John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Pipi of the DeCavalcante

Joseph “Pippi” (Sometimes spelled Pippy) Guerriero, of New Britain (But hailed from a massive slum on Hartford’s East side) was through to be the Connecticut representative for the New Jersey-based DeCavalcante Family during the 1970s.

Guerriero had a reputation as a ruthless mob figure and numbers king who roamed the state at will without interference from other crime families or law enforcement authorities.
He was a lifelong criminal with an arrest record that dated back to at least 1937 when he was arrested for receiving stolen goods but found not guilty.

In 1942 he fined $10 for frequenting a gambling house.

In 1943 he was convicted of breach of peace and fined $100 and given a 30-day suspended sentence.

He was arrested five times in 1946 on gambling charges and paid fines amounting to $35. In 1947 he was arrested for breaking the state lottery laws (running numbers)

1953 Guerriero, was identified as the fifth man of a gang that preyed on the local underworld in central Connecticut from 19501 through 1952.  

In 1959 State troopers swooped down upon a suspected policy action headquarters in Berlin and arrested Guerriero and a dozen others.

In 1962 he was fined $150 for running numbers and was indicted on gambling and extortion charges in 1977. He worked mostly out of the Friendly Social Club and the Glen Street Social Club, gambling parlors in New Britain. In 1948 he was convicted of a violation of the policy law and fined $100 with an additional $100 for pool selling.

Guerriero's only incarceration was in 1950 when he was bound over to Superior Court on charges of breaking and entering and theft and possession of burglar tools and sentenced to six months in jail. Somehow, he never served the six months.

In 1981 New Britain Police Capt. Edward J. Kilduff Jr. was fined $5,000 Friday and sentenced to reduced concurrent sentences of 1-3 years in prison for accepting bribes from Geurriero, who also did jail time for bribing Kilduff. Kilduff accepted up to $200 a week for almost eight years beginning in the early 1970s to warn gamblers about impending police actions. The same investigation netted convictions of the third-ranking officers in the city and state police forces, seven other top police officers and


Guerriero died in of 1993 of natural causes.

The murder of Tommy DeBrizzi: When I call you better come running

After the mob killed Frank Piccolo on a Bridgeport street corner September 1981 Thomas DeBrizzi of Bridgeport assumed control of the Gambino Crime Family operations in Connecticut.
DeBrizzi was a longtime associate of Frank Piccolo and had been a Made member of the Gambino family at least since 1966 and was a member of a crew within the Gambino operation run by Tommy Gambino which also included George Remini, Carmine Sciandra, Petey Castellano, Tony Megale and Giuseppe Gambino. DeBrizzi had spent the past twenty years building up a $3 million-a- gambling and loansharking operation in Stratford, Bridgeport and West Haven.

Carmine Sciandra 

Giuseppe Gambino

His record, which went back to 1941, included arrests for his arrests and convictions on illegal gambling, loan-sharking, racketeering and weapons charges. In 1952 he was arrested for transporting a woman from Augusta, Ga., to Richmond. Va., for the purpose of prostitution. In 1958, he was found guilty on charges of assault and breach in connection with two separate disturbances. In 1969, a federal "anti-loansharking" statute was used for the first time in Connecticut against DeBrizzi and his partner in crime Angelo D. DeStafano. A three-count indictment charged the two. The statue had been used only several times throughout the country. In April of 1984, state police raided six homes in a crackdown on illegal gambling including DeBrizzi’s Stratford home at 111 Hollister Street where the cops confiscated $77,000 in cash, three handguns and betting slips.
In 1985 he was indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts of illegally possessing firearms, two .38-caliber and a .44-caliber. At the time he was serving a 90-day sentence at the Community Correctional Center in New Haven on state racketeering and professional gambling charges. Possession of the unregistered guns…. DeBrizzi was a convicted felon and not allowed to own any weapons, registered or not……cost him 24 months in state prison.
Since DeBrizzi was released from federal prison in Danbury in August after serving 18 months for firearms violations, he had been slipping quietly into retirement. Cooking became his principal hobby and the 5-foot-9 gangster had put an additional 70 pounds. His appearance, once natty, was no longer so, he often used a cane, and he kept a much lower profile.
His base of power had also eroded while he was jail. "He had no muscle," said Stamford Deputy Police Chief George Mayer. "His guys were either in jail or they had gotten old. He was all alone." Seeing that, Megale started taking control over some of DeBrizzi's bookmaking and sports-betting operations in Stamford
For several years no one in law enforcement and very few in the underworld knew why DeBrizzi, a high ranking big earner Gambino Capo was killed. The only thing that was certain was that his murder was sanctioned by the Gambino command.
The Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano, John Gotti's hand-picked successor, stepped forward as a cooperating federal witness said that Gotti authorized DeBrizzi murder. 

