Allan May's book MOB STORIES
IN THIS ISSUE|
· Castellammarese War (Part Two)
· Salvatore Maranzano – Boss of Bosses
· This Week in Mob History
· Trials and Tribulations
Editors Note:Allan May will be out of town next week so the only feature that will appear here is "This Week in Mob History."
Castellammarese War (Part Two)
AmericanMafia.com continues its three-part series on the inconsistencies between three mob legends that participated in, and later wrote about, the Castellammarese War – Joseph Valachi, Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Joseph Bonanno.
After our first part on "Buster from Chicago" AM.com was surprised to find that the majority of people who e-mailed us their thoughts believed that Frank Marlo was the infamous "Buster" and that Valachi had his dates wrong. The other point that was questioned by readers was the authenticity of The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano. Believe it or not there are some things in the book that are true. Luciano’s book was the first to argue the credibility of the "Night of Sicilian Vespers." While working for Jerry Capeci a few years ago he told me that he, and his then sidekick Andy, had found 55 errors in the book. As I read through and research it I mark the errors that I am aware of and some day hope to be able to further divide fact from fiction in the book.
As we look at the descriptions of Maranzano given by Luciano and Bonanno this week you’ll get a feeling of how wide a gap in the disparity there is between fact and fiction, that is if Bonanno is to be believed. In our final installment, which will appear July 15, we describe the murders that took place during the Castellammarese War and you will see an even wider disparity in the reporting.
Some may ask why use The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano at all. My feeling on that subject is simple. It’s there, it’s been accepted, deal with the inconsistencies and try to determine what’s real. If I ignore it, then I will forever be questioned about it when writing about matters covered in it.
In reading the description of Salvatore Maranzano by Joseph Bonanno in A Man of Honor and by Charles Luciano in The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano it’s hard to believe that they are describing the same man.
We will begin with Bonanno’s memories of this man who dared to proclaim himself "Capo di Tuti Capi" – the Boss of Bosses.
We’re able to pinpoint Maranzano’s arrival in America, according to Bonanno, with the following statement: "My life took a decisive turn at the end of 1925 when Salvatore Maranzano, a hero of mine in Sicily, immigrated to the United States."
Luciano and Valachi put Maranzano in the United States after World War I in 1918. However, Valachi has no reference in his book to any activities of Maranzano prior to 1930.
Bonanno paints a picture of Maranzano as the daring and romantic "chief warrior" from his homeland in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. Reading Bonanno’s words in describing Maranzano leaves you thinking he could be describing a woman. Observe the following statements:
"I attended a dinner that many Castellammarese friends in Brooklyn gave to welcome him. We embraced heartily and kissed.
"I felt honored and privileged just to be near him. I suppose it was like falling in love, only it was between men. When I was around Maranzano, I felt more alive. More alert, more called upon to fulfill my potential.
"I found him irresistible, he found me refreshing. I was twenty-one years old, and he was about forty."
Maranzano’s date of birth is listed in a few places as 1868. This would make him 57 in 1925. It’s hard to believe Bonanno would be 17 years off in assessing his age. When he was murdered both the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune gave his age as 47. Charlie "Moose" Molino, a friend of ours, states a death certificate floating around states Maranzano was 45. A picture of his headstone at "Find A Grave" shows his year of birth as 1886.
A physical description is offered by Bonanno, "He was a fine example of a Sicilian male: robust, about five feet nine inches tall, full bodied but with no excess flaccid flesh on him, deep chested, with sturdy muscular arms and legs. He was said to be able to snap a man’s neck with his thumbs and to leap amazing distances."
Bonanno goes on to describe Maranzano as handsome and having all the skills of a charismatic politician. He tells us "Within a short time after his arrival to America, Maranzano established himself as an expert entrepreneur. In its own way his was a classic American success story. He built up an important export business, had real estate holdings and had considerable interests in the bootlegging industry. He recirculated his profits, becoming a financier. He made connections and soon had well-placed friends in all circles of life."
