Joseph Pecora – JoJo of Pittsburgh

By The Other Guy | April 30, 2020

Joseph (Jojo) Pecora

Joseph (Jojo) Pecora – full name: Joseph Nicholas Pecora – was born in Allegheny County, Pittsburgh on December 12, 1919. He was raised at 164 Carver Street and resided there in his parent’s home until 1955.

Since 1958, after he married his wife Concetta (nee Scaringi), they were living at 7041 Campania Street. They had four daughters: Annabella, twins Sharon and Charlene, and Joyce.

By the mid-1960s, he would relocate to West Virginia, buying a home on Old German Road and Route #2 – Box 250 in the Tionesta section of Chester. His large home was named “Charles Roost”, which Pecora completely renovated it in 1962.

Side Note: Authorities reported that Pecora had relocated to West Virginia in order to better oversee racket operations in the northern panhandle area there for the borgata, at the behest of boss John LaRocca who had given Jojo that lucrative opportunity.

Pecora stood at 5-feet 9-inches tall and weighed a solid-bulky 185 pounds. He had a medium complexion, with dark brown hair and eyes, and a chubby round face.

Jojo was one of four Pecora brothers. The others were Vincent (Jimmy)-FBI #5016202, Charles-FBI #256193A and PPD #4343, and Richard. Several of his brothers were also affiliated with the mob, had arrest records and operated in the numbers racket.

It was reported that Jojo had a bad sciatica back problem. It required him to go for daily therapy. He had a standing 2 pm appointment for a therapeutic massage at the YMCA in East Liberty. Additionally, he was a regular member of the Beau Brummell Men’s Club on Liberty Avenue.

AllegPD # A-15728, PghPD # 57347

Joseph (Jojo) Pecora was listed by the FBI as a soldier in the Cosa Nostra Family headed by John LaRocca by the late 1950s. It was said Jojo served directly under Mike Genovese and was his closest aide and disciple. Because of this close relationship, Pecora’s star would rise in the organization as Genovese ascended into the hierarchy, first as LaRocca’s underboss until Mike eventually became the boss himself. Mike elevated Jojo to capo and ultimately as his underboss.

Sebastiano (John) LaRocca

The Pennsylvania Crime Commission had listed Pecora as “underboss” or second in command to Genovese since 1980.

Side Note: The Crime Commission reported that Pecora was nearly named to head the Pittsburgh Family after LaRocca’s death in 1984. But other members argued against him because Pecora’s parole from a 1981 racketeering conviction barred him from leaving Hancock County, West Virginia where he resided.

Known hangouts of his included:

Genovese Cocktail Lounge – at 412 Larimer Avenue, Pittsburgh.

Four Seasons West Cocktail Lounge – in the Shadyside section.

Phoenix Motel Lounge – in Monroeville, operated by Mike Genovese and Archie Nelson.

Milfon’s Jewelers – on Penn Avenue in East Liberty.

Frank Valenti

The Holiday House – in Monroeville.

The Red Eagle Lounge – in Liberty.

Soldier Frank Valenti’s Club 30 – located in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The Carlton House – Downtown Pittsburgh.

As a front for the taxman, Pecora listed his vocation as employment at Mikfon’s Jewelry Shop. He probably had an interest in this business, because in later years he utilized the location as his main meeting place and base for his numbers business.

Some years later, Pecora became a business agent for Local # 178 of the Wreckers and Scrap Iron Workers Union. He also has held interests in a West Virginia vending machine firm, and a lucrative Las Vegas gambling junket business in partnership with soldier Anthony (Wango) Capizzi.

Initially, Pecora got his start working for underboss Michael Genovese, who tapped Pecora to oversee numbers operations in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh for the Family. He was considered a trusted subordinate of Genovese for years.

The Pittsburgh crew operated and was heavily engaged over the years in many small card and crap games by its members and associates which operated out of bars and backrooms throughout the city.

Some of these were a lively dice game run only on weekends below Fiore (Fio) Genovese’s bar on Larimer Avenue in East Liberty, and another game was run weeknights located above Anthony’s Restaurant and commonly known as Chubby’s game. It was operated by Anthony (Chubby) Chiswalik, with Fiore Genovese and John Antonucci said to also hold an interest…there were many others as well.

