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'Joey G' drops a dime and a body or two

Kansas City's Joseph Gurera secretly provided information to the Feds

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In 1967, Kansas City Outfit member Joseph Gurera began to share confidential information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Gurera cooperated for only a few months before he passed away, but in that short time, he helped federal agents to identify La Cosa Nostra members in three states, provided Intel about organized crime history in Kansas City and Milwaukee going back decades and cleared up numerous mob murders. [1]

Joseph Gurera was 'KC 586'

Every mobster who talks with the FBI is assigned an informant symbol code to protect his anonymity. Almost without exception, the FBI protects an informant's anonymity even after he dies. Using clues found in FBI documents and comparing them to information we already know about a particular mobster, however, it's sometimes possible to identify the individual behind the informant symbol code.

An FBI report refers to two La Cosa Nostra members from Kansas City who traveled to Milwaukee to help local mob boss Frank Balistrieri. [126] The report identified one mobster as Sebastian "Buster" Balestrere while the other was only referred to by the informant symbol code "KC 586." The report reveals Balestrere and "KC 586" were used as "muscle" by Balistrieri to extort business owners. It implies the two mobsters were involved in the murder of businessman Anthony Biernat. The report goes on to indicate Balestrere and "KC 586" eventually returned to Kansas City. The details associated with "KC 586" are completely consistent with what is known about Joseph Gurera's movements at that time.

An FBI report dated August 28, 1968, includes information supplied by "KC 586." [127] It indicates "KC 586" was "deceased." The report doesn't include a date of death but it notes the FBI contacting agent last spoke with him on December 23, 1967. That means "KC 586" died sometime between December 23, 1967 and August 28, 1968, the date the report was produced. [128] Joseph Gurera died on December 30, 1967.

Joseph Gurera

Joseph Gurera

Joseph Frank Gurera was born July 4, 1925, in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of second-generation Sicilian-Americans. [2] His father, Carl Gurera, was born in 1900, also in Missouri. In 1918, Carl Gurera registered for military service at the age of eighteen, but World War I ended before he was sent overseas. [3] After the war, he worked as a laborer, a fruit peddler and a "huckster." [4]

In 1924, twenty-four-year-old Carl Gurera married teenager Elizabeth Mangiaracina. [5] Mangiaracina was born in Louisiana but grew up in Missouri. [6] She came from a large family with many siblings who had run-ins with the law. At least one brother, John "Johnny Mag" Mangiaracina, was a prominent member of the Kansas City Outfit.

Carl Gurera was a bootlegger during Prohibition. In 1926, he was arrested with thirty-five gallons of whisky in his vehicle while making a delivery. [7] The sheriff's office had been tipped off about his transportation route and was waiting for him. The alcohol and the brand new 1926 Dodge sedan driven by Gurera were confiscated. Gurera was released on a cash bond that was later forfeited when he failed to appear at trial. As a result, the sedan was sold at a public auction, in "spirited" bidding, for $755. [8] The expensive vehicle and the willingness to forfeit the bond suggests Gurera and his partners were significant operators. Gurera may have been working alongside members of his wife's family since they had multiple bootlegging convictions. [9]  [10]

Carl Mangiaracina, Elizabeth's father, was a well known bootlegger. In 1933, he was arrested by Prohibition agents for possessing a two-hundred-gallon still and forty-four barrels of mash used to make alcohol. It was the eighteenth alcohol still seized from Mangiaracina by authorities. He had only just been released from Leavenworth Penitentiary after serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence on another "liquor charge".

In 1930, Carl Gurera and his family were renting a house at 525 Forest Avenue in Kansas City for $20 a month. [11] The residence was next door to the home owned by Elizabeth Gurera's parents. The same year, Gurera was sentenced to two years imprisonment for possessing and transporting whisky.

On March 11, 1933, not long after he got out of prison, Carl Gurera was shot multiple times in the head and abdomen with a revolver. Police found him mortally wounded in an alley behind Forest Avenue. [12] Gurera was rushed to the hospital where he died. He was thirty-two years old.

Killing of Carl Gurera

Killing of Carl Gurera

According to police, Gurera had gotten into a dispute with his wife. His father-in-law, Carl Mangiaracina, and his two-brothers-in-law, Vincent and Anthony Mangiaracina, came over to the home to resolve the dispute and allegedly shot Gurera as he fled the house. The underworld scuttlebutt was Gurera mistreated his wife and beat her regularly. Seven-year-old Joseph Gurera was in the house at the time and likely heard or witnessed the murder.

Mangiaracina and his two sons fled before the police arrived and went into hiding. The police interviewed Joseph Gurera and his mother at the time of the murder. In what was probably his first encounter with law enforcement, Joseph Gurera seems to have supplied some of the information that the police used to charge his grandfather and uncles with first-degree murder.

The Mangiaracina brothers eluded police for over two years until October 10, 1935, when they were arrested in their old neighborhood, not far from the murder scene. [13] Carl Mangiaracina remained at large.

In March 1936, the charges against all three men were dismissed before trial, when Elizabeth Gurera, the widow of Carl Gurera, indicated to the prosecution that she would not testify under any circumstances. Ten-year-old Joseph Gurera also told the prosecution that he wouldn't testify. He said he was unable to remember the events from the night of the murder and any statements that he made to police shortly after the murder were "untrue." [14]

Carl Gurera was buried at Mount Saint Mary's Cemetery in Kansas City. A single name was etched on a headstone meant for two. Elizabeth Gurera outlived her former husband by sixty years. She died in 1999 and is buried elsewhere.

Building a 'rep'

As a young man, Joseph Gurera was five-feet-nine-inches tall and weighed one hundred forty-five pounds. He had brown eyes and black curly hair. Images from his younger days reveal a ruggedly handsome individual with a rogue smile. His street name was "Little Joey" or "Joey G." [15]

Gurera dropped out of school after the eighth grade. On May 14, 1941, fifteen-year-old Gurera married eighteen-year-old Nancy Marchese in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1943, Joseph Gurera was working at the Sunflower Ordnance Works in Kansas. Because he turned eighteen years old that year, he registered for military service but he didn't serve during World War II. [16] [17] In 1944, he was working at a "produce company" in Birmingham, Alabama. [18] Gurera was married and had a younger brother who was a minor during the war period, so that may have affected his military status. His mother had remarried by this time and her new husband was in uniform. [19]

At the time he registered for the draft, Joseph Gurera was living at 527 Forest Ave, the same home his father was killed in. [20] His mother appears to have moved to a residence on Olive Street, near her parent's home. This suggests relations between Elizabeth Gurera and the Mangiaracina family remained warm after the death of Carl Gurera.

Joseph Gurera had more than fifty arrests going back to 1939. [21] At the age of fourteen, he spent six months in juvenile hall for burglary. [22] By the time he was twenty-five years old, Gurera had built up such a fearsome reputation that the Kansas City Star newspaper referred to him as "a gunman and enforcer" for the mob. [23] He was considered a "hatchet man" for mob bigwig Anthony Gizzo. [24] Gurera had arrests for murder, "hit and run," disturbing the peace and multiple gambling offenses. [25] He usually skated by paying a small fine.

