Licata, Nicola "Nick" (1897-1974)

Born Camporeale, Sicily, Feb. 20, 1897.

Died Santa Monica, CA, Oct, 19, 1974.

Nick Licata is remembered as the boss who presided over the dramatic decline of the Los Angeles crime family.

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.

Related Links:

Lazia, Johnny (1895-1934)

Born Brooklyn, NY, Sept. 28, 1895.

Killed Kansas City, MO, July 10, 1934.

Lazia likely started his underworld career as a thug for the Tom Pendergast political machine in Kansas City. By 1928, he had graduated to leader of the North Side Democratic Club and controlled much of the organized criminal activity in the region.

Lazia was born in Brooklyn, NY (the family name was Lazio) to immigrant parents Giuseppe and Frances. His birth year is generally recorded as 1896, which appears on his gravestone. A date of Sept. 28, 1895, appears on Lazia's World War I draft registration. The family relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, shortly after his birth and settled on Campbell Street.

Lazia was arrested in 1915. He was charged with armed robbery and with firing a weapon at a local police captain. His conviction resulted in a prison sentence of 15 years. The local political machine had an interest in Lazia, however, and he was paroled after serving just eight months behind bars.

As he matured, Lazia's underworld specialty became gambling. He operated a dog racing track and the swank Cuban Gardens club. Other business ventures included a night club and soft drink concessions. He appears to have coordinated bootlegging operations in the region during and following the Prohibition Era.

Lazia served as mentor for Charles "Mad Dog" Gargotta and Anthony Gizzo. Gargotta later allied with Lazia successor Charles Binaggio. (Gargotta and Binaggio were both killed in the Jackson County Democratic Club headquarters on April 5, 1950. Gizzo briefly served as top boss of the Kansas City Mob in the early 1950s.)

The influence of the Pendergast machine kept local law enforcement off Lazia's back. However, federal tax agents managed to nab the North Side gangster in 1930. He was tried and convicted of tax evasion. Though he was sentenced to a year in prison, he remained free during appeals.

While the appeal process dragged on, Lazia was believed to be involved in the Union Station Massacre and a gang shootout on Armour Boulevard.

Underworld rivals caught up with Lazia before the law did. Early on July 10, 1934, two men - one carrying a machine gun and the other carrying a shotgun - attacked and mortally wounded the Kansas City gang boss as he stepped from his car at his apartment house. With him at the time of the shooting were his wife and their trusted friends Mr. and Mrs. Charles Carolla. (Charlie "the Wop" Carolla served as Lazia's bodyguard.) Lazia was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital where surgery was performed. He lingered for eight hours before succumbing to his wounds.

Lazia's funeral cortege stretched for several miles. A dozen motorcycle police officers served as escort. Ceremonies began at the home of his older sister Mary Antonello (she married Joseph Antonello in January 1910). They continued at Holy Rosary Church. Burial took place at St. Mary's Cemetery. Lazia was laid to rest beside his parents.

Lazia's pall bearers included his longtime friends James Balestrere, Joseph Gallucci and Charles Gargotta.

Local police rounded up more than two dozen suspects. Rumors indicated that hours before the Lazia shooting, Lazia had argued with operators of a South Side beer tavern. There was wide speculation that his murder was related to alcohol rackets.

Related Links:

Lauritano, Leopoldo (1889-1958)

Born Naples, Italy, Dec. 30, 1889.
Died New York City, April 5, 1958.

Lauritano was a Brooklyn-based Camorra leader who ran a coffeehouse/saloon at 113 Navy Street and also conducted a lucrative murder-for-hire business.

Born in the Naples area near the end of 1889, Lauritano reached the United States in 1906 and was naturalized an American citizen in January 1915. He lived and worked in the area of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and participated in the operation of the infamous Navy Street Gang. His brother Anthony appears to have been acquainted with if not involved with the gang.

In the 1910s, as the Sicilian Mafia and Neapolitan Camorra in the New York area cooperated to monopolize rackets, Lauritano became a sort of sergeant-at-arms for the budding syndicate. He commanded what may have been the first Brooklyn-based murder-for-hire organization.

It was to Lauritano that Bronx Mafia boss Ciro Terranova allegedly ran to contract a hit on Joe DeMarco in 1916.

