Thursday, May 19, 2022

George Zappola (Genovese)

1970

George 'Georgie Rush' Zappola Jr. was a member of the Genovese Family.

Born May 4, 1940 in Manhattan to George and Marie Albano. Father's family from Province of Catania, Sicily. Mother's family from Pignola comune of Potenza, Basilicata. The Zappolas resided at 28 Madison St in Lower East Side, Manhattan.

By 1950 they moved to 20 Catherine Slip, closer to the Manhattan piers where George Sr. worked as a longshoreman.

By 1970s Zappola was identified by the NYPD as part of a crew of burglars who congregated at the Club 1717 located on 86th St in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. George was then residing about a mile north at 1865 68th St. Other members of the crew included Harry 'Junior' McGuire, Salvatore 'Fat Sally' Scala and brothers Frank and Robert Melli.

In the early morning hours of April 10, 1976 Zappola and the Melli brothers were among five arrested by the NYPD after a security alarm was set off in Manhattan's Diamond District. The group was found in possession of bolt cutters, an electrical power pack, a police radio and scanning equipment and keys to the target location at 125 West 46th St. The other two charged were Anthony Longabucco and George's brother, an NYPD officer with the Department's Communications Division.

George gave an address at 11 Ford Place in West Brighton, Staten Island and his occupation as self-employed carpenter. He subsequently moved to another Staten Island address at 53 Dubois Ave in Port Richmond.

By Summer 1977 Zappola and Robert Melli worked for M & R Repair Company, a shipping repair business headquartered in New Jersey. In June they extorted the owner of a Newark trucking company on behalf of Genovese Soldier Michele 'Mike the Loader' Clemente, supervisor of Family interests on the Manhattan piers. The individual, first threatened then beaten and shot at, paid $39,000 at a Manhattan restaurant. The payment was kicked up to Clemente and split with Tino Fiumara, the Family's point man on the New Jersey waterfront.

Robert Melli (1971)

On March 6, 1979 Clemente, Fiumara, Zappola and Melli were among eleven named in a wide-ranging racketeering and extortion indictment out of the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan. Melli was by then serving an unrelated sentence at FCI Danbury, Connecticut. Zappola pleaded not guilty and was released on $25,000 bail.

Charged only with the June 1977 extortion, Melli and Zappola were severed from the initial case, then reindicted and ultimately convicted at their own trial in July 1980. The pair were each given five year sentences the following month and believed allowed to remain free pending appeal. On April 20, 1981 the convictions were reversed by the US Circuit Court of Appeals and a new trial was ordered.

It's not known when George Zappola became a made member of the Genovese Family. It may have been after the books re-opened in early 1976 and before his 1979 Federal racketeering indictment.

By 1982 he was a confirmed member with a crew of associates that included one or more sons of Cosmo DiPietro, a Genovese Soldier who disappeared the previous summer.

In early February of that year Zappola was suspected in the murder of thirty-four-year-old Mark Hertzan, a horse breeder and suspected drug runner. Hertzan was found dead in the lobby of his loft apartment building in Manhattan's East Village, shot three times in the chest and twice in the head.

It was also around this time that members of Zappola's crew shot Nicholas 'Nicky Cowboy' Mormando, an associate on-record with Gambino Soldier Salvatore Gravano, and hatched a plot to kill Gravano himself. Informed of the situation by Genovese Associate Robert Scarpaci, Gravano notified his superiors in the Gambino Family.

Gravano subsequently met with Genovese Boss Vincent 'Chin' Gigante and an agreement was reached: Gravano would not seek retribution against Zappola's associates and, in turn, Gigante would not punish Robert Scarpaci for breaking protocol by going straight to Gravano with the information.

The last piece of business was Zappola himself. Called to a meeting with Vincent's brother, Genovese Capodecina Mario Gigante, he failed to provide an adequate account of his role in the plot.

On June 22, 1982 Zappola disappeared.

Eight days later his right hand washed up on a beach in Northport, Long Island.

His head came ashore the following day in nearby Bayville.

Identification was made using dental records and fingerprints. It was determined he had been shot three times in the left side of the face and head, after which his head was severed with a saw.

Through the 1980s George's brother, along with his former close associate Robert Melli, continued to participate in various burglaries throughout New York and New Jersey.

His relatives George and Vincent Zappola were among several Genovese Associates released to the Luccheses and inducted into that Family.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Peter Palmieri (Gambino)

Peter 'Pete Barry' Palmieri was a member of the Gambino Family.

Born July 22, 1911 in Manhattan to Giuseppe and Maria Di Lallo. Father believed from Monteleone di Puglia comune of Foggia, Puglia. Mother from Petrella Tifernina comune of Campobasso, Molise. The family resided at 79 Elizabeth St in Little Italy, Manhattan.

Peter's father, a street cleaner working for the city, died in 1926. The family then moved to an address on Lorimer St in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Peter obtained employment as a shipping clerk.

By 1940 he resided in the household of in-law Raymond Collura at 6906 16th Ave in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

That October he married Winifred Caroline Beran in Manhattan. Witnesses were Eugene and Eleanor Alfonso. It was the bride's second marriage; she had been granted a divorce from one Joseph Iaconetti only the previous day.

The couple was already living together at 503 East 83rd St in the Yorkville neighborhood on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Within a week they moved to 1545 68th St in Bensonhurst. Peter was employed as a factory worker with Crown Novelty Works at 43-47 West 24th St near Chelsea, Manhattan.

By 1943 the Palmieris moved to 1569 70th St in Bensonhurst.

