Guinta, Giuseppe (1887-1929)

Born 1887

Killed Cicero, IL, May 7, 1929.


"Hoptoad" Guinta briefly led the Chicago Unione Siciliana in 1929 and tried unsuccessfully to organize a revolt among Sicilians affiliated with Al Capone's Chicago gang.

Joe Guinta, resident of 1756 North Lockwood Avenue (he also used the home address of 1715 Adams Street), moved upward within the Unione Siciliana of Chicago as Unione bosses died or fell victim to assassination. Late in 1927, Guinta was arrested along with Unione boss Antonio Lombardo and Michael Butero. The men were all found to be carrying concealed weapons. Early the next year, the three were discharged, as Judge Joseph L. McCarthy determined that police were not justified in searching the men for weapons.

Lombardo took a conciliatory posture toward non-Sicilian gang boss Capone, and that likely cost him his life. He was shot to death in September 1928. Patsy Lolordo, brother of Lombardo's ineffective bodyguard, was Unione president briefly. Guinta took over the Unione presidency upon the murder of Pasqualino Lolordo, apparently by anti-Capone crime figures, in January 1929.

Unlike his predecessors, Guinta resisted Capone's attempts to dominate the Unione. Guinta drew John Scalisi and Albert Anselmi, believed at the time to be Capone enforcers, into a plot to eliminate their boss.

Capone learned of the conspiracy against him. According to legend, he invited the unsuspecting Guinta, Scalisi and Anselmi to a May 7, 1929, celebration at the Hawthorne Inn in Cicero. At the dinner, he had the three men suddenly bound and proceeded to beat them to death with a baseball bat. A few bullets were thrown in for good measure.

The three victims were discovered at Douglas Park in Hammond, Indiana. Scalisi's body had been tossed into a ditch. Guinta's and Anselmi's bodies were found in the rear of an abandoned automobile.

So ended Guinta's career and the Chicago rebellion. Guinta was buried in a $10,000 glass-covered bronze casket. The remains of Anselmi and Scalisi were shipped back to Sicily for burial.

The beating deaths of the three Mafiosi caused a great deal of concern among Capone's New York-area colleagues (many of whom were proudly Sicilian and strongly objected to Neapolitan Capone's abuses of their countrymen). Capone was called to a mid-May peace conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Guinta was replaced as Unione boss by Capone's greatest Sicilian rival Joe Aiello.

Gotti, John J. (1940-2002)

Born South Bronx, NY, Oct. 27, 1940

Died Springfield, MO, June 10, 2002.


Known as "Dapper Don" and "Teflon Don," Gotti was a member of a Gambino Crime Family faction intensely loyal to underboss Aniello Dellacroce. He became boss of the family after the assassination of Paul Castellano in 1985 and established a reputation for frustrating federal prosecutors.

John J. Gotti was one of 13 children born to John and Fannie Gotti. The family moved often. John J. Gotti spent his earliest years in the South Bronx. Before reaching his teens, his family had settled in East New York, Brooklyn. Young Gotti, who considered Albert Anastasia his role model, reportedly became leader of the Fulton-Rockaway Boys street gang and worked to win the favor of Mafiosi in Carmine Fatico's underworld crew. He became a close friend of Angelo Ruggiero, nephew of Aniello Dellacroce.

The Dellacroce faction had its roots in the formative years of the crime family. By the 1950s, Sicilian and non-Sicilian divisions within the clan were evident. At that time, the family was led by the Sicilian Vincent Mangano and his Calabrian underboss Albert Anastasia. Anastasia took control of the organization after the disappearance of Mangano and the murder of Mangano's brother Philip. Anastasia was assassinated in 1957, as the Sicilian Gambino-Castellano faction grabbed the reins and Carlo Gambino became boss. Gambino put down a potential rebellion by the old Anastasia wing. Faction leader Armand Rava disappeared and Rava's close friend Dellacroce agreed to become Gambino's underboss.

Young Mafioso Gotti served three years in prison after being caught stealing cargo from the area of Kennedy International Airport in 1968. When he emerged from prison, he found that the Fatico crew had moved into the quarters of the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Ozone Park, Queens (below). When Fatico, facing loan-sharking charges, decided to retire, he named Gotti an acting capodecina.

Upon Gambino's 1976 death, Dellacroce was passed over, and Gambino relative Paul Castellano was installed as boss instead. Gotti and the rest of the Dellacroce faction was enraged, but Dellacroce kept it loyal to Castellano.

In the mid-1970s, Gotti and Ruggiero pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of James McBratney, believed responsible for kidnapping and killing a nephew of Carlo Gambino. Gotti was paroled from prison in 1977.

From the group's main headquarters at the Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry Street in Manhattan, Gotti quietly plotted against Castellano. Gotti felt free to act when Dellacroce died on Dec. 2, 1985. Gotti organized the successful hit on Castellano and his driver Thomas Bilotti outside of Sparks Steak House in Manhattan on Dec. 16, 1985. The murder has been explained as a revenge for the injustice suffered by Dellacroce, as a preemptive strike against the boss who allegedly planned to break up Gotti's crew, and as a disciplinary measure for Castellano's incautious remarks in a home bugged by federal agents.

As boss of the Gambino Family, Gotti became a publicity-seeking celebrity. He was constantly in trouble with the law. But he earned his "Teflon Don" nickname because early charges would not stick.

The early 1990s betrayal of a figure high in the Gambino Family helped prosecutors finally put Gotti behind bars. Prosecutors were also aided by Gotti's own statements overheard by FBI electronic surveillance devices in an apartment over the Ravenite Social Club. He and his close associate Frank Locascio were convicted of racketeering on April 2, 1992. Gotti was found guilty of 13 offenses, including murder, gambling, obstruction of justice and tax fraud.

