DiCarlo chapter summaries

In two volumes, DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime chronicles a century of DiCarlo family history and related developments in the American Mafia organized crime network. Volume I covers the period through 1937. Volume II focuses on 1938 to 1984 and includes an epilogue describing events as recent as 2012. Both volumes include photographs, extensive endnotes, bibliographies and indexes.


Author’s Note

Tona’s intense interest in the subject springs from his background and meetings with DiCarlo.

An initial meeting with Joseph DiCarlo in 1973 sparks interest. Tona’s acquaintance with local Mafia tales dates from childhood. Encouraged by Joe Giambra, Tona studies western New York organized crime for many years. Tona’s last encounter with DiCarlo reveals a connection between Tona’s great-uncle and DiCarlo. A possible interview of DiCarlo by Tona is interrupted by Sam Pieri. FBI incorporates Tona’s college paper on the Mafia into its DiCarlo file.

Joseph DiCarlo in 1916, 1922, 1937

Volume I

Introduction to Volume I

Joseph DiCarlo’s life story parallels the history of the western New York crime family.

DiCarlo and the Mafia both arrive in Buffalo in 1908. Both are shaken by the loss of DiCarlo’s father Giuseppe in 1922. Gangster and family friend Angelo Palmeri briefly serves as caretaker of the Mafia organization and the DiCarlo children. After Prohibition, DiCarlo and the regional crime family search of new sources of income. DiCarlo’s retirement coincides with a weakening in the crime family. DiCarlo’s death and the destruction of the western New York Mafia occur within five years of each other.

1. New World (1906-1909)

The DiCarlos leave Sicily to settle in New York. Connections with the Morello Mafia emerge.

Joseph DiCarlo is six and a half as he boards the steamship Indiana in Naples harbor in 1906. Accompanied by several relatives, he endures the steerage trip across the Atlantic. A new home in New York City is vastly different from Vallelunga, Sicily.

DiCarlo family roots extend from Vallelunga to Valledolmo. Joseph’s father Giuseppe DiCarlo becomes acquainted with the Sicilian Mafia during his travels as a merchant. Giuseppe forms a lasting friendship with Isidoro Crocevera in Palermo. Giuseppe moves to the U.S. in 1905, sponsored by Mafia leader Pasquale Enea. Giuseppe sends for his family a year later.

Joseph experiences the worst of the American educational system. Giuseppe and Crocevera reestablish their friendship after the expiration of Crocevera’s prison sentence for counterfeiting. Crocevera connects Giuseppe with New York’s Morello Mafia. Giuseppe works in a Manzella grocery that is targeted for extortion payments by Morello lieutenant Ignazio Lupo.

2. City of Light (1908-1919)

The DiCarlos migrate to Buffalo. Giuseppe rules the Mafia there at the start of Prohibition.

Giuseppe DiCarlo moves his family to Buffalo in 1908 and immediately becomes leader of the Sicilian underworld there. Buffalo is a rapidly-growing port city. Italian and Irish immigrants clash in poor neighborhoods. Increasing numbers of family-oriented Italian immigrants trigger the cleanup of Buffalo’s notorious vice district. Black Hand extortion and bombings plague the early Italian neighborhoods. Reasons for the DiCarlo move include a desire to live in the Valledolmo and Vallelunga colonies in western New York, enhanced business prospects, an opportunity for Giuseppe to command the regional Mafia organization.

Giuseppe works once again with Manzella grocers and forms an importing company. Fraud is charged following his bankruptcy. Friendship and underworld partnership develop between Giuseppe DiCarlo and Angelo Palmeri, originally from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. Palmeri marries a relative of DiCarlo, moves into upstairs apartment in the DiCarlo home, works as DiCarlo partner in a Dante Place saloon and acquires a violent reputation. After the death of his wife, Palmeri moves from Buffalo to Niagara Falls.

Joseph DiCarlo leaves high school after 37 days. His older brother Francesco dies in 1918. His mother Vincenza dies in 1919. Floral offerings are sent to her funeral by Mafiosi across the U.S.

3. North of the Border (1918-1921)

A Calabrian criminal network in Canada dominates early Prohibition Era rackets.

Wartime Prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act ban alcohol sales and open black market opportunities. Buffalo becomes a major conduit for illegal liquor.

The 1918 murder of James Celona of Hamilton, Ontario, is the first of many regional gangland killings during the Prohibition Era. Rocco Perri is the primary beneficiary of Celona’s death. He takes over a Calabrian bootlegging operation in Hamilton and becomes the equal of regional gang bosses, the Scaroni brothers and Joseph Sirianni. The 1922 murders of Domenic and Salvatore Scaroni leave Perri in control of the Calabrian bootlegging network in Ontario.

Angelo Palmeri becomes a leader in the Niagara Falls underworld and a link between the Calabrian and Sicilian criminal societies of the region.

Authorities believe the murders of Salvatore Russo and Frank Ulizzi are related to bootlegging. Evidence shows Russo and Ulizzi involvement in a regional burglary ring. A bootleggers quarrel with the Vaccaro brothers takes the life of Giuseppe DiCarlo friend Crocevera and results in charges against Joseph DiCarlo.

Calabrian and Sicilian bootlegging operations catch the attention of Prohibition agents.

4. Booze and Blood (1921-1922)

Authorities unable to halt early Prohibition Era bloodshed and liquor smuggling.

Bootlegger Frank Pizzuto, a recent arrival in Buffalo, is found shot to death in a roadside ditch on the outskirts of the city. Suspicion focuses on several members of the local underworld.

Paul Palmeri joins his brother Angelo in Niagara Falls about 1920. In Niagara Falls, Angelo Palmeri is observed murdering another recent arrival, Emilio Gnazzo. The sole witness against Palmeri disappears. Palmeri friend Joseph Sottile is charged with the murder of Samuel Mancusa. A witness related to Mancusa supports Sottile’s self-defense plea. Palmeri associates Vincenzo DiNieri and Peter Bonventre escape convictions on separate liquor-related charges.

Rivals cut down one of the Sirianni brothers in a February 1922 gunfight in Buffalo. The murder is attributed to a bootleg liquor shipment hijacking.

In Ontario, Perri unites the Calabrian bootlegging gangs under his leadership by having Domenic and Joseph Sciaroni killed and blaming expansion by the Sicilian Mafia.

5. Succession (1921-1922)

The regional Mafia loses its boss; Joseph DiCarlo misses an opportunity.

Giuseppe DiCarlo’s health is failing as he withdraws from legitimate businesses. He sells Venice Restaurant to Thomas J.B. Dyke, a veteran of New York City gang wars who recently moved to Buffalo. Giuseppe aids Joseph DiCarlo in opening the Auto Rest roadhouse in Williamsville. For relaxation, Giuseppe attends boxing matches and becomes a fan of lightweight contender Rocky Kansas. Giuseppe dies at age 48 in July 1922. His funeral is among Buffalo’s largest.

