The San Francisco, California Family of LCN

By The Other Guy | September 10, 2020

Just like the early settlers of the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s of a young North America who migrated west popularizing the iconic phrase “Go West Young Man, Go West”, so too the early European immigrants of Northern and Southern Europe would look to the midwest and the far west coast to travel to and settle down, trying to make new lives for themselves. 

Among these early Europeans were large waves of Italians from Italy’s mainland and the island of Sicily that had fled poverty, famine, and the oppressive Kingdom of Italy that largely ignored its people. Most settled comfortably into the Northeast region of the United States.

Some would move on further into our vast territory and settle in Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and other midwestern cities and towns. A much smaller contingent would venture as far as they could possibly go to the west coast, and only stopped when they hit the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. 

California would become their home.

What most attracted them to California was that it held many of the same attributes that Southern Italians and Sicilians, those unfortunates of the “Mezzo-Giorno” held dear…warm balmy weather, clear blue skies and clean fresh air reminiscent of their homelands, wide-open territories and landscapes, rich soil very conducive to farming and growing grapes for wine, rich delicious fruits and vegetables such as olives, artichokes and lemons, and a host of other foods and agriculture akin to their traditions.

Over the course of several decades from the 1910s through the 1940s, many sections of this long vertically shaped state and coastline became sprinkled with small Italian colonies that sprung up in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.

And although these cities would never come close to having the large Italian populous of its east coast brethren, they nonetheless housed a tightly woven and inter-connected brotherhood of families and “amici” who supported one another. 

Founded by Spanish colonists in 1776, the abundant city of San Francisco was named by them to honor “Saint Francis of Assisi” of Italy. The California “Gold Rush” of 1849 greatly helped bring about rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time.

San Francisco quickly became known for its beautiful architecture, landmarks, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and trolleys, and the island housing the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary as well as its famous Fisherman’s Wharf area and Chinatown district.

Situated along the California coastline in the northern part of the state, the city of San Francisco held a great history and a vibrant economy to support its populous and business communities.

Founding boss - Francesco Lanza
Founding boss – Francesco Lanza

Just to the north of its neighbor San Jose, the city of San Francisco, or “Frisco” as it’s popularly called, covers an area of approximately 47 square miles, proudly sitting at the mouth of the San Francisco Bay.

The city itself has a total current population of 900,000 residents as of 2019. The Greater San Francisco Metropolitan area boasts a combined populous of over 4,700,000 people, making it one of the largest populated territories in the entire United States.

As of 2020, San Francisco has the highest salaries, disposable income, and median home prices in the entire world at $1.7 million, as well as the highest median rents. It has a ‘per capita’ personal median income of over $130,000. 

Former boss Antonio Lima
Former boss Antonio Lima

The Italian community of San Francisco boasted such famous persons as Domingo Ghirardelli of the mouth watering Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and Amodeo Giannini, who created “The Bank of Italy” from scratch and which today has become the giant “Bank of America.”  

He almost singlehandedly rebuilt San Francisco after the devastating earthquake of 1906 by handing out loans (on a simple handshake, I might add) to thousands of people who had been devastated and lost it all. Giannini was pivotal in the city’s rebirth.

And let’s not forget the Di Maggio boys, as in “Joltin Joe” and his brothers. This iconic piece of sports history came to us courtesy of the Frisco Wharf area where the Di Maggio family had first settled, to try and raise their brood. 

Yes, the City of San Francisco has a rich well-known public history indeed. What is not quite so well known is its seedy underworld history, and more specifically, the Sicilian Mafia which had formed deep within the bowels of the city by at least the late 1920s era.

1947 – Nick DeJohn found murdered

The “San Francisco Family of Cosa Nostra” became one of three such organizations or “borgatas”, as they are called by their members, that formed within the State of California. 

Along with Jack Dragna and Frank DeSimone of the Family in Los Angeles, and the Joseph Cerrito Family of San Jose, what would later become widely known as the Lanza Family of San Francisco was formulated by early Sicilian mafiosi who migrated up north with the specific goal of creating their own “borgata.”  

Founded by Francesco (Frank) Lanza, this mafia Family would always have one of the smaller rank and file membership rosters of any borgata in the country.

Former boss - Michael (Mike) Abati
Former boss – Michael (Mike) Abati

This early group saw a measure of violence as other cities did while the various mafiosi and racketeers vied for power within the city until Lanza was able to consolidate the various factions by the mid-1920s.

As in other cities, liquor bootlegging formed the main racket that generated the potential for big money and wealth, as well as the bloodshed that usually came along with it. 

During this era, there were several skirmishes between rival Italian gangs that resulted in a string of killings including that of Gerardo Ferri, Alfredo Scariso, Francesco Boca, Mario Filippi, Gennaro Broccoli, and Luigi Malvese over the course of several years.

These gangland slayings eliminated the competition and helped pave the way for Lanza to accede to a “Capo” position over his fledgling group of Sicilians. 

It was said that Frank Lanza was the original co-owner and developer of the famed Fisherman’s Wharf area along with his partner, fellow mafioso and underboss Giuseppe Alioto.

Boss - James (Jimmy the Hat) Lanza
Boss – James (Jimmy the Hat) Lanza

With Lanza’s death in 1937, Antonio (Tony) Lima was said to have become the boss of the Family. Lima chose Michele (Mike) Abati as his sotto-capo or number two man.

They were later arrested for the highly publicized murder of West Coast gangster Nick DeJohn.

Those charges would later be dropped for a lack of evidence, but both Lima and Abati would later lose their positions within the borgata.

Lima in 1953 with his grand larceny conviction and subsequent jailing, and Abati who had taken over the crew, lost it in 1961 when the federal government won their deportation case against him and quickly put him on the banana boat headed back to Italy.

Soldier - Vincenzo (Papa) LaRocca
Soldier – Vincenzo (Papa) LaRocca

Mike Abati died shortly thereafter on September 5, 1962….Next up on deck was the man who would define this borgata and for whom the Family was permanently named, James Lanza. 

Side Note: Boss Michele Abati used to list his vocation and business as the manager and one of the principals of the Oro Olive Oil Importing Company, of Oroville, CA. This firm was long suspected by the FBN (Federal Bureau of Narcotics) as a “blind” for the importation of narcotics into the country.

Similar food importation companies set up by various mafiosi throughout the country were also thought to be involved in this racket. Not that they were not “real” food import firms because they were. Only that along with the olive oils, cheeses and cases of tomatoes they brought in, the mafiosi would also occasionally sneak a kilo or two of white powder in along with it.

Soldier Salvatore (Sam) Ricotta

Mariano Vincenzo Proetto (TN) – aka “James Joseph Lanza” “Jimmy the Hat”. He was born on October 23, 1902 in the little town of Castelbuono in the Province of Palermo, Sicily.

He was the son of Francesco and Caterina Lanza (nee’ Albanese). The true family surname was said to have been Proetto back in Sicilia, but his father later adopted “Lanza” while traversing the American underworld. It was a name that would apply and be used by his son as well.

The Proetto family immigrated to the United States in 1905 and settled in New York City.

Soldier Frank Scappatura

By 1919 Frank Lanza had relocated his young family out to San Francisco where they first lived at 945 Jackson Street.

By the 1930s they had relocated to 1020 Francisco Street. The Lanza brood would reside and operate in this city for the rest of their lives.

Early on Jimmy operated under his father’s wing. Jimmy got married in 1929 to the former Josephine Naso, and by 1931 they had their first child, a boy they named Frank C. Lanza Jr. He, Josephine and their children would later buy a home at 603 Virginia Avenue in San Mateo.