On January 11 of that year Peter was arrested by the NYPD's 2nd Division in Manhattan for violating the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. The following month he was convicted and sentenced to sixty days imprisonment and a $200 fine.

His next known arrest occurred August 1950 in Brooklyn, a policy charge that netted another fine.

Another Brooklyn policy arrest in June 1953 resulted in a suspended sentence.

By 1957 Palmieri was a made member of the Gambino Family in the crew headed by Joseph Franco.

Franco headed a large crew with a couple of dozen made members active mostly in Brooklyn and on Elizabeth St in Little Italy. Notable members included Vincent 'Jimmy the Blond' Corrao, Joseph Gennaro, Carmine Lombardozzi and the crew's former Capodecina, Antonino Indelicato.

Franco died in November 1957, just a few days before the nationwide Apalachin meeting was held in Upstate New York. Carmine Lombardozzi, who had to miss Franco's wake due to the meeting, took over the crew.

In January 1961 Palmieri was arrested in Brooklyn for receiving stolen property. Two weeks later the case was dismissed in Felony Court.

On January 7, 1963 FBI CI Alfred Santantonio, a Gambino Soldier, identified Carmine Lombardozzi as a Captain with approximately forty men underneath him, including Peter Palmieri.

Later that year Lombardozzi was demoted and replaced by Joseph Gennaro.

By June 1965 Palmieri was one of five partners in a blackjack game held on New Utrecht Ave in Brooklyn. Information on this game was provided to the FBI by CI Gregory Scarpa and passed on to the NYPD, who raided the location on June 10. Three of Palmieri's partners, Gambino Soldier Dominick Castore and Colombo Soldiers Benjamin LoCicero and Dominick 'Mimi' Scialo, were among seventeen charged with consorting and disorderly conduct. Shortly after the raid Palmieri and fellow Gennaro crew member John 'Johnny Pesce' Chiarello arrived but were not held. The charges were dismissed the following day.

In mid-April 1966 the FBI's member source in the Gambino Family provided an extensive rundown on Joseph Gennaro and his crew. He identified Peter Palmieri as a Soldier under Gennaro and described him as a runner in a small numbers operation who frequented Three J's Bar at 69th St and New Utrecht Ave. Palmieri was also noted to be a daily presence at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, typically bringing no more than $40 with him each visit.

The same member source reported on a Gambino Family meeting held February 27, 1967 in the basement of Gennaro crew member Leonardo Grillo's residence in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Chaired by newly appointed Acting Boss Paul Castellano, various announcements were made, including the decision to split up Joseph Gennaro's regime for being 'too big'. Gennaro retained the majority of the crew's Lower Manhattan membership. Newly appointed Capodecina James 'Jimmy Brown' Failla was given most of the Brooklyn members, including Peter Palmieri.

On November 26, 1967 Palmieri was among thirty-eight arrested following an NYPD raid on the Mawanda Social and Athletic Club located at 7022 15th Ave in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. At least nine made members were present in addition to Palmieri, including fellow Failla crew members Hugo Bassi, Dominick Castore and Pasquale 'Patty' Lauro. All were accused of loitering with intent to gamble.

Three months later Palmieri was picked up in another gambling raid, this time on the Marksmen Social Club at 198 Ave S in Gravesend. Castore and Lauro were also present, along with nine others that included Colombo Acting Capodecina Dominick Scialo, Gambino Associate Frank DeCicco and Colombo Associate Frank Lino. The loitering with intent charges were dismissed the following day.

In early December 1971 Castore and Palmieri both attended the wake for Failla crew member Hugo Bassi held in Borough Park.

On January 23, 1974 Palmieri was part of a large group charged with promoting gambling and possessing gambling devices following yet another Brooklyn raid, this time on a crap game held in the basement of 6320 Ave N in Mill Basin.

Aside from the gambling arrests, Palmieri's name only turns up in available files from the 1970s when informants note his frequent presence as a small-time bettor at Aqueduct. He was living in Staten Island by the time of his death in July 1982.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Dominic Somma (Colombo)

Dominic 'Donnie' Somma was a member of the Colombo Family.

Born April 8, 1937 at Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn to Pasquale and Lucy Servino. The family resided at 256 4th Ave in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His father listed occupation as chauffeur.

Somma's first arrest occurred in March 1954 when he was charged by the NYPD with possessing stolen property.

Residing in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn by the early 1960s, Somma was part of a violent and highly active crew of Colombo Family Associates that included John Coiro, brothers Frank and Robert Melli, Albert 'Gooch' Mugnolo, Gabriel San Felice and Gabriel Scianna. Coiro and Somma were particularly close and remained so over the next decade.

In June 1963 Coiro, Scianna and Somma were among those questioned in the murder of fifty-year-old Emil Colantuono, shot in the head as he drove from his residence at 7007 Narrows Ave in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The former owner of a coat factory in Gowanus, Colantuono was believed targeted after providing support to the Colombo Family's rebel Gallo faction. Press reports speculated the killer mistook him for one of the Gallo brothers. Coiro was suspected of being the shooter.

That summer Somma and Gabriel San Felice were part of a trio that shot up Mickey's Bar in Brooklyn and 'cut up' an individual whose identity is redacted.

Also around this time Somma, with John Coiro and two others not identified, reportedly assaulted Gambino Soldier Robert 'Bobby Red' Crapanzano for 'acting wise' at the Como Lounge in Brooklyn.