Maranzano is given a welcome banquet in America, thus again indicating his arrival is no earlier than late 1925. Bonanno claims he shared an apartment with Maranzano in Manhattan while he waited for his wife and children to join him from Sicily.
One of the Maranzano characteristics that Bonanno describes, one of the few Luciano agrees with, was "In business matters, Maranzano loved perfection. He took great pride in his ledgers, his account books, his records and files. All his books had to be in order, each entry had to be immaculate – an exquisite tapestry of numbers."
Bonanno left his job at his uncles’ bakery to work for Maranzano. His new job was to oversee the whiskey stills, which Maranzano operated in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania.
Bonanno soon opened some of his own stills. When another family member tried to extort him Bonanno insulted him, which resulted in a sit-down being called. At the "hearing" Bonanno describes what seems like a tug of war for his affections. "If Stefano [Magaddino] had hoped to impress me at the hearing, he was outclassed by Maranzano. Although Maranzano did not pose a challenge to Stefano, who knows what secret resentments began to form toward the newcomer to America?"
Bonanno describes the opening volley in the Castellammarese War with the murder of Gaspar Milazzo in Detroit on May 30, 1930. At that time Bonanno claims the Castellammarese clan was led by Cola Schiro, "a compliant fellow with little backbone. He appeased people, being extremely reluctant to ruffle anyone. He was well off monetarily and was getting on in years. War frightened Cola Schiro. At our family meeting, Schiro spoke in favor of neutrality." Bonanno claimed that Magaddino was using Schiro as a puppet ruler in Brooklyn.
At a meeting to discuss the Milazzo murder and that of Sasa Parrino, who was killed with him, Maranzano was disturbed because Sasa’s brother, Joseph, wasn’t more upset about the killing.
"What am I to think?" inquired Joe Parrino. "My brother’s death was an accident. Sasa happened to be with Gaspar in the fish store and they both got shot."
Maranzano took the floor for the first time. He waited for complete silence before speaking. He then said, "I want to point out that according to my information Gaspar’s body had five bullets in it. But Sasa’s body had six bullets. It was no accident."
Maranzano fore saw that a war was coming. It would involve the Castellammarese and the Masseria family and would be fought in New York City. Yet the Castellammarese in the city were doing nothing to prepare themselves. Maranzano went to Buffalo to visit Magaddino, taking Bonanno and Gaspar DiGregorio with him.
With the death of Milazzo, Magaddino, the cousin of Bonanno, "was the senior chief among the Castellammarese clans," Bonanno recalled. "As the standard-bearer, it was up to Stefano to do something in defense of all of us."
Magaddino realized that Schiro could not lead the troops in New York City. His first thought was Vito Bonventre, Bonanno’s second cousin, but it was decided he too was weak. Bonanno concludes that:
"As a result of this meeting, it was understood that Maranzano would spearhead the campaign against Masseria in New York. In essence, that made Maranzano the supreme commander in the New York theatre of war. Since the Castellammarese in New York would do most of the fighting, it was also agreed that Detroit and Buffalo would supply Maranzano with money, arms, ammunition and manpower."
Shortly after this meeting Masseria demanded a $10,000 tribute from Schiro in return for his life. Schiro paid the money and then went into hiding and has been lost to history. Vito Bonventre was not as fortunate. On July 15 the "King," as Bonventre was known "because of his influence in local bootlegging circles," was gunned down at the rear of his home in Brooklyn.
In a nutshell, according to Bonanno, Maranzano didn’t arrive until late 1925, and did not become the leader of the Castellammarese faction in New York City until sometime between May 30 and July 15, 1930.
Now compare Bonanno’s description of Maranzano and his rise with Luciano’s description.
Salvatore Lucania, who would later become Charles "Lucky" Luciano, claims that in 1923 the "major figures in the Italian underworld" were Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria, Ciro Terranova and Salvatore Maranzano.