With his growing wealth and prominence, in a few year’s time the Lanza family relocated to 559 Washington Street, and by 1958 again to 3682 Fillmore Street, San Francisco.

Soldier Salvatore Amarena
Soldier Salvatore Amarena

Ostensibly, he and his brother Anthony operated several legitimate businesses. They listed themselves as wine importers and merchants under the corporate name of Lanza Brothers Wine Company, at 559 Washington Street in San Francisco.

But in actuality, this firm sold more than just wine.

The company, and another run by them, was also a major importer and wholesale supplier of extra virgin olive oil direct from Italy as well as a broker for gourmet Italian-styled cheeses and other specialty food products.

Soldier Alphonse LaRocca
Soldier Alphonse LaRocca

The Lanza brothers also partnered together in real estate speculation and other business ventures. Anthony Lanza was known to be the bookkeeper and to handle the company finances for the brothers. 

Lanza’s olive-oil importing and distributing businesses sold its products across the United States.

It was documented by the FBI that many mafiosi who were also in this industry as far away as New York and Cleveland regularly purchased oil from the Lanza brothers.

Another company they once ran during the 1940s called Lucca Olive Oil Company, located in Lindsey, California, was a partnership between the Lanza brothers and Leon DeSimone (a cousin of Los Angeles boss Frank DeSimone, and the brother of Tony Lanza’s wife).

Soldier Salvatore (Sam) Maugeri
Soldier Salvatore (Sam) Maugeri

This made for “blood ties” between the Los Angeles and San Francisco Families, and shows the common solidarity between mafiosi. 

Another particular industry that seems to have been targeted for infiltration was the commercial laundry and linen-supply business.

This business was well known to be popular with mob guys across the country, so it’s of little surprise that the San Francisco Family also found this industry attractive.

Soldier Salvatore Billeci

But what is surprising is the level of ownership and dominance by the Frisco crew. Good examples of this were “associate” Daniel Marini who was the president of the Peninsula Linen Exchange Co., which was one of the major laundries in the Bay Area. Marini held controlling interests in several other laundries from Santa Rosa to San Jose.

Another known borgata “associate” was Albert Santucci, who was the owner of Peerless Laundry Company in San Francisco.

Family associate Anthony Perconti was also in a spin-off of the laundry business with his ownership of A-1 Self Service Laundry & Cleaning Company. Collectively the borgata had a solid grip on this industry.

Underboss Gaspare (Bill) Sciortino
Underboss Gaspare (Bill) Sciortino

Soldier Joseph Marconi changed it up a bit with his ownership of the Marconi Plastering Company, at 211 Moulton Street. Some other members and associates operated farms and orchards in the California countryside. Most Family figures did indeed operate their own businesses in a variety of fields.    

What is amazing to me is that although Jimmy Lanza was knee-deep in the rackets his entire life, was the son of one of the very first “originals” of the American Mafia, and was himself the recognized head of his own Cosa Nostra Family for many decades, Lanza was not known to have ever been arrested. Whether it was at a local or federal level, there is no known police record or “yellow jacket” on Lanza.

Soldier Anthony Cosenza
Soldier Anthony Cosenza

Of course, he was assigned an FBI # for investigative and tracking purposes, but he never was known to have taken a “pinch”… I think that is very indicative and telling of the man and his mentality, as well as his modus operandi. No small accomplishment I assure you, especially when compared to his mafia contemporaries around the country.

As the son of the former boss, Jimmy was always an important member but by the 1940s-1950s era, he held the position of underboss after having been appointed to the spot by Mike Abati.

Jimmy Lanza would hold the post as “Representante” of the San Francisco Family from 1961 through 2006, a forty-five year reign atop a Cosa Nostra Family has got to be a singular accomplishment indeed.

Soldier Frank (Crow) Cosenza

Once elevated to “Capo” he appointed as his “Sotto Capo” or number two, a man named Gaspare (Bill) Sciortino, who was himself a veteran mafioso.

Together they oversaw an inducted rank and file of mostly older, low-key members. Soldiers who long ago had lost whatever fangs and teeth they used to have. 

Side Note: As I mentioned earlier in the story, when mobster Nick DeJohn got “clipped” out in San Francisco, several close associates of Lanza and members of his borgata were arrested for the murder.

Among the prime suspects was Mike Abati, Sebastiano Nani, Frank Scappatura, Antonio Lima, and Leonard Calamia.

Soldier/Capo - Vito Bruno
Soldier/Capo – Vito Bruno

ALL of the above-named mafiosi were also implicated in a major cross-country narcotics trafficking ring headed by Nani and connected with New York’s Profaci Family. 

Many were former bootleggers. A few had run the Italian lottery or numbers gambling networks. Some others had been bookmakers or had operated card games. A few were shylocks.

Many had gone “legit” many years back and developed small businesses they ran, largely staying away from the rackets from that time forward.

After the November 1957 national Mafia conference in Upstate Apalachin, New York, the FBI pulled out all stops and started a major campaign of surreptitious investigation against who they dubbed their “Top Hoodlum Program”.

Soldier Renaldo (Red) Ferreri
Soldier Renaldo (Red) Ferreri

Anyone so designated as indeed a top hoodlum they opened an”anti-racketeering” profile on, in an attempt to gather all the information available in order to either make a criminal case, a tax-evasion case or start a deportation proceedings against.

Lanza fell into this category. Because not much was known about either him, his activities, or members of his “Family”, the federal authorities decided to install an illegal listening device or “bug” within his business office.

This “bug” operated from 1959 through 1965 and provided a wealth of intelligence about the mafia. Not so much about Lanza himself, but the nationwide brotherhood in general. The longtime San Mateo resident soon became a major priority of the San Francisco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Soldier – Concetto (Frank) Colombo

They documented Jimmy Lanza’s close friendship with the former mayor of San Francisco, Joseph Alioto.

Lanza and members of his borgata also had close ties to several other crime Families in other major cities including the Dragna/Licata Family of Los Angeles, boss Joe Cerrito in San Jose, and Joe Civello who was the boss of another small borgata in Dallas, Texas, 

Side Note: A little known fact was that iconic Mayor Joseph Alioto was indeed the son of the former San Francisco Family underboss Giuseppe (Joe) Alioto. The son would rise to become a savvy lawyer, and later a top politician within his California district.

Over the years he was accused several times in his long career of having Mafia affiliation’s, but he successfully deflected those allegations whenever they reared their head.

Jimmy Lanza was very happy with the status quo. He had always kept a very low profile and encouraged his small membership to conduct themselves the same way.

Soldier Stephen Sorrentino
Soldier Stephen Sorrentino

Because of this mindset, it was never Lanza’s priority to consider the continued health and future of his borgata by grooming for induction a younger generation of racketeers to become “mafiosi” in order to carry the Family forward into the future.

He was a wealthy guy and was worried about possible infiltrators, informants, and FBI government cooperators.

This attitude and outlook would help keep Lanza and his members safe, but it was a two-edged sword in that there was no young blood to continue the Frisco borgata. Through death and attrition, slowly but surely the Family just faded away. 

Soldier Mario Balistreri
Soldier Mario Balistreri

Jimmy Lanza would lead a life of peace and quiet, a rare commodity for a Cosa Nostra boss, and enjoy a tremendous wealth and stability for the duration of his life.

Whether it was before, during, or after his tenure as the official Family “Representante” of San Francisco, Lanza lived a much envied existence. So much so, that even in death he was envied.

He passed away from natural causes at the extremely ripe old age of 103 years old on February 14, 2006….Valentines Day as it were… And what a Happy Valentine it was! 

