Garment Racketeer Extraordinare: The Life and Times of Jimmy Doyle

Vincent (Jimmy Doyle) Plumeri – Vincenzo Domenico Plumeri (TN) – was born in 1903 in the town of Regalbuto, Sicilia (Catania province).

He arrived in the U.S. as a six-month old child via the ship “SS City of Naples”. He was naturalized in 1926 and raised and reared on Manhattan’s gritty Lower East Side.

He lived on Broome Street in Little Italy, then at 65 Second Avenue, before moving to nearby 170 Forsythe Street.

He would later move to the exclusive Upper East Side, living at the prestigious address of 400 East 59th Street (Apt 14-C), where he would reside for the remainder of his life.

By 1951, he also had a dual residence at 9224 Dickens Avenue in Surfside, Florida that he frequented often, for decades.

FBI # 672798, NYPD # B-114266, MIPD # A-2564429

Plumeri stood 5-foot 7-inches tall and weighed in at approximately 150 pounds in his prime.

He was a trim, compact man with a quick wit and a quicker temper. If he liked you, he’d go out of his way to help you. If he didn’t like you, he’d go out of his way to stick it in your ass.

He was known as an extremely dapper dresser, wearing the finest that money could buy. Custom handmade white on white monogrammed shirts with wiseguy dagger collars. Silk and sharkskin suits from Sulka and Co., and diamond rings, watches and stickpins.

One look at Jimmy Doyle, and you immediately knew who and what he was….a “dyed in the wool” wiseguy through and through.

He married young to his wife Mary, with whom he would stay married to for over 40 years,

He also kept a longtime mistress named Vickie Garguilo (FBI # 5051782) who lived across the city on the Westside at 165 W. 20th Street.

She was a beautiful, sharp knockaround girl, who knew the score and always had Jimmy’s back through the years.

I believe she had been a showgirl at the Copa before he took her as his girlfriend.

Plumeri’s activities included garment racketeering, labor-union racketeering, extortion, prize fight racket, shylocking, and strong-arm tactics.

He was a close associate of many of the country’s top hoodlums, including:

• Thomas Lucchese – the Family Boss.

• John, Frank and Thomas Dioguardi – the notorious brothers need no intro.

• Thomas (Tommy Flowers) Plumeri – another nephew who later became active with his uncle and cousins.

• Louis (Lepke) Buchalter – an early top Jewish industrial racketeer and mob boss, co-leader of the infamous Murder, Inc. gang of killers with Albert Anastasia. an early associate of Plumeri. Lepke would later die in the electric chair in 1944.

• Rosario (Russ) Bufalino – Pittston-Scranton Mafia Boss who was a very close associate to Jimmy in garment operations as were many of his PA crew minions. They associated on a weekly basis for decades.

• Joseph Stracci – iconic Genovese soldier and top garment power; divided up the district with Jimmy and other top hoods to keep the balance of power among the borgatas.

• Morris (Moe) Klamas – Jewish hood, extortionist, and head of a truckers association created and operated by Plumeri and Johnny Dio; installed as their frontman.

• Arthur Roccamonte – another old-time Genovese hoodlum and Plumeri associate.

• Anthony Trezini, David Wenger, Samuel (Sam) Berger, and John (Jack) McCarthy…. all close hoodlum associates active in the labor movement; installed as union officials or working behind the scene as “consultants” under Plumeri influence. Plumeri had many more mob minions under his control.

• Ettore (Little Eddie) Coco – another top Lucchese capo and Family power, head of the boxing rackets, and a close friend to Jimmy.

• Frank (Blinky) Palermo – Philadelphia based mafioso, top fight game racketeer, and Plumeri partner.

• Paul (Frankie) Carbo – often misidentified as a Lucchese member, this Genovese soldier was close to Plumeri, a fight game racketeer, and old-line Murder, Inc. executioner (prime suspect in the Bugsy Siegel hit).

• Harry (Champ) Segal – top Jewish hood and gambler-shylock, Plumeri associate, and garment racketeer.

• Peter DeFeo – important Genovese capo, a mafioso based on Elizabeth Street, and close friend to Jimmy for years.