Luciano claims to have had contact with Maranzano prior to 1920:
"I always knew, I felt it in my bones, that someday this old bastard was gonna get in touch with me. But I always knew that no matter what that guy would offer me, I was gonna turn it down. When he first come to this country, right after the war, and I was just startin’ out, that old shitheel would come around the neighborhood once in a while and hold up his hands, spread out like he was a Pope givin’ the people on the street a blessin’."
Without giving a time frame, but it must be assumed it’s 1923 or earlier, Luciano says that Maranzano wants to have a meeting. During their talk he claims Maranzano asks him to join his organization. Luciano sends his driver to deliver a message: "to thank Don Salvatore for his very nice offer and just to say that this wasn’t the right time and we should sorta leave the door open."
Luciano states that by joining Maranzano it would mean breaking ties with his closest friends Meyer Lansky, Benjamin Siegel, Louis Buchalter and Arnold Rothstein.
The next encounter between Luciano and Maranzano came on the night of September 14, 1923 during the Dempsey/Firpo heavyweight championship fight at the Polo grounds. Luciano boasts that he spent $25,000 to purchase choice seats to impress his gangster friends and politicians from New York and around the country. He claims "Boss Jim Pendergast came all the way from Kansas City in a private railroad car." It must have been a funeral car because Jim Pendergast died in 1910.
Luciano says right before the main bout Maranzano walked over and they greeted each other "cordially, like equals, and chatted for a few minutes." At this time Maranzano asks for another meeting. When the two men meet Luciano says Maranzano told him, "As things now stand we are interfering with each other. We are competing for the same whiskey markets, and, unfortunately, killing each other’s people. This is foolish and it costs us both too much money and too many good men. This should come to a stop." Maranzano makes an offer to Luciano:
"Charles Lucania would become chief lieutenant in the Maranzano family, and Maranzano would turn over to him the family’s entire liquor territory, abandoning the business himself and giving Charlie and his friends a free hand. With this one move, Maranzano said, Charlie Lucania would become the whiskey czar of New York."
Luciano claims that he discussed the offer with his inner circle and then sent a polite message to Maranzano declining the offer. He claimed this "rejection of the second Maranzano offer without any serious consequences spread quickly through the underworld and won Luciano increased respect from his elders and peers." One of the people he supposedly won the "respect" of was "Johnny Scalise," one of the "bootleg powers in Cleveland." We can only assume he is referring to John Scalish, who was the recognized leader of the Cleveland Mafia from 1944 to 1976. Luciano refers to "Scalise" a couple of times. However, in 1923 John Scalish was only eleven years old.
Luciano claims his rejection of the offer also caused "Joe the Boss" Masseria to notice him. Now, prior to 1924, Luciano states both sides were wooing him.
Sometime in 1926 or 1927 Luciano finally joins forces with Masseria. At this point in his story Luciano seem to lose track of events chronologically as he discusses the Milazzo murder as if it happened in 1928 or 1929. He talks about Gaetano "Tommy" Reina, the leader of a Bronx Family, switching sides from Masseria to Maranzano. Both Luciano and Valachi indicate that the first blow of the Castellammarese War was the murder of Reina in February 1930. Bonanno claims Maranzano doesn’t become a power until sometime after the death of Milazzo which occurs over three months after Reina’s murder.
Tommy Lucchese, the underboss to Reina, meets with Luciano to inform him of Reina’s defection. Luciano tells Lucchese to set up a meeting between himself and Maranzano. It is at this meeting on October 17, 1929 where Maranzano’s men savagely beat Luciano because he refuses to "personally" murder Masseria. Luciano claims that while hanging by his thumbs he kicks Maranzano in the groin. When Maranzano recovers he takes a knife to Luciano’s face and permanently causes the disfigurement to his eye.
Luciano’s biographer Martin A. Gosch, a screenwriter and film producer who was hoping to do a movie about Luciano’s life, claims that until Luciano told him the story of the knifing in 1961, a satisfactory explanation of the events of that October 1929 night had never been revealed.