On August 23, 1963 Somma was arrested by the NYPD on a heroin possession charge. The disposition for this case isn't noted, but a similar arrest occurred one month later, resulting in charges for narcotics as well as consorting and criminal possession of a weapon (loaded gun / tear gas). Around November 1, 1963 he pleaded guilty to the drug charge and was given a term of eighteen to thirty-six months in New York State Prison.

Out on bail, Somma continued causing trouble in Brooklyn. That December he was joined by Gabriel San Felice and a third man in shooting up the Illusion Bar located on New Utrecht Ave. The incident was reported to the FBI by confidential informant and Colombo Soldier Gregory Scarpa, who identified the same trio as responsible for the Mickey's Bar shooting the previous summer. Scarpa also noted that Colombo Family Captains Joseph Colombo and John 'Sonny' Franzese were present at the Illusion when the shooting took place.

What repercussions, if any, were faced by Somma and his associates for the incident isn't known. On February 21, 1964 he was received at Sing Sing Prison to serve out his sentence for narcotics possession. Four days later John Coiro began serving a sentence of his own, nine months at Rikers Island for receiving stolen property.

No information is available on Somma's activity for the remainder of the 1960s.

He was arrested twice by the NYPD in 1970, once for possessing both stolen property and burglary tools and again for driving drunk in a car with an altered VIN.

By 1972 he had moved to New Jersey, residing at 12 Frederick Place in Old Bridge, and listed employment with Sonny's Transmission Service on Cropsey Ave in Gravesend, Brooklyn.

Coiro (1972)

In late February of that year Somma and Coiro were stopped in a stolen car containing burglary tools.

In early April the pair were charged with the February 14 burglary of $35,000 from a Staten Island drugstore.

Two weeks later the pair were again arrested for a Staten Island burglary, this time accused of removing a safe containing $150,000 from a department store. The crime occurred eight days after the drugstore job.

On May 17, 1972 both Staten Island cases were thrown out.

By this point Somma, John Coiro and their associates were reporting to Colombo Soldier Dominick 'Mimi' Scialo. Scialo was a feared member of the crew headed by Joseph Brancato, successor to the imprisoned John 'Sonny' Franzese, and had previously served as Franzese's Acting Capodecina.

By May 1973 the Colombo Family's new leadership promoted Scialo to Capodecina over a newly formed crew. Coiro was described by informants as Scialo's right-hand man, and Somma was in turn described as Coiro's closest associate.

Scialo (1968)

The Scialo crew frequented various Brooklyn hangouts, including the Ovington Social Club at 7024 New Utrecht Ave in Bensonhurst and the Italian-American Civic Association at 1502 Neptune Ave in Coney Island.

Their speciality was burglarizing banks, supermarkets and other businesses. One informant noted that Somma was also 'very-well connected' with multiple dispatchers working for freight companies at JFK International Airport in Queens, and that he should be considered the prime suspect for 'many of the high value thefts' that took place there.

Through 1973 the crew is believed to have carried out at least five additional burglaries, including the May 9 theft of a safe containing diamonds and precious metals from the M. A. Sherre Diamond Company in Lower Manhattan. According to the NYPD, that job was carried out in under fifteen minutes by a five-man team comprised of Somma and Coiro along with Frank 'Beansy' Melli, Harry 'Junior' McGuire and Pasquale 'Patty Box-Cars' Cosoleto. The estimated value of the property ranged from $150,000 to $400,000.

The crew is also suspected of having carried out several unsanctioned hits on Scialo's behalf, including the December 10, 1973 murder of thirty-three-year-old bookmaker Miguel Cosme at a Coney Island social club. Two ski-masked gunmen lined the patrons up, singled out Cosme and opened fire, killing him with two shots to the back and one to the head. The victim was on-record with Colombo Soldier Lawrence Lampasi, a member of Scialo's crew, but Lampasi was not consulted beforehand. He lodged a complaint with Colombo leadership.

Three days later, Lampasi was at a Brooklyn barbershop when a ski-masked gunman entered and shot him once in the chest. He was taken to Coney Island Hospital for treatment. Somma may have been the gunman.

Lampasi survived the shooting but it cost Scialo, already on thin ice with Family leadership, his life. He was strangled the following month and buried in the basement of Otto's Social Athletic Club in Red Hook. His remains were recovered in an FBI dig nine months later. Scialo's former crew was placed with Capodecina Charles 'Charlie Moose' Panarella.

Under Panarella it was business as usual for Somma and his associates. On April 1 John Coiro and five others were caught during an attempted burglary of the J.C. Nordt Company in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. A seventh participant who fled on foot might have been Somma; the group was using his automobile at the time of arrest. All were released on $5,000 bond.

In early May Somma and John Pate accompanied Charles Panarella to Kingston, New York for arraignment in a gun possession case.

On the night of May 16, 1974 a meeting of the Panarella crew was held at FBI CI Gregory Scarpa's residence in Prince's Bay, Staten Island. Notified ahead of time, Agents observed Somma, Coiro and over a dozen others attend the four hour meeting. Topics of discussion included an attempt by Panarella to 'fix' the Cedar Grove burglary case.

During the early morning hours of June 22, 1974 John Coiro, Somma's closest associate, was shotgunned to death in Bensonhurst. Colombo Associate Gaetano 'Tommy' Barbusca was also killed, although from the outset Coiro was assumed to be the primary target. Somma and Frank Melli had been drinking with Coiro in the hours prior to the shooting. Multiple suspects in the double murder were named over the years, including long-time burglary associate Albert 'Gooch' Mugnolo. It wasn't until Lucchese Underboss Anthony Casso became a cooperating witness two decades later that further details emerged. Casso confirmed Coiro as the intended victim, and stated he and Vittorio 'Vic' Amuso, then Lucchese Associates, carried out the hit as driver and shooter respectively on orders of their Capodecina Chris Furnari.