As the lyrics to the old Frank Sinatra song title goes “It Was A Very Good Year!”…. for Jimmy Lanza, there were 103 very good years!

Until next time… “The Other Guy” 

James Lanza Family – hierarchy chart

The following list represents what local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation say was the known inducted membership, as well as their “top associates.”

This chart represents a time period from approximately 1930 through the mid 1990s, a span of over sixty-five years. Although many of these men were active in the local rackets before 1930, technically no Cosa Nostra borgata was established until 1931 by the newly formed New York City based Commission. Likewise, by the mid 1990s there wasn’t enough left of the Lanza Family to even consider it a Cosa Nostra entity, let alone a full-fledged Family.

The names below were all said to have been active at one point or another during this span of time. Keep in mind that at their 1940s-1950s peak, the San Francisco Family reputedly had an average rank and file membership count of approximately 30 to 35 members. Names marked with an ~ next to them were probably “associates” as opposed to formally inducted soldiers. Follow the “key chart” to better understand the hieroglyphics beside some of the names.

Key to the Chart
^  connotes later elevated to hierarchy
~ connotes probably “associate”
+ connotes informer
= connotes transfer from/to another Family


FBI surveillance pic of Jimmy Lanza


James Lanza    (1961-2000s)


Filippo Maita      (1930-1960s)
Vincenzo Infusino  (1930-1950 ?) =


Gaspare Sciortino  (1950s-1980s)
Giuseppe Alioto    (1910-1950s)


Michele Abati       (1953-1961)
Antonio Lima Sr. (1937-1953) +
Francesco Lanza    (1910-1937)


Mario Balistrieri 
Vincenzo LaRocca 
Anthony Romano = 

 James Franzone =
 Vito Bruno 
 Gaetano Lazio


Salvatore Amarena ^~ 
Gaetano Balistrieri ~ 
Vincenzo Barrisa  
Leonard Calamia =+
Silvestri Castro
Salvatore Ciancimino
Giuseppe Correnti
Francesco Cosenza
Giuseppe Dinolfo
Ciro Gallo =
Frank Genovese
Anthony Lanza ~^
Luciano LaRocca ~ 
Alfonso LaRocca
Anthony Lima Jr. ^
Salvatore Lima Sr.
Dominic Lonardo ^=
Nunzio Mannina =  
Dominic Pagano
Giuseppe Parente
Joseph Paoli ~
Salvatore Ricotta
Salvatore Sabella
Frank Scappatura =
Pasquale Siracusa ~
Salvatore Taranto +
Epifanio Trafficante =
Giuseppe Trifiro = 
Frank Velotta ^  
Sebastiano Nani = 

Giovanni Alicata
Salvatore Billeci ~
Vincenzo Bruno ~ =
Angelo Castro
Giuseppe Cataldo
Concetto Colombo ~
Antonio Cosenza
Giuseppe Curreri
Renaldo Ferreri ~
Robert Garioto
Emilio Giorgetti ~^
Accursio LaRocca ~
Pasquale LaRocca ~
Francesco LaRusso
Domenico Lima
Salvatore Lima Jr.
Francesco Maita ~
Salvatore Maugeri
Giovanni Paredi
Antonio Parmagini
Antonio Perconti ~
Luciano Sabella
Pietro Scambellone
Antonio Sciortino ~
Stefano Sorrentino ~
Salvatore Termini
Giacomo Trifiro =
Stephen Trifiro
Stefano Meranghi +

This article was originally posted “here

Former mob boss bites off and swallows prison guard’s finger

Giuseppe Fanara, 60, a former member of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra has bitten off and swallowed a prison guard’s finger.

Fanara, who is serving a life sentence at Italy’s Rebibbia prison in Rome, was supposedly so upset that his prison cell was being inspected, bit off and swallowed the guard’s pinky finger.

Fanara, whose new nickname no doubt will be “The Cannibal”, is currently nine years into a life sentence under a special penal code that is only used for mob bosses to prevent them from running their organization’s from behind bars.

A leading Italian newspaper reported that “During the altercation, the prisoner bit off the guard’s little finger on his right hand. The finger disappeared, leading a Rome prosecutor to conclude it had been eaten.”

It is reported that Fanara then forcefully charged at six other guards using a broom as a weapon while shouting “I’ll slit your throats like pigs”.

Since the incident, Fanara has been transferred to Sassari Prison, a high-security facility in Sardinia. There he will face new charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest. Additional charges may be forthcoming.

Fanara was arrested in 1999 after police raided a mob conference. At the time, Fanara was on the run for his part in the murder of an investigator, Giuliano Guazzalli. Fanara and his accomplices opened fire using machine guns on a vehicle Guazzelli was riding in.

This article was originally posted “here

Former Canadian West End Gang member Ron “Big Ronnie” Mckinnon, 60, has died of cancer

Former Canadian West End Gang member Ron “Big Ronnie” Mckinnon, 60, has died of cancer. Mckinnon was an enforcer in Quebec for the “Irish Gang” for 25 years, though he has not been involved in the gang or organized crime for at least a decade.

Mckinnon used to work as a bodyguard for West End Gang member Johnny McLean, a suspected government informant and protégé of the gang leaders, the Matticks brothers. The last remaining Matticks sibling, Gerry Matticks, accused McLean of causing his drug arrest in 2001.

An attempt was made on Mckinnon’s life when he was shot in the leg by masked attackers. Mckinnon was convinced he was sent by the Matticks brothers to murder him because of his close relationship with McLean. In fact, many people believe that the perpetrators were brothers Cody and Jamie Laramee. In the summer of 2013, the Laramee brothers were murdered inside the Nite Night Lounge in Montreal.

This article was originally posted “here

Mafia boss bites off, swallows guard’s finger during cell inspection

A Sicilian mafia boss serving a life sentence for killing an investigator was so infuriated during a cell inspection inside his Rome prison that he bit off and swallowed a guard’s pinky finger, according to reports.

Giuseppe Fanara, 60, who is locked up in the Rebibbia prison, attacked seven guards when they came to inspect his cell, The Guardian reported, citing the daily Il Messagero.

The cannibalistic Cosa Nostra crook is nine years into his sentence under Italy’s tough penal code reserved for mob bosses, who are isolated behind bars to prevent them from running their clans from inside the joint.

“During the altercation (Fanara) bit off the guard’s little finger on his right hand,” the Italian paper reported. “The finger disappeared, leading a Rome prosecutor to conclude it had been eaten.”

Fanara then charged the six other guards, using a broomstick as a weapon as he shouted: “I’ll slit your throats like pigs!”

He has since been transferred to Sardinia’s high-security Sassari prison, where he faces new charges including aggravated assault and resisting arrest, according to the outlet.

Fanara was arrested in 1999 when police raided a mob conference, according to the Times of London.

At the time, he was on the lam after taking part in the murder of Giuliano Guazzelli, an investigator.

Fanara and his cohorts opened fire on Guazzelli’s vehicle with machine guns and shotguns from another car, the newspaper reported.

Original Post

George Smurra – Low-Key Genovese Gunsel

By Lisa Babick | September 8, 2020

George Smurra – aka “George Blair” or “Blah Blah” – was born on January 1, 1910, in New York City to Ambrose and Angelina Smurra. His father immigrated to the U.S. From Italy in 1901.

He had three sisters: Marion, Julia, and Helen, and two brothers: Henry and William.

Smurra and his family lived on 65th Street in Brooklyn until 1925 when George was 15 and the family relocated to Brooklyn. Later, he moved to 200 W. 11th Street in Manhattan.

