The Chicago Syndicate
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Friday, January 19, 2024

Is Al Capone Still the Most Famous Mobster Ever?

With the 125th anniversary of Al Capone's birth upon us on January 17, the legacy of the notorious American gangster remains a subject that intrigues both Hollywood producers and novelists to this day.

Capone, who gained notoriety in the "Roaring Twenties" as the co-founder and boss of the Italian-American organized crime syndicate known as the Chicago Outfit, has been described by some as Prohibition's Robin Hood, as he donated some of the money from his illegal activities to charities. He also stood apart from other gangsters by being very present in the public eye, chatting with reporters and throwing big parties all while participating in illegal activities. But like many criminal figures from the past, the dastardly yet charismatic gangster divides opinion. Idolized by some, Capone was still responsible for "an empire of crime" in Chicago that was based on "gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, bribery, narcotics trafficking, robbery, and murder," according to the FBI's website.

Who was Al Capone?

Born in 1899 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Neapolitan immigrants, Alphonse Gabriel Capone came into contact with organized crime at an early age. As a teenager, he became a member of the "Five Points Gang" — a criminal street gang of primarily Irish-American origins, based in the Five Points of Lower Manhattan — where he would extort protection money (fees that criminals take from people in exchange for agreeing not to hurt them or damage their property).

Capone, however, quickly learned that violence alone would not ensure the lasting success of a criminal enterprise.

In 1917, the gangster Frank Gallucio pulled a knife across Capone's face in a bar after he made a crude comment to Gallucio's sister. The nickname "Scarface" was born, and Capone later made the attacker his bodyguard.

Shortly afterward, Capone shot his first man, got into trouble with an Irish gang and beat a mobster half to death with his own hands. Knowing he could not be caught again, he left New York for Chicago.

In his Chicago heyday from 1925 to 1929, Capone was reputed to be the most notorious mobster in the United States.

Capone, however, didn't see himself as a criminal but as an entrepreneur — one who was also known for acts of generosity with the wealth he had garnered as the boss of organized crime in Chicago in the 1920s. The Capone-led consortium boasted revenue streams that ranged from the illegal sale of alcohol to prostitution.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

The 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre is described by the FBI as the "culminating violence of the Chicago gang era, as seven members or associates of the 'Bugs' Moran mob were machine-gunned against a garage wall by rivals posing as police."

Even though Al Capone was at his Florida home at the time, he was widely assumed to have been responsible for ordering the massacre.

He was never convicted of the murders but ultimately went to prison merely for the crime of tax evasion, ending his stint as a crime boss at the age of 33.

He served most of his time at the notorious Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary off the coast of San Francisco, before being released in 1939, by which time his mental capabilities had significantly deteriorated.

Al Capone died in 1947 of cardiac arrest after a stroke at the age of 48.

A figure of fascination

The infamous gangster left his mark not only on the streets of 1920s Chicago but also on 20th-century Hollywood through multiple mafia movies inspired by his life and crimes. The image of a mobster adorned with a pinstriped suit and tilted fedora can be traced back to images of Capone. His accent and mannerisms have also inspired numerous gangster portrayals in comics, films, popular music and literature.

For example, already in 1931, for the film "Little Caesar," actor Edward G. Robinson spent time at an Al Capone trial to get a sense of his body language as inspiration for his role as a hoodlum who ascended the ranks of organized crime.

Capone appears in a segment of Mario Puzo's crime novel "The Godfather" (1969), which was turned into a celebrated film by Francis Ford Coppola in 1972. He was the inspiration for Armitage Trail's "Scarface" (1929), a novel that was also adapted into two movies over the years.

The Brian De Palma-directed masterpiece "The Untouchables" is another notable drama inspired by Capone's story. With Robert de Niro in the role of the gangster, the film is based on how Treasury agent Eliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, brought down the notorious Chicago mobster.

More recently, the 2020 movie "Capone," starring Tom Hardy in the lead role, also chronicled the life of the man who ruled an empire of crime.

The fascination surrounding Al Capone continues 125 years after his birth.

His story embodies not only the American Dream — the immigrant son going from rags to riches — but also the ambivalence of American culture during Prohibition, an era characterized by both puritanical restraint and excessive consumption. And those contrasting historical features are still part of the country's culture to this day.

Thanks to Deutsche Welle.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

More than 200 Reputed Members or Associates of the 'Ndrangheta, Italy’s Most Powerful and Richest Crime Syndicate, were Convicted in the Country’s Largest Mafia Trial in Decades.

Italy’s largest mafia trial in decades concluded yesterday with the conviction of more than 200 people accused of being part of, or collaborating with, the country’s most powerful and richest crime syndicate, the ‘Ndrangheta.

