On this day in 1998 the consigliere of the Patriarca crime family, JR Russo passed away while serving a 16 year sentence in Lompoc federal prison. He was given the position of consigliere by Raymond Patriarca Jr, in 1987, at the suggestion of Nicholas Bianco. By late 1989 he and Bianco would make a power move which would be approved by Gambino boss, John Gotti. Russo would go on to be second in command to Bianco. In 1992 he was charged with drug trafficking, extortion, gambling and murder. One of those murders happened to be that of Joe Barboza who was shot and killed in 1976.
On this day in 1886 the New Orleans Family soldier Salvatore Alongi is born in Sutera Italy. His nephew Domonick Alongi, who grew up in NOLA, would become a Genovese Capo in New York.
On this day in 1994, at the age of 66, The Grim Reaper would finally give in to poor health while serving life behind bars for three murder charges and conspiracy to murder others. Greg Scarpa was a formidable character in the mobs history and didn’t get the name The Grim Reaper for no reason. As Carmine Persico’s chief Enforcer for the Colombo Crime Family, Scarpa was said to have taken part in over 50 mob assassinations from the 1950’s to the early 1990’s.
On this day in 1982, at the age of 73, St Louis mob boss John Vitale died of natural causes. Vitale was known for keeping a low profile throughout his criminal career so little is known about his activities. What we do know is that in 1934 he was a prime suspect in the murder of Mike Palazzolo, and he was arrested in 1981 for having over $30,000 in his pocket.
On this day in 1968 Robert Kennedy was shot three times and killed in a crowded kitchen passageway at the Ambassador Hotel in LA. RFK pursued a relentless crusade against organized crime and the Mafia, including the Teamsters union President Jimmy Hoffa. Overall convictions rose by 800% during his term as Attorney General.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1962 we saw the death of the Olive Oil King, mob boss Joe Profaci, who was the boss of the Profaci Crime Family for over 3 decades. The family is better know as the Colombo Crime Family today. Joe was said to be a flamboyant man who smoked big cigars and drove big black Cadillacs. Despite pressure from Tommy Lucchese and Carlo Gambino to step down from his position as boss in the early 60’s, Profaci refused and stood his ground claiming if they tried to push him out there would be a wider gang war. Profaci kept in power until Liver Cancer finally got the better of him, and Joseph Magliocco stepped into his shoes for the next year before he was forced out to make way for Joe Colombo in 1963.
On this day in 1872 Anthony D’Andrea was born in Valledolmo, Sicily. D’Andrea was one of the first mob bosses in the Chicago area during the 1910’s, as well as being a political leader. During his career he co-owned a company with Martin Merlo who was the brother of Mike Merlo.In 1921 D’Andrea, at the age of 48 was shot while entering his apartment (exactly a year on from the date that Jim Colosimo was shot and killed).
On this day in 1934 we saw the birth of Stephen Flemmi, who was a close associate of organized crime figure Whitey Bulger. Flemmi became a government informant in the mid 1960’s and gave up a lot of intelligence during his relationship with the FBI. He also provided information on mobster Kevin Weeks who was a longtime friend of both Bulger and Flemmi.
On this day in 2002 we would mark the passing of one of the most famous mobsters of all time, John Gotti. Gotti became the boss of the Gambino crime family in controversial circumstances after the hit he had planned on Paul Castellano in 1985.He was a protege of Aniello Delacroce who was the Gambino underboss who everyone expected to become boss after the passing of Carlo Gambino in 1976. Dellacroce managed to keep Gotti restrained but after he died of cancer in early December 1985, Gotti quickly became a public figure.
He was branded with the nickname the Teflon Don when all attempts to convict him failed, when charges wouldn’t stick. Jury personnel were bribed or threatened, and all cases were eventually dismissed.
He was outspoken, flamboyant and loved the media spotlight which would in the end become his downfall when Sammy Gravano, his underboss, turned informant. It took this step to finally bring down the Dapper Don.
Gotti had the book thrown at him and in 1992 he was convicted of 5 murders, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, extortion, tax evasion, and loansharking.
He died of throat cancer at the age of 61. http://thencs.org/johngotti
On this day in 2012 Henry Hill passed away at the age of 69. For 25 years he was a Luchesse Crime Family associate who took part in the 1968 Air France Heist and then ten years later in 1978 the Lufthansa Heist. In the Lufthansa Heist an estimated $5 million in cash ($18.1 million today) and $875,000 in jewelry ($3.2 million today) were stolen. In 1980 he became an FBI informant and the information he provided lead to 50 convictions which included Paul Vario and Jimmy Burke. Hill was also portrayed by Ray Liotta in the 1990 film Goodfellas.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1905 New Orleans Family Capo Vincenzo “Jimmy” Campo is born in Siculiana Sicily.