In 1936, he married Helen Palamarro. They lived 1627 78th St., in Brooklyn until moving to 1404 Plunkett St., in Hollywood, Fla. In 1967, they relocated to 1706 Dewey Street in Hollywood, Fla.. The couple had one son together named Ambrose.

Smurra stood 5-feet 7.5-inches tall and weighed 196 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. He was described as having a stocky build.

During the 1963 Senate hearings on organized crime, Joseph Valachi identified Smurra as a soldier in the Genovese Family. Authorities described Smurra as a “strong-arm man” and “killer.”

FBI #183755, NYPD #B-70645

He was a known associate of many big names in the mob world including John Oddo, Anthony Bonasera, Carmine Lombardozzi, Gus Frasca, and Pete DeFeo. But his biggest associations were with Vito Genovese and Mike Miranda whom authorities claimed he helped in controlling illegal gambling and narcotics trafficking in Brooklyn.

Smurra had a lengthy arrest record that included 28 arrests dating back to 1928. However, he had no felony convictions and only served one jail term. Some of his arrests included:

-November 11, 1928 – burglary (8 months city jail)

-November 25, 1928 – felony assault

-September 17, 1929 – assault and robbery -gun (discharged)

-November 8, 1929 – assault and robbery – gun (discharged)

-January 18, 1930 – aggravated assault

-January 23, 1930 – aggravated assault

-April 15, 1930 – aggravated assault

-May 26, 1930 – grand larceny (aquitted)

-April 2, 1931 – attempted burglary

-May 1, 1931 – assault and robbery (gun)

-October 15, 1931 – assault and robbery (gun)

-November 27, 1931 – burglary

-December 11, 1931 – petty larceny (discharged)

Smurra was known to frequent Club 1717, Elegante Night Club, Pompeii Restaurant, Surburban Nightclub, and Endicott Bar & Grill, all in Brooklyn. He also was believed to have held a hidden interest in the Balinese Supper Club on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn.

Law enforcement claimed that Smurra was also a frequent guest at Joe Sonken’s Gold Coast Restaurant in Hollywood, Florida which was known as the “the mob meeting place.” Mobsters Buster Aloi, Sam DeCavalcante, and Pasquale Machiarole were all known to frequent the restaurant as well..

In May 1930 when he was 21, Smurra was arrested for burglarizing a cigar and stationery store in Brooklyn. Soon after the robbery, the store manager Hyman Hemmelman fingered Smurra as one of three men who together had stolen $30 from the cash register, $65 worth of cigarettes, and a vending machine. Smurra was the only one who had been arrested.

Smurra involved in poolroom brawl
Smurra involved in poolroom brawl

However, when the trial came around in July of that year, Hemmelman wasn’t so sure Smurra was his man.

After the prosecutor asked him to positively identify Smurra, Hemmelman could only say that Smurra “looked somewhat like the man” who robbed him but couldn’t be positive. Smurra was immediately acquitted and Hemmelman was thrown in jail on a perjury charge and fined $5000.

In March 1934, Smurra was charged with felonious assault in a Coney Island court for allegedly stabbing Jerry Mazza, a 21-year-old prizefighter during a quarrel in a poolroom. The case never went to trial.

On August 7, 1944, an arrest warrant was issued for Smurra for his part in the murder of Ferdinand (The Shadow) Boccia. Warrants were also issued for Vito Genovese, Michael Miranda, Peter DeFeo, and Gus Frasca.

When the warrants were issued, Brooklyn Acting District Attorney, Thomas C. Hughes called the men “rats of the city.” Newspapers immediately hooked into the story. The NY Daily News described the men as “gangster overlords of Lower Manhattan” and said the men had murdered “one of their kind.” Even more interesting was that the Brooklyn Daily Eagle described Genovese as a “small-time gangster.”

Frasca's wanted poster
Frasca’s wanted poster

Boccia had been killed in September 1934 while at his uncle’s Circolo Cristofolo Club and Cafe at 533 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn. Apparently, Boccia had been part of a gambling scheme to bilk an Italian immigrant out of more than $100,000 during a scam card game. Boccia had demanded his share of the money and was promptly murdered.

It had remained unsolved for 10 years until Ernest (The Hawk) Rupolo decided to turn informant. He had just served 9 years in prison for a shooting when he was rearrested for another shooting shortly after being released. He was facing 40 – 80 years this time around.

At the time the warrants were issued, Genovese was stationed in Italy as a civilian interpreter with the Army. The Army didn’t turn him over to the Brooklyn DA until June 1945 – nearly 10 months after the warrant had been issued. No explanation for the delay was given.

Smurra, Miranda, Frasca, and DeFeo had gone on the lam.

Genovese went to trial on June 7, 1946, but was acquitted after Peter LaTempa, who was a witness to the Boccia shooting, died “under mysterious circumstances”.

On September 16, 1946, Miranda walked into attorney Hyman Barsay’s office and announced, “I’m Mike Miranda. I want to give myself up.” He didn’t tell anyone where he had been hiding and pled not guilty. He was freed on February 13, 1947, for lack of evidence.

Smurra ended up turning himself in on April 9, 1947 and Frasca surrendered on April 16, 1947. Both men’s charges were dismissed.

Things had been relatively quiet for Smurra until March 20, 1963 – around the time of the Valachi hearings – when he was charged by a federal grand jury in Broward-Dade County, Florida for being part of an alleged $500,000 mail-order scheme.

Smurra was charged along with John (Big John) Manarite, Jack Pickman, and Harry Tounjian. Smurra himself was charged with 6 counts of interstate transportation of fraudulent checks, 16 counts of mail fraud, and 1 count of inducing Tounjiam to use a fictitious name to further the scheme.

Authorities alleged that Smurra and the others had established three companies in Florida to defraud more than 100 businesses throughout the U.S. Smurra was alleged to have been the president of Wide World Mail Order Co., 1825 NE 164th St in North Miami Beach and was accused of holding positions in Biscayne Appliance Co., 12737 Biscayne Blvd in North Miami, and The Novelty Shop, 221A Dixie Hwy in Hallandale., which prosecutors claimed was the headquarters of the operation.

Prosecutors charged that the men would purchase goods with bad checks, sell the purchased goods, then keep the money. It was alleged that more than $250,000 in merchandise was fraudulently purchased by Smurra and his cohorts.

The six-month probe was touched off in July 1962 in Fort Lauderdale when a business owner went to authorities after Smurra’s companies bought $1179 worth of expensive dresses and accessories and didn’t pay for them.

But the funny thing was that Smurra wasn’t even the alleged leader of this ring. That role apparently fell to another man by the name of Joseph Moscardino who operated The Novelty Shop and also owned a bar called the Riveria Bar, both in Hollandale.

Moscardino had been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury before the indictment came down and reportedly pled the Fifth Amendment. He was also set to face trial for burglary charges – not related to the fraud scheme – alongside Big John Manarite.

But Moscardino didn’t have to worry about any of it because he was killed on March 5 1963 while sitting in his car outside his North Miami Beach apartment.

Being that he was the most likely suspect, Big John Manarite was arrested and charged with the murder but was released after authorities couldn’t find any witnesses or a murder weapon.

Smurra loses bid to learn what evidence the prosecution had against him.

When the fraud indictments came down, Big John couldn’t be found. He told authorities he was “out west” and didn’t even know he was wanted “until some friends told me I was in trouble.” He surrendered in Miami on May 2, 1963.

Pickman was from Detroit and had been previously convicted for issuing thousands of dollars of worthless checks. Tounjian had been using the name David Berman while representing himself as president of Biscayne Appliance to defraud other businesses when in actuality he was a parking attendant at various North Miami Beach restaurants.

