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.

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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.