In early 1976 the New York Families opened the books and inductions resumed. Each Family was initially allowed ten new members. Somma was made as part of the Colombo's first wave under Charles Panarella's sponsorship.

As an inducted member of the Panarella crew, Somma maintained close association with the former members of Scialo's burglary crew. He also worked for a crap game operated by Associate Joseph 'Minx' Livoti on New Utrecht Ave and another game in Manhattan.

On August 19, 1976 an FBI informant was shown a photograph of Somma: "He said Somma is 'with' Joe Yacovelli. He has done a lot of 'work', i.e. killing for the Colombo Family."

Around February 1977 he took over the Flip Side bar at 13th Ave and 70th St in Dyker Heights, a hangout for various Colombo members and associates.

Later that same month bank burglary associate Frank 'Beansy' Melli was also inducted under Panarella's sponsorship.

Around September 1977 Somma was transferred to newly promoted Capodecina Anthony 'Scappi' Scarpati. Scarpati was another of the Colombo Family's first wave of inductees brought in during early 1976.

Members of Scarpati's crew initially included Soldiers Salvatore 'Sally Buzzo' Fusco, Modesto 'Duke' Santoro, Vincent 'Jimmy Skee' Scianna, Dominic Somma and George Tropiano.

By February 1978 Somma was running poker games and handling numbers out of an after hours club at 18th Ave and 78th St in Bensonhurst.

On May 31, 1978 Gabriel San Felice, by then owner of a New Jersey waste disposal company, was found shot in the head at the town landfill in Old Bridge.

On July 28, 1978 Gambino Associate John Suarato was shot to death in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The murder was carried out by brothers Patsy 'Junior' Palermo and Vincent 'Vinny' Palermo, Soldiers in the Colombo and DeCavalcante Families respectively. Patsy Palermo was a Panarella crew member and another associate of the bank burglary crew.

Vincent Palermo became a cooperating witness in 2000. In detailing the murder, he identified himself and brother Patsy as the shooters and 'Big Donnie', believed to be Somma, as the driver.

On January 3, 1979 another long-time burglary associate, Harry 'Junior' McGuire, was shot to death inside his automobile on McDonald Ave in Brooklyn.

By Summer 1980 Anthony Scarpati's crew had grown to include additional Soldiers Vincent Aloi, Anthony Colombo, Joseph Peraino Jr. and recently reactivated FBI informant Gregory Scarpa.

In August 1980 Somma joined a team that included Carmine Sessa and Scarpa's son Gregory Jr. in the failed burglary of a Queens bank. Somma, on lookout with Scarpa Jr., later complained to crew leader Scarpati that the latter had allowed a security guard to walk in on the team. According to Sessa, who later became a cooperating witness, when the elder Scarpa learned of the criticism made toward his son he decided to kill Somma.

A contract against Somma's life had already been issued by Colombo leadership for his involvement in narcotics, according to Sessa, but word was out that the order would soon be retracted. Scarpa, Sessa later reported, sought to kill Somma before this was done.

Around August 20 Somma's presence was requested at the Wimpy Boys Social Club in Brooklyn. Upon entering the club's backroom he was promptly shot in the head by Scarpa himself. Others present in the room were Associates Carmine Sessa, Joseph DeDomenico, Costabile 'Gus' Farace and Robert Zambardi. Brothers John and Joseph Saponaro were playing cards in the club's front room. The body was rolled in a rug and dumped at the Arthur Kill landfill in Staten Island.

On August 26 Scarpa reported to his FBI handler that Somma was killed for planning an unspecified 'private move' not sanctioned by the leadership. It was neither the first nor last murder he committed during his time as an informant.

On September 11 it was reported that Somma, described as a close associate of Consigliere Alphonse 'Allie Boy' Persico, was the 'victim of internal power struggles that are taking place since Persico left the area'.

It wasn't until Carmine Sessa began cooperating in 1993 that the full details surrounding Somma's murder were revealed.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Angelo Lapadura (Genovese)

1965

Angelo Lapadura was a member of the Genovese Family.

Born Arcangelo Lapadura on August 2, 1891 in San Cataldo comune of Caltanissetta, Sicily to Salvatore and Lucy Prezia.

Around late July 1909 immigrated to United States.

In May 1914 married Vida Monaco in Garfield, New Jersey. Bride's family from Santo Stefano di Camastra in Messina, Sicily.

By 1918 they were residing at 178 Lincoln Place in Garfield where Angelo worked as a mill hand.

In September 1924 the Pleasure Club was incorporated at 672 Main Ave in Clifton, New Jersey. Trustees included Angelo and his brother-in-law Charles Monaco.

He traveled to Italy at some point the following year, returning in late December aboard the S.S. Conte Rosso.

By Summer 1928 he owned property at 380 Oak St in Passaic, New Jersey which he rented to Frank Ruggiero. At the time Ruggiero worked in a nearby Italian bakery owned by Thomas Scarangello.

Thirty-five-year-old Ruggiero was shot to death inside the bakery shortly after midnight on August 23, 1928. He and fellow employee Barthold Capuana were unloading flour bags when a pair of masked gunmen entered and killed Ruggiero with two close range gunshots to the head. The killers then exited through the bakery's rear door. The murder came thirteen days after an initial attempt at the 380 Oak St address.