It was after this brutal beating, which Bonanno never discusses in his book even though it was released nine years after Luciano’s, that Luciano says Meyer Lansky gave him the nickname "Lucky". Luciano claims that during his early days of recovery Joe Adonis would stop by twice a day and inject narcotics into him. Luciano recalled, "Whenever I got one of them shots, I’d figure out a new way to bump off Don Salvatore Maranzano."
On July 15:AmericanMafia.com looks at the murders that took place during the Castellammarese War. Comparing the stories of the three participants, and the newspaper reports, you’ll see an incredible disparity in the accounts. Valachi claimed that "over sixty bodies would litter US streets" before the war was resolved. However, with the number of murders the three men detail you’re left wondering if the Castellammarese War was another "Night of Sicilian Vespers" tale.
June 24, 1929 – Frank Marlow, according to the book Gang Rule in New York, "was the proprietor of night clubs, a manager of prize fighters, an owner of race horses, and a gambler for high stakes. With bullet wounds through his temple, neck and jaw, he was found by two motorists in a clump of bushes opposite Flushing Cemetery…far from his accustomed beat. He was still breathing when the motorists found him but died without speaking ten minutes later in a nearby police booth."
June 24, 1952 – Irving "Waxey Gordon" Wexler was one of the heavyweights of the New York/New Jersey bootlegging scene. Wexler was one of the first targets of Special New York City Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey. Wexler was found guilty in December 1933 and sentenced to prison. After he was released in 1940 Wexler got involved in the narcotics trade. He was arrested and imprisoned in the early 1950s for his involvement. Wexler, who had been ill for sometime, was confined to the prison hospital on Alcatraz. Wexler was sitting in a chair speaking to a physician when he suffered a massive heart attack and died. See my stories http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_7-12-99.html and http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_7-19-99.html
June 24, 1991 – Philip "Rusty" Rastelli was the recognized leader of the Bonanno Family from the death of Carmine Galante in 1979 until his imprisonment during the mid-1980s for labor racketeering. In the early 1960s Rastelli’s wife, Connie, cooperated with federal investigators about mob activities. While several mobsters went to prison, Rastelli had his wife murdered before he could be indicted. Rastelli was dying of liver cancer at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners facility in Springfield, Missouri. He was released shortly before his death.
June 25, 1975 – Nicholas F. Alexander, Jr. was killed in a car bombing outside his parent’s apartment in Austintown, Ohio a suburb of Youngstown in the Mahoning Valley. Alexander’s father and uncles were believed to have been involved in the gambling rackets in the 1950s and early 1960s in Youngstown. A restaurant the uncles owned was bombed shortly after the murder of Sandy Naples in March 1960. Alexander, who had previous arrests for narcotics, was taken to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the final stop for many of Youngstown’s gangsters, where he died about three hours after the blast. Police said a boot he was wearing was found on top of a three-story apartment building.
June 25, 1989 – Alfredo J. Iezzi, according to the 1990 Pennsylvania Crime Commission Report, was a made member of the Philadelphia Family. An alleged associate of Frank Sindone and Frank Narducci in gambling activities, Iezzi died of natural causes.
June 26, 1921 – Joseph Laspisa was a friend and bodyguard of Anthony D’Andrea and lost his life in Chicago’s Bloody 19th Ward War. Laspisa was driving and his killers rode in the back seat. They jumped out of the automobile after shooting him in the back of the head. The Chicago Times reported that after Laspisa’s car jumped the curb and hit a building, "The shadow of the cross upon the Church of St. Philip Benizi rested on the figure of the dead." See my story http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_10-2-00.html
June 26, 1927 – Angelo Morealli was wounded in the on-going Capone/Aiello War in Chicago. Morealli was walking near the corner of Milton Avenue and Oak Street when a shotgun blast ripped into his legs. He was carried by friends to Jefferson park Hospital.