Mike Genovese

In addition to these makeshift, backdoor and surreptitious “Guys & Dolls” type crap and poker games, the LaRocca Family also specialized in elaborate gambling casino-type operations run so openly that you’d think they had a state license to do so…in a sense they did!

Side Note: With the pervasive official corruption running rampant during that time era that “was” Pittsburgh, the LaRocca mob successfully bribed and bought off many in the local police department and city politicians at the highest levels. It enabled them to pretty much operate out in the open with near total immunity from arrest and prosecution.

Pecora was appointed to oversee one of these fancy Las Vegas type casinos. One of its most successful as well. He was connected to The Jockey Club, which was located on Route 30 in Chester, W. Virginia., an elaborately decorated gambling casino operated by partners Charles (Chuck) Teemer who acted as the general manager, the Mannarino brothers and boss John LaRocca.

By 1961, Pecora was installed there by John LaRocca to act as assistant manager on salary in order to watch the Pittsburgh mob’s interests. He was also said to have been given a small percentage of any profits generated from the club. Also known as the Red Dog Casino, the gambling club offered as games: four crap tables, a roulette wheel, two blackjack tables, and a chuck-a-luck table.

Side Note: Although they had immunity from local police, by mid 1964 the FBI conducted a raid at the Jockey Club, arresting employees and operators, confiscating all gaming tables and gambling equipment… the crew kept the club closed thereafter, rather than risk further federal intervention.

Pecora was also identified as overseer of the annual “football pool” lottery ticket operation, watching over Anthony (Wango) Capizzi who actually ran the ticket pool. It was operated out of Frenchies Restaurant which was used as a headquarters of sorts.

They utilized four different types of tickets played in Pittsburgh to keep popularity named: The Winner, Tech, Even Pro, and North. Pecora was known to distribute and book football pool sheets throughout the East Liberty section which he had dominion over.

Over the years Pecora steadily rose up the ranks of the borgata. He met and associated with nearly all top members of this Family including:

• Sebastian (Big John) LaRocca – Boss

• Mike Genovese – Underboss

Kelly Mannarino

• Philip Genovese – Soldier

• Gabriel (Kelly) Mannarino – Capo

• Samuel (Sam) Mannarino – Soldier

• Antonio (Tony) Ripepi – Capo

• Archie Nelson – Associate

• Hymie Martin – Associate

Joe Sica

Louis Volpe – Capo

Joseph Sica – Capo

• John Fontana – Soldier

• Frank Amato Sr. – Former boss/capo

• John Bazzano Jr. – Soldier

• Joseph (Little Joe) Rosa – Soldier

• Abraham (Al) Zeid – Associate

…and was said to have been a very close associate of soldier Frank Valenti, who would go on to become the boss of a separate Family Valenti set up at Rochester, NY in the early 1950’s with permission and help from the Pittsburgh Family in conjunction with the Magaddino Mob from Buffalo.

His police file of seven arrests started in the mid-1940’s being picked up on such charges as:

1946 – lottery

1946 – operating a lottery (2 months in the workhouse)

1949 – felonious assault and battery, possession a firearm

1950 – adultery

1957 – operating a gaming table at West Virginia ($50 fine)

1963 – arrested by the FBI for federal gambling violations

1979 – racketeering, conspiracy, bribery and official corruption (3 years in federal prison)

Upon his release from the federal penitentiary in the mid-80’s Jojo backed up a bit. The 1980s were proving to be a dangerous decade for the Pittsburgh mob. Several federal probes were afoot and Pecora was out on parole.

The story of Jojo’s death. (Click to enlarge)

He started spending most of his time down in the sunshine state with his wife Connie at the home they’d bought in 1984, and just took it easy.

In 1986, at 8 am in the morning, his wife Concetta found her husband dead in their comfortable Boca Raton home in South Florida. They believe he died during the early morning hours in bed.

Joseph N. Pecora had died in his sleep. The cause of death was listed as a heart attack from hypertension.

Side Note: It is a credit to him (and any mafioso for that matter) to be able to boast that he died free and with his shoes off….a loyal mob “soldato” to the end.

His body was flown back to Pittsburgh for the wake and a proper Christian burial by his large extended loving family (his loving wife of over 35 years, 4 daughters, 3 brothers, 14 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren), lifelong borgata associates, and personal friends.

Jojo was just 67 years old.

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