Momentarily considered as successor to his father, Joseph is determined to be too immature for the position. Angelo Palmeri returns to Buffalo from Niagara Falls and lives with the DiCarlo children.

6. Good Killer (1921-1922)

Castellammarese Mafioso Stefano Magaddino moves to Buffalo, succeeds Giuseppe DiCarlo.

Stefano Magaddino is born in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and grows up within the Mafia feuds of that region. Magaddino sails to New York in 1909 and finds the old feuds have followed him. Though a resident of Brooklyn, he aligns himself with the Chicago Mafia led by Antonio D’Andrea.

Magaddino travels extensively and moves his family to Philadelphia. Magaddino is one of the suspects in the Good Killers case of 1921. He avoids prosecution and leaves Brooklyn.

Magaddino settles in Buffalo as the region searches for a successor to Giuseppe DiCarlo. While Magaddino states a preference to serve as aide to Philip Mazzara, the Buffalo Mafia membership recruits him as new boss. Magaddino’s relationship with Joseph DiCarlo is civil but strained.

Magaddino becomes a partner with Canada’s Rocco Perri in alcohol smuggling operations.

7. Unprotected (1922-1923)

Lacking connections and guidance, Joseph DiCarlo is an easy target for law enforcement.

Without the protection of his late father, Joseph DiCarlo is regularly targeted by law enforcement. Joseph establishes a relationship with Auto Rest manager Minnie Clark. Auto Rest is repeatedly raided by Prohibition agents.

Enforcement action against the regional narcotics trade in the early 1920s also targets DiCarlo and a number of his friends and associates. (Narcotics trafficking became illegal with the Harrison Act in 1914, but enforcement was spotty until 1919.) At trial, “Busy Joe” Patitucci, cousin of Cleveland Mafioso Sam Todaro, admits drug use dating from his service in the U.S. Army in World War I. He is sentenced to a short prison term. William J. Donovan, war hero, joins the narcotics enforcement effort when he is appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.

An April 1922 drug raid results in charges to Johnny Dyke and others. Late in 1922, Donovan announces that he is closing in on the drug ringleaders. DiCarlo and two dozen other suspects, including Patitucci, are charged with participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy. Patitucci and four others are tried, convicted and sentenced to prison. Patitucci begins cooperating with federal agents.

DiCarlo, again arrested on drug charges, is accused of being “the brains” of the regional drug ring. Sylvester Camerano, John Mangano and others are arrested on drug charges. Mangano cooperates with prosecutors, helps convict Camerano. Patitucci is poised to testify against DiCarlo.

8. Intimidation (1924)

DiCarlo efforts to avoid a drug conviction earn him a prison sentence for intimidation.

Patitucci is shot and wounded on Jan. 1, 1924. He claims his assailants were DiCarlo and Peter Gallelli. Patitucci testifies as U.S. attorneys bring DiCarlo, Gallelli and alleged accomplices Joseph Ruffino and Gaetano Capodicaso to trial for attempting to intimidate a government witness. The woman Patitucci considers his wife takes the stand and contradicts his testimony.

DiCarlo, Gallelli and Ruffino are convicted Feb. 12 and sentenced to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Capodicaso is acquitted.

9. To Prison (1924-1925)

Witness recants but DiCarlo sentence is not overturned.

Patitucci’s relationship with the woman he considers his wife falls apart. He attempts to kill the woman and then ingests poison. After several days, he dies of the effect of the poison.

Patitucci relatives reveal that he wrote a note from his deathbed, recanting his testimony against DiCarlo and the others charged with witness intimidation. DiCarlo builds an appeal of his conviction upon the Patitucci confession.

Auto Rest and other drinking establishments are terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan.

Confident his appeal will succeed, DiCarlo marries Salvatora Pieri on Nov. 29, 1924. The appeal fails and DiCarlo is imprisoned April 15, 1925.

10. Feds Targeted (1923-1925)

Federal agents are killed as competition among bootleggers prompts regional gang wars.

U.S. federal agents fall victim to Prohibition Era violence. Prohibition Agent George H. Stewart is shot to death Nov. 11, 1923, by night club owner Samuel Pinnavaia and his brother Ralph. Authorities speculate that bootleggers are targeting law enforcement officers for assassination.

In Niagara Falls, an apparent underworld feud results in the murders of Vincenzo DiNieri, second in command of a local bootlegging gang, and his close friend Charles Austaro.

A car explosion takes the life of Customs Inspector Orville A. Preuster after he refuses a bribe offer from liquor smuggler Pasquale Curione. The murder angers the community and mobilizes law enforcement against bootleggers.

11. Feud in Buffalo (1923-1926)

Buffalo experiences its own series of gangland killings in the early Prohibition Era.

Calogero DiRosa is shot to death just 150 yards from police headquarters on April 30, 1923. John Gambino is held as a suspect in the killing for three weeks. Without evidence against him, Gambino is released. Frank Genovese is murdered Nov. 26, 1923, at Erie Street and Dante Place. Gambino is again arrested as a suspect in the killing. Gambler John Manestri is executed March 5, 1925, just behind police headquarters. No one is arrested for the killing. Later the same month, Joseph LaPaglia is shot to death. No arrests are made. Gambino, suspect in the DiRosa and Genovese murders, is killed July 13, 1925, apparently to satisfy a vendetta.

Philip Mazzara, Angelo Palmeri and Giuseppe DiBenedetto use their influence in the Sicilian community to provide aid to the family of slain 12-year-old Joseph Gervase.

The killing of Orazio Tropea in Chicago in February 1926 reveals continuing connections between the Chicago and western New York Mafias.

Samuel LoVullo is treated for a gunshot wound at Columbus Hospital on June 13, 1926. The July 2, 1926, murder of Joseph Cicatello is attributed to a personal vendetta. Peter Rizzo, aide to Philip Mazzara, is killed July 15. Days later, after the murder of John Vassallo, Buffalo Police set up a special squad to deal with organized crime violence.

12. Poison (1926-1927)

The shutdown of Sottile’s redistilling plant results in alcohol poisonings in the region.

Prohibition agents raid Joseph Sottile’s alcohol redistilling plant in Niagara Falls on May 14, 1926, interrupting the production of Sottile’s raw alcohol and forcing his underworld customers to use other suppliers. In July 1926, a number of area deaths are attributed to the consumption of wood alcohol. Bootleggers in western New York and Ontario are arrested.

Rocco Perri faces manslaughter and other charges. Perri and other big-name defendants avoid conviction. Only Bert D’Angelo and James Voelker are convicted in poison alcohol case. D’Angelo is released after retrial.

13. No One Safe (1927-1928)

Underworld feuds take the lives of important gang leaders in Buffalo and Cleveland.

