August 28, 2019 — In some circles of working class Ohio, they called him “Saint Pat,” for the sense of pride he re-instilled in a community of suddenly shuttered factories and mills being ravished by gangland corruption.

Pat Ungaro, the man who ushered in the anti-mafia era in the Mahoning Valley and the longest-ever serving mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, died of natural causes last week. Ungaro, 78, was Youngstown’s mayor from 1984 through 1997 and was laid to rest later this week.

His administration rid the notoriously mobbed up town of organized crime influence. He battled cancer in the last years of his life.

While in office, Ungaro built a reputation for being incorruptible, unlike many of his predecessors and eagerly pursued breaking the city’s firmly entrenched cycle of corruption. The Youngstown underworld was ripped apart by violence in the 1960s and 1970s, as warring mob factions from Cleveland and Pittsburgh duked it out for control of the local rackets.

The car bomb became a mafia enforcement calling card in the Mahoning Valley back in those days. The term “Youngstown tune-up” soon translated into parlance for a car-bomb attack even outside of Ohio. Cleveland mafia’s Youngstown crew chief Charles (Cadillac Charlie) Cavallaro and his young son were famously killed in a November 1962 car bombing on the Friday morning following Thanksgiving.

By the time Ungaro took office in the mid 1980s, the Pittsburgh mob’s LaRocca crime family had seized power in the local rackets, but violence continued. The Cleveland mob’s influence in the region waned due to the Scalish crime family being crippled by indictments and defections. One of the first things Ungaro did as mayor was to travel to Washington D.C. and testify on Capital Hill before a Senate committee on organized crime affairs and request an increase in federal funding to combat the mob’s grip over the Mahoning Valley. Within months, the Youngstown FBI branch beefed up its ranks and began preparing to take on the mafia.

Lenny Strollo emerged as the de facto don of Youngstown in the 1990s (after the sniper slaying of rival mob figure Little Joey” Naples in the spring of 1991) and instantly became Public Enemy No. 1 for the Ungaro administration. Strollo was busted in 1997, the same year Ungaro left the mayor’s office after 13 years.

Facing life in prison for murder and racketeering, Strollo cut a cooperation deal with the government, the final nail in the coffin of the Mahoning Valley mafia. Strollo admitted to ordering the June 1996 mob execution of rival Ernest (Ernie B) Biondillo and placing a murder contract on the head of newly-elected Mahoning County prosecutor Paul Gains later that same year.

Biondillo hand been Little Joey Naples’ No. 2 in charge and butted heads with Strollo over gambling turf. Gains, a former cop and steel mill worker, survived a December 1996 assassination attempt when he was shot multiple times at his home in the hours before he was supposed to be sworn into his post as prosecutor.

Following his more than a decade as mayor of so-called “Crimetown USA,” Ungaro had jobs as a high school football coach, elementary school vice principal and Liberty Township Administrator.

The integrity he displayed endeared him to his constituents.

“I was approached by legitimately bad people (with bribes), people representing the mafia and I always said no. Period,” he told News21 (WFMJ) in an interview five years ago. “But how many prosecutors, sheriffs, judges, county commissioners did end up going along with people like Lenny Strollo and his mafia pals? Those people ended up in jail with Strollo and the boys. This wasn’t phony. This was the mafia. They were the real thing.”

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