In 1947, Gurera's name came up as a possible suspect in the murder of Mary Bonomo, a government witness in an investigation of voter fraud in Kansas City. [26] She had been shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun in front of a fruit stand.

John Mangiaracina

John Mangiaracina

Gurera's mob mentor was his uncle, Kansas City Outfit member John "Johnny Mag" Mangiaracina. Mangiaracina had dozens of arrests going back to 1929 for burglary, murder, gambling and income tax evasion. Mangiaracina may have been active in the bootlegging business with Carl Gurera.

Joseph Gurera and John Mangiaracina helped the Outfit take control of the policy wheels rackets in Kansas City in the late 1940s. A policy wheel was similar to a lottery where players bet three numbers for as a little as a penny. They used the threat of violence and their connections to the Kansas City police department to force policy wheel operators to take them on as partners. Any operator who resisted was "harassed, arrested and threatened" by police officers on the Outfit's payroll. [27]

In 1950, Gurera and Mangiaracina were charged with operating an illegal policy wheel. [28] Nineteen other individuals were arrested, including Anthony Gizzo, his uncle Anthony Mangiaracina and his cousin Charles Cacioppo. They were accused of operating a policy wheel that generated annual bets of more than $1.5 million with profits of $168,000. [29]

Gurera became a fully inducted La Cosa Nostra member around this time. [30] The Outfit had been a force in Kansas City from the time John Lazia and the DiGiovanni brothers partnered with political kingmaker Tom Pendergast to take control of the gambling rackets prior to World War I. The Outfit came to dominate organized crime in the city during Prohibition when Italian racketeers supplied most of the illegal alcohol. They amassed more influence and power after World War II through labor racketeering and casino gambling.

According to underworld sources, Gurera was initiated into the crime family for participating in the murders of Kansas City Outfit bosses Charles Binaggio and Charles Gargotta in 1950. [31] One of the sources, Milwaukee Outfit member-informant Augustus Maniaci, met Gurera years later after he relocated to Milwaukee to perform strong-arm work for the local mob boss. Maniaci told the FBI that Gurera came "well recommended" for the assignment because he had killed "two prominent politicians in Kansas City," a reference to Binaggio and Gargotta. [32]

Eliminating the Two Charlies

Kansas City Outfit bosses Charles Binaggio and Charles Gargotta were killed inside the First Ward Democratic Club after they allegedly fell out with other Outfit members over a financial dispute. The murders were never solved.

However, a secret FBI listening device caught St. Louis Crime Family underboss John Vitale reminiscing about the time Joseph Gurera "knock[ed] off the two Charlies." [133] According to Vitale, Gurera was upset, prior to the murders of Binaggio and Gargotta, that he hadn't yet been inducted into La Cosa Nostra. [134] Gurera's mob superiors told him that he first had to kill for the organization before he could become a member. [135] Vitale thought Gurera was inducted into the Outfit as a reward for the killings. Gurera later paid to have a memorial mass celebrated at the local church for Charles Gargotta, the man he allegedly murdered. [136]

John Mangiaracina was a close associate of Kansas City Outfit leader Charles Binaggio. [33] Mangiaracina was allegedly being "groomed" to takeover the Kansas City Outfit before Binaggio and his associate Charles Gargotta were murdered. [34] Mangiaracina allegedly missed out on the top spot only because he was in prison at that time the new boss was appointed. [35]

If Gurera was involved in the murders of the "two Charlies," it's likely Mangiaracina, Binaggio's protege, was an active participant in the conspiracy and may have given the assignment to his nephew. While his uncle was alive, Gurera confirmed to the FBI that Mangiaracina was an Outfit member. [36]

Mangiaracina sidelined

John Mangiaracina enjoyed early underworld success but things went sideways for him after Charles Binaggio was killed. Mangiaracina was sent to the federal penitentiary for tax evasion and a rival faction led by Nicholas Civella took control. Like his nephew, Mangiaracina fell on tough times by the 1960s. He was "discontented" and "broke" and had to pay cash for supplies at his restaurant because his credit was so bad. [142]

Mangiaracina told an FBI source that there was "considerable dissension" against Civella. The only people making money under Civella were his relatives. Mangiaracina complained that if an Outfit member ran into legal trouble, Civella would lend him money but he was expected to pay Civella back. This was reportedly contrary to the ways of former boss Charles Binaggio, who always looked out for his men.

On February 14, 1954, Gurera was arrested with Outfit member Frank Tousa for "frequenting and participating in a gambling game". [37] The police had to use a ladder to climb to the second floor of a building and spy through the window to see Gurera, Tousa and the other gamblers inside. Police had to pass through three metal doors before they could raid the premises.

During the 1950s, Gurera had a financial interest in two Kansas City bars, "Couples Club" and "Michael's Tavern." [38] As a young man, he operated a motel, a trucking business and a service station. [39] In the early 1960s, he operated self-service laundromats in Kansas City and Leavenworth. [40]

The Outfit had a long-standing relationship with the Teamsters union in Kansas City. Future Teamsters leader Roy Lee Williams got his start as a union official there. Outfit figures were able to manipulate Williams and the local Teamsters union to further their criminal activities in Missouri and in Las Vegas. At one point in the 1950s, efforts were made by Outfit members to install Gurera into a "position of authority" with the local Teamsters union, but nothing ever came of it.

On September 1, 1957, a one-story building in Kansas City owned by Joseph Gurera went up in flames after an early morning explosion. [41] A delicatessen business on the premises was destroyed in the blast. No one was hurt but damage to the building was estimated at $7,500. Police suspected Gurera torched his own building in an act of insurance fraud. In 1959, he was indicted for arson but the charge was dismissed when the complaining witness disappeared. [42]

Although Gurera was racking up charges and consorting with every important hoodlum in the Italian underworld, he never spent time in prison as an adult. As late as 1959, the Kansas City police department listed Gurera's ethnicity as "Mexican." [43]

Family ties

Joseph Gurera's rise in the underworld was boosted by family connections beyond John Mangiaracina (1911-1970). Gurera was the brother-in-law of Outfit member Buster Balestrere (1918-1977). Gurera was married to the sister of Balestrere's wife. [129] Buster Balestrere was reportedly the nephew of James "Big Jim" Balestrere (1891-1959), part of the Kansas City leadership group for decades.

Buster Balestrere's sister, in turn, was married to Peter Balistrieri (1919-1997), the brother of Milwaukee Outfit boss Frank Balistrieri (1918-1993). Furthermore, Buster and James Balestrere were reportedly cousins to Frank and Peter Balistrieri (despite the different spelling). Gurera's relationship to Buster Balestrere, in particular, may have paved the way for his assignment in Milwaukee. [130]

Gurera was a cousin to the Cacioppo Brothers. [131] Thomas (1913-2011), Charles (1923-2010) and Frank (1928-2004) Cacioppo were organized crime figures active in Kansas City. Gurera told the FBI that Thomas and Charles Cacioppo were Outfit members. [132]

Gurera was related, through his brother's marriage, to Carl Carramusa (1908-1945), reportedly an early member of the Kansas City Outfit. Carramusa was killed by the mob for testifying against the Outfit.

