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Mafia Hit List – Top Black Mob Murders

SCOTT BURNSTEIN’S ‘HIT LIST’

Top 5 Black Mob Hits of All-Time

1 Malcolm X– The iconic civil rights leader and black militant was assassinated on the orders of his mentor and Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad (and possibly the government) on February 21, 1965 as he was about to make a speech in New York City’s Audubon Ballroom. He was felled with a shotgun blast to the chest and several rounds of automatic gunfire as he lied helpless on stage and commotion erupted around him. Three hit men (Thomas Hagen, Thomas Johnson and Norman Butler) from the Nation were charged and convicted of the murder 13 months later. In the years that led up to his slaying, Malcom X had aligned himself against Muhammad and the Nation, basically a de-facto wing of the country’s black mafia, and began openly opposing its practices, as he converted to Sunni Muslim and traveled the world preaching his new gospel. Muhammad’s right-hand man, John Ali, eventually revealed to be an undercover FBI agent, was seen meeting with Malcom X’s assassins on multiple occasions in the 48 hours preceding the killing.

Malcolm x murdered
Malcolm X was murdered by 3 members of the Nation of Islam in Harlem, NY at the Audoban ballroom

2 The Hanafi Murders – An internal split within the Nation of Islam broke into extreme violence on January 18, 1973 with the mass murder of seven people at NBA Hall of Famer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s house in Washington D.C. (Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t present). Abdul-Jabbar’s Islam teacher and Elijah Muhammad rival, Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, was staying at the residence, but avoided the attack, which claimed the lives of two of Khaalis’ “Hanafi Muslim” followers and five of their children. Both adults and one child were shot in the back of the head execution style and the four others were drowned to death. The Nation is alleged to have contracted the job out to the Philadelphia Black Mafia. One of the reputed assailants, James (Bubbles) Price was tortured and killed in prison in 1974 for the mistaken belief that he was cooperating with the government.

Philly Black Mafia Muslim killers
The Philadelphia Black Mafia was hired to kill 7 members of the Hanafi Muslim movement. Five of them were children.

Mafia Hit List – Top Philadelphia Mob Murders

SCOTT BURNSTEIN’S ‘HIT LIST’

Top 5 Philly Mob Murders of All-Time

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1 Angelo (The Docile Don) Bruno – The assassination of Bruno, the heavily-respected Philadelphia mob don and National Commission member on March 21, 1980 as he sat in a car outside his home, set off a near 15-year period of violence and instability in the suddenly-treacherous Philly underworld. Somewhat mislabeled The Docile Don – he was equally murderous as most of his mafia boss brethren around the country -, Bruno was killed personally by his consigliere Antonio (Tony Bananas) Caponigro, the back of his head literally blown off by Caponigro’s buckshot. Tony Bananas incorrectly thought he had received permission to pull the Palace coup from the Commission in New York and him and his co-conspirators all paid with their lives in the coming months. Caponigro and the others in the Family’s insurgent faction felt that Bruno was out-of-touch, greedy and unwilling to dive head-first into the then-new legalized gambling paradise that was Atlantic City.

2 John Avena – Philadelphia’s first modern-day, post-Prohibition Godfather, Avena was killed as he crossed the street at the corner Passyunk and Washington in heart of South Philly on August 17, 1936, the victim of a civil war that had broke out within the crime family, pitting him and his followers versus Joe Dovi, the man that took his place atop the syndicate for the next decade.

3 Phil (The Chicken Man) Testa – Angelo’s Bruno’s underboss and successor, Testa had a short-reign and was famously blown up by a nail bomb as he walked onto the porch of his house in the early-morning hours of March 15, 1981. The unauthorized mob hit was engineered by his consigliere Pete Casella and power-hungry capo Frank (Chickie) Narducci and led to his son and protégé, Salvie, a 25-year-old racketeer and bloodthirsty killer, going on a rampage, murdering everyone associated with his dad’s assassination. The Chicken Man’s killing would go on to be the opening line of New Jersey rocker Bruce Springstein’s song, Atlantic City, off his 1982 album, “Nebraska”.

