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Mafia Hit List – Top Pittsburgh Mob Murders

SCOTT BURNSTEIN’S ‘HIT LIST’

Top 5 Pittsburgh Mob Hits of All-Time

1 John Bazzano – The third Pittsburgh mafia don in a row to be assassinated, Bazzano was killed on August 6, 1932 by the newly-formed LCN National Commission for ordering the unsanctioned triple-execution of the power-hungry Volpe Brothers.  A week after arranging for the Volpes to be murdered at his coffee shop headquarters in a purported peace conference-turned ambush, Bazzano was lured to New York and attended a lavish party in Manhattan in his honor, a ploy to get him to let his guard down, prior to disappearing on the way back to his hotel in the early morning hours following the festivities. His son, John, Jr., would go on to become a Pittsburgh mob boss as well.

2 Giuseppe (Joe the Baron) Siragusa – Bazzano’s predecessor, Siragusa was on the wrong side of the East Coast gangland war in the early 1930s that led to the forming of the modern-day American mafia and killed for his allegiance to slain New York don Salvatore (Little Caesar) Maranzano on September 13, 1931 inside the basement of his Squirrel Hill mansion. The 50-year old Godfather reigned for two years and made his fortune in providing the yeast necessary for bootlegged liquor during Prohibition.

3 Joseph (Little Joey) Naples – The Pittsburgh mob’s capo in Youngstown, Ohio, a hotbed of organized crime activity and cash-cow of a region for the Pennsylvania-based organization for years, Naples was gunned down by a sniper’s hunter’s rifle while visiting the construction site of a home he was building on August 19, 1991. Little Joey, the protégé of popular Pittsburgh mafia chief Vincent (Briar Hill Jimmy) Prato, butted heads with an ambitious underling of his named Lenny Strollo, who leveraged Naples’ beef with the Gambino Crime Family out of New York and got permission to clip him.

4 Charles (Charlie the Crab) Carabbia – One of three high-profile brothers that oversaw the Youngstown rackets on behalf of the Cleveland mafia – the Ohio mob and the Pittsburgh LCN faction “shared” the working class town’s underworld – Charlie the Crab’s antagonistic and erratic behavior led to his disappearance and murder on December 13, 1980. Jimmy Prato ordered the hit, with approval from Carabbia’s superiors in Cleveland, specifically boss James (Jack White) Licavoli and underboss Angelo (Big Ange) Lonardo. Called to a meeting at a Youngstown donut shop by Lenny Strollo, The Crab was never heard from again.

5 Ernest (Big Ernie) Biondillo – A strong-minded and business-savvy “button man” in the Pittsburgh mafia’s Youngstown rackets, Biondillo, who came up under Little Joey Naples and Briar Hill Jimmy Prato, feuded with Lenny Strollo, Naples’ replacement as the syndicate’s Youngstown captain, and was shot to death while driving to work on the morning of June 3, 1996. Biondillo had eyes on Strollo’s capo’s seat and was going around town making political and judicial payoffs and racket collections behind Strollo’s back. The hit was carried out by black gangster Jeff Riddle, a Strollo strong arm that wished to become the first African-American LCN inductee.

Black Caesar | Frank Matthews Story

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Crime usually doesn’t pay, especially when you’re going up against the US government. But Brooklyn based heroin kingpin Frank “Pee Wee” Matthews, it certainly did pay, to the tune of $100 million in today’s dollars.

The War on Drugs

For African-Americans the late sixties and early seventies were the best of times and the worst of times.  They were finally winning political rights they had been denied and new economic opportunities were opening in cities like New York, Chicago, and Detroit. On the other hand, these same cities were becoming unlivable due skyrocketing crime and drug abuse. In East Harlem, New York, an academic study of one block revealed a heroin addiction rate of 33%. One of every three men, women, and children of any age were daily users of the drug. Just as millions of African-Americans were finding themselves in the cities of the North and Midwest looking for work, the industrial jobs that had drawn them there were shrinking leaving vast pools of unemployed men desperate to make money any way they could. In 1965, wages for Black Males were 1/2 of wages for white males.  This the world that Frank Matthews came to rule, and he became the dominant player in the American heroin trade for

several years; Carlo Gambino, the “Boss of Bosses” put the word out that he wanted Matthews dead, Matthews response was:  “Touch one of my men, and I’ll drive down Mulberry Street and shoot every Wop I see.”

Frank Matthews Black Caesar

The film American Gangster starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington generated over $400 million dollars by purporting to tell the story of Frank “Superfly” Lucas, a Harlem based dealer that later became a police informant when he received 40 years in prison.