Smurra couldn’t understand why he was indicted at all and put in a motion demanding the government turn over the evidence given to the grand jury to indict him, but the motion was denied by U.S. District Judge Emmett C. Choate in May of 1963.

But in June of that year, Judge Choate ordered the government to give Smurra’s lawyers information on what position Smurra allegedly held with the three companies. Smurra was also given permission to leave Florida and spend the summer in New York while awaiting his September trial

It was a small victory for Smurra, but he wasn’t out of the government’s crosshairs yet.

In August 1963, while enjoying his summer in New York, Smurra was arrested for the murder of Alfred (Freddie the Sicilian) Sanantonio, who was shot to death at his florist shop in the Bath Beach section of Brooklyn on July 11, 1962.

Arrested along with Smurra was Peter Ferrara, who authorities believed was a “suspected racketeer”, numbers operator, and “close associate” of Vito Genovese. Ferrara had several convictions for felonious assault, robbery, and gambling.

Authorities believed the murder was ordered by Vito Genovese because it was suspected Sanantonio was providing information to authorities about Genovese’s narcotics operations. At the time, Genovese was serving a sentence in Atlanta federal penitentiary for a narcotics conviction.

When Smurra and Ferrara were arrested at Ferrara’s business office, police said they found $9,425 on Ferrara and a paper listing 9000 policy plays. Smurra insisted he was only there to cash a check. Both men pled not guilty and were released on bail. Shortly thereafter, the only thing police could charge them with was “associating with known hoodlums.”

Back in Florida, right before trial was set to begin, Harry Tounjian didn’t show up for a pre-trial court appearance. Judge Choate issued a bench warrant and when Tounjian learned of it, he explained that he had no money to travel back to Miami from Los Angeles, where he had gone after being released on bail.

It’s unclear if the trial was delayed because of this, but it had been pushed back to January 1964. However, on January 2, right before trial was set to begin, Big John Manarite and Jack Pickman made “surprise” guilty pleas to fraud. On January 9, Smurra and Tounjian waved a jury trial.

These strange turn of events were enough to cause Judge Choate to order a pretrial investigation. As it turned out, the only thing that came out of this “pretrial investigation” was that Smurra wasn’t guilty of anything.

On January 13, after a “reevaluation of evidence” prosecutors asked Judge Choate to dismiss the charges against Smurra because they had no solid evidence to tie Smurra to the fraud scheme.

A week later, Tounjian was sentenced to one year, Big John was sentenced to 30 months, and Pickman, who got the largest sentence because he had been previously convicted of check fraud, was sentenced to 20 years.

One final note, it was later learned that the $1100 worth of dresses that started off the entire fraud investigation was overstated by the prosecution – the dresses were only worth $400.

In 1967, Smurra was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Florida to give testimony on organized crime in Broward County.

Three years later, the Miami Herald featured Smurra in a photo spread about “The South Florida Mob” which included profiles on Joseph “Joe Scootch” Indelicato, Anthony Accardo, and many others.

Smurra died on January 14, 1981 in Brooklyn.

This article was originally posted “here

One-Time Montreal Irish Mob Muscle “Big Ronnie” McKinnon Succumbs To Cancer Bout

September 8, 2020 – Former West End Gang enforcer Ron (Big Ronnie) McKinnon died of cancer in Montreal last week. Big Ronnie McKinnon, 60, was a collector for the Matticks brothers, the reputed leaders of the Irish mob in Quebec for the last 25 years.

The Coolopolis blog broke the news of McKinnon’s passing. Coolopolis does the most comprehensive coverage of the historic Irish organized crime group known as the West End Gang on the internet. McKinnon had not been active in underworld affairs for well over a decade.

During his gangland heyday, McKinnon worked as personal muscle for West End Gang lieutenant Johnny McLean, a protégé of the Matticks turned suspected government informant in the early 2000s. Gerry Matticks, the last remaining Matticks brother, headquarters out of the Do Drop Inn and reportedly blamed McLean for his 2001 drug bust.

McKinnon survived an attempt on his life when he was shot in the leg by masked assailants he believed were sent to kill him by the Matticks brothers because of his affiliation with McLean. According to the Coolopolis blog, many suspected the Larammee brothers (Cody and Jamie) of being the shooters in the unsuccessful hit on Big Ronnie. The Larammes were killed in a summer 2013 double homicide inside Montreal’s Nite Light Lounge on LaSalle Street.

Original Post

Chip Off The Old Block: Don Tano Badalamenti’s Son Taken Into Custody Following 3 Yrs. As Fugitive

September 7, 2020 – The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, they say. And that old adage can sometimes never be truer than in the mob. Legendary Sicilian Godfather Gaetano (Don Tano) Badalamenti’s son Leonardo Badalamenti was finally caught last week after three years on the run from Brazilian authorities trying to arrest him for narcotics trafficking and bank fraud.

The 60-year old progeny was busted in Palermo last Wednesday at his mother’s home in Castellammare de Golfo, an historic region of Sicily in the lineage of the mafia. He’s pleaded not guilty in the case and is awaiting extradition to Brazil. Prosecutors in South America indicted him in 2017.

Badalamenti’s father, Don Tano, was the boss of bosses in the Sicilian mafia in the 1970s. Don Tano famously headed the “Pizza Connection” heroin conspiracy, where Badalamenti’s European criminal empire joined forces with North American mob families in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Montreal to transport giant shipments of “H” across the Atlantic in tomato sauce jars and distribute them through a series of pizza parlors in the United States. With his kingdom under siege by upstart Mafiosi in Sicily at the end of his reign, Don Tano left the motherland for Brazil, where he was able to plant even further roots for himself and his family in the transcontinental narcotics game prior to getting nabbed in the Pizza Connection case.

Before ascending to international mob royalty, Badalamenti spent portions of the 1940s and 1950s in Michigan. Don Tano’s older brother Emmanuel (Rough Manny) Badalamenti was a capo in the Detroit mafia, running rackets in southern Michigan out of Monroe, down by the Ohio border.

In 2019, Michigan State Police searched property in the Monroe area once owned by the Badalamenti brothers looking for slain Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa but came up empty. Hoffa was feuding with his former mob allies in the labor union at the time he went missing in July 1975 on his way to a lunch meeting in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, less than 65 miles away. Informants told the FBI that Teamsters trucks often ferried Badalamenti’s Pizza Connection dope cross country with Hoffa’s knowledge and him getting kick-backs from the profits on mob-family drug sales.

Don Tano was convicted at trial in 1987 and was sentenced to life in prison. The elder and stately Badalamenti died of a heart attack in a Massachusetts prison hospital on April 29, 1994 at the age of 80.

Original Post

“The Boot of Livingston: The Life and Times of Ruggiero Boiardo

By The Other Guy | September 5, 2020

New Jersey Capo - Ruggiero Boiardo
New Jersey Capo – Ruggiero Boiardo


One of the most iconic and feared mafioso to ever operate out of New Jersey was the Genovese Family’s Ruggiero Boiardo.

An almost mythical figure in the underworld, “Richie the Boot”, as he was widely known, got his start during the early years of Prohibition in the 1920s. He was a wild man and not somebody to be trifled with.

Remember that this was before the formation of the nationally governed Cosa Nostra. It was a time when the Sicilian Mafia was but one small piece of the overall underworld mosaic in this country.

Richie the Boot as a young hoodlum
Richie the Boot as a young hoodlum

Those early years in northern New Jersey saw gang wars between many varied groups, among them Jewish gangsters such as Abner (Longy) Zwillman, a contingent of Arthur Flegenheimer who was better known as “Dutch Schultz”, many other independent Irish gangs, as well as splintered Italian gangs and hoodlums that would later join together and become part of Cosa Nostra such as Gerardo (Jerry) Catena, Quarico (Willie Moore) Moretti, Nicolo (Nicky Dell) Delmore, and Angelo (Gyp the Blood) DeCarlo. 