4 Salvatore (Salvie) Testa – The ruggedly handsome Pennsylvania mob prince, the son of “Chicken Man” Testa, angered his father’s replacement, Little Nicky Scarfo with his growing popularity and power in the year’s after the Chicken Man’s slaying and was killed on September 14, 1984, on Scarfo’s orders. Testa had sealed his fate by breaking off his engagement with Scarfo underboss Salvatore (Chuckie) Merlino’s daughter in the months leading up to his murder, something Scarfo used to sway sentiment against his perceived rival, somebody East Coast newspapers were projecting to be the city’s future don. The day he was killed, Testa was brought to a candy store in South Philly by his best friend and right-hand man Joey Pungitore, on the pretense that was going to settle a beef for Pungitore, but instead was shot in the back of the head by Scarfo hit man Salvatore (John Wayne) Grande.

5 (tie) The Aftermath Slayings – The murders of Philadelphia mob bosses Angelo Bruno and Phil Testa in the early 1980s, ignited a string of high-profile retaliation killings, starting with Tony Caponigro, his brother-in-law and lieutenant Freddy Salerno and capos John (Johnny Keys) Simone and Frank (The Barracuda) Sindone in the wake of the Bruno assassination and the slayings of Chickie Narducci and his driver Rocco Marinucci, the man that planted and detonated the bomb that killed Testa, in the months following the Chicken Man’s death.

5 (tie) Michael (Mikey Chang) Ciancaglini – One of the leaders of an ambitious and youthful rebel faction of the Philly mafia in the early 1990s, Mikey Chang spawned from a rich Pennsylvania gangster lineage and was shot dead with a single gun wound to the heart on August 5, 1993, as he left a local hangout with his best friend, fellow young renegade Mafiosi and future mob don, Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino. Skinny Joey, son of Nicky Scarfo’s one-time underboss, Chuckie Merlino and Mikey Chang, teamed with Angelo Bruno disciple, Ralph Natale, to challenge Scarfo’s successor, the Sicilian-born Godfather John Stanfa. The Ciancaglini family itself was caught smack dab in the middle of the violent conflict, with Mikey Chang siding with Merlino and Natale and his older brother Joey Chang siding with Stanfa, while their other brother Johnny Chang and their father “Chickie” Ciancaglini helplessly sitting the war out behind bars in prison. Mikey Chang was killed by Stanfa hit man John Veasey, shooting from a passing car driven by his Goombah buddy, Phil Coletti.

5 (tie) Edwin Helfant – A retired Municipal Court Judge under indictment for judicial misconduct, Helfant was brazenly killed inside Atlantic City’s Flamingo Motel lounge on the evening of February 15, 1978, as he sat having a drink with his wife in the crowded bar. Earlier in the decade Helfant pocketed a bribe he was supposed to pass on to a fellow sitting judge related to the murder case of Philadelphia mobster Nick (The Blade) Virgilio, a close friend of AC crew leader and future Philly mafia boss Little Nicky Scarfo. When Virgilio got out of prison, Scarfo gave him the okay to murder the corrupt gavel-wielder, even acting as the getaway driver in the Cowboy-style slaying, which would go on to become a trademark in his reign leading the City of Brotherly Love’s mafia. Nick the Blade was sent back to prison on racketeering charges ten years later, where he would die in 1995 as a heart attack.

Honorable Mention: Frank (Frankie Flowers) D’Alfonso, John McCulloch, Pasquale (Pat the Cat) Spirito, Rocco Marinucci, Raymond (Long John) Martorano, John (Johnny Gongs) Cassasanto, Ronnie Turchi

Mafia Hit List – Top Chicago Mob Murders

SCOTT BURNSTEIN’S ‘HIT LIST’

Top Chicago Mob Murders of All-Time

1 The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – In what could be the most famous mafia hit in history, legendary mob icon Al (Scarface) Capone had over a half-dozen of his rivals gunned down on the morning of Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1929. Capone, leader of the city’s Southside Italian gang was at war throughout much of Prohibition with the Northside Irish gang, at that time headed by George (Bug) Moran and Capone struck at Moran in the heart of his territory. When seven of Moran’s men went to meet what they thought was a shipment of bootlegged alcohol from the Jewish Purple Gang in Detroit, but instead was an ambush and all of them were lined up against a wall by Capone gunmen dressed as police officers and executed with machine-gun fire. Following the slaughter of his enemies that fateful day in 1929, Capone assumed practically complete control of the Windy City underworld and laid the foundation for the modern-day Chicago mafia, known locally as “The Outfit.” Demoralized and having the heart of his organization gutted, Bug Moran slid into gangster obscurity the rest of his life. Nobody was ever charged with the notorious mass murder, but Capone was sent to jail in 1933 on a tax evasion conviction and Capone’s enforcer, Vincenzo “Machine Gun Jack McGurn” Gibaldi, a suspected triggerman in the Massacre was killed gangland-style on it’s the seven-year anniversary