Camorra bosses took offense at Morello-Terranova actions and decided to dissolve the partnership and eliminate as much of the Sicilian Mafia leadership in New York as possible. Lauritano gunmen were employed later in 1916 to perform the executions, which resulted in the deaths of Terranova's brother Nicholas and aide Charles Ubriaco.

According to testimony from hitman Johnny "Lefty" Esposito, Lauritano paid his gunmen a steady salary to keep them on retainer. (Esposito complained that Lauritano lowered his pay as a result of the accidental killing of Lauritano friend Charles Lombardi during the DeMarco hit.)

In 1918, Lauritano was arrested for his involvement in the 1916 murder of Giuseppe Verrazano at the Italian Gardens in Manhattan. While held for that crime, he was tried and convicted of manslaughter in connection with another killing. He was sentenced to serve 20 years in state prison. The 1920 Census found him at Clinton State Prison in Dannemora.

On Jan. 12, 1926, Lauritano was released from prison on parole. He had served just seven and a half years of his original 20-year sentence. He was immediately rearrested on a 1918 indictment in the Verrazano murder case. On Jan. 14, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Selah B. Strong released Lauritano on a habeas corpus writ. Strong noted that he had dismissed the murder indictment against Lauritano two and a half years earlier.

Lauritano's discharge resulted in an bitter public feud between Justice Strong and Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Dodd. Strong insisted that Dodd had approved the dismissal of the murder charge in the summer of 1923. Dodd denied having any part in the dismissal.

In March of 1927, Lauritano was taken into custody as a material witness against accused Camorra assassin Anthony "Shoemaker" Paretti. He was held on $100,000 bail at the Raymond Street Jail in Brooklyn. Paretti went to trial that June. Camorra leaders Lauritano, Allessandro Vollero and Pellegrino Morano were all called to testify. All denied knowing Paretti. Lauritano further denied knowing his fellow witnesses and any members of the Navy Street Gang.
Paretti was convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison. Lauritano's testimony caused him to be tried for perjury.

The perjury trial began on Feb. 10, 1927. On the following day, Assistant District Attorney James I. Cuff confronted Lauritano with a photograph showing him at a gathering of the Navy Street Gang. Lauritano changed his plea to guilty and admitted that he lied about his associations with gang members.

On March 1, Justice James C. Cropsey of Brooklyn Supreme Court sentenced Lauritano to serve five years in Sing Sing Prison. According to reports, Lauritano narrowly avoided a more serious sentence because his perjury occurred two days before the effective date of the strict Baumes laws.

After his release, Lauritano went to live with his brother Anthony on Adelphi Street in Brooklyn. The two worked together on Navy Street. Documentation on Lauritano after the start of World War II is lacking. He died within New York City in the spring of 1958 and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn.

  •  "10 held when gunman exposes 23 murders," New York Tribune, Nov. 28, 1917, p. 16.
  •  "Armored car owner queried on Marlow," New York Times, July 11, 1929, p. 1.
  •  "Assassin, hired at $15 a week, admits part in 6 murders," New York Tribune, June 7, 1918, p. 16.
  •  "Convicts at trial refuse to testify," New York Times, July 1, 1926.
  •  "Dodd charges plot to Justice Strong," New York Times, Jan. 28, 1926.
  •  "'Judge, I lied,' he says," New York Times, Feb. 12, 1927.
  •  "Justice accuses Dodd of blunder," New York Times, Jan. 29, 1926.
  •  "Lauritano held in $100,000," New York Times, March 27, 1926.
  •  "Paretti witness gets five years," New York Times, March 2, 1927.
  •  "'Shoemaker,' fugitive for 10 years, surrenders on indictment for murder by Navy St. Gang," New York Times, March 17, 1926.
  • Email from Deirdre Sautter, June 3, 2019. 
  •  Leopoldo Lauretano, Find A Grave,, memorial ID 173448467, Dec. 3, 2016.
  •  Leopoldo Lauritano Naturalization Petition No. 12129 dated Jan. 28, 1915.
  •  Leopoldo Lauritano World War II draft registration, 1942. 
  •  New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965,
  •  U.S. Census of 1920, Clinton Prison at Dannemora, Jan. 7, 1920.

Lansky, Meyer (1902-1983)

Born Grodno, Russia, July 4, 1902.

Died Miami, FL, Jan. 15, 1983.

Lansky was a long-time friend and "business" associate of Charlie Luciano, Benjamin Siegel, Frank Costello and other big-name Prohibition Era gangsters.

