Alo, Vincent (1904-2001)

Born New York City, May 26, 1904.
Died Florida, March 9, 2001.

Vincent Alo
Vincent "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo was a key figure in the post-Prohibition Genovese Crime Family and a liaison between the Sicilian-Italian Mafia and the organization of Meyer Lansky. His career was the inspiration for a number of fictional underworld characters, most notably "Johnny Ola" of The Godfather Part II movie.

Alo was born in 1904 in East Harlem to Salvatore and Giulia (or Julia) Scalzo Alo, immigrants from Cosenza, Italy. Salvatore worked as a tailor in a clothing factory. Vincent Alo had an older sister, Elizabeth, and two younger brothers, Frank and Joseph. (Two other sisters show up in census records for 1905 and 1910, but they are missing from later censuses, suggesting they did not live long into childhood.) In the early 1910s, the Alo family moved to Hoffman Street near Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Alo left school and went to work as a clerk for a Wall Street company after just a single year of high school. Reportedly frustrated by the clerical work, in the early 1920s Alo began participating in robberies.

In October of 1923, he was caught by police following a jewelry store robbery. He was charged with second degree robbery and possession of a firearm. A conviction the following month resulted in a sentence of five to twelve years in prison. Inside Great Meadow State Prison in Washington County, New York, Alo did further work as a clerk.

Following his release, "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo became connected with Mafiosi engaged in rackets in the Bronx. This apparently provided him a measure of protection from prosecution. Alo was arrested in March 1932, once again for robbery and firearm possession, but managed to be discharged the following day. During the 1930s, he and his underworld colleagues were affiliated with the organization run by Charlie Luciano. Alo was believed to be among the leaders of a policy (lottery) ring operating in Bronx and Westchester Counties of New York in the mid-1930s.

In this period, Alo and his associates established gambling operations in eastern Florida. The FBI noted that Alo was one of the partners in the Plantation Casino in Broward County, Florida, in 1936. Other partners included Julian "Potatoes" Kaufman, Giuseppe "Joe Adonis" Doto and Jake Lansky, brother of Meyer Lansky. Alo rented a home on Dewey Street in Hollywood, Florida, which became his winter racket headquarters.

Meyer Lansky
Alo took a bride in August 1936. His wife, Florence Rose Gelinas Miller, was previously married and was the mother of two sons. Alo, his new wife and two stepsons, lived together on Holland Avenue in the Bronx and Dewey Street in Hollywood, Florida. While in Florida, Alo developed a love of the sport of golf.

The FBI learned that Alo became a partner in The Farm casino in Broward County by late 1939 and that in that winter he hosted a gathering at his Florida home attended by organizers from the International Longshoremen's Association in New York.

In the next decade, the FBI was told that "Jimmy Blue Eyes" had become a top Harlem lieutenant in the crime family then commanded by Frank Costello. Alo's home addresses changed. In New York, he moved into an apartment building at 315 Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In Florida, he moved to 1228 Monroe Avenue near Hollywood Lakes and Hollywood Beach.

His Florida business interests expanded to include a partnership with Meyer and Jake Lansky in the Club Greenacres casino in Hollywood; a seven-and-a-half percent interest in the Colonial Inn casino in Hollywood; and a share of the Ha-Ha Club in Hallandale. Alo was believed to be a stand-in for Joe Adonis in Florida. The Colonial Inn was a substantial underworld endeavor, involving Meyer and Jake Lansky, Frank Costello friend Frank Erickson, Joe Adonis and Richard Melvin. Alo was also alleged to be a partner with Frank Erickson in a horse race bookmaking racket operated out of the Hollywood Beach Hotel. Alo was one of a number of underworld figures who frequently visited the Wofford Hotel in Miami Beach. Other regular guests were Adonis, Costello, the Lanskys, Clevelanders George "King" Angersola and Alfred "Big Al" Polizzi, New Jersey racketeers Abner "Longie" Zwillman and Guarino "Willie Moore" Moretti, Youngstown Ohio gambling boss Joseph DiCarlo, and Detroit gambler William "Lefty Clark" Bischoff.

The FBI was told that the Ha-Ha Club in Hallandale was "a night club which catered to sex perverts." Later in the 1940s, perhaps after Alo ended his financial relationship with it, the club was targeted by local law enforcement. County officials shut the business down in 1947, stating that "its cast is composed of men who impersonate women and that its performances are conducted in a suggestive, indecent and obscene manner." The ownership of the Ha-Ha Club at that time was said to be Federal Amusement Company and Charles "Babe" Baker. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the closing of the club for conducting "lewd, indecent or nasty" performances and noted "the lawful evidence presents a dirty picture."

In the post-World War II years, Alo worked alongside Meyer Lansky in setting up gambling operations in Havana, Cuba. Alo was noted in immigration records returning with his wife from a brief trip to Cuba in April of 1946.

Alo was arrested for vagrancy by New York Police in August 1947. The vagrancy charge was baseless but it allowed the police to question Alo about his underworld relationships and about the Jan. 8 murder of waterfront labor leader Anthony Hintz. Alo admitted knowing Frank Costello, Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky. When presented with a list of names of suspects in the Hintz murder, Alo admitted not only knowing them but also seeing them in Florida shortly before the murder was committed. He claimed not to have any awareness of the murder plot, telling investigators, "If they wanted to kill someone, that's their business."

