Historic Cleveland Mafia Figure ‘Eugene the Animal’ Finally Tamed By Father Time, Dies At 85

The American Rustbelt lost its’ second legendary mob enforcer in as many weeks. After news broke last week of the passing of 73-year old retired Pittsburgh mafia drug lieutenant and strong arm Eugene (Nick the Blade) Gesuale from a heart attack, the Midwest underworld said to goodbye to retired Cleveland mafia muscle Eugene (The Animal) Ciasullo, who cashed in his chips as a result of natural causes at 85 over this past weekend.

Generally considered the most feared man in Cleveland in the late 1960s and well into the 1970s, Ciasullo got out of the mob when the getting was good – following surviving two house bombings in the Cleveland mafia war of the late 1970s, one which severely punctured his stomach and lower intestines and landed him in the hospital for a month and the other which he missed all together because he and his family had already moved, the Animal hung up his mob spurs and called it a career as the Scalish crime family’s go-to goon. At that time, the Italian mafia in Cleveland was feuding with a local Irish mob brigade led by the charismatic, ambitious and headstrong Danny Greene.

Eugene "The Animal" Ciasullo in his latter years

Eugene “The Animal” Ciasullo in his latter years

Still, Ciasullo kept his feet wet in the shallow end of the ocean, continuing to dabble in Ohio underworld affairs until relatively recently. He did four years in prison in the 1980s for stabbing a man and was caught up in a drug conspiracy in the early 2000s while in his late 60s.

Raised in Cleveland’s rugged eastside Collingwood neighborhood, Ciasullo went on to become a top collector, bookie and loan shark for longtime Ohio Godfather and crime-family namesake John Scalish and his successor James (Jack White) Licavoli. The Animal would often do freelance collecting for the area’s preeminent Jewish racketeer Alex (Shondor) Birns too. According to FBI documents, Ciasullo was close with fellow Collingwood crew members like Pasquale (Butchie) Cisternino, Joseph (Joe Loose) Iacobacci, and Alfred (Allie Con) Calabrese in his mafia heyday.

Iacobacci eventually ascended to boss of the crime family.Today, he’s reported to be retired and the Cleveland mob is said to be barely standing. Licavoli, Cisternino and Calabrese each died behind bars. Greene and his mentor-turned-enemy Shondor Birns were both killed in car bombings.

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