Francesco (Frankie Skyball) Scibelli was born in 1912. He was raised and reared in the South End “Little Italy” section of Springfield, Massachusetts.
He would reside at 6 Meadowbark Street in this town his entire life. He also had a beautiful home on Sea Lane overlooking the Long Island Sound in the Old Saybrook section where he maintained a summer home there for decades.
He had several brothers who he would partner with and be close to their entire lives.
Both Anthony (Turk) Scibelli and Albert (Baba) Scibelli were inducted soldiers.
Baba would eventually rise to Capo status after Frankie’s death.
Frankie Skyball was a small little man who had sharp features and jet-black hair as a young man. As he aged his hair turned all white.
He was said to have had a very outgoing and friendly personality and a very sharp mind, excellent with numbers and odds-making which helped him in his life’s work – the gambling business.
FBI # 585801
He was a longtime veteran member in the Springfield regime of the Genovese Family and is suspected to have been formally inducted by at least the early 1940s-era under the auspices and sponsorship of regime leader, Capo Salvatore (Big Nose Sam) Cufari.
Frankie Skyball was said to have been the “right arm” to Cufari.
Scibelli and his brothers served Cufari loyally over many decades with Frankie eventually rising up to become the Capodecina himself upon Cufari’s death.
During the 1950s to 1960s era, he hung out and utilized the Empire Cafe on Main Street in Springfield as his de facto headquarters and base of operations.
With a police record reportedly dating to 1932 for extortion, bootlegging, and gambling arrests… serving 19 months in jail on one conviction, Scibelli was a well-rounded mafioso active in all forms of gambling. His crew was known to specialize in sports-horse bookmaking, policy-number lottery, floating dice games, and, later, video-slot machines.
This crew also operated a large loanshark network, truck hijackings, organized thefts and the fencing of stolen goods, and bootlegging during prohibition. But their core racket was gambling per se, as is for most mob crews.
Scibelli’s job was originally to control and oversee these varied activities for Cufari, his Massachusetts regime, and the Genovese borgata back in NYC.
In fact, “Skyball” was considered something of a numbers wizard, very good with odds and line-setting for his betting public.
He and his one-time bookmaking partner, Andy Pradella, were called “The Scholar Group” because of their information and precision in this field.
They had control of Springfield and Hartford in Connecticut, and parts of Upstate New York (Albany and Schnectady) under their dominion.
Similar to the Falcone regime of Buffalo’s Magaddino Family, who although technically “under” Magaddino ran the cities of Utica-Rome and Syracuse mostly autonomously, so to did the Scibelli regime who controlled the city of Springfield and its adjoining areas as almost a small borgata unto themselves. Regional bosses who although technically a regime subservient to the Genovese, nonetheless ran the show up that way mostly unobstructed.
Both inducted soldiers and top crew associates over the years in Scibelli’s crew included:
• Nicholas Camerota
• Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno
• Anthony (Turk) Scibelli
• Albert (Baba) Scibelli
• Emilio Fusco
• Felix Tranghese
• Anthony (Skipper) Delevo
• Daniel Sacco
• Andrew Torino
• Joseph Mineo
• Mario Fiore
• William Fiore
• Andrew Predella
• John Pradella
• Alvaro Lanzetta
• Charles Tolisano
• Christopher (The Greek) Anagnos
• Thomas (Slim) DeVito
• Anthony Delmonico
• Rocco Albano
• Donald (Donny) Pepe
• Henry Siciliano
• Louis Maloni
• Anthony Maloni
• William Carranza
• Ricardo (Soggy) Songini
• Anthony Volpe, Sr. – who controlled the Hartford, Connecticut group for the Scibelli faction. Skyball was known to frequent the Hartford area once a week to check on his operations there. Tolisano oversaw a policy ring under the regime’s control.
It was also said that both Volpe and former NYC based soldier Girolamo (Bobby Doyle) Santuccio – who had relocated up to Hartford years earlier – oversaw shylock collections for Scibelli and that group.
….and additionally they operated in tandem with mafiosi from other Genovese factions as well as the New England Mafia Family including those named below:
• Salvatore (Sabby) Basso – a top Connecticut based soldier in the Genovese mob under Pollina and John (Buster) Ardito.
• Vincent Pollina – top Connecticut based Genovese faction soldier under John Ardito.
• Cosmo (Pinky) Panarelli – a Worcester-based soldier and well-known hood.
• Carlo Mastrototaro – another Genovese boss and head of their Worcester, Mass., faction.
• William (Billy) Grasso – Connecticut-based underboss for the Patriarca mob.
• Raymond L.S. Patriarca – overall Boss of the N.E. Family based out of Providence, R.I.
Frankie Skyball and nearly his entire core crew were indicted in 1985 on a 18-count RICO case which included various gambling rackets and a profitable gaming-junket operation from the Northeast to Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos that he’d run for years.
At the time of their arrests, federal authorities seized $739,000 found in cash as proceeds of their racket operations.
He pleaded out and was jailed in 1987, agreeing to serve a six-year prison sentence at 76 years of age.
But two stipulations in his agreement was his refusal to acknowledge his affiliation or high position in Cosa Nostra or even to the very existence of it.
And second was that his kid brother Anthony receive a suspended jail sentence…. he was a tough old bird and a true adherent to his vow of Omertà.
In 1996, at 84 years old, he copped another plea and was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison.
He would end up serving the maximum term, finally being paroled in 1998, several years before he passed away in 2000 at the comfortable old age of 88 years old…..
Francesco (Frankie Skyball) Scibelli was a highly respected old-school throwback to a bygone era…a mafioso who held a gentlemanly manner and whose word was his bond.
All I’ve ever heard about the man were complimentary things, and Springfield would have done well to still have the likes of him, his predecessor Sam Cufari, and even his successor Big Al Bruno at the helm instead of what befell that town.
A live-wire little town that made everyone money for many decades until a new, untrained, and valueless type of character scammed their way into power….. what a shame!
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