Biggest Drug Dealer

While Lucas certainly was a big time dealer, all the Federal law enforcement members, from DEA agents to Prosecutors and Judges, say that Frank Matthews was the criminal mastermind par-excellence of the entire era. Frank Matthews documentaryMatthews was indicted and arrested in Las Vegas on the eve of the 1973 Super Bowl. His $5 million dollar bond (equivalent to $30 million today) was at the time the highest ever set in US Federal court. Matthews certainly had the $5 million, but the government would have seized it for tax evasion if he tried to post it; he was able to somehow get a new judge to lower his bond to a mere $300,000, which Matthews’ friends in the legitimate world quickly posted on his behalf. The Federal Prosecutors had an even bigger problem than “friendly” judges. The indictment against the Matthews organization included numerous Venezuelan government officials; Matthews had been obtaining his heroin and cocaine directly from the French Connection in Venezuela, bypassing the Italian Mafia and putting “Mark IV Frank” as he was sometimes known for his love of Lincoln Continentals, at the top of the food chain. According to the man who headed the Federal effort to bring him down: “Arresting Matthews was like trying to arrest God.” One informant reported seeing Matthews shoo away NYPD officers that showed up to one of his drug mills to investigate a dead body, with the words “I’ll take care of it.”  Matthews hung around New York City for a few months after that, but when a Federal prosecutor told him that yet another indictment was pending, one which carried a life sentence, Matthews promptly disappeared. “It’s as if Matthews dropped off the face of the Earth.” Explained Mike Pizzi, a retired U.S. Marshal who was involved with the hunt for Matthews, the fugitive, for several years. The one hour and 23 minute documentary features rare archival footage, interviews with numerous sources who previously haven’t talked on camera about Frank Matthews and never before seen photos of Matthews.

Frank Matthews in Baltimore
Frank Matthews with his Baltimore connection “Brother Carter”

The IRS estimated that before he disappeared Matthews had stashed $15 to 20 million dollars in off-shore accounts he disappeared with is roughly equivalent to $100 million today, when adjusted for inflation.

Despite one of the largest manhunts in US history, there is no proof as to whether he is alive or dead.

You can rent the film on Amazon.com, on iTunes, on Google Play, or watch it free at SnagFilms.

To this day, Matthews is sought by the DEA.

John Gotti | Prison tapes

John Gotti interview in Federal Prison

While serving his life sentence in Marion Federal Prison in Illinois, John Gotti’s visits were recorded by the government.  Excerpts have been released over the years; the video here is a collection of a few conversations he had with his daughter. What really comes through is Gotti’s egotism, a trait I’ve found to be one of the common denominators in most high level gangsters.

John Gotti also is perpetually aggrieved, almost Christ-like in his sufferings. He doesn’t get pictures of his grand kids, he doesn’t get letters of support when his son is indicted; when his daughter complains that her sons’ are being picked on at school because their grandfather is a gangster, he tells his daughter to tell the other kids’ parents “how you would like to wake up and you don’t see your son no more?”- mind you that these are grade school students.

John Gotti grandson
John Gotti’s daughter and grandsons, whom he wasn’t happy with.

But, as Gotti says, the moral decay of America starts at the very top; “whaddyou expect when the President’s a piece of crap?”  So it’s to be expected that white kids, including his own grandsons, talk like “coons” and act like “niggers.”

Despite Gotti’s blatant racism many Black rappers have embraced him as a hero and reference his name in hundreds of rap songs. Here’s one entitled “John Gotti” by Puerto Rican rapper “Fat Joe” -the first 10 seconds is scam online marketing add, so just skip to the 11 second mark if you want.


Apparently the Black inmates at Marion, home to the leaders of various prison based gangs and the most violent inmates from across the country, weren’t such big fans since,  one assaulted Gotti and bloodied his face, sending him to the infirmary. “Get outta my way you f****ng n***er, don’t you know who I am?” Gotti allegedly yelled to convicted bank robber Walter Johnson. The next day Johnson saw Gotti on the rec yard and gave him a nice beating.

John Gotti Marion

Gotti then tried to hire the Aryan Brotherhood to kill the Black inmate that attacked him. Gotti had been paying the Aryan Brotherhood for protection for years, but AB boss Barry “the Baron” Mills pulled the protection when Gotti’s promise to get him a lawyer that would help Mills overturn a 1979 murder conviction never materialized. Gotti supposedly then offered 500,000 to kill the man that attacked him, Walter Johnson. During the Aryan Brotherhood’s RICO trial in the late 2000’s, an informant testified that the AB went so far as to smuggle two bullets into Marion prison to shoot Walter Johnson with.

