Esposito, Giuseppe (1847-?)

b. Alia, Palermo province, Sicily, c1847.
d. Unknown.

Giuseppe Esposito, also known as Giuseppe Randazzo and Vincenzo Rebello, served as lieutenant to the infamous Antonino Leone back in 1874 Sicily. He emigrated to the U.S. and briefly found underworld success in New Orleans before being captured by private detectives and deported to Italy to stand trial for murder.

Esposito and Leone are believed to have been responsible for the kidnaping of English businessman John Forester Rose. (According to legend, they sent several of his body parts back to his family with ransom demands). The two leaders were cornered by Italian police in 1875, but Esposito escaped to become the new boss of the island's most feared band of central hill-country brigands.

After some of Esposito's closest allies were captured, he turned himself in to friendly authorities in Alia, Sicily. Charged with a number of crimes, including murder and extortion, Esposito was transported to Palermo to stand trial. During the trip, he escaped. His escape appears to have been organized by Palermo Mafiosi, with whom he had at least friendly relations.

In the late 1870s, Esposito fled to New York via Marseilles, France. He quickly moved on to New Orleans. Adopting a new name, Vincenzo Rebello, Esposito married and began to settle into a life of crime. He was immediately recognized as leader by the various Mafia factions already in place in New Orleans. Esposito and his right hand man Joe Provenzano quickly controlled much of the profitable activity on the New Orleans docks and in the produce markets.

Esposito was betrayed by a New Orleans associate known only by the code name of Panesolo. Panesolo sent word to Italian authorities that Esposito was living in the Crescent City. Private detectives of the Mooney and Boland firm were hired to track him down. New Orleans Police Detectives Mike and David Hennessy (cousins) aided by arresting Esposito near the St. Louis Cathedral on July 5, 1881. Esposito was quickly transported to New York for an extradition hearing.

Overwhelming support from the Sicilian community there and from New Orleanians who traveled to testify on his behalf, coupled with Esposito's insistence that the authorities had misidentified him, delayed the proceedings until he could be positively identified in late September.

Upon his return to Italy, he was convicted of murders in Rome and jailed for life. Some of his former allies in New Orleans converted his possessions there to their own use and failed to provide for a wife and children he left behind. From his Italian jail cell, Esposito tried unsuccessfully to sue those New Orleanians.

Esposito's New Orleans crime organization split into two factions: the Stuppagghieri Mafia commanded by the Matranga family and a Giardinieri Mafia led by the Provenzano clan. The split eventually led to a number of deaths, including the 1890 assassination of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessey.

Some historians doubt that Esposito was a proper Mafioso, insisting that he was no more than a bandit (and forgetting that the traditional, honored society of the Sicilian Mafia had largely degenerated into a collection of thieves, cut-throats and political radicals by the mid-1870s). In his History of New Orleans, author John Kendall defined the "brigand" view of Esposito:

"Esposito had terrorized the vicinity of Palermo. From boyhood he had been a criminal. In his maturity he was a mountain desperado, plundering, burning, and murdering. Captured by the Italian police after a desperate battle, in which his band of brigands was destroyed, he escaped from custody, and fled to America. The press teemed with stories of his terrible exploits in Italy, and he was sought throughout the world..."

However, the FBI later asserted that Esposito "was the first known Sicilian Mafia member to emigrate to the United States. He and six other Sicilians fled to New York after murdering eleven wealthy landowners, the chancellor and vice chancellor of a Sicilian province." The FBI account leans very strongly on the word "known," as Mafia organizations existed at least in New Orleans and New York at the time Esposito arrived.

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Eboli, Tommy (1911-1972)

Born Italy, June 13, 1911.

Killed Brooklyn, NY, July 16, 1972.

"Tommy Ryan" Eboli held the reins of the Genovese crime Family in New York from around 1962 until his assassination in 1972.

