses of the American Mafia around 1912, following the incarcerations of Mafia leaders Giuseppe Morello, the previous boss of bosses, and Ignazio Lupo on counterfeiting convictions. D'Aquila was insecure on his underworld throne. He sought to dominate the Mafia organizations previously loyal to Morello and Lupo and had Umberto Valente murder East Harlem Mafia leader Fortunato "Charles" Lomonte in 1914 in an effort to control that region. Developments during 1920 worsened D'Aquila's insecurity. In March, Morello was granted an early release from prison. Lupo was surprisingly paroled a few months later. To prevent Morello from moving to regain his position, D'Aquila initiated a quarrel with Morello loyalists and passed death sentences against Morello, Lupo and ten other men. Inexplicably, D'Aquila included his own enforcer, Valente, in the sentence. The Morello group went into hiding, some returning for a time to Sicily. Over time, D'Aquila found himself facing opposition from a new source in lower Manhattan, a gang loyal to Giuseppe Masseria. D'Aquila patched things up with Valente and sent him to eliminate Masseria. A series of shootings resulted.

Early on May 8, 1922, Morello's half-brother Vincent Terranova was shot to death at 116th Street and Second Avenue. Later on that same day, gunshots were exchanged between Mafiosi near Grand and Mulberry Streets in lower Manhattan. Bystanders on the crowded sidewalks were wounded. Police captured Masseria as he was fleeing the scene.

That night, Tagliagambe was brought by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital. He had serious bullet wounds received sometime earlier in the day. Though Tagliagambe would not answer police questions, it was determined that he was part of the gunfight at Grand and Mulberry. Tagliagambe succumbed to his wounds the next day.

NY Tribune
Upon Tagliagambe's death, Masseria was charged with homicide. He was free on $15,000 bail three months later when Valente made an unsuccessful attempt on his life.

The war in lower Manhattan was effectively won by the Masseria faction just a few days later, when Valente was murdered at Twelfth Street and Second Avenue. Masseria's position as top Mafioso in Prohibition Era Manhattan dramatically increased his wealth and influence. D'Aquila retained his boss of bosses title until his murder in 1928.

Silvio Tagliagambe's widow Frances and their son moved in with her sister Agostina and brother-in-law Louis Manzella in Brooklyn.

  • "1 dead, 2 shot, as bootleggers again fight on East Side," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 11, 1922, p. 1.
  • "Bandits hold up cafe; stab one," New York Tribune, Feb. 12, 1914, p. 1.
  • "Bandits shoot down eight on East Side," New York Daily News, Aug. 9, 1922, p. 2.
  • "Bootblack breaks up big policy ring," New York Sun, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4.
  • "East Side bad man killed as shots fly," New York Herald, Aug. 12, 1922, p. 16.
  • "East Side gang leader shot dead," New York Tribune, March 4, 1914, p. 2.
  • "Eight men shot in mysterious battle on street," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 8, 1922, p. 1.
  • "Five passers-by fall as feudists fight in street," New York Tribune, May 9, 1922, p. 1.
  • "Gang ethics balk quest for slayer of 'good' gunman," New York Evening World, March 4, 1914, p. 4.
  • "Gang kills gunman; 2 bystanders hit," New York Times, Aug. 12, 1922, p. 20.
  • "Girl, woman, 4 men shot in battle of two bootleg bands," New York Times, May 9, 1922, p. 1.
  • "Gunmen shoot six in East Side swarm," New York Times, Aug. 9, 1922, p. 1.
  • "James Carioggi," New York City Death Index, certificate no. 7386, March 3, 1914.
  • "Man slain, two bystanders shot in bootleg feud," New York Daily News, Aug. 12, 1922, p. 2.
  • "Mystery in rum street battle near solution," New York Tribune, Aug. 12, 1922, p. 16.
  • "Noted gangster killed," New York Times, March 4, 1914, p. 1.
  • "One killed, two shot in pistol battle," Brooklyn Standard Union, Aug. 11, 1922, p. 1.
  • "One man killed, two wounded, in gang war," New York Call, Aug. 12, 1922, p. 4.
  • "Policy kings taken in bomb squad raid," New York Sun, Feb. 12, 1917, p. 4.
  • "Prisoner is accused as policy ring head," New York Tribune, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 13.
  • "Revenge figures in daring robbery," La Crosse WI Tribune, Feb. 12, 1914, p. 1
  • "Silvio Tagliagambe," World War I Draft Registration Card, June 5, 1917.
  • "Unarmed; held for murder," New York Sun, July 17, 1913, p. 14.
  • "Valente's arrest balked by murder," New York Evening World, Aug. 12, 1922, p. 3.
  • Certificate and Record of Marriage #19426, City of New York Department of Health, July 27, 1914.
  • Gentile, Nick, Vita di Capomafia, Rome: Crescenzi Allendorf Editori, 1993, Chapter IV.
  • Manifest of the S.S. Presidente Wilson, arrived NYC on Jan. 18, 1922.
  • New York City Extracted Death Index, certificate no. 13878, May 9, 1922.
  • New York City Extracted Marriage Index, certificate no. 1093, Dec. 30, 1916.
  • Sing Sing Prison Admission Register, no. 64350, no. 64351, March 18, 1914.
  • United States Census of 1920, New York State, New York County, Ward 8, Enumeration District 623.
  • United States Census of 1930, New York State, Kings County, Brooklyn, Canarsie, Assembly District 2, Enumeration District 24-1247.

