Angelo Annaloro, aka Angelo Bruno, aka The Gentle Don came to the U.S. from Sicily when he was in his teens in the late 1920s. He didn’t take long to get involved in criminal activity. At that time, the boss in Philly was Salvatore Sabella. He had started the Philadelphia family in 1911. Angelo set up gambling and bootlegging operations under Sabella. This is also when Bruno met Carlo Gambino.
There are a couple of different accounts of what wound up happening to Sabella. One says he retired and another says he was deported. Either way, when Sabella was out of the picture, Philly found itself in a mob civil war. Five years later in 1936 Joseph “Joe Bruno” Dovi came out ahead of John Avena. Dovi had ties to Chicago and the New York families, especially the Luciano and Mangano families. The rackets expanded in Philly to now include narcotics. In October of 1946 Joe Dovi died of natural causes and the Commission appointed Joe Ida as Philly’s new boss.
Under Joe Ida, Philly became close with Luciano family underboss Vito Genovese. He was present at Apalachin and Philly was then given a seat on the Commission. Ida was one of the guys indicted for the Apalachin meeting and fled to Sicily. Antonio Pollino was left as the acting boss.
Even though Bruno had given Pollino his support Pollino still felt uneasy as Bruno had been up for the acting boss position as well. In fact, Pollino was so uneasy that he put a hit out on Bruno. Fortunately for Bruno he found out about the plan and called his old friend Carlo Gambino.
Gambino had his pal Angelo named boss of Philadelphia by the Commission. This is the first of two times Gambino would name the boss of a family. The second time didn’t work out as well. Anyway, Bruno actually allowed Pollino to stay on in the family. Bruno had wanted a smooth transition and thought that keeping Pollino would help keep things quiet. He didn’t want another internal war breaking out.
Bruno stuck to low risk rackets. He didn’t want his men dealing in narcotics but let them do their own thing other than that as long as they kicked up. He was also very smart. There is a story about a guy who was robbing his bookmakers and wouldn’t stop after warnings. Bruno had him hit. Nicky Scarfo had the contract. He was ordered to take the body out to the woods where a grave was already dug. Nicky was told not to bury the body though. Another crew would handle that. After the body was dropped off two other guys who Angelo trusted filled in the hole and took the body and buried it in another location.
Angelo had a ban on drugs which angered some of the men in his family. This was especially because he allowed the Gambino family to deal in his territory and took a cut from it. Something else that angered his men was when he declared Atlantic City open territory. This allowed other families to come in and make money that could have otherwise been theirs. Angelo did this in order to avoid a war with the bigger New York families. He told his men that there would be enough for everyone.
Antonio “Tony Bananas” Caponigro ran Philly’s Newark, NJ crew and then became the family’s consiglieri. Tony was one of the men that had a big problem with Bruno. It seems that on the side, Caponigro had a heroin operation going and he no longer felt like hiding it from the boss. He went to New York and sat down with the Genovese family’s Funzi Tieri to see if it was ok for him to kill Angelo. Now don’t forget, Angelo was with Carlo Gambino. Funzi gave the go ahead but never got it ok’d by the Commission. So Caponigro goes ahead and kills Bruno thinking everything is ok. Things were in fact not ok.
The Commission called Caponigro onto the carpet. He claimed he was given permission for the hit but Tieri denied everything. This is where I believe the tied changed for Carlo Gambino as being the boss of bosses.
Vincent Gigante at this point took control of what was happening in Philadelphia. Tony Caponigro was found in the trunk of his car with $300 stuffed in his ass to show he was greedy.
Chin wanted Nicky Scarfo to assume control of Philadelphia but he respectfully declined the position. The Chin then named Phil Testa boss instead.
Months later Testa was blown up in his house and Chin called Scarfo back to Greenwich Village and told him that now he was boss. Philly was now Genovese territory.