Gizzo, Anthony (1902-1953)

Born Aug. 4, 1902.

Died Dallas, TX, April 1, 1953.


Anthony R. "Tony" Gizzo, a longtime ally of Kansas City political boss Charles Binaggio, is widely believed to have served as chief of the western Missouri Mafia Family during the early 1950s. Perhaps never the sole boss of the Kansas City underworld, he was a leader of gambling rackets and a strong political leader on the city's North Side.

Gizzo and Binaggio were arrested together Jan. 18, 1930, on a minor weapons charge in Denver. The arrest was seen by some as evidence that the KC Mob was attempting to stake out territory in the West. At the time, Gizzo was regarded as an enforcer for underworld leader John Lazia.

In the autumn of 1949, Gizzo was among the local underworld characters called before a federal grand jury investigating gambling rackets in Kansas City. Cigar store owner Sammy Butler, believed to be a partner in Gizzo's card and dice operations and also scheduled to testify before the grand jury, was found dead Oct. 19. He appeared to have taken his own life. Gizzo told the press that Butler was "greatly upset" at the prospect of appearing before the grand jury.

Gizzo caused a sensation at local hearings of the Kefauver Committee in 1950. He was asked how much cash he carried around with him. He pulled a stack of hundred dollar bills from his pocket and counted out twenty-five of them.

Gizzo was heir apparent to the North Side political rackets when Binaggio was slain April 6, 1950. However, some believe James Balestrere was top man in the KC underworld in the period 1950-1952. Gizzo's legitimate occupation in this period was sales agent for the Duke Sales Company, distributors of Canadian Ace beer.

Following his Kefauver testimony, Gizzo was charged with running a bookmaking operation in KC. He was specifically accused with taking wagers on five college basketball games. On May 7, 1951, Judge John F. Cooke ruled the testimony of two prosecution witnesses inadmissable and directed the jury to find Gizzo and two codefendants not guilty.

A heart attack ended Gizzo's life in spring of 1953. He was in Dallas, Texas, when he died. A short time after his death, federal tax agents filed a $59,529.97 lien against Gizzo's estate for tax evasion. The agents charged that the amount was due for unpaid income taxes in the years 1948 and 1950.

(Gizzo's son, Robert James Gizzo, employed as a piano tuner in Emporia, Kansas, was arrested in July 1966 on federal charges of illegal possession of narcotics and interstate transportation of a stolen car.)

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