• Abraham (Abe) Chait – garment and top labor racketeer; controlled trucking rackets for the Jewish segment of the mob, friendly competitor to Jimmy

• Barney Fishgold – a garment strong-arm, convicted of murder in 1922.

• Dutch Goldberg – garment center extortionist, murderer, and key member of the “Jewish” mob.

……. Jimmy Doyle knew virtually everybody there was to know in the mob.

A Lucchese contemporary, I feel that at one time he was considered “boss” material and a potential successor to Lucchese himself before his fall from grace.

His first arrest was in 1913. He had subsequent arrests for;

  • 1913 -delinquent child
  • 1923 – transporting liquor
  • 1923 vagrant
  • 1923 – traffic violations
  • 1923 – disorderly conduct
  • 1924 – traffic violations
  • 1924 – burglary
  • 1924 – disorderly
  • 1925 – criminal receiving
  • 1933 – murder by gunshot
  • 1933 – felonious assault, coercion, conspiracy1933 assault
  • 1937 – extortion, malicious mischief, conspiracy and assault (5 to 10 years Sing Sing State Prison)
  • 1950 – investigation (murder)
  • 1956 – disorderly conduct
  • 1965 – income tax evasion
  • 1969 – illegal kickbacks, conspiracy, anti-trust violations
  • 1970 – conspiracy to defraud, mail fraud, bribery……He served three prison terms for burglary, extortion and income-tax fraud.

In 1933, he was arrested for killing his garment trucking rackets partner, Dominick (Dick Terry) Didato, in a gun fight in their downtown office. Plumeri was also wounded in the exchange of shots.

He was later acquitted based on a self-defense argument. His nephew, John Dioguardi, was the only eyewitness to the shooting…. lol

During the 1930s, Plumeri adopted the nickname of Jimmy Doyle when he became a fight manger. He soon accumulated a stable of a dozen prizefighters and would be a major force in the boxing rackets through the 1940s and 1950s.

Governor Tom Dewey once called Plumeri, and his notorious nephew Johnny Dio,“two of the most powerful gangsters in the city.”

Years later, in 1958, Sen. Robert Kennedy, during the famed Senate Rackets Committee probe, had asked Jimmy if he “didn’t attempt, in fact, to throw a nightclub singer out a high-rise window because he wouldn’t marry a young lady Plumeri had asked him to.”

Jimmy Doyle chuckled while pleading his Fifth Amendment privilege.

Plumeri would go on to take the 5th on every question from there on out about labor union racketeering

His first love

By the late-1920s, Plumeri had become a well known extortionist and garment center hoodlum.

He was alleged to have become an inducted member of the old Reina, later Gagliano Family. This group would then morph into, and become known as the Lucchese Family.

And by the 1940s, Plumeri would eventually be elevated to the status of a “capo di decina”.

But even during his tenure as a “soldier”, the vast rackets he came to control and the resources availed to him because of it, gave him a status far above the average soldier.

He was closely associated early on with such dangerous industrial racketeers as Louis (Lepke) Buchalter and his sidekick and partner, Jacob (Gurrah) Shapiro.

Plumeri would work and partner with them in the various garment shakedowns and rackets of the day.

Together, they would exercise a campaign of terror that brought the entire garment center to its very knees – an all consuming racket dominion over garment makers and garment carriers alike.

He eventually came to hold ownership interests or silent partnerships in several major garment trucking companies over the years.

One of his largest trucking firms was called El-Gee Carriers Corp. Another was Barton Trucking Co., all of 254 West 35th Street, in the heart of the garment center.

The two firms were dominant players for years in the hauling of garments throughout the NYC metropolitan area, and as far away as Allentown and Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Side Note: By the early-1950s, he had partnered with several top Pittston mafiosi such as Rosario Bufalino, Dominick (Nicky) Alaimo and Angelo Sciandra, in several dress factories, in both the Pittston-Scranton area and down in New York City. And they, in turn, utilized his garment carrier and trim supply firms.

These apparel carriers were among the most important of the industry, holding a “lock” on key garment manufacturing accounts for decades.