Some Federal prison officials thought it was all a set-up, with the Blacks and the Aryan’s planning the whole thing out as a way to extort money from Gotti, knowing he would run to the A.B. for help.

 

John Gotti talks

So, have a listen to one of the last “real” Gangsters as he talks to his daughter, it may just give you a new perspective on the Teflon Don. Check out Gangster Report’s official John Gotti photo gallery

Mafia Hit List – Top Kansas City Mob Murders

SCOTT BURNSTEIN’S ‘HIT LIST’

Top 5 Kansas City Mob Hits of All-Time

1 John (Brother Johnny) Lazia – Kansas City’s late Prohibition Era mafia chief and first LCN don, Lazia was killed in the early-morning hours of July 10, 1934 by machine-gun wielding assailants as he exited a vehicle driven by his underboss and best friend Charles (Charlie the Wop) Carrollo outside his house after a night on the town. Lazia was K.C’s first gangster celebrity and was a mainstay in the city’s newspaper headlines and trendy nightclubs. Later in his life, Brother Johnny feuded with a former lieutenant of his named, Michael (Jimmy Needles) La Capra, who went to the area’s giant political machine for support in overthrowing Lazia. As he lay dying in Kansas City’s St. Joseph’s Hospital, Lazia is alleged to have told an attending physician, “Doc, what I can’t understand is why anybody would want to do this to me, Johnny Lazia, someone who’s been a friend to everybody?” Some speculated that Carrollo sold-out Lazia to La Capra, the suspected gunmen, so he could eventually assume power, which he did (arranging for La Capra’s banishment from KC and subsequent slaying) .

2 Charles Binaggio – Ruling over the area’s rackets as Kansas City’s mafia boss for the entire decade of the 1940s, Binaggio and his underboss and top enforcer, Charles (Mad Dog) Gargotta were gunned down on the evening of April 5, 1950 at the First Ward Democratic Club, after Binaggio fell out of favor with the LCN National Commission in New York City for his greediness and unwillingness to take orders. The double homicide was never solved, but Binaggio’s successor and close friend, Anthony (Fat Tony) Gizzo, was suspected of taking the contract from the New York dons and coordinating the hits.

3 (tie) David Bonadonna – A “made” member of longtime Kansas City Godfather Nick Civella’s crime family, Bonadonna was the most high-profile victim of a nasty mob war fought in the mid-1970s for control of the city’s River Quay entertainment district. His body was discovered in the trunk of his car on K.C. street corner on July 22, 1976. Bonadonna and his son, Freddie, held interests in a number of businesses in the area that Civella-sent henchman William (Willie the Rat) Cammissano, himself a future don, was trying to tax and then take over all together. Freddie Bonandonna fingered Cammissano as his father’s murderer at Willie the Rat’s 1978 federal extortion trial and entered the Witness Protection Program, where he would go on to commit suicide years later. Cammissano was Civella’s primary enforcer and a suspected triggerman in 11 different Missouri gangland homicides, before becoming the city’s mob boss in 1983 until his death of lung cancer in 1995.

3 (tie) The “Rat Pack Murders” – Upon taking power as Godfather of the Kansas City underworld in the spring of 1983, Willie the Rat Cammisano unleasheded a blood-soaked vendetta against enemies new and old, ordering three significant gangland hits in his first year and a half on the throne to forcefully cement his control over the syndicate. On January 6, 1984 longtime rival Carl Spero, already paralyzed from a previous murder attempt in the 1970s at the end of the River Quay conflict, was blown to bit by a nail bomb at his used car lot. A little over a month later on February 9, charismatic K.C. mobster Anthony (Tiger) Cardarella, a staple in the Missouri music scene as a concert promoter and retail record-store owner, was kidnapped and strangled to death after Cammisano felt he posed a threat to his leadership. Cardarella’s close friend and fellow mafia lieutenant Felix (Little Phil) Ferina, someone who might have lured him to his execution and he had partnered on a slew of rackets and alleged mob hits in their time on the street together dating back to the 1950s and 60s, was shot to death on September 19, 1984.

4 Carlo Carramusa – Born in Chicago, Carramusa was a Kansas City mafia drug lieutenant that turned government informant and testified at trial against several fellow mob narcotics conspirators, prior to being whacked on June 6, 1945. Booted from Missouri, Carramusa had moved back to the Windy City and literally had his head blown off by a sawed-off shot gun-holding assassin in front of his teenage daughter as they entered their house.

