By The Other Guy | October 8, 2020
Peter (Lodi Pete) La Placa – aka “Peter Dominick La Placa” (TN) – was said to have been born 1902 in Calabria and immigrated to the U.S. as a baby in 1903. The La Placa family settled in New Jersey.
Pete grew up in the Lodi section of the Garden State, hence his nickname “Lodi Pete”. As an older established hoodlum, he moved his wife and family to the Hasbrouck Heights section of Jersey.
The La Placa’s had a son they named Dominick, who once grown into adulthood would join his father in “The Life”.
As a young adult Dominick married the daughter of his father’s “compare” Willie Moretti and they moved to Upper Saddle River, NJ. This helped solidify the young La Placa’s place and future standing in the underworld.
It was alleged that Pete La Placa had started out as a driver/bodyguard for underboss Quarico (Willie Moore) Moretti. He had married into the Moretti family, so he had the trust and confidence of both his brothers-in-law, Willie and Solly Moore.
Another close confidante was regime soldier Antonio (Tony Green) Guarini.
La Placa was very close to both Moretti brothers. After Willie’s midday murder in 1951 at Joe’s Elbow Room,
La Placa was absorbed into the regime of Jerry Catena. And with Jerry’s later ascension into the hierarchy, it was said that La Placa served under several capos until he himself was elevated.
Over the course of his long underworld career Lodi Pete was known to be engaged in the gambling rackets, stolen securities and stock frauds, strong-arm work, labor-union racketeering, and extortion.
La Placa was said to have also had the well-earned reputation as a contract killer.
Mob informants have repeatedly told their FBI handlers that Lodi Pete La Placa was the “real deal” as far as a “tough guy” went.
It was alleged that La Placa had clipped so many of the Mafia’s victims over the years that he bragged he had his own makeshift cemetery in the marshlands of Northern New Jersey.
He had a police record since 1921 that included assault, gambling, policy-numbers and gambling conspiracy (2 years), bribery and obstruction of justice (8 years).
One of his more high profile arrests was in 1959. La Placa was picked up with two other hoodlums on bribery charges for trying to influence a juror in the ongoing income-tax evasion trial of top Jewish New Jersey rackets boss Abner (Longy) Zwillman.
They had been indicted and charged more than three years after Zwillman had received a hung jury in his $39,000 tax-dodging jury trial.
La Placa was described at the time by prosecutors as the former bodyguard for Moretti, and accused of passing a $5,000 cash bribe as a payoff for voting for acquittal. The juror charged with accepting that bribe was an unemployed carpenter named Louis Donadio.
A third man named Anthony Santo LaRosa, a gas station operator, was also charged in the scheme. He was charged as a material witness. Both Donadio and LaRosa were held on $5,000 bail each. La Placa was held on $100,000 bail as the prime target.
The case was high profile, especially for the fact that it involved a top underworld leader.
In his time, Longy Zwillman was one of the most powerful mob bosses in the nation.
FBI Investigators later charged several additional defendants including fellow hoodlum Samuel (Big Sue) Katz, and a second juror named Warren Andes.
Side Note: Ultimately the FBI believed that underboss Jerry Catena was behind the bribery scheme. Catena and Longy Zwillman went way back together. In fact, it was said that Jerry had actually gotten his start in the rackets under the auspices of Zwillman back in the late 1920s.
Lodi Pete frequented Duke’s Tavern, which at that time served as the de facto headquarters of the New Jersey wing of the Genovese Family during the 1940s and 1950s era. La Placa was said to have been close with John (Duke) DeNoia, who was also a Family soldier who doubled as the owner-operator of Duke’s.
Pete La Placa was additionally said to be close to the following known mafiosi:
● Gerardo (Jerry) Catena
● Thomas (Tommy Ryan) Eboli
● Dominick (Cokey Dom) Alongi
● Joseph (Joe Beck) Lapi
● Salvatore (Sally Burns) Granello
● Eugenio (Gene) Catena
● Ruggiero (Richie the Boot) Boiardo
Giuseppe (Pepe) Sabato
…the above list is but a pittance of the important LCN members LaPlaca has dealt with through the years.
