Category: Famous Gangsters

Benedetto Aloi – A mobster who got involved in the infamous ‘Windows Case’

Benedetto Aloi also called Benny in short, was born to Sebastian Aloi, and popularly called ‘Buster’, who was associated with the Profaci Mafia family as a soldier. It was under his influence that Bendetto and his brother Vincenzo Aloi had been introduced to the La Cosa Nostra. He was born on 6th October 1935.

His early life

Like any other children, he had spent his early childhood days with friends and brother and studied in school. He also visited his father on several occassions at local Profaci hangout to help with some errands. It is here that he came to know about a goodfella’s life.

His entering the Mafia family

He got into the Colombo Mafia family, which became the Profaci Mafia family by his 20s. His father had rose to the ranks of a caporegime and guided his two sons and provided them with few enterprises to control. They found the garment trucking business to be the most profitable, therefore, providing the Colombo family with substantial income.

But he along with other Mafioso had come under the vigilance of the FBI for running numerous rackets. On 19th November 1974, he and more than La Cosa Nostra’s 150 members had been indicted with perjury charges. But Aloi never got tried.

He rose to the rank of a capo by the 1980’s, after which he again got tracked by the FBI for allegedly being involved in capital finance group, lending money at higher rate of interest. It was during the early 1990’s that his biggest threat came in the form of the most infamous ‘Windows Case’. In this case, about 4 New York Mafia Families out of the 5 had used their influence for fixing New York Housing Authorities bids over local contractors and construction unions.

Aloi had by May 1991 had risen within the Colombo Mafia Family to the position of a consigliere and was convicted of conspiracy and extortion. Receiving more than 5 times of the original expected time, he got sentenced to about 16 years 8 months. But in 18th May 1991, he got released and was 74 years of age. At this age, he found it difficult to get back into the Mafia Family and to gel well with the 21st century mafia members, was all the more difficult. He got retired officially as a caporegime to live the remaining part of his life in seclusion. Finally, on 7th April, 2011, he died.

Anthony Spero – The ‘Old Man’ and loyal Bonanno family mobster

Anthony Spero, was also called popularly the ‘Old Man’, was born in the year 1929. It was during his early 20s that he got familiar with the organized crime on Brooklyn streets. He became a consigliere and New York’s Bonanno Mafia family acting boss for two times. Carmine Galante, the underboss of Bonanno crime family and close confident of Anthony during his early years, was the one, who had shown him the way of the life of a mobster. Being Bonanno street soldier and belonging to ‘Galante’, Spero could not be ordered by any other mobster as to what needs to be done, as it was Galante only who gave orders to him. This automatically provided him with quick ways to make wealth in during the 1950’s & 60’s.

His personal life

Spero just like Galante kept a low profile and engaged in hobbies like breeding pigeons in Bensonhurst on an apartment roof. He had spent a good amount of time with his pigeons, while held meetings with the other Mafia members, being out of FBI’s prying eyes. He did own a home at Staten Island, but spent most of the time in Brooklyn. He was married happily and had two daughters named Diana and Jill.

To avoid jail time due to charges related to drug and conspiracy, Galante in 1958 had gone into hiding. The Bonanno family’s acting boss during this time was Natale Evola, while the regular activities of the family were taken care of by Spero, with no real promotion witnessed. But Galante got convicted and then sentenced to prison for 20 years on 10th July 1962.

Rise to high rankings

Spero in 1968 got promotion to become a Consigliere within the Bonanno family after Joe and Bill Bonanno had been compelled to take retirement after a failed attempt in capturing the Commission. The acting boss still was Evola, but died of cancer in 1973. The new acting boss was Phillip Rasteli, while Spero remained in Consigliere spot.

With Galante back to head the family in 1974 after being released, Spero was to lead a crew as caporegime. On 14th June 1977, he became the family’s official made man. But after the death of Carmine Galante in 1979 and Rastelli’s imprisonment in 1987 along with Massino, his protégé, Spero got the promotion as acting boss. With the death of Rastelli in 19971, Spero again became the acting boss. On his arrest and being convicted on 5th April 2001, Spero was 73 years old and spent the remaining life in Butner’s Butner Federal Correctional Facility, North Carolina and died on 29th September 2008.