5 Michael (Jimmy Needles) LaCapra – The heroin-addicted hit man and alleged killer of Lazia in an unsuccessful power-grab less than a year earlier, La Capra was murdered on August 18, 1935, while in hiding in New York. Lured to his death with the promise of drugs, Jimmy Needles, at one time Kansas City’s No. 1 opium and ‘H’ importer and wholesaler, was found at an upstate farm, shot twice in the back of the head.

Mafia Hit List – Top California Mob Murders

SCOTT BURNSTEIN’S ‘HIT LIST’

Top 5 California Mob Murders of All-Time

1 Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel – Movie-star handsome and serial-killer lethal, Siegel was one of the American underworld’s most powerful Jewish mobsters ever, planting a flag out west for the New York mafia and literally inventing the modern-day concept of Las Vegas before being shot to death inside the Beverly Hills mansion of his girlfriend (notorious gun-mole Virginia Hill), from a sniper on the lawn on June 20, 1947. Hobnobbing with the Hollywood elite and reveling in the spotlight of his gangster celebrity on the “left coast”, Siegel was a loose-cannon and his vision for the Nevada gambling mecca was slow to catch on at first – i.e. those above him in the mafia were initially losing money on their investment in the desert. His partners in the New York underworld, which included the legendary Meyer Lansky and Charles (Lucky) Luciano, suspected him of stealing from the Vegas till and ordered him killed at a mob conference of higher-ups in Cuba.  Siegel and his murder have been immortalized in cinematic classics, Bugsy (portrayed in an Oscar-winning script by Warren Beatty) and The Godfather (a fictionalized version of him named Moe Green played by character actor and former Boston wiseguy Alex Rocco).

Los Angeles Mob hits

2 Frank (The Bump) Bompensiero – The Los Angeles mafia’s go-to hitman for parts of five decades and a capo and then consigliere in the Southern California crime family, Bompensiero was killed on February 10, 1977 for his suspected status as an FBI informant and openly criticizing L.A. don Dominic Brooklier. A protégé of deceased L.A. Godfather Jack Dragna, upon Dragna’s death in the 1950s, the Bump (as in “bump off”) began undermining his mentor’s successors, finally leading to Brooklier to issuing the contract on his life shortly after taking the reins. Bompensiero operated between Southern California and San Diego and proved difficult to kill. Aspiring Mafioso Tommy Ricciardi shot Bompenserio to death while talking to Brooklier on a payphone and Brooklier’s underboss Jack LoCicero sat behind the wheel of a getaway car in the San Diego suburb of Pacific Beach., ready to whisk Ricciardi away from the scene. Ricciardi was rewarded with his induction into the L.A. mafia in the months following and although he would be charged with the murder he died of a heart attack before making it to trial.

3 Joseph (Iron Man Joe) Ardizzone – Holding the dubious distinction of being the only L.A. mob don ever assassinated, Iron Man Joe, alleged to be personally responsible for over two dozen gangland homicides, disappeared on the way to his cousin’s house on October 15, 1931. Ardizzone served as the L.A. mafia’s boss for six years (1925-1931), spearheading the syndicate through the heart of the Prohibition Era, and eluded more than one murder attempt before finally succumbing to the contingent of his lieutenants unhappy with his style of leadership and eager to move him out of the way.  His body was never found, nor his killing ever solved.

4 The “Two Tony’s Hit”: Anthony Trombino & Anthony Brancato – Known in the underworld as “The Two Tonys”, Trombino and Brancato were a vicious team of Kansas City-born gangsters that relocated out west to California in the 1940s and were killed together on August 6, 1951, discovered slain side-by-side in the front seat of an automobile parked on Hollywood Boulevard. The infamous “Two Tonys Hit” came as a result of the pair robbing the New York mafia-backed Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (built by Bugsy Siegel as The Strip’s flagship wagering palace and named after his lover, actress Virginia Hill, nicknamed The Flamingo)  three months earlier. L.A. mob heavyweights Nick Licata, Jimmy (The Weasel) Frattiano, Charles Battaglia and Angelo Polizzi and Ohio button-man and expert assassin, Calogero (Leo Lips) Moceri, were all arrested for the double homicide, however, the charges were eventually dropped.

5 Johnny Stompanato – Jewish mob boss Mickey Cohen’s dashing and dangerous bodyguard, Stompanato dated Hollywood starlet Lana Turner and was stabbed to death by Turner’s daughter, Cheryl Crane, on April 4, 1958 at Turner’s Beverly Hills estate. Crane was let off the hook for the homicide after it was deemed justifiable on the count that hot-tempered Stompanato was in the process of violently attacking her mother. Stompanato and James Bond himself, Sean Connery, got into a physical altercation on a movie set in the months that preceded the tabloid-crazy murder.

Los Angeles Mob killings