Born Camporeale, Sicily, Feb. 20, 1897.
Died Santa Monica, CA, Oct, 19, 1974.
Licata was born in Camporeale, in the Sicilian province of Palermo. He entered the U.S. through New York on Dec. 7, 1913, settling first in Detroit. He later married there. He and his wife Josephine had two children in Highland Park, Michigan. He resettled in southern California in 1929.
First a grocer and then the owner of a Burbank cafe, Licata earned notice in the underworld through the summer 1951 murders of Kansas City Mafiosi Tony Brancato and Tony Trombino. Brancato and Trombino were moving into some of the Los Angeles rackets, apparently as part of a westward push by the Kansas City crime family. In mid-August, police rounded up Jimmy and Warren Fratianno, Sam London, and Sam Lazes, while they searched for missing Fratianno associates Charles Battaglia and Angelo Polizzi. Fratianno was considered the prime suspect in the killings, but Licata provided him with an alibi.
Licata became a front man for boss Jack Dragna during the later years of Dragna's reign. He served under Frank DeSimone for a decade after Dragna's death. After DeSimone passed in August 1967, Licata took control of a deeply divided crime family. Longtime California racketeer Joseph Dippolito served as underboss.
Law enforcement authorities had learned a great deal about the L.A. family by that time, and Licata was constantly hounded by police and federal agents. He was unable to consolidate his power. A branch of the criminal organization appears to have come under the control of Jack Dragna's son shortly after Licata ascended to the boss position.
Though he had earlier convinced Kansas City mafiosi to stay out of California, boss Licata also had to deal with incursions by the Cleveland mob family.
In July 1969, Licata was called before a grand jury to answer questions about the Jan. 10, 1969, slaying of Julius Anthony Petro of Cleveland. Known for committing bank robberies and suspected of murder in Cleveland, Petro was found shot to death in a parked car at the Los Angeles International Airport. Licata refused to testify and was ordered to prison for contempt of court. The following May, U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Curtis released Licata on $2,500 bail while he appealed the contempt order. Judge Curtis said he expected Licata would never answer questions on the Petro case.
With his family and his territory in disarray, Licata retained the title of boss - though probably not the power - until his death in fall of 1974. Licata died Oct. 19, 1974, at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica.
A Requiem Mass was celebrated for Licata Oct. 23 at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in downtown Los Angeles. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. About 150 people attended the services.