2 (tie) James (Big Jim) Colosimo – The Windy City’s first real mob boss, Colosimo was internationally powerful and a genuine gangster celebrity in Chicago when he was killed in a local café on May 11, 1920, possibly by Al Capone himself. Colosimo’s murder was ordered by his No. 2 in charge, John (Johnny the Fox) Torrio, Capone’s mentor, and was thought to be over Big Jim’s reluctance to fully embrace the bootlegging racket that was just beginning to flourish in the time surround his slaying, which took place only a week after he returned from his honeymoon. The death of Colosimo eventually paved the way for Capone to ascend to the top of the city’s underworld and mold it in his likeness.

2 (tie) Sam (Momo) Giancana – The former boss of the Chicago mafia was slain inside his Oak Park, Illinois home on June 19, 1975, less than a year after returning to Illinois following over a half-dozen years in Mexico, where he amassed a fortune in international gambling ventures. Giancana, a flash-bulb friendly like Chicago Godfather Al Capone before him, who dated movie stars and hobnobbed with politicians, was set to testify in front of a U.S. Senate committee investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a Giancana associate, in the weeks following murder. FBI records indicate that Giancana was killed by a close friend (his driver “Butch” Blasi and one of his protégés Tony Spilotro were the two top suspects), shot in the back of the head and then six more times in the body, while cooking a meal of sausage and peppers on the stove in his kitchen. Giancana angered the Chicago mafia hierarchy with his refusal to share profits from his offshore gambling interests and its worry of him getting loose lips in front of the Senate.

3 Anthony (Tony the Ant) Spilotro – The Chicago mob’s ferocious and doggedly deadly representative in Las Vegas for 15 years, Spilotro let the power of unchecked hedonism in the desert go to his head and facing a mountain of legal problems, the Outfit lured Tony the Ant and his brother and right-hand man Michael to a house in the Windy City’s Bensenville neighborhood and viciously beat, stomped and strangled the siblings to death on June 14, 1986. Unique about the murders is that it was done in front of almost the entire Chicago mafia administration, boss Joe Ferriola and underboss Sam (Wings) Carlisi were both present to witness the executions, which went on to be reenacted in the 1995 movie Casino, a film that recounted Spilotro’s days in Vegas and his tumultuous relationship with mob sports handicapper Frank (Lefty) Rosenthal, the Outfit’s gaming expert stationed in Nevada alongside his boyhood chum the Ant (Joe Pesci played Spilotro and Robert DeNiro played Rosenthal). Spilotro’s love affair with Rosenthal’ wife was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back in the mob issuing the contract on his and his brother’s lives.

4 (tie) The M&M Murders – After shooting up a mob-connected bar and killing the tavern’s owners and a waitress, the wildcard Chicago underworld enforcer tandem of 24-year olds, Jimmy Miraglia and Billy McCarthy, were slain on back-to-back nights in May 1962. Miraglia’s head was put in a vise and his eye popped out of its socket before divulging his accomplice’s name and whereabouts to an enraged Tony Spilotro and Mad Sam DeStefano and having his throat slit. McCarthy was done away with the next day by the same pair. The Miraglia hit was shown in the movie, Casino, too.

4 (tie) The Big Tuna Murders – An Outfit-backed professional robbery crew, led by gutsy mob associate and break-in expert John Mendell, decided to break into Chicago don Tony (The Big Tuna) Accardo’s suburban mansion when he was in California during early January 1978, stealing money and jewelry from the vacationing Godfather in retaliation for him taking back a score of theirs the previous month because they robbed a friend of his. Accardo was furious and immediately set out hit squads looking to punish those responsible. Mendell and his entire crew were disposed of over the next 18 months, their mangled bodies popping up in car trunks all around town. In classic mob “clean up” fashion, several of the perpetrators in the murder spree were then clipped themselves so their bosses could stay further insulated from prosecution.