Despite an arrest record that dated back to 1933 and included charges of gambling and disorderly conduct, Eboli served only one prison term. That was the result of assaulting a Madison Square Garden boxing referee in 1952. (Eboli was unhappy that a decision went against the fighter he was managing.)

He became an upper echelon Mafiosi in the late 1950s, as Genovese Crime Family boss Vito Genovese was charged with narcotics trafficking. When Genovese went into prison, Eboli served on a supervisory panel in the crime family. Other members of the panel reportedly included Gerardo Catena and Michele Miranda.

Eboli was reportedly disliked by the ambitious and meddlesome Carlo Gambino, boss of the Gambino Crime Family. Gambino appears to have had a role in Eboli's assassination near his girlfriend's Brooklyn home early on July 16, 1972. At one o'clock that morning, Eboli's body was found face down on the sidewalk in front of 388 Lefferts Avenue. Five bullet wounds were evident in his face and neck.

The location was far from the apartment Eboli shared with his common-law wife in the Horizon House high-rise complex in Fort Lee, New Jersey. But it was surprisingly close - within about one block - to the Empire Boulevard police station.

After Eboli's demise, the apparent leadership of the Family passed to Gambino's preferred contender Franceso "Funzi" Tieri. However, behind the scenes, the Genovese Family orders were reportedly being issued by Phil Lombardo. So began a tradition of leadership secrecy in the Genovese clan.

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Dragna, Jack (1891-1956)

Born Corleone, Sicily, April 18, 1891.

Died Los Angeles, CA, Feb. 23, 1956.

Jack Ignatius Dragna was the leader of the Sicilian Mafia in southern California from the mid 1930s until the 1950s.

He was born in Corleone, Sicily, in 1891 and came to the United States with his family early in life. The family returned to Sicily in 1908, and Dragna sailed back to the U.S. for good in 1914.

He was convicted of attempted extortion in 1915. He was freed from San Quentin Prison on appeal. After Prohibition, the L.A. Mafia was slow to take advantage of legal gambling in Las Vegas, allowing eastern Mafiosi to stake claims there. The L.A. mob was happy to operate gambling ships off the California coast instead - a practice that continued from the 1920s until summer of 1939.

While Dragna maintained control over Mafia matters within his territory, he had a great deal of trouble expanding his interests. His forces proved inept at eliminating gambling competitor Mickey Cohen in the late 1940s and early 1950s (the tax man got rid of Cohen in 1951). Las Vegas - located practically in Dragna's backyard - was gobbled up by others.

A 1932 vacation in Mexico became a problem for Dragna two decades later. In 1951, immigration authorities noted that upon reentering the U.S. Dragna falsely claimed he was an American citizen. He fought deportation efforts for some time. He was being held at the Terminal Island detention center when his wife Frances died on July 23, 1953. A subsequent appeal resulted in Dragna's release on bail.

He moved into a home at 4757 Kensington Drive in San Diego and spent some of his remaining time visiting his relatives.

Dragna was found dead Feb. 23, 1956, in the Saharan Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. He checked into the hotel on Feb. 10. His death left uncertain leadership in Los Angeles. Some say Frank DeSimone immediately stepped into the boss's job. Others insist that Simone Scozzari (also known in some circles as "DeSimone") held the position.

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DiPrimo, Giuseppe (1874-?)

b. Lercara Friddi, Sicily, c.1874.
d. Unknown.

Giuseppe DiPrimo (the surname is sometimes written De Priema or De Primo) was a New York City counterfeiter associated with the Giuseppe Morello Mafia. DiPrimo was imprisoned at Sing Sing with Isadoro Crocevera, Giuseppe Giallombardo and Salvatore Romano in March of 1903 after being convicted of passing counterfeit currency in Yonkers, New York.

During the course of the counterfeiting investigation, Secret Service Agent William Flynn allowed DiPrimo's underworld associates to believe that DiPrimo was providing evidence against them. Flynn did this in an effort to convince the other suspects to cooperate. The ploy was unsuccessful. DiPrimo's perceived violation of the underworld code had an undesired effect. It led to the brutal Mafia slaying of his brother-in-law Benedetto Madonia (the "Barrel Murder").