Former Mafia bosses and convicted counterfeiters Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio Lupo are released from prison. Fearing their competition, boss of bosses Salvatore D’Aquila condemns them and a number of followers to death. The Morello faction, including former D’Aquila underling Umberto Valente, goes into hiding. D’Aquila’s underworld spy network spans the U.S. and includes the Lonardo family of Cleveland, Salvatore Sabella of Philadelphia, and Stefano Magaddino and the Palmeris of western New York.

Strengthened by bootlegging income in lower Manhattan, Giuseppe Masseria emerges as a rival to D’Aquila. Vincent Terranova and Silvio Tagliagambe are killed in gang war. D’Aquila rescinds death sentence against Valente and sends Valente against Masseria. Masseria narrowly avoids assassination. Valente is murdered in August 1922. Masseria becomes the most powerful Mafioso in Manhattan and supports anti-D’Aquila gangsters in Chicago and Cleveland. Chicago violence takes the lives of Genna brothers and Orazio Tropea by February 1926. Antonio Lombardo, important leader in the Chicago underworld, is killed in September 1928.

DiCarlo relative Lorenzo Lupo surrenders to Cleveland Police in August 1927, claims he killed a former deputy sheriff in self-defense. Lupo is shot while in the company of bodyguard Al Polizzi. He survives, but loses an eye. Ernest Yorkell and Jack Brownstein, new arrivals in Cleveland, are executed in October 1927. Joseph and John Lonardo, leaders of Cleveland bootleggers, are killed at Ottavio Porrello’s barber shop. Masseria ally Sam Todaro emerges as Cleveland underworld leader. Lonardo loyalist Lorenzo Lupo is murdered in May 1928.

In December, Philip Mazzara, leader in Buffalo’s underworld, is shot to death in a borrowed automobile. Joseph DiBenedetto is Mazzara’s heir apparent. Philip “Manor” Livaccori, partner of Mazzara and former bondsman for Joseph DiCarlo, leaves Buffalo region for Erie, Pennsylvania. He is murdered there in January 1928. The Callea brothers organization, supported by Masseria allies in Cleveland, seem to be working to undermine the Magaddino Mafia in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Mafia boss of bosses Salvatore D’Aquila is murdered in New York City in October 1928. Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria is recognized as the new boss of bosses.

14. Paroled (1926-1928)

DiCarlo is released from prison, resumes his life in Buffalo.

Joseph DiCarlo is transferred from Atlanta Federal Prison to the recently opened U.S. Industrial Reformatory in Chillicothe. While he is imprisoned, his sister sells Auto Rest. The roadhouse, once pledged to secure DiCarlo bail, is threatened with seizure by the federal authorities seeking payment of DiCarlo’s $5,000 fine. DiCarlo is paroled from Chillicothe in October 1928, immediately reenters the western New York rackets and forms the DiCarlo Gang. He returns briefly to prison for nonpayment of his fine.

A daughter, Vincinetta Sarah DiCarlo, is born to Joseph and Elsie DiCarlo on Dec. 19, 1929.

15. Convention (1928-1930)

Mafiosi from the East and the Midwest gather at Cleveland’s Hotel Statler for a convention.

Cleveland police arrest 23 men and seize 18 weapons at the Hotel Statler on December 5, 1928. The men are booked as suspicious persons and photographed. They are linked to Mafia organizations in Chicago, New York, Buffalo, Tampa, St. Louis and other cities. Authorities conclude that their presence is related to the recent corn sugar wars. Additional Mafiosi, either already in Cleveland or planning to be in Cleveland, managed to avoid arrest.

Cleveland Police decide that Vincenzo Mangano and Giuseppe Traina have nothing to do with the other suspects. The two men are released. One other suspect is wanted by New Jersey police. The remaining 20 are arraigned and released on bail. Investigation of bondsmen reveals that pledged properties are generally worth considerably less than the required amount for bail. Legal review throws out bonds for three suspects.

Fifteen suspects plead guilty on Dec. 14. Judge suspends workhouse sentences on the condition that the men leave Cleveland and not return for at least a year. Suspect Giuseppe Profaci and four others go to trial and are found not guilty.

16. War (1929-1931)

Masseria and Maranzano factions feud for control of the American Mafia.

Masseria duplicates many of his predecessor’s errors as boss of bosses. He intrudes on the affairs of other crime families, supports the advancement of his allies and actively works against others across the country. The old Masseria and D’Aquila factions remain unreconciled.

Called to mediate a Chicago dispute, Masseria offends local Mafia leader Joseph Aiello as he backs Alphonse Capone. Masseria is opposed by Castellammarese Mafiosi Gaspare Milazzo in Detroit and Stefano Magaddino in Buffalo. Another Castellammarese Mafioso, Salvatore Maranzano, emerges as an underworld power in Brooklyn. Aiello allies with the non-Italian North Side Gang and eliminates underworld diplomat Pasqualino Lolordo on Jan. 8, 1929. Capone responds with a Feb. 14 massacre of seven North Siders. Giuseppe Giunta replaces Lolordo. Suspected by Capone of siding with Aiello, Giunta, John Scalise and Albert Anselmi are beaten to death in May.

Liberal forces move against the Mafia establishment in Buffalo. Mazzara successor Giuseppe DiBenedetto is assassinated Feb. 27, 1929. An April 28 explosion destroys the Frontier Hotel owned by Angelo Puma. Bootlegger Joseph Syracuse is murdered June 25. Police suspect Umberto Randaccio and his son Fred “Lupo” of killing Syracuse.

In June, Cleveland Mafia boss Salvatore Todaro is murdered by Angelo Lonardo and his cousin Dominic Sospirato in revenge for the Joseph Lonardo assassination. Lonardo and Sospirato are initially sentenced to life. They win appeal and are acquitted at retrial.

In New York, Masseria’s Bronx/Harlem ally Ciro Terranova is opposed by boss Gaetano Reina. Terranova links with politicians are exposed by a robbery at a political dinner on Dec. 7. On Feb. 26, 1930, Reina is murdered in the Bronx. Masseria handpicks Joseph Pinzolo as Reina’s successor.

Masseria encourages Chester LaMare to eliminate Detroit’s conservative Mafia leadership and take control in Detroit. LaMare has Gaspare Milazzo murdered on May 31. Masseria turns his attention to Brooklyn and undermines boss Nicola Schiro, who disappears. Masseria threatens Magaddino and other Castellammaresi. Schiro successor Vito Bonventre is murdered July 15. Masseria replaces him with Giuseppe Parrino. Maranzano and other Castellammaresi break away from Parrino and plot against Masseria.

In Cleveland, Todaro’s successor Joseph Porrello and his bodyguard Sam Tilocco are killed. Frank Milano becomes Cleveland boss. Porrello’s brother James is murdered three weeks later.

Violence spreads into Ontario, Canada, where Rocco Perri’s wife Bessie is murdered Aug. 13. Magaddino’s Buffalo organization moves into Ontario.

Maranzano men counterattack in New York, killing Masseria adviser and former boss of bosses Giuseppe Morello on Aug. 15. Remnants of the old Reina group, secretly led by Thomas Gagliano, murder Masseria-imposed boss Joseph Pinzolo.
Capone emerges victorious in Chicago on Oct. 23 with the murder of Aiello.