Gurera's status in the underworld was underscored in 1958 when investigators from the United States Senate Rackets Committee turned their focus on Kansas City. Investigators probing the influence of organized crime in Missouri alleged in testimony that Gurera was "suspected strongly of several gangland murders." [44] They said he was part of the group that controlled 60 percent of the gambling in Kansas City.



Congressional investigators linked Gurera to Lucchese Crime Family caporegime John "Big John" Ormento. Ormento was a narcotics trafficker from New York City who supplied heroin to La Cosa Nostra members. Kansas City was part of the nationwide heroin distribution network. Investigators were fuzzy about the relationship but they established that Gurera and Ormento had been exchanging telephone calls for over seven years.

Ormento visited Gurera in Kansas City in the company of future Lucchese Crime Family underboss Salvatore "Tom Mix" Santoro. [45] Ormento and Santoro were later convicted for dealing heroin and given long prison sentences to be served at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, near Kansas City. Gurera would chauffeur Ormento's son around town when he visited his father at the penitentiary. Gurera had an uncle, Anthony Mangiaracina, at Leavenworth at the same time as Ormento and they were friendly. Mangiaracina was a convicted narcotics trafficker. [46]

In 1961, Gurera and four Outfit members were pulled in for questioning in the shooting of truck driver Jack Crapisi. [47] A thirty-two-year-old from Kansas City, Crapisi survived multiple gun shots after he was ambushed outside his home by two assailants. Crapisi's brother had survived a similar shooting attempt months earlier. Neither brother cooperated with the police and the investigations went nowhere.

Shakedowns in KC

According to the FBI, Gurera routinely extorted individuals for money. His favorite move was to drive an uncooperative business owner to a deserted spot, stick a gun to his head and then threaten to kill him and his family unless he agreed to handover a piece of his business. His strong-arm victims, fearful of his violent reputation, generally refused to cooperate with police but some of their stories made it into FBI files.

For example, Gurera tried to extort two drinking establishments that catered to a homosexual clientele. [48] Gurera wanted the owners to give him a third of their operating profits in exchange for a guarantee from him that their businesses would be protected from police raids or any new taverns opening in the neighborhood. Both owners sold their businesses rather than pay Gurera.

Joseph Gurera and his uncle John Mangiaracina operated a paving company in the 1950s. [49] They paved driveways, parking lots and roadways, and laid concrete for commercial and residential buildings. The business employed fifteen people and had annual sales of $100,000. The company had a good reputation, and Gurera was "well-regarded." After Gurera decided to wind down operations, he approached a legitimate contractor to sell his unwanted equipment. The contractor refused to buy. Over the next three months, the contractor's own machinery was dynamite-blasted on three separate occasions until he agreed to purchase Gurera's equipment. [50]

Balistrieri's rise

At the same time Joseph Gurera was building an underworld reputation in Missouri, Frank Balistrieri was quietly making his mark in Wisconsin. Balistrieri was born on May 27, 1918, in Milwaukee, the son of Sicilian immigrants. His father, Joseph Balistrieri, was reportedly an early member of the Milwaukee Outfit.



Frank Balistrieri was the crown prince of the Milwaukee underworld. A college graduate, he operated gambling joints and popular night spots around town while keeping a low profile. He promoted boxing matches in the 1950s. He largely stayed off law enforcement's radar until he became boss in the 1960s. Balistrieri was related to James "Big Jim" Balestrere from Kansas City (despite the different spelling), a leading gangster in Missouri throughout the 1940s and 50s. James Balestrere introduced Balistrieri to mob big shots in Kansas City and Chicago which enhanced his reputation. [51] Balistrieri reportedly became an Outfit member in the early 1950s under Sam Ferrara.

Balistrieri was the son-in-law of John Alioto, a powerful Sicilian-born mobster. Alioto guided Balistrieri's early career and protected him when he fell out with boss Sam Ferrara. The blowup between Ferrara and Balistrieri in 1952 would have a lasting impact on the Milwaukee underworld.

According to Milwaukee Outfit member-informant Augustus Maniaci, Sam Ferrara had tried to take a piece of a gambling establishment controlled by Balistrieri. [52] After Balistrieri objected, Ferrara expelled him from the crime family. There were reports Ferrara plotted to kill him. John Alioto reached out to the Chicago Outfit to resolve the matter. A panel of Chicago bosses including Anthony Accardo and Sam Giancana investigated and determined Ferrara had overstepped his authority. They ordered Ferrara to step down as boss and replaced him with Alioto. They also reinstated Balistrieri. Soon afterwards, Alioto promoted Balistrieri to the position of caporegime.



The relationships Balistrieri developed through John Alioto and James Balestrere worked in his favor again in 1962 when Alioto retired and a new boss had to be installed. [53] According to Maniaci, the FBI's best inside source inside the Milwaukee Outfit, Balistrieri "campaigned for the job" and used his close relationship with Chicago Outfit member Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio to get himself appointed to the top spot.

While the Milwaukee Outfit was a separate organization, it answered to the Chicago Outfit under rules established by the Mafia Commission to regulate the Italian underworld, and was susceptible to the politics of other crime families like Kansas City.

Alioto reportedly didn't want Balistrieri to succeeded him. [54] Balistrieri's appointment was allegedly made without input from the Milwaukee membership.

After he became boss, the first thing Balistrieri did was reach out to Nicholas Civella in Kansas City to help him come up with a way to increase Outfit revenues.

Shakedowns in Milwaukee

Frank Balistrieri took over a crime family in need of a shot in the arm. The Milwaukee Outfit had prospered during Prohibition, supplying bootleg alcohol, but many members struggled to find their footing in the post-WWII era. Members routinely complained that they couldn't make a dime from gambling, prostitution or labor racketeering. A significant percentage of them had regular day jobs and weren't full-time "gangsters" in the traditional sense that was common in other crime families.

According to one member-source, half the Milwaukee membership was retired or inactive. Former boss John Alioto once complained about the thankless nature of the role: "Boss of what? Two hoods get into an argument, you settle it, and there's no money in it." [55]

Balistrieri decided to implement a "street tax" to turn things around. The practice of forcing individuals or businesses to pay to operate in peace had been a La Cosa Nostra mainstay for years. The Milwaukee Outfit used to extort nightclubs and gambling spots but stopped the practice under John Alioto. [56] The first time the crime family extorted anyone was a Jewish bookmaker in the 1930s. [57] Against the advice of Alioto, Balistrieri decided to reboot the practice. [58]

To make it happen, Balistrieri reached out to Kansas City Outfit boss Nicholas Civella. Balistrieri knew Civella through his cousin James Balestrere. According to Joseph Gurera, Balistrieri asked Civella send him a couple of "boys" to "[line] up legitimate businesses, such as coin operated amusement devices, night clubs and taverns, relative to 'payoffs.'" [59]

Civella selected Gurera and his brother-in-law Kansas City Outfit member Sebastian "Buster" Balestrere for the assignment. Frank Balistrieri knew both mobsters well. Buster Balestrere had been active in Milwaukee on-and-off since 1958 and often acted as Balistrieri's bodyguard. [60] [61] Balestrere was brother-in-law to Peter Balistrieri, Frank's younger brother. Balestrere's older brother Vito also lived in Milwaukee. [62] Gurera visited Milwaukee frequently to see Buster Balestrere and had been friendly with Frank Balistrieri for years.