Gravano said that DeBrizzi “has to go” because he “failed come in when he was called”another words, Gotti had summoned DeBrizzi down to New York to see him but DeBrizzi refused to go. Gotti later added that DeBrizzi had not “conducted himself properly when he was in jail”

Gambino headquaters in New York where DeBrizzi was supposed to report every Tuesday


Gotti called in George Remini and said that he had called in DeBrizzi three times and DeBrizzi never came in because in the past the family underboss, Tommy Bilotti, gave DeBrizzi the choice of coming or not coming in.  But Gotti had killed Bilotti (below) and the rules had changed. 

Gotti was also upset because Phil Loscalzo and Giuseppe Gambino were helping DeBrizzi's run his operation in Connecticut without Gotti’s consent. Remini is supposed to have argued on behalf of DeBrizzi, urging Gotti to demote the old man from Capo to solider.


But Gotti wouldn’t hear it. He wanted DeBrizzi dead because he wanted to send a message within his family that when John Gotti spoke, they were to listen and do as he commanded.  
At midday on January 30, a Saturday, DeBrizzi arrived at his wife Veronica’s dress shop with of his closest ally and associate, Harry Riccio, a one-time prizefighter with a record for receiving stolen goods, loan sharking and gambling. He was also one of Tony Megale's subordinates in the Fairfield County Gambino crew. Megale would eventually take over all Gambino operations in Connecticut. In 1990, Riccio would be sentenced to 57 months in jail plus a $55,000 fine for gambling and loan sharking.


On that day, DeBrizzi told his wife that he and Riccio were going shopping for a Super Bowl dinner he planned. In fact, he may have actually gone shopping because later, investigators noted that a case of soda had to be removed from the car's trunk and placed in the back seat to make room for DeBrizzi's body.
Riccio, of Bridgeport, told investigators he last saw DeBrizzi at a Howard Johnson restaurant in Stamford where they had stopped to eat. There. DeBrizzi borrowed a car belonging to a friend of Riccio, said he needed it for a half an hour and asked Riccio to wait for him at the Howard Johnson’s.

On February 5, 1988, DeBrizzi’s frozen body was found in the trunk of the car he had borrowed in Trumbull Shopping Park. He had been shot six times. Twice in the head and four times in the back and chest.

Keep writing

Nick Mainiero: Sad end to a great start

As a young man, Nicholas “Nick” Mainiero of Bridgeport was going places. At Central High School, Mainiero played on both championship football and baseball teams and then fought in World War Two as a fighter pilot in the Pacific theater.

An Ace, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for courage under fire. When the war ended, he took a job as the manager of Bridgeport's Sikorsky Memorial Airport.