Carmine Tramunti – The Mafia who was sentenced the maximum times

It was on 1st October 1910 that Carmine Tramunti was born in New York’s Manhattan district. He was popularly called ‘Mr. Gibbs’. It was in Harlem that he spent within a tenement building, his early years. At the age of 20, he robbed his neighborhood rent collection and got arrested. Because of lack of evidence, he was rereleased.

Leading a criminal life

He was again arrested and convicted of felony in July 1931 and sentenced for 6 to 15 years, being sent to Sing Sing Correctional center at New York’s Ossining. He was released for a brief period and for parole violation, got arrested, but eventually in 1938 got released.

After his release, he again took to criminal activities and got engaged in a lucrative New York crap game known as ‘Harlem Game’. He got married and gave birth to two children, during the time he got close to Brooklyn’s Lucchese Mafia family.

His rise to power

He had a very good relation with Carlo Gambino, the future Gambino Mafia family boss and with his power and friendship rose to power within the Lucchese cri me family. With Thomas Lucchese’s death in 1967, Gambino had the Commission to be pushed to accept Tramunti as his successor, given his general intelligence and business leadership. It was agreed upon by the Commission and Tramunti was made the boss of Lucchese Family. It was assumed that the Commission was simply buying time as Anthony Corallo, the true successor was in prison. Tramunti got indicted with stock fraud on 14 counts for taken over a Florida based investment firm on 19th November 1970. At trial, he got convicted. Again the next year, he got indicted, this time due to his lying to the grand jury about not having any kind of contact with Paul Vario, the Lucchese capo. On 6th August, 1972, he got 3  three years sentence.

The same year, when serving in prison for the above reason, along with 42 others, Tramunti got charged on drug charges,  with law enforcement officials cracking a heroin route that came through Canada via France. This trial had received national headlines and been dubbed as ‘The French Connection’. For this,  on 7th May 1973, he got sentenced to about 15 years in prison, to which he reacted that he was a mobster doing bad things, but of course not at all a drug dealer.

Anthony Corallo in the meanwhile had been released and went back to the top spot in the Lucchese Crime Family. On 15th October 1978, Carmine had died when serving sentence because of natural causes.

Paul Castellano – The most disliked mobster of all time

Paul was regarded to be among the most disliked Mafia bosses till date due to having superiority complex. It was on 26th June 1915 that Paul Castellano was born as Constantino Paul Castellano in the Brooklyn region of New York. His dislike for his first name made him to put it off when using his name. Apart from being a butcher by profession, his father was also one of the early members of Mangano Mafia Family.

His life

It is after the 8th grade that Castellano had dropped out of school and helped his father in his business. At the age of 19, in 1934, he committed armed robbery along with two accomplices. Big Paul as he was called was the only one to be apprehended by the police officials. In appearance, he weighed about 275 pounds and 6 foot 3” in height. He was stubborn enough for not cooperating with the police, which had earned him a name in the underworld.

He married Nina Manno, his childhood sweetheart in 1937 and sister in law to Carlo Gambino, another popular mobster of that time. They gave birth to three sons named Joseph, Philip and Paul and a daughter named Connie.

Becoming a Mobster

He was indicted into the Mangano Mafia family in 1940 as Made Member, where Carlo Gambino, his first cousin was a captain. After Anastasia took charge of the Mangano Family and had its title changed, Big Paul was made a captain. But in 1957, Anastasia was killed by Vito Genovese and this made Gambino to take charge of the family changing it to the Gambino Crime Family. Paul Castellano, his cousin was made his right hand man.

A mafia meeting at New York’s Appalachian region on 17th November 1957 saw Paul to visit it, instead of his boss Gambino. A raid by the police made others to run away, but Paul surrendered without resistance and got sentenced to imprisonment for just a year.

With his success in his family meat business, he had owned numerous businesses by 1950s, which included Ranbar Packing Inc., The Pride Wholesale Poultry and Meat Corp. and Blue Ribbon Meats. He also was more into loansharking business.

When Gambino wanted Castello to succeed him, there was noticed outrage among the street soldiers, since the latter was seen to be a greedy snob, demanding 15% take from the street soldiers, unlike other captains who demanded 10%. However, with some struggle he became the Gambino family head, but was later killed by a Gotti shooter.

Johnny ‘Dio’ Diuoguardi – The dreadful mobster

Johnny ‘Dio’ Dioguardi was popularly called as ‘master labor racketeer’ who is said to have known all the illegal ways to make money. It was at a very young age that Dio started to be regarded as a treacherous thug, with Thomas E. Dewey, the U.S. attorney in 1936 was compelled to call him his a young gorilla.

Characteristics of Dio

It was on 28th April 1914 that Dio was born in Downtown Manhattan’s Forsyth Street. Vincent and Frank his two brothers were into legitimate work, while Thomas the third brother became a capo with the Luchesse Mafia Family. Giovanni B. Dioguardi, his father was a bicycle shop owner was killed in August 1930 in Coney Island, which according to the police officials was mob related execution.

Dio is known to have graduated grammar school from Stuyvesant High School. However, he had dropped out before the completion of two years, to work for uncle who was a gangster called James Plummeri ‘Jimmy Doyle’. Dio according to those known to him said to appear like Rudolph Valentino, the silent movie star. He grew up as tough youth, terrorizing the street vendors to give him some portion of the wares for free. His talents were realized by his uncle, who had him to work as leg breaker (schlammer) at Doyle’s Garment Center of Louie Buchalter. The specialty of Dio was said to be union related extortion, in which he had topped.

A trucking association for the garment workers was initiated by Doyle and Dio, where the truckers employed with the Garment Center had been compelled to join the union and pay up hefty union dues.  Failing to make payments would mean facing the threat of broken bones and resistance would mean even death. Moreover, the truckers were also instructed as to where to buy their meats, clothing, wine, and other essential items, how much was to be spent on every item, etc. Strike ensued if the employers did not pay up extortion fees. However, after running out of luck, they found themselves imprisoned for five years.

Later, on being released, they left New York City to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Soon he got into legitimate dress wholesaling business, trucking and real estate and investments in the stock market. When he turned 40, he got inducted officially into the Luchesse Mafia family. Both his sons also became Mafia members, with one Dominick becoming a Made Man with the Luchesse Family and another son joining the Colombo Crime Family.

Carmine Galante –The Mobster called ‘The Cigar’

Carmine Galante –The Mobster called ‘The Cigar’

Carmine ‘Lilo’ Galante was considered to be working for the Genovese Crime family and as a vicious and ambitious person. But he had been murdered, which is remembered in the Mafia history and among the most memorable of all mob hits until date. His body was noticed to have been filled with lead and sprawled on the back of his tiny Queens restaurant patio, with his trademark cigar that remained between his teeth, tightly clenched.

About Carmine

It was on 21st February 1910 that Camillo was born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and was the first American- Sicilian generation. He had his name Camillo ditched and was known as Carmine instead. With time, he had his name shortened to ‘Lilo’, while he was popular among his associates as Galante. Initially, he took to petty thefts at the young age of 14 and at 15 dropped from school. He had been to reform school few times and as regarded as ‘incorrigible delinquent’.

220px-Johnny_dio_-_UP_Tretick_photo_-_1957His activities

Between 1923 and 26, he was employed ostensibly with Lubin Artificial Flower Co., West Broadway and got engaged in lucrative criminal career. He was arrested several times, but got released after having the police officials bribed. But in 1926 December, he got arrested for robbery and second degree assault and sentenced to 5 years. After he got released, he again got back to his usual ways of crime. He got involved in the murder of Officer De Castillia and on 30th August, 1930 got murdered. On 8th January 1931, he got remanded to Ossining’s Sing Sing Prison, New York and transferred to Dannemora’s Clinton Correctional Facility, New York, from where he got released on 1st May, 1939.

When in prison, his IQ test found him to be lame, equating to that of 14 years old. He was also diagnosed of having ‘neuropathic psychopathic personality’, while displaying gonorrhea’s early signs.

He was later inducted into the Bonanno Mafia Family as Made Man during the early 1940s and had performed several hits for his boss Vito Genovese, during the 1930s through 1940s. In 1953, he was sent to the Canadian border to have the drug operation to be supervised for about 3 years. But after getting caught by the police, and not having any evidence for making an arrest, Galante was deported to America, as ‘undesirable alien’.

However, the Rastelli and Bonanno family had Galante murdered.

Carlo Gambino – The powerful Mobster Boss

Carlo is considered to be a quiet person, who always remained in control and dressed inconspicuously. Having an enigmatic smile and huge hawk nose, he has been regarded to be among the most powerful bosses till date.

His early life

It was on 24th August 1902, in Palermo, Sicily that Gambino was born. The area of his birth Caccamo was regarded to be dominated by the Mafioso, which made the police as well as the military to refrain from entering it.

His entering the Mafia world

It was his mother belonging to a Mafioso family, had introduce him as a teenager to the ‘Men of Respect’. Gambino was able to have his superiors to be impressed with his intellectual skills, ability to undertake tasks that was essential and his calm nature.

He had been rewarded in 1921 by getting inducted into the crime family that was called ‘Honored Society’. However, he along with other Mafioso in Italy and Sicily had flee to the States to escape the Mussolini’s vendetta. The freighter that he caught in late 1921 was SS Vincenzo Florio, which had docked in Virginia region of Norfolk on 23rd December 1921. He came here as an illegal immigrant, where he was met by his cousin Castellano and headed towards New York City.

Activities in the United States

He started his life in the States with illegal bootlegging that was run by Tommy Lucchese and soon joined Masseria’ s crew, who was at that point of time America’s most powerful Mafioso. With issues being created with Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, the Castellammarese War erupted in New York between 1929-31 killing scores in the process.

The situation was rectified by Gambio, who understanding his side slowly losing the battle approached secretly Maranzano, offering his services to his gang that was agreed readily. The other partners of Gambina like Anastasia, Costello, Genovese and Luciano also joined Maranzano. Masseria was murdered by the gang on 15th April 1931. After this, Carlo Gambino was made the Mangano family’s capital, while Maranzano become ‘Boss of Bosses’. But Maranzano also was murdered after which Lucian became boss of bosses  and Gambino had become a big money maker among all Mafias in the city of New York.

With the Prohibition being repealed in the year 1933, Carlo Gambino had made sufficient money to enter into legal booze business. Over time, he possessed the biggest system of liquor distribution in America’s East Coast.

Mobster Albert Anastasia – The Mad Hatter

Mobster Albert Anastasia – The Mad Hatter

Albert Anastasia was considered to be a violent killer, who along with ‘Lepke’ Louis Buchalter headed the Murder Inc.

His early life

It was in Calabria, in Italy’s southern part that Albert was born on 26th September 1902 as Umberto Anastasio. At the age of 15, he along with Tony, his brother had illegally entered the Brooklyn Docks of New York by boarding a ship. He did not even have shoes upon his arrival in America. At Brooklyn, he had lived with some relative and worked as longshoreman with his brother.

His characteristics

However, he was known for his short, but violent temper and had been arrested in 1920 for murdering Joe Torino, a fellow longshoreman. He had been tried, convicted, sentenced to death. During this time, he had his last name to be changed to Anastasia from Anastasio, since he did not want to have his family’s name to get defamed. His brother came to be known as ‘Tough Tony’.

After waiting for his execution to be carried out at Sing Sing Prison, New York, his attorney had managed to get a new trial, where some witnesses changed their opinion about the murder and few simply disappearing from face of Earth. The case got dropped and Anastasia was released. He had learnt the method to have witnesses eliminated in his coming years for avoiding prosecution, with regards to his committed murders.

His activities as a Mafia

On his release, he had joined Joe Masseria’s gang, which at that point of time was America’s top Mafioso. He got close to Frank Costello and Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano mobsters. Luciano in 1930 had planned to eliminate Masseria, his boss Salvatore Maranzao, his successor. The ultimate objective of Luciano was to have all Mafia Crime Families in the United States to be united like the Italian Mafia members, Jewish gangsters such as Meyer Lansky and Irish Gangsters such as Owney Maddon into a single National Crime Commission. It was something that was accomplished in 1931 with the death of Masseria. Five separate families were created from the rest of the made mafia men. Anastasia was made the Underboss as a reward in Vincent Mangano’s family. Anastasia had earned the loyalty of Luciano and hence, along with Louie ‘Lepke’ Buchalter was made in charge of ‘Murder Incorporated’ as it has been named by the press. Being known as ‘Boys from Brooklyn’, this group comprising over a 100 gang members had murdered several people.