He was born Maier Suchowljansky in Grodno, Russia. Various dates of birth range from 1898 to 1902. Social Security death records and FBI files contain a birthdate of July 4, 1902. Some believe that his birthdate was erroneously recorded upon his entry into the U.S. and was actually Aug. 28, 1900. Lansky appears to have used the 1902 date in official papers.

The Jewish community in his native Grodno surrounded by and often assaulted by non-Jewish residents of the area. Lansky's earliest memories reportedly were of Jewish versus Gentile warfare. Lansky, his mother and his younger brother Jacob "Jake" sailed to America in 1911. They arrived in New York harbor on April 4, and were met by Lansky's father Max, who had traveled to the U.S. years earlier and was living on Lewis Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in sight of the Williamsburg Bridge. They subsequently moved a very short distance to an apartment building near the corner of Columbia and Grand Streets.

In that neighborhood, populated by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Lansky met and befriended Benjamin Siegel (known as "Bugsy"). A friendship also developed with young Salvatore Lucania - later known as Charlie Luciano - who lived nearby. Luciano, Lansky and Siegel cooperated on some minor criminal enterprises, possibly working for Arnold Rothstein on occasion, and in scuffles with the nearby Irish-dominated gangs. They joined in racketeering ventures - likely including bootlegging, narcotics smuggling and labor racketeering - with Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, and possibly had business relationships with Dutch Schultz.

On Oct. 23, 1918, a teenage Lansky was arrested for felonious assault. He was later discharged. During Prohibition, Lansky, Siegel and Luciano engaged in rum-running. Lansky and Siegel regularly served as guards for illegal liquor shipments sent from New York to Chicago by Dutch Goldberg, Charlie Kramer and Bill Heisman. The two men also may have worked at hijacking competitors' liquor shipments. In the late 1920s, Lansky was suspected of involvement in the murder of Kiddy Kolbrenner, he was arrested for felonious assault, for violation of penal law and for homicide. Each time, he was discharged.

Luciano was absorbed into the New York Mafia organization of "Joe the Boss" Masseria, and Lansky and Siegel served informally as his advisors and enforcers.

In the early 1930s, Lansky became a trusted financial adviser to the Mafia's ruling Commission. His presence in Chicago in the spring of 1932 was documented by his April 19 arrest. He began setting up gambling facilities in Miami and Cuba and stayed regularly at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana. He also initially supported Siegel's vision of a gambling and entertainment Mecca in Las Vegas. Lansky reportedly held a secret financial interest in the Flamingo for many years.

In 1939, Lansky reportedly attended a top-level meeting of racketeers which considered how best to handle the law enforcement pursuit of fugitive Lepke Buchalter. Buchalter was wanted on narcotics charges and other racketeering offenses. Prosecutors in Brooklyn also were investigating Buchalter's connections to a series of murders. At the meeting, Lansky, Doc Rosen, Longie Zwillman and others decided that Buchalter must leave the country. Buchalter remained and eventually turned himself over to the authorities.

Lansky is generally credited with serving as an early 1940s go-between for the jailed Luciano and officials with U.S. Naval Intelligence. Lansky was among the noteworthy underworld visitors to Luciano at Great meadows Prison in Comstock, NY.

After World War II, Lansky and his brother Jake ran a gambling house near Miami known as the Colonial Inn. They took part in gambling operations in Saratoga and Hollywood. Lansky is believed to have collaborated with Frank Costello and Phil Kastel in the opening of the Beverly Club just outside of New Orleans in 1946.

In 1948, as Florida began to crack down on illegal gambling, Lansky sold off Colonial Inn. Pressure by the U.S. government against organized crime increased in the late 1940s, and Lansky was called before the Kefauver Committee Oct. 11, 1950. By that time, he was invested in a number of legitimate enterprises, including alcohol distributorships, food companies and coin-operated machines.

Lansky's major gambling investment, the Riviera Hotel in Havana, was lost with a change in Cuban leadership. Tourists had been discouraged from traveling to Cuba during the revolution of Fidel Castro's force. When Castro took over the government and embraced Communism, tourism shut down completely. The hotel, which by some estimated cost $14 million to build, had not be open long enough to recover more than a third of the initial investment.

Lansky's health, already an issue while developing his casino in Cuba, suffered further upon the casino's shutdown. He dealt with ulcers and chest pains and was hospitalized after a heart attack.