Calabrese, Frank (1937-2012)

b. Chicago, IL, March 17, 1937.
d. Butner, NC, Dec. 25, 2012.

An administrator, loan shark and hit man for the Chicago Outfit for many years, Frank J. "Frankie Breeze" Calabrese was put permanently behind bars following the "Family Secrets" case of 2007.

Calabrese was born on Chicago's West Side to James and Sophia Calabrese on March 17, 1937. His early childhood was spent on Chicago's West Erie Street.

Beginning his criminal career as a teenager, Calabrese was convicted and imprisoned for possession of stolen cars in 1954. Calabrese was back in the streets and running a lucrative loan sharking enterprise by the early 1960s. In that period, he became a protege of the Chicago Outfit's South Side boss Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra. His loan sharking operation continued into the 1990s, as Calabrese grew in importance within the Outfit.

On July 28, 1995, Calabrese and eight members of his underworld crew - including several relatives - were indicted for racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, mail fraud, witness tampering and impeding the IRS. Federal prosecutors said the group operated an extensive loan sharking racket in the Chicago area, using threats and violence in the course of business. Calabrese pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a long term in federal prison.

Calabrese's son, Frank Jr. also pleaded guilty and went to prison in the loan sharking case. During their time in prison, Frank Jr. began cooperating with federal authorities and helped assemble evidence that was used against Calabrese and other Outfit leaders in the Family Secrets trial of 2007. Frank Jr. wore a "wire" during some prison conversations with his father.

Calabrese was convicted of racketeering and racketeering murders in the 2007 trial. Witnesses against him included his son Frank Jr. and his brother Nick. Calabrese took the stand in his own defense, admitting to loan sharking but denying membership in the Outfit and participation in killings.

The jury found him guilty of involvement in seven killings. His victims were racketeer Michael Albergo (disappeared in 1970), trucking executive Michael P. Cagnoni (car bomb 1981), informant ex-mobster William E. Dauber and his wife Charlotte Dauber (shotgunned 1980), racketeer and former union business agent John Fecarotta (shot 1986), bar owner Richard Ortiz and his friend Arthur Morawski (shotgunned 1983). The jury could not reach a decision on six other killings Calabrese was accused of taking part in.

Two other Outfit leaders, James Marcello and Joseph Lombardo, along with codefendants Paul Schiro and Anthony Doyle also were convicted of racketeering conspiracy in the case. Marcello and Lombardo were convicted of racketeering murders.

Calabrese was sentenced January 30, 2009, to life in prison.

In early April, Calabrese and three others convicted in the "Family Secrets" case were ordered to pay more than $24 million in fines and restitution to the families of their victims. Part of Calabrese's debt was paid in March of the following year, when FBI agents executed a search warrant at the former Calabrese home in Oak Brook and discovered a secret compartment in the wall behind a framed collection of family photographs. Envelopes in the compartment were found to contain $728,000 in cash. The compartment also held one thousand pieces of jewelry (many still in store display boxes or with price tags still attached), seven firearms, twelve audio microcassettes and a collection of handwritten notes and ledgers.

Frank Calabrese, Sr. died December 25, 2012, at the Federal Medical Center of Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. He was seventy-five.

Prison officials said he had been in poor health, with heart disease and other afflictions. Calabrese, himself, outlined an assortment of medical problems, including an enlarged heart, during his 2009 sentencing hearing.

There were reports that Calabrese had been seriously ill for more than a year. His attorney told the Chicago Tribune that Calabrese had been taking seventeen different medications for a variety of health problems.

The attorney, Joseph Lopez, recalled Calabrese as "quick-witted, smart and street-savvy." He said his client was "difficult at times because he was used to getting his way."

Lopez said Calabrese's Christmas Day death felt "odd" because that day was Calabrese's favorite holiday: "He always talked about how much he loved spending Christmas with his family."

  • Coen, Jeff, Liam Ford and Michael Higgins, "10 murders laid at feet of 3 in mob," Chicago Tribune, Sept. 28, 2007.
  • Donato, Marla, "Cicero revisits '83 double slaying," Chicago Tribune, April 12, 2000.
  • Koziol, Ronald, and John O'Brien, "A deadly trick for mob figure," Chicago Tribune, Sept. 16, 1986, p. 19.
  • O'Brien, John, and Lynn Emmerman, "Mob violence: Bullets riddle hit man, wife," Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1980, p. 1.
  • Unger, Rudolph, and Philip Wattley, "Radio-control bomb kills suburbanite," Chicago Tribune, June 25, 1981, p. 1.
  • United States Census of 1940, Illinois, Cook County, Chicago, Ward 28, Enumeration District 103-1767.
  • Weber, Bruce, "Frank Calabrese, 75, hit man for the mob in Chicago," New York Times, Dec. 27, 2012, p. 22.
  • "A look at 18 murders detailed in mob case," Rock Island Dispatch-Argus, Sept. 11, 2007.
  • "Chicago Crime Commission calls FBI raid on Calabrese home major blow to organized crime," Prnewswire.com, March 28, 2010.
  • "Frank Calabrese, notorious Chicago mob hit man, dies in prison, authorities, say," CBS News, Dec. 27, 2012.
  • "Members of 'street crew' indicted Norther District of Illinois," United States Attorneys' Bulletin, September 1995, p. 304.
  • "Mob hitman Frank Calabrese Sr. dies in prison," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 26, 2012.

