Buffalo Mob website

The launch of a new book (DiCarlo: Buffalo’s First Family of Crime by Mike Tona and myself) and a new website (buffalomob.com) has taken considerable time and energy. However, I’ve managed to have that work contribute to the offerings here on The American Mafia site. A number of biographies have been added to The American Mafia collection. These link to bios created for the Buffalo-oriented site. To date, the list includes:

  • Bonasera, Cassandro (1897-1972) – Brooklyn
  • Cammilleri, John (1911-1974)
  • Carlisi, Rosario “Roy” (1909-1980)
  • Clark, “Jew Minnie” (1887-1959)
  • Crocevera, Isadoro (1873-1920) – New York City and elsewhere
  • Fino, Joseph (1915-1984)
  • Frangiamore, Salvatore (1905-1999)
  • Magaddino, Antonino (1897-1971)
  • Magaddino, Stefano (1891-1974)
  • Montana, John (1893-1964)
  • Natarelli, Pasquale (1910-1993)
  • Pieri, Salvatore “Sam” (1911-1981)
  • Randaccio, Frederico (1907-2004)
  • Sansanese, Daniel Sr. (1908-1975)
  • Tronolone, John “Peanuts” (1910-1991) – Cleveland
Visit the Who Was Who page of the site to access these and other bios. Please note, the active biography links have birth-death years after the names (others aren’t online yet). Those with asterisks are the new ones that link to the Buffalo site.

I’m very pleased to announce that Edmond Valin has provided the American Mafia history website with a short article discussing a 1960s-era informer within the Bonanno Crime Family of New York. That informer provided law enforcement with a good deal of background information on crime family members during the period of the so-called “Banana War.” Edmond Valin argues that crime boss Joseph Bonanno’s son Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno was the informer. (Click here to read the article.)

Bill Bonanno
Bill Bonanno

I agree with Valin’s assessment and actually reached the same conclusion through some independent research. I found it interesting that the initial claim that Joseph Bonanno was kidnapped by Buffalo boss Stefano Magaddino reached law enforcement and the media at approximately the same moment, in December 1964. At that time, Bill Bonanno was leading a shrinking group of Bonanno loyalists against the interference of Magaddino and the Mafia Commission.

The story of Magaddino’s involvement in the alleged kidnapping (I am one of those who believe the kidnapping was staged by Bonanno, by the way) was first mentioned in a column by Hearst newspaper personality Walter Winchell. (Winchell is believed to have had a role in leading Lepke Buchalter to the FBI a generation earlier.)
After just a few days, Joseph Bonanno’s attorney William Maloney confirmed the Winchell report, citing details provided to him in a telephone conversation with Bill Bonanno.

(BTW: Maloney really stuck his neck out for the Bonannos, and he probably regretted doing so. When Joseph Bonanno reappeared a year and a half later than Maloney told law enforcement he would, he did so with brand new legal counsel. Maloney no longer represented the crime boss.)

One of the website changes that will probably draw some criticism is the removal of Joseph Barbara from the Scranton-Pittston, Pennsylvania, crime boss list.
Barbara is generally believed to have taken control of the crime family after the murder of boss John Sciandra in 1940 and to have served as boss until his own death in the summer of 1959. There are a number of problems with this accepted “history.”
First, there is no evidence that Barbara ever gave orders to anyone in the Scranton-Pittston Mafia. That organization was controlled from the turn of the Twentieth Century by the “Men of Montedoro.” (Barbara was from Castellammare del Golfo, not Montedoro.) Except for the insertion of Barbara into the succession of bosses, every other underworld leader of the region from 1903 through the middle of the 1990s had been born in Montedoro. There is little reason to believe that an exception was made in Barbara’s case.
Second, there is no evidence that John Sciandra was killed in 1940 or at any other time. There are newspaper stories speaking of his death by natural causes in 1948 or 1949.
Third, Barbara seems to have had a very strong link to the Castellammarese population in Endicott, New York. The men closest to him were also from Castellammare. That Castellammarese outpost was mentioned in Joseph Bonanno’s autobiography as the site of a meeting between Bonanno and Magaddino. While there are connections between Barbara and the Mafia of Scranton-Pittston, these seem to be secondary.
Finally, it seems very clear from the chain of events related to the 1957 meeting of Mafiosi at Barbara’s country home in Apalachin, New York, that Barbara was at that time an underling of Stefano Magaddino. It was Magaddino – after urging from Tommy Lucchese (probably prompted by Vito Genovese) – who scheduled the meeting at Barbara’s home. That is not something that could have been done unless Magaddino was Barbara’s superior.