5 (tie) Salvatore (Mad Sam) DeStefano – The sadistic Chicago mafia enforcer and hit man was shotgunned to death on August 14, 1973, allegedly by his protégé, Tony Spilotro, in a Windy City garage. The hit was ordered due to Mad Sam’s increasingly-outlandish and unstable behavior, publically on display at his murder trial for the gangland-killing of mob associate Leo Foreman shortly before he died. DeStefano took pleasure in his craft and enjoyed inflicting pain; he and Spilotro, both acquitted in the Foreman murder, killed a fellow underworld figure, suspected informant and strong arm William (Action) Jackson, by stringing up on a meet-hook and torturing him to death with an electric cattle prod.

5 (tie) Allen Dorfman – Longtime Midwest mob associate and Teamsters official in charge of the labor union’s robust pension fund, Dorfman’s conviction in a racketeering and mob-related political-bribery case and pending prison sentence left him vulnerable and he was murdered in the parking lot of a suburban Chicago hotel following a lunch meeting on January 23, 1983. The slaying was depicted in the film Casino, as well, with comedian Alan King cast in the role of Dorfman’s pension-fund supervisor.

Honorable Mention: The Chop Shop Murders; James (Jimmy the Bomber) Cataura; Anthony (Little Tony) Zizzo, Anthony (Tony the Hatchet) Chiaramonte, Ronnie Jarrett, William (Billy Choppers) Dauber, Danny Seifert, Hal Smith, Jasper Campise & John Gatuso hits, William (Butchie) Petrocelli, Chuckie Niccoletti; Anselmi-Scalise hits

Toronto Police Want Help From Public In Solving ’13 Mob Hit

A year removed from the brazen gangland slaying of notorious Canadian mob hit man, Salvatore (Young Gun Sam) Calautti, detectives in Toronto have released surveillance video from a nearby business that shows a white van driving past the vehicle that Caluatti and his bodyguard Jimmy Tusek were killed in during the early-morning hours of July 12, 2013 before police arrived on the scene.

Toronto police are looking for help from the community to identify the vehicle and its’ driver and/or owner. It’s not being revealed if authorities in the investigation believe the white van was carrying a potential witness to the murder or the actual murderer or murderers themselves.

Calautti, 40 years old and a suspect in a half-dozen mafia-connected murders at the time of his death, was a major player in a gore-ridden mob war that has ripped across Canada’s underworld the past five years, leaving at least 15 bodies in its wake.

The trigger-happy enforcer sided with Raynald Desjardins and deported New York Godfather Salvatore (Sal the Ironworker) Montagna in the bloody dispute against longtime Montreal don Vito Rizzuto, who was imprisoned when several of his top lieutenants joined forces with the young and power-hungry Montagna, opposed his reign and took aim at his inner-circle.

Rizzuto’s father, son, best friend and brother-in-law were all murdered while he sat helpless behind bars in an American prison for his role in the infamous 1981 “Three Capos” hit in New York, where the Bonanno Crime Family used him to help settle internal turmoil that still existed after the assassination of boss Carmine (The Cigar) Galante two years before.

Investigators peg Young Gun Sam as the prime suspect in the 2010 sniper-slaying of Nicolo (Uncle Nick) Rizzuto, Vito’s father and an internationally-respected mob czar himself, gunned down inside his kitchen as he sat down for dinner with his wife. Informants told police that Caluatti frequently bragged about shooting the elder Rizzuto with a sniper’s rifle from the backyard of Rizzuto’s Montreal mansion.

Upon Vito Rizzuto’s release from prison in December 2012, he became hell-bent on revenge and went on a rampage avenging the deaths of his family members – Caluatti was at the forefront of his hit list.

Attending the bachelor party of a friend of his at Terrance Banquet Centre in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan on the evening of June 11, 2013, Young Gun Sam and Tusek excused themselves from the festivities after midnight to smoke cigars in Caluatti’s car. As they sat in the front seat of the vehicle puffing away on their stogies, they were both shot to death around 1:00 a.m. June 12.

In a press release last week, Toronto’s York Police Department requested to speak to the driver of the white van. It’s not known for sure if authorities believe the person was merely a witness to the crime or the possible “doer.”

Groomed by Toronto mobster and convicted killer, Jimmy DeMaria, the man that nicknamed the fearless fast-riser “Young Gun Sam,” per a Canadian organized crime report, due to his quick ascent and even quicker trigger-finger, Caluatti took over as the main muscle in Toronto after the murder of Gaetano (Guy) Panepinto in October 2000. Panepinto was gunned down by a shooter in a passing van on Highway 27 as he drove in his maroon Cadillac. Caluatti was the top suspect in the Panepinto hit and then assumed Panepinto’s job.