But, according to the US Justice Department, he was also a “high ranking” member of the Patriarca Crime Family out of Providence and in 1980 he was indicted and tried for lying to a federal grand jury in 1980 about his relationship with the Bridgeport mobster Frank Piccolo.
The feds presented scores of tapes secretly recorded by two bugging devices hidden in the cocktail lounge of Bridgeport's Backstage Restaurant and Delicatessen, where Mainiero and Piccolo regularly met. The tapes recounted conversations in which Piccolo prepared Mainiero for probable grand jury questioning, advising him to "take the fifth," seek immunity before answering questions and then to say only that he and Piccolo sometimes "socialized."
But the fact was, Mainiero and Piccolo had known each other for 25 years, lived in the same condominium complex, invested together and Piccolo used Mainiero as a respectable front to hide Piccolo's financial interests.
In one example brought force by the DOJ, on June 24, 1980, Mainiero went to the Community Federal Savings Bank in Bridgeport and watched as a man he had brought with him exchanged $40,000 in $20 bills for $40,000 in 100s. Tapes showed that Piccolo had arranged with Mainiero the previous day to meet the man at the bank. But when Mainiero appeared before the grand jury in October 1980, he said he couldn't recall discussing the deal with Piccolo.
Mainiero business dealings with Piccolo also included “loan collection” as well as becoming partners in real estate deals and investment in the Movies Restaurant in Stamford along with an interesting character named John "Stoogie" DePoli, reputed by authorities to be a member of the Carlo Gambino crime family and a leading figure in illegal gambling in the Stamford area.
 Like Mainiero, DePoli was also a war hero. As a member of the elite 82nd Airborne paratroopers, he took part in scores of dangerous missions throughout the European theater during World War II and jumped into combat in St. Mére Église, France on D-Day, Sicily and Salerno, Italy, Nijmegen, Netherlands and the Battle of The Bulge.
In 1984, the Connecticut Supreme Court has upheld a newspaper's right to publish unpleasant but true statements about public officials, even if those disclosures may be misinterpreted by the public.
The judgment concerned William E. Strada Jr., a former Democratic state senator from Stamford who filed the libel suit against The Advocate of Stamford, its publishers and a reporter for a 1978 article Strada claimed was libelous. A reporter wrote that Strada had close ties DePoli “a well-known organized crime figure here.”
 DePoli's purported control of the restaurant, then known as the Regency, on Shippen Avenue, was not persuasive enough to revoke the liquor license of the restaurant, which has had a reputation as a hangout for mob figures. (He also ran the successful renown Stardust restaurant in Port Chester, NY)
In 1959 he was arrested for running a policy game and in 1962, he was arrested in  Stamford by IRS agents on a gambling charge. In 1979, DePoli, 58, was sentenced to nine months in jail in 1979 on a federal tax evasion charge and in 1996 he was arrested in a federal roundup of Gambino Family gamblers across the state.
In the end, Mainiero was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. He died in Bridgeport in 2016 at age 94. Stoogie DePoli also lived until 2014, dying in Stamford at age 91.

Frank "The Attorney" Piccolo

Frank "The Attorney" Piccolo AKA Frankie Lanza was a Capo in the New York-based Gambino Crime family, and was also, arguably, a reigning power in Connecticut’s jumbled underworld.  
The police and FBI had different opinions of his precise importance in the states mob circles, but all agree he headed the Fairfield County operations of the Carlo Gambino crime family and shared power with Ralph "Whitey" Tropiano of New Haven, who was regarded by law enforcement officials as the only other mob figure of Piccolo's stature living in Connecticut.
Piccolo was born on July 2, 1921, in Manhattan, the only son of Francesco “Patsy” Piccolo and Fannie Lanza. He was raised in the Italian section of Harlem.
Over the years he did develop a long criminal history. He was arrested in 1948 for running a policy game and was fined $100 and released and was arrested again in 1966 on gambling charges.
In 1953 Piccolo was sentenced five-month term in the Federal penitentiary for income tax evasion. evasion. Also, in 1953, he was arrested on charges of assault in connection with the lunch-counter stool beating of a man John Karantzis, those charges were also dropped when Karantzis vanished, but the charge of possessing a switchblade knife in connection with the same incident was pressed but also suspended.

Piccolo circa 1950

He was mentioned at the McClellan Crime hearings where Joe Valachi testified in 1963 and 1964. In 1967 he was arrested for failing to pay a $50 wagering tax in New York State and $15,000 in federal tax after won the numbers.
 He was arrested in Las Vegas in 1963 for possession of dangerous drugs. In 1966 Piccolo was arrested on charges of violating Federal gambling laws but the charge eventually dropped when the government's key witness, Augustus J. Pace, the owner of a Westport health studio, refused to testify whether he had known Piccolo or had placed a bet with him.  Pace said during the trial that he was reluctant to testify for fear that "harm might come to my family."
Most reports are that Piccolo moved to the Bridgeport area from of East Harlem in his late teens, but the New York City Police suspected that Piccolo came to Connecticut from New York with Whitey Tropiano in the very early 1960s or late 1950s. Their marching orders from the Gambino leadership was to reorganize and control the family's operations in Fairfield and New Haven counties.

