Cleveland Mafia families – Its rise and fall

It was during the late 1800s that 7 Porello brothers and 4 Lonardo brothers all of them being childhood friends along with sulphur mine workers had come down to the States from their hometown Licata, in Sicily.  They settled in Cleveland’s Woodland district. Big Joe, the Lonardo clan leader had become a successful entrepreneur in lower region of Woodland Avenue. At the height of Prohibition, he became a successful dealer of corn sugar, used by bootleggers for making corn liquor. He provided raw materials and stills to poor Italian residents in the districts to prepare booze and to sell it to Big Joe for a good commission.  Hence, hear earned their respect and also was feared as godfather or ‘padrone’. He went on to establish a vicious and powerful gang called corn sugar ‘baron’ making Joe Porello, his corporal.

Emergence of the Porello family business

Soon the Porello brothers left their employment with the Lonardo gang and started their own wholesaling of sugar business and had become successful dealers establishing their headquarters in upper Woodland Avenue. The Lonardo’s business flourished as small competitors, bootleggers and sugar dealers died mysteriously of violent deaths leaving the Porellos, their old friends to be their main competitors.

The youngest Porello, Raymond got arrested for arranging 100 gallons of whisky  for sale at a barbershop owned by Porello and got sentenced to Dayton, Ohio Workhouse. The much influential Big Joe was paid huge for helping Raymond out of prison, which he failed, but did not return the money back. Big Joe had to visit Sicily to check out on his relatives and mother in 1926, during which the Porellos took advantage of the lack of business skills of the younger Lonardo. On 13th October 1927, in an ambush at Porello barbershop, Big Joe died when shot at, while Angelo escaped by ducking under the chair. Angelo succeeded Lonardos to become corn sugar ‘baron’ and appointed himself as Cleveland Mafia’s capo.

But problems arose between both the families with each killing the other to seek revenge.

Downfall of Cleveland Mafia

Angelo Lonardo, in 1983 who was once the boss of Cleveland Mafia was said to have turned government informant. He had been sentenced to 103 years for racketeering and drug convictions along with life imprisonment. Thus got reduced the Cleveland mafia families and their activities in the region.