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Mafia Hit List – Top Rochester (NY) Mob Murders

SCOTT BURNSTEIN’S ‘HIT LIST’

Top 5 Rochester (NY) mob murders of all-time

1 Salvatore (Sammy G) Gingello – After dodging a half-dozen assassination attempts in the early stages of a bloody gangland war for supremacy in the Rochester mafia, the charismatic underboss was finally blown to pieces in a car bomb that exploded outside a social club on April 23, 1978. Gingello, 39, was the heir apparent to the city’s mob throne and him and his mentor, Rochester don Salvatore (Red) Russotti, had their power challenged by Thomas Didio, who was named ‘acting boss’ while Russotti and Gingello were behind bars and refused to relinquish the reins when they got out.

2 Jake Russo – The Rochester crime family’s ‘acting boss’ from 1958-1964, Russo was a top lieutenant-turned-enemy of the city’s first Godfather, Frank Valenti, and vanished in December 1964, after butting heads with Valenti in the wake of the Rochester mafia’s founding father came home from a six-year prison stint.

3 Thomas Didio – A former driver and bodyguard of Sammy Gingello’s, Didio got too big for his britches when he was appointed ‘acting boss’ in 1977 and was machine-gunned to death at the Exit 45 Motel on July 6, 1978, less than three months following his ordering of Gingello’s slaying. Didio forged an alliance with deposed and imprisoned don Frank Valenti and “went to the mattress” for control of the crime family.

4 Vincent (Jimmy the Hammer) Massaro – One of Frank Valenti’s proteges and a ferocious, highly-feared enforcer and professional arsonist, Jimmy the Hammer, fell out of favor with Valenti’s replacement, Red Russsotti, by haggling over money and was shot to death at a construction company garage on November 23, 1973. Massaro was lured to the hit by his close friend and partner in crime, Angelo Monachino, allegedly on orders from Russotti and Gingello, both of whom were tried, convicted and jailed on the murder, but eventually had the case tossed due to police and prosecutorial misconduct in the investigation.

5 Dominic Chirico – Frank Valenti’s No. 1 hit man, Chirico was shot-gunned to death on June 5, 1972 as he got out of his car in front of his girlfriend’s apartment building, punishment for his boss Valenti’s misdeeds. Valenti was forced to step down as boss of the Rochester mob in the spring of 1972 for his secret stashing of “off-the-books” criminal proceeds and his reported ordering the murder of Russotti and Gingello, in response to them confronting him about it.

Honorable Mention; Billy Lupo (1970), John Fiorino (1981)

Mafia Hit List – Top St. Louis Mob Murders

SCOTT BURNSTEIN’S ‘HIT LIST’

Top 5 St. Louis mob murders of all-time

1 James (Horseshoe Jimmy) Michaels – The high-profile leader of the city’s Syrian mob faction and influential labor union boss was blown up in his car while driving on a St. Louis expressway (I-55) on the afternoon of September 17, 1980. Michaels’ killing set off a two-year gangland war and came less than three weeks after the death of St. Louis mafia don, Anthony (Tony G) Giordano, a longtime ally of his who died of cancer in August. Giordano’s death prompted the Lebanese-Italian Lesisure family (brothers Paul and Anthony and cousin David), a trio of mob strong arms that had been mentored by Horseshoe Jimmy, but held bitterness toward him for protecting the man that killed Richard Leisure, Paul’s and Anthony’s older brother and  sought control of his labor union (LIUNA Local 42) and rackets for themselves, to strike immediately after Tony G was in the ground. The 75-year old l

egendary Missouri underworld figure had got his start during the Prohibition Era with the “Cuckoo Gang” and died a suspect of a number of gangland slaying dating back over five years. The Leisures were convicted of Michaels’ slaying at trial in 1985, with David, the person that planted the bomb underneath Horseshoe Jimmy’s car, put to death in 1999, the only modern-day mob figure killed via capital punishment.