Gambino captains Frank Piccolo (L) and Frank Dapolito AKA Frankie Dap who fell out of favor with the Gambino's when John Gotti took over. In 1994 Dapolito was sentenced to 40 months in jail and died soon afterwards.

By 1965, Piccolo was a member of the Genovese family and was running gambling operations in Stamford and Norwalk, according to records of law enforcement agencies in Connecticut and New York. At some point, law enforcement officials say, Piccolo moved over to the Gambino family. However, New York and New Jersey police also list him as a member of the DeCavalcante family of New Jersey, but Connecticut authorities considered him a member of only the Gambino family at the time of his death. The confusion over Piccolo's associations typified the lack of intelligence on organized crime in the state at that time and reflects the fact that Connecticut for years has been roughly divided among various crime families. The Hartford area and the shoreline from New Haven east, were said to be controlled by the Springfield and Providence mobs while New Britain and Waterbury organized crime supposedly was run by the DeCavalcante family of New Jersey. Fairfield County was divided between the Gambino and Genovese families, authorities say, since at least the mid-70s.
In Bridgeport, in the last twenty-five of his life, he played it low and easy and avoided any felony charges. On the record, he was the owner of Piccon Inc., a truck leasing firm in Stratford. He lived in a modest house on Peace Street in Stratford for decades and was married to the same woman for 41 years and was described as an indulgent father to his four kids.  
Piccolo stayed in excellent health and at age 58 he looked years younger. He dressed well, played golf, and enjoyed trips to Las Vegas with friends. “He smiled a lot and liked to tease people," an acquaintance said. "He was never rude and was always very nice to women. He was a very personable, warm guy with a fine sense of humor," said another. "He helped a lot of people."
  When Whitey Tropiano was murdered, Piccolo became the top guy in the state “"With Tropiano out of the picture” an investigator said “I would say without doubt that Piccolo was the top guy in the mob in Connecticut, but Piccolo's influence had waned in the last few years, but he was still a major target of organized crime investigations"
In 1974, New York City police noted that Piccolo met in New York with Carlo Gambino and Joe N. Gallo, the reputed consiglieri of the Gambino family and that he was among the first to visit Gambino in the hospital after his heart attack. "That makes Piccolo important"

Frank N. Gallo

In 1980, FBI wiretaps discovered that Piccolo and David Friend, the would-be Bridgeport Jai Alai promoter who was forced to drop out of the venture because of questions about his associates and business practices, were planning to buy an Italian ocean liner and convert it to a gambling casino so they could skim revenue from the casino.

David Friend

After that Nicholas Mainiero, the manager of Bridgeport's airport was charged with laundering money for Piccolo and soon afterward, Piccolo himself was indicted for conspiring to obstruct a long strike force grand jury probe of gambling and related crimes.
And then there was the Gambino-Genovese alliance.
Lawmen figured that Piccolo probably answered to John Angelone AKA Johnny Ang, in New York. Angelone was a power in the Longshoreman’s union on the New York-New Jersey waterfronts.  Angelone took over the crew that was formed and run by the dour David Amodeo AKA Papa Dave, (below) a highly regarded Sicilian born Capo within the Gambino operation. 

When Angelone died in December 1979, Michael Catalano took over control of Connecticut, Between Angelone’s and Catalano’s regimes, the Gambino and Genovese Families entered an alliance in which split up Fairfield County. The Alliance was profitable but Catalano, who was in New York, couldn’t hold the alliance together and Frank Piccolo was one of the primary reason why the alliance was in trouble.

Mike Catalano, left and Catalano (right) being embraced by Gene Gotti in New York.