About Mobster Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter

According to historians, Louis was considered to be very bad right from the time of his birth. He had killed with great relish, was strong armed and swindled people in huge numbers. However, for his crimes, he was considered to be the only Mafia boss, who went to die at the electric chair of Sing Sing prison.

His early life

It was in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that Buchalter was born on 12th February 1897. His father was the owner of a hardware store and was a Russian Jew. As a child, Buchalter had an uneventful life. He was called affectionately by his mother as ‘Lepkeleh’, which means ‘Little Louis’ in Yiddish. But his friends shorted it to Lepke, something that struck for the rest of the life.

Life as a Mafia

But at 13, his life took a drastic turn, with his father dying unexpectedly and mother facing serious health conditions, compelling her to leave for Arizona. Lepke was under the guidance of his elder sister, who found him to be unmanageable. He left school and could be found hanging on Lower East Side streets seeking trouble. He started to mix with the older gangsters and learnt to steal and rob. He was apprehended when robbing a store in 1915, but still continued this life.  During one of his criminal endeavors, he met Jacob ‘Gurrah’ Shapiro and became fast friends for life. Teaming up, they became a real menace. He was sentenced to Sing Sing Prison, where he became a master in crime and now was a hardened thug. Along with Shapiro, went to New York City and asking protection money from bakeries. There they joined ‘The Gorilla Boys’ to make it big. With Lepke’s murdering of Orgen, his gang got into big time and was regarded instant stars of the underworld.

This is where Shapiro and Lepke enjoyed, since they were had about 250 thugs working under them and getting protection money from garment centers, poultry business, restaurants, dieing and cleaning business, earning over $10 million estimated amount a year. To be on the right side of the law, they had changed the original name of the Mafia family from ‘Gorilla Boys’ to ‘Gold Dust Twins’.

Later, he along with Schultz, Luciano, Costello, Siegel, Lansky, Lucchese and Anastasia had formed the national crime syndicate, thereby controlling all illegal activities within the northeast and mid west. It was Thomas E. Dewey, a Special Prosecutor who had created trouble for Lepke. It was on 4th March, 1944 that Lepke being stiffed by best friends got executed by the law enforcement officials.

The Underworld Prime Minister – Mobster Frank Costello

Francesco Castiglia or Frank Costello as he was known was born in 1891 in the mountain village of Calabria, named Lauropoli, in Italy. His father had moved to the New York City in 1893 alone, where in East Harlem, he had set up a grocery shop and to save money for sending to his family. It was Edward, the elder brother of Frank who had the latter to get involved with petty crimes.

Initial criminal activities of Frank

Costello, at the small age of 14 had worn over his face a black handkerchief and robbed his landlady, who had recognized him. But being smart, he avoided arrest. But in 1908 and 1912, he got arrested for robbery and assault and somehow is known to have beaten both raps.

For carrying illegal firearms, he got sentenced for a year in prison in 1915 at the age of 24. The decade that followed, he got involved with numerous criminal activities, but for the next 37 years, he had never been imprisoned in a jail cell. He had sworn to himself of never carrying a gun after he was released from jail.

His relationship

On his release, he had met Loretta Geigerman, a Jewish woman and married her, something that was considered to be unusual for the Italian to marry someone outside the Catholic faith. Being different in his thought and approach, he had forged relationships with several Jewish gangsters, which included the well known Mafiosi of that time like Busy Siegel, Louie ‘Lepke’ Buchalter and Meyer Lansky. After marriage, he worked for ‘The Clutch Hand’ murderous Joe Morello. It was he along with Igazio Saietta ‘Lupo the Wolf’ responsible towards the extortion Black Hand racket.

He met Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano when working for Morello, a Sicilian running rackets within Little Italy, on Manhattan’s lower east side. Through him, he strengthened his relationship with mobsters like Tommy Lucchese, Vito Genovese, Siegel and Lansky. Together, they become involved heavily in armed robbery, extortion, burglaries, dealing drugs and gambling activities. With The Volstead Act made law in 1920, the prohibition era started. It is during this time that Costello along with his pals made it big, bringing illegal alcohol from Canada and even England. The entire operation was financed by Arnold Rothstein.