There were multiple possible motives presented in the ensuing investigation. Ruggiero had reportedly complained to local police of bootlegging and other criminal activity in the neighborhood. It was claimed he was abusive to his spouse, drawing the ire of his brothers-in-law, and that he had run up debts necessitating frequent moves through multiple states. He had also, investigators noted, lapsed in his rent payments to Angelo to the point where Angelo's wife had sought legal recourse. Angelo was questioned in the case and claimed he was in bed by 10:00 PM the night of the murder.

On June 26, 1929 Willard H. Elliott, Vice President of Hobart Trust Company of Passaic, was kidnapped by two men and held for six days.

On September 20, 1929 Angelo Lapadura, Possible Genovese Member Joseph 'Kid Steech' Bongiorno and others were indicted for involvement in Elliott's kidnapping. Angelo was apprehended two months later by Garfield PD and released on bail pending trial.

1929

By 1930 Lapadura and Peter Curatolo were partners in the Venetian Gardens at Grenelle Ave and Passaic St in Garfield. Curatolo, also from San Cataldo, was a former Pittsburgh resident who left that city following acquittal in the May 1929 murder of bootlegger John Daniels. Within months the location was shuttered due to heavy police pressure.

As the Elliott kidnapping case approached trial, multiple murders occurred that were linked to Angelo and his associates.

On May 29, 1930 Frank LoVullo was found outside a club located on Elm St in Passaic. Taken to a local hospital, he was set up with private accomodations paid for by Angelo. It was Angelo's nephew Sam and neighbor Ignazio Alu who brought LoVullo to the hospital, and all three were held for questioning in a fruitless attempt to learn more about the shooting. Alu was born 1897 in San Cataldo. LoVullo, believed to be from the nearby comune of Serradifalco, died four days later.

The morning after LoVullo's shooting, William 'Wild Bill' Schlessinger and Anthony 'Sparky' Wilda were found brutally murdered on a desolate road in Paramus, New Jersey. From marks on the body it was determined the victims had been beaten, strangled, allowed to recover and then finished off with multiple close range gunshots from a .38 caliber firearm. Wilda was shot three times in the abdomen; Schlessinger was killed with a single shot to the temple.

It was theorized at the time that Schlessinger and Wilda were responsible for the LoVullo shooting and their murders were a retaliatory act. As with LoVullo, Angelo was briefly held for questioning. Investigation later that year pointed to Lapadura's business partner Peter Curatolo as the shooter.

After much legal wrangling the Elliott kidnapping trial began June 2, 1930. Angelo received a directed verdict of acquittal on June 18. The next day all remaining defendants were acquitted by jury.

After his release Angelo and Joseph 'Lefty' Lapadura briefly operated a sugar house at 260 Midland Ave in Garfield. Joseph was a Little Italy, Manhattan resident who rose to Capodecina in the Genovese Family decades later.

On August 3, 1930 Angelo's former business partner Peter Curatolo was shotgunned to death at the former Venetian Gardens site in Garfield. Curatolo was beckoned to the curb by occupants of a stolen automobile with Hudson, New Jersey plates, at which point he was hit in the head with multiple pellets from a 20-gauge shotgun blast. Two days later Angelo was brought in for questioning and claimed to have only returned that morning from a week-long fishing trip in Milford, Connecticut. Angelo's nephew Samuel was questioned the following day. It was while investigating Curatolo's background that police recovered the murder weapon used to kill Schlessinger and Wilda.

Fifteen days later Angelo was back in Connecticut, when he and Genovese Member Anthony 'Chicago Fats' Sabio were arrested by the Connecticut State Police in Westport. A loaded .38 caliber revolver with its serial number defaced was found in Lapadura's pocket and both were booked on a carrying concealed weapons charge.

Angelo was then operating the LaBella Trading Company at 143 Market St in East Paterson, specializing in tin cans, sugar and yeast. He became a well known source of sugar for use in illicit stills, such that he was frequently referred to in the press as New Jersey's 'Sugar King'. Later statements by local law enforcement indicated his permission was needed for aspiring bootleggers to operate.

On October 15, 1930 he was summoned by local police to the Bergen County Courthouse and given a message from Assistant Attorney General George S. Hobart that it would be best if Angelo ceased activity in the county.

Two days later Lapadura and Sabio were convicted on the Connecticut weapons charge and given sentences of nine and six months respectively. Sabio was paroled early due to ill health; Angelo was released June 1, 1931.

By 1934 the Lapaduras resided at 3 Obal Ave in East Paterson. He and Joseph Arnone were partners in Old Fashion Molasses Company in Paterson.

In December 1934 Angelo rented a house at 179 Huyler St in South Hackensack, New Jersey. Within weeks the location was hit with a joint raid conducted by the Bergen County PD and the New Jersey State Alcohol Beverage Control. Two large stills and fifteen thousand gallons of mash were recovered. Indictments of Lapadura and several others followed.

Undeterred by the raid and its legal fallout, Angelo continued to expand his businesses. By 1937 he owned both a woman's coat manufacturing plant in Passaic and an East Paterson night club.

On February 16, 1937, over two years after the still was raided, Angelo and five others began standing trial in the US District Court in Newark. A seventh defendant, the one who initially rented the Hackensack property to Lapadura, became a witness for the government. On the first day of trial the indictments against two defendants were dismissed and a third received a directed verdict of acquittal.

The following day Angelo took the stand in his own defense. He admitted previous legal trouble in Connecticut but denied any involvement in the present case. Later the same day he and his remaining co-defendants, Dominick Gesualdo and Joseph Lombardo, were convicted. Early the next month he was sentenced to four years Federal imprisonment and remanded to Hudson County Jail.