Two years prior to Panepinto’s slaying, Caluatti was acquitted at trial on charges that he killed Joe Congiusta instead of repaying a debt on September 5, 1996, outside a Toronto social club Congiusta was known to spend time at.

Caluatti was the owner and operator of a pizzeria and gelato shop when he died.

Desjardins goes on trial in January on charges that he engineered the 40-year old Montagna’s murder in November 2011, two months removed from Montagna ordering an unsuccessful attempt on Desjardins’ life.

Chicago’s ‘Shark’ Might Get Bit, Mob Lawyer Could Be In Hot Water

Chicago mafia associate Jeff Hollingshead has caused his former superior in the mob Bobby Panozzo some serious legal headaches lately. Famously flamboyant Illinois criminal defense attorney Joe (The Shark) Lopez, a mouthpiece and litigator for numerous high-profile Chicago mobsters and underworld characters, alike, over the past 25 years, could be in for a doozy of a migraine via Hollingshead in the near future, too.

Hollingshead began cooperating with the government in November 2013, after pleading guilty to kidnapping a wheelchair-bound street gang member and holding him for ransom and getting bit with a 15-year prison term in return. Once he flipped, Hollingshead, 48 and a former trucker and Teamster, spilled the beans on Outfit Grand Avenue crew veteran Panozzo and the vicious robbery ring he was allegedly in charge of with his buddy and fellow Chicago underworld stalwart Paul Koroluk.

Panozzo, 54, and Koroluk, 55, were indicted on federal racketeering charges related to the burglary operation that primarily targeted drug houses in and around the Chicagoland area earlier this month, caught in the act on July 16, apprehended while walking away from a police sting that set-up a fake narcotics stash to rob and ensnare the “P-K Crew.”

The indictment, which refers to Hollingshead only as “Individual H” (Hollinghead’s identity was confirmed by the Chicago Tribune), cites an incident last year while he was out on bond awaiting trial on his kidnapping charges when Panozzo and Hollingshead planned to murder a witness in Hollingshead’s case. The murder never came to fruition because the witness had gone into hiding and couldn’t be found by Panozzo, Hollingshead and others members of the P-Ks. However, in the midst of trying to locate him, Panozzo and Hollingshead got a pretty good lead on where their attempted target might be discovered.

According to the indictment, Hollingshead met with his lawyer, identified as, “Individual K,” at a coffee shop on Maxwell and Halstead, just outside the city’s Little Italy neighborhood on Taylor Street, and was passed a printout of the witness’ home address.

“Give this to Bob, he’ll know what to do with it,” said the lawyer. “This is your only problem.”

Court records show Hollingshead’s attorney at that point in time to be none other than Joe Lopez.

Reached for comment by the Chicago Tribune this week, Lopez admitted meeting Hollingshead at a Caribou Coffee last July and giving him a copy of an investigative report his firm’s private detective compiled that contained outdated contact information for that particular witness. Lopez told the Trib that it’s a normal pre-trial course of action and that they were trying to locate that witness, as well as all the others, but solely, to his knowledge, for interview purposes leading up to trial.

“No matter what the situation was, it doesn’t look good,” said one colleague of Lopez’s in Chicago’s criminal-defense world that wished to go unidentified. “Joe is treading on some very thin ice here, he could be in some real trouble down the line as this Panozzo case plays out in the future.”

Nicknamed the Shark for his aggressive courtroom tactics, Lopez, 58, has recently represented Drew Peterson, the Chicago cop convicted of killing his wife in 2012 and repped notorious Outfit mob hit man Frank (Frankie the Breeze) Calabrese in the epic Family Secrets trial in 2007 that brought down a number of leaders of the Windy City mafia and solved the infamous “Casino Murders” (the double-homicide of mobster Tony Spilotro and his younger brother and protégé Michael depicted at the conclusion of the Martin Scorsese movie, Casino, with Joe Pesci playing the Spilotro role).

Lopez has a reputation for often being flashier than his gangster clients. He frequently dresses in expensive, loud-colored suits, tightly coordinating ensembles that usually includes matching sock and tie hues. During the Peterson trial, Joe the Shark and his attractive, younger wife, law partner and co-counsel, Lisa, 36, dressed in matching colors, occasionally of the neon variety. Lisa Lopez took a felony theft arrest as a teenager in 1997.