November 3, 2020 — Anthony Gerace, the nephew of reputed Buffalo mob boss, Joseph (Big Joe) Todaro, Jr., copped a plea in his federal drug and gun case from 2019 last week. The 40-year old Gerace pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of narcotics trafficking in front of U.S. District Court Judge John Sinatra on October 27.

A January 2019 raid of Gerace’s home revealed large amounts of cocaine, marijuana and pills as well as 14 guns and more than $100,000 in cash. The minimum punishment for the conviction is five years in prison. Gerace will be sentenced in February.

Gerace’s older brother, Pete Gerace, Jr., the 53-year old owner of the Cheektowaga, New York strip club, Pharaoh’s, has also recently found himself on the government’s radar. Homeland Security agents raided Pharaoh’s last December.

Gerace, Sr. is married to Big Joe Todaro’s sister. He once owned Pharaoh’s and was fined for shady hiring practices.

Retired Buffalo DEA agent Joe Bongiovanni was indicted in November 2019 for shaking down drug dealers he believed were connected to Italian organized crime in the Buffalo area. Peter Gerace, Jr. and Bongiovanni, 56, grew up together in the same neighborhood in Western New York and sources familiar with the investigation say the reference in the Bongiovanni indictment to a strip club owner phoning him and asking for help in dealing with an overdosed stripper is referring to Gerace, Jr. and Pharaoh’s. Bongiovanni has pleaded not guilty in the case and is awaiting trial.

According to the FBI, the Todaro family has run the Buffalo mafia since the 1980s. Big Joe’s dad, Joseph (Lead Pipe Joe) Todaro, Sr. reigned into the 2000s, before retiring, court documents claim, and handing the reins to Big Joe.

Todaro, Sr. died of heart failure in 2012 at 89. The Todaro family is just as prominent in the Western New York business sector as the government alleges it is in the world of the east coast mob. The Todaros pioneered the marketing of Buffalo wings to the rest of the country with their prolific La Nova pizza and wing empire, started by the father-son team back in the 1970s.

Although he has a clean criminal record, Big Joe Todaro has had his name surface in at least one murder plot and labor-racketeering investigations. Todaro, Jr. resigned his leadership post in Buffalo’s LIUNA Local 210 in 1990 because of what was determined as links to the local mob.

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