2 Elmer (Dutch) Dowling – A right-hand man of notorious East St. Louis mob chief, Frank (Buster) Wortman for several years, Dowling was convicted alongside his boss in February 1962 on federal income tax evasion charge and six days later on March 4, 1962, Dowling and his bodyguard Melvin Beckman were found shot to death, both sprawled across a desolate peace of road, near Belleville, Missouri. Inside Dutch Dowling’s pants pocket police found phone numbers of jurors from his and Wortman’s trial, eventually allowing Wortman to get his conviction overturned. Dowling’s murder has never been solved. Authorities at the time told the press that they believed the man that killed him was the same man that had previously promised Dowling and Wortman he would fix the jury at their trial and secure an acquittal.

3 Michael Kornhardt – One of the Leisures’ top lieutenants and casualties of the early 1980s St. Louis mob war, Kornhardt was murdered on July 31, 1982 while out on bail awaiting trial for the October 1981 car-bomb slaying of George (Sonny) Faheen, the nephew of Horseshoe Jimmy Michaels. Faheen was killed in retaliation against the Michaels’ faction for a car-bomb attack that Paul Leisure survived weeks earlier. Worrying that Kornhardt would begin cooperating with the FBI, Leisure put a contract on his head and gave it to his cousin David, who farmed it out to henchman Bobby Carbaugh and Steve Wougaman. Carbaugh shot Kornhardt twice in the back of the head after Kornhardt was lured to a rural piece of property in St. Charles, Missouri.

4 Mike Palazzolo – Longtime St. Louis mafia underboss, short-tenured Godfather and FBI informant, John (Johnny V) Vitale, is alleged to have “made his bones” with the May 1934 slaying of Mike Palazzolo. In the months leading up to his murder, Palazzolo was feuding with mob associate Walter Mushenick and was last seen alive leaving his parents’ house with Vitale in Johnny V’s Cadillac. Palazzolo was found in a ditch hours later, shot in the head and neck, a crime Vitale would be charged with, but never convicted of.

5 The LIUNA Local 42 murders  – In 1965, a group of St. Louis gangland figures, Louie Shoulders, George (Stormy) Harvill and William (Shot Gun) Sanders, fought the area’s Italian mafia for control of Local 42 (LIUNA), setting off a decade and a half power struggle punctuated by extreme spats of violence. In the forthcoming years, Harvill (1966) and Shoulders (1972) are both murdered. By 1979, the flames of discontent still burned and when the Chicago mafia-backed Raymond Flynn challenged the St. Louis Syrian-mob staked John (Sonny) Spica to replace T.J. Harvill, Stormy’s brother (died of natural causes) as the Local’s President, the tensions boiled over to the point of Spica being blown to pieces in a car bomb in the weeks leading up to the election in November of that year.

 

Detroit Godfather dies, Motor City mob mourns loss

Detroit Mafia Boss Jack Tocco Dead

The don is dead.

Legendary Detroit mob boss Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco died of natural causes early this week at 87 years old, the longest-serving mafia Godfather in the United States.

Tocco assumed the reins of the family from his uncle Joseph (Joe Uno) Zerilli, on an acting basis around 1972, and then finally in an official capacity in June 1979, at an inauguration banquet held in Dexter, Michigan (a suburb of Ann Arbor) attended by both a who’s who of rustbelt mob chiefs and the FBI, present snapping photos of the top-secret coronation.

Detroit Mafia Godfathers
“Black” Bill Tocco and Joe “Uno” Zerilli -Detroit’s founding Mafia Godfathers

Zerilli and Black Jack Tocco’s father, William (Black Bill) Tocco, are considered the “founding fathers” of the Detroit mafia, winning a bloody street war for control of the city’s rackets in 1931.

Sent to college to receive his business degree (University of Detroit-Mercy, graduated 1949), Black Jack is alleged to have “made his bones” with the 1947 strangulation of Greek wiseguy Gus Andromulous, an unsolved murder the younger Tocco has always been the prime suspect in, alongside his first-cousin Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli, Joe Uno’s son.

Both becoming capos in the 1960s, Black Jack became the heir apparent to the elder Zerilli’s throne when Tony Z was pinched and sent away to prison for skimming six million dollars and holding hidden ownership in the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Operating out of Melrose Linen Supply in Northeast Detroit and owning the Hazel Park Raceway for several decades, Tocco was suspected to have helped coordinate the Jimmy Hoffa murder. Hoffa, the former Teamsters president and mafia ally-turned-enemy, was kidnapped and slain in July 1975, disappearing from a Bloomfield Hills restaurant in broad daylight never to be seen again.

