On This Day in July…
On this day in 1928, Frankie Yale had a phone call from an anonymous stranger stating that his wife was in trouble, he sped home in his car, however he was ambushed by four men and unfortunately for Yale, the windows on his Lincoln Coupe had not been bulletproofed. He was instantly killed in the gunfire.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1907 Frederico Randaccio, who was also know as Lupo, was born. During his time he rose through the ranks to become a high ranking mobster in the Buffalo crime family, and at one point served as the acting boss of the family.He died of natural causes on Oct. 4, 2004, at the age of 97.
On this day in 1999 we saw the death of one of the biggest Mafia novelist and screenwriters of the 20th century, Mario Puzo. He was born to a poor family in 1920, in Hell’s Kitchen. He died aged 78 in West Bay Shore.You are probably already aware of the name from The Godfather novel which went on to be co-adapted into a film by Francis Ford Coppola in the 1970’s. He also wrote The Sicilian, The Last Don, and Omertà.
Angelo La Barbera
On this day in 1924 Angelo La Barbera was born, he and his brother Salvatore were significant figures in the Sicilian Mafia, leading the family of Palermo Centro. He was also a protagonist in the first Mafia war in the early 1960’s.In 1968 he was charged with 7 murders and sentenced to 22 years, he was stabbed to death in October 28, 1975 by three mobsters while serving time in Perugia.View more from this date in history
Salvatore “Sam” Segreto
On this day in 1898, New Orleans Family Soldier Salvatore “Sam” Segreto is born.
On this day in 1902: What better way to celebrate July 4th than the birth of Meyer Lansky. Meyer helped develop the mobs gambling empire and was the brain behind many of its decisions, holding a major influence with the Italian Mafia despite being a member of the Jewish mob.He was never found guilty of anything more serious than illegal gambling. Happy Birthday Meyer, The Mob’s Accountant! http://thencs.org/29GIwWR
On this day in 1881 Sicilian bandit and refugee from justice in Sicily, Giuseppe Esposito, is captured in New Orlean’s Jackson Square by cousins Michael and David Hennessey. Espositto is shipped to New York for an extradition hearing and eventually sent back to Palermo where he reportedly dies in prison.View more from this date in history
Phillip Di Giorgio
On this day in 1919 Phillip Di Giorgio, the son of New Orleans Black Hand member and future Los angeles Mafia Boss Vito di Giorgio, is found drowned in the Mississippi River off of the Governor Nicholls pier. Though never proven, it’s suspected the boy was murdered in revenge against Vito in an ongoing Black Hand fued in the Crescent City. Vito re-locates to Los Angeles soon after. Phillip is only nine years old.
Bumpy “Ellsworth” Johnson
On this day in 1968 the Harlem Godfather Bumpy “Ellsworth” Johnson took his last breath. Bumpy was an associate to the Genovese crime family and enforcer for the numbers Queen Madame Stephanie St. Clair.In the mid-1930’s Dutch Schultz moved into the numbers rackets in the Harlem area, and anyone who didn’t turn their operations over to him were targeted with violence. Lucky Luciano arranged the hit on Schultz and took over his operations, and then made a deal with Bumpy which helped him take over operations as long as taxes were paid.To many in Harlem, Bumpy became a hero as he was a black man who cut a deal with the Italian Mafia in the 1930’s, allowing numbers bankers who fought for independence, remain independent. Bumpy died of heart failure while under federal indictment for drug conspiracy. http://thencs.org/1HpGgfGView more from this date in history
On this day in 1961 New Orleans Family Soldier Joseph Pecararo dies. Pecararo was involved in gambling operations and associated with narcotics traffickers.
