Since the start of 2019, there have been many changes and additions at Here are the major developments:

Our forum

The planned April shutdown of the Google-Plus social network, where we hosted a longtime “community” on American Mafia history, prompted us to look into alternative methods of communicating with the 437 existing members of the community and other interested individuals. After some research, we decided to assemble a phpBB-based Forum. In its opening months, the forum welcomed more than 70 new members. We expect that the membership total will grow significantly following the death of Google-Plus next week.

A great many formatting changes – including table styles, fonts, photo sizing, link button sizing, logos, colors, … – were made in order to improve site usability and readability. We became aware that some of our old methods of presenting material were incompatible with the smaller handheld devices so often used today. We took steps to achieve a responsive design that works well on devices ranging from small smart-phones to large-screen desktop machines. (Note: There is still some work to be done on the Bibliography page.)

With website security becoming an important issue for visitors, we took a number of security-related steps. First, we added “Cookies notification” messages to our main entry “Home” page and our “About” page. We hope that this will be sufficient to address tracking-cookie concerns expressed by countries in the European Union. (While the site does not directly engage in the creation of tracking cookies, it does benefit from Google analytics and advertising programs that track visitor IP addresses and browser software.) The “About” page now also includes a discussion of user privacy. We do not directly engage in e-commerce on the site and have no logical need for encryption. However, we became aware that web search engines were lowering the search results rankings of sites – even non-commercial sites like ours – that were not security-verified and encrypted (regular “http” sites). As a result, we added security encryption. Site pages can now be accessed through the secure “https” protocol.

New articles and new research materials have been added. These include:

There have been a few updates and additions to recently. These have included:

Detroit Bosses – new research, reorganized, reformatted.

– Biographies for Frank Calabrese Sr of Chicago, Salvatore Giannola of Detroit, Antonino Giannola of Detroit, Vito Adamo of Detroit, Thomas Altamura of Florida, William Dara of Florida, Gus Alex of Chicago.

– Article “Robbing from the mob: Christmas Eve killings bring to end couple’s foolhardy criminal career.”

Charlie Luciano

Salvatore Lucania, widely known as Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, late in 1931 became the most powerful crime boss in the U.S. He personally commanded a sprawling New York-based Mafia organization, held one of seven seats on the Mafia’s ruling Commission and maintained valuable alliances with non-Italian racketeering organizations across the country.

Less than five years after achieving gangland eminence, however, Lucania was taken into custody on compulsory prostitution charges. Due to the efforts of Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey, Lucania spent most of the next decade – from the prime years of his life into middle age – behind prison bars.

Held at Clinton State Prison beginning in the summer of 1936, he was largely out of touch with the rich criminal empire he assembled and remote from friends and family. He depended upon pennies earned through manual toil and occasional contributions from relatives and associates to finance his many purchases through prison commissaries.

Yet, even during a lengthy and humiliating prison stay, Lucania found a way to make himself important. In the spring of 1942, Lucania convinced New York County prosecutors, New York State corrections officials and the United States Office of Naval Intelligence that he was indispensable to the U.S. war effort.

In the remaining years of World War II, Lucania arranged for a more convenient placement at Great Meadow Prison in the Lake George area and for suspension of visitation rules and recordkeeping. He managed in those few years to build a reputation for patriotic service that led to a 1946 commutation of sentence.

Very few official records remain of Lucania’s long term in state prisons. From the period before 1942, only a small collection of documents is held at the New York State Archives. These include receiving blotter pages, health and psychiatric reports, visitor logs and financial transactions that shed some light on his brief time at Sing Sing Prison and his longer incarceration at Clinton Prison. From the period between his 1942 transfer to Great Meadow Prison and his 1946 parole and deportation, even less survives. Some details of these later years were pieced together when the State of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Navy looked into Lucania’s alleged contributions to the war effort. Wartime records of the Office of Naval Intelligence, which could have provided the most useful window into Lucania’s service, were deliberately destroyed.