Maranzano and Gagliano forces unite. They assassinate Masseria supporters Alfred Mineo and Steve Ferrigno on Nov. 5.

New York Police pressure Masseria to end the gang warfare. He agrees to disarm. Maranzano forces continue to target his allies. On Jan. 19, 1931, Giuseppe Parrino is killed. Joseph Catania is murdered Feb. 3. Masseria-aligned Detroit boss LaMare is killed Feb. 7.

17. New Order (1931-1932)

Dictatorial rule over the American Mafia is replaced by a representative Commission.

Masseria’s refusal to rearm prompts many of his supporters to plot against him. Masseria is killed during a lunch meeting at a Coney Island restaurant on April 15, 1931. The body of John Giustra, believed to be Masseria’s assassin, is found the following month.

Salvatore Maranzano, leader of the victorious faction in the Castellammarese War, becomes Mafia boss of bosses. The new leader is honored at banquets in New York and Chicago. Many Mafiosi are offended by Maranzano’s self-aggrandizement and his continual plotting against perceived rivals. Maranzano loses the support of Buffalo boss Magaddino.

New York Mafia leader Charlie Luciano arranges the Sept. 10, 1931, assassination of Maranzano, makes peace with former Maranzano supporters. Luciano refuses the title of boss of bosses and backs a plan to create a representative body to resolve Mafia disputes.

Capone’s role in the new order is limited, as he is convicted on tax charges and imprisoned. Saverio Pollaccia, who betrayed both D’Aquila and Masseria, is taken to Chicago by Luciano lieutenant Vito Genovese and killed there.

John Bazzano of Pittsburgh greets the new order by overthrowing Maranzano ally Giuseppe Siragusa and taking control of the regional Mafia. Apparently seeking to cleanse the regional underworld of Neapolitan influence, Bazzano moves against the Volpe Brothers. The Luciano administration in New York calls on Bazzano to explain himself. Bazzano is murdered at a small convention of Mafiosi, including Buffalo’s Sam DiCarlo. Cleveland boss Frank Milano, linked to Bazzano’s murder of the Volpes, flees Ohio and is replaced by Dr. Giuseppe Romano.

Gerardo Scarpato, owner of the restaurant where Masseria was assassinated, is killed on Sept. 12, 1932. His strangled body is discovered within a burlap sack locked inside an automobile.

18. Public Enemy No. 1 (1930-1934)

Buffalo law enforcement focuses its attention on Joseph DiCarlo and his gang.

Sam DiCarlo and Joe Aleo are arrested in 1930 for kidnapping Fort Erie bootlegger William Shisler. The Shisler kidnapping is revealed to be part of a bootlegger extortion racket run by Joseph DiCarlo. Police round up the DiCarlo Gang in June 1931. Joseph DiCarlo portrays himself as the victim of underworld death threats, and he avoids prosecution.

A period of intense gangland warfare in the Olean, New York, area concluded with the murder of flashy bootlegger “Buffalo Al” Ritchie.

Law enforcement becomes aware of old immigration-related charges against Angelo Palmeri. Palmeri also is linked with the September 1931 attempted extortion of restaurateur Anthony Falcony. Palmeri’s life is threatened later that month and he is attacked and beaten by underworld rivals.

Paul Palmeri, Lawrence Mangano and others are arrested in connection with the kidnapping of Alexander Berg. Authorities believe a gang is responsible for 100 kidnappings in the past year.

Horse racing wire service collector Faulkner Vanderburg is shot to death in Buffalo. Authorities believe the killing occurred during a robbery. Joseph DiCarlo is questioned in connection with the killing. DiCarlo objects to the incessant attention of law enforcement.

DiCarlo’s citizenship is questioned, as he is charged for false voter registration. Police Commissioner Austin Roche further questions the connections that allowed DiCarlo to receive a driver’s license, and, early in 1932, Roche brands DiCarlo as Buffalo’s “Public Enemy No. 1.” Thirteen other names appear on a Roche-compiled list of Buffalo “public enemies,” many are members and associates of the DiCarlo Gang. An attempt is made to deport DiCarlo. DiCarlo’s citizenship is established, and the illegal voter registration charge is dismissed.

The murders of Rosario and Raimondo Porrello end the Porrello family’s influence in the Cleveland underworld. Only three of the seven Porrello brothers remains alive.

Sam DiCarlo is convicted in spring 1932 of interstate transport of a stolen automobile. Free on bail pending appeal, he is arrested in New York City in connection with the assassination of Pittsburgh Mafia boss John Bazzano. Companion Paul Palmeri is also arrested.

Joseph DiCarlo is operating slot machines in Buffalo and attempting to monopolize that racket. Following the death of DiCarlo mentor Angelo Palmeri in December 1932, DiCarlo survives an apparent assassination attempt.

A relative of slain Porrello gangsters in Cleveland is murdered in Buffalo. The killing is viewed as a continuation of the Magaddino-Callea feud. That conflict concludes with the August 1933 murders of Salvatore and Vincenzo Callea.

Umberto Randaccio is caught passing counterfeit currency. Joseph Ruffino, Anthony Perna and Anthony Palmisano are arrested as leaders of a counterfeiting ring. Randaccio and Ruffino are convicted and sentenced to terms in federal prison in April 1933.

DiCarlo’s sister Sarah marries Cassandro Bonasera, a soldier in the Profaci Crime Family.

Following the election of a new city administration, Police Commissioner Roche is replaced and his public enemies list is discarded. With the repeal of Prohibition, racketeers rush to find new ventures. Anthony Palmisano, Mike Palamara and Joe Mule are murdered. Competitors seeking to establish slot machine monopolies in Buffalo engage in what becomes known as the “Slot Wars.”

19. Bookmaking (1935-1937)

Mafia attempts to organize and tax regional bookmakers result in bloodshed.

In June 1935, Joseph DiCarlo is one of the first in the region to be arrested under a new law prohibiting those with criminal records from consorting with each other. The first four convicted under the law are DiCarlo, Sam Pieri, John Tronolone and Anthony Perna.

DiCarlo and Tronolone are charged in September 1936 with assaulting Roman Kroll after Kroll refused to pay DiCarlo a “tax” on his bookmaking enterprise. After repeated delays, DiCarlo and Tronolone go to trial in spring 1937. On the witness stand, Kroll’s story changes. A telephoned threat against a juror causes a mistrial. The jury in a second trial acquits DiCarlo and Tronolone.

Days after his acquittal, Tronolone is arrested along with William Miller for taking bets on horse races. Tronolone, believed to manage a betting establishment for DiCarlo, pleads guilty and is sentenced to one month in the county penitentiary.