June 26, 1970 – Sylvestro "Silver Dollar Sam" Carollo was the alleged leader of the New Orleans Mafia from 1925 to 1947. According to Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi, Carolla was deported on April 30, 1947. Some references state that Carolla "slipped" back into the United States, but was re-deported in 1950. Then they inform us that in 1970 he successfully "stole back" to New Orleans and died there of natural causes. See my story http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_12-20-99.html
June 28, 1971 – Joseph Colombo, Sr. was shot in the head by Black gunman Jerome A. Johnson during the second annual Italian-American Unity Day, a rally that Colombo headed and organized. The publicity Colombo generated with his organization was frowned upon by other New York City mob leaders and Colombo was asked to curtail his involvement in the group. Colombo refused. The shooting left him in a vegetative state until his death on May 22, 1978.
June 28, 1971 – Jerome A. Johnson shot and critically wounded Joseph Colombo, Sr. before Colombo’s bodyguards killed him during the second annual Italian-American Unity Day held in Manhattan at Columbus Circle. To this day Johnson and his actions remain an enigma. There are three theories to the shooting. First, that he was hired by "Crazy Joe" Gallo to kill Colombo. Second, that Carlo Gambino organized the shooting using the Black Johnson to make it look like a Gallo plot because Joey had been known to be close to Black inmates while in prison. The third theory is that Johnson was a loner and acted on his own for reasons unknown.
June 28, 1927 – Diego Attlomionte’s murder would be the first of three straight days of killings in the Capone/Aiello War, which was raging in Chicago. Attlomionte was sitting in a car with Otto Pupillo at the corner of Grand Avenue and Robey Street when gunmen began blasting away with shotguns. Attlomionte was killed and Pupillo with taken to the Bridewell Hospital with 16 pellets lodged in his back.
June 29, 1927 – Lorenzo Alagna was entering his West Taylor Street home when he was cut down with shotgun blasts. His brother Gasperi, out to avenge his death, would be murdered 13 days later.
June 30, 1927 – Numio Jamerico was called by two men to the back door of his house on Veeder Street. As he stood silhouetted in the light he was hit by blasts from two sawed-off shotguns. The 28-year-old died instantly.
AmericanMafia.com attempts to keep its audience advised of ongoing legal matters in the world of organized crime. New entries and addition to existing information will appear in RED.
Editors Note: AmericanMafia.com has found it difficult to keep up with all the changes that the courts make once a date for trial or sentencing is established. Many times these are not reported in the articles released by the newspapers on the Internet. AM.com is asking for it’s readers to help out when they become aware of any changes that affect the "Trials and Tribulations" section of the Current Mob Report. We thank you in advance for you participation and will be happy to credit you for the updates in our reporting.
NO WORD ON THISJune 12, 2002 – Cleveland/Youngstown – A closed hearing will be held regarding the release of Ronald D. Carabbia, the convicted of the murder of Cleveland mobster Daniel J. "Danny" Greene in 1977. The Ohio Parole Board ordered Carabbia’s release for May 20, but an emergency board hearing was requested by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason derailing the release.
June 24, 2002 – Boston – Retired state trooper Richard J. Schneiderman goes on trial on charges that he hampered the FBI’s search for James "Whitey" Bulger by letting Bulger family members know that the FBI had requested pen registers on their telephones. The trial was originally scheduled for January 28. AM.com thanks J. M. Lawrence for this update.
June 27, 2002 – Las Vegas – The Nevada Supreme Court has scheduled arguments on the appeals of Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish the convicted murderers of Ted Binion. Alan Dershowitz will argue Murphy’s case.
July 29, 2002 – Cleveland – Richard E. Detore goes to trial on one count of conspiring to violate a federal bribery statute involving United States Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr.
September 9, 2002 – Camden – The trial of Daniel M. Daidone and James R. Mathis, Jr. is scheduled to begin. Both are charged with corruption involving disgraced mayor Milton Milan. Daidone answered to former Philadelphia mob boss Ralph Natale, who is expected to testify. The federal trial will be in the courtroom of US District Judge Joseph H. Rodriquez. (A May 20 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer says the Mathis trial is scheduled for December 3.)