Black Jack and Tony Z ran the Motor City mob empire their father’s built side-by-side, with Tocco boss and Zerilli, his underboss, for two decades, before they were both arrested, convicted and imprisoned on a RICO bust from 1996.

Upon their release, the pair butted heads, leading to Tocco demoting and shelving his first-cousin, who he blamed for the whole indictment, and Zerilli debriefing with the FBI and pointing them to property in suburban Detroit once owned by Black Jack to search for Hoffa’s remains – a fruitless endeavor.

Respected and feared, but far from beloved from his troops, Tocco was a boardroom Mafioso, preferring a three-piece suits to jogging suits and real estate portfolios to getting his hands dirty overseeing traditional day-to-day mob rackets. His willingness to delegate authority to the infamously-fearsome Giacalone family and rule from afar, prevented any internal bloodshed and kept his more blue-collar underlings in-line and content.

Anthony (Chicago Tony) La Piana, a Tocco protégé and nephew via marriage, is suspected to be taking over Black Jack’s underworld interests and, along with Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone, stepping into the leadership void created by Tocco’s passing.

Detroit Mob Boss Jack Tocco and GameTax indictment from al profit on Vimeo.

High-ranking Chicago mobster plays peacemaker

Outfit elder statesman stems off friction escalation in ranks of Chicago mafia

Whether it’s an official appointment or not, Chicago mob stalwart Salvatore (Solly D) DeLaurentis is acting in a consigliere capacity these days, with Illinois Don John (Johnny No Nose) Di Fronzo and his brother and aid-de-camp Peter (Greedy Petey) Di Fronzo, significantly leaning on the 76-year old Lake County capo to ease straining relationships between loyalists to jailed street boss Michael (Fat Mike) Sarno and the rest of The Outfit (local slang for the Windy City mafia).

According to underworld and law enforcement sources, Sarno brought into the fold and possibly inducted a group of Cicero-based hoodlums that have run amok and begun stepping on toes since Fat Mike, 55, was busted on racketeering charges in 2009 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to 25 years behind bars.

In reaction to this, the Di Fronzo brothers have repeatedly turned to the highly-respected DeLaurentis to smooth things out, which he has successfully done to this point.

The current capo of Cicero is alleged to be James (Jimmy I) Inendino, also called “Jimmy the Ice Pick” for his past use of the murder tool (Jimmy I cut his teeth in the Windy City underworld as part of the bloodthirsty “Wild Bunch,” in the 1970s and 80s, deceased Outfit boss Joseph (Joe Nick) Ferriola’s enforcement branch)

Some Chicago mob watchers speculate that Marco (The Mover) D’Amico is actually No Nose Di Fronzo’s consigliere, a normal go-to in situations like this, but Solly D was tapped to take care of the problem due to his roots in the Sarno camp.

Sarno and DeLaurentis were nailed together in a 1990 federal racketeering indictment that brought down almost the entire Cicero-headquartered “Good Ship Lollipop” crew ran by Ernest (Rocky) Infelice. That investigation revealed Solly D, sometimes referred to as “Solly the Pizza Man” or the shortened version “Solly Za” for his operation of a pizza joint, was Infelice’s No. 2 in charge, struck fear in many of those he encountered and eerily forecasted the gore-ridden 1985 murder of recalcitrant bookie Hal Smith.

In the months leading up to Smith’s heinous death, DeLaurentis was recorded telling him he would be “trunk music” if he didn’t start paying tribute to the mob. Smith’s strangled and mutilated body was indeed found in the trunk of his car in an Arlington Heights parking lot shortly thereafter, done away with by DeLaurentis’ men.

“This is Chicago, nobody skates for free, everybody pays,” Solly D was taped telling Smith.

Later that day, he told his wired-for-sound driver William (BJ) Jahoda, “I love my job.”

Because of these factors, DeLaurentis was saddled with more prison time than Sarno; He got out in 2005, opposed to Sarno who was let out in 1999 and was able to rise in the ranks quickly, named to manage the Family’s daily affairs in the wake of his predecessor James (Jimmy the Man) Marcello’s imprisonment nine years ago.