"Piccolo was big in the county. This hit was too sloppy to be sanctioned," the Fairfield County detective said. "He was a family man. If New York did it he'd just disappear. disappear. ... Whoever heard of a hit on Main Street, Bridgeport, in the middle of the afternoon? afternoon? If it was sanctioned, these guys are in a lot of trouble for botching it."
But the fact more than probably was that his murder was, in fact, not only sanctioned by New York, it was sanctioned by the highest mob power in New York, Gambino boss Paul Castellano. Apparently, word reached Big Paul Castellano, the imperial, distant boss of the Gambino crime family that Piccolo was getting greedy and moving in on the Genovese crime family's rackets in the Bridgeport and New Haven area. 

Big Paulie Castellano, the despised boss of the Gambino family. In his youth, he served several years in the Connecticut state prison for armed robbery. 

The local Genovese hoods put up with it because they had too because no one wanted to risk the lucrative constructions rackets and multimillion-dollar gambling operations the Gambino’s shared with the Genovese family
Although Piccolo’s inability to get along with his new partners was probably the primary reason for his extermination, the cops speculated, Piccolo had become sloppy in his day to day dealing. Reports from sources and federal court documents indicated that Piccolo had begun talking carelessly, issuing threats, and had lost status in the Gambino family.
"New York people,” one investigator said “might have been scared because Piccolo was picked up on the wire talking to a lot of people. They'd get rid of him for that"
When rumors started to float that he was a marked man, Piccolo did little out of the ordinary to protect himself. He had no bodyguard and never carried a weapon. However, the FBI noted that he had started changing his routine. He stopped using his office and home phones for business calls because he assumed, correctly that they were bugged. He also assumed that the phones at his favorite restaurant, the Backstage, had been bugged too, so he started having breakfast at the Bagel King on Bridgeport's Main Street and using the sidewalk pay phone across the street. 
On September 19, 1981, a Saturday, Piccolo stopped at the Bagel King, and had a cup of coffee. In those days it was an Italian and Portuguese working-class neighborhood about a mile from his home in Bridgeport. His kids had grown, and Piccolo moved to a luxurious penthouse apartment atop the Inwood condominium complex at 3200 Park Ave. in Bridgeport, a complex reportedly built on land in which Piccolo had at one time held an interest and which he later sold for a seven-figure profit.
Just before 2:45 p.m., he walked to the pay phone across the street. He was on the phone, witnesses said, when a maroon (some say red) van pulled up. Piccolo walked over and talked to someone in the van for a few moments. Then two masked men got out, and one shot him three times in the chest with a carbine.  Police said that Gus Curcio, an ex-convict whose brother Francis "Fat Frannie" Curcio. Curcio, the police reported was unmasked behind the wheel
The gunmen then jumped back into the van and led private citizens and police on a wild pursuit that ended up in nearby Trumbull. The cops stopped following when the van went up a makeshift path up to the home of Gustave Curcio, disappeared for three days and then, proclaiming his innocence, turned himself into police.
Back at the crime scene, a nurse from the neighborhood tried giving Piccolo mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and that may have kept him alive until police rushed the dying gangster to St. Vincent's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest about 45 minutes later.
Police assumed that his killers had either followed him that morning or that someone scheduled call with him and that whoever scheduled the call with him, set him up for the kill.
Actor and singer Wayne Newton met gangster and dope dealer Anthony Penosi while he was performing at Copacabana Club in New York in the 1960s. A friendship developed and stayed strong over the years. So strong that Newton's office calendar marked Penosi's birthday prominently and Newton spent almost a month with Penosi in Florida. Penosi attended the wedding of Newton's brother. In 1976, Newton flew to Los Angeles with his band to perform for Penosi's son free of charge.
In 1980, Newton approached Penosi for help. Newton had pulled out of a Las Vegas tabloid show called Backstage. As a result, he had been receiving threats from other, yet, unnamed organized crime figures. Penosi contacted his cousin, Frank Piccolo in Bridgeport and Piccolo allegedly solved the problem by going through the bosses in New York.
Newton foolishly assumed that Penosi and Piccolo had taken bread from the table of a fellow Mafioso for free.  Piccolo and Penosi later discussed “earning off” of Newton and his ownership of the Aladdin Hotel.
Guido Anthony Penosi AKA The Bull (Born June 4, 1931, in the Bronx) was a narcotics dealer with the Gambino and Lucchese crime families who operated primarily in Los Angeles.
In 1946, Penosi was part of a gang of three, dubbed “The Homicide Kings” by the cops. Penosi, then 15 years old, Carmine Lavia, 17 (Who went on to a life as an insurance scam artist)  and Francis J. Kennedy also 17, were arrested for the murder of Samuel Sunshine, a 52-year-old grocer who was murdered by Penosi while the hoods robbed his corner store of $30. Kennedy and Lavia were sent psychiatric examination.   The supervising prosecutor in the case was the legendary District Attorney Frank Hogan, who was born and raised in Waterbury.   