U.S. federal law enforcement agencies hounded Lansky for much of the rest of his life. In the early 1970s, he attempted to retire to Israel. Under pressure from the U.S., which wanted Lansky back home to face charges of skimming from the Flamingo, the Israeli government refused his request for permanent citizenship in 1971. Late in 1972, the Israeli Supreme Court backed the decision and Lansky was forced to attempt to find refuge elsewhere.

An airplane exodus took him first to Switzerland, then to Rio, then to Buenos Aires and on to Paraguay, where he hoped to set up a quiet life for himself. But U.S. authorities headed him off, and Paraguayan officials refused to let Lansky off the plane. The aircraft continued on with stops in La Paz, Lima and Panama before returning Lansky to Miami and the waiting American officials.

Lansky avoided conviction but three other attempts to go to Israel were blocked. He died in Miami on Jan. 15, 1983.

Lamare, Cesare (1884-1931)

Born Italy, Jan. 6, 1884.
Killed Detroit, MI, Feb. 7, 1931.

Cesare "Chester" Lamare led the Detroit Mafia for a brief period in 1930 at the start of the open fighting of the Castellammarese War. He became a casualty in that conflict early in 1931.

Lamare was born in Italy (while he was referred to in the press as a Sicilian, he may have been born on the southern Italian mainland) and traveled to the United States as early as 1897. Lamare was noted in the Detroit area around 1909. He involved himself in various rackets - protection, bootlegging, narcotics, smuggling, gambling - in the Italian colonies to the west and north of Detroit, including the community of Hamtramck.

Police arrested him often between 1915 and 1921. So often, in fact, that Lamare sought (and temporarily received) a restraining order against the metropolitan police force. At the time, he noted that his only convictions had been for speeding and for carrying a concealed weapon.

Known to be the proprietor of the Village Cafe (later Venice Cafe) in Hamtramck, Lamare was believed in the early Prohibition Era to control alcohol, narcotics and gambling in the area. He was suspected of the murder of Sol Conrad, which  involved the wounding of four bystanders, in 1923.

Evidence of his expanding influence in the Detroit area was his role as best man at the wedding of "Black Bill" Tocco to Rosalia Zerilli, sister of Joseph Zerilli. Both Tocco and Zerilli were important gangsters on the East Side of Detroit. It appears that Lamare was an ally of the East Side Mafia at this point.

Federal Prohibition agents shut down the Venice Cafe for alcohol violations in the summer of 1924 and sought to arrest Lamare. They were unable to bring him to trial until 1926, when he was convicted but let off with a fine and probation. In that period, Lamare went to work for the Ford Motor Company, and reportedly added some labor racketeering to his underworld resume. He controlled an automobile dealership and also organized produce sellers in the region.

In the late 1920s, Lamare separated from the East Side Detroit Mafia. He became an ally of Wyandotte beer baron Joe Tocco (reportedly no relation to "Black Bill") and a strong supporter of New York City based Giuseppe Masseria, who became U.S. Mafia boss of bosses in 1928. Masseria encouraged Lamare to expand his underworld interests into areas controlled by the Mafia of "Black Bill" Tocco, Joseph Zerilli and Angelo Meli and an affiliated group commanded by Castellammarese Mafioso Gaspar Milazzo.

Lamare attempted to assassinate the rival Detroit area Mafia bosses by calling a phony peace conference May 31, 1930, at a Detroit fish market, 2739 Vernor Highway. Of the invited leaders, only Milazzo and his companion Sam Parrino showed up for the meeting. They were shot to death by Lamare gunmen. Many believed that Masseria personally approved the murders. The incident was used to rally many Mafiosi to a growing anti-Masseria faction and helped to trigger the Castellammarese War of 1930-31.

Masseria supported a Lamare claim as the boss of the Mafia in the Detroit area. But there was little support for him in Detroit. By September of 1930, Lamare was in hiding - traveling to New York City and to Louisville, Kentucky. Newspapers reported that other local Mafiosi had passed a death sentence against him because of his previous treachery.

Lamare business partner and chief lieutenant Joe Marino was mortally wounded at his Dearborn, Michigan, home on September 27 (he succumbed to his wounds a couple of days later). Lamare ally Joe Tocco became bogged down in a gang war against Zerilli-supported Mafiosi in Wyandotte.

In February 1931, Lamare quietly returned to his fortified home on Detroit's Grandville Avenue. Rivals tracked him down and had him shot him to death in that home just after midnight on Feb. 7, 1931. The assassin was probably someone known and trusted by Lamare, as the gang boss appears to have allowed him into the house.

