The divide in the Springfield, Massachusetts underworld has seen the traditional Italian mafia and the independent Manzi family at odds dating back almost two decades.

Just two years ago, reputed Springfield mob crew boss Albert (the Animal) Calvanese and Manzi family patriarch Carmine (Carm the Barber) Manzi engaged in a fist fight in the city’s South End – the altercation started inside the barber shop Manzi works at and spilled out into the street. Then, this last month, FBI recordings from an informant’s wire were played in open court where one prominent mob crew member was heard badmouthing Carm the Barber’s nephew, accusing him of being a “rat.”

Based on the excellent reporting of Springfield resident mob scribe Stephanie Barry, the roots of the Manzi-vs-Mafia squabble can be traced back to the 1990s:

The Manzi clan came up through the Springfield mafia in the latter years of the Scibelli Brothers Era. Carmine Manzi and his son, Giuseppe (Little Joe) Manzi, were busted in 2000 along with then-crew boss Albert (Baba) Scibelli for bookmaking and loansharking. When the feds raided the elder Manzi’s residence, they found $800,000 in cash, drawing the ire of local mob administrators for what they believed was a money pile that went without a “tribute” percentage set aside to funnel up to crew leaders’ coffers.

The tensions between the Manzi family and the Springfield mafia escalated in the summer of 2003, as a brewing feud pitting Carmine’s nephew, Giuseppe (Villa Joe) Manzi against fast-emerging crew power Anthony (Bingy) Arillotta, boiled to the surface in a series of fights and shootings. Villa Joe Manzi and Arillotta were once partners in a drug business, but had a falling out prior to the dawning of the New Millennium.

On the night of August 29, 2003, a member of Arillotta’s inner circle named Brandon Croteau brawled with Villa Joe and his entourage at Tilly’s, a bar where Croteau was employed as a bouncer. Croteau is currently behind bars for drug trafficking.

According to federal filings, in the hour after the altercation at Tilly’s, Arillotta, his top two enforcers, brothers Ty and Freddy Geas and a number of their lackeys tracked Villa Joe’s entourage to The Civic Pub, a tavern owned by Villa Joe’s cousin, Little Joe and rumbled with them on sight using guns, knives, ice picks, golf clubs and baseball bats. Two Civic Pub patrons sustained bullet wounds in the melee and Arillotta and the Geas were pulled over by Springfield Police down the street from the establishment minutes later.

The following evening, Arillotta’s house was shot up in a drive-by shooting with him, his wife and two young daughters inside. Arillotta blamed Villa Joe and placed a $25,000 bounty on his head, which was never carried out. Three weeks earlier, the baby-faced Arillotta had been initiated into the Genovese crime family in New York. The Genovese syndicate has long maintained a branch in Western Massachusetts.

In the months following the dustup with Villa Joe, Arillotta, with the help of the Geas boys, seized control of the Springfield mob crew by ordering the murder of his mentor, Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno. Upon being charged with the November 2003 Bruno hit, Arillotta turned witness for the government.

Villa Joe Manzi owns Villa Napoletana Italian restaurant. He got into another beef with drug-dealing pals in 2008, ending in his house being burned to the ground. Rumors have floated for years that Manzi is a secret cooperator with law enforcement due to a lack of narcotics offenses on his record.

Carmine Manzi, 68, and Arillotta’s alleged successor as crew chief Albert (The Animal) Calvanese, a violent ex-felon, threw hands for over a half-hour at Tony’s Famous Barber Shop, Manzi’s headquarters, back in 2015 after Manzi rebuffed further attempts by the local mob to extort a street tax from him. The 49-year old Arillotta (living back in the area after his prison term) has personal animosities towards Manzis to this very day, per sources.

During a recent federal investigation into the Springfield mob crew, an extortion victim taped crew member Ralphie Santaniello cursing Villa Joe Manzi as an informant.

“Whatever he said, we don’t get along with him. If you want you can go back and tell him he’s a fucking rat, he’s a rat. You can tell him I said he’s a fucking rat,” he said.

The federal probe yielded five arrests of crew members in 2016 for racketeering. Four co-defendants, including Santaniello, 50, pled guilty to the charges, while hulking Richard (Richie the Postman) Valentini, 52, was found guilty at a jury trial right before Christmas.

Related Post

Leave a Reply