But of all the notorious early hoodlums and rough and tumble gangsters who would operate on the streets of Newark and other northern New Jersey towns and areas, arguably none would become more notorious or dangerous than Richie the Boot Bioardo, or “Diamond Richie” as he was sometimes also called because of the flashy jewelry and huge diamond encrusted belt buckle he sported around town. 

Born on December 8, 1890 back in Naples, Italy, he was raised in the little town of Marigliano in the Campania province. Legend has it that he was an orphan raised in an Italian Catholic orphanage until he later immigrated to the United States as a young adult in 1910.

He was immediately drawn to the streets of New York and New Jersey, a place that he felt quite comfortable in since all his life he had been banged around and truly knew no home life or loving parents of his own. 

By the mid 1910s, he was already a fledgling hoodlum and street criminal active in burglaries, armed robberies, and other such mayhem.

By the beginning of alcohol Prohibition in 1920, Boiardo was well poised to capitalize on The Volstead Act, a largely failed nationwide law enacted to deny a desiring populous of one of the most enjoyable pastimes they ever had, the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Boiardo on his way up the mob ladder
Boiardo on his way up the mob ladder

This ridiculous law would make millionaires out of many a previously impoverished hoodlum and help give rise to the greatest criminal organization this country has ever known, Cosa Nostra. It would now make “racketeers” and “gangsters” out of previously categorized street “hoodlums”.

One of the fledgling New Jersey-based hoodlums to gain the most traction and wealth out of this decade of alcohol bootlegging was indeed Boiardo. He was said to have been deeply enmeshed in both the operation of alcohol “stills” which actually manufactured ally, and partnered in the smuggling of legitimate whiskey shipments brought down from Canada by truck or small boats to the shorelines of South Jersey.

Another main endeavor of his was the hijacking of competitors liquor trucks.

It took Boiardo and company nothing but a few revolvers and big sets of balls to rob other gangsters and bootleggers of their “product”. But this activity (of which Boiardo was very active in) also brought plenty of blood to the streets of Newark as gang-wars and shootings became commonplace and almost daily occurrences.

Diamond Richie Boiardo became a very hated hoodlum in certain gangster circles and on more than one occasion his rivals tried to “exterminate” their problem.

Richie the Boot as a crusty old hood
Richie the Boot as a crusty old hood

Rivals of Boiardo actually set him up for the kill in the 1930s. He was shot-gunned and seriously wounded on at least one occasion. But he would survive to rise up and dominate all those around him. So much so that by the late 1930s-early 1940s, he became one of the top recognized powers in the Northern New Jersey area of the Garden State. 

Because of his power and ferocity, he was soon approached and offered a membership in what had now become an amalgamation of all the Italian racketeers across the nation.

Cosa Nostra had been formed with the express purpose to end the fighting amongst Italian hoodlums who just happened to hail from the different regions of Italy and Sicily. It was thought that Boiardo became a formally inducted Cosa Nostra member by the mid-1930s.

Now once and for all, whether you were a Napolitano, Calabrese, Siciliano, or hailed from any other province or town in the country shaped as “The Boot” as it were, you were now one in solidarity with your “brothers”….this formation and cooperative effort was the single smartest decision the Mafia ever made in this country. 

The Sicilian Mafia, who was the top recognized power operating among the varied Italian groups in this country such as the Camorra and the “Societa’ Honore” (the Calabrian mafia), decided to open their ranks to other Italian regional ethnicities to end the foolish bloodshed and wanton killings, which in hindsight had stifled all their careers and took away from their primary objective, which was to make money and establish themselves deeper into the fabric of America.

Cosa Nostra or “Our Thing” became the new name of this nameless organization which the general public and law enforcement commonly referred to the world over as “The Mafia”.

With this new formal structure came the various borgatas formally established throughout the United States. The heads or “Representante” of each group were named by the overall governing body called the “Commission”, and in turn, those Family heads named their “cabinets” of sub-leaders to govern the other racketeers who operated within their respective territories.

The Boiardo Regime in the news
The Boiardo Regime in the news

The closer and more trusted of these racketeers would in time also be offered membership within the larger context of the underworld. They would be brought into the fold through the ancient Sicilian ritual known as a “making ceremony”, where an age old oath was recited by the recruit to hold dear the values and dictates of this Cosa Nostra and swear “Omertà” upon pain of death. This fire and blood recital would then enter the prospect into this “brotherhood” of men for life.

Boiardo was now an “Amico Nostra” or “Friend of Ours”, or more formally known as a “soldato” or soldier of all the mafia.

Because of his prominence in the underworld, as well as his wealth and vicious nature, Richie the Boot was almost immediately elevated to the status of “capo di decina” over his own faction.

In truth, the Luciano/Genovese Family to which he had joined up had no choice. Boiardo already ran his own crew with a huge following of hoodlums and street people. They were a force to be reckoned with and almost a “family” unto themselves. Either absorb him into the Family, or fight him! It was that simple a choice. What’s that old adage? “If you can’t fight ’em, join ’em”… no truer words were ever spoken in Boiardo’s case.

Boiardo got his opportunity to join the Sicilian brotherhood about the same time as other top Neapolitan and Calabrian hoodlums.

Willie Moretti was Calabrian, as stated earlier, Boiardo was a Neapolitan. Gyp DeCarlo and even the Family’s underboss Vito Genovese were of Neapolitan heritage. These previous New Jersey-based Camorra oriented racket guys would all get their “buttons” into the Mafia at this time largely through the influence of Genovese and Frank Costello (another Calabrian).

Based in Newark, over the years the “Boiardo Regime” was thought to have upwards of 40 formally inducted “soldiers” and dozens and dozens more “associates” affiliated with it.

Soldier John (Big Pussy) Russo
Soldier John (Big Pussy) Russo

Among the men thought to be serving in his crew at one time or another were notorious names such as Richie’s own son Anthony (Tony Boy) Boiardo, John (Big Pussy) Russo and his brother Anthony (Little Pussy) Russo, Andrew (Andy Gerard) Gerardo, Emilio (The Count) Delio, Thomas (Pee-Wee) DePhillips, John (Johnny Coca-Cola) Lardiere, Anthony (Nana) and Thomas (Pipi) Campisi and their brothers and sons, James Vito Montemorano, Anthony DeVingo, Joseph (Joe Z) Zarro, Tino Fiumara, Angelo (Chippo) Chieppa, Nicholas (Nicky Allen) Alderelli, Louis (Louie Coca-Cola) DeBenedetto, Charles (Charlie the Blade) Tourine, his son Charles (Chuckie) Delmonico, Eugene (Gino) Farina, Peter LaPlaca, Ralph (Spud) Vicaro, Paul Bonadio, James (Joe Casey) Juliano, Paul Lombardino, Salvatore Chiri, Anthony (Tony Cheese) Marchitto, Ernest Lazzara, Tobias Boyd, Anthony (Tony Ambrose) D’Ambrosio, Peter Cavanna, Ralph Belvedere, Nicholas (Joe Bones) Bufania, Carmine Toto, Peter (Andy Gump) Costello, Michael (McGee) Graziano, Carmine (Little C) Battaglia, Victor Pisauro, Alberto Barrasso, John (Padre) DeNoia, John (Duke) DeNoia Jr., and Julius (Banjo) Celentano among many others. 