While serving a life sentence in federal prison, Gotti was diagnosed with cancer of the throat in 1998. He underwent surgery and treatment, but the cancer returned. He died in a prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri, in 2002.

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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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Gigante, Vincent "the Chin" (1928-2005)

Born New York, NY, March 29, 1928.

Died Springfield, MO, Dec. 19, 2005.

Genovese Crime Family boss "Vinny the Chin" Gigante evaded law enforcement for many years by playing the role of mentally ill street person. He gave up the act in an April 2003 court hearing, six years after being locked up.

Gigante died Monday, Dec. 19, 2005, at the federal prison in Springfield, Mo. He was 77 years old. Born in 1928 to Vincent and Yolanda Gigante, Neapolitan residents of the Lower West Side of Manhattan, Gigante's "Chin" nickname was adapted from his given name of "Vincenzo." His father was employed as a jewelry engraver.

The family resided for many years along Thompson Street, within the traditional confines of Greenwich Village. Gigante likely met fellow Thompson Street resident and Genovese Crime Family member Venero "Benny Eggs" Mangano when the two were young men.

Gigante had a brief career as a prizefighter, beginning in 1946. His criminal career was considerably longer, spanning half a century. He became an underworld protege of New York Mafia bigshot Vito Genovese, who controlled Greenwich Village. Gigante first became known to the American public as the prime suspect in the May 1957 assassination attempt against Mafia leader Frank Costello. It is believed that Gigante, working under orders from Costello rival Genovese (orders reportedly transmitted through group leader Tommy Eboli) cornered Costello in the lobby of his apartment house and shot him in the head at close range.

The bullet only grazed Costello, however. Costello's refusal to testify against Gigante, a man Costello insisted was "a friend," led to Gigante's acquittal. Costello retired as boss of the Luciano family, leaving the operation to Genovese.

Gigante was convicted of drug trafficking in 1959 and was sentenced to five years in prison. His Mafia credentials were greatly enhanced by his prison term. After his release, Gigante served in leadership roles in the Genovese family. He established a base at the private Triangle Social Club (Triangle Civic Improvement Association). Genovese, himself, was in prison and controlled the family through acting bosses such as Gerardo Catena and Tommy Eboli.

Following the death of Genovese, Philip Lombardo gradually took over as boss, screening his activities behind a series of front men, including Frank "Funzi" Tieri and Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno. Lombardo eased into a Florida retirement by the early 1980s, and the Greenwich Village-based Gigante became boss. Under his leadership, the Genovese Family was a labor-racketeering power, particularly on the Hudson River docks, and established a regional underworld waste-hauling cartel, while retaining traditional interests in gambling and loan sharking. Venero Mangano served as underboss and filled in for Gigante during the summer of 1988 when Gigante was recovering from heart surgery.

Gigante preferred that Mafiosi avoid media attention. In the late 1980s, he was so offended by the publicity hungry Gambino Crime Family boss John Gotti that he reportedly called for Gotti's assassination.

Following the example of Lombardo, Gigante screened his leadership of the Mafia clan by having Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno (who died in 1992) pass himself off as the family boss. Gigante also did his best to portray himself as a helpless paranoid schizophrenic. He wandered the streets of Greenwich Village in his pajamas, robe and slippers, often conducted public conversations with himself and was once found hiding under an umbrella in his shower.

Prosecutors had great success against Salerno but could not score a conviction against Gigante until 1997 (his feigned mental illness delayed proceedings on that matter by seven years). By then, the boss's mental illness act had earned him a new nickname in the press: "the Oddfather."
Gigante was sentenced to a dozen years for racketeering in 1997. Additional charges were brought against him after that. With Gigante in prison, control of the crime family fell to Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo of the Bronx.

The Triangle Social Club was abandoned, as Greenwich Village was no longer the heart of the Genovese Family. The storefront formerly occupied by the club became a tea and spice shop in 2011.

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Sources:
  •  Behar, Richard, "Special report. Organized crime," TIME, June 24, 2001.
  •  Fried, Joseph P., "A jailed mobster refuses to testify in Mafia case," New York Times, July 19, 1997.
  •  Fried, Joseph P., "Former mobster directly links Gigante to murder," New York Times, July 18, 1997.
  •  Lubasch, Arnold H., "Selection of jury gets under way in big-rigging case tied to mob," New York Times, April 9, 1991.
  •  Raab, Selwyn, Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2006.
  •  Raab, Selwyn, "Investigators say they're ready to topple new Mafia chiefs," New York Times, Dec. 12, 1988.
  •  Raab, Selwyn, "Suspected New York mob leaders are indicted in contract rigging," New York Times, May 31, 1990.
  •  Raab, Selwyn, "Vincent Gigante, Mafia leader who feigned insanity, dies at 77," New York Times, Dec. 19, 2005.
  •  "4 Mafia figures on trial for window racketeering," Lincoln NE Journal Star, April 24, 1991, p. 9.
  •  "Jury frees Gigante in Costello shooting," New York Times, May 28, 1958, p. 1.
  •  "Last great Mafia social club gets clipped," The Smoking Gun, thesmokinggun.com, April 18, 2011, accessed Aug. 18, 2017.

  •  Salvatore Gigante Naturalization Petition, U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York, no. 90039, filed Nov. 3, 1926.
  •  Salvatore Gigante World War II draft registration card, serial no. U1194, 1942.
  •  United States Census of 1930, New York State, New York County, Assembly District 2, Enumeration District 31-68.