Gurera moved to Milwaukee in February 1962 but the change seems to have been in the works for months. Beginning in 1961, Gurera told friends that his wife wanted to relocate to Milwaukee to be closer to her sister. He said he planned on opening a paving business there. Gurera put his Kansas City home up for sale in the summer of 1961. [63] In fact, sources told the FBI that Gurera was thinking moving to Milwaukee months before he actually did. The Kansas City police department suspected Gurera had fallen out with Outfit leaders and was forced out of Kansas City. It seems likely that Gurera was selected for the assignment, in part, because he was already considering a move to Milwaukee.

What Civella received in return for lending out Gurera and Balestrere isn't fully understood but some of the money collected from the street tax made its way back to Kansas City. [64]

After he began to cooperate years later, Gurera told the FBI that he and Balestrere stayed in Milwaukee about a year during which time they were considered members of the Milwaukee Outfit and answered to Balistrieri.

Gurera and Balestrere became part of Balistrieri's inner circle. Gurera was appointed to the role of "enforcer", with the rank of caporegime. [65] Gurera acted like Balistrieri's street boss, handling all his gambling operations, ensuring Outfit discipline, implementing his street tax and acting as buffer between the administration and other Outfit members. [66]  [67]



Steve DiSalvo, an Outfit associate, helped Gurera. They were known as Balistrieri's chief "lieutenants". [68]

Buster Balestrere and a violent ex-con named Frank Stelloh were considered "sergeants," a level below Gurera and DiSalvo in the hierarchy. Stelloh lived at Gurera's home for a time. [69] [70] This four-man crew spearheaded Balistrieri's drive to extort businesses.

Frank Balistrieri's decision to make Joseph Gurera his "enforcer" had an unintended consequence. Milwaukee Outfit member Augustus Maniaci had wanted the position for himself. [71] He was a soldier in his 50s who was one of the most active mobsters in Wisconsin. Maniaci hated Balistrieri and was part of a dissident faction inside the crime family opposed to him. Balistrieri called Maniaci a "cancer" and would have expelled him from the Outfit if his mob superiors in Chicago had let him. [72]

After Maniaci was passed over, the FBI was able to leverage his general dissatisfaction to persuade him to become a confidential informant. [73] Maniaci would become the FBI's most productive source inside the Milwaukee Outfit for the rest of his life.


A dissident faction existed inside the Milwaukee Outfit that included Augustus Maniaci, John Aiello and Walter Brocca. They opposed Frank Balistrieri over his perceived greed and dictatorial manner. [137] Balistrieri's haughty manner had annoyed individuals long before he was boss. [138] Balistrieri's mistrust in some of his underlings partly explains why he appointed an outsider like Gurera as his "enforcer." Balistrieri had the full backing of the Chicago Outfit so the dissidents were never able to depose him.

Gurera told the FBI his job was to provide the "muscle" to persuade bookies, gamblers and business owners to partner up with Balistrieri. His approach was straightforward and brutal. Individuals were given two choices: make a deal with the Outfit or get "their heads cracked open." [74] Sometimes making a deal meant Balistrieri took a piece of the business or other times it meant the target would pay a street tax to operate in peace. If anyone refused to go along, Gurera said he "pistol whipped" them to "bring them into line." [75]

Bookies and gamblers in the Milwaukee underworld were naturally reluctant at first to pay the street tax. They reached out to their criminal associates around the country in an effort to put pressure on the Milwaukee Outfit to reverse the decision.

In order to deal with the opposition, Gurera and Balestrere flew to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for a high level meeting to settle the matter. Gurera and Balestrere met with the "top ranking organization members to obtain a complete okay for the Milwaukee group to organize gambling in Milwaukee…". [76] It's unclear who was at the meeting but things went Gurera's way because the shakedowns went into high gear when he and Balestrere returned home.

To make sure every gambler got the message and to drive the point home, Gurera decided to kill local bookie Bill Cole. [77] He began to follow Cole around town waiting for an opportunity to kill him. The plan was thwarted, however, when the local police found out about it and implemented "counter surveillance" on Cole which scared off Gurera. [78]

Sometimes hitting people was ineffective and Gurera had to employ more extreme methods to "overcome the resistance."

Take for example, Scaffidi Brothers Bakery, a traditional Italian bakery on East Brady Street in Milwaukee. It was visited by Gurera's henchmen and was told it needed to pay a fee to operate in peace. The owners refused, so Gurera's henchmen "shot it up." The bakery owners declined to call the police and instead closed down the business. [79]

The owner of Sciortino's Bakery was another Italian businessman who thought he could refuse to pay the street tax. Gurera disagreed and placed a bomb inside his bakery. No one was hurt in the explosion but the premises sustained extensive damage.

Unlike most other crime families, the Milwaukee Outfit would occasionally use bombs to settle differences. In fact, Frank Balistrieri was known as the "Mad Bomber." A couple of years before Gurera showed up in Milwaukee, Buster Balestrere and Steve DiSalvo had allegedly bombed a local restaurant after the owner displeased Balistrieri. [80]

The bombing of Sciortino's Bakery, however, turned out to be a political miscalculation. The bakery owner was a personal friend of Joseph Bonanno and the New York mob boss intervened to stop the extortion attempt. [81]

Despite some missteps, the implementation of the protection racket was effective and money started coming in. Milwaukee-area bars Camel Tap, Fazio's, Sardino's and Holiday House were all paying $100 a week for protection. [82] Italian bookies paying to operate included Sam Cefalu, Thomas and Anthony Machi, Nick Tarantino, and Sam Librizzi. Bookies Frank Sansone and Joe Pisciune allegedly paid 25 percent of their profits to Balistrieri. [83]

Gurera used Acino Cleaners, later name-changed to Checker Cleaners, as his business front. [84] Payoffs would be made there or at Gallaghers, a restaurant owned by Balistrieri. Gurera also supervised the Outfit's gambling operations from the cleaners with the help of bookmaker Anthony Cefalu. Gurera said Milwaukee received its betting line from a source in Chicago. [85]

Balistieri was pleased with Gurera's results. But things began to unravel when the Outfit decided to expand the street tax into Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Anthony Biernat

The city of Kenosha lies forty miles south of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. In 1962, it had a population of about 70,000 people and supported about a dozen jukebox businesses. At the time, most every bar, diner and gathering place had a jukebox, making it a thriving line of business. Anthony Biernat owned a mid-sized operation that distributed jukeboxes in Kenosha County, Wisconsin and Lake County, Illinois. Biernat was described by his friends as a family man and a churchgoer.