LaVia, Penosi and Kennedy

He was arrested again in 1950 for possessing and counterfeiting $10 and $20 bills. At the time he lived at 235 East 105th Street in the Bronx. He had lived there since at least 1945. Oddly enough, the assistant prosecutor in the case was Roy Cohen who later worked for Senator Joe McCarthy.
In 1951, he was arrested in Hollywood by Federal Narcotics agents when Penosi and another hood named Louis Salerno picked up two packages, wrapped in Christmas paper, which contained 35 ounces of heroin. He served three years on the charge.
In 1963 he was identified as a member of organized crime who dealt in narcotics by the US Senate subcommittee.
In 1967, the police regarded Penosi as “A highly placed member of the Carlo Gambino Crime family who is primarily involved in the trafficking of narcotics, counterfeiting and financial fraud.”   He was a known associate of the very influential "Sleep-out Louie” Levenson, an international gambler and mob financier.
In 1967, Penosi teamed up with the Florida based Mafia killer Anthony Esperti AKA Big Tony took over a Florida strip motel with the help of counterfeit credit cards. Even by mob standards, Esperti was bad news. A former heavyweight boxer-turned-shakedown artist and thug-for-hire well known to police. He had been a sparring partner for Sonny Liston and Willie Pastrano, two of the hardest hitters who ever enter a ring. When his boxing career came to a lull, Esperti became a burglary and armed robber. He was locked up in 1959 for 10 months in prison for illegal entry.
When he was released, the boxing promoter Chris Dundee lined him up to fight an unknown named Cassius Clay, then a former Olympic champion who was to make his way up the heavyweight ladder. It was Clay’s third pro fight and he beat Esperti on a TKO in third round.


After that, Esperti became a full-time Florida hood with a sadistic streak who racked up 11 arrests ranging from assault and battery to receiving and concealing stolen property. On one occasion, he beat up a petty thief, then shot the man through the foot to “make him remember” the encounter.

Esperti (#2) and friends

On Aug. 25, 1967, police answered a complaint that Esperti and his friends were drinking in the Seven Seas Lounge at the Newport motel in Miami and were walking out without paying. Esperti was arrested and charged with defrauding an Innkeeper, using abusive language, resisting arrest without violence, disorderly conduct and using profane language.
When the cops searched Esperti they found a Diners Club card on him made out to Eugene Pile, and a check with the Diners Club revealed that it was counterfeit. It turned out that Esperti and Penosi were part of a ring which took the Diners Club for $350,000 with phony credit cards. Authorities said that 2,000 cards were stolen, and names embossed on them from a list of legitimate Diners club members also stolen. Where Penosi fit in the scheme wasn’t clear.
After his pinch with Penosi, Esperti fell into a feud with Gambino crew boss Thomas Altamura AKA “Tommy A” and “The Enforcer”. No one is sure what the feud was about, it either involved a woman or was part of a turf war, with each man trying to claim a bigger slice of the extortion and loan-sharking racket in South Florida.
On September 22, 1967, a bomb had ripped through Happy’s Stork Lounge, while Esperti sat at the bar. Miraculously, no one was hurt. In October one of Altamura’s crew beat up a friend of Esperti’s. In turn, Esperti beat several of Altamura’s men.
On October 31, 1967, Altamura, nattily dressed in a blue silk suit, walked into the Harbor Lounge in North Bay Village when Esperti, who seated at the bar with a woman, stood up, walked behind Altamura, pulled out a .38, and pumped two bullets into his head, followed by three more shots into his back and sides, killing him. Esperti then calmly grabbed his girlfriend by the arm and walked out of the bar. 
Altamura, dead

Esperti was eventually convicted of murdering Altamura and sent to prison for life. He died in 2002.
In 1971, Penosi was convicted of tax evasion for not paying income taxes for several years during the 1960s. By 1980, Penosi was based in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, running his operations from Mirabelle’s restaurant on Sunset Strip. 