It was in 1973 that he breathed his last due to heart attack at the Manhattan hospital. He got buried in Queens St. Michael Cemetery.

Vito Cascioferro – The Legendary Mobster

Vito Cascioferro – The Legendary Mobster

He is regarded to be a prominent boss, belonging to the Sicilian Mafia. He was also called Don Vito. There are many who claim him to be a legend and ‘Boss of Bosses’. It is in 1862, January 22 that he was born to a poor family and was raised in Bisacquino, a rural town. However, Palermo is his actual birthplace. Both his parents were illiterate and his father was working in Bisacquino as armed guard. Vito had started his career as revenue collector but he started to show interest in criminal activities like kidnapping, menacing, etc.

Rise to position as a Mafia

Vito got recruited by Bernardino Verro into the Sicilian League and soon with his smart and daring acts, he went on to become its President. A kidnapping case in 1901 had made him to sail towards America, to escape being caught by the police, where he worked as fruits importer in New York for about two years.

In the USA, he comes across the Morello Mafia family that he joined, but with the threat of being arrested in 1904, he went back to Sicily. Don Vito was described to be very intelligent by Luigi Barzini, a journalist and possessed great qualities. He was loved by everyone and wore the best clothes, was quite helpful and generous in nature.

His activities in Italy

Casciferro was described as a terrible criminal by Joe Pestrosino, who was an american cop, but was killed by the former. Due to lack of evidence, Vito’s case was sent to trial. Although in his lifetime, he got arrested numerous times, but never got convicted. Some writers are of the opinion that it was Vito who had murdered Joe.  According to the then police commissioner, the murder probably was orchestrated by others under the direction of Casciferro.

Mussolini, the Fascist leader in 1926 had ordered the destruction of the Mafia in Sicily and for this, he had given the responsibility to Prefect Cesare Mori. Cascioferro along with 150 members were arrested in the process. Vito got life term in 1930, where he died due to natural cause. But some writers feel that his death may be because of severe dehydration in 1943. But historians do consider that Vito Casciferro was indeed a great Mafia leader in Mafia history, who although had a short stint in the United States, was intelligent and capable enough to steer his band to safety.

Louis Cafora – The Mafia member who carried out legitimate business

Louis Cafora was a member of the Colombo Crime Family and his activities included that of being an agent of loan sharking. Furthermore, he also was indulged in activities of that of a drug trafficker, working for the Lucchese Crime Family. Cafora was popularly called in the circle as ‘Fat Louis’ or ‘The Whale’. His parents had migrated from Italy’s Campania region of Senerchia to the US.

His name

A small difference is present in the surname of Louis’. It is said to have been either used by his parents in this manner or misspelled by the INS, or there could be a possibility of Louis trying to have his name modified a bit for protecting and to hide the family’s name, since he got popular notoriously because of his dangerous criminal and illegal activities that he undertook. But, he did not maintain any kind of relations with The Genovese Crime Family capo, Vincent Cafaro.

Characteristic features

When it came to his physical appearance, Louis Cafora was very tall and quite fat even during his childhood days and he is said to be conscious about the same. He was often noticed to prepare Italian dishes for the gang members as he just loved cooking variety of things and experimenting new things.

His criminal activities

Louis was involved actively in the different Mafia activities. It was with the joining of the Lucchese Crime Family that his criminal life started. However, he did not go into performing those street crimes for his boss. Rather, he preferred working towards pursuing different legitimate deals on behalf of Lucchese Mafia Family. He had managed to have a lease on the parking lot at Downtown Brooklyn. It was through its management that Louis got to influence several officials within the State Transportation Department of New York. Paul Vario, his official Capo is known to have several meetings with subordinates at the parking lot that was leased out by Louis. This way, they could stay safe and ensure that all their meetings and the discussions that are held here are kept a top secret and not recorded by the law enforcement officials in any manner. This parking lot was used by Louis for storing those stolen cars on behalf of Henry Hill. With his income on the increase, he was able to derive a powerful position within the Mafia Family.