September 2002 – Hackensack, NJ – The racketeering trial of Danny Provenzano is "tentatively" scheduled to get underway. The great-nephew of Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano is charged with extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars through fear, intimidation and violence.
POSTPONED INDEFINITELY – Rochester, NY –Albert M Ranieri goes on trial for conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Since his arrest on December 29, 2000, another defendant, prominent defense attorney Anthony Leonardo, Jr., has pled guilty and implicated Ranieri in the May 2000 murder of his former business partner Anthony Vaccaro. Authorities also suspect Ranieri of a 1990 armor car heist of $11 million.
STILL WAITING ON A DATE FOR THIS ONE– Boston – The racketeering trial of Robert Luisi, Jr. is scheduled to get underway before US District Court Judge Reginald C. Lindsay. Luisi at one time had a plea agreement which called for him to testify against Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino last year. On December 27, 2001 Luisi withdrew the plea.
STILL WAITING FOR RESULTS ON THIS ONE –May 28, 2002 – Boston – US District Judge Robert E. Keeton will hear arguments on the April 16 conviction of Michael L. Carucci. The judge will decide whether to uphold the conviction or overturn the six convictions the jury arrived at. Carucci was found guilty of transferring money earned from the criminal activity of Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi, who earlier pled guilty to the same charges. AM.com thanks our friend J. M. Lawrence of the Boston Herald for informing us "Keeton did the Carucci arguments but did not rule yet. His comments from the bench were critical of the prosecution. This is one to watch."
NO WORD ON THIS– May 17, 2002 – New York – Colombo Family underboss John "Jackie" DeRoss will be sentenced for his February 6 conviction on extortion charges.
NO WORD ON THIS– May 2002 – New York – Donna Curra, wife of Dominick "Little Dom" Curra, is scheduled to be sentenced for lying to the FBI after her husband fled on Christmas Eve 2001 to Costa Rica. She is looking at a 6 to 12 month stretch. Meanwhile, "Little Dom" remains in a Costa Rica jail fighting extradition.
June 2002 – Buffalo – Three former Buffalo narcotics detectives will be sentenced for their role in stealing money from an undercover FBI agent posing as a Jamaican drug dealer. The men were found guilty in March.
June 2002 – Newark – Nicodemo "Young Nicky" Scarfo will be sentenced for supervising a North Jersey gambling operation by US District Judge Joel Pisano.
June 13, 2002 – New York – Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico will be sentenced after pleading guilty to extortion, loansharking and money laundering. The son of jailed-for-life mobster Carmine "the Snake" Persico was the alleged "acting boss of the Colombo family.
July 30, 2002– Cleveland – Mahoning Valley Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr., will be sentenced after being found guilty on all ten counts in a Federal trial which ended April 11. Judge Lesley Brooks Wells extended the original date from June 27.
THIS IS LIKELY TO BE POSTPONED– July 10, 2002 – Philadelphia – William Rinick will be sentenced for his April 17 assault conviction of Salvatore Abbruzzese in a South Philadelphia men’s shop. Rinick made headlines in December 2001 when narcotics investigators raided the home of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and found Rinick hiding under the bed of one of Merlino’s daughters.
July 15, 2002 – Boston – Michael Flemmi, the brother of notorious Winter Hill Gang member Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi, will be sentenced for his May 3 conviction of obstruction of justice and perjury. Michael Flemmi helped hide the arsenal of the Winter Hill Gang and lied to a grand jury about it.
August 7, 2002 – Boston – Disgraced former FBI agent "Dishonest John" Connolly will be sentenced for his May 28 conviction on one count of racketeering and two counts of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. He is looking at from 8 to 20 years.
September 9, 2002 – Camden – Robert E. Gibson, the former Camden sewer superintendent and a 40-year employee of the city, will be sentenced for accepting illegal payments. Gibson claimed he was swept up in the corruption of disgraced mayor Milton Milan’s administration. He is looking at 18 to 24 months.
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