Remember that the Genovese Family had a huge New Jersey rank and file serving under a variety of capos over the years, not the least of whom were powerhouse capos: Willy Moretti, Gerardo Catena, Eugene (Gene) Catena who inherited his brother’s crews after Jerry moved up into the hierarchy, Angelo (Gyp the Blood) DeCarlo, and later Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, Giuseppe (Pepe) Sabato, and Louis (Streaky) Gatto among other crew leaders through the years.

After Moretti’s murder in The Elbow Room in 1951, his crew was broken up and divided among the existing capos active in Jersey.

Soldier Anthony (Nana) Campisi

Moretti had a huge crew said to have been likened to a small army. I know that Boiardo “inherited” some of his men. So, it augmented a regime that was large to begin with. Arguably, Boiardo would eventually become the most dominant Genovese “capo di decina” in the State.

The Boiardo crew was deeply engaged in the grittier street rackets such as numbers-lottery, bookmaking, floating dice and card games, loansharking, strong-arm extortion, labor racketeering, narcotics trafficking, armed robberies and heists, as well as the more sophisticated schemes of business infiltration and frauds, police bribery, and the official corruption of local and state governments on a grand scale which led to the awarding of no-bid government contracts for major construction projects and other services, and numerous other racket operations as came about daily…they were a very powerful entity!

Among the many businesses and entities that Boiardo and his men were said to own or control over the years was a restaurant he used as a meeting place that became his pride and joy.

Soldier Anthony DeVingo
Soldier Anthony DeVingo

He was the hidden owner of Vittoria’s Castle, a popular restaurant that attracted the bent-nose set, as well as local politicians and celebrities alike. The Yankee Clipper himself Joe DiMaggio was said to have been a patron of the place, among other illuminati. 

And all of it was unwritten by bloodletting and other fear tactics as required to keep the underworld gears churning smoothly for both Boiardo and to meet the larger goals of the Genovese Family to which he paid homage through his many decades in action…and by all accounts, he was a very cruel and vicious mafia leader. Maybe one of the most vicious ever to operate in New Jersey or anywhere else for that matter!

In the mid to late 1960s, a major federal probe was started about the well-known, almost comical level of corruption of public officials in the State of New Jersey. A keystone cops type corruption that had gone on for decades at a crescendo level unseen anywhere else in the United States. 

The pervasive and systematic bribery of street cops, detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, and top police brass on up to police commissioners in many New Jersey towns and counties were exposed. The acquiescence and “partnership” of local and New Jersey State officials to protect the interests of Garden State racketeers and its most important mafia members. 

Boiardo at the height of his power!
Boiardo at the height of his power!

Local councilmen, mayors, county attorney’s, fire commissioners, housing officials, public works officials, sanitation department bigwigs, etc. Soon, local and state daily newspapers started reporting on this cesspool of corruption, which only led to other red-faced state officials and the federal government to probe deeper. 

County, State, and Federal grand juries were soon empaneled to uncover just how deep this cancer went. They embarrassingly soon discovered that it went to the very core, the very heart, of New Jersey’s politics.

They also discovered that of the plethora of mafiosi who had their diamond pinky-ringed hands in the till, Ruggiero Boiardo aka “Richie the Boot”, that most notorious of the Garden State’s mafia leaders was the puppet master behind much of this corruption.

There was a systematic corrupting of various law enforcement that weaved through many town and jurisdictions. The monthly “pad” of envelopes to police officials to allow “protected” bookmaking operations and numbers games to operate freely was unnerving.

Mayor Hugh Addonizio
Mayor Hugh Addonizio

When one of Boiardo’s men wanted to open up a card or dice game in partnership with other hoodlums, after getting the okay from Boiardo, had to wait for Richie, in turn, to send word to the local police precinct to get the added okay from them before starting up the game. Negotiations would then commence about how big the game would be, how many days a week they wanted to operate, and what street or building they wanted the game located at.

Once a money agreement was worked out, then the game could start with little fear of police raids or arrests. Essentially, the police brass were in partners with the mafiosi in the gambling rackets.

One of the most well-publicized and pervasive examples of the deep corruption of Jersey’s government was the 1969 scandal involving former Mayor Hugh Addonizio.

He literally “gave the shop away” to the likes of Richie the Boot, his son Tony Boy, and Little Pussy Russo.

The FBI caught them repeatedly on tape discussing their control of Addonizio and his entire administration. The mayor worked hand in glove with them and other top mafiosi for many years to make millions between them by awarding “no-bid” contracts for electrical work, cement, general contracting, roadwork, etc., for the refurbishment of several districts under his control.

The entrance to the Boiardo estate
The entrance to the Boiardo estate

He also used his political power to protect mafia operations and help indemnify racket guys from arrest and prosecution.

It came out during multiple subsequent investigations that the corruption even went as high up as the prosecutors office.

More than one fledgling police probe or arrest was either squashed before it could take flight, or later dismissed on “technical” grounds. Other arrestees were allowed to plead out to lesser “no jail” misdemeanor counts.

This went on for many years. And each year the New Jersey Mafia became more and more emboldened in their activities because of this growing feeling of invincibility.

A very macabre scene at best!

Digressing a bit to Richie Boiardo’s fearsome reputation for violence and cruelty, it was a well-known fact in law enforcement and among mafiosi alike that Boiardo was a vicious and depraved individual. That he not only killed with little provocation but actually enjoyed the act of murder.

More than even that was the well-known propensity he had for torturing his victims before killing them. He was said to have enjoyed abusing and destroying other human beings for “sport”.

His macabre reputation kept many of the toughest and meanest mafiosi in check and shaking in their boots during “The Boots” time on this earth.

With the massive wealth he accumulated through his early years of bootlegging and the gambling rackets, Boiardo had built a huge wrought-iron gated estate up on a desolate hill in the Livingston section of New Jersey, and erected to what amounted to a “shrine” to himself and his entire immediate blood family unit.

Notice “The Boot” atop his stallion
Notice “The Boot” atop his stallion

Behind his stone-walled property he erected numerous ceramic and stone statues of all his immediate and extended family members. They were each memorialized in multi-colored painted “busts” depicting the likeness of their faces with name plates fixed below each “head bust”.  

Richie the Boot had the stone masons create a replica of himself as a full-sized figure atop a regal horse in the center of all the other family head busts overlooking his fiefdom.

It was a breathtaking collection, to say the least and very telling of his image of himself. Before the dozens of stone-faced eyes on those busts staring visitors down, and the “Transylvanian-styled castle” before them, the Boiardo Estate was a very macabre place to visit indeed!

Aerial view of the Boiardo estate
Aerial view of the Boiardo estate

Side Note: In the September 1, 1967 issue of Life Magazine they wrote an extensive pictorial expose’ about Boiardo, his criminal activities, and his estate. The magazine provided rare photographs of the grounds, and all the stone busts as well as Richie the Boot atop his stallion.

It was one of the most explicit displays of a mafioso’s wealth that had ever been provided to the public. This was shortly before the release of the first Godfather film from Hollywood. It was an eye-opener of truly what the public perceived the mafia to be.

Toward the back of this massive compound supposedly was a deep pit set in the woods where he would lure his murder victims.

Once there, it was said that he and his underworld minions would do their dirty business and go about murdering his victims by various methods, sometimes cutting up their bodies, both before and after killing them. It was a torture that spooked even the most hardened of gangsters.

The bodies of these unfortunates were then said to have been thrown into the pit and doused with gasoline, lit on fire and their bodies and any subsequent evidence thereby destroyed. 

