State Of The Syndicate: The Kansas City Mafia Today


The Italian mafia in Kansas City is a small, quiet crime family, probably on its’ last legs with only a few loose remnants of a time when the syndicate operated on a much larger scale and held national prominence decades ago, per exclusive Gangster Report sources. These sources place membership in the K.C. mob at “a dozen people or less” and claim its rackets mostly consist of gambling and loan sharking with a small amount of dabbling in extortion scams, primarily within the sex, drug and strip club industry.

Law enforcement in Kansas City consider “old timers” John (Johnny Joe) Sciortino and Peter (Las Vegas Pete) Simone, the crime family’s boss and underboss, respectively. Both date back to the once-powerful Civella mob and are convicted felons. Simone, 70, has been the K.C. mafia’s No. 2 man since the early 1990s, controlling all the syndicate’s gambling interests. The 72-year old Sciortino, a one-time driver and protégé of his predecessor, Anthony (Tony Ripe) Civella, became don when Tony Ripe passed away of a heart attack in 2006. Johnny Joe had been Civella’s street boss, senior juice-loan specialist and main go-between for the duration of Tony Ripe’s tenure on the throne.

Tony Ripe Civella was the nephew of legendary Midwest Godfather Nick Civella and son of his less-refined sibling and strong arm, Carl (Corky) Civella. His brother-in-law was the Civellas’ top lieutenant, the highly-feared, Carl (Tuffy) DeLuna. Nick and Corky Civella were at the center of the American mafia’s lordship over Las Vegas in the 1960s and 70s, using Tuffy DeLuna as their point man.

The K.C. mob traditionally doesn’t recognize the post of consigliere, but the FBI in Missouri believes Frank DeLuna, Tuffy’s younger brother and a longtime local produce peddler, serves Sciortino in a de-facto consigliere capacity and is his No. 1 advisor. Tuffy DeLuna died of natural causes in 2008.

Other powerful figures in what’s left of the Kansas City mafia include among them, William (Little Willie) Cammisano, Jr. Peter (P.J.) Ribaste and Vince Civella, per sources. Little Willie Cammisano is the son of deceased syndicate don William (Willie the Rat) Cammisano and a suspect in a number of unsolved Kansas City gangland slayings. Ribaste, a strip-club owner and veteran Pete Simone operative, spends portions of the year in Las Vegas. Vince Civella is Tony Ripe’s son. If the term “captain or capo” is thrown around with these three individuals or any others, it’s purely ceremonial and doesn’t denote the fact that they lead a crew of soldiers, according to sources.

Willie the Rat Cammisano was the Civellas’ chief enforcer and hitman before assuming the reins as boss from Nick Civella upon Civella dying of cancer in 1983. According to federal informant files, Willie the Rat dispatched his son on multiple murder assignments, starting in the 1970s when he was Civella’s street boss and into the 1980s when he ascended to don, a role Little Willie allegedly cherished with tremendous pride. The younger Cammisano and Vince Civella were convicted together in a 2010 bookmaking bust.

In terms of a youth factor in the ranks of the modern-day K.C. mob, the local FBI office is said to keep tabs on Joseph (Joe Pete) Simone, the 43-year old son of Las Vegas Pete Simone and a sometime actor and former minor league baseball player. Joe Pete was held in contempt of court in 1991 for refusing to testify in front of a federal grand jury probing bookmaking and mafia activity in Missouri and was convicted of possessing gambling records in 1992. He pitched in the Houston Astros organization and was acquitted of extortion charges in 2001. Currently, Joe Pete is starring in an internet tv show entitled “Kill’em All,” about a fictional gangland war in Kansas City fought between the Italian and Irish mobs.

One source asserts Joe Pete is a “made guy,” and received his button in the syndicate’s last making ceremony which took place in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Another source with intimate knowledge of FBI inquiries into Missouri mob affairs over the past four decades reveals Joe Pete was a “person of interest” in the Harold Ash murder investigation almost 20 years ago.

Joseph (Joe Pete) Simone
Joseph (Joe Pete) Simone

Ash, a reputed bookie in the Kansas City area, was slain on November 27, 1996, gunned down in front of his suburban home after winning several thousand dollars at a nearby Harrah’s riverboat casino. An FBI document cites an unidentified figure wearing a hooded sweatshirt matching Joe Pete Simone’s description, flanked by two men matching descriptions of mob associates Louis (Cuban Louie) Lerida and Timmy Sears, being seen on casino surveillance following Ash, 64, from the casino to the parking garage. Joe Pete himself denies being a member of the mafia and any criminal wrongdoing since his last conviction. Nobody has ever been charged in the Ash murder case.

Johnny Joe Sciortino, said to be “stepping back” lately in his day-to-day duties running the Kansas City mob, and Pete Simone had their names surface in the 1990 murder of federal witness Larry Strada, a suburban K.C. bar owner who was shot dead in his driveway after appearing in front of a grand jury investigating sports gambling in the area. John Mandacina, a K.C. mafia soldier and Irish hood Patrick McGuire were imprisoned for the crime. The pair met with Johnny Joe and Las Vegas Pete at Simone’s Avenue Social Club in the hours prior to Strada’s slaying. Simone was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in Mandacina and McGuire’s first-degree homicide indictment.

Sciortino and syndicate elder statesman Frank DeLuna can often be found nights at Jasper’s, a popular Italian restaurant in Kansas City. The Simones main hangout is Gilhooley’s, a tavern and grill more in a dive-bar design and rumored to be silently owned by Las Vegas Pete.

Jasper's in Kansas City, a frequent dining spot for reputed local mob don Johnny Joe Sciortino
Jasper’s in Kansas City, a frequent dining spot for reputed local mob don Johnny Joe Sciortino