Gargotta, Charles (c1902-1950)

Born c1902.

Killed Kansas City, MO, April 5, 1950.

Charles "Mad Dog" Gargotta, once part of the Pendergast political machine in Kansas City, was murdered alongside local crime boss Charles Binaggio in the spring of 1950.

Gargotta was known to be a part of the local rackets from the days of boss John Lazia. He served as pallbearer for Lazia after the boss was shot down in 1934.

A veteran of the penitentiary (he served 19 months after being convicted of assault with intent to kill), Gargotta was a key man in the Binaggio criminal organization. In addition to running a gambling empire, Binaggio was also a political leader in the First Ward of Kansas City (North Side). Binaggio was closely allied to Pendergast before breaking off from that organization and openly challenging the declining political machine in 1948.

On the evening of April 5, 1950, Binaggio and Gargotta borrowed a car and drove to meet someone they trusted (Binaggio's usual bodyguard was told he did not need to come along) at the Jackson County Democratic Club on Truman Road. The two men were shot to death within the political headquarters.

A taxi driver later discovered the bodies. Both men were found with four bullet wounds to the head. Binaggio's body lay in a chair at the rear of the club. Gargotta was found sprawled on the floor near the door, where he had apparently grabbed at Venetian blinds after being shot.

The elimination of Binaggio and Gargotta was followed by an apparent return to power of the old Sicilian Mafia organization of Joseph DiGiovanni and James Balestrere.

After the murders, authorities revealed that Gargotta had been supplying the government with information on a large-scale gambling ring operating in the Kansas City area.

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