Newspapers of the time, unaware of Flynn's manipulations, attributed Madonia's killing to a squabble over counterfeiting racket proceeds. In a series of articles published years later, Flynn fessed up to the divide-and-conquer effort that cast suspicion on DiPrimo and triggered the April 1903 murder of Madonia.

Secret Service surveillance of the Morello organization gave authorities information on the Barrel Murder perpetrators even before they could identify the victim. Flynn's agents had spotted Morello gangsters with a newcomer to the city on the night before a dead body matching the newcomer's description was found in a barrel on a city sidewalk. Morello and a number of his men immediately were rounded up for the homicide. The victim's identity could not be established until Flynn suggested that NYPD Detective Joseph Petrosino take a photo of the murdered man to show to DiPrimo in Sing Sing Prison. DiPrimo recognized it as his visiting brother-in-law, Madonia.

Most of the suspects were quickly released. Morello enforcer Tomasso Petto was indicted for the Madonia murder. Of those arrested, he was the only one bearing incriminating evidence - a pawn ticket for DiPrimo's watch. Identification of the defendant proved to be a problem, and the case against Petto went nowhere. He was eventually released and fled the city.

DiPrimo reportedly swore revenge against the Lupo-Morello organization for Madonia's death. It was widely believed and widely published (in stories that appeared to use NYPD Detective Sergeant Joseph Petrosino as source) that DiPrimo tracked Petto to the northeastern Pennsylvania communty of Browntown and killed him there in October 1905. William Flynn insisted, however, that the timing was wrong for DiPrimo to be the killer, as he had not yet completed his prison term at the moment Petto was shot to death. (This is a close call. Available prison records show an entry date for DiPrimo but not a release date. He could have been paroled long before the date of Petto's murder, but his earliest release with good time allowance would have been too late - around the middle of November 1905.)

DiPrimo traveled back across the Atlantic. According to legend, he later was gunned down in Italy.

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  •  "Caught with counterfeit money," New York Tribune, Jan. 2, 1903, p. 9.
  •  "New counterfeit fives," New York Evening World, Jan. 3, 1903, p. 1.
  •  "Counterfeit $5 bills," New York Times, Jan. 4, 1903, p. 2.
  •  Flynn, William J., Daily Report, April 20, 29, 30, 1903, Department of the Treasury, United States Secret Service Daily Reports, R.G. No. 87, Roll 109, Vol. 9, National Archives.
  •  "Came from Buffalo,” Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, Apr. 21, 1903, p. 7.
  •  "Mysterious murder in village of Browntown," Pittston PA Gazette, Oct. 23, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "Black Hand leader killed," Scranton PA Republican, Oct. 23, 1905, p. 4.
  •  "No clue discovered," Wilkes-Barre PA Record, Oct. 24, 1905, p. 5.
  •  "No clue whatever yet," Pittston PA Gazette, Oct. 24, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "Petto, the Ox, murder victim," New York Sun, Oct. 24, 1905, p. 5.
  •  "May have good clue," Pittston PA Gazette, Oct. 25, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "Revenge on Black Hand," Washington Post, Oct. 26, 1905, p. 1.
  •  "Di Primo one who hated him," New York Sun, March 14, 1909, p. 2.
  •  Sing Sing Prison Inmate Register, New York Department of Correctional Services, Series B0143, New York State Archives, Albany, NY, No. 54088, p. 269.
  •  Flynn, William J., The Barrel Mystery, New York: James A. McCann Company, 1919, p. 13-14, 16-22.
  •  Petacco, Arrigo, translated by Charles Lam Markham, Joe Petrosino, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1974, p. 9, 14.

Dioguardi, John (1914-1979)

Born New York, NY, April 29, 1914.

Died Pennsylvania, Jan. 12, 1979.

