Genovese, Michael James (1918-2006)

Born East Liberty, PA, April 9, 1919.

Died West Deer, PA, Oct. 31, 2006.

Michael Genovese was a key member of the Pittsburgh crime family under John Sebastian LaRocca in the 1950s. He attended the 1957 underworld convention at Apalachin NY along with LaRocca and Gabriel "Kelly" Mannarino.

The FBI noted a family relationship between Michael Geneovese and New York Mafia boss Vito Genovese. However the Bureau did not specify the nature of the relationship. While Michael Genovese spent much of his career in western Pennsylvania, he also was linked to New York State. Social Security information indicates that Michael Genovese's Social Security Number was issued in New York before 1951. Vito Genovese is known to have had a strong, protective relationship with the Italian underworld of Pennsylvania.

Michael Genovese reportedly was born in East Liberty, Pennsylvania. As a young man, he found work in a concrete company run by LaRocca. He also began working as a runner in the LaRocca numbers racket. Genovese and LaRocca later formed a business partnership in a vending machine business.

Michael Genovese was identified as one of the attendees at the 1957 Apalachin NY Mafia convention. He refused to testify about the convention when questioned by the Senate Rackets Committee.

In the 1970s, he was jailed for refusing to to testify before a federal grand jury investigating organized crime in western Pennsylvania.

When an ailing LaRocca retired from management of the Pittsburgh criminal organization, he left a panel including Michael Genovese, Mannarino and Joseph "Jo Jo" Pecora in charge. Pecora had to drop out of the leadership group when he was sent to prison on a gambling conviction. In 1980, Mannarino died of cancer, and Genovese quietly took over as acting underworld boss in the Pittsburgh region.

Genovese's position became permanent upon LaRocca's death of natural cases in 1984.
Though law enforcement agencies were certain of Genovese's control of the local Mafia, the wily underworld veteran managed to remain in power and to avoid racketeering convictions until his death in 2006 at the age of 87. Genovese had been ill with heart and bladder conditions for some time before dying in his sleep at the home he had owned for 50 years.

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