On this day in 1892 the future rival boss to the South Side Gang in Chicago was born. Dean O’Banion was an Irish-American mob boss who owned Schofield’s flower shop near the corner of West Chicago Avenue and North State Street.During the violent era of Prohibition his gang clashed with Torrio and Capone in a turf war that would end in the 1929 St. Valentines Day Massacre. However, O’Banion wouldn’t live to see that day as he was killed in his flower shop in 1924.Frankie Yale went to shake his hand and put him in a tight grip whilst Genna hitmen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi circled around him and put bullets into his chest and throat, before finishing him off with one to the back of the head. O’Banion was 32. http://thencs.org/29CX9qzView more from this date in history
On this day in 1900 New Orleans Family Soldier Sam Saia is born. Saia owned the famous Felix’s Oyster Bar in the French Quarter at the time of the JFK assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald’s uncle, Charles “Dutz” Murret worked for Saia as a bagman. In the summer of 1963, just a few months prior to the JFK assassination, Oswald worked with his Uncle in Saia’s operation.
On this day in 2008 Frank Maestri died at the age 89. He was a successful California businessman, and a prominent soldier and bookmaker in the San Jose crime family, reporting to the boss Joseph Cerrito. The San Jose crime family was a small and fairly quiet family that included more business orientated members rather than your usual mobster stereotypes. Something that fitted well with Maestri.
On this day in 1954 one of the first mob bosses in Sicily passed away at the age of 76. Calogero Vizzini, or Don Calo as he was also referred to, was born in 1877 and was considered to be one of the most influential Mafia bosses of his time, depicted as a boss of bosses, and a man of honor. When he died in 1954, thousands of peasants dressed in black, and high ranking Mafia members, politicians and priests took part in his funeral.
On this day in 1979 the Italian lawyer, Giorgio Ambrosoli was gunned down by three Mafia hitmen while he was investigating Michele Sindona (a banker known as ‘The Shark’). Worried that Ambrosoli would expose everything to the Police, Sindona commissioned the hit.
Hours prior to Ambrosoli’s death, he was also talking to the Police Chief, Boris Giuliano, about documents he had discovered which connected Sindona to the Mafia. 10 days later the Mafia gunned down the Police Chief.
Sindona was eventually sent to prison in 1984, two years later he was poisoned with cyanide while drinking coffee in his cell.
Ambrosoli was 45 at the time of his death.
Orleans Parish Prison
On this day in 1837 In New Orleans, the Orleans Parish Prison is opened where, 54 years later, the largest lynching in American history would take place when eleven Italians, suspected members of the Mafia, are lynched in the David Hennessey case. The prison is torn down in 1895. When it first opened it was nicknamed The Mississippi Hotel due to the large amounts of people from that state that were imprisoned due over debts, usually ggambling, which was a legal and common practice at the time.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1894 New Orleans Family Soldier Victor Gallo is born. Gallo was a top guy in gambling operations.
On this day in 1967 one of the founding members of the American Mafia passed away at the age of 67. Tommy Lucchese was the boss of the Lucchese crime family from 1951 until his death.
Lucchese spent the previous 22 years as an underboss to Tommy Gagliano, but as soon as he became boss he formed an alliance with Vito Genovese, Albert Anastasia and Carlo Gambino.
Tommy Lucchese was a respected mob boss who stuck to the core values of making money, keeping a low public profile, and avoiding criminal prosecution.
On this day in 2014 Jack Tocco, the mob boss of the Detroit Partnership passed away at the age of 87. He spent over 30 years running the family until he was convicted in 1998 on racketeering and conspiracy. Despite being handed three 20 year felonies he spent just over 2 years in prison before being released due to ill health.
He was also said to have been connected with the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance in 1975.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1917 New Orleans Family Soldier Salvadore Marciante is born.
On this day in 1946 the head of an Italian crime family that was the predecessor to the Los Angeles crime family, passed away at the age of 72. His name was Rosario DeSimone, the father of Frank DeSimone (who became boss of the LA family in 1956).
