As big as a player as there has been in the world of gambling on the east coast of the United States the past 40 years, aging Pittsburgh mobster Robert (Bobby I) Iannelli is smoking it to the filter. The seasoned 88-year old Steel Town gambling-boss titan was indicted this week on charges of overseeing a giant sports book and numbers lottery business out of Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, alleged to be still running his rackets from his old homestead, Chub’s Place restaurant in North Park.

Iannelli came up in the mob under Tony Grosso, Pittsburgh’s longtime policy czar, who went to prison in 1986. Upon Grosso’s incarceration, Iannelli took over most of illegal gambling in Western Pennsylvania on behalf of the LaRocca crime family and mafia don Michael Genovese. Partnering with the Williams brothers, Iannelli controlled massive swaths of numbers territory once belonging to Grosso – Grosso’s illegal lottery generated $30,000,000 per year in net profits.

Closely aligning himself with Pittsburgh mob capos Anthony (Wango) Capizzi and Frank (Sonny) Amato, Jr., Bobby I grew his bookmaking business to be one of the largest in the country. He did collections for the savvy Capizzi and the mob prince Sonny Amato and has long acted as a layoff bank for other high-end bookies reaching from Pittsburgh to New York to Boston.

Iannelli’s arrest record dates back to the 1950s. He took a federal bookmaking pinch in the 1970s and did three years behind bars. In 1991, he was popped in a state gambling case and had to do some more time. People who know him describe him as a “gentleman gangster.”

Bobby I’s son, Rodney (aka “Rusty”) was busted with him in the 1991 state case as well as the most recent one. Family gambling affairs were based out of Chub’s Place in 1991 just like prosecutors allege they are being today. Rusty Iannelli, 59, was nailed in 2013 for running gambling rackets with Pittsburgh mob figures Ron (Porky) Melocchi and Jeff (Biscuit) Risha and pleaded guilty.

The Pittsburgh mafia, in the form of a functioning crime family, is defunct. When Genovese died of natural causes in 2006, the hierarchy fell apart. Links to Genovese, like the ones the Iannellis carry, are few and far between these days, although scattered activity still occasionally occurs. Amato passed away in 2003. Wango Capizzi, for years the LaRocca syndicate’s liaison to the Las Vegas gaming industry, followed shortly after Genovese, and checked out in 2007.

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