Bookmakers continue to be taxed by DiCarlo and the Magaddino crime family. Retaliation from bookmakers in Batavia leads to the bombing of a home owned by Magaddino’s sister Arcangela and her family. Arcangela is killed, and Magaddino seeks vengeance. Batavia bookmaker Frank LoTempio is murdered within a month of the bombing. LoTempio’s brother is severely injured by a car-bomb. LoTempio’s brother-in-law is murdered.


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Author’s Note

Tona’s intense interest in the subject springs from his background and meetings with DiCarlo.

An initial meeting with Joseph DiCarlo in 1973 sparks interest. Tona’s acquaintance with local Mafia tales dates from childhood. Encouraged by Joe Giambra, Tona studies western New York organized crime for many years. Tona’s last encounter with DiCarlo reveals a connection between Tona’s great-uncle and DiCarlo. A possible interview of DiCarlo by Tona is interrupted by Sam Pieri. FBI incorporates Tona’s college paper on the Mafia into its DiCarlo file.

Joseph DiCarlo in 1939, 1951, 1967

Volume II

Introduction to Volume II

Joseph DiCarlo’s life story parallels the history of the western New York crime family.

DiCarlo and the Mafia both arrive in Buffalo in 1908. Both are shaken by the loss of DiCarlo’s father Giuseppe in 1922. Gangster and family friend Angelo Palmeri briefly serves as caretaker of the Mafia organization and the DiCarlo children. After Prohibition, DiCarlo and the crime family seek new sources of income. DiCarlo’s retirement coincides with crime family weakening. DiCarlo’s death and the destruction of the western New York Mafia occur within five years of each other.

20. Hounded (1938-1946)

DiCarlo operations are continually harassed by law enforcement; DiCarlo serves three prison terms.

DiCarlo antagonism toward District Attorney Leo Hagerty is repaid by increased scrutiny from law enforcement toward DiCarlo, his rackets and his underlings.

DiCarlo’s monopoly of the cigarette vending machine business is challenged. Convicted of coercion against rivals, DiCarlo is sentenced to a year in county prison. Former DiCarlo aide John Barbera is murdered after he attempts to take over DiCarlo’s rackets. Hagerty uncovers alliance between DiCarlo Gang and local law enforcement.

After release from prison, DiCarlo is badly beaten when he attempts to force a bar owner to remove a competitor’s cigarette machine. Additional charges of conspiracy and extortion are filed against DiCarlo in connection with vending machines and jukeboxes. DiCarlo cannot be found. A Buffalo police captain pleads guilty to participating in an extortion conspiracy. After a nine-month search, DiCarlo is located and arraigned. DiCarlo pleads guilty to one count of conspiracy and is sentenced to one year in county prison. Reports indicate he receives special treatment there.

Upon his release, DiCarlo is charged with previous violations of the fugitive act. He is not prosecuted on the charge.

A gambler who recently slapped Magaddino is found shot to death and floating in the barge canal in the Town of Amherst. law enforcement attention turns to illegal gambling operations. DiCarlo is arrested for bookmaking. Anti-gambling crusader Edward Pospichal provides evidence against the DiCarlo operation and its allies in the police force. Pospichal’s body is later found frozen, beaten and bullet-ridden in a snow bank near the Buffalo harbor. A police truncheon is found nearby.

DiCarlo is linked with the death of “Willie the Whale” Castellani.

DiCarlo, Tronolone and Police Captain Thomas O’Neill are convicted of conspiracy in O’Neill’s neglect of duty. DiCarlo and Tronolone also convicted of gambling conspiracy. O’Neill’s conviction is reversed on appeal. DiCarlo and Tronolone serve 18-month sentences.

21. Youngstown and Miami (1946-1957)

DiCarlo establishes himself as a rackets leader in Youngstown, Ohio, and Miami, Florida.

O’Neill’s successful appeal reduces the sentences of DiCarlo and Tronolone. Finding he has worn out his welcome in Buffalo, DiCarlo moves away. DiCarlo, his brother Sam, Tronolone, and Sam and Joe Pieri, obtain permission from Cleveland’s Mafia to move their gambling rackets to Youngstown, Ohio. Early in 1947, a Youngstown minister notes the arrival of Buffalo gangsters and their policy and bookmaking rackets. New Youngstown Police Chief Edward Allen has his men keep constant watch on DiCarlo.

Bandits rob a DiCarlo-run casino outside of Youngstown. Sam Monachino, believed linked with the robbery, is shot to death in front of his home.

DiCarlo’s daughter Vincinetta becomes engaged to crooner Vic Damone. When Damone breaks the engagement, DiCarlo attempts to throw him out a hotel window. A Mafia sit-down in New York City, at which Frank Costello presides, is held to resolve the problem.

Casinos such as the Jungle Inn and the Green Village spring up around Youngstown. The operations appear to be protected by local sheriffs. State agencies moved in to shut down Jungle Inn, controlled by the Farah brothers and Cleveland Mafia leaders.

DiCarlo and Sam Pieri are linked with the 1949 disappearance and murder of Niagara Falls gambler Patsy Quigliano.

DiCarlo joins a wave of Mafiosi setting up rackets in Miami Beach, Florida.

Youngstown Police Chief Allen testifies before a Senate Commerce subcommittee regarding the interstate transmission of gambling information. The new Kefauver Committee targets gambling wire services. Kefauver Committee witnesses note DiCarlo’s role in setting up Miami-area gambling. When called before the committee, DiCarlo was unhelpful, claiming not to know or not to remember some facts and refusing to supply others. A contempt of Congress charge results.

The 1951 discovery of Philip Mangano’s corpse in Brooklyn called to mind the early relationship between Mangano and the DiCarlo’s in Buffalo. Former Buffalo Mafioso Willie Moretti is murdered in New Jersey.

DiCarlo relocates full-time to the Miami area. Sam DiCarlo and John Tronolone are arrested in Miami Beach for operating a lottery. Joseph DiCarlo is charged with running a bookmaking house.

Vincinetta DiCarlo marries John Johnson in 1955. Joseph DiCarlo throws an extravagant reception believed to cost $35,000. Federal authorities take note and learn that DiCarlo owes money on an old federal fine. Wedding reception bills were sent to New York racketeer “Trigger Mike” Coppola. Pleading poverty, DiCarlo is forced to pay the fine in installments, completing payments 33 years after the fine was first imposed.

22. Apalachin (1957-1960)

A convention of Mafiosi is discovered, awakening the FBI to a national crime conspiracy.

Underworld is in turmoil. Frank Costello narrowly escapes a 1957 assassination attempt. Frank Scalise is murdered at a Bronx produce market. Scalise’s brother disappears. Stefano Magaddino objects to what he views as Joseph Bonanno’s incursions into Magaddino protected territory in Canada. Albert Anastasia attempts to establish gambling rackets in Havana, communicates with the Falcone brothers in Utica and with Genovese lieutenant Anthony Carfano. Anastasia is shot to death in a barber’s chair in October 1957.

New York State Police observe a gathering of criminal figures at Joseph Barbara’s home in Apalachin, New York. Using a roadblock, police succeed in identifying dozens of underworld leaders, detaining and questioning them. The FBI, which had denied the existence of a national criminal conspiracy, is forced to adjust to Apalachin revelations. American Mafiosi are targeted by all levels of law enforcement. Apalachin exposure is particularly damaging to John Montana, Magaddino’s underboss, who had been a respected businessman in Buffalo. The McClellan Committee launches an investigation into Apalachin. A New York State investigation follows.

A regional burglary ring operating independently of the Magaddino Mafia is subjected to underworld discipline. Brothers Frank and Fred Aquino are found murdered – Frank by gunshot through the heart, Fred Aquino by being doused with sulfuric acid. Veteran Mafioso Daniel Sansanese is suspected of involvement in the Aquino murders. Aquino friend Arthur DeLuca is found strangled to death. Aquino associate Richard Battaglia is shot in his automobile.

Twenty-seven Apalachin attendees are accused of a conspiracy to obstruct justice. Twenty-one stood trial. Twenty were convicted and sentenced to prison.

New York State Police raid gambling establishments without consulting with local police and arrest 50 people, including Steven Cannarozzo.

23. Blood Washes Blood (1960-1962)

Groups compete violently in the region, as authorities unearth an international narcotics network.

Cannarozzo is shot and seriously wounded at a Buffalo taxi company. James Delmont, who recently argued with Cannarozzo and threatened to kill leading Mafiosi in western New York, is found shot to death in southern California.

Investigation of corruption in professional boxing includes DiCarlo. DiCarlo, Cleveland racketeer John Angersola and others are arrested in gambling raids in Miami Beach, Florida.

Nicholas Tirone is fatally shot, the sixth unsolved gangland murder in Buffalo since 1957. Tirone is linked to a burglary ring. Vincent Santangelo and Anthony Palestine are found murdered. They had been beaten and strangled to death. They also had been linked to a burglary ring. Regional organized crime appears to be striking down members of the independent ring. DiCarlo is cooperative but unhelpful when interviewed by police about the murders. Former Aquino associate Pasquale Politano is shot but survives.

Law enforcement discovers a regional narcotics network administered from Ontario, Canada, by John Papalia and Alberto and Vito Agueci and involving Genovese Crime Family members in the New York City area. The network is a cash cow for Mafia boss Magaddino. Joseph Valachi pleads guilty to involvement in the network. Before sentencing, he flees to Buffalo and is hidden briefly in Canada by Alberto Agueci. Mafia higher-ups convince Valachi to return to New York, where he is sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Matteo Palmeri and Stefano Rinaldo, members of the narcotics ring, cooperate with authorities. Narcotics conspiracy indictments are returned against 24 men, including the Aguecis, Papalia and Rocco Scopolitti. The Mafia decides that all members of the ring are liabilities. Alberto Agueci is released on bail and disappears. His burned remains are found in a Rochester suburb on Thanksgiving morning, 1961.

Eleven narcotics defendants are convicted and sentenced to long prison terms. Genovese Crime Family leader Anthony “Tony Bender” Strollo, who oversaw the narcotics ring in New York, leaves his home for a walk and never returns.

Underworld violence erupts in Youngstown, Ohio. Joseph “Sandy” Naples and his fiancée are killed at her home. Former Jungle Inn casino owner Mike Farah is machine-gunned to death while practicing golf putts in his yard. Gambling racketeer Vince DeNiro, former partner of Joseph Naples, is killed in a car bomb explosion. Naples’ brother William also is killed in an explosion.

Authorities note that DiCarlo has returned to Youngstown.

DiCarlo friend Charles Cavallaro and his 11-year-old son are killed in a car-bomb explosion. U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy orders an investigation into the Youngstown violence.

24. Home Again (1963-1967)

Law enforcement scrutiny forces DiCarlo, struggling financially, back to Buffalo.

Nearly broke, DiCarlo returns to Buffalo, moves into rooms at the Westbrook Hotel, spends afternoons and evenings at Docket Restaurant. Unpaid bills cause the Westbrook to plan his eviction. DiCarlo temporarily relocates to New York City, where he stays at the home of brother-in-law Cassandro Bonasera, member of the Profaci Crime Family.

The western New York underworld has changed substantially since DiCarlo left in 1946. After experiencing problems with a series of Buffalo lieutenants, Stefano Magaddino had entrusted former DiCarlo gangster Fred Randaccio to lead the Mafia rackets in the city.

DiCarlo brother-in-law Sam Pieri possesses greater underworld clout as he is released from prison in spring 1963. Close friendships with leaders in the Profaci and Genovese Crime Families of New York City were formed during his seven-year narcotics sentence in Atlanta Federal Prison. Magaddino and Randaccio perceive a Pieri threat to their authority.

Following his murder of a fellow prison inmate, convicted narcotics racketeer Joseph Valachi begins cooperating with federal authorities. Valachi describes Mafia initiation rites and hierarchy across the country.

Magaddino becomes intensely concerned about FBI penetration of his organization.

Frank Valenti, after a prison stay and a period of residence in Pittsburgh, returns to rackets in Rochester, New York. Jake Russo, Magaddino’s lieutenant in Rochester, disappears. Valenti regains control of gambling in Rochester. His working relationship with police is exposed.

Magaddino is rumored to be meddling in Bonanno Crime Family affairs, of orchestrating the kidnapping of his cousin Joseph Bonanno. Magaddino denies the rumors. Efforts to have Magaddino testify in investigations related to Bonanno’s disappearance are repeatedly frustrated by Magaddino illnesses. A factional struggle begins in the Bonanno organization.

DiCarlo returns to the Buffalo area, begins spending his days at Santasiero’s Restaurant. He and his wife, long separated, reunite late in 1965. Their time together lasts only months. Elsie DiCarlo dies of a heart condition early in 1966.

Law enforcement learns of DiCarlo-Pieri involvement in Las Vegas gambling.

Federal, state and local agencies raid a reported bachelor party for Joseph Todaro, Jr., at Panaro’s Lounge in Buffalo. They find a Randaccio-bankrolled dice game occurring in the basement. Thirty-six men, including DiCarlo, Randaccio and many of the other leading figures of the western New York Mafia are arrested. Magaddino is furious over the surprise raid.

25. Witness Protection (1967-1968)

Turncoat Pascal Calabrese exposes the Magaddino Mafia, helps establish Witness Protection Program.

Federal agents and local police officers sworn in as deputy U.S. marshals raid the homes of Buffalo mobsters in June 1967, arresting Frederico Randaccio, Pasquale Natarelli, Sam Pieri, Nicholas Rizzo, Stephen Cino and Daniel Domino. The men are charged in three robbery conspiracy cases.

A federal Organized Crime Strike Force is assembled from elements of various U.S. agencies. The FBI does not join the strike force but provides access to its intelligence sources. Pascal Calabrese, charged with the armed robbery of Buffalo City Hall, decides to cooperate in strike force investigations. As the Magaddino criminal organization learns of Calabrese’s cooperation, it begins to hunt for Calabrese and his girlfriend. Calabrese, his girlfriend and her children are moved into protective custody. Their federal protection evolves into the Witness Protection Program. Underworld threats are also issued against members of the strike force.

Calabrese testimony results in federal prison sentences for Randaccio, Natarelli, Cino and Domino. Pieri is acquitted. In the absence of Randaccio and Natarelli, Pieri and DiCarlo mobilize elements of the old DiCarlo Gang to take control of gambling rackets in Buffalo. They have the support of the Colombo Crime Family of New York City.

Unhappy with diminishing profits, Stefano Magaddino begins unpopular financial belt-tightening measures in November 1968, reducing the share his lieutenants keep from their rackets and withholding usual year-end cash bonuses.

The FBI and Niagara Falls police link Magaddino Crime Family leadership to use of telephone lines for laying off of large sports bets in other regions. Magaddino, his son Peter, Benjamin Nicoletti and others are arrested in late November raids. Searches, conducted at Magaddino homes and businesses, reveal nearly half a million dollars in cash behind a secret door at Peter Magaddino’s home. IRS liens are placed against Magaddino property. Knowledge of the hidden Magaddino fortune increases the hostility of crime family lieutenants toward their boss.

26. Revolt (1969-1974)

The Pieri-DiCarlo faction becomes dominant in Buffalo, breaks with the Magaddino regime.

In July 1969, a rebel underworld faction in Buffalo selects Sam Pieri as its acting boss, Joseph Fino as its acting underboss and Joseph DiCarlo as its acting consigliere. The faction attempts to gather support from other regions to have Magaddino removed from his seat on the Mafia’s national Commission. Commission members refuse to act against the aging Magaddino or to officially recognize Pieri as Buffalo boss. The rebel regime in Buffalo supports the independence of the Valenti organization in Rochester, New York.

Federal agents dismantle a Buffalo loansharking operation overseen by Albert Billiteri.

Pieri and DiCarlo travel to Florida in an effort to secure racket territory in the Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach regions. They meet with representatives of the Trafficante and Bonanno Crime Families.

Federal law enforcement begins investigation of organized crime links to Laborers Union Local 210 in Buffalo. Informants indicate that the union local is dominated by the Buffalo Crime Family.

In June 1970, authorities discover the body of Gino Albini, a close underworld colleague of Sam Pieri who was believed to have become a government informant. The discovery occurs as Pieri is on trial for transporting stolen property. A mistrial is declared as Pieri is charged with attempting to bribe a juror. Pieri is convicted of bribery and jury tampering in September. The following month, he is sentenced to serve five years in federal prison.

Joseph Fino is elevated to Buffalo Crime Family boss in Pieri’s absence. Daniel Sansanese, Sr., becomes his underboss. The FBI learns that DiCarlo remains influential in the organization.

Construction delays in the Buffalo Federal Building project cause increased attention to fall upon underworld influence in Laborers Local 210. Problems at the site appear to be resolved with the construction firm’s hiring of John Cammilleri as labor coordinator. A federal grand jury begins investigating Local 210 corruption in June 1971.

New York City Mafia leader Joseph Colombo, a strong supporter of the breakaway Buffalo Crime Family, visits Buffalo in an effort to set up a branch of his Italian-American Civil Rights League. At the end of June, Colombo is shot at an Italian-American Unity Day rally in New York. He is left paralyzed and dies seven years later. The shooting implies that Colombo has lost the support of his underworld mentor Carlo Gambino.

Fino becomes a target of federal law enforcement. A federal grand jury indicts him, brother Nicholas and six others for gambling conspiracy. DiCarlo and Victor Randaccio attempt to have Fino removed as boss. Roy Carlisi initially opposes the move and backs Fino. Fino escapes conviction in July 1972. Sansanese is charged with perjuring himself in an investigation of jury tampering in the Fino trial. With federal pressure mounting against Fino, the crime family selects Sam Frangiamore to serve as “acting boss,” while real power rests with new underboss Carlisi.

Sansanese is convicted of perjury. A five-year prison sentence is delayed by Sansanese cancer surgery. After a short time in prison, Sansanese is paroled due to failing health. He dies shortly after his release.

Underworld factions take sides over a reform movement in Local 210. DiCarlo and the Pieri family support Victor Randaccio’s continued control of the local, while Frangiamore, Fino and Carlisi back a reform movement led by Fino’s son Ronald. DiCarlo wagers $5,000 on Local 210 elections and loses as Ronald Fino’s reform slate is victorious in May 1973.

Sam Pieri is released from prison in December 1973 and returns home, preparing to execute a gang war to recover control of Local 210.

The collision of outside criminal influences and the removal of boss Frank Valenti through a successful extortion case resulted in factional warfare in Rochester. Salvatore Russotti, Rene Piccaretto and Salvatore Gingello emerge as leaders of a dominant rebel faction in the city. Vincent Massaro, a champion of the Valenti faction, is murdered. The testimony of Mafia turncoat Joseph Zito provides authorities with a great deal of information about Rochester’s underworld.

27. Undercover (1975-1979)

An undercover FBI operation exposes Mafia-run high-stakes card gambling parlors.

Sam Pieri seeks to expand the breakaway Buffalo Crime Family’s territory into Stefano Magaddino’s remaining rackets. He begins his challenge by targeting a high-stakes card gambling parlor operated by Joe Fino and John Cammilleri. Buffalo police harass the Fino-Cammilleri establishment, as bettors are directed to a new “Ziganette” parlor run by Pieri’s men.

Incensed by the Pieri challenge and frustrated in his efforts to secure an influential post in Local 210, Cammilleri urges war against Pieri. On May 8, 1974, Cammilleri argues with Joe Fino over the union leadership post and threatens to pull his crew out of the Buffalo Crime Family. Later that evening, Cammilleri is shot to death at his birthday celebration at the Roseland Restaurant.

Stefano Magaddino dies of a heart attack on July 19, 1974.

Authorities believe that non-Mafia criminals, showing new confidence following the death of Magaddino, are responsible for the killing of Albert Billiteri, Jr., son of Mafia loan shark Albert Billiteri, Sr. The following month, freelance burglar Frank D’Angelo is gunned down.

The FBI moves an undercover agent into the Buffalo area, hoping to acquire information about crime family leadership’s involvement in Ziganette gambling. In the spring of 1975, the Bureau acknowledges that an undercover agent and a Mafia informant had been operating within local card gambling parlors for eight months.

Pieri is arrested for violating his parole by consorting with known criminals. He is returned to federal prison. During his absence, his brother Joseph Angelo Pieri controls the crime family and helps solidify the group’s hold on Local 210. Within the local, the Fino-Sansanese alliance fractures and Victor Randaccio returns as secretary-treasurer.

Stefano Magaddino’s son Peter dies in August 1976.