At one point in the early 1950s, he served under Newark based capo Ruggiero (Richie the Boot) Boiardo. In later years, he was placed under Gene Catena until his death in 1967, at which point it was thought that La Placa rose to succeed Catena as the regime head.
La Placa oversaw such future members as the notorious Tino Fiumara and Michael (Mike Cigars) Coppola.
His regime also controlled Teamsters Local # 945, which oversaw private garbage disposal company truck drivers and helpers in the North Jersey area. In fact, mobster Ernest Palmeri Sr., another La Placa crew member, served as the business agent for Local # 945 for many years.
La Placa was said to have utilized Palmeri as his minion in order to exercise his influence in the New Jersey solid trade-waste industry. While Fiumara served as La Placa’s strong arm to keep everyone in line.
Other such known mob figures who were in his crew were Larry Ricci, and mob associate/garbage carter Crescent (Chris) Roselle, who operated SCA Services Inc. Late in 1980, Roselle was killed in the “mob garbage war” for control of New Jersey’s garbage industry between rival mobbed-up carters.
Longtime regime soldier Danny Polidori was said to have served as La Placa’s right-hand man and was his constant companion.
In the late 1970s, federal and local state investigators uncovered a wide ranging multimillion-dollar plot to infiltrate, takeover, and then drain a major toxic-waste disposal company named Chemical Control Corporation (CCC) in Northern New Jersey.
In a shocking display of the Mafia’s strength and ruthless tactics, Chemical Control became knuckled under the Genovese Family’s Joe Lapi after one of Lapi’s men, John Albert, brought the aging capo in to lend money to the struggling company.
Soon after a large shylock loan was extended, a cadre of Genovese soldiers starting frequenting the business.
Besides Albert, Federal investigators documented NYC based soldier Frank Vispisiano traveling back and forth cashing company checks on behalf of his capo Lapi, the boss of Manhattan’s Lower West Side docks and reigning capo over the “Fourth Ward”.
Lapi was one of the most revered elder statesman of the Genovese mob, then under the rule of boss Frank (Funzi) Tieri.
Law enforcement authorities said that Lapi, Pete La Placa, and the Westchester based Nicholas (Cockeyed Nick) Rattenni were collaborating together to drain the company on behalf of the mob.
Both La Placa and Rattenni were well known as garbage racketeers. They obviously had been called in by the hierarchy to help Lapi facilitate the scheme.
These three top “capos” of the Family were documented meeting together at Chemical Control’s yard and facilities on several occasions by federal agents.
Within months it all came to a deadly end.
One quiet evening there was a tremendous explosion at the company’s New Jersey facilities. The results were a raging chemical blast and a subsequent massive fire that took many days to fully extinguish.
Huge thick, black plumes of smoke cascaded into the sky for several days until it was finally extinguished.
Fire marshalls said that the incident was intentional. The fire and explosion were set to destroy all evidence of toxic waste dumping, serious violations of federal and state laws, fraud, conspiracy, and the business infiltration and extortion of the business.
John Albert did later face a criminal trial. But by 1980 both Lapi and La Placa had died, and the others involved could not be sufficiently criminally tied to make any criminal case stick.
A year earlier in 1979, Peter La Placa was thought by some sources to have been murdered gangland style. But there is little documentation to substantiate this claim.
Other more reliable sources like the FBI-RIDS list suggest that he died on December 3, 1979 of very natural causes.
At any rate, 1979 was the registered year of his death. Peter Dominick La Placa was 77 years of age.
Side Note: There is some info that points to a New Jersey hood serving under Jerry Catena named Dominick La Placa dying suddenly in 1963 of a massive heart attack.
Regardless of how or when he died, it was thought that after the death of La Placa, soldier Louis (Streaky) Gatto assumed command of this regime, becoming the new capo. He and his son, also alleged to be a connected guy, would govern their regime for many years to come.
Until next time…”The Other Guy”
This article was originally posted “here“