“Made” into the Outfit alongside Rudy (The Chin) Fratto and John (Pudgy) Matassa at a 1988 Father’s Day induction ceremony, DeLaurentis replaced longtime capo Joseph (Black Joe) Amato as racket chief of Lake County, a region north of Chicago that Al (Scarface) Capone originally infiltrated during the Prohibition era.

Upon his release from incarceration, DeLaurentis is reputed to have reassumed his post within the mob in Chicago.

Last year, an alleged underling of his, Paul Carparelli, 45, was arrested for running an extortion ring, taped telling an associate of his in the winter of 2013 that Solly D and one of Solly D’s primary lieutenants paid him $10,000 to give a slow-paying debtor of theirs’ “a thorough beating.”

“Solly DeLaurentis is not the type of individual to be trifled with, he’s a capable leader and enforcer and the kind of mobster the bosses in the Outfit appreciate and utilize,” said retired FBI agent (31 years on the job) and dogged Chicago mob pursuer Jim Wagner of Solly D’s reputation.

Windy City mob lieutenant singing ‘Sweet Home Chicago’

Chicago underworld’s ‘Big Tomato’ comes home after over two decades behind bars

Louis (Louie Tomatoes) Marino is back in the Windy City.

Last month, Marino, a grizzled Illinois mob veteran and hit man in the Outfit’s Cicero crew, was moved to a halfway house in downtown Chicago, following almost 25 years locked up on a wide-sweeping 1990 racketeering bust that took down a batch of high-ranking Cicero-based mobsters.

Nicknamed Louie Tomatoes because of his ownership of a tomato-canning company, Marino will be released from the halfway house on November 2.

Set to return to his old stomping grounds before Thanksgiving, he carries quite the reputation for instilling fear in the community and within the Chicago mafia itself. He just turned 82 years old and has been implicated in participating in two of the city’s most-storied gangland hits of all-time.

Spending the early part of his underworld career acting as a driver and bodyguard for Cicero capo Ernest (Rocky) Infelise, Marino and his goombata running buddy, Salvatore (Solly D) DeLaurentis, were “made” in the 1980s and assigned by Infelise to assume command of the Chicagoland’s Northwest suburbs.

“We’re taking over Lake County,” Marino was recorded telling an associate of his and DeLaurentis’ intention of grabbing control of the rackets being given up by the retiring Joseph (Black Joe) Amato.

Marino’s ferocity in his collection methods are legendary on the Windy City streets.

In 1981, a knife-wielding Louie Tomatoes was picked up by an FBI wire, delivering this choice nugget of intimidation to a man who owed Marino and DeLaurentis $12,000 on a juice loan.

Sliding into the booth at a local restaurant, next to DeLaurentis and across from his mark, Marino asked Solly D “Does he got the cash?”

“He ain’t got a thing,” DeLaurentis informed his partner in crime, leading to Louie Tomatoes jumping over the table and jabbing his blade into the debtor’s chest.

“You motherfucker, I should give it to you right here you dirty cocksucker,” Marino screamed. “Do what you gotta do, sell your jewelry, I want every mother fucking thing you got. I want my money, I don’t care where you find it. Rob a bank, knock off a liquor store. I want my money, I want it now, I want it tonight. You hear me? This is serious shit. And if you think I ain’t capable think again. I’m gonna to be at your doorstep tonight. I’m gonna to be at your motherfucking bedside every morning you wake up. I’ll take the whole place (his house) apart. You got nowhere to fucking hide. Make right on this or you’re in big fucking trouble.”

The following year in 1982, accompanied by his protégé, Michael (A-1 Mike) Zitello, Louie Tomatoes famously hung a debtor of his over a balcony at the Chicago Board of Trade, threatening to kill him if he didn’t ante up what he owed in front of a crowd of horrified onlookers.

Although not charged in the massive 2005 Family Secrets indictment, Marino was named by turncoat and former Outfit hit man Nicholas (Nicky Slim) Calabrese as one of seven assassins that beat and strangled the Chicago mob’s Las Vegas crew boss, Anthony (Tony the Ant) Spilotro and his little brother, Michael, to death in June 1986.

