In 1980, Alphonse Persico, AKA Allie Boy, former interim Boss of the Colombo Crime Family in New York and reigning Consiglieri for the family, was convicted on a 1979 charge of extorting realtor named Joey Cantalupo. Persico and his partner, Colombo hood Mike Bolino were charging Cantalupo 2 percent a week interest on a $10,000 loan.
Cantalupo was the wrong character for Persico to shake down. Cantalupo came to know the top tier of the Colombo crime through his father. Family founder and boss Joe Colombo used the Cantalupo realty office as his headquarters for a time. He also got to know and befriend the ultimate Godfather Carlo Gambino, Genovese crime family capo Louis LaRocca and Funzi Tieri, a one-time front boss of the Genovese family.
Cantalupo and his father
Cantalupo was soon a trusted mob insider. In 1968 or 1969 Mr. (Joe) Colombo asked me if he can use my apartment for a meeting,'' Cantalupo later testified. ''I said, 'Of course.' ''
“Tomorrow night,' '' Colombo said '' 'have your wife make a large pot of black coffee, go out and buy a couple of pounds of Italian cookies, and set the table for five. We'll be over as soon as it gets dark.' ''
''I sent my wife to get the cookies, made the black coffee, set the table,'' Cantalupo continued. ''She went out. I sat down on the stoop and waited.''
Colombo, Carlo Gambino and Funzi Tieri arrived in cars, one at a time. ''I remained on the stoop for a couple of hours, and then they started coming down one at a time.”
In 1972, Cantalupo became a valued FBI informant and for six years he wore a body mic and when he finally did testify in court against Persico and the rest of the mob, his testimony was devastating.
Among other things, Cantalupo identified Carmine Persico, Allie Persico’s older brother, as the boss of the Colombo crime family, even when he was in prison and told the court that Allie Persico was a Capo within the family.
Carmine "The Snake" Persico
Cantalupo and his layer leaving federal court
He testified that in 1971, when Joe Colombo was shot and went into a coma, that he was told ''the wheel has turned, the Colombo boys (Joe Colombo and his sons and their crews) are on the bottom now and the Persico’s are on the top.''
Persico often had amazing luck in the underworld. After Crazy Joe Gallo was killed by Colombo loyalist led by Carmine Persico, Albert Gallo, Joey’s brother, set out for revenge against his brother’s killers.
Albert "Kid Blast" Gallo
On Friday, August 11, 1972, the Gallo’s found Joey Yacovelli, Allie Persico, Jerry Langella and at least one other Colombo hood at the bar of the Neapolitan Noodle at 320 East 79th Street in Manhattan.
Minutes before the hitmen arrived, the Yacovelli group changed tables and their table was taken by five New York City meat dealers who were with their wives celebrating the engagement of one of their daughters to the restaurant's manager. The Gallo shooter, dressed in casual clothes and wearing sunglasses a long black shoulder length wig, opened up on the businessmen with two guns killing Sheldon Epstein and Max Tekelch and wounding two other men. The shooter ran out the door was never arrested.
In 1981, Carmine Persico pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge of attempting to bribe an Internal Revenue Service special agent while in federal custody. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison which promoted his brother, Allie Boy Persico, who operated a crew in Brooklyn out of the Diplomat Social Club, to the rank of acting boss. He held the position of acting boss from 1977 until 1981.
Allie Boy Persico under arrest for murder in 1951. He served 17 years for the crime.
Persico was a lifelong, habitual criminal had previous convictions for murder, assault, fraud, false statements on bank loans, firearms violations, extortion and possession of stolen property. Persico had also been involved in trafficking narcotics from Florida to New Jersey
Allie Boy Persico
Cantalupo turned on Allie Boy Persico because “gave me a beating” in a Brooklyn social club over an overdue debt. ''I went to shake hands with Allie Boy,'' he recalled. ''He got up. He grabbed me by the collar and started punching me in the face. He said when was hitting me that he wanted all his money back.''
An associate picked him up from the floor, Mr. Cantalupo said, then took him outside, washed the blood from his face and told him, ''Don't worry about it.'' But he did worry about it. Persico was a power-mad stone-cold killer. The way Cantalupo saw it, it was him or Persico. So he set the gangster up for a fall.
Persico told another side of the tale. He said that he never “beat” Cantalupo and that he never lent Cantalupo money and never demanded money back from him. Rather he said that he punched Cantalupo in the face, once "Because he used my name to try to shake money from somebody. I told him not to use my name."