Angelo quickly requested that he be allowed release on bail pending appeal. Two months later, on July 16, he was let out of Hudson County Jail on $5,000 bail. Five days later the US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the conviction.

The following year Lapadura was again indicted on bootlegging charges, this time in a massive indictment originating from New York and naming over one hundred defendants. Lapadura and Frank Romano, the only other Bergen County defendant, were described as the 'principal wholesalers' of the group, utilizing a Jersey City olive oil business to facilitate transportation of large amounts of product into New York. Lapadura was released on $500 bail. (Romano was born 1901 in Monte San Giacomo comune of Salerno, Campania and resided on Montross Ave in Rutherford. He died in 1968.)

On April 1, 1939 Lapadura, Romano and the DiPalermo brothers were among thirty-four defendants convicted. Later that month each were sentenced by Judge John C. Knox to twenty-two months Federal imprisonment and fined $7,500.

Lewisburg (1940)

Angelo served his sentence at USP Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

Following his release he started the Garfield Importing Company at 120 Charles St in Garfield.

By the mid-to-late 1940s he and his family moved from New Jersey to Phoenix, Arizona, living at 3662 Grand Ave and running a grocery from the same address.

By 1955 they sold the Arizona property and returned to New Jersey, residing at 382 Oak St in Passaic. That summer Angelo, Genovese Soldier Ralph Belvedere and Ralph Geraci incorporated Mill Sportswear at 211 Market St in Paterson.

In June 1961 Angelo became a naturalized US citizen at the Passaic County Courthouse in Paterson.

Gene Catena (1960s)

By 1963 Angelo Lapadura was a member of the New Jersey based crew headed by Genovese Capodecina Eugene 'Gene' Catena. Younger brother to Family Underboss Gerard, Gene's crew included Soldiers Ralph Belvedere, Nicholas 'Bones' Bufanio, Don 'Fats' Ferraro, Michael 'Mickey Gerard' Geralle, Angelo Lapadura, Peter LaPlaca, John Lardiere, Dr. Philip Noto, Joseph 'Joe Peck' Pecora, Thomas 'Timmy Murphy' Pecora, Daniel Polidori, Anthony 'Tony Nino' Saita, Robert Tarantino and Carmine 'Fat Todd' Toto.

A location Gene Catena used for meeting with his crew was bugged that year by the FBI. One conversation in late October 1963 was summarized: "(Eugene Catena) expressed an opinion that there would be many changes in Cosa Nostra upon the release of Vito Genovese from prison. He complained that many members had become indiscreet to the point that they risked the attention of law enforcement authorities. He cited the actions of two under his jurisdiction, Angelo Lapadura and Ralph Belvedere, whom he referred to as 'mustaches' believing them to be responsible for having someone beaten. According to (bug), use of this term designated old-time members who were violently inclined, and Catena contends that their method is no longer condoned."

Attended the three day wake for Genovese Soldier Daniel Polidori held in late October 1968 at the Marrocco Funeral Home in Passaic. Polidori was considered the right-hand man to Peter LaPlaca, who took over the crew following Gene Catena's death in August 1967.

Now well into his 70s, Angelo worked as a self-employed olive oil and Italian cheese salesman and frequented various hangouts in Paterson, particularly Parmelli's tavern at 583 River Rd and the S.S. Napoli Club on Cianci St. He was also reportedly partners in an unspecified Passaic bar.

Dec. 1964 NJ Surveillance
Individual ahead of Lapadura closest to camera may be Angelo Salvo.

His close associates included fellow LaPlaca crew member Ralph Belvedere, with whom he may have shared profits from a local gambling operation, and Bonanno Soldier Angelo Salvo. Lapadura was godfather to one of Salvo's grandchildren and their families frequently went to Florida together for the winter, where Salvo and his wife operated the La Sal Apartments at 530 Mandalay Ave in Clearwater Beach. One informant stated Salvo 'made a lot of money' with Lapadura 'when both were younger'.

One such trip to La Sal Apartments was made by Lapadura and Salvo in January 1970. The next month they were joined by Ralph Belvedere, and the trio took a short drive north to New Port Richey to assess a possible land purchase.

In early March 1970, still in Clearwater Beach, Lapadura was hit with a severa asthma attack that required hospitalization. He listed Angelo Salvo as his next of kin. The next month he was taken by ambulance to the airport and returned to New Jersey.

According to informants, Lapadura's asthmatic condition curtailed his activities. He continued his association with Angelo Salvo, and in early 1971 both were subpoenaed in an investigation of fraudulent driver's licenses. Also subpoenaed was Salvo's nephew, Bonanno Soldier Antonio 'Nino' Busciglio.

Lapadura was exempted from appearance due to his failing health. He died early the next year, on February 8, and was waked at Marrocco Funeral Home in Passaic. Burial was in St. Nicholas Cemetery in Lodi.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Frank Bonino (Gambino)

1963

Frank Bonino was a member of the Gambino Family.

Born Francesco Bonino on February 25, 1917 in Manhattan to Nicola (21y) and Susie Galgano (18y). Father's family from Province of Genoa, Liguria. Mother's family believed from Naples, Campania.
The family resided at 226 West Houston St in Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighborhood, where Nicola worked in a factory as a pattern cutter.

By 1930 the Boninos moved to an address on Sand Lane in Arrochar, Staten Island.

Within five years the family switched boroughs again, living at 1752 West 13th St in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Frank, more commonly known by nickname Hank, worked as a checker in a fruit market.

Early the following year he moved a few doors down to 1740 West 13th St and obtained employment as longshoreman with the New York Cuban Mail Line on Pier 14 in Manhattan.

