The Bobby Mancini Murder: ‘Junior’ Williams Died As Top Suspect In Pittsburgh Bookie’s 1988 Slaying

Police detectives and the FBI believe recently-deceased Pittsburgh mob figure Adolpho (Junior) Williams probably had bookmaker Bobby Mancini killed 28 years ago after discovering Mancini was informing on him and his crew full of family members. Mancini, 32, was found shot to death at his apartment in McKees Rock on the evening of October 24, 1988, a single bullet lodged in the back of his head under his right ear, his face buried in a batch of betting slips lying on his dining-room table, a telephone receiver gripped in his hand. There were no signs of forced entry and to this day nobody has ever been charged in the Mancini homicide.

The 82-year old Williams (Americanized from Guglielmo) died of a sudden heart attack late last week. He passed away still the main suspect in the murder of Mancini, who was ratting as a means of ridding himself of competition and allegedly paying McKees Rocks policemen and politicians for protection in thwarting shakedown efforts from Williams, a close associate of Pittsburgh mob boss Michael Genovese (d. 2006) and Genovese’s illegal-numbers lottery lieutenant.

Williams was in the midst of a takeover of all the gambling in McKees Rocks (policy, dice, cards and traditional sports wagering) when Mancini was slain. After assuming the reins as don of the Pittsburgh mafia in the mid-1980s, Genovese let Williams loose in a trio of key racket regions, his home base of the East End, the numbers-heavy Hill and Mancini’s McKees Rocks, backing him in a siege of the prosperous mob territory previously belonging to Williams’ underworld mentor, longtime independent Pennsylvania gangster Tony Grosso. Williams and his two sibling-henchmen Salvatore and Eugene operated out of an East End jewelry store and deli. Their three sisters chipped in with managing the Williams’ numbers bank, the largest in Pittsburgh for decades.

Grosso was imprisoned in 1986. The Williams crew quickly moved in to grab his rackets, first establishing dominance in its’ own East End neighborhood, then pushing into the African-American centered Hill district and finally into notoriously-corrupt McKees Rocks, per state police records related to Junior Williams and his rise through the gangland ranks. The only problem in McKees Rocks proved to be the hard-headed, ambitious and politically-connected Bobby Mancini, a young wiseguy groomed by veteran Pittsburgh mobster Anthony (Ninny the Torch) Lagattuta, unintimidated by Junior Williams and unwilling to surrender the region to him without a fight.

Besides his sports gambling and policy endeavors, Mancini was a big donator to the state’s Democratic Party, becoming a Committeeman for Pittsburgh’s 28th Ward. According to state police records, he also had McKees Rocks’ then-Mayor Dennis Skosnik and Police Chief Ron Panyko in his back pocket. Panyko was a childhood buddy and the man who convinced him to turn informant. Skosnik is pictured in this story’s cover image and per one inter-agency memo, may have played a role in Mancini’s execution.

As soon as Junior Williams began making inroads in the area in 1987, Mancini increased his payoffs ($1,800 per month) to Skosnik to try and cement his power and have him aid in fending off his rival’s coming onslaught. It worked for a while. Then it didn’t.

Williams (convicted of several felonies in his career on the street, including aggravated assault, battery, larceny and multiple gambling offenses) had a bigger bankroll and started paying Skosnik too, eventually gaining his complete loyalty, per FBI files linked to political graft in Western Pennsylvania. Mancini became an informant for the state police, telling them of his greasing palms in McKees Rocks municipal circles and providing them intelligence on the Williams crew, even wearing a wire.

Mancini’s crew headquartered its’ activities out of his family’s business, the famous Mancini’s Lounge, a historic music venue in Pittsburgh known for being the first club in the area to feature rock-and-roll acts and a hotbed of R&B, Jazz, Blues and Soul performances in the 1960s and 1970s. Mancini’s Lounge was opened in the late 1950s by his father, Anthony (Gassy) Mancini, a marginal local gambling figure.

A portion of Mancini’s gambling operation was run out of a backdoor casino called the 900 Club. At the forefront of his raid on the rackets in McKees Rocks, Junior Williams took over the 900 Club and inserted his brother Eugene at the gambling den to oversee affairs, banning Mancini from the premises.

In the months leading up to his murder, Mancini got into a loud verbal altercation with Junior Williams at a McKees Rocks restaurant and received threats from Skosnik on the phone. An informant told the state police that Skosnik got word leaked to him that Mancini was cooperating with authorities and might have tipped off Williams.

Skosnik was convicted in 2006 of corruption tied to his role as Chief Deputy in the Allegheny County Sherriff’s Department and sentenced to five years behind bars. His interactions with Mancini and Williams got him indicted back when he was Mayor of McKees Rocks, however he had the charges dropped before trial in lieu of Mancini being found dead.

Per a state police memo, Skosnik was viewed as a suspect alongside Williams in the Mancini hit – a truck belonging to a Skosnik associate was spotted parked outside Mancini’s apartment the night he was killed and a police surveillance unit was pulled from Mancini’s street in the 15-to-30 minutes preceding the hit. Panyko was removed as Chief Deputy, but never faced indictment regarding his alleged dealings with Mancini.

Junior Williams gained a smidgen of national notoriety latter in life with the A&E reality television-show ‘Godfather of Pittsburgh,’ The show followed the lives of his daughter and strip-club owner son-in-law Vincent Isoldi and he appeared in a supporting role as an Isoldi advisor. Godfather of Pittsburgh was on the air for one season (2014). One of the strip clubs Isoldi owns and was highlighted on the show was Club Erotica, a gentlemen’s lounge standing in the same spot Mancini’s Lounge once stood.

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