He contended that the loan sharking charge and the beating were made up by the prosecution because they were determined to jail him. The odd fact was that although Cantalupo recorded almost a hundred conversations for the government there was no no-tape of the beating or the threat. "Out of three years, that's the only day he wasn't taped?" Persico said in disbelief. "Hitting somebody in the face don't call for no 25 years. But the jury believed him, and here I am."
The jury found Persico guilty but allowed him to walk free on a$250,000 bail to get his affairs in order. But he failed to appear in court for sentencing and disappeared for the next seven years. He immediately jumped to the top of the U.S. Marshals' most-wanted list.
Persico probably spent some time at the family's elaborate 40-acre horse breeding farm in upstate New York and probably arrived in Connecticut in February 1981. He somehow got a Connecticut driver's license in the name of Albert Longo and lived for a while in Farmington.
"The only thing I knew about Connecticut then was what I saw in a movie, Christmas in Connecticut or something?" Persico once told a reporter “"Maybe I met different people here than I met in New York. I was treated nice. To me, it was a whole different environment from what I knew before. I never would've left......here, nobody's looking for anything. You're just friends. A regular, normal human being. That's it"
In 1982, Persico got his hands on a second driver's license under the name Anthony Perri, of 44 Avonwood Road, an apartment complex in Avon where he lived for about two years. Both licenses were renewed without question. Between late 1984 and early 1987, Persico lived as Al Longo in Southwick, Mass., just north of Granby and then returned to Connecticut.
Photo of Persico taken in Connecticut while he was on the run
As Al Longo, Persico told people that he was a retired New York rug dealer with a heart condition and lived at 5 Highland St., West Hartford, a red-brick apartment building on the corner of Farmington Avenue, a block from the Hartford line. Most of the tenants are elderly.
Persico’s two-bedroom apartment, apartment A-5, on the first floor which cost $550 a month and was leased under the name Stanley and Blanche Moskowitz, of 168 Carriage Hill Drive, Newington. S. Moskowitz was the name on the mailbox. Stanley Moskowitz played cribbage with Persico and later denied knowing that the lease was in his name.
Before the Moskowitz lease, the apartment had been leased to Frances A. Janusauskas, a former bartender at Place for Steak and was part of a gambling investigation in March 1985. West Hartford police raided the apartment, then leased to Janusauskas, and arrested the occupant, George Kania, another frequent patron and card player at Louis' Restaurant and Lounge, formerly Place for Steak at 199 Oakwood Ave., where afternoon card games were a fixture in the bar. It was where Persico spent almost all of his time. There and at The Corner Pub Cafe, 1046 New Britain Ave., that was raided in 1985 by police in a sports gambling investigation.
George Kania, 1961
Kania had a record that went back to 1960 when he was pinched for running a gambling pool. That same year he was arrested for locking two vice squad policemen inside a bar he owned, the Glenwood Tavern on Laurel Street in Hartford. The detectives had gone to the bar to remove a series of payphones that they said Kania was using to run bets. Kania argues that since the police lacked a warrant. The cops responded that since Kania had a liquor license, no search warrant was necessary. At that point, they said he ordered five patrons out and Kania also went outside, locking the door. The telephone was removed by police who said they were about to smash the plate glass front door when Kania unlocked the door and let them out. He was then charged with breach of the peace.
Later in 1961, while serving three to six years for trying to defraud insurance companies in a fake injury racket, he turned states evidence against the others in the case because, he told the court, “I want to make a clean breast from crime”
During the raid on the apartment, Police seized tape recordings and records which they said was evidence of a multimillion-dollar sports-betting operation. Kania was charged with professional gambling and possession of gambling records but the case was dismissed in August 1984 by Hartford Superior Court Judge William C. Bieluch, who ruled that there was insufficient evidence that Kania lived or did business in the apartment before the raid. Kania frequently would play cribbage in the bar at Louis' Restaurant in afternoon games that also would include Persico, Moskowitz, and the restaurant's co-owner Louis Sanzo.
Persico's apartment was quiet and he kept a low profile, a very low profile. He didn’t talk to neighbors very much, but one noted that he always held the door for women and was polite. For some reason, he didn’t own a car but was often picked up and dropped off by a “light-skinned, heavyset man in his 60s who wore light-colored suits and drove a light-colored, midsize sedan.”
Neighbors said Persico was sometimes accompanied by a woman with a tall platinum blonde hair and an English accent. She turned out to be 42-year-old Veronica M. "Vicky" Rees, a woman who lived with him, on and off, for a number of years. Rees was manager and co-owner of a tanning salon on Park Road in West Hartford and in the early 1980s, was head cashier and hostess at Place for Steak
Persico made no effort to conceal his movements but the local police were suspicious of his sketchy personal history and his quasi-legal associates and for two years attempted to identify him.