On the night of February 15, 1941 Bonino participated in a botched armed robbery resulting in the fatal shooting of thirty-two-year-old Murray Hameroff. The victim was accosted outside his Coney Island residence by Carlo Noia who, armed with a revolver, demanded money and attempted to coerce him into the backseat of his own automobile. As Bonino stood by, a struggle between Noia and Hameroff ensued, ending when Noia fired a shot into the victim's back. The pair fled the scene in a Sedan driven by Santo 'Sammy Shields' Caminito. Hameroff was taken to Harbor Hospital where he died three days later.

Three months later the NYPD successfully tracked down the Sedan and took its occupant, Santo Caminito, into custody. Noia and Bonino were soon brought in as well. The indictment for 1st degree murder was handed down against the trio in June.

Hameroff Defendants (L to R): Noia, Caminito, Bonino
Source: New York Daily News

Convicted after a brief trial in mid-February 1942, the defendants were each given life sentences by County Court Judge Brancato. Carlo Noia, who faced the electric chair for his role as shooter, was spared death only at the request of Brancato's wife.

Bonino was received at Sing Sing Prison on March 2, 1942. By Summer 1944 he had been transferred to Attica, where staff classified him an 'agitator'. He spent the next fourteen years behind bars.

In late April 1956 the New York State Court of Appeals reversed Bonino's murder conviction. Co-defendant Santo Caminito was freed the previous year. Carlo Noia, press reported, chose not to fight his conviction.

Bonino was out of prison by May. In September he was picked up on a gambling charge in Manhattan. A second gambling arrest occurred the following January, both cases quickly being dismissed.

Within two years of his release he was inducted into the Gambino Family.

In May 1959 he was briefly held for consorting in Brooklyn. At the time he listed employment with Ron-Ric Auto Sales at 9815 4th Ave in Bay Ridge.

By 1960 he was living at 434 Ave W in Gravesend and claimed employment with All Boro Lathing Corporation at 45 Bay 19th St in Bath Beach.

That September he was among 11 arrested for consorting in an NYPD raid of a social club at 8811 18th Ave in Bath Beach. Others held in addition to Bonino were Gambino Members John Chiarello, Vincent DeCicco and Paul Zaccaria along with Bonanno Associates Anthony Bonacci and Pasquale Cosoleto. The next day Bay Ridge Court Judge Malbin dismissed charges.

In May 1962 he was arrested in Brooklyn for possessing burglary tools. Later that month this case was also thrown out.

Eppolito Brothers (L to R): Alfred, James
Source (Alfred): FBN Mafia Book

By this point Frank Bonino was in the crew headed by Gambino Capodecina Alfred 'Freddy' Eppolito. Additional crew members included Alfred's brothers, James aka 'Jimmy the Clam' and Ralph aka 'Fats', as well as Andrew 'Boston' Parillo, David 'Fat Dave' Iacovetti, Peter 'Petey 17' Piacenti and Arnold 'Allie' Romano. Associates included James 'Jimmy Dano' Androlini who, an FBI source later reported, lost his chance at being made under Freddy's sponsorship for being 'too wild'.

Closely associated with the Eppolitos, James in particular, Bonino was an almost daily visitor at the Eppolito residence in Flatlands, Brooklyn. It was likely James or one of his brothers who proposed Bonino for membership.

In early 1963 CI Alfred Santantonio, a Gambino Soldier, identified Alfred Eppolito as a Captain with approximately thirty men underneath him, including someone he knew only as Hank. Soon afterwards a mugshot of Frank Bonino was shown to Santantonio and he confirmed a match.

Alfred Eppolito died in late May 1963. Alfred's brother James and Andrew Parillo were both named by informants as possible successors. By 1964 James was confirmed to hold the position.

Bonino maintained a close association with his new captain, and in June 1964 the two were picked up for consorting at crew member David Iacovetti's Crab Joint Restaurant in Sutton Place, Manhattan. When Eppolito left New York for Florida in the wake of legal trouble, he entrusted Bonino with looking after his family. Bonino was also observed at Eppolito's Miami Beach residence on multiple occasions through the following years.

On November 23, 1966 an NYPD raid on the Ravenite Social Club in Little Italy, Manhattan netted Bonino and eleven others. Those arrested in addition to Bonino included Family Captains Paul Castellano and Aniello Dellacroce, Acting Captain Joseph N. Gallo and Soldiers Michael 'Mike Tali' Caiazzo, Anthony 'Fat Andy' Ruggiano and Peter Tortorella.

Described by one informant as 'relatively inactive in Gambino Family matters', Bonino worked for a Clinton Hill pizzeria operated by a friend of the Eppolitos, and continued to frequent the crew's social club at St. Marks and Grand Aves in Prospect Heights.

It's not clear when James Eppolito, who didn't return to Brooklyn until about 1975, was demoted or stepped down. As late as 1977 the FBI listed him as Capodecina. By the late 1970s he and his son James Jr. were under Anthony 'Nino' Gaggi.

As a longtime Eppolito associate, Bonino was likely with Gaggi's crew as well.

On October 1, 1979 both Eppolitos were murdered by Gaggi and Roy DeMeo. Former Eppolito crew member Peter Piacenti, also under Gaggi, was present as an unwitting accomplice.

No CI information is available on Bonino's activity past the 1970s, and his reaction to the Eppolito murders is unknown. He died March 29, 1989 in El Dorado, California.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Small Update (DeMeo Murders)

 The DeMeo Crew Murders post has been updated to add a previously unidentified victim, Joseph Umile.