Originally starting out operating a shakedown-extortion racket aimed at dress carriers in New York’s “garment district”, he quickly escalated his activities to include actually infiltrating and gaining a percentage of ownership through terror tactics and the tremendous pressure he was able to bring down on victim companies through his influence in several garment labor union’s such as the (ILGWU) – International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union (AFL-CIO),specifically Local # 102 through its President Sam Berger, who was a Plumeri and Dio henchman.

He also had interests in a button and trimming supply firm, so integral to every dress manufacturer’s finished product.

Zippers, buttons, snaps, needles and thread, clasps, clothes hangers, etc., were mandatory supplies regardless of the type of apparel designed and stitched out.

This company was named the Seam Binding Corp., and was based in the heart of the garment district. It would supply many major garment houses.

He also brought his young nephews into the fold – the Dioguardi brothers; Johnny, Frankie and Tommy.

Better known as the “Dio” brothers, they were notorious young hoodlums and aspiring labor racketeers, under the guiding hand and tutelage of their dear uncle Jimmy.

Of the three, nephew Johnny Dio would arguably become the most well-known and venerable labor union corrupter in the nation.

He and his nephew would form several truckers “associations” over the years. All trucking firms active hauling garments and varied textiles were subject to domination and control.

They had little choice….You either joined his association “or else”.

That “or else” often came in the form of sugared gas tanks, broken windshield’s, firebombed trucks, getting your head cracked open for you…. or “all of the above”!

Garment manufacturers and their sister sub-contracting factories fell in line or suffered suspicious arson fires in their shops, burglaries where they damaged the sewing machines and equipment, or arrogant union organizers and business agents who came around threatening to either unionize a shop or enforce heavy-handed labor contracts that were stifling in their demands.

Before long, most everyone operating within the NYC garment district knew the score and acquiesced accordingly so as to get along, and if not thrive, then at least comfortably survive, in an industry where profits could be slim pickings to begin with.

And for those “savvier” garment executives willing to play ball and maybe even jump into the pond with the friendlier racketeers, often willingly became partners with the Jewish and Italian hoods in mutually beneficial arrangements, growing their companies in a profit sharing agreement.

Both Plumeri and Dio would each be repeatedly charged with extortion, coercion , and related criminal counts in 1932 and 1933 for their shakedown activities in this field.

But it was not until 1937 that an airtight extortion case forced them to each take a guilty plea. Both were sentenced to Sing Sing for a 3 to 5 year state extortion conviction.

Jimmy Doyle also kept a profitable hand over the years in the fight racket.

In partnership with fellow Lucchese member Ettore (Little Eddie) Coco, and another notorious mafioso named Paul (Frankie) Carbo, the three, often working in tandem with Philadelphia’s own Blinky Palermo, controlled a stable of boxers over the years that saw more than a few of their fighters enter big money “Title” fights.

Another steady income came from a healthy and robust shylock business Jimmy ran.

He was well known for being available to lend large sums of money on short notice to cash-strapped dress manufacturers and restaurant owners who had fallen on hard times and couldn’t access needed funds.

In this manner, Jimmy was able to leverage his position as a creditor to gain an interest in several nightspots over the years in both New York City and Miami, Florida.

Monies owed from recalcitrant borrowers, coupled with his notorious reputation as a top Mafia member not to be ignored or toyed with.

One of his investments was said to be in Angelo Palange’s Restaurant and Pizzeria at Collins Avenue on Miami Beach. Palange’s was a spin-off of a popular well known Queens venue.

He partnered with Palange and his nephew Frankie Dio in this deal.

Dio had relocated to Miami from Jackson Heights, Queens several years earlier and was fast establishing himself as a mob power in the sunshine state.

By the late-1960s, Jimmy Plumeri had immersed himself in promoting loans to various big businessmen and corporations from the Teamsters enormous multimillion dollar pension fund.

Typically working behind the scenes in these type affairs, mobsters would negotiate cash kickbacks from borrowers for using their influence in getting loans approved.

These kickbacks could, and did, often amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars on loans applications in excess of many millions of dollars.

Las Vegas casinos and major private and public companies often sought out the mafiosi for this purpose.

