Feature Articles

September 1999

The Bedamis
First Family of the Tampa Mafia.

By Scott M. Deitche

     When you see references to the Tampa crime family, the name of Santo Trafficante Jr. is about the only name that ever seems to appear. Many mob buffs and casual fans of Mafia books and movies know of the Trafficantes but not many of the other names in Tampa organized crime. Names like : Vincent LoScalzo, Frank Albano, James Donofrio, and James Longo. Certainly the name of Bedami may seem foreign to almost all who have read stuff on the mob.

     In many ways however, the Bedami family was, and still is, a driving force in the Tampa underworld. From the early days of the organizations inception, to its darkest hour in 1976, right through to the ascension of the third generation, the Bedami name was prevalent.

     The patriarch of the family was Angelo Bedami Sr., a short, stocky gambler who was close to the top names in the Tampa rackets. Angelo Sr. was born in 1893, and moved to Tampa with one son, Ciro (born in Illinois) in tow, and would later have another, Joe, both of whom would follow in their father's footsteps.

     Angelo managed to avoid too much publicity, and snagged only two arrests for conducting an illegal lottery both back in the 1950's. However his name was synonymous with the bolita rackets, and he was subpoenaed for a load of grand jury appearances where he revealed little except for his ability to take the fifth. Angelo was also questioned in the 1958 murder of gambler Joe Pelusa Diaz. Bedami's death at the ripe old age of 86 in November of 1980, was a well-attended underworld funeral.

     Angelo's sons, Joe and Ciro were both identified in 1963 as made members of the Tampa Mafia, and brother Jimmie was occasionally referred to as an associate. Joe was definitely the most active of the brothers. He assembled an impressive arrest record , with six for various armed robberies, including some of the most notorious of the era. He worked alongside other mobsters, like Pat Matassini, and James "Jo-Jo" Cacciatore. In early 1967, Joe was arrested for arson in nearby Lakeland. His trial was set to start in 1968. One sunny August morning, Joe set off for a barbeque and was never seen again. He was presumed murdered, and by now it can safely be assumed, he's not coming back ( I know what happened but unfortunately cannot reveal the details due to legal ramifications).

     Joe's brother Ciro was, and still is, the president of Metro and GS Stevedore companies. He lists his address as a condo in nearby St. Pete Beach (actually only a mile or two from my house). Ciro began his early years as a gambler, gathering a few arrests, before deciding to go the "straight and narrow". Before long, however, he was known as the king of the docks. Although Mafia penetration of the Port of Tampa was not as great as Mafia corruption in other areas, Ciro always remained under suspicion. His associations with Harry Fontana, a capo in the Colombo crime family, and also the owner of a stevedore company in Tampa, only added fuel to the fire. Fontana died at age 78 in March of 1979. Ciro is active and still referred to as a crime family associate.

     Ciro and Joe also had a sister, Katie, who would go on to marry longtime crime family member Salvatore "Silent Sam" Lorenzo. Lorenzo, once a top bolita man and close associate of Santo Trafficante Jr., and Henry Trafficante, was considered a made member in the family. He got the name Silent Sam for refusing to name names in a grand jury appearance. Actually he first received the name Singing Sam when he let slip some information about a Trafficante-run gambling operation, but corrected his mistake later on.

     The Bedami line continued on through Joe's two sons, Joseph Charles, and Angelo Jr. Both of Joe's sons came to prominence in the 1970's and were regarded as associates of the "third generation" of the Tampa Mafia. While their father was primarily a burglar and gambler, the two younger Bedamis were heavily involved in narcotics trafficking. Joe Bedami was involved in the notorious Acosta drug ring headed by Victor Manuel Acosta. Bedami was also central to the murder of police detective Richard Cloud by low level cronies of the Tampa underworld, in 1976. Joe found himself in trouble again in 1990 when he was arrested with Colombian drug traffickers. He has since served his time and is currently not considered active in crime family business.

     At the time Joe was in with Vic Acosta, Angelo was running a large drug ring with ties to the infamous Air America smugglers. Angelo brought drugs from South America into Tampa, with the able assistance of his uncle, Sal Lorenzo. By the time the ring was broken in 1983, Bedami decided to do what no other Tampa mobster had done, turn state's evidence. He managed to send a few of his fellow traffickers, including his uncle, away for a few years. But by the time Angelo was relased from jail, he returned to Tampa with apparently no hard feelings. He is currently invovled in the theatrical unions in Tampa. Salvatore Lorenzo died on May 6, 1995.

     The Bedmai family name would never become as well known as the Trafficantes when it came to organized crime (probably to the relief of many law-abiding family members), but they left an undeniable mark on the Tampa underworld.

© 1999

Past Issues
div. of PLR International
P.O. Box 19146
Cleveland, OH 44119-0146
216 374-0000

Copyright © 1999 PLR International