On this day in 1970 a longtime friend of John Gotti, William Bentvena, was murdered in true mob style. Perhaps a lot of you are more familiar with his nickname Billy Batts and the famous scene that was partially reenacted in Goodfellas. The true story of his murder goes something like this; Bentvena went to a bar owned by Henry Hill called The Suite in Jamaica, Queens. While in the bar he ran into Tommy DeSimone and remarked that DeSimone used to shine shoes when he was a little boy. DeSimone took the remark about how he shined shoes in his youth as an insult, but held his anger in check, despite being in the presence of other high ranking mobsters. The real reason for the murder was that Burke had taken over Bentvena’s loanshark business while he was in prison. Not wanting to return the business to Bentvena, Burke decided to eliminate him instead. When he was attacked, Bats was so inebriated he failed to defend himself.View more from this date in history
On this day in 1907 Walter Lamana is killed by his captors after being killed in a Black Hand ransom plot in New Orleans. He was just a few days short of his turning eight. He was born on June 17 1899.
On this day in 1925 the mobster known as ‘The Devil’ because of his explosive personality died from gun shot wounds. Mike Genna, was a member of the Genna Crime Family which operated from Chicago, and during the afternoon of June 13, 1925 he, Albert Anselmi and John Scalise were caught in a gun fight with Chicago Police Detectives at 59th Street and Western Avenue. Two detectives were killed and Genna died later in an ambulance that took him to hospital. He was hit in the leg which severed an artery causing him to bleed to death. He didn’t go quietly though, true to his nickname ‘The Devil’ Mike kicked one officer in the face and shouted a string of verbal insults. http://thencs.org/29OYvjQ
On this day in 1986 the Chicago Outfit Enforcer, Tony Spilotro was beaten to death in a Bensenville basement. The Ant was an enforcer for the Chicago Outfit during the 1970’s and 1980’s, and his main priority was to oversee and protect the Chicago Outfits operations in Las Vegas at that time.Unfortunately for Tony, by the mid-80’s things profits were spiralling since he took over the Vegas operations, and the decision was ultimately made by Tony Accardo to get rid of him. At the age of 48 he and his brother Michael were driven to a mob home in Bensenville, Illinois and were beaten to death in the basement. They were later transported to the cornfield in Enos, Indiana. It was some 26 years after his death that James Marcello (a Chicago Outfit front-man) was sentenced to life in prison, for the Spilotro murders. http://thencs.org/2a8qb29
On this day in 1957 the founder of the New England Crime Family, Gaspare Messina died of natural causes at the age of 77. He founded what is now known as the Patriarca Crime Family, back in 1916, but the family under Messina was as no where near as powerful as the Partriarca’s are today. He retired as mob boss in 1924 at the age of 45 and spent his final years in Somerville.
On this day in 1924 the future Colombo Crime Family boss, Joe Colombo was born in Brooklyn. He was born into the mob and followed his father into the Profaci Crime Family where he would go on to move up the ranks. Joe Colombo also held the contract to take out Carlo Gambino and Tommy Lucchese in 1962, on orders of Joe Magliocco who succeeded Joe Profaci. Magliocco backed Joe Bonanno’s bid to take over the Mafia Commission and wanted revenge on Gambino and Lucchese for their support for the Gallo brothers. Colombo made a brave move however, and decided to give Gambino and Lucchese the heads up. Magliocco ended up retiring from the Profaci leadership and Colombo took over and renamed the family.http://thencs.org/1edTpgUView more from this date in history
On this day in 1930 the mobster know as Dominick Napolitano was born. Napolitano was eventually killed by the mob for breaching its security. Sonny Black as he was better known as, let undercover agent Joe Pistone into the mob and the two became close friends. The downfall for Napolitano came after 6 years of undercover work came to an end when Joe Pistone was given a contract to make his bones.Napolitano was summoned to a meeting in the basement of house. Knowing that he would be killed, Napolitano gave his jewelry to his favorite bartender, along with the keys to his apartment so that his pigeons could be cared for. Napolitano was pushed down the staircase into the basement and shot to death by Filocomo and Lino with .38 caliber revolvers. http://thencs.org/29DaHTU
On this day in 1908 Pietro Giacona shoots four men in his home at 1113 Chartres St in New Orleans. In an alleged Black Hand plot to extort the Giacona family Pietro kills three and one is later found in a shed in the French Quarter and taken to Charity Hospital. (See story in the Crescent Corner The Life of Corrado Giacona).
On this day in 1957 we mark the passing of Frank Scalice who was a prominent member of the Gambino Crime Family, leading it in from 1930-1931, and then becoming underboss to Albert Anastasia in 1951 until his death in 1957. After his death Carlo Gambino became 2nd in command to Anastasia, but as we know that lasted less than 6 months before Carlo took the reigns.During his time Scalice helped Bugsy Siegel open the Flamingo Hotel, and ran various rackets throughout the casino business. At the age of 64, he was assassinated by 2 gunmen at a vegetable market. Does anyone else have Godfather flashbacks here? The contract is said to have come from Anastasia himself, due to Scalice selling Mangano family membership to the highest bidders.View more from this date in history
Silver Dollar Sam
On this day in 1896 Silvestro “Silver Dollar Sam” Carollo is born in Terrasini Sicily. Carollo would act as Street Boss from 1922 until 1944 when he became Boss of New Orleans.