Police, summoned to the location by Lamare's wife, found the gang leader with a bullet holes in his head. They also found a small arsenal in the place, including six revolvers, a tear gas gun, two rifles, 4,000 rounds of ammunition and some hand grenades.

Joseph Zerilli and "Black Bill" Tocco  were held for questioning after the murder. They were quickly released when no evidence connected them to the killing.

Related Links:
  • Chester Lamare Death Certificate, Michigan Department of Health Division of Vital Statistics, State office no. 140778, register no. 1599, Feb. 7, 1931.
  • Detroit, Michigan, marriages, Certificate no. 256195, license dated Sept. 19, 1923, ceremony performed Sept. 26, 1923.
  • Detroit City Directory 1928, p. 1283, 
  • United States Census of 1920, Michigan, Wayne County, Detroit, Ward 2, Enumeration District 68.
  • United States Census of 1930, Michigan, Wayne County, Detroit, Ward 16, Precinct 33, Enumeration District 92-523.  
  • "Alleged gangsters arrested in Detroit," Marshall MI Evening Chronicle, Feb. 10, 1931, p. 2. 
  • "Arrest Detroit man following shooting," Battle Creek MI Enquirer, Sept. 7, 1923, p. 1.
  • "Detroit gang leader killed in own kitchen," Lansing MI State Journal, Feb. 7, 1931, p. 1.
  • "Feudist chief falls to foes; another slain," Detroit Free Press, Sept. 29, 1920, p. 1.
  • "Gangs receive machine guns," Detroit Free Press, Sept. 18, 1930, p. 1. 
  • "Hamtramck waits move by governor," Lansing MI State Journal, July 14, 1924, p. 5.
  • "Is refused review," Battle Creek MI Enquirer, Oct. 18, 1927, p. 13.
  • "LaMare, lord of West Side, assassinated," Escanaba MI Daily Press, Feb. 8, 1931, p. 1.
  • "LaMare's slayer still at large," Escanaba MI Daily Press, Feb. 12, 1931, p. 2.
  • "Marino dies; story doubted," Detroit Free Press, Sept. 30, 1930, p. 5.
  • "Mob leader 'put on spot,' belief of investigators," Detroit Free Press, Feb. 8, 1931, p. 1.
  • "Secures protection from illegal arrest," Detroit Free Press, Oct. 5, 1921, p. 3.

Kastel, Philip (1893-1962)

Born New York, NY, April 2, 1893.

Died New Orleans, LA, Aug. 16, 1962.

"Dandy Phil" Kastel was a mob bigshot in New Orleans following World War II. He was a close friend and business associate of New York crime boss Frank Costello and possibly had earlier connections with underworld financier Arnold Rothstein.

Born in New York City, Kastel became a stockbroker and involved himself in fraudulent stock sales through "bucket shop" rackets. In 1921, he led the brokerage firm of Dillon & Company into bankruptcy while writing numerous large checks from drained company accounts. When the company failed, it had about $3,000 in assets and debts to customers in excess of half a million dollars. An investigation followed in 1922, and Kastel disappeared. He turned up in San Francisco and was brought east to stand trial. After delays and two unsuccessful trials, Kastel was convicted April 17, 1926, of fraudulent use of the mails. He was sentenced to serve three years in federal prison but was released on $20,000 bail pending appeals.

Half a year later, he was convicted of first degree grand larceny, in connection with the stock frauds. A sentence of between three and a half and eight years in state prison was imposed for that offense. He was freed on $40,000 bail while he appealed that verdict. Kastel's federal appeal was lost in December 1927.

At the end of the Prohibition Era, Kastel reportedly served as president of a liquor distributing business. He and Frank Costello imported the King's Ransom brand of Scotch whiskey. By 1934, he also was linked with Costello in the operation of slot machines in and around New York City.

When New York City's LaGuardia administration seized slot machines from around the city and destroyed them, Kastel and Costello decided to move their gambling rackets south to Louisiana. Kastel became the point man for Costello-run casino and slot machine gambling.

In 1946, local New Orleans officials duplicated New York's anti-gambling campaign of the previous decade, forcing the Costello-Kastel operations outside the city limits.
Kastel and Costello created and ran the Beverly Club casino in Jefferson Parish, just beyond the New Orleans line. In the 1950s, the Kastel-Costello partnership also opened the Tropicana in Las Vegas (other partners in that venture reportedly included New Orleans crime boss Carlos Marcello and entertainer Jimmy Durante). Nevada officials delayed the 1957 opening of the Tropicana until Kastel severed his official ties with the casino.