Mirabelle’s was where Quentin Tarantino wrote large parts of the script for Pulp Fiction and interviewed Samuel L. Jackson for the part as Jules Winnfield.  Halle Berry was a regular and held her Oscar party for Monster’s Ball there. Jerry Brown ate there regularly, so did Lionel Richie, Madonna and Sean Penn, Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson and his entourage.
The local police considered Penosi “a lone-wolf operator” who brokered big-league drug deals and extorted entertainers when he could. Although LA had its own family, Penosi answered only to the New York Gambino’s and he was reportedly “a cash cow” for the family, but never paid a penny in tribute to the Los Angles Mob.
Piccolo started pressuring Newton’s business advisor to purchase life insurance for singer Lola Falana from a selected insurance agent. Piccolo also told some of his associates in New York that he was going to be a "silent partner" with Newton in his attempt to purchase the Aladdin Hotel and Casino (now called the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino) in Las Vegas.

The FBI was listening and on June 12, 1981, the grand jury indicted Piccolo and Penosi of Los Angeles on charges of conspiring to obtain money from Newton and Falana "with their consent, induced by the wrongful use of actual and threatened force, violence and fear."

Piccolo surrendered to police June 12, was free on $50,000 bond and was scheduled to go on trial in the early fall and it didn’t look good for the hoods. The government had more than 600 wiretapped conversations on tape in the case. The first trial resulted in a hung jury and the second trial in 1982 found Penosi not guilty on all charges. Penosi retired to the Arizona desert and died a few years later of natural causes.
The indictment may not have been the reason Piccolo was killed, as the Connecticut Attorney General assumed, but the indictment more than probably added to case of murder him.
Rumors that Piccolo was targeted for a hit had been circulating in the Bridgeport underworld for weeks before the shooting. A few days before they murdered him, two men with guns had been spotted outside a Stratford building where Piccolo was.
His power over Fairfield County and his standing within the Gambino’s had fallen greatly. Proof of that came in May of 1980 when FBI wiretaps and bugs picked up conversations that said Piccolo had become involved in a dispute with Frannie Curcio and three others over a loan to a drug dealer associated with the Curcios.
While the FBI taps were picking up conversations about a Piccolo-Curcio dispute, a separate state investigation was uncovering a plot by Catalano to rob the same Curcio-affiliated drug dealer, but the Catalano people were arrested before the robbery could take place. Piccolo wasn’t aware that Michael Catalano, Piccolo’s boss, who took over control of Connecticut in 1979, was planning a robbery on his, Piccolo's territory, involved the same drug dealer. With that sort of disrespect coming from within the Gambino’s for its own Capo, the Curcios might have smelled blood in the water and assumed Piccolo was open for the taking.
As part of the arrangement between the Gambino’s and the Genovese to divide the southwestern Connecticut market, Piccolo and Francis “Fat Frannie” Curcio, a reputed associate of the Genovese family, had done business together for years gambling, loan sharking and, according to the local newspapers, possibly selling narcotics. However, Piccolo was always the senior and more important partner.
 Fat Frannie

 Curcio was reportedly getting restless with the arrangement and was said to be pressing Piccolo who responded, the FBI reported from its bugs, with “a good deal of careless talk and uncharacteristic threats” which were reported back to New York. "Curcio was getting out of hand, moving in. He's not a reasonable man." The Fed reported.
In the end, Gambino Boss Paul Castellano, looked over the big picture of Frank Piccolo’s tangled criminal career and decided enough was enough.

The last round up of Allie Boy Persico

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.' ''

Joe Colombo

“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.''

Carlo Gambino

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.”

Funzi Tieri 

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.''

Colombo, shot

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. 

Jerry Langella
Joey Yacovelli

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.