The jukebox business had long been under the thumb of organized crime in certain parts of the country. Hoodlums would use intimidation and violence to take over routes and place their jukeboxes in the best locations. Sometime in late 1962, Gurera and DiSalvo decided to expand the protection racket to Kenosha and zeroed in on Biernat. [86] Originally from Chicago, Biernat was familiar with racketeers like Gurera and didn't want any part of the Outfit. He turned down Gurera's offer to buy his business or go into partnership with him. Despite repeated threats, Biernat never reported Gurera to the police. [87] He did tell his friends though that he was frightened. Biernat told them, "The Mafia wants to move into Kenosha." [88]

After he began to cooperate, Gurera filled in the FBI about how things went down. Biernat, he said, was given "two or three chances to come around" before he was "taken for a ride." [89] Biernat's body was found at an abandoned Air Force base outside of town. His hands were bound behind his back by wire and his head was smashed in. He was forty-six years old.

La Crosse WI Tribune Jan. 29, 1963

La Crosse WI Tribune Jan. 29, 1963.

At the time of Biernat's murder, police questioned Gurera and DiSalvo but they denied any involvement. Rumors swirled that the Outfit was behind it, but the murder was never officially solved.

Augustus Maniaci later told the FBI that, two months before Biernat's murder, Outfit members had dug a grave and had stolen some body-dissolving lime intending to use it to disappear a murder victim. [90] Maniaci said he had no idea who the grave was intended for but there is the strong possibility that it was meant for bookie Bill Cole, an early target of Gurera. After the murder conspiracy against Cole was disrupted by police, Gurera may improvised and decided to use the grave for Biernat. Maniaci told the FBI at the time that Gurera was "capable" of murder although he didn't know if he killed Biernat.

After he began to cooperate, Gurera admitted to the FBI that Biernat was killed by Buster Balestrere, Steve DiSalvo and "a third person whom informant declined to identify." Gurera was careful to protect himself from a murder charge but he freely pointed the finger at his brother-in-law.

A month after the murder, DiSalvo was inducted into the Milwaukee Outfit. [91]

Gurera sent home

The brutal methods employed by Joseph Gurera and his henchmen caused unease among the older Outfit members. [92] The old-timers hated all the police attention that now came their way and they were critical that Balistrieri kept most of the street tax for himself and his inner circle. [93] After he talked, Gurera said pressure from older members was a decisive factor when Balistrieri finally turfed him from Milwaukee.

Balistrieri, however, ignored the critics at first. He was making money and he had the support of Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, Chicago Outfit leader who supervised the Milwaukee underworld. [94] Gurera said Balistrieri consulted with Alderisio, a noted-extortionist, before making any major decision. [95]

To help rehabilitate his image and put some distance between himself and the Biernat killing, Balistrieri consented to an interview with the local newspaper. Balistrieri admitted to the reporter that he knew Joseph Gurera and that he first met him in 1956. Balistrieri denied that Gurera ever worked for him or he knew about his violent past. "When you're in business seventeen years like I am, you get to know a lot of people. I even know state supreme court justices and other judges." [96]

Madison WI Capital Times, Feb. 11, 1963

Madison WI Capital Times, Feb. 11, 1963.

Balistrieri told federal agents much the same thing in private when he was pulled in for questioning by FBI. Balistrieri dismissed any notion that Gurera was involved in "strong arm activities" for him. He said that Gurera came to Milwaukee to "put his family in a different environment but that it did not work out and he returned to Kansas City." [97] He said his relationship with Gurera was "strictly social."

The breaking point for Balistrieri and what finally convinced him to send Gurera back home was the "furor" that followed a meeting of the Italian Businessman's Club, a legitimate organization for Italian-American businessmen in Milwaukee. Gurera, Balestrere and DiSalvo invited themselves to the meeting, probably with the intention of scoping out potential extortion victims. Tipped off that they were there, the police surrounded the building in a show of force intended to embarrass the attendees. The businessmen at the meeting were mortified to be associated with gangsters and made a stink that reached Balistrieri's ears.

In an extraordinary move, Balistrieri worked out a deal with the Milwaukee police department to "lessen" the heat. [98] The two sides agreed that if Gurera left Milwaukee, DiSalvo "stayed south of town"and Stelloh got a full-time job and stayed out of trouble, the Milwaukee police department would relax its heavy-handed surveillance of Outfit members. [99] Balistrieri's hope was that the police would backoff and Outfit gambling activities would be allowed to return to normal.

After consulting with Nicholas Civella and Felix Alderisio, Balistrieri ordered Gurera to leave Milwaukee. [100] Balistrieri told Gurera that he was mad at him for "moving too fast" and bringing too much "heat." Gurera later told the FBI that he had wanted to stick it out - he had only recently extended the lease on his house rental - but Balistrieri had seen enough. [101]

Balistrieri told Gurera that he and Balestrere might be allowed to come back when things cooled down. [102] Despite all the police surveillance and the trouble Gurera caused, the only charge police could make stick against him during his time in Milwaukee was a ticket for making an illegal u-turn. [103]

In March 1963, Gurera moved his wife and children back to the Kansas City-area. Gurera complained the moving company damaged some of family's belongings in transit and he was reimbursed for costs. Gurera stayed on a couple of more weeks living at Buster Balestrere's home before he joined his family back home. He had been in Milwaukee for about a year. Balestrere carried on a while longer on his own before he too returned to Missouri. Steve DiSalvo took over responsibility for the street tax from Gurera. DiSalvo would become Balistrieri's go-to-guy moving forward. Joseph Alioto, son of former boss John Alioto, briefly replaced Gurera as caporegime before he died of cancer.

Despite never being charged in Biernat's murder, the bad news only continued for Balistrieri. Now publicly branded a Mafia kingpin, Balistrieri would never again enjoy a moment's peace and quiet from law enforcement.

Louie Cangelose, Joe Cammisano and Joseph Gurera

Louie Cangelose, Joe Cammisano and Joseph Gurera

Back in Kansas City

After Gurera was forced out of Milwaukee, he and his family settled in Leavenworth, Kansas, just outside of Kansas City. Gurera knew the town well because he used to operate a laundromat there. The FBI kept Gurera under regular surveillance but he avoided his old cronies and they never caught him meeting with other LCN members. Gurera even stayed away from his brother-in-law Buster Balestrere. Balestrere had returned to Kansas City and opened a restaurant called "Mr. Jim's." [104]

Leavenworth city planners gave Gurera permission to construct a new building at 1203 North Broadway near the intersection with Metropolitan Avenue. [105] He opened a pizzeria and a new laundromat at the location. [106] Gurera told the FBI he thought it would be an "excellent business venture" because it was the only pizzeria in town and was located next to a large military base. [107]

In December 1963, thirty-nine-year-old Gurera suffered a heart attack. He had collapsed at work after experiencing chest pains and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors advised him to stay in bed for "several weeks" to properly recover, but he ignored the advice and was soon back at work. [108] The only concession he made was to quit smoking.

Gurera never regained his full health. His heart condition continued to bother him and in the summer of 1964, he was forced to close his pizzeria and laundromat "on orders of his doctor". [109]

His old friends from Milwaukee checked in on him from time to time. Frank Balistrieri paid him a visit in 1965. [110] The following year, Peter Balistrieri dropped in on Gurera after seeing his brother-in-law Buster Balestrere. [111]

Gurera and Balestrere continued to answer to Frank Balistrieri after they returned to Kansas City. [112] In a conversation with his underlings secretly recorded by the FBI in 1964, Balistrieri stated, "I still have two guys [Gurera and Balestrere] down there [Kansas City], they still belong here [Milwaukee]." Balistrieri explained that he told the "old man [Nicholas Civella]" that he hadn't made up his mind what to do with Gurera and Balistrieri and that they would remain Milwaukee Outfit members until further notice.

Nick Civella

Nick Civella

In fact, an underworld source told the FBI in 1964 that Gurera had plans to return to Milwaukee to host a "big crap game." However, an another source told the FBI that it was unlikely Gurera would ever return because the "local boys" hated him and would rat him out to law enforcement to get him removed. [113]

Gurera would make "occasional" visits to Milwaukee in the future but never returned on a full-time basis. [114] When Gurera began to cooperate with the FBI, he identified Balestrere and himself as Kansas City Outfit members. [115] [116]

Gurera was facing hard times by 1964. His health had deteriorated, his legitimate businesses had closed down and his standing in the underworld had taken hit after he was run out of Milwaukee. An informant who socialized with Gurera at the time gave the FBI insight into his state of mind.

According to the informant, Gurera became talkative when he drank. After Gurera got "plastered," he complained to the informant that "Kansas City was not the same town it was years ago when [he] was a 'big man' and had lots of money and women." Gurera predicted that "there [would] be some changes made in Kansas City in the next few months." He confided that the "bakery" has okayed a change in the leadership, and that Nicholas Civella was "on the way out".

The "bakery" was a reference to Joseph Filardo, who ran Roma Bakery. [117] Filardo was a Sicilian-born mobster who was suspected of attending the mob meeting at Apalachin with Civella in 1957. Some in law enforcement thought Filardo was the power behind Civella. Gurera's drunk talk was wishful thinking. Civella would remain Outfit boss until his death in 1983

Despite his flagging health, Gurera remained on the police's radar. In 1965, Gurera was arrested in connection to a car bombing that killed union official John R Simms. Police had gone to his home in Prairie Village, Kansas, to question him about the murder and Gurera verbally abused them. He was charged with obstruction and resisting arrest and spent the night at the Johnson County jail. He was held on a $15,000 bond. Gurera was released the next day after he answered their questions and the charge was dismissed. [118]

After he closed his pizzeria and laundromat, Gurera made the improbable decision to sell insurance. He worked as a salesman at "Frank Agrusa Insurance Agency" for about a year before he got back into the paving contracting business. [119]

Gurera comes clean

The earliest known date that Gurera shared confidential information with the FBI's Kansas City Office was September, 1967. Like most LCN members, he had sat for interviews with the FBI in the past but he had never revealed anything about his criminal activities. The available FBI documents don't reveal his motivation or the factors behind his decision to talk now. [120] However, most informants usually decide to cooperate because they've fallen out with their mob superiors, they're facing the possibility of a long prison sentence or for the financial reward. [121] Gurera was in poor health but there is no indication before his fatal heart that he was expecting to die anytime soon.

The FBI had to walk a careful line interviewing Gurera about his criminal history. The FBI had reason to believe, based on Gurera's own oblique admission, that he was likely involved in the killing of Anthony Biernat and other very serious crimes. Federal agents were advised, then, to use their "discretion" when questioning Gurera about those things because they didn't want to "alienate him" or cause him "undue concern". [122] Gurera made it clear to his FBI handlers that "under no circumstances [was] he willing to testify before any judicial body." [123]

The FBI is naturally cautious when it receives Intel from a new informant. Is he trustworthy or spreading untruths for his own benefit? How can the Bureau test information that is unique or not easily verifiable?

To assess Joseph Gurera's reliability early on, the FBI asked him to identify all the Milwaukee Outfit members. [124] When Gurera was able to corroborate all fifteen identities already supplied by member-informant Augustus Maniaci, the FBI was convinced he was credible.

A full examination of Gurera's still mostly classified informant file would shed more light on his motives and reveal more important Intel about Outfit activities in Kansas City and Milwaukee in the 1950s and 1960s.

St. Louis under Kansas City

Gurera told federal agents that the St. Louis Crime Family was under "the influence and domination" of the Kansas City Outfit. [139] He said Anthony Giardano, the boss in St. Louis, was "answerable" to Nicholas Civella in Kansas City. According to Gurera, Giardano was a close associate of Joseph Zerilli, Detroit Crime Family boss. [140] He identified underboss John Vitale and the rest of the St. Louis membership. [141]

Gurera died of a heart attack on December 30, 1967. At the time of his death, Gurera was living in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. He was working as a paving contractor once again. [125] According to the medical examiner, he had a pre-existing heart condition as a result of his first heart attack and had been battling obesity. Gurera was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Jackson County, Missouri. He was survived by his wife and four children. His mother would outlive him by another thirty years.

After he died, a newspaper published a story revealing Gurera may have talked to law enforcement about his criminal activities.



Thank you to Lennert van't Riet for providing research assistance.

1 FBI, La Cosa Nostra Conspiracy, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 5, 1967, NARA Record No. 124-10289-10216.

2 Joseph Gurera was named after his grandfather Joseph Gurera (1860-1914).

3 United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

4 Carl Gurera Certificate of Death, Missouri State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics,, file no. 9636, registered no. 1239, March 11, 1933. Gurera's occupation at time of death was "huckster." Although it has a pejorative meaning today, it used to mean a door-to-door salesman who sold small items.

5 Elizabeth Mangiaracina's stated age on her 1924 marriage certificate was sixteen years, but most sources show her birth year as 1909. Her mother gave her written permission for the marriage.

6 Mangiaracina's parents were born in Castelvetrano, Sicily. Early Kansas City Outfit members born in Castelvetrano included Joseph Filardo and Joseph Cusamano.

7 "Confiscate liquor and car from Kansas City," Frankfort KS Daily Index, Nov. 19, 1926, p. 4.

8 "Auld brothers buy seized liquor car," Marysville KS Advocate-Democrat, Feb. 3, 1927, p. 5.

9 Bradley, Donald, "50 years later, Kansas City mobster's death is still a mystery," Kansas City Star,, Jan. 27, 2016. Elizabeth Gurera's brother Vincent Mangiaracina had a conviction for possessing a "distilling apparatus."

10 "Sues to collect fine set in 1936," Kansas City Times, May 11, 1966; "Drop collection effort," Kansas City Times, May 26, 1966. Elizabeth Gurera's brother Anthony Mangiaracina had a 1936 conviction for "illegal possession and control of a still." Thirty years later, authorities were still going after him in civil court to pay an unpaid fine related to the conviction. The claim was later dismissed without being paid.

11 United States Census of 1930, Missouri, Jackson County, Kansas City. The surname "Gurera" was often misspelled in newspaper articles and on government forms, including this one.

12 Carl Gurera Certificate of Death, Newspaper reports indicate Gurera lived at 527 Forest Avenue at the time of the shooting. The home was owned by Carl Mangiaracina. The Gurera family used to rent the home at 525 Forest Avenue. The death certificate lists Carl Gurera's home address as 2818 East Eighth Street, Kansas City. That suggests the family was in the process of moving or Carl Gurera was living apart from his family. Joseph Gurera was still living at 2818 East Eighth Street at the time of his own death.

13 "Hold brothers in murder," Kansas City Star, Oct. 10, 1935; "Quick bonds in slaying," Kansas City Star, March 16, 1936. Bond was put up by Joe Lusco, a Democratic party operative with ties to the Italian underworld. In 1935, Lusco was shot and left paralyzed in an ambush at his home at 413 Olive Street. Lusco had allegedly fallen out with the John Lazia faction of the underworld.

14 "Freed in family slaying," Kansas City Star, March 16, 1936.

15 According to one FBI source, "little Joe" was an old Mafia term for "killer."

16 World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1940-1945, Missouri. On his draft registration card, Gurera named his mother, rather than wife, as his next of kin.

17 A cousin, Private Joseph Gurera (1919-1942), was the first Kansas City resident to be killed during World War II.

18 "Organized crime profiles" (transcribed), The Pendergast Years: Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression, Kansas City Public Library,

19 "Missouri County Marriage, Naturalization, and Court Records, 1800-1991, Marriage licenses no. A84230-A86714, 1941. Elizabeth Gurera would marry mechanic Raymond Charles Oliver in 1941.

20 In 1926, John Mangiaracina was charged with operating a whisky distillery at the residence. Charged alongside him was another "young" man named "Carl Mangiaracina." John didn't have a brother named "Carl," so this may have been a cousin or an alias for Carl Gurera.

21 "Joe Gurera questioned in Simms' death," Leavenworth KS Times, March 7, 1965.

22 "Organized crime profiles" (transcribed),

23 "State 'Rackets King' slaps charges." Madison WI Capital Times, Feb. 11, 1963.

24 According to one source, Gurera "lost favor" under Gizzo, which derailed is underworld career.

25 In 1944, Gurera was fined $100 on a "hit and run" charge. In 1945, he was fined $10 on a charge of "disturbing the peace." In 1951, he was fined $100 for operating a "policy racket." Between 1943 and 1952, he was fined seven different times for gambling.

26 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Office Memorandum, Aug. 4, 1959, 92-326-25.

27 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 23, 1964.

28 "Juries do much," Kansas City Times, Sept. 13, 1950; "Fight on county charges," Kansas City Times, Sept. 28, 1950.

29 "Juries do much."

30 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, New York Office, Oct. 20, 1967, NARA Record No. 124-10277-10308. FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, June 8, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10202. Gurera was identified as an La Cosa Nostra member by multiple FBI informants including Chicago Outfit member Louis Fratto.

31 Sebastiano "Buster" Balestrere and Nicholas Civella were also linked to the murders. According to one source, Balestrere's nickname was "Little Joe," which was euphemism for "mafia killer." It's hard to know how accurate these reports were since John Mangiaracina was an ally of Binaggio and his criminal career stalled after Binaggio's murder.

32 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

33 McCormick, John M., "John Mangiarcina 'Johnnie Mag,'" The Pendergast Years: Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression, Kansas City Public Library,

34 FBI, Nicholas Civella, Kansas City Office, July 7, 1962, NARA Record No.124-10338-10042.

35 "Last roundup," Macon MO Chronicle-Herald, Nov. 17, 1950. In 1950, Mangiaracina was sentenced to four years prison for income tax evasion.

36 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Aug. 14, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10297-10111.

37 "Listen in, then raid," Kansas City Times, Feb. 15, 1954; FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Aug. 14, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10297-10111. Gurera identified Tousa as an Outfit member.

38 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, June 1, 1960.

39 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, Dec. 15, 1961.

40 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, Dec. 15, 1961.

41 "Blast and fire in store," Kansas City Times, Sept. 2, 1957. The building was located at 1211 Linwood Boulevard.

42 "Ex-assistant prosecutor is indicted," Salina KS Journal, Sept. 7, 1958, p. 12. The article refers to "Joseph Guerra."

43 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, SA Russell P. Curtis, June 4, 1959.

44 "U.S. agent describes syndicate," St Louis Globe-Democrat, July 2, 1958.

45 FBI, Felix Ferina, Feb. 22, 1964, 92-326-205.

46 "Identify Body Found In Fire," Kansas City Times, July 31, 1970. Gurera's uncle, Anthony Mangiaracina, spent "two years in prison on a federal narcotics conviction."

47 "Five questioned in Crapisi shooting," Kansas City Times, March 25, 1961. Sam Palma, Charles Cacioppo, Felix Ferina and Anthony Cardarella were questioned.

48 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, Dec. 15, 1961.

49 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, Dec. 15, 1961.

50 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, Feb. 28, 1963.

51 FBI, Frank Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, Jan. 7, 1958.

52 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189. Chicago always supervised Milwaukee, but it became more direct and overt after 1952.

53 FBI, The Criminal Commission, Milwaukee Office, Oct. 4, 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10215-10276. Balistrieri my have been "introduced" as the new boss on Dec. 27, 1961, at the celebratory dinner in honor of Dr. Guardalabene. Guardalabene was allegedly "hurt" that he was used in this way.

54 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189. Alioto and Balistrieri did fall out over Balistrieri's womanizing and Alioto was against the shakedowns, but there is no evidence Alioto worked against him in 1962. In fact, Alioto provided his restaurant as the venue to induct new members in 1963.

55 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 23 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10206-10420.

56 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

57 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

58 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Oct. 15, 1962.

59 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Aug. 22, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10297-10133.

60 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, Jan. 7, 1958; FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, March 31, 1958; FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 30, 1960. Balestrere was allegedly chased out of Kansas City sometime in the 1950s for reasons unknown. Balestrere and DiSalvo were allegedly behind the shooting death of a nightclub owner.

61 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, June 8, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10202.

62 Vito Balestrere died Dec. 26, 1964, at the age of 62. He suffered from tuberculosis for many years. He lived in a one-room apartment and was poor.

63 Despite being on the market for months, the house never did sell.

64 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, Aug. 24, 1962.

65 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

66 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, June 4, 1962.

67 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 23 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10206-10420. How well Gurera did financially working for Balistrieri is unknown, but his junior partner Buster Balestrere was paid $250 a week for his services after he moved back to Kansas City.

