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Obituary: Vincent Alo, partner of Meyer Lansky.

Published Tuesday, March 13, 2001, in the Miami Herald


Vincent ``Jimmy Blue Eyes'' Alo, once the right-hand man of South Florida's most famous gangster and a colorful relic of organized crime's heyday, died Friday in Miami at 96, about a year after he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.

Alo was business partner and confidant of Meyer Lansky, with whom he ran pre-World War II ``carpet joints'' in Hollywood and Hallandale -- illegal gambling operations like the Colonial Inn and Greenacres -- and casinos in Cuba.

After Lansky died, Alo looked after his son, Buddy Lansky, born with cerebral palsy.

For much of his life, Alo lived quietly in Hollywood. In the 1940s, he built a gracious stucco house on South Lake for his beloved wife, Flo, who died in the 1970s. He moved to the beachfront Sea Air Towers in 1994.

His niece, Carole Russo of Miami, whom he and Flo had raised, cared for Alo after he fell ill. The Alos had no children of their own.

An Italian-American son of Harlem, the Bronx and the Lower East Side, Alo was born on May 26, 1904, and grew up alongside some of organized crime's legends: Charles ``Lucky'' Luciano and Lansky. Alo and Lansky became partners in the mid-1930s.

Alo also was tied to the New York Mafia family of the late Vito Genovese -- the Italian-born Mafia boss revered as the ``boss of bosses.''

Reserved and well read, Alo nonetheless bore souvenirs of a rough early life: a bullet wound on the left side of his chest and an oft-broken left arm.

Alo served two extended prison sentences. The first: a seven- to 12-year term at New York's Sing-Sing prison in 1923 for an armed bank job, then 50 years later, five years at a minimum security prison in Georgia for two counts of obstruction of justice. He was convicted of giving evasive answers during a Securities and Exchange Commission probe of Miami-based Scopitone Inc. Miami Beach lawyer Alvin Malnik held exclusive U.S. rights to the Scopitone jukebox.

A book by a leading crime-figure-turned-informant described Alo's role in Lansky's operation this way: ``He's got one job in life. He's the mob's watchdog. He watches Lansky to make sure he doesn't short-shrift the crime bosses,'' Vincent Teresa wrote in My Life in the Mafia. ``Anyone in the mob who had any ideas about muscling Lansky would have Jimmy Blue Eyes on his back in a second.''

A former high-ranking Department of Justice official said the national organized syndicate lost much of its power when Robert Kennedy became attorney general.

``They exploited the public and took over industries . . . but now we're losing the old-school people who wreaked havoc and had a code of their own,'' said Gerald Shur, founder of the Witness Protection Program. ``There's nothing that compares to that now. There is no organized national syndicate that is as structured as they were.''

In addition to Carole Russo, Alo is survived by a brother, retired doctor Joseph Alo of Fort Lauderdale. A memorial service was held at Lithgow-Bennett-Philbrick Funeral Home. He'll will be buried in New York.

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