Federal agents determined that Alo was part of an "Eastern Criminal Syndicate," including Costello, Erickson, Adonis and the Lanskys, that in 1949 operated the plush Hallandale Beach casino known as Club Boheme. The same group was said to have run the Club Greenacres and the recently closed Colonial Inn. In May of 1950, records seized from the New York City offices of Frank Erickson defined his business relationships with alleged Syndicate members, as well as Mert Wertheimer and others in Broward County, Florida.

The discovery was made just in advance of hearings before the U.S. Senate's Kefauver Committee. In July, Daniel P. Sullivan, operating director of the Crime Commission of Greater Miami, testified before the Kefauver panel. He detailed the underworld gambling operations in Broward, Palm Beach and Dade Counties. According to Sullivan, the Colonial Inn gambling partnership included the Lanskys, Alo, Adonis, Erickson, Bert Briggs, Claude Litteral and Samuel L. Bratt. Originally, the group included Detroit gamblers led by Mert Wertheimer, Reubin Mathews and Danny Sullivan, but the Detroit interest was bought out by New Yorkers after 1946.

Following Kefauver hearings into Florida gambling rackets, Florida Governor Fuller Warren became involved in the fight against the rackets. Warren removed a local sheriff for accepting bribes and ordered an investigation of law enforcement corruption at Daytona Beach. Grand juries were formed to investigate the Florida rackets. These issued indictments against Alo, the Lanskys, Bischoff, Litteral, Bratt, George Sadlow, Frank Shireman and others for their roles in the running of Colonial Inn, Club Greenacres and Club Boheme.

On Sept. 16, 1950, Alo and nine other accused gambling racketeers appeared in criminal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They all entered guilty pleas to the gambling charges. They were sentenced to pay cash fines. Alo, Bischoff, Louis Oliver and T.E. Alexander were fined $1,000 each. Jake and Meyer Lansky, Bratt and Sadlow were fined $2,000 each. Litteral and Shireman were fined $3,000 each.

New York Police began a harassment campaign against known hoodlums in 1957. Alo was rounded up with more than 150 other reputed racketeers. Most were charged with vagrancy. Alo was held for questioning for several days. It probably was not a coincidence that Alo afterward began spending much more of his time in Florida. He gave up his Riverside Drive apartment, but maintained a presence in Manhattan by renting rooms at 19 West 55th Street.

FBI reports in 1958 suggested that Jake Lansky represented the financial interests of "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo and Meyer Lansky in the operation of the gambling casino at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba.  Those interests, along with other investments by American racketeers in Cuban gambling enterprises, were lost following the Castro  revolution. The hotel-casinos of the Havana area were nationalized by Castro in 1960.

A police raid in September 1963 turned up records of a Bronx loan shark racket apparently financed by Vincent Alo. Bronx District Attorney Isidore Dollinger brought evidence to a grand jury that Alo, a top lieutenant of crime boss Vito Genovese, backed the enterprise. According to Dollinger, the racketeers lent an estimated $4 million a year, preying on indebted gamblers and charging interest rates as high as 156 percent. Alo's brother Frank, a Bronx resident, was called to testify before the grand jury. Frank Alo refused to make any statement, citing Fifth Amendment protections.

Sixty-one-year-old Vincent Alo was himself called before a federal grand jury in December of 1965. Officials identified Alo as a top figure in Harlem and Bronx gambling rackets and said he also had influence in waterfront and garment center rackets.

A year later, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, California, investigated a fall 1965 gathering of mobsters in southern California. The meeting coincided with the Major League Baseball World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins. Attendees included Vincent Alo and Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno of the Genovese Crime Family, Miami Beach bookmaker Ruby Lazarus, and Jerome Zarowitz and Elliott Paul Price, gambling operators for Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Alo was believed to be part of another meeting of racketeers in 1969. That meeting reportedly occurred in Miami Beach, Florida. The meeting was said to have included Anthony "Big Tuna" Accardo, Paul "the Waiter" Ricca, John "Jackie the Lackey" Cerone and Dominic "the Angel" Angelini of Chicago; Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, Vincent Alo and Anthony "Tony Goebels" Ricci of New York. Officials surmised that fourteen Kansas City mobsters, arrested as they arrived in Miami a month earlier, were also to be part of the meeting. There was some speculation that Chicago racketeer Sam "Momo" Giancana, in self-imposed exile after serving a year in prison for contempt, was also to be present.

Though Alo was constantly under law enforcement scrutiny, he had avoided prison time since the jewelry store robbery sentence of his youth. The authorities began to catch up with Alo as he moved toward retirement. In October 1969, a federal grand jury in New York indicted "Jimmy Blue Eyes" for obstructing justice by giving false and evasive answers in a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. SEC previously questioned him about Mafia influence in the Tel-A-Sign advertising company.

