With A Little Help From My Friends: Former Kansas City Crime Lord Whitey Cox Aided K.C. Mob Figure John Mandacina’s Bid For Freedom

KING OF NEW YORK, Christopher Walken, 1990.

January 7, 2023 — One-time Kansas City Black mob boss Eddie (Whitey) Cox gets an assist in the freeing of K.C. mafia soldier John Mandacina this week. Cox, who is the only Caucasian to ever lead an African-American criminal organization and known as an expert amateur jurist, helped attorneys for Manadcina draft legal briefs that earned him a sentence commutation and sprung him from a life sentence he was serving for a Civella crime family murder that occurred back in 1990.

The 88-year old Cox got himself a compassionate release for medical reasons in the summer of 2021. He pointed Mandacina in the same direction. U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs let Mandacina, 76. out of the Big House Friday because he is battling lung cancer. While Mandacina did 30 years as a guest of the government, Whitey Cox did almost 32 before seeing freedom 18 months ago.

Cox co-founded the Kansas City’s Black Mafia on the city’s eastside in 1968 along with James (Doc) Dearborn and Eugene (Jimmy the Seal) Richardson, overseeing a vast empire of gambling, drugs, loan sharking, extortion and prostitution. Known for his sharp mind, gangland political savvy and innovative crimes, Cox was Dearborn’s main adviser and a diplomat in the area’s crime scene. Dearborn was killed mob-style in 1985, gunned down in a motel by the airport.

Part of Cox’s role in the Kansas City underworld was forging alliances with other criminal organizations, like the city’s Italian mob, referred to by the FBI as the Civella crime family. Cox was famous for trouble-shooting when issues between the organizations arose. That’s how he met Mandacina, who ran a large bookmaking business under Kansas City mob power John (Johnny Joe) Sciortino in the 1980s. Sciortino, 79, is currently believed to be the boss of the Civella clan by the FBI

Mandacina was found guilty at a 1993 trial of ordering the murder of Kansas City mob associate Larry Strada three years prior. Strada had cooperated in a federal bookmaking case that ensnared Mandacina and got him slapped with a prison sentence. Two weeks before he was supposed to reported to begin serving his term in May 1993, Strada was gunned down in front of his Gladstone, Missouri residence.

Cox was rumored to be the inspiration for fictional crime lord Frank White, the main character in the 1990 film King Of New York starring Christopher Walken. That same year, Cox was indicted on a slew of racketeering charges. Throughout his time in prison, Cox crafted a reputation as an elite jailhouse attorney, aiding dozens of prisoners in getting convictions overturned and new trials.