Bufalino, Rosario "Russell" (1903-1994)

Born Montedoro, Sicily, Sept. 29, 1903.

Died Kingston, PA, Feb. 25, 1994.

Bufalino rose to the leadership of a Pittson, Pennsylvania, based Mafia Family. The Family territory included northeastern Pennsylvania and part of upstate New York.

Bufalino became acting boss for the Family possibly as early as 1949 but certainly by the mid-1950s. He succeeded to the top spot in the Mafia organization upon the death of John Sciandra. Former boss Santo Volpe likely served in an advisory capacity until his death near the end of 1958.

Some believe Joseph Barbara served as boss of the Pittston Mafia from about 1949 through 1957. However, this appears to be an expansion of Barbara's underworld role encouraged by media sensationalism following the 1957 Apalachin convention. Barbara appears to have served as capodecina of a remote Buffalo Mafia outpost in Endicott, New York.

Bufalino avoided law enforcement notice until late in 1957, when the Apalachin revelations put him in the spotlight. In the wake of Apalachin investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service discovered that Bufalino's claim of a U.S. birth was false and began work to have him deported. That effort ultimately failed when Italy refused to accept him.

Bufalino won an acquittal when he was tried as leader of an interstate burglary ring in 1969. He also was acquitted when charged with conspiracy, extortion and robbery in 1973.
By the 1970s, Bufalino was regarded as one of the more influential crime bosses. He is widely believed to have had a part in the disappearance and murder of former Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa was known to have a close relationship with Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran, a Bufalino lieutenant. When Hoffa was released from prison and attempted to retake control of the Teamsters' union, Bufalino is widely believed to have ordered Hoffa eliminated in order to maintain the status quo.

Bufalino's courtroom luck wore out in 1977, when he was convicted of extortion. After his appeals failed, he entered Danbury CT Federal Prison in 1978, leaving Edward Sciandra and William D'Elia to run the Pittston Crime Family in his absence. Bufalino was released from prison in 1981 but was almost immediately convicted of conspiring in an attempted murder of a government witness. He went back to prison in 1982, serving six years and eight months of a ten-year sentence.

Bufalino died Feb. 25, 1994, at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital in Kingston, Pennsylvania. His apparent successor as boss of the Pittston Crime Family was D'Elia. Edward Sciandra reportedly remained involved from a distance - his home was in Bellmore, New York. Sciandra later retired to Florida, where he died in July of 2003.

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