The cops knew what everyone else seemed to know about him. His name was Al Longo. (There actually is another Mafioso named Al Longo, who was a Capo with the Genovese Crime Family) He was always meticulously groomed. He was quiet, gentlemanly and would spend hours a day at the bar where he downed at least a quart of liquor a day. He often stayed for dinner, eating his meal at the bar. He slept all day and stayed up all night.
Low profile was the theme for his life in New England "Ask anyone around here" he later told a reporter "if I ever took a bet, or ever lent them money for interest. "If anyone lived cleaner than me, he'd be in an operating room."
Regardless of the slower pace, he actually grew to like civilian life outside the mob, telling a reporter that the Mafia was “… like rhinestones. They look nice, but that's all they are. It's baloney ... I would change places with you in a minute……People think you go to nightclubs, restaurants; that it's so glamorous. "But it's not. The people you meet are all phonies. It's a phony lifestyle. It's all a put-on. You see people, they're all dressed up, they look great. You go into their houses, it's so filthy, you wouldn't sit on the couch. They live just for show. That's no way to live." And then added that in Connecticut people "are real…. In New York, you can know somebody for years, see them one night, and then not see them again for months," he said. "Here, people keep in touch. They see each other, go away for weekends together in the summer. They keep a close relationship."
Then it all ended. At 5:30 p.m., on November 9, six deputy U.S. marshals entered the apartment and found Persico standing in the kitchen shirtless and barefoot, stirring a pot of spaghetti sauce. He had been a cook in the army. "Tell me what you want me to do. I was just getting ready to have dinner," he said quietly. Persico had $7,300 in cash stashed in his apartment. He was returned to New York and sentenced to a 25- year prison term.
According to law enforcement, it was solid police work that led them to Persico.US Marshal’s said that they concentrated on a 40-town region in central Connecticut because it was close to New York and because Persico was known to have ties to the area. They knew that Persico had the letter "A" tattooed between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, so based on that, the investigators said, they assumed Persico would use a first name beginning with the letter A. The marshals service said that seven deputy U.S. marshals followed a trail of phony identification and aliases to the West Hartford apartment and that’s how they captured Persico.
Others, many others, in fact, doubt that. William “Billy” Grant, a well-known East Hartford restaurant operator who was often seen with Persico, disappeared in 1988. When Persico decided to go underground Billy Grasso of New Haven, Boss of the Patriarca Crime Family based in Providence, agreed, for whatever reason, to take care of Persico in hiding. Investigators believe Grant was ordered by Grasso to provide and protect Persico while he was under Grasso’s protection.
Local police who bugged Grant’s phone said he was heavily involved in illegal gambling in Greater Hartford and associated with powerful organized crime figures including Francesco Frankie Scibelli of Springfield, boss of Genovese crime-family interests in western Massachusetts.
They were so close that Grant was an invited to a farewell party for Scibelli in 1976 at Ciro's restaurant in Springfield after Scibelli was sentenced to 18 months on gambling charges. But there was a rumor in the New England underworld that Grant was an informant.
In 1984, in a conversation taped by the FBI, Scibelli defended Grant during a meeting in a private social club, New York with dope dealer and Underboss Anthony Salerno. Some police sources in Connecticut believe that the FBI confronted Grant with the tape in an effort to have him flip as an informer for them. In January 1988, Scibelli was sentenced on another racketeering charge, which left Grant unprotected from the growing number of hoods who assumed he was an FBI informant.
Persico, who was more than probably a multimillionaire, had no visible means of support and Grant had to pay his bills, and Persico had become a huge financial drain on him. Various hoods later reported to the state police that Persico was “Leaning on Billy for more and more money”
Grant complained to Billy Grasso about it, but Grasso more than probably demanded that Grant keep supporting Persico and gambling habit. A short time later U.S. marshals arrested Persico at the apartment Grant had arranged to rent for him. Few others knew where Persico was living.
Persico more than probably believed Billy Grant ratted him out. As US Marshals handcuffed him in his apartment, the gangster smiled and said, "Somebody must've dropped a dime."
Someone lured Billy Grant to a meeting in the parking lot of West-farms Mall in Farmington. That was the last anyone ever saw or heard from him again. Three days after his disappearance, Grant missed a catered party he had arranged to celebrate his oldest son's graduation from college. When he didn’t arrive, police were fairly positive he was dead.
In 1989, Persico developed diabetes and cancer of the larynx. He' was transferred to the U.S. Medical Confinement Facility in Springfield, Mo. where his larynx was removed, leaving him unable to speak. Persico fought to be returned to his Florida mansion to die, which sat on a golf course, to die. Persico died in his sleep in September of 1989 at age 59.