Santino DiNapoli – Youngstown Mob Legend

By The Other Guy | May 14, 2019

Santino (Sandy Naples) DiNapoli

Santino (Sandy Naples) DiNapoli – aka “Joseph Naples”, Giuseppe DiNapoli”, Joseph Sandy Naples”- was born in 1908 in Italy and immigrated to the U.S. as a child with his parents and siblings.

The DiNapoli Family

They soon settled in Youngstown, Ohio, where he would live the rest of his life. Santino was one of four brothers and three girls born to Giuseppe and Lucia DiNapoli. He was raised within the “Brier Hill” district, a largely Italian area he’d come to dominate into adulthood. As he later gained success, he moved to a home at 605 Carlotta Drive where he’d reside for years to come.

Side Note: DiNapoli’s d.o.b. was also reported as 1906 and 1910.

The “Naples” brothers; James, Sandy, Billy and Joey, would all become heavily involved in the rackets as they came of age.

It is debatable whether or not Naples was actually a formally “inducted” member of the Pittsburgh Family of LCN.

Regardless of his “official” status, by the time of his death, Naples was ranked by police as the number #2 leading racketeer in the town’s gambling rackets.

The four “Naples” brothers.

He was known as a “serious guy” not to be fucked with. Naples had a reputation of having done “work” as needed in his rise up the underworld ladder.

James (Vince) DeNiro

Although he and his brothers were front and center in the Youngstown rackets and a controlling force for years, some have said that he was not officially a member. In later years it would end up making all the difference in the world.

It’s said that Sandy started off in partnership with a fellow hoodlum by the name of James (Vince) DeNiro. They originally were close and went partners in the policy numbers business as well as the vending machine rackets.

He was known to rob “spots” or locations for placement of his vending machines from other vendors, mob guys or not. This was his way of expanding and growing the jukebox and cigarette route as he became one of the biggest vendors in town. He just strong-armed his way into the bar, restaurant or club, tossing the machines of rivals onto the sidewalk.

Cleveland’s John DeMarco

As time passed, the two started having problems between themselves. DeNiro accused Naples of usurping his orders and instructions to underlings, and of slowly bringing his three brothers into their racket operations which wasn’t agreed upon between them.

He additionally accused Sandy of using narcotics which was a mob no-no and endangered them both. They eventually broke up the partnership and went their separate ways. And in time they went from having been partners and good friends to the worst of enemies and competitors.

Side Note: Although a very capable hoodlum not to be trifled with, it was well known in the Youngstown underworld that at some point Sandy started using heroin. His judgment and future actions came into question by some of his close associates. It would later become a bone of contention.

As things heated up between them an old-timer from Cleveland named Jimmy Lupo who had befriended DeNiro years earlier started bringing Vince to see mob higher-ups back in Cleveland to discuss what could be done about these conflicts with Naples.

Dominick Mallamo

Side Note: They went to see John DeMarco and Frank Brancato, both bosses in that borgata.

In time, DeNiro would drift into Cleveland’s orbit. It was thought be authorities and those in the know, that Sandy Naples’ killing was orchestrated shortly thereafter…it would lead to much more bloodshed that would become a tit-for-tat, back and forth type warfare.

Several underlings included Dave Coman and “Skin” Bajnok, both of whom were said to assist the Naples brothers with the numbers business.

Sandy was also said to be at least friendly, if not allied with Gabriel and Sam Mannarino of Pittsburgh. Also Dominick (Big Dom) Mallamo who was an old-time Calabrian racketeer well known among Pennsylvania’s mafiosi, and Mallamo’s nephew Vincenzo Prato aka “Two-Gun Jimmy” who would later rise to become a capo partially governing the territory.

Additional top rackets figures active in the area at that time were Jasper (Fats) Aiello and James (Jimmy Dankers) Petrella.

Vincenzo Prato

It seems that Naples was both an ally and rival of many of the towns hoodlums. Some say he never kicked up a “tribute” to the powers that be as is traditional.

The Naples brothers owned and operated the United Music Company, a cigarette, jukebox and pinball game distributor to area bars and restaurants. They also owned and operated the Center Sandwich Shop along Wilson Avenue which was used as the main drop for their numbers ring.