Aging and in poor health, Kastel reportedly took his own life in 1962. Reports indicated that he had been ailing for several months and was losing his eyesight. He required the attention of a private nurse at the Claiborn Towers Apartments on Canal Street. On August 16, 1962, the nurse heard a gunshot and then found Kastel dead.

Johnson, Enoch "Nucky" (1883-1968)

Born Galloway Township, NJ, Jan. 20, 1883

Died Atlantic City, NJ, Dec. 9, 1968.

"Nucky" Johnson was lord of Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition Era. He was involved in rum-running, numbers rackets and other illicit enterprises and simultaneously served in a number of government roles.

Johnson was a big shot in southern Jersey Republican politics. He was local sheriff and Atlantic County treasurer for several terms. He had Atlantic City so under control that it was deemed safe for a peace conference of Chicago's leading gangsters in spring 1929.

The meeting, held from May 13-16 at the President Hotel (one source says it was the Breakers Hotel) is known to have included Al Capone and Frankie Rio of Chicago. Other Chicago crime bosses and Mafia leaders from the major cities of the East likely also attended, but there is no supporting evidence for their presence. (This has not prevented some authors from presenting lists of attendees, the meeting agenda and portions of meeting dialogue.)

Under Nucky Johnson, Atlantic City was one of the leading import centers for illegal booze. Johnson, along with gin merchants up and down the East Coast and in Cleveland, created a bootlegging cartel later known to authorities as the Seven Group. That association included Italian Mafiosi as well as non-Italian elements.

In the early 1940s, federal agents brought tax evasion charges against Johnson. He was convicted of non-payment of taxes owed on $124,000 of numbers racket income in 1936 and 1937. In Camden, NJ, on Aug. 1, 1941, District Court Judge Albert B. Maris sentenced him to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Nucky was unsuccessful in appeals to the Circuit Court in Philadelphia and the U.S. Supreme Court. On the eve of his sentencing, July 31, playboy Johnson got married to former showgirl Florence Osbeck in Atlantic City. The two reportedly had dated for seven years.

Johnson did his time in Lewisburg, Pa., and returned to his Atlantic City home. He died of natural causes on Monday, Dec. 9, 1968. He was 85 years old.


Iamascia, Danny (1902-1931)

Born New York, NY, c. 1902

Killed Manhattan, NY, June 18, 1931.

Daniel J. Iamascia worked for the Bronx organizations of Ciro "The Artichoke King" Terranova and Arthur "Dutch Schultz" Flegenheimer.

Daniel Iamascia was born in New York in 1902 to parents Giuseppe and Rosina Charamia Iamascia. His parents, born in the Province of Campobasso, Italy, crossed the Atlantic in the 1890s and settled in New York. (Giuseppe was born Feb. 10, 1867, in Macchia Valfortore. Rosina was born Nov. 15, 1881, in Pietracatella.)

He had a number of arrests on his record, but always got off the hook. He was arrested as a youth for assault and battery in Queens in 1918 but then released when the victim suddenly disappeared. He was apprehended on a rape charge in the Bronx in 1919 and then released. Police caught him on a burglary charge in the Bronx later that year, but again he was released.
He was finally convicted of unlawful entry in the Bronx in 1920, but his prison sentence was suspended. Two burglary cases in 1920 and 1924 and a robbery charge in 1922 never went to trial.

Iamascia was among several known criminals in attendance at a Dec. 7, 1929, banquet thrown for Magistrate Albert Vitale at the Roman Gardens in the Bronx. That banquet was held up by seven gunmen but all loot - including a police detective's handgun - was returned shortly after Vitale got on the telephone. The event proved a connection between organized crime and the courts and led to state-sponsored investigations of local New York City government. Vitale was booted off the bench, and eventually Mayor Jimmy Walker was forced to resign.

Daniel continued to reside with his family at 2313 Belmont Avenue in the Bronx. In addition to Daniel and his parents, the home also included his sisters Frances, Catherine and Theresa, his brothers Anthony and Andrew, and Anthony's wife Olga. Two other siblings, Nicholas and Maria, lived elsewhere. On April 15, 1930, Iamascia's father Giuseppe died.