As he’s arrested, see his expression
As he’s arrested, see his expression

Many a mobster or unsuspecting “friend” or associate invited up to the Boiardo mansion were never seen again. It was a little spoken about fact of life in the New Jersey underworld. And more than one mafioso was warned not to visit Richie up there. And that if you were called by him to either make the “meet” someplace else, make an excuse and not go, or at least not to go without having several other men accompany you…The Boiardo compound was that scary!

In the late-1960s, the FBI caught fellow capo Gyp DeCarlo on a hidden tape chastising soldier Little Pussy Russo for having been so stupid as to have gone to visit Richie the Boot up at his home by himself. 

In other surreptitious FBI recordings off another hidden “bug” placed around key locations in New Jersey that were known mob hangouts, one tape recording picked up the banter of Gyp DeCarlo and associates describing one particularly nasty murder of a former associate.

The mobsters glowed while they reminisced about the time they killed the “little Jew”. Tony Boy reminded the crowd “How about the time we hit the little Jew”? One of the others caught on tape recounted: “As little as they are, they struggle”.

Then Tony Boy described the scene: “The Boot hit him with a hammer. The guy goes down and he comes up. So I got a crowbar this big…Eight shots to the head. What do you think he finally did to me? He spit at me!”

This casino was infiltrated by the mob
This casino was infiltrated by the mob.

In a second tape, the mafiosi recall with laughter the time they locked another victim in an automobile trunk and then set it ablaze: “He must have burned like a bastard,” they surmised. This New Jersey crew were serious guys, indeed.

Boiardo’s power was such and his reach so extensive that it was later documented he owned “points” in several legal casino operations in the Bahamas, Haiti, and Las Vegas.

One of his top soldiers who oversaw some of these hidden casino ownership interests for him was Angelo Chieppa aka “Chippo”, a longtime soldier of the Genovese Family who served under Boiardo in his regime.

A later federal indictment for their infiltration and control of the Jolly Trolley Casino implicated Chieppa as well as his boss, the aging Ruggiero Boiardo, in this operation.

Anthony (Tony Boy) Boiardo
Anthony (Tony Boy) Boiardo

It was thought by law enforcement that this may have led to Chieppa being found murdered soon after indictments fell in 1972. So much for “Family” loyalty and friendship by Boiardo and company.

Richie’s beloved son Tony Boy Boiardo ostensibly owned the Valentine Electric Company that was later implicated in the huge corruption scandal with Democratic Mayor Addonizio and others.

It was charged that Valentine had been awarded millions of dollars in government contracts through bribery, kickbacks, and other illegal acts. 

Addonizio, a two-term mayor from 1962 to 1970, and a former U.S. Congressman for 13 years starting in 1949 before that, became the poster boy for New Jersey’s pervasive corruption.

The House of Cards tumbling down!

In 1969, he was indicted along with nine other top city officials. Soon, another five city officials joined them being charged with receiving kickbacks from mob-connected contractors and mafiosi.

In 1970, he and four others were found guilty on 64 counts of conspiracy, grand larceny, and extortion.

In September of that year, he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a federal judge who chastised him for crimes that tore at the very fabric of civilized society and our form of representative government. Boiardo was at the very center, though hidden, behind it all.

He was, by and large, the “puppeteer” in control of much of Northern New Jersey’s organized crime and resultant corruption. 

The judge holds fast to the law

It was said that Boiardo had become so powerful that, in his time, he held dozens of politicians of varying worth in his side pocket like so many nickels, dimes, and quarters. Boiardo was said to have been instrumental in first helping Addonizio win the 1962 Mayoral race, which in turn obligated Hughie to comply with his “Capo’s” every request. It essentially turned Jersey’s largest city into the mob’s private fiefdom. 

The year 1969 would prove to be a very bad one for the Mafia. At about this same time, Boiardo himself would finally start to be exposed for the power broker he truly was.

In April, he was convicted of conspiracy to violate the state’s gambling laws. The 78-year old mob boss was sentenced by a judge to serve a 2.5 to 3 year term in state prison and fined.

During this same period of time, the federal grand jury that probed Addonizio led to indictments against 14 other hoodlums and associates including Boiardo’s own son Tony Boy, who was thought to be holding the fort while his dad was in prison.

Richie the Boot...a “mafioso” fossil
Richie the Boot…a “mafioso” fossil

Tony Boy Boiardo suffered a heart attack soon after his indictment that largely nullified the criminal case proceedings against him, but also largely “aced” Tony out of the daily operation of their regime.

In his later years, Boiardo fast-tracked a young hoodlum by the name of Andrew (Andy Gerard) Gerardo as his “aide de camp” more and more as the days passed.

After Boiardo’s semi-retirement and subsequent death, Gerardo would become one of the top powers of the Genovese Family in New Jersey. 

Holding to that old adage “That Only The Good Die Young”, Ruggiero (Richie the Boot) Boiardo died at the ripe old age of 93 years old on October 29, 1984.

I’m sure it was at least three to four decades later than many of his fellow mafiosi would have hoped for or preferred.

Boiardo was a vicious individual who was missed by few. He was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, New Jersey. 

Until next time, “The Other Guy”

This article was originally posted “here

El Chapo appeals life sentence, claiming his trial was unfair

Convicted Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has appealed the life sentence he was handed a year ago, arguing that his prosecution was rife with “rampant excess and overreach” by the feds and court system.

Defense lawyer Marc Fernich filed the appeal late Friday in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, a year after Guzman, 63, the head of Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, was sentenced to life plus 30 years. He’s been kept in isolation at a supermax prison in Colorado since then.

“Chapo Guzman’s prosecution was marred by rampant excess and overreach, both governmental and judicial,” Fernich wrote in the appeal, filed under seal to avoid making confidential material from the investigation public.

The part made public claims in part that one of Guzman’s lawyers had a conflict of interest; that jurors violated orders not to read news and social media posts about El Chapo and the trial; that his Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights were violated by the use of solitary confinement and other excessive security procedures, and that the court made a series of flawed rulings about evidence.

The notice to appeal was filed a day after he was sentenced. Among his crimes, Guzman was found guilty of trafficking hundreds of tons of narcotics in an over two-decade span.

The new documents demand that the court appoint a different judge to consider the appeal and investigate accusations that the government handled the case improperly.

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Lords Of Detroit: Rapper, Drug World Figure, “Street Lord Juan,” Comes Home On Compassionate Release

September 3, 2020 – Motor City rap artist DaJuan (Street Lord Juan) Wren was let out of prison five years early on a drug sentence last week courtesy of a compassionate release. One of the true kings of the underground hip-hop scene in Detroit, he was convicted on narcotics-trafficking and weapons charges in 2011 and given a 20-year prison term.

Wren, 43, was a founding member of the seminal Street Lordz rap crew, legends of the Detroit underground hip-hop movement. The Street Lordz 1998 debut album, Platinum Roleez Don’t Tic Toc, is considered a classic and featured appearances by Too Short, Spice One and E-40. In 2004, Street Lord Juan released his solo debut, The Real Me. Blade Icewood (aka Darnell Lindsay), the de-facto leader of the Street Lordz group, was slain in April 2005, killed outside a car wash behind the wheel of his Range Rover in a feud with a rival rap crew.

By the end of the decade, the DEA had begun investigating Street Lord Juan for dealing heroin, cocaine and marijuana. He was being supplied by Antonio (Pancho) Simmons, the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel’s main distributor in Michigan. Two of the men in the Simmons drug network, Michael (Moe Green) Cathey and David (Razor Blade) Wynn, were star witnesses at Wren’s trial.

Simmons, 47, pleaded guilty in the case and has a summer 2024 out-date. Wren was found guilty at trial on heroin and marijuana charges as well as possessing an unregistered handgun DEA agents found in a March 2009 raid of his Royal Oak, Michigan home.  

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