Giannola, Salvatore (1887-1919)

Born Terrasini, Sicily, June 2, 1887.
Killed Detroit, MI, Oct. 2, 1919.

Sam Giannola succeeded as boss of a Detroit-area Mafia following the assassination of his brother Tony. Sam Giannola's brief reign included a continuation of his brother's gang wars followed by an apparent effort to establish peace. Sam was murdered nine months after Tony.

During Tony's reign, Sam appeared to be the organization's most active racketeer and top enforcer. Sam was arrested in 1911 for stealing a quantity of olive oil and wine from the D&C steamship line, misrepresenting himself at the D&C warehouse as the legitimate owner of the commodities. Law enforcement found the stolen oil and wine at a Ford City grocery run by Sam and Tony. The D&C line refused to prosecute.

During the 1910s, Sam ensured that the Giannolas had a monopoly on produce in the Wyandotte area by terrorizing competitors. When a fruit merchant named Cohen was stubborn about remaining in business, he found that his horse was badly burned by acid. Cohen filed charges against Sam Giannola but then suddenly disappeared.

Harry Paul and Morris Harris were shot to death in 1916 after opening a competing store. Sam Giannola first agreed to buy out their business and put $200 down on a sale price of $7,000 but then failed to make required payments. The sellers confronted Giannola, insisting he pay the remaining $6,800. Soon after, Paul and Harris were found dead. Sam was arrested but soon released due to a lack of evidence against him.

Around the time of brother Tony's death in January 1919, the Giannolas appeared to be preparing to move out of the Detroit area. One report suggested they intended to open a macaroni factory in Cincinnati. But Sam remained too long after burying his brother.

In February, he was nearly killed in a shooting that took the life of his brother-in-law Pasquale Danni. Sam apparently figured that rival John Vitale was behind that shooting. At the time of Danni's funeral, a drive-by shooting but numerous holes in the front of a Vitale grocery in Wyandotte. Vitale was subsequently jailed for opening on police officers investigating the incident, believing them to be Giannola gunmen.

When Vitale visitors - Vito Renda, Salvatore Evola and Vitale's teenage son Joseph - showed up at county jail on February 26, they were met by two Giannola men. Renda was shot more than 20 times. Before he died, he told authorities that his killer was Sam Giannola. Evola and Joseph Vitale were wounded but recovered.

In the early afternoon of October 2, Sam Giannola visited a bank at Russell Street and Monroe Avenue to cash a $200 check. As he exited the building, gunmen opened fire on him. Giannola managed to get back inside the bank but then fell dead with more than two dozen bullet wounds in his body.


  • Salvatore Giannola Death Certificate, State of Michigan Department of State Division of Vital Statistics, reg. no. 9756, Oct. 2, 1919.
  • "Arrested often fined twice, is Sam's record," Detroit Free Press, Oct. 3, 1919, p. 3.
  • "Auto bandits kill two men," Lansing MI State Journal, Nov. 16, 1916, p. 1.
  • "Fruit dealer arrested," Detroit Free Press, Oct. 15, 1911, p. 16.
  • "Gunmen murder 'Tony' Giannola, fuedist leader," Detroit Free Press, Jan. 4, 1919, p. 1.
  • "Men in disguise of women shoot down Italians," Port Huron MI Times-Herald, Nov. 16, 1916, p. 1.
  • "Murdered men suspected as German spies," Detroit Free Press, Nov. 17, 1916, p. 1.
  • "Trial of 4 for Peter Bosco murder begun," Detroit Free Press, Dec. 30, 1919, p. B1.
  • "Sam Giannola, feudist, slain; shot 28 times," Detroit Free Press, Oct. 3, 1919, p. 1.
  • "Victim of feud gasps name of Sam Giannola," Detroit Free Press, Feb. 27, 1919, p. 1
  • "Vitale, Giannola foe, builds alibi in advance," Detroit Free Press, Oct. 3, 1919, p. 3.
  • "Wyandotte murder suspect released," Lansing MI State Journal, Nov. 23, 1916, p. 13.
  • Murray, Riley, "Sicilian gang guns blazed in city feud," Detroit Free Press, Aug. 27, 1950, p. E8.
  • Rice, Dennis, "Salvatore Giannola," Find A Grave, findagrave.com, memorial no. 7814145, Sept. 1, 2003, accessed Nov. 24, 1018.