Despite Rosario being a boss his reign didn’t last more than three years from 1922 until 1925, after he decided to call it a day and step into a legitimate business role.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1890 in New Orleans, members of the Provenzano faction go on trial for the midnight ambush of Matranga members at the corner of Esplanade and Claiborne Ave’s. Though no one was killed in the ambush, Antonio Matranga, brother to Charles, loses a leg. They would be found guilty four days later on the 19th of July and aquitted a few months later in a re-trial after the death of David Hennessey.
On this day in 1981 the brother of Gambino mobster Michael DiLeonardo was killed in a gangland execution. Robert DiLeonardo was a Colombo crime family mobster and was shot to death at the age of 34.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1881 in New Orleans, Antonio Labruzzo is killed by shooter Gaetano Ardota from the corner of Exchange Alley and Bienville. It was thought Labruzzo had informed on Giuseppe Esposito to the Hennessey cousins Michael and David who captured Esposito in Jackson Square. Ardota was the suspected gunman in the assassination of Rafaelle Agnello in April 1869. (See stories An Oysterman gets Schucked and The Death of New Orleans First Godfather in the Crescent Corner.)
On this day in 1970 the New York mobster known as The Peacemaker passed away at the age of 78. Alphonse Attardi was known for drug trafficking, and was arrested for it in the early 1950′.
He soon turned government witness and let an undercover agent infiltrate the mob, leading to several arrests and damage to the mobs operations.
Attardi received a $5,000 payout from the government for his help and then he left the country.
Machine Gun Kelly
On this day in 1954 Machine Gun Kelly died of heart attack while serving his 3 years at Leavenworth, after being transferred from a 17 year spell at Alcatraz.
Kelly operated throughout the prohibition era and got his nickname from his favorite weapon of choice, the Thompson submachine gun (his real name was George Francis Barnes). He died on his 59th birthday. http://thencs.org/29IdYD4
On this day in 1992 the anti-mafia magistrate Paolo Borsellino was killed by a car bomb in Palermo. Two months prior to this his friend and fellow magistrate Giovanni Falcone was killed by another car bomb.
One theory to Borsellino’s assassination was that he had uncovered negotiations between the government and Mafia after the death of Falcone. Borsellino failed to get himself appointed to investigate Falcone’s murder and claimed that he had certain information into why he was killed.
In his last video interview which was a few months before the car bomb, given on 21 May 1992, Borsellino spoke about the possible link between the Mafia and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The interview received little coverage as Berlusconi owned half the TV networks.
Paolo Borsellino was 52 at the time of his death.
Salvatore Lo Piccolo
On this day in 1942 the Sicilian mobster known as the Baron was born in Palermo. Salvatore Lo Piccolo was a notable mobster throughout the 1980’s operating various cocaine trafficking projects, business extortion, and real estate schemes.
On November 5, 2007, Lo Piccolo was arrested in a villa in Giardinello. At his hideout, the Mafia Ten Commandments were found.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1961 New Orleans Family Soldier Victor Gallo dies.
On this day in 1972 Gerlandino Messina was born. In 2010 he was captured after being on the most wanted list since 1999 for Mafia association and murders (which included a police officer in 1992).
He is also the son of Giuseppe Messina, a Mafia boss of Porto Empedocle, who was rubbed out on July 8, 1986 by the Grassonelli clan.
In revenge, six members of the Grassonelli were taken out on September 21, 1986, in the Porto Empedocle massacre.
In 2012 he was sentenced to 9 years for illegal possession of firearms.
On this day in 2000 the Stable Keeper at the villa of Silvio Berlusconi, Vittorio Mangano passed away from cancer in prison at the age of 59. His real job at the villa was a security guard, placed there to deter kidnappers from taking Berlusconi’s children.
Mangano was a member of the Porta Nuova crime family in the Sicilian Mafia, and refused to give away any information on Berlusconi.