'Johnny Ola'
Alo was convicted in September 1970 of two counts of giving false and evasive answers to the SEC. On Oct. 27, the sixty-six-year-old was sentenced to serve five years in Atlanta Federal Prison. He served three years of that sentence before being released. A year after he got out of federal prison, The Godfather Part II appeared in theaters. The character of "Johnny Ola" (played by Dominic Chianese), Italian aide to Havana's Jewish gambling czar Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg), paralleled Alo's earlier career.

"Jimmy Blue Eyes" was in his seventies when he next came to the attention of law enforcement. He was described in 1978 as a capodecina under Frank "Funzi" Tieri in the Genovese Crime Family. The Pennsylvania Crime Commission noted Alo's connection with Miami Beach attorney Alvin I. Malnik, who happened to own two resort hotels in the Pocono Mountains and who also happened to be a close friend of Meyer Lansky. According to the crime commission, Malnik once sent Alo to represent him in business negotiations. The commission stated that the Pocono resorts were home to money laundering, gambling, prostitution and other rackets.

Alo's old friend Meyer Lansky died at Miami Beach, Florida, early in 1983. Alo's wife Florence died in Las Vegas in April 1990. "Jimmy Blue Eyes" lived quietly another eleven years, dying in Florida in March 2001.


  •  Arrest record of Vincent Alo, New York City Police Department, Feb. 24, 1951.
  •  Daniel P. Sullivan testimony, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce - Part 1, Florida, Hearings Before a Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, p. 152-174.
  •  Federal Amusement Company, a Florida corporation, and Charles (Babe) Baker, v. State of Florida, upon the relation of Frank Tuppen, appeal from the Circuit Court for Broward County, Supreme Court of Florida Division A, Oct. 3, 1947.
  •  Nevada Death index, April 8, 1990.
  •  New York City Birth Index, Certificate no. 23392, May 26, 1904.
  •  New York City Marriage Index, certificate no. 1907, June 6, 1902.
  •  New York City Marriage Index, Certificate no. 24281, Aug. 26, 1936.
  •  New York State Census of 1905, County of New York, Assembly District 33, Election District 10.
  •  New York State Census of 1915, Bronx County, Assembly District 34, Election District 68, Block 4.
  •  New York State Census of 1925, Washington County, Town of Fort Ann, Assembly District 1, Election District 1.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Britannia, arrived New York City on June 25, 1894.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S Monarch, departed Hamilton, Bermuda, on Aug. 9, 1939, arrived Miami, Florida, on Aug. 11, 1939.
  •  SAC Miami, "Criminal Intelligence Program," FBI memorandum, MM 92-515, Sept. 5, 1963, p. 1
  •  Salvatore Alo Declaration of Intention, Supreme Court of New York at Bronx, No. 106279, April 21, 1931.
  •  Social Security Death Index.
  •  U.S. Census of 1910, New York State, New York County, Ward 12, Enumeration District 295.
  •  U.S. Census of 1920, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 7, Enumeration District 395.
  •  U.S. Census of 1930, State of New York, Nassau County, Hempstead Town, Seaford Village, Enumeration District 30-132.
  •  U.S. Census of 1940, State of Florida, Broward County, Hollywood City, Enumeration District 6-41.
  •  Vincent Alo fingerprint record, Federal Bureau of Investigation, May 28, 1971.
  •  "Vincent Alo," FBI memo, March 28, 1952, p. 1- 6.

  •  Carr, Charlie, New York Police Files on the Mafia, Hosehead Productions, 2012, p. 388.
  •  Janson, Donald, "Crime figures found involved in Poconos," New York Times, April 17, 1978, p. 1.
  •  Lansky, Meyer II, "The Real Johnny Ola: Vincent 'Jimmy Blue Eyes' Alo," The Blog,, Dec. 15, 2014, updated Feb. 13, 2015, accessed March 1, 2016.
  •  Whitney, Craig R., "Realty man denies he knew of employe's alleged link to Mafia," New York Times, Jan. 24, 1970, p. 14.
  •  "3 balk at inquiry on loan-shark case," New York Times, Oct. 24, 1963, p. 18.
  •  "Alo, reputed Mafia figure, faces jail in S.E.C. case," New York Times, Sept. 29, 1970, p. 48.
  •  "Fem impersonators irk Florida court," The Billboard, Oct. 18, 1947, p. 38.
  •  "Florida crime drive is suddenly speeded," New York Times, Aug. 25, 1950, p. 40.
  •  "Miami Beach secret Mafia meet probed," Cumberland MD Evening Times, April 8, 1969, p. 1.
  •  "Police jail 155 hoodlums in New York," Troy NY Times, June 15, 1957, p. 8.
  •  "Reputed Mafia man indicted after an S.E.C. investigation," New York Times, Oct. 28, 1969, p. 16.
  •  "Senate group hearings on crime open here tomorrow," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 11, 1951, p. 2.
  •  "U.S. jury on coast said to investigate gamblers' meeting," New York Times, Dec. 18, 1966, p. 71.
  •  "U.S. jury hears Mafia figure," New York Times, Dec. 4, 1965, p. 28.
  •  "Vincent 'Jimmy Blue Eyes' Alo," Find A Grave,, accessed March 2, 2015.