Available details of Lucania’s time in prison and related events have been assembled into a 1936-1946 timeline on The American Mafia history website. These details range in excitement level from hum-drum to spectacular. Quotes from documents and links to documents – including all available pages of the Clinton Prison files – are included.

See: “When ‘Lucky’ was locked up.”

Rat Trap logo

The FBI makes every effort to hide the identities of its confidential underworld informants, even long after the informants have passed away. Unlike the famous Joe Valachi and other Bureau cooperating witnesses, who exchange public testimony for government protection, confidential informants continue in their dangerous underworld roles while secretly feeding information to investigators.

In reports, the FBI refers to its informants only by code numbers. Before any reports are made available to the public, revealing details about the informants are deleted. But subtle clues to their identities may remain within the text.

For years, Toronto-based crime historian Edmond Valin has been combing through publicly available information, including declassified files of the FBI, for these clues. He has shown a remarkable ability to discover the identities of some of the most important and most secret Mafia turncoats by comparing seemingly insignificant details from different documents.

Valin has consented to allow the American Mafia history website to publish a collection of his ground-breaking articles online. These articles, grouped under the heading of “Rat Trap,” deal with informants from major U.S. Mafia organizations, including the Chicago Outfit, the Philly Mob, the Bonanno Crime Family and the Gambino Crime Family. Six articles are in the collection at this time, and more are on the way.

Valin’s often shocking conclusions are painstakingly defended through document citations (many of the related documents can be accessed online through links provided in the articles’ endnotes).

Visit Edmond Valin’s Rat Trap articles.

‘Rat Trap’

Rat Trap logo

The website recently added a collection of articles by writer (and history detective) Edmond Valin.

Based in the Toronto area, Valin’s specialty is deducing the identities of confidential underworld informants through clues left in government documents, such as FBI files, and other sources. We are calling the article collection, “Rat Trap.” At the moment, there are three articles, and we hope to add more soon.

Valin’s articles all provide source citations. And we have tried to include web links to online source material and book purchase sites whenever possible.

Click here to check out the Rat Trap articles on the site.

It’s a question that I’ve asked myself quite a bit over the years. It seems everyone who has written about the American Mafia has written something about Brooklyn gang boss Frankie Yale. But most of that material seems based on rumor or conjecture. Factual details about Yale’s life and career are sorely lacking.

It seemed time to take stock of what we actually know about Yale. After looking through the material I had accumulated on him, I assembled this article for the website (and linked to it from the Articles menu and the Who Was Who menu):


We have begun the process of making the autobiographical notes of Joseph Valachi, a manuscript titled, The Real Thing, available online for the free access of those interested in the subject. The manuscript is the foundation of the 1968 Peter Maas book, The Valachi Papers. In it, Valachi recalls his early personal life, his career as a burglar in New York City, his participation in the Castellammarese War, his induction into the American Mafia and a great deal more.

To this point, The Real Thing has been out of reach for most. To our knowledge, it has never been published. The original is held in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Copies can be obtained, but with the document running more than a thousand pages long, obtaining copies can be prohibitively expensive.

Our collection of The Real Thing pages is far from complete. We are hopeful that researchers who have obtained portions of the document will decide to share them.

Our thanks to crime historian Alex Hortis for his assistance in this project.


We are indebted to Justin Dugard for purchasing, editing and contributing to The American Mafia website the October 14, 2008, federal court testimony of Stefan Cicale. Cicale was the government’s key witness in the racketeering/murder trial of Bonanno Crime Family associate Joseph Young.

Cicale’s direct examination testimony is broken up into three web pages for ease of use. A subject index will be added in the near future.

Joseph Young was convicted of the gruesome 2005 murder of Robert McElvey at the historic – and allegedly haunted – Kreischer Mansion on Staten Island (see photo). Cicale was charged as an accomplice and decided to cooperate with federal investigators.

The testimony can be accessed through the website’s Articles menu or through this direct address: