John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Organized Crime in Connecticut: Midge Annunziato

Enter the Midget

Salvatore “Midge Renault” Annunziato was born on Christmas Eve 1919 to Italian immigrants who raised him in poverty, the seventh of 10 children, in Fair Haven. His father was a brutal man and small-time criminal and occasional bootlegger.
Midge’s brothers were largely a delinquent group, well known to the police and Midge was arrested at 9 for reasons unknown. He had an 8th-grade education, was reasonably intelligent and lost his mother to rheumatic fever when he was 13 years old. In 1933 he was locked up by the cops four times. He stole a car and ran down a child on a bike and was arrested and refused to pay the injured boy’s medical expenses, the judge sent him to Meriden Reform School.
At Meriden, he took an interest in boxing. Since his older brother had fought under the name “Jack Renault” Midge took the ring name “Midget Renault” Midge for short. He stood five feet three inches tall and weighed slightly over 100 pounds.
Freed from reform school, in 1936, at age 16, Midge won the state amateur flyweight championship. After that, he fought regularly at the New Haven Arena and around the state, but he wasn’t a boxer as much as he was a street brawler who was willing to take three punches to get in one.
He gave up on boxing and worked at a series of jobs that included shoe repair, upholstering furniture and a stint at the Winchester plant but gave it up for the criminal life. He began to sell counterfeit and stolen ration coupons during World War Two across the Naugatuck Valley, wrack up a considerable arrest record and begin his long descent into drunkenness.
Midge was drafted in 1942 and sent to Hartford for his army physical. He showed up with a watermelon and handed it out to the young men waiting in line. When the officers in charge told him to knock it off, Midge threw a punch that started a brawl. After his arrest, he stood in the police station waving $50 and offering to take on anyone in the place. A judge sent to jail for two months and the Army deemed him unfit for service.
In November 1945, Midge and two other held up a card game at Fair Haven social club. Midge led the way by walking into the club and firing a shoot through the ceiling. He was identified, arrested, convicted and sent to Wethersfield for three to five years.
In prison, he fell under the wing of Charlie “The Blade” Tourine, (AKA Charlie Turin, Charlie White) an illiterate member of the New Jersey faction of the Genovese crime family. Tourine had landed in Wethersfield for attempting to bribe a Connecticut State Policeman.
The Blade, he was very good with a knife, had a rap sheet going back to 1933 with an arrest for murder. The charges were dismissed by a grand jury. Twenty-six more arrests followed for everything from gambling and robbery to kidnapping and bribery. Of those twenty-six arrests, he was only convicted on eight and served time in six different federal and state penitentiaries.
Tourine had a fearsome reputation and was drafted by Santo Trafficante Jr., who had a personal aversion to violence, to come down to Cuba and keep order in the mob-owned casino in Havana. He learned fast and was promoted to run the Sans Souci was Trafficante’s primary casino owned with the Mannarino brothers from Pittsburgh.
In 1957 the Blade was moved to the mob flagship casino, the Hotel Capri de Havana. The Blade became one of the hotel-casino manager along with Nicholas Di Costanzo and Santino Masselli of the Bronx NY (AKA "Sonny the Butcher"). In February 1958, the FBI listed Midge as one of Tourine’s Havana visitors.

Tourine, (Above) who was married six times, returned to New York in 1959 when Castro appeared on the Cuban horizon and moved into a lavish suite on pricey 40 Central Park South. A genius with numbers despite his inability to read he managed casinos all over the world from the Bahamas to London (He was later barred from entering the country) and made a fortune doing it.
Out of prison, Tourine probably reached out to Midge and told him that the Genovese family needed a favor handling someone in Connecticut.

Charlie the Blade Tourine

1960-Charlie the Blade, (left) and actor George Raft 

Since about 1930 the dominant Mafia family in the New Haven/ Bridgeport area was the New Jersey branch the Luciano crime family, not for any particular reason, it's simply turned out that way. (The Luciano Family later became known as the Genovese Crime Family) However, New Haven/Bridgeport was more or less open territory to all the other New York Mafia families, the Boston mob, and more than a few independent operators as well. And it was a good market to be a part of. For decades the heavily industrialized, union organized area of southwestern Connecticut flowed with cash and where cash flowed crime followed. The numbers, poker, casino and loan rackets were lucrative, and the local law enforcement was buyable.
The guy that the mob needed handled was a hood named Ralph Mele. (Below)

Mele was born on Wallace Street in New Haven, one of eight children to Italian immigrants Luigi and Michela Mele. He was certainly a made member of the Luciano organization probably through his father’s side of the family. 
Mele criminal record dated back to at least 1925 but he came to the attention of police on July 25, 1932, Mele and others including mob hitman and kidnapper Leonard Scarnici (Who is suspected of murdering New York gunman “Mad Dog” Coll in 1932.) robbed and killed Louis Albino, 60 and his son John, 19, at their Woodbridge gas station. 

It was a senseless killing and Mele and the others were eventually arrested for their role in the killing but Mele jumped a $15,000 bail and used his mob connections to hide out in New York City for one year before he was captured, sent back to Connecticut and sentenced to five years in prison.
Paroled in 1937, a year later, on March 20, 1938, Mele and a hood Joe Assuntino and two others were arrested while robbing a safe at the Whalley Avenue Theater after they tripped the alarm. That cost him another 12-year sentence at Wethersfield where he ran a vast and lucrative criminal organization that was involved with everything from narcotics sales to smuggling contraband.
In 1947, Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, then a soldier in the Genovese crime family, hired a crew of top dollar lawyers to work on Mele’s release.  DeCarlo was a powerful friend to have. A Capo in the Genovese family, he represented all of the organization's interest in the New Jersey. 

Gyp DeCarlo Circa 1940

He held so much power that after he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in March of 1970, he was granted a Presidential pardon by Richard Nixon after serving only two years of a twelve-year sentence.
The lawyers that DeCarlo provided for Mele told the parole board that Mele would work for his nephews New Haven-based ice cream business, Royal Ice Cream, as a salesman for $80.00 a month. (About $950.00 today)
 The parole board bought the story and Mele was released. The truth was that Golden Crest Ice Cream was a front company for Mele’s New England-wide illegal lottery whose partners included New York’s ultimate Godfather Frank Costello, New Jersey/Hollywood’s Abner “Longie” Zwillman (DeCarlo’s longtime business partner) and Raymond Patriarca of Providence.

Another interesting tie into the Ice Cream front was that the person who signed the note for Golden Crest Ice Creams fleet of trucks was Arthur T. Barbieri, who would one day become the extremely powerful Democratic Town Committee chairman and public works director for New Haven. Barbieri had grown up next door to the Mele family and one of his nephews had married Ralph Mele’s sister. 

Supposedly, when Barbieri was drafted during World War two, he paid a visit to Ralph Mele while he was in Wethersfield prison. Two days later he was mysteriously discharged from active service. With money borrowed from the mob, he opened The Top Hat Club in New Haven and sat out the war. 

In 1953, when Barbieri’s political partner Richard C. Lee became mayor of New Haven, according to an FBI informant Barbieri gave the word for “wide open gambling” in the city after Lee took office.

 Back on the streets, Mele was aggressively expanding his operations every day and didn’t particularly care whose toes he stepped on. Supposedly he crossed an Upper New England Mob Capo and that would cost him his life although it's more likely that the Mob simply didn’t need him around anymore.

On March 21, 1951, at about midnight, Ralph Mele met up-and-coming thug Midge Annunziato at Lip’s Bar & Grill at 93 Crown Street. They talked for a while and then Mele left Lip’s bar and drove to his house on Goffe Terrace, where he lived with his brother’s family. A while later he told his niece that he had to go out. She heard him leave and heard a car, not his car, pull out of the driveway. The car was probably being driven by Midge Annunziato.

About 15 minutes later State Trooper Robert Campbell turned down English Drive along the base of East Rock and came across Mele’s dead body, still warm, sprawled across the road. It was obvious that the killer first struck Mele above the right ear and then pushed him out of the car onto the road and then fired five .38 caliber bullets into Mele’s head. Four of those shots were taken within inches of Mele’s face. He was 46 years old.

The murder made the national news and the obnoxious but highly popular columnist Walter Winchell looked into the Mele murder and somehow concluded that a gang war was would soon break out in the streets of New Haven.

The police dragged the East River with huge magnets looking for the murder weapon. Detectives questioned virtually everyone in the local underworld to find out why Mele was murdered and even though anonymous tips came in at a rate of six an hour, the cops learned nothing and eventually the murder was forgotten.

It was more than probably Midge Annunziato who murdered Mele.
As a reward for murdering Mele, in 1952, the Blade had Midge sword sworn into the Genovese crime family, gave him free reign in New Haven and Bridgeport and everything in between and as a mean to explain his income, they appointed him business agent of the International Brotherhood of Operating Engineers Local 478.

No sooner had the Genovese organization selected Midge to represent them in New Haven, he and Whitey Tropiano went at it until the bosses down in New York stepped in and ordered them to co-exist in crime, which they, for the next two and half decades.  They organized the areas numbers racket bringing in gangsters George “Dickie Wallace” D’Auria, and Donald “Doc” Montano, the owner of a cigarette vending machine business to help them run it.

 In 1955, Midge and his boys started to shake down restaurants by busting them up as part of a scheme to force the owners to sell to him at rock bottom prices. In each case, Midge’s crew “Virtually demolished the establishment's interiors”.  

Two of their victims were the Red Lobster in Milford and the Double Beach House in Branford. The brawl they started at the Red Lobster became s out of hand that the Milford police were forced to call in the city’s fire department for help. 

He was arrested again in 1956 for the same thing and was sentenced to a year in the county jail. They were charged, of course, but the state was forced to drop the case when witnesses refused to come forward.

On Nov. 14, 1957, the New Haven office of the FBI put Midge Renault Annunziato and Whitey Tropiano, the city’s two leading gangsters, on to the “Top Hoodlums” programs list. Agents began tailing them and J Edgar Hoover got frequent updates on the two hoods.
In March, the state Supreme Court Upheld Midge’s 340-day sentence for busting up the Double Beach House on January 26,1956. It turned out that Louie Buonfirlio, one of Midge’s crew up helped the bust the club up, had been chased by police after leaving the club. He jumped from his car and leaped onto the roof of a freight car, slipped and fell into an 11,000-volt wire which caused his arm to be amputated. The court allowed Midge to serve out his sentence at the Whalley Avenue jail in New Haven.

Sending Midge to jail was almost pointless. He more or less did what he wanted on the inside through special favors gotten through corruption. His wife and girlfriends brought him his meals, including, at one point, two three-pound lobster dinners. He went wherever he liked in the jail and slept in the infirmary instead of a cell. He kept an army of convict sluggers on his payroll, smuggled in thousands of dollars, prostitutes and booze.

He strolled out of jail in 1959, smiling but US Justice Department had put pressure on AFL-CIO about having a hoodlum like Midge Renault on the payroll and the union president George Meany told the Operating Engineers fire Midge, which they did. And they had reason. In June of 1960, while he was in jail on the assault charge, Midge, then the business agent for the International Engineers Union, was locked up for a year for taking a $300 kickback from the Terry Contracting Company out of New York who needed the unions cooperation on the Bridgeport Harbor Bridge project. 

Midge was replaced by Elwood “Pop” Metz and his son Elwood “Sonny” Metz. Pop Metz was a former New York City Police Deputy Inspector. The Metz went about the business of placing a stranglehold on the union, but Midge continued to hold a considerable amount of power within the operation as well. On one job in Bridgeport, each of the 29 union men working at the site had to kick back (Midge preferred the word “Donate”) $100 a week to the “Little Man’s Fund” meaning Midge. Sonny Metz even worked to get Midge released from prison early.

By that time, the married father of three, was all but living with his mistress and her son. She was hardly a secret. Everyone, including Midge’s wife, knew about her. He would come by his home where his wife and three children lived every few days, but generally he lived with his girlfriend in the Hill neighborhood in New Haven. Not surprisingly Midge’s two sons seemed to be headed for a life of crime and their father evidently had no problem with that. On New Year’s Eve 1959, his youngest boy, 14-year-old Anthony, was on Main Street in East Haven with a friend named Jimmy DeLuca. It was almost midnight when the boys ran out into the street and were struck by a car at high impact. Jimmy DeLuca was killed, and Anthony died of massive head injuries two days later.

Midge was still devastated by his son’s death when he traveled to Florida in April 1960 to attend a convention of the Operating Engineers, of which he was no longer a member of the union. One night at the motel bar, he told the bartender that his son had just been killed an accident. He wept openly and unashamedly. A few days later, Dade County police arrested Midge in the same lounge after he got drunk and started a fight.

In April of 1962, Midge was running a high-end poker game in New Haven when it was raided by the police. Detective Steve Ahern used a lift bucket to observe the game, which wa sin a second-floor apartment, Annunziato threw a chair threw the window, hitting the cop.  “I thought he was a stickup artist”, Midge told the judge who didn’t buy it and gave him six months in the can.   Midge was released from prison in late 1962 and was promptly arrested four times on felonious charges.

J. Edgar Hoover wanted Midge in jail and pressed his men in New Haven to get the job done so they arrested him on flimsy charge’s, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office managed to win a conviction. The judge sentenced Midge, then 40, to a year in prison. He entered prison on Jan. 2, 1962, to begin his prison term.

Sent to a federal correctional institute in Michigan, Midge somehow got U.S. Rep. Robert Giaimo, who represented the New Haven area in Congress until 1981, to write to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons asking it to transfer the gangster to the Danbury federal prison. 

The bureau refused.  Prior to that, when Midge was arrested for assault, another New Haven based Congressman, Albert Cretella(Below) stepped forward to defend him, winning an acquittal.

It was the beginning of a long decline for the Midget.

January 24, 1963, Midge and four of his men were accused of beating a finance collector with a baseball bat after he tried to collect a late payment from Midge’s girlfriend. The loan collector later told the jury, that the Midget smiled as he swung the bat. Although Midge lined up a series of witnesses who conveniently placed him elsewhere at the time of the attack, a judge didn’t buy it and sentenced him to five to 10 years and immediately sent him to prison, denying his request to remain free pending appeal.

While out on appeal, on July 15, 1963, he was accused of beating a man across the head with a tire iron in a racially motivated attack in Fair Haven. Later in the month he was accused to ramming an East Haven police car as the officer was stepping out of the car to issue him a speeding ticket.  The cop had stopped the gangster for speeding on the wrong side of the road. After he was stopped Midge couldn’t produce his driver’s license and sped off. The cop gave chase and cut him off, forcing Midge car off the road. Midge rammed the squad car and tried to take off again, but the cop managed to drag him from the car. After a quick scuffle Annunziato was cuffed and jailed.

A few weeks after that he was arrested starting a bar oom brawl in East Haven. Right after that, on November 7, 1963 he shot a man at the Club 700 on Columbus Avenue. Despite the club being full, no one saw anything, a weapon was never found and the reason for the shooting has never been made clear.

The victim was 284-pound Lorenz “Larry” Zernitz, a once legendary football, baseball and basketball athlete at Hillhouse High School in New Haven. He was even scouted by several professional ball clubs before graduation. After a stint in the Army, he entered the ring as a heavyweight and was, early on, considered heavyweight champion material. Instead, he became a heroin addict. He would die suddenly, at age 32, in 1965 from an overdose. He left six small children behind.

No one is really sure what happened to cause the shooting. Midge entered the bar around midnight and ordered all around.  Zernitz was tending bar. He and midge began to argue, and Midge pulled out a gun.

Zernitz said “Are you crazy? And Midge shot him once in the belly.

After several years of legal wrangling, the charges against Midge were reduced to aggravated assault and he was jailed but in 1966, the conviction for shooting Zernitz was overturned on a technicality. A new trial was ordered but it fell apart. Among other things, Zernitz died the year before of a heroin overdose an overdose that New Haven police suspected was forced on Zernitz by a mobster working on Midge’s behalf. It worked. The state’s attorney decided not to retry the case and Midge walked out of prison in June of 1968.

Enter the Irishman

Midge Annunziato immediately began to retake the territory he had lost but things had changed. New Haven and Connecticut itself was in the beginning of its long, steep economic decline. The old Irish and Italian neighborhood were either shrinking or gone altogether.  The Mafia was now the main focus point of the US Justice Department.

While many members of the Mafia across America adapted to the changing times by filtering their money into legitimate front and doing away with garish gangster behavior, Midge Annunziato was lost in time, he refused to change. He had, essentially, lost control of the Operating Engineers and Sonny Metz’s position seemed to be getting stronger by the day, meaning the only thing Midge could do was to force him out of the Union by any means necessary. 

Another problem that Midge faced was that he was also the primary target for the Ahern Brothers of the New Haven Police Force. Steve Ahern had just been appointed chief of detectives Jim was the new chief of police, at 35, Jim was the youngest chief in the city’s history.

Like a mirror image of Midge, Jim Ahern was fighting to take back and control his own operation as well. At that time the New Haven Police Force was notoriously corrupt and highly political and was, for practical purposes run by Arthur T. Barbieri, the man created the New Haven Democrat machine and started the political career of Bill Clinton.  Barbieri and cronies influenced recruiting and promotions within the department and according to some, the mob its influence and money to control the urban political bosses under Barbieri control to reign in the cops and protect its rackets. Others, many others, simply assumed that Barbieri was in bed with the mob.

Ahern, a college educated former seminarian with a genius for self-promotion and public relations was determined to break Barbieri’s grasp over the police and to modernize the department.

Attacking the Barbieri directly was out of the question, so Ahern went after what he saw as the opening source of corruption in his department, the Mafia and Midge Annunziato.  The only way to do away with Annunziato was to put him back in jail. He ordered a 24-hour tail on the gangster, called a lockstep, with the hope of documenting a parole violation that could send Midge back to prison. Ahern also ordered his brother Steve to have his detectives bug Annunziato’s phone and to “ride” the hood as well, meaning they were to humiliate him in public and embarrass him in front of his men.

While he schemed to avoid arrest, and take back his union, Midge’s money pile was shrinking. He had no income for almost half a decade and his weak attempts at legitimate business had failed and failed miserably. He lost money on an industrial laundry business and a commercial concrete business and on a short-lived Shrimp and Clam Bar called Bosmo’s, one of the many aliases he used. One avenue that Midge decided to take to shore up both his income and influence was to start demanding protection money from a local Irish hood named Edmund James Devlin.

Devlin had cut into some of the Annunziato's operation, both Devlin and Midge had a brisk loansharking on the streets of New Haven, while Midge was in prison, and Annunziato had been threatening to kill Devlin ever since, although many doubted Devlin had made any move at all against Annunziato's operation. The theory was that Annunziato, hungry for cash, had told New York Devlin had moved in on his more profitable rackets and that Midge was secretly squirreling away the profits for himself as a nest egg.

Edmund J. Devlin, called Eddie by everyone who knew him, was born on Christmas Day, December 26, 1933, the second of five children. His parents were immigrants from Porta Down, Ireland. Catherine Fenton was a homemaker and Vincent a tool and die maker and later a handyman at Yale University. They made their home on 60 Winthrop Avenue in the Oak neighborhood in New Haven.

Eddie attended St. Joseph’s School in New Haven, where he mostly truant. One report from the time read “There continued to be complaints about his attendance at school, his late hours, and he was known to be associating with an older group of colored men of questionable reputation and bragged about his refusal to cooperate with the school, a clergyman to whom he was on probation and the court.”

At age 10 he was arrested for stealing a wallet. At age 12, he was arrested again for petty theft. Four months later he was sent to the Meriden School for Boys until 1949, a brutal reform school. He was released a year later but the damage had been done. He was returned to Meriden in 1952 for car theft and for beating and robbing an elderly Enfield gas station attendant.

In April of 1956, at age 17, he was arrested in New York for injury or risk of injury to children. The charge stemmed from an arrested in February on the complaint that Devlin had molested a 13-year-old Hartford girl. Devlin was selling magazines door to door when the girl allowed him into the house.  Once inside, Devlin sold the girl a magazine subscription. When she said she didn’t have the $3 for the subscription he told her “don’t worry about it, I’ll pay for it” and kissed her several times, then left. The girl and her sister later went for a walk, saw Devlin on the street and called over a nearby policeman who arrested Devlin who spent seven weeks in jail awaiting disposition of his case. When his case came to trial, he received a four-month suspended sentence.

Later, on July 26, 1956, he was arrested while robbing the L Brand Dress Factory payroll near the New Haven train station. Patrolman Sally Esposito, who had grown up with Devlin came upon the scene and gave chase. Devlin’s partner escaped with the money, $7,000, but the cop tackled and arrested Devlin who was wearing a 22 pistol in his waistband. Devlin told the cop “If I didn’t know you, I would have shot you”.

Esposito replied, “That would cost you the death in the electric chair”
“Well,” Devlin said, “I’d rather have that than 20 years in the can”

That got him a 7 to 12 year stretch in prison.

Eddie was paroled in early 1962, working for a gambler in New Haven’s Hill section, running the football bets when he was busted by Steve Ahern’s Special Services Bureau busted. But Eddie jumped bail and disappeared into Brooklyn New York for a year and half.  Over that time, he made connections inside the volatile Colombo crime family and eventually took up the bank robbers trade. At one point he was so flush with cash he was able to send his sister $10,000.

He was arrested in Brooklyn by the FBI February of 1964 after he and a career criminal named Aedan Charles McCarthy of 10 Avenue in Branford robbing $1,900 from the Home Finance Co. of Stamford in late January of that year. Devlin was sent back to prison finish his sentence as a parole violator. As for McCarthy, he went on to rob a series of banks over the years. His last conviction came for a string of robberies in Alabama and Connecticut in 1995.

Eddie Devlin, now 32, was released in 1966 and immediately set about the business of forming a gang of young Italian and Irish hoods into a highly effective bank robbery gang who would manage to steal an impressive $200,000 in a single robbery. In total, the Devlin robbery gang robbed at least 20 banks in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for a total of about $750,000 in 1970s value.

The gangs were meticulous in their robberies, rehearsing with down to the second accuracy so that they could be in and out of the bank in under six minutes. Each robbery was timed to coincide with armored car deliveries of more cash to the bank. One robbery would collect the cash from behind the counter while two other stood lookouts. Once outside the bank a driver in a stolen car quickly shuttled the crew to another stolen car while clothes were and then leaped into another awaiting stolen car.  Devlin himself washed the stolen cash for clean bills. Most of the stolen cash was never recovered.

Eddie Devlin would eventually mastermindedd the largest bank holdup in the history of Connecticut. On January 9, 1969, Devlin, Walter J. Scully, 51, of Norwalk and William H. Albrecht Jr., 27, of Milford, carrying weapons and wearing rubber Halloween masks, robbed the bank Fairfield County Trust Co. at Norwalk of $105,333.

Flush with cash and surrounded by a willing gang of toughs, Devlin started to muscle in on the New Haven Mafia’s lucrative gambling and loan sharking operations. Everything was going well and then Salvatore Annunziato got released from prison.

Midge’s primary shooter was Richard Biondi, who was largely considered to be psychopathic, at least where murder was concerned. It didn’t bother him a bit.  One associate recalled the time that he and Biondi where driving through the streets of New Haven when Biondi cut off a black man in traffic. When the black man stared, Biondi, who had a pistol in his lap, said “Sorry nigger” A few minutes later, he said to his passenger “Both of those things are true. I am sorry, and he is a nigger.”

In August, the Annunziato forces learned that one of their men, Edward Gould, was planning to jump sides and go to work for Devlin, Annunziato decided to kill Gould and to have Richard Biondi and his son Frank do the killing.

Annunziato already had a problem with Gould. He blamed him for the death of his brother-in-law, Frank "Sonny" Gondek, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver near the Hamden town line on June 10, 1968, shortly after he stepped out of Gould's car. It was an accident, plain and simple but there was no explaining that Midge.

Gould had along criminal record. He was sentenced to the Meriden Reform school for a variety of crimes. He and two other boys escaped from the school in April of 1956 and was arrested for stealing a car. In 1964 he was sentenced to ten years for his role in a safe robbery.  

In August of 1968, Frank Annunziato, Richard Biondi. and Bruno John Pino were attending a party Midge’s girlfriend at Chip’s Lounge in New Haven when Eddie Gould
walked in.  Pino, an Annunziato mob associate was an independent cat burglar, stick up artist and counterfeiter. In June of 1968, Pino was indicted for the robbery of Stratford bank. Rather than faces charges he would become one of the FBI’s best informant in the New Haven-Bridgeport area.

The four men sat together at the bar and had drinks. While they were talking Gould noticed that Biondi had slipped away from the table and was talking to Midge Annunziato at a back table. A few hours later, as Gould was leaving, Biondi and Frankie Annunziato approached him outside the bar and asked for a ride to Frankie’s car and Gould agreed. Biondi got in the front seat with Gould and Frankie climbed into the back. A few minutes later, as Gould approached the area where Frankie had left his car, Frankie stuck a gun barrel to Gould's head. Gould slammed on the brakes and leaped out of the car. At the same time Frankie fired the gun but only managed to shoot Biondi in the leg. Then both Biondi and fired on Gould as he ran, managing to hit him in the foot and shoulder.

The day after the shooting, Pino, who would eventually move to Vista California, said Midge gathered everyone at Mike’s Restaurant in New Haven and was disgusted with the bungled shooting and was swearing and yelling "My son can't do nothing right."

On August 17, 1970 Edmund Devlin, 37, one of the nation's 10 most wanted fugitives for the past five months, was arrested by FBI agents as he walked down a street in Manchester New Hampshire. The charges against him included bank robbery, interstate transportation of stolen goods, conspiracy and, tossing in the kitchen sink for good measure, failure to show up for a federal court hearing in September 1939. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his part in a bank robbery in Connecticut, and two more bank robberies in Pennsylvania. He died of cancer in a prison hospital in December of 1977.

Inspector Stephen P. Ahern visited Gould in jail and told the crook “I will try to do something if you cooperate" in the trail against Midge and his son. And he did testify under brutal cross-examination that the Anunziato’s had tried to kill. Annunziato and his son were sentenced to 15 years in prison each.

A few months later, a U.S. District Court Judge sentenced Edward Gould to two five-year sentences, for his role in the February 1, 1968, armed bank robbery of the Mt. Vernon County Trust company in Mt Vernon New York and the June 5, 1968, armed robbery of the Southport office of the State National Bank of New Haven.
Both sentences were suspended 

The Judge told Gould, "Your crimes merit a lengthy sentence and the probation reports (from the Federal Adult probation department) don't help you, the court can see a maximum sentence is not enough." and added that a confidential report from the New Haven Police department helped Gould. 

"Soley on the basis of the confidential memorandum," the Judge said "We will put you on probation. I don't think I have to impress you that the slate is clean and going forward you can't depend on that report."

Gould replied, "I've been wrong all my life and I just a chance to be right. I'm on the right side of the aw now and I'm going to stay on it."

Richie Biondi, Midge’s trusted enforcer and killer was shot in the face several times with an M-16 rifle and killed after he answered a knock on the door of his Edgewood Avenue apartment on December 23, 1968. He was 25 years old. Members of the Devlin gang, Arthur Murgo, John T. Reed. Reed, and Thomas Viola planned and the carried out the killing after Biondi threatened to murder them on Midge’s behalf.

On January 5, 1969, Midge was arrested in New Haven on a parole violation charge. A few months later he was widely suspected of ordering the June 1969 murder of Charles Fay, age 26, who was shot through the head and killed, his body dumped on Wolcott Street in New Haven. Fay was probably part of Devlin’s Irish crew. he had done a year at Cheshire Reformatory in 1960 for breaking and entering and in 1963, while on probation, he was caught in the act of robbing a safe and gave the police a wild car chase through the streets before he was captured. He was arrested again for breaking and entering, again while on probation.

The cops finally managed to convict Midge on something substantial, ordering the shooting of Eddie Gould. Midge got nine to 14 years, Frankie, his son, five to 10. Midge managed to avoid jail until 1972 but even then, he wasn’t there long. In 1977, a federal judge found that the court had failed to inform the jury that Steve Ahern had made a deal with one of the witnesses at Midge’s and Frank’s trial. He ordered a new trial. But by then Gould and other key witnesses were unavailable, and the state’s attorney abandoned the case. By 1978, Midge was a free man.

Exit the Midget

Midge was reduced to shaking down restaurants for chomp change and skimming from Union Christmas parties. It was all but over for him. He spent most of his time with his girlfriend or his wife and the rest of his time getting drunk.

The FBI never stopped following him and when agents got a tip that Midge was running an illegal casino at a laborers union Christmas party, they arrested him on a wide variety of charges assuring his return to prison.

Adding to his troubles, Billy Grasso, the next up and coming hood in New Haven was quickly becoming a power within the Raymond Patriarca Family out of Providence. The rumor was that one night, Midge got drunk and robbed one of Grasso’s high-end poker games and that sealed his fate. Grasso went to Providence and got permission to take the Midget out.   

Billy Grasso

 On June 19, 1979, Bridgeport Genovese hood Thomas “The Blond” Vastano arrived at Annunziato’s East Haven home to pick him up for a ride. It’s more than likely that Tommy the Blonde, working under orders from Providence, murdered Midge and disposed of his body in a mob burial site near Hartford. Other say he was shot, bound in chains and tossed into the ocean off of Bridgeport.

Midge’s wife Louise started to worry when Midge didn’t return home on June 19,1979, or the day after either. After waiting a remarkable nine days, she called Midge’s lawyer, Howard Jacobs, who reported Midge missing to the East Haven police.

It didn’t matter. Midge Annunziato was never heard from again.

In mid-January 1980, a grand jury investigating gambling activities in New Haven and Bridgeport as well as Midge’s disappearance, scheduled Tommy the Blonde Vastano to come in for questioning. Vastano had been identified as one of the principals of a Bridgeport crap game raided in December by the FBI, which seized $20,000.  

He never made it to the hearing. 

On January 29, Tommy the Blonde, who had just turned 71 years old, was ambushed at about 2 a.m. as he returned to his Stratford home. He had driven into Bridgeport to buy a newspaper and returned home and probably spotting his killers, Vastano leaped from his car, leaving the door wide open and ran into his backyard but must have slipped or was shot and then fell, allowing the shooters to catch up with him. Neighbors heard him cry, “Oh no! Oh no!”, followed by shots. The bullets crashed into his head and neck, killing him

Three years later, Frankie, Midge’s son, the reluctant gangster, died of liver failure due to drug addiction. He was 40 years old. Everyone who knew Frank agreed that his father had ruined his life and, in a way, even killed him. Remarkably, Midge had even tried to drag Frankie’s boys into the life.

Frank wasn’t his father. He was quick to forgive and overlooked a lot. He tried to be decent, but his father overpowered him. He dragged him into the underworld and when they both realized he wasn’t cut out for the life, his father left him there. He became a junkie. He was a tortured soul who hated his father and he unburdened himself to almost anyone who would listen.

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