His epitaph reads: “He refused to barter his dignity for freedom”
On this day in 1998 Gus Alex passed away. His career was a very successful one, from Jake Guzik’s protege to Syndicate fixer, an a high-ranking member of the Chicago Outfit for over 30 years under the likes of Ricca, Accardo, and Giancana. He was a big political influencer and the connections he built up over time would always ensure his position with the organization during the unstable leadership of the decade.
Alex died of a heart attack in federal prison after Leonard Patrick, a close Outfit associate, wore a “wire” and taped Alex for the FBI.
On this day in 1991, Peter Monteleone died of heart attack at the age of 64. Monteleone was a New York mobster and made man of the Bonanno Crime Family, growing up with Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero.
He was shot twice in the back during World War II, and eventually went on to become a solider for Anthony Spero in the 70’s.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1944 New Orleans Family Boss Corrado Giacona dies. Giacona took over operations from Charles Matranga when he retired in 1922. Corrado was the son of Pietro Giacona, who shot four Black Hand members in their home in the French Quarter in 1908, killing three of them. Though never proven, Corrado was a likely shooter in that incident. (See story The Life of Corrado Giacona in The Crescent Corner.)
On this day in 1992, Tony Salerno passed away at the age of 80. Tony was was the acting boss of the Genovese crime family from 1981 until 1986 when he was indicted with several other mobsters in the Mafia Commission Trial.
His nickname was Fat Tony due to his size, and he would always be seen chomping on a cigar.
On this day in 1980 John Favara was shoved into the back of a van in New Hyde Park, never to be seen again. Favara was one of John Gotti’s neighbors, and the guy who knocked a 12-year-old Frank Gotti off his minibike, killing him.Witness accounts to the abduction ranged from him being beaten with a baseball bat, shot with a silenced .22 caliber pistol, or both. One account says that while alive he was dismembered with a chainsaw and stuffed into a barrel filled with concrete and dumped in the ocean or buried on the chop shop lot somewhere.His body has never been found.
On this day in 1976 the King of Los Angeles passed away from stomach cancer, at the age of 62.
Mickey Cohen started his mob life in the early 1930’s, where he became an enforcer for Al Capone’s Chicago Outfit.
By the 1940’s he was working under Bugsy Siegel in setting up the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, as well as the race wire. In 1947 the contracted hit was put on Bugsy’s head and he was killed in that same year.
Mickey Cohen reacted violently to Siegel’s murder. Entering the Hotel Roosevelt, where he believed the killers were staying, Cohen fired rounds from his two .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns into the lobby ceiling and demanded that the assassins meet him outside in ten minutes.
On this day in 1975 at around 2:45pm Jimmy Hoffa met with two mobsters by the name of Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano.
The meeting point was the Machus Red Fox Restaurant at 6676 Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Township.
The last person to speak with Hoffa was his Wife, he called her from the car park of the restaurant saying that he was going to wait a few minutes for the mobsters to show up, as he had been waiting for close to 30 minutes for them to pull up.
The last person to actually see Hoffa was a truck driver who saw Hoffa sitting in the back of a maroon 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham which pulled out of the restaurant parking lot and nearly hit the truck.
The truck driver recognized Hoffa and noticed a long object covered with a gray blanket on the seat between Hoffa and another passenger.
Jimmy Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982 upon the 7th anniversary of him going missing.
To this day, his body has never been found despite many rumors and conspiracy theories. https://thencs.org/2LMtotu
On this day in 1886 one of the early mob bosses was born. Salvatore Maranzano was born in Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily, and was one of Joe Bonanno’s hero’s from the old world.
He briefly became the boss of bosses in 1931 after the end of the Castellammarese War. The war was instigated by Maranzano when he declared war on rival mob boss Joe Masseria (Joe The Boss) who also came from the Sicilian town.
By April 1931 Joe The Boss was dead, and 5 months later so was Maranzano.
This period of time would see out the old mustache pete era, and make way for Lucky Luciano’s new established power-sharing structure, rather than a “boss of bosses” to prevent future turf wars. http://thencs.org/1UcZ0DW