68 FBI, La Causa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, June 6, 1963, NARA Record No.124-10200-10450.

69 FBI, La Causa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, June 6, 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10200-10450. Gurera lived at 2608 East Newport Ave.

70 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

71 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 23 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10206-10420.

72 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Oct. 30, 1964, NARA Record No.124-10217-10126.

73 Maniaci likely began to cooperate sometime around 1963. He was probably motivated by a mixture of frustration with Balistrieri's perceived greed, a lack of personal advancement and financial compensation from the FBI. Maniaci was murdered gangland-style in 1975.

74 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Jan. 24, 1963.

75 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Aug. 22, 1968, NARA Record No.124-10297-10133.

76 FBI, Criminal Intelligence Program, Milwaukee Office, May 17, 1962.

77 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

78 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, Aug. 11, 1962. A source close to Gurera revealed details of the murder conspiracy to police.

79 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Nov. 28, 1962.

80 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 30, 1960.

81 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

82 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Oct. 15, 1962.

83 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, Nov. 28, 1966.

84 FBI, La Causa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, June 6, 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10200-10450. Acino Cleaners was located at 1012 South First Street.

85 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Aug. 22, 1968, NARA Record No.124-10297-10133.

86 FBI, La Causa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, June 6, 1963, NARA Record No.124-10200-10450. In January, 1963, Balistrieri bankrolled Gurera and DiSalvo in a new crap game in Kenosha.

87 FBI, La Causa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, June 6, 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10200-10450.

88 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Feb. 28, 1963.

89 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Aug. 22, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10297-10133.

90 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

91 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, May 28, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10189.

92 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Aug. 22, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10297-10133.

93 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Aug. 24, 1962. Balistrieri said some of the payoff money was meant to support "four of the 'old timers' who are unable to help themselves any longer - persons such as Sam Ferrara."

94 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera et al., Milwaukee Office, Aug. 13, 1962.

95 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Aug. 22, 1968, NARA Record No.124-10297-10133.

96 "State 'Rackets King' slaps charges."

97 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, Sept. 9, 1963.

98 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, March 9, 1963.

99 FBI, La Causa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, June 6, 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10200-10450.

100 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, July 23, 1965.

101 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, May 17, 1963.

102 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 23 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10206-10420.

103 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Nov. 28, 1962.

104 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, July 10, 1964.

105 "Building Permits," Leavenworth KS Times, May 19, 1963, p. 18.

106 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, New York Office, Jan. 29, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10206-10406.

107 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, May 15, 1963. Metropolitan Avenue is the southern boundary of the thousands of federal acres that make up the Fort Leavenworth complex and Leavenworth Penitentiary.

108 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, Jan. 28, 1964.

109 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, July 11, 1964.

110 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, March 18, 1964.

111 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, May 25, 1966.

112 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, June 19, 1964, NARA Record No. 124-10287-10221.

113 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Sept. 20, 1963.

114 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, May 17, 1963.

115 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Aug. 14, 1968, NARA Record No.124-10297-10111.

116 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Sept. 15, 1967, NARA Record No. 10293-10263.

117 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Kansas City Office, Oct. 22, 1964.

118 "Joe Gurera questioned in Simms' death."

119 FBI, Joseph Frank Gurera, Milwaukee Office, Oct. 22, 1964.

120 In 1967, William "Weezer" Covelli was convicted of lying to investigators in connection with the murder of Anthony Biernat. Covelli, a jukebox operator from Kenosha, was the individual who first introduced Gurera and DiSalvo to Biernat and told Biernat that the Outfit "wanted a piece of his business." Gurera likely began to cooperate around September 1967, which was soon after Covelli was given a light sentence on a perjury conviction. Is it possible Covelli revealed information that the FBI later used to pressure Gurera to cooperate?

121 Kansas City Star, Dec. 31, 1967. Gurera's obituary notes that he was a member of the "Cursillo Catholic Men's group." According to the group's website, Cursillo encourages its members to "discover and better live what is fundamental in Christianity." Was cooperating a form of repentance and part of his spiritual development?

122 FBI, La Cosa Nostra Conspiracy, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 5, 1967, NARA Record No. 124-10289-10216.

123 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Sept. 15, 1967, NARA Record No.124-10293-10263.

124 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 5, 1967, NARA Record No. 124-10289-10216.

125 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Sept. 15, 1967, NARA Record No.124-10293-10263. He operated the Tri-City Construction Company.

126 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 5, 1967, NARA Record No. 124-10289-10216.

127 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Chicago Office, Aug. 23, 1968, NARA Record No.124-10288-10421.

128 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Aug. 14, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10297-10111. Kansas City Outfit member Thomas Simone died during the same period, but he was never dispatched to Milwaukee to act as "muscle" for Balistrieri.

129 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Aug. 14, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10297-10111. Another sister of Balestrere was married to John Molle (1918-1982). Gurera identified Molle as a Kansas City Outfit member.

130 FBI, The Criminal Commission, Kansas City Office, Feb. 13, 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10211-10291. In February 1963, Gurera, Buster Balestrere and Frank Balistrieri all reportedly travelled to Kansas City to attend the wedding of Balestrere's nephew.

131 Carl Gurera Certificate of Death, Gurera's grandmother was Mary Cacioppo.

132 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Kansas City Office, Aug. 14, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10297-10111. Gurera identified Charles and Thomas Cacioppo as Kansas City Outfit members.

133 FBI, La Causa Nostra, New York Office, Jan. 31, 1963, NARA Record No. 124-90149-10084.

134 FBI, John Joseph Vitale, St. Louis Office, Jan. 26, 1963. According to Vitale, Gurera was upset that he wasn't "made" at the same time as another Kansas City associate Louis "Black Louie" Cangelose.

135 FBI, La Causa Nostra, Kansas City Office, May 29, 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10200-10428. If Gurera hadn't killed anyone before Binaggio and Gargotta, he wouldn't have been involved in Mary Bonomo's murder.

136 "List of persons having Masses said in memory of Charles Gargotta," The Pendergast Years: Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression, Kansas City Public Library, John Mangiaracina and Buster Balestrere also had Masses celebrated for Gargotta.

137 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, Milwaukee Office, Dec. 23 1963, NARA Record No. 124-10206-10420. Former Milwaukee Outfit member Frank LoGalbo had a long history lining up against John Alioto and Frank Balistrieri. LoGalbo was a close associate of former caporegime John Di Trapani who was killed in 1956 for allegedly making a power play against Alioto. LoGalbo transferred to the Chicago Outfit to save his life.

138 FBI, Frank Peter Balistrieri, Milwaukee Office, June 20, 1958.

139 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, New York Office, Sept. 26, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10290-10437.

140 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, New York Office, Sept. 26, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10290-10437

141 FBI, La Cosa Nostra, St Louis Office, Aug. 28, 1968, NARA Record No. 124-10288-10421.

142 FBI, Kansas City Office, March 2, 1965. 92-326-281