July 31, 2019 – Former Rochester (NY) mafia figure Thomas Torpey, who was one of the last remaining links to the city’s Alphabet Wars of the late 1970s and early 1980s, died this month from a fall where he shattered his hip. The Irish 72-year old Torpey had been battling cancer. He was released from his most recent prison stint for smuggling contraband into the female correctional facility his girlfriend was being housed at last year.
In 1978, a war broke out in the Rochester mob, with Sam (Red) Russotti and Salvatore (Sammy G) Gingello heading the so-called “A Team,” and Tommy Didio leading the “B Team.” Torpey and his best friend Thomas Taylor were Gingello’s bodyguards. When Gingello was killed in a car bombing, Torpey and Taylor threw their hats into the ring in the fight for control of the city’s rackets as the “C Team.”
Torpey and Taylor were inside Gingello’s Buick at the time the bomb exploded, but survived the attack. They headquartered out of the Young Men’s Social Club after the Gingello hit until it burned down in 1982 as a result of an accidental fire.
Tommy Didio was the Rochester mob’s acting boss while don Red Russotti and his underboss Sammy G were in prison for the 1973 murder of gangland enforcer Vincent (Jimmy the Hammer) Massaro. Upon Russotti and Gingello getting sprung from the can, Didio refused to relinquish power. Didio, a one-time driver for Sammy G, was gunned down three months after Gingello’s slaying.
Rochester mob capo and labor union boss John (Johnny Flowers) Fiorino was shot to death by contract killer John (Mad Dog) Sullivan outside the popular Blue Gardenia restaurant on December 17, 1981. Torpey and Taylor went on to be convicted of second-degree murder in the Fiorino hit, found guilty at a 1985 trial of hiring Sullivan to bump off Fiorino. Both did more than two decades behind bars.
The Alphabet Wars pretty much spelled the end of the Rochester mafia, as the organization was riddled with arrests and defections in the aftermath of the battle. Red Russotti was convicted of racketeering and murder and died in a federal prison in 1993 at 81.
This article was originally posted here