"Johnny Dio" Dioguardi, born on Manhattan's Lower East Side, became a fierce and resourceful capodecina in the Lucchese Crime Family who helped tie American organized labor to organized crime. He was the nephew of James "Jimmy Doyle" Plumeri.

Dioguardi's first significant conviction occurred in 1937, when he pleaded guilty to working with Plumeri to extort monthly tribute payments from truck drivers. He served time in Sing Sing Prison. Upon his release, he became involved in dress manufacturing companies.

By the 1950s, Dio was one of the country's more powerful labor racketeers, and he aided Jimmy Hoffa's climb to the Teamster presidency through strongarm tactics and the creation of fraudulent "paper" locals.

The racketeer's strength was diminished after he ordered an attack on crusading journalist Victor Riesel. Sulfuric acid was thrown in Riesel's face in April of 1956, permanently blinding the newsman. The deed was tracked back to Dio, and the American press - including Riesel, who continued to crusade through the media - hounded him from that point on.

Dioguardi was convicted of labor extortion and conspiracy early in 1958. He was sentenced to serve 15-30 years in prison. During the trial, his connections with Hoffa were uncovered.
While in prison, Dioguardi was also convicted of income tax evasion in 1960. He was sentenced to four years and a $5,000 fine for that offense. White collar offenses continued to come to light.
Dio earned additional jail time and fines in 1967 for bankruptcy fraud and in 1968 for defrauding investors in a car-leasing company.

Dioguardi died in a Pennsylvania hospital while in federal custody on Jan. 12, 1979.

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DeMarco, Joseph (c1876-1916)

According to underworld legend, brothers James, Joseph and Salvatore DeMarco each attempted to dominate the Italian underworld of Manhattan and each lost his life as a result.

The DeMarcos once were allies of the Morello Mafia in East Harlem but then became a bitter rivals after 1910, as various underworld organizations struggled to dominate the rackets in lower Manhattan's Little Italy neighborhoods. James DeMarco was killed in 1913.

At least two attempted were made on Joseph DeMarco's life in 1913-1914. Both of those occurred in the vicinity of a notorious stable on East 108th Street. Joseph recovered from gunshot wounds both times.

DeMarco launched counterstrikes against the Morello leadership. In November of 1915, Nicholas Terranova (known as Nicholas Morello) was shot from behind by a sawed-off shotgun. Terranova was seriously injured but recovered.

Joseph DeMarco boldly moved into downtown rackets. He opened a restaurant at 163 West 49th Street and then opened two gambling rooms - one on Mulberry Street and another at 54 James Street. On the afternoon of July 20, 1916, police were called to the James Street room and found the lifeless bodies of Joseph DeMarco and his friend Charles "Nine-Fingered" Charlie Lombardi seated at a card table. Ten other chairs were scattered about the room. Ten hats were hung on wall hooks behind the table.

Authorities concluded that DeMarco had been killed for attempting to secure for himself the position of East Harlem's top underworld and political boss, which had recently been vacated by the murder of Giosue Gallucci. They learned much later that DeMarco's death was secretly agreed upon by Sicilian Mafia and Neapolitan Camorra leaders who wished to divide the Manhattan territory between them.

DeMarco's old rival Nicholas Terranova was murdered September 7, 1916, as he made a visit to Brooklyn Camorrists he believed were his allies.

Salvatore "Toto" DeMarco disappeared following the death of his older brother. He was not seen again until days after the Terranova murder. Perhaps fearing he would be targeted by a Morello vendetta, he reportedly decided to meet with New York Police Detective Frederick Franklin on Oct. 14, 1916, and tell him all he knew about the underworld feud. Toto did not make it to the meeting. Early on Oct. 13, his mutilated corpse was found by a street cleaner on the Astoria side of the Queensboro Bridge.

Toto DeMarco's head had been cracked open with an axe-like instrument. A razor slice across the throat had nearly severed the head from the body.