The Spilotro brothers’ double-murder was reenacted in the 1995 Martin Scorsese movie, Casino, with actor Joe Pesci portraying the character based on the wild card, power-hungry, Tony the Ant.

Marino’s involvement in the gory twin slayings was speculated upon immediately by members of law enforcement. Snitches mentioned him as a possible “doer” right off the bat, according to multiple FBI agents that worked the case. Observed by an FBI surveillance team attending a meeting with Chicago don Joe Ferriola the day after the Spilotros hit at the funeral of popular Outfit soldier Anthony (Bucky) Ortenzi, he was quickly tabbed a “person of interest” in the investigation.

That Labor Day weekend Marino returned home early from a trip to Wisconsin with his family to find FBI agents in the process of putting his Cadillac El Dorado back in his garage following an unsuccessful attempt to bug it. Louie Tomatoes went on to successfully sue the federal government for the damage his car endured (a number of holes were drilled in the interior of the vehicle and the radio was dismantled).

Brought down in the “Good Ship Lollipop” case of 1990, Marino was convicted of racketeering, specifically looking after gambling and loansharking affairs on behalf of Infelise and the Cicero crew at a 1992 trial.

Within the indictment, he was charged with, but never convicted of the gruesome 1985 murder of independent bookmaker Hal Smith. Police found a pair of glasses belonging to Marino and a cigar with his fingerprints on it in Smith’s car, the same vehicle that Smith’s strangled, mutilated corpse was discovered in, his throat cut, in the parking lot of an Arlington Heights hotel.

Mob associate and DeLaurentis’ former driver, William (B.J.) Jahoda, fingered Marino as directly taking part in Smith’s torture and murder. Smith, flamboyant and wealthy, was killed for his indignant behavior, refusal to bow to Outfit demands and the suspicion that he was informing on the Cicero crew (called “The Good Ship Lollipop”) trying to shake him down.

Jahoda testified at trial that at Infelise’s behest he drove Smith to his own house, where he witnessed Marino, Infelise, Robert (Bobby the Boxer) Salerno and Robert (Bobby the Gabeet) Bellavia, converge on him and begin pummeling him to the ground. Instructed to wait outside as his mob superiors finished the job, Jahoda was greeted by a blood-spattered kitchen floor when he was finally allowed to return to his residence. A week after Smith was found in his trunk, Infelise told him that Ferriola sent his “thanks for help with that whole Smith thing.”

The mastermind behind a multi-million dollar a year sports betting and money laundering business in the ritzy Chicago suburbs, Smith feuded with DeLaurentis and Marino, upon the imposing tandem, first, demanding that he pay a street tax and then after he started paying, demanding more.

Jahoda was present at a dinner meeting between Smith and the pair in late 1984 which erupted in a shouting match, having Smith hurl ethnic slurs at Solly D and Louie Tomatoes and DeLaurentis chillingly predict that the high-profile 48-year old Prospect Heights resident was about to become “trunk music.” In the days after the encounter, Smith reportedly told people, “Fuck those little guineas,” referencing his war or words with the two Mafiosi.

Jurors hung on the murder charges against DeLaurentis and Marino, while Infelise, Salerno and Bellavia were each nailed on the Smith slaying and hit with life prison sentences (with parole). Rocky Infelise died in 2005. Salerno won’t be eligible for parole for another decade. Bellavia, on the other hand, will be coming out in 2016.

Delaurentis was released in 2006 and reassumed his post as crew leader of Lake County, a de-facto consigliere of sorts to current Cicero capo James (Jimmy I) Indendino and the Outfit administration in general in this time of syndicate transition at the top.

Most mob watchers in the Windy City predict Marino will probably, in spite of his old age, get back in the rackets at some capacity, taking a seat next to his longtime friend, Solly D, and his son, Dino, a button-man and believed to be one of DeLaurentis’ main proxies.

“Louie Marino always meant business, he was a street guy, constantly out and about, throwing his weight around,” retired FBI agent Jim Wagner said. “He’s got the Outfit in his DNA, a stone-cold gangster.”