Initially listed as (FNU) Himilli (ph) in the Possible Victims section, Umile was shot to death December 1973, making him the second known victim after Paul Rothenberg.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Bio: Vincent Amato (Gambino)

 


Vincent James 'Jimmy' Amato was a member of the Gambino Family's Traina crew.

Born June 13, 1914 in Palermo, Sicily to Settimo (32y) and Francesca Lodico (27y).

His father immigrated to the United States before Vincent was born, heading to a cousin in Manhattan's East Village.

On February 15, 1920 Vincent, along with his mother and three siblings, arrived at Ellis Island aboard S.S. Patria, joining Settimo at 507 East 11th St in East Village. Within a couple of months the family moved to 404 East 11th.

Vincent left school around 1929 and peddled fish in the neighborhood with a brother.

By 1935 the Amato family resided at 511 East 15th St in Gramercy Park. Vincent also appears to have lived for a time with brother-in-law Charles Destro at 210 Meserole St in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Amato's only known arrest occurred that year.

Around 1:00 AM on May 5, 1935 Vincent and three accomplies entered a Manhattan restaurant and held up the owner for $25. Vincent was one of two assailants armed with revolvers. Five days later he was arrested for assault and robbery.

In July 1935 convicted in General Sessions Court on final charge attempted robbery 3rd degree and given an indefinite sentence, maximum five years, at Elmira Reformatory.

Amato's three accomplies in the robbery were not apprehended at the time, and may have escaped positive identification, although Amato's inmate file stated they were known to police and arrests were expected.

Elmira - July 1935

Amato was received at Elmira Reformatory on July 15, 1935. Staff compiled a psychiatric report the following month, noting Amato 'came to the US at an early age' and was 'markedly extraverted and aggressive'.

In March 1937 he was paroled from Elmira and released to the household of Michael Rizzo at 1041 Remsen Ave in Canarsie, Brooklyn. He obtained employment with a wholesale grocer at 176 West St in Manhattan before leaving to go partners in a produce market on Utica Ave in Flatlands, Brooklyn.

The following summer he married Josephine 'Josie' Loiacono in Brooklyn.

Initially residing at 945 Rockaway Ave in Brownsville, within a year the couple was living at 1465 71st St in Bensonhurst, with Vincent working in a market on East 10th St in his old East Village neighborhood.

According to one of the FBI's Gambino informants, Vincent Amato was inducted into the Family in 1942 or 1943. This statement is followed up by additional information that is unfortunately redacted.

By 1951 he was operating a produce store at 7121 13th Ave in Bensonhurst.

By 1955 residing at 7824 14th Ave in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. His produce business moved to 565 9th Ave, across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan's Garment District.

In late January 1956 he attended the three-day wake for suspected Gambino Member Joseph Amoruso held at the Torregrossa Funeral Home in Gravesend. The owners of the funeral home were made members of the Gambino Family as well.

In early May 1959 he attended the wake for Gambino Member Benny Castellano held at the Cusimano and Russo Funeral Home, also located in Gravesend and also operated by Gambino members.

Amato first came to the attention of the FBI in early January 1963. CI Alfred Santantonio, a Gambino Soldier, identified Giuseppe Traina as a Captain with approximately forty men underneath him, including an 'individual who operates a fruit stand at 41st Street and 9th Avenue, New York City'. Later that month Santantonio provide the last name of Amato.

In March 1963 attended the wake for former Gambino Captain and Brooklyn waterfront power Anthony 'Tough Tony' Anastasio.

In September 1964 Amato was interviewed by the FBI. He provided a lengthy rundown of his residence and employment history and briefly mentioned the 1930s robbery conviction. Shown a photograph of Giuseppe Traina, Amato became 'physically upset' before acknowledging a professional and social relationship with the Traina family going back at least 15 years. He stated the same for Family Boss Carlo Gambino and his sons, explaining they supplied him with paper bags for his business. He admitted recently helping move equipment from Traina's Empire Yeast office on Chrystie St, and of attending a Sicilian National hosted picnic in Staten Island where Traina and his family were also present.

Amato described Traina a a 'fine gentleman' and disavowed any knowledge of his involvement in Cosa Nostra. He claimed, like many others questioned in the wake of Valachi, that the only thing he knew about such an organization was what he was exposed to from TV and newspapers. Agents noted: "During the discussion of Traina and Gambino, Amato was visibly upset, after which the conversation turned to his family. Amato, in a very emotional state, stated his two boys were 100 percent clean, and were not in any way tainted. He then burst out crying and was emotionally upset for several moments."

Amato continued to operate his Manhattan business until about mid-1967, when he changed locations to the Hunts Point Market in The Bronx. He then sold off his interest and took up employment with another vendor at the market before a serious heart attack in Fall 1968 left him unable to work.

The FBI may have learned of the heart attack through Giuseppe Traina, who was interviewed a few days after Amato's release from Coney Island Hospital. Traina, by this point retired as Gambino Captain and succeeded by son Mario, noted he had not seen 'Jimmy' in some time.

Amato was interviewed by the FBI at least once more, in April 1972, and later that year an informant viewed his photograph and thought he may be identical to someone involved with an auto wrecking business in Flatlands. He is otherwise unmentioned in available files.

Vincent Amato died July 7, 1973 and was waked from the Cusimano and Russo Funeral Home in Gravesend.

George Zappola (Genovese)

1970 George 'Georgie Rush' Zappola Jr. was a member of the Genovese Family. Born May 4, 1940 in Manhattan to George and Marie Albano...