Brought to the scene, Detective Franklin remarked, "He'll never tell who killed his brother now."

DiGregorio, Gaspar (1905-1970)

Born Trapani, Sicily, 1905.

Died Smithtown, NY, June 11, 1970.

DiGregorio, an in-law of the Bonannos and Magaddinos, was a clothing manufacturer and a prominent member of the Bonanno Crime Family in New York City. DiGregorio served as best man in Joseph Bonanno's wedding and was godfather to Bonanno's oldest son Salvatore (Bill).

DiGregorio was a native of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and was likely connected with the Magaddino and Bonanno families while in Sicily. After entering the U.S., he married the sister of Buffalo crime boss Stefano Magaddino. After her death, he remarried.

He was a trusted group leader within the Brooklyn-based Bonanno Crime Family. With support from Magaddino, DiGregorio seized control of the Bonanno crime Family after Joe Bonanno disappeared in the early 1960s. Joe Bonanno's son fought the takeover and the so-called Banana Wars were the result.

Joe Bonanno re-emerged in 1966 and promised to get his Family in order. The Mafia Commission, which had pushed out Bonanno and welcomed DiGregorio's takeover of the Bonanno clan, withdrew their support for DiGregorio. DiGregorio was in poor health and seemed unwilling to engage in a fight with his old friends the Bonannos. Paul Sciacca, DiGregorio's top lieutenant, took over day to day operations of the anti-Bonanno faction and eventually made himself a candidate for boss.

After several years of quiet living with family on Long Island, DiGregorio succumbed to lung cancer at St. John's Hospital in Smithtown on June 11, 1970. He was buried in St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.

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DiGiovanni, Joseph (1888-1971)

Born Chiusa Sclafani, Sicily, April 23, 1888.

Died Kansas City, Aug. 5, 1971.

"Joe Church" DiGiovanni is among the earliest known Mafia bosses of Kansas City, MO. His family roots extend back to Chiusa Sclafani in Sicily. He entered the United States in 1903.

Once settled in Kansas City, Joseph and his brothers Paul and Pietro/Peter (known as "Sugarhouse Pete") reportedly engaged in Black Hand extortion and kidnapping within the local Italian communities. Paul DiGiovanni appears to have served as boss of the operation in its early stages and into the Prohibition Era (Paul died in 1929). According to legend, an attempt to firebomb a building in order to collect on its insurance resulted in an unexpected explosion that left Joseph permanently scarred on his face and hands.

Black market opportunities presented themselves during the First World War, and the DiGiovannis - who ran a wholesale grocery - took full advantage. Joseph DiGiovanni became partners with James Balestrere in a Prohibition Era bootlegging operation.

The U.S. Senate's Kefauver Committee interviewed the sixty-two-year-old DiGiovanni in the summer of 1950. At that time, he and his brother Peter ran a wholesale liquor distributorship affiliated with the Seagram's company. DiGiovanni denied any knowledge of the Mafia. He denied ever even hearing of the word "Mafia." He insisted that he had never been arrested or questioned by police.

Peter DiGiovanni, then sixty-four (born June 28, 1886), also appeared before the Kefauver Committee. He acknowledged being arrested repeatedly for bootlegging during the Prohibition Era. He said he was never convicted.

The Kefauver Committee concluded that Joseph DiGiovanni and James Balestrere still served as the top men in the Kansas City underworld.

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DeSimone, Frank (1909-1967)

Born Pueblo, CO, July 17, 1909.

Died Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 4, 1967.

Frank DeSimone, an attorney residing in Downey, CA, became the Los Angeles Mafia boss after the 1957 death of Jack Dragna. His reign marked the beginning of a long decline for the crime family later referred to in the press as "the Mickey Mouse Mafia."