Sam Pieri, released from prison after the completion of his earlier sentence, and other Mafia leaders are arrested in 1977 on indictments resulting from the Ziganette parlor investigations. Two trials relating to the gambling operations result in some guilty pleas and convictions, but Pieri manages to avoid conviction. He later pleads guilty to gambling conspiracy and serves four months in prison.

The “Alphabet War” ignites in Rochester in 1978, as the new leadership of Salvatore Russotti, Rene Piccaretto and Salvatore Gingello fight off a challenge from Frank Valenti loyalists commanded by Thomas Didio. A car bombing takes the life of Gingello. Didio is shot to death while hiding at a motel.

28. End (1979-1981)

Law enforcement actions, factional rivalries and a breakdown in discipline cause the end of the Arm.

Sam Pieri emerges from prison and immediately confronts a discipline problem within the Buffalo Crime Family. William Sciolino, who had cooperated with federal investigators, was murdered at a Local 210 job site in March 1980.

Due to Sciolino’s role as an informant, the FBI works closely with homicide investigators. An Erie County grand jury is empaneled to sift through evidence in the case. The grand jury also examines evidence relating to organized crime’s involvement in Local 210. Scores of witnesses, including the leadership of Local 210 and all known racketeers in the region, are called before the grand jury. Subpoenaed witnesses are ordered to provide palm prints, fingerprints and hair samples.

The death of underworld peacemaker Roy Carlisi coincided with a reemergence of the suppressed factions of the Buffalo Crime Family and a renewed struggle for control of Local 210. The leadership of Sam Pieri and Joseph DiCarlo was challenged by Sam Frangiamore and his nephew Joseph Todaro, Sr.

The partially decomposed remains of Carl Rizzo are found within the trunk of an automobile abandoned in Buffalo. Rizzo, known associate of Joseph DiCarlo and Sam Pieri, had been strangled to death. Investigators learn of Rizzo’s involvement in an underworld racket related to union dental plans.

The Frangiamore-Todaro Mafia faction begins installing its adherents into positions of power in Local 210. Sam Caci becomes administrator of the pension fund. Daniel Sansanese, Jr., retains his business agent title but none of its authority. His power is transferred to Leonard Falzone.

Joseph DiCarlo, Buffalo Crime Family consigliere for more than a decade, dies in October 1980 of natural causes. The press notes that DiCarlo had been revered by his underworld colleagues as well as local public officials. Law enforcement expects that DiCarlo’s death will dramatically weaken the Pieri organization. In August 1981, the group’s power and influence is reduced further by the death of natural causes of the well-connected Sam Pieri.

Two years of peace in the Rochester underworld end with a late 1981 explosion of violence. Police learn that a Team C has been added to the city’s Alphabet Wars. Federal authorities step in with indictments against ten local crime figures. With testimony from turncoat Mafiosi, the local crime family leadership is convicted of racketeering and conspiracy.

In Buffalo, nearly two dozen are indicted for gambling, tax fraud, drug trafficking and other offenses, as a three-year grand jury investigation of the Sciolino and Rizzo murder concludes.

The Todaro-Frangiamore faction becomes dominant in the Buffalo Crime Family by the autumn of 1984. Pieri-DiCarlo loyalists are moved out of influential positions in Laborers Local 210. The family that organized the Buffalo-area underworld seventy-six years earlier is stripped of all power. The new regime is recognized by the Mafia’s national Commission, but a Buffalo representative is not permitted to take Magaddino’s old seat on the Commission. The Genovese Crime Family is to represent Buffalo interests.


RICO prosecution dismantles Mafia Commission; Buffalo mobsters are ousted from Laborers Union.

Prompted by information contained in a 1983 Joseph Bonanno autobiography, U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani initiates a RICO prosecution of the perceived New York City crime bosses, who oversee the national Mafia Commission. The Commission Case and related prosecutions attack the organizational core of the American Mafia. Before the Commission Case comes to trial, Gambino Crime Family underboss Aniello Dellacroce dies of natural causes and boss Paul Castellano is assassinated.

Authorities fail in their efforts to prosecute reputed Buffalo crime boss Joseph E. Todaro, Sr., for tax violations. Law enforcement continues to watch Todaro closely in Buffalo and in his Hollywood, Florida, winter vacation spot. Todaro is noted visiting with important figures from the northeastern Pennsylvania Bufalino Crime Family and the Philadelphia Crime Family.

Tape-recorded conversations relating to Buffalo underworld conflicts are played as evidence in the New York City Commission Case trial. In the recordings, Joseph Angelo Pieri is heard asking Genovese Crime Family acting boss Anthony Salerno to intercede in a growing Pieri-Todaro factional struggle.

The Commission Case results in convictions and long prison sentences for eight leading members of New York’s Mafia organizations.

Hoping to score convictions that open the door to RICO prosecution of Laborers Local 210, federal prosecutors launch a probe of no-show Laborers Union jobs. After news of the investigation is released, Ronald Fino, blocked in his efforts to secure a vacant office with the international union, resigns from Local 210. A Fino-involved hazardous waste management firm falls into financial difficulty. While some accuse Fino of mismanagement, he counters that Buffalo mobsters took control of the company and forced excessive spending. Fino drops out of site early in 1989.

Another successful RICO case in Rochester puts a new generation of underworld leaders into federal prison. Ronald Fino resurfaces in February 1989 to announce to the press that he had been a secret informant for the FBI for decades. He states that he went into hiding because the Buffalo Crime Family became aware of his role as informant. Fino becomes a paid witness for federal organized crime prosecutions. He testifies in an unsuccessful no-show jobs case against Local 210 steward Joseph Rosato. While Fino is praised by the FBI, a federal prosecutor criticizes Fino’s value as a witness as well as Fino’s frequent conversations with the press.

Joseph DiCarlo descendants are in the local news in 1993. Great-grandson Carmen J. Gallo is murdered by East Side drug dealers eager to impress a neighborhood gang boss. Gallo had repeatedly drawn attention to his underworld connections. DiCarlo granddaughter Cecilia Johnson, Carmen Gallo’s mother, is beaten with a baseball bat during a struggle with then-husband Frank BiFulco.

Benjamin Nicoletti, Jr., supervisor of Mafia gambling operations in Niagara Falls, pleads guilty to federal charges late in 1993. The government seizes two Nicoletti homes, an automobile and a boat, all of which were reportedly used to support his gambling business. Nicoletti is sentenced to a year in prison. Nicholas Mauro, known in western New York as the “bookmakers’ bookmaker,” is sentenced in 1994 to serve fourteen years in federal prison.

The successful racketeering prosecution of Leonard Falzone, supervisor of Local 210’s pension fund, paves the way for a federally-imposed cleanup of the Laborers Union beginning in 1995. The following year, Ronald Fino testifies before the House Subcommittee on Crime about the underworld’s control of Local 210.

On December 26, 2012, eighty-nine-year-old Joseph E. Todaro, Sr., dies of natural causes in Amherst, New York.


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