“Jimmy Doyle” would eventually be swept up in a far reaching FBI investigation and a subsequent federal indictment for Teamster loan abuse and corruption.

In March, 1970, Plumeri was among a group of businessmen, corrupt Teamster officials, and several top mafiosi from several Families nailed on embezzlement, mail and wire fraud, and related conspiracy counts for their efforts to solicit, facilitate, and execute the fraudulent loan scheme.

They were accused of conspiring to use bribery and coercion to induce the Teamster Central States Pension Fund to issue loans to various business firms.

Well-known union hood Samual Berger and – head of the Master Truckmens Assn., (a Plumeri-controlled group) and former manager of Local #2 of the ILGWU, Yvette Bernstein – administrative assistant to the president of Teamsters Local #237, and Frank Zulferino, another hoodlum president of Local #10 – International Brotherhood of Production, Maintenance and Operating Employee’s (Ind), shared $100,000 in kickbacks for arranging the loans.

In a second huge back-to-back indictment out of Washington just a few months earlier, federal FBI agents announced the arrests of nine top mafiosi from New York’s Genovese and Lucchese Families, the Pittsburgh and Detroit Families.

Among those arrested included Plumeri, Salvatore (Little Sally) Celembrino, Edward (Eddie Buff) Lanzieri, Salvatore (Sally Burns) Granello, Frank Rosa, Pittsburgh Boss Sebastian (John) LaRocca, Gabriel (Kelly) Mannarino, Joseph Sica, Dominick (Fat Dom) Corrado, and (Big Frank) Amato.

Again charged with corrupting various Teamsters Pension Funds around the country to obtain kickbacks through illegal loans on over $1,250,000., made by the funds.

And still earlier indictments citing the same pension loan-fraud type schemes were charged back in 1968 and 1969. This time around he was named with veteran labor racketeer Jack McCarthy and several other hoods

He would later be convicted on seven related indictments for all these various kickbacks and tax evasions and sentenced to total of 14 years across the board in federal prison, but the judge suspended the entire sentence because of Jimmy Plumeri’s ill health….. what a score he made!

Jimmy Plumeri was a top racketeer for upwards of five decades.

He was well-respected and heavily involved in many of the mobs most important rackets, and a trusted confidant of Family Boss Tommy Lucchese himself….which makes the rest of his life’s story all the more confusing.

Side note: In the later years of his life he was said to be drinking a bit heavy. Uncharacteristic for him.

On a quiet morning in 1971, at 68 years of age, Vincenzo (Jimmy Doyle) Plumeri was found on a desolate street in an industrial area of Maspeth, Queens, murdered.

A plastic bag had been tightly wrapped around his head and his silk necktie tautly pulled around his neck, having been used by his killer, or killers, to garrote and smother the old hoodlum until the loss of oxygen finished him off.

A method Plumeri himself knew well, no doubt, and possibly used on his own murder victims through the years.

Why he was killed was anyone’s guess.

Speculation ran from him having turned snitch, to being set up and killed by his own nephew Johnny Dio after a bad falling out, to higher ups in both the Genovese and Lucchese clans deciding to tidy up possible loose ends in a federal Teamster fund kickback trial, possibly afraid of what Plumeri could say should he chose to “open up” and violate Omerta’.

The fact that he was getting older, it was speculated, that he may not be able to withstand a long prison sentence, should the judge hammer the defendants with heavy jail terms.

When he received a “suspended” sentence for his conviction on bribery and kickback charges, with the judge citing Plumeri’s ill health for going so easy on the notorious mafioso, some in the underworld felt he may have become an informer.

I, for one, wouldn’t like to believe that. In the often murky politics of the underworld, guys get caught up in mob intrigues, plots and subplots, and often fall prey….. I think that is what might have happened.

At any rate, Jimmy Doyle’s harsh and brutal ending surprised many in both law enforcement and those in the mob who knew him intimately.

An abrupt ending to what had been a stellar underworld “career”!

Footnote: Had Tommy Lucchese not died several years earlier in 1967, he might have saved Jimmy. But with Lucchese’s passing, I guess the powers that be gave a thumbs down on Jimmy for whatever reason. And there was no one left to veto the hit.

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