DeSimone was born in Pueblo, CO, to merchant Rosario DeSimone and his wife Rosalia. DiSimone's father was born in the farming community of Salaparuto, Sicily, far inland in the western province of Trapani. He entered the U.S. through New York in March 1905. He married Rosalia, who was an immigrant from Lucca Sicula, Sicily, in the province of Agrigento. Rosalia apparently had two children in a previous relationship in New Orleans before moving to Colorado in the mid-1900s. Frank DeSimone was the oldest of four children born to Rosario and Rosalia in Pueblo before the family's fall 1920 relocation to Downey, California, where Rosario returned to a farming life.

DeSimone interrupted his early law practice to enlist in the Army in 1942.

One of DeSimone's earliest acts as crime boss was attendance at the ill-fated 1957 Mafia convention in Apalachin, NY. Los Angeles Mafioso Simone Scozzari, with whom DeSimone is often confused, also attended that convention. Both men were included among the attendees convicted of obstructing justice by refusing to reveal the purpose of the Apalachin meeting. The convictions were later overturned.

DeSimone died of natural causes on Aug. 4, 1967, leaving the Los Angeles Family to Nicolo Licata.

In September 1973, federal investigators unearthed links between the late Frank DeSimone and the management of the United States National Bank in southern California. The New York Times noted that the bank was run by multimillionaire C. Arnholt Smith, a close personal friend of U.S. President Richard Nixon.

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Dellacroce, Aniello (1914-1985)

Born New York, NY, March 15, 1914

Died Queens, NY, Dec. 2, 1985.

"Neal" Dellacroce, who learned his craft under Albert Anastasia, was the longtime leader of a faction within the Gambino Crime Family of New York.

Dellacroce's obituary indicated that he was born to Francesco and Antoinette Dellacroce in New York City on March 15, 1914. As a teenager in 1930, he was sentenced to two and a half years at Elmira Reformatory after a store burglary conviction. In 1937, he pleaded guilty to assault and received a sentence of four months at the workhouse.

Dellacroce later married Lucille Riccardi. He maintained two home addresses, 232 Mulberry Street in Manhattan's Little Italy and West Fingerboard Road on Staten Island.

Upon the 1957 assassination of boss Albert Anastasia, the large Brooklyn-based crime family divided into two camps. A Gambino-Castellano faction elevated Carlo Gambino to the position of boss, a move contested by a faction led by Armand Thomas Rava and Dellacroce. (Dellacroce's affection for Rava possibly influenced the naming of his son Armond, born in 1955.)

The succession dispute likely was on the agenda at the ill-fated Apalachin convention in November 1957. It eventually was resolved with Rava's disappearance in 1958 and Dellacroce's subsequent elevation to the position of underboss.

Though the Dellacroce faction seethed over Gambino's power grab and quietly plotted against the boss, there was no open conflict between Gambino and Dellacroce. Authorities believed, however, that a 1966 underworld meeting at the La Stella Restaurant in Queens, NY, was an effort to depose Gambino.

In the 1960s, Dellacroce began running his underworld ventures from the Ravenite Social Club, 247 Mulberry Street. The Ravenite Club served as the home site for the disgruntled Gambino crime family faction.

Dellacroce served prison time after a 1971 conviction for contempt of court and after a 1973 conviction for tax evasion. The tax evasion charge was related to more than $100,000 in stock he received in connection with labor racketeering on Long Island.

Upon Gambino's 1976 death, the old Anastasia faction, including a young John J. Gotti, felt Dellacroce should be elevated to Family boss. However, he quietly stepped aside for Gambino relative Paul Castellano. If there were hurt feelings, Dellacroce hardly let on. He insisted that his supporters remain loyal to Castellano.

Dellacroce was charged in the late 1970s and early 1980s with racketeering, conspiracy and tax evasion. In the mid-1980s, he was accused of being part of the Mafia's ruling Commission. He did not live long enough to be tried on those charges.

Dellacroce died of natural causes at Mary Immaculate Hospital, Queens, NY, on Dec. 2, 1985. He had been receiving treatment for cancer there under the assumed name of Timothy O'Neil. His death cleared the way for his followers to act against Castellano.

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