When Joseph "the Baker" Catania was shot to death in the Bronx on Feb. 3, 1931, his close friends Iamascia and Daniel DeStefano were picked up by police as material witnesses. That killing, part of the New York Mafia's Castellammarese War, remained unsolved by police.

Serving as Schultz's primary bodyguard during his war with Vince "Mad Dog" Coll (a former member of the Schultz mob), Iamascia met his end on June 18, 1931. He and Schultz stepped out of a Schultz apartment building at Fifth Avenue and 102nd Street to observe two men apparently hiding in the shadows. Believing them to be Coll gunmen, Schultz and Iamascia opened fire. The shadowy figures reportedly turned out to be police detectives who shot Iamascia in front of 1212 Fifth Avenue and apprehended Schultz.
Iamascia was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital nearby with gunshot wounds to his abdomen and right arm. He quickly succumbed to his wounds.

Iamascia's years of loyal service and his death apparently at the hands of the police earned him one of the most spectacular funerals New York has ever seen. There were 125 cars of mourners and 35 cars of flowers during the procession of his silver coffin (valued by some at as much as $20,000) from his mother Rosina Iamascia's Belmont Avenue home, to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (Belmont and 187th Street) and then to St. Raymond's Cemetery. Enormous floral displays were provided by Schultz (a large wreath of lillies) and Terranova (a 15-foot-high floral gate of lillies, roses and carnations). Iamascia was temporarily interred at the private mausoleum of undertaker Daniel Scocozzo, it was reported, while his own $25,000 mausoleum was erected. Ultimately, Iamascia was laid to rest in a fairly ordinary grave in St. Raymond's.

Hoffa, James R. (1913-1975)

Born Indiana, Feb. 14, 1913.

Declared dead 1982; believed killed July 30, 1975.

"Jimmy" Hoffa, famed leader of the Teamsters union, was not a member of the Mafia but did have a number of Mafia contacts. It is believed that his underworld associates ended his life in 1975. He was declared legally dead in 1982. The details of his death and the whereabouts of his remains are unknown.

Organized crime within organized labor was targeted by Senate attorney Robert Kennedy in the 1950s, before his brother John became President and named Robert to the attorney general's post. At that time, Dave Beck was head of Teamsters International, and Hoffa was moving into national prominence as leader of the Teamsters in the Detroit area. Beck, in league with the Chicago crime Family of Sam Giancana, proved, due to his blatant criminal activity, ill-equipped to deal with the federal pressure. Giancana's group and members of New York's Lucchese Family helped Hoffa take over the International presidency on September 1957.

With John Kennedy's Presidential victory in 1960, Hoffa was in hot water. Late that year, Robert Kennedy announced that Hoffa was the primary focus of his attack on corruption in labor unions. Hoffa channeled many millions of dollars of Teamster pension funds to underworld activities in Las Vegas and other Mafia-run land development operations. Those secret loans, involving kickbacks to underworld brokers, illustrated the intimate links between various Mafia organizations and the Teamsters.

Hoffa was personally linked to Johnny "Dio" Dioguardi of the Lucchese Family. The Teamster membership records showed further links. Numerous known mobsters, including Tony Provenzano of New Jersey, were listed on the Teamster rolls.

Hoffa managed to escape a number of charges, but was finally convicted of attempting to influence a jury in 1962 and then of improperly tampering with the union pension fund in 1964. Appeals kept him out of jail until 1967, when he began a 13-year sentence. Hoffa and Tony Provenzano found themselves incarcerated in the same prison for a time. The two men, initially friendly, had disagreements and became enemies while behind bars.

Hoffa was freed by order of President Richard Nixon at the end of 1971 on the temporary condition that Hoffa not participate in union leadership. Hoffa's hand-picked successor Frank Fitzsimmons was still in control of the Teamsters and appeared unwilling to step aside for his old mentor. Hoffa's former underworld allies reportedly felt more comfortable with Fitzsimmons at the helm. As Hoffa began to plot a return to the union presidency, his relationship with Fitzsimmons and his allies soured.

On July 30, 1975, Hoffa was reportedly waiting at the Machus Red Fox restaurant outside Detroit to meet with representatives of the underworld. Witnesses said they saw him in the parking lot and making at least two telephone calls from a pay phone outside a nearby hardware store. Hoffa disappeared after that. He was declared legally dead in 1982.

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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 New York, NY, 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.

Related Links:
  •  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,, 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.