It was said that the brothers had a near-lock on the numbers business operated in the black neighborhoods and that they had many negro policy runners who worked for them.

In fact, there is a well-told story that once when Naples was in the hospital recovering from gunshots in the 1940s, nurses and staff were surprised to see dozens of black townspeople coming by to wish Sandy a speedy recovery.

Jasper (Fats) Aiello

When questioned as to why they came in droves, they answered that Sandy Naples had done more for their people and neighborhood than anybody, even the mayor and local government.

Naples had been a very well known racketeer, both to the local underworld and to the media and public.

As a young man of 17 years old, Sandy served a long prison term at the Western Penitentiary for a vicious felonious assault and robbery. He was jailed between 1934 to 1944 on this conviction. In later years he also served a minor six-month “bid” for gambling in 1958 at the Mahoning County Jail.

Side Note: While serving this gambling sentence (for operating a numbers racket), Sandy made the headlines once again after authorities caught him sneaking out of the county lockup every weekend to visit his longtime girlfriend. It once again showed the level of local police corruption.

In 1949, he was wounded in an attempted gangland “hit” after a mob assassin strolled into his Center Sandwich Shoppe and shot him several times.

Side Note: Naples was himself a murder suspect several times over the years including the killing of a Jerry Pascarelli in April of 1945. The victim was said to have been a heist, scam-artist, and conman who eventually disappeared. Pascarelli’s blood-stained car was later found abandoned near Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, some seventy miles from Youngstown. His body was never found.

Sandy Naples was always a controversial figure who seemed to make the front pages.

In 1957, while he was building his sprawling ranch style home on Carlotta Street on the North Side valued at a whopping $60,000, some mob enemies dynamited the home one evening blowing it to smithereens.

Mary Ann Vrancich

But the final chapter for Sandy would come quick…on March 11, 1960, he was caught short by two mob gunmen who were waiting in the shadows off the porch of his girlfriend’s home.

Brandishing two sawed-off “Lupara” (shotguns to kill a “wolf” in Sicilian), Sandy, who was only 52-years-old, was hit by buckshot along with his 28-year-old girlfriend, Mary Ann Vrancich, on the front stoop of her home at 623 Caledonia Street.

Sandy had managed to empty his .38 caliber revolver at his assailants to no avail. Both shotguns were later found abandoned in a sewer.

It was widely suspected but never proven that Cleveland capo Charles (Cadillac Charlie) Cavallaro and his close minion Vince DeNiro was behind the Sandy Naples killing.

But they would each pay the ultimate price shortly thereafter.

Giuseppe (Joe the Wolf) Di Carlo

Side Note: Santino DiNapoli was such a well known and popular figure in Youngstown that he was reported to have had a 92-car hearse procession of mourners as they made their way down Belmont Avenue for his funeral…in today’s world that’s unheard of, regardless of who may have died.

Less than two-and-a-half years later his kid brother Billy (35-years-old) was killed by a car bomb that completely destroyed his automobile on July 1, 1962. It was thought that Sandy’s kid brother Billy had avenged him by whacking out both Cavallaro and DeNiro in the coming months, with Billy killed in turn by the Cleveland mob.

After that, another brother Jimmy aka “Jinx” backed up, choosing to fade into the woodwork and understandably keeping his head low. He still stayed active but in a low key and shadowy way. But if Jimmy backed up a bit, their brother Joey certainly did not. In the coming years, he went full steam ahead.

Joey Naples would become a major force in the Youngstown underworld. He would achieve what had eluded his three older brothers, overall control of the Youngstown rackets.

But his success would be short-lived as well. Naples no longer had to worry about outside forces such as the Cleveland mob’s representatives fighting him for control of the town. But rather “the enemy from within”.

Lenine (Lenny) Strollo, a fellow soldier from the Pittsburgh Family, and his brother Dante (Danny) who was a mob associate, would plan Naples murder.

Why? …because many mob guys are greedy, jealous, and are as envious as washwomen. The Strollo brothers fell into that category. And they wanted all of what Naples had.

Lenny Strollo was not content to share control with his fellow borgata blood brother…Please read the full story we recently posted up about the history and chronology of “The Youngstown Bombing Wars”….We think you’ll enjoy it!

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