On this day in 1985 Al LaRocca who was a soldier in the San Francisco Crime Family, passed away from natural causes at the age of 73. LaRocca owned a couple of fishing companies in the bay area, including boats that he would use to smuggle and transport drugs.He was a heavy built mobster who remained active in the family up until his death, spending many years working for the San Francisco boss Anthony Lima, and then Michael Abati.
On this day in 1975 the acting boss for the Chicago Outfit, Sam Giancana was rubbed out in a mob hit at the age of 67. Giancana let a friend into his Oak Park home, situated at 1147 South Wenonah Avenue. He made him and his guest some dinner (sausage with peppers with beans).
On this day in 1947, at the age of 41, Bugsy Siegel was sat with his associate Allen Smiley in Virginia Hill’s Beverly Hills home reading a copy of the Los Angeles Times.
On this day in 2003 we head to Melbourne, Australia, where 35 year old Jason Moran was gunned down on his way back to his car after watching his children play football. Moran sported a 12cm scar down his face and was one of the leader in the Moran family, a family notable for its gangland killings.
On this day in 1934 the infamous bank robber and Public Enemy No. 1, John Dillinger was shot in an FBI shoot out in Chicago.Anna Sage told FBI agents that she and Dillinger were planning to go to the movies, to the Biograph Theater. As Dillinger left the theater and walked down the street FBI Agent Purvis pulled out his gun, and yelled:
“Stick’em up, Johnnie, we have you surrounded!”
Dillinger began to run, reaching into his pants pocket to draw a gun. He entered an alley just as a volley of gunfire greeted him. Four bullets hit Dillinger’s body, three from the rear and one from the front. Two bullets grazed his face just next to his left eye. A third, the fatal shot, entered the base of his neck and traveled upward, hitting the second vertebra before exiting below his right eye. Gradually, a crowd formed around Dillinger’s body, with several people dabbing handkerchiefs into his blood for souvenirs. http://thencs.org/29v5X5N
On this day in 1991 the former boss of the Bonanno crime family, Philip Rastelli passed away at the age of 73 from liver cancer. Most of his time as boss of the Bonanno’s was actually spent in prison where he was serving time for loansharking and racketeering in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He only spent two years outside the prison walls as boss, before being sentenced to 12 years in 1987. With Rastelli all but assured of dying in prison, he designated Massino acting boss with the ability to approve new members and order hits.
On this day in 1993 Samuel Russotti passed away at the age of 81. Red was a powerful member of the Rochester crime family and its last reputed Godfather. He seized control of Rochester’s organized crime family in 1972 but in 1984, Russotti and six others were convicted of murdering two of their rivals, as well as attempted murder and extorting millions from illegal gambling in the 1970s and 1980s. Russotti would have been eligible for parole in October 1994 but a fatal heart attack a year before meant he would never see the outside again. As for the Rochester Crime Family, it is currently considered to be extinct, as many of its members have either been killed, imprisoned or retired.
On this day in 1915, The Howard Hughes of the Mob was born in Brooklyn. Big Paul Castellano controversially succeeded Carlo Gambino as head of the Gambino crime family after Carlo’s passing in 1976. Many thought that Aneillo Dellacroce would take the reigns of the family, but he was in prison at the time of the decision, and couldn’t contest it. Castellano controlled the family for 9 years, ordering many hits during his time at the top. In 1985 an unsanctioned assassination on Castellano by John Gotti sparked years of animosity between the Gambinos and the other New York crime families. http://thencs.org/29DIJITView more from this date in history
Silver Dollar Sam
On this day in 1970, the one time New Orleans Family boss Sam Carollo dies.
On this day in 1929, the author who turned real-life good guys and bad guys into the stars of a long string of non-fiction best sellers was born. Peter Maas, was from New York and chronicled the lives of Frank Serpico and Sammy Gravano. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 72.
On this day in 1934 the former investigative reporter for the New York Times, Selwyn Raab was born. Raab has written extensively about the American Mafia, as well as appearing on several TV programs and interviews. His book Justice in the Back Room actually formed the basis for the CBS show Kojak.
On this day in 1963 the Ciaculli Massacre took place. The event started with a car bomb that exploded in Ciaculli, an outlying suburb of Palermo. The bomb killed seven police and military officers that were sent out to defuse it after an anonymous phone call.The bomb was intended for Salvatore Greco, who was the head of the Sicilian Mafia Commission and the boss of the Ciaculli Mafia family. Mafia boss Pietro Torretta was considered to be the man behind the bomb attack.