Dara, William (1905-1982)

Born Sicily, July, 1905
Died Kenner, LA, July, 9, 1982.

A longtime member of the Bonanno Crime Family, William Dara is believed to have become an informant for the FBI later in his life.

William was born in Sicily in 1905 and arrived in the United States with his mother and two younger brothers about 1910. His father Nicholas traveled to the U.S. several years earlier. The family settled on Pitkin Avenue, near Vermont Street, in the East New York section of Brooklyn, where Nicholas worked as a barber. The Daras changed addresses through the years - to New Jersey Avenue and then to Crescent Street - but always remained within the East New York neighborhood. As a young adult, William began working as a tile setter. He was known from then on as "Willie the Tile Maker."

William and several of his siblings got into trouble with the law. Crime became a second career for William. His arrest record dates back at least to 1931, when he, his brother Michael and teenager John Cimino were arrested for stealing a slot machine from a candy store on Saratoga Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn. (The store owner did not appear for arraignment, and the three were discharged.) William Dara and Anthony Rizzo were captured in December 1934 as they attempted to rob a tire store on Brooklyn's Lafayette Avenue near Ashland Place. Dara appears to have been well known to police by 1940, when he and some Brooklyn associates were arrested for vagrancy.

He became an inducted member of the Bonanno Crime Family about 1950, serving for a time under his cousin, capodecina Mike Sabella. Dara later relocated to the Miami, Florida, area, where he ran a night club and conducted gambling rackets that were coordinated with Michael Coppola's Genovese Crime Family crew in South Florida.

In the 1960s, Dara appears to have provided information to the FBI on Tampa-based Mafia boss Santo Trafficante, Jr., other members of the Trafficante organization, and members of New York-based and Chicago-based mobs with operations in South Florida. Some of the FBI's information on the "Banana War" struggle within the Bonanno Family seems to have come from Dara.

Dara died in a plane crash at Kenner, Louisiana, a few days before his seventy-seventh birthday. He and his wife were taking a commercial Pan American flight to Las Vegas. All 145 people on the Boeing 727 and eight people on the ground were killed.

Read more:

Other sources:
  • New York State Census of 1925, Kings County, Assembly District 22, Ward 15, Election District 29, no. 2125 Pitkin Avenue.
  • United States Census of 1920, New York State, Kings County, Enumeration District 1416, no. 2125 Pitkin Avenue.
  • United States Census of 1930, NeW York State, Kings County, Enumeration District 24-492, no. 321 New Jersey Avenue. 
  • United States Census of 1940, New York State, Kings County, Enumeration District 24-2677, no. 584 Crescent Street.
  • "3 hold-up suspects freed when victim dodges court," New York Daily News, Oct. 14, 1931, Brooklyn section, p. 14.
  • "Thugs escape with $1,300 in bold robbery," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 17, 1934, p. 2.
  • "Three men were arrested...," New York Times, April 14, 1940, p. 24.
  • "149 killed in Orleans crash," Shreveport LA Times, July 10, 1982, p. 1.

Alex, Gus (1916-1998)

Born Chicago, IL, April 1, 1916.
Died Lexington, KY, July 24, 1998.

Gus Alex, the son of Greek immigrants, became a key figure in the Italian-dominated Chicago Outfit. He was a longtime gambling rackets boss for the Outfit and became a part of a 1970s Outfit leadership panel that included Anthony Accardo and Joseph Aiuppa.

In his youth, Alex became familiar with Chicago crime figures. His father's restaurant at 26th Street and Wentworth Avenue was reportedly popular with bosses Al Capone and Frank Nitti. Early in Alex's underworld career, he is believed to have served as an Outfit hit man. He became a trusted aide to Accardo during the 1940s.

He was once arrested in connection with the murder of a gambler shotgunned to death in 1947. Though the victim's deathbed statement indicated Alex was his killer, Alex was no convicted of the murder.

Alex worked closely with underworld financial wizard Jake Guzik and political "fixer" Murray Humphries. In the 1950s, he rose to command rackets within Chicago's Loop. He became the Outfit's top "fixer" after Humphreys' death in 1965, commanding the "connection guys," who established and maintained underworld connections to legislators and judges.

He reluctantly joined the mob's leadership group for several years in the 1970s, before retreating back to less visible roles.

He was charged in December 1991 with sanctioning violent extortion schemes against legitimate business enterprises. With the assistance of turncoat racketeer Lenny Patrick, an Alex underling and supervisor of a North Side street crew, federal prosecutors won a conviction against Alex in October 1992. He was sentenced in February 1993 to fifteen years and eight months in prison and $823,000 in fines and restitution.

Alex died July 24, 1998, while held in federal prison medical center at Lexington, Kentucky.

O'Connor, Matt, "Old 'pals' face off in mob case," Chicago Tribune, Sept. 8, 1992, chicagotribune.com.
O'Connor, Matt, "Gus Alex faces prison, big fines for extortion," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 20, 1993, p. 5.
O'Connor, Matt, "Patrick back in hot water," Chicago Tribune, April 15, 1993, Sec. 2, p. 4.
O'Brien, John, "Gus Alex, 82, syndicate boss for nearly 50 years," Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1998, Sec. 2, p. 9, chicagotribune.com.
"Deaths last week," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 2, 1998, Sec. 4, p. 8.