Former law-enforcement officials, politicians and businessmen were found guilty of offenses related to organized crime, including drug smuggling, money laundering and extortion, after an almost three-year trial.
The 3 judge panel announce the verdicts in the 'Ndrangheta Mafia Trial

The verdicts mark a turning point in the pursuit by Italian authorities of the ‘Ndrangheta, which—though lower-profile than the Sicilian mafia—has built itself into one of the world’s most formidable drug-trafficking syndicates. The group controls over 80% of Europe’s cocaine trade and its interests extend to the Americas, Africa and Australia, according to prosecutors, who estimate its annual revenue to be $55 billion.

Italian prosecutors have jailed important members of the Sicilian mafia since the 1990s, but have until recently had little success infiltrating the ‘Ndrangheta, which is largely made up of decentralized families with deep loyalties and no obvious leading clan.

Ahead of the trial, prosecutors said that the deliberate targeting of the group’s leadership was crucial to hampering their operations. Prosecutors also sought to expose how the group has penetrated politics and business. Still, with an estimated membership of more than 20,000 people, elimination of the criminal network remains an elusive goal.

Earlier this year in a separate operation, police in Italy, Germany and Belgium arrested around 200 people linked to the ‘Ndrangheta, following an investigation that spanned 10 countries. Investigators on that case said they confiscated 23 tons of cocaine with an estimated retail value of around €2.5 billion, equivalent to $2.7 billion. Italian police said they expect those arrests to disrupt the group’s activities in Europe temporarily.

In the court case that ended Monday, more than 320 people stood trial in a specially built fortified bunker-style courtroom in Calabria, the southern Italian region where the ‘Ndrangheta is based. The three presiding judges stayed in a safe house under police protection while they deliberated their verdicts over the past month. Sentences ranged from 10 months to 30 years and can be appealed.

The trial included thousands of hours of testimony and more than 50 former mafiosi who testified for the prosecution.

In one of the most high-profile convictions, the judges handed an 11-year prison sentence for mafia collusion to Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and member of the Forza Italia political party founded by Silvio Berlusconi, the flamboyant former prime minister who died earlier this year. Prosecutors had sought a 17-year sentence, describing Pittelli as one of the key links between the ‘Ndrangheta and the world of politics. Pittelli and his lawyers couldn’t be reached to comment.

Domenico Bonavota, who received a maximum 30-year prison sentence, told the court during the trial that he was “disgusted by the ‘Ndrangheta” and not a member. “I’m not part of any organized crime group,” he said. Prosecutors accused him of having reached a level within the organization known as “gospel.” Bonavota said in court that the only gospel he knew he had studied as a child during catechism. He couldn’t be reached to comment.

Most of the defendants have been in pretrial detention since December 2019, when thousands of law-enforcement officers took part in one of Italy’s biggest-ever crackdowns against organized crime. The arrests followed a nearly four-year investigation led by Nicola Gratteri, a Calabria native who has spent years fighting the ‘Ndrangheta and has himself become one of the group’s targets.

Thanks to Eric Sylvers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

10 Reputed Mobsters with the Gambino Crime Family among 16 Arrested on Racketeering Charges in Mafia Crackdown

Federal prosecutors in New York on Wednesday announced the arrests of 10 men allegedly belonging to or associated with the Gambino Mafia family, as well as the arrests in Italy of six other alleged organized crime members and associates.

The defendants in Brooklyn federal court are accused of a racketeering conspiracy that allegedly involved “violent extortions, assaults, arson, and union-related crimes,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said.

Prosecutors said the Brooklyn defendants, who are charged in a 16-count indictment, committed those crimes as part of an effort to dominate New York’s carting and demolition industries.

The Gambinos are one of New York’s five Cosa Nostra organized crime cliques. It previously was led by the late notorious boss John Gotti, who died in a federal prison in Missouri in 2002.

The defendants arrested in New York on Wednesday included the alleged Gambino captain Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Lanni.

Prosecutors said the arrests were part of a coordinated operation with Italian law enforcement, who arrested the six defendants in Italy on charges that include mafia association and related offenses.

One defendant remains at large in that case.

Prosecutors said the other defendants in Brooklyn include: “Diego ‘Danny’ Tantillo, Angelo Gradilone, also known as ‘Fifi,’ and James LaForte, alleged Gambino soldiers, Vito Rappa, alleged U.S.-based Sicilian Mafia member and Gambino associate, Francesco Vicari, also known as ‘Uncle Ciccio,’ alleged U.S.-based Sicilian Mafia associate and Gambino associate, and Salvatore DiLorenzo, Robert Brooke, Kyle Johnson, also known as ‘Twin,’ and Vincent Minsquero, also known as ‘Vinny Slick,’ alleged Gambino associates.”

The Gambino Family: A History of New York's Gambino Mafia Family.

Monday, October 02, 2023

We Do What We Must: Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia in New Orleans #NOLA

An immigrant Sicilian family triumphs over The Mafia in turn of the century New Orleans, just not in the way they'd planned.
We Do What We Must
Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia
 in New Orleans

WINNER: Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, Fall 2022 - Best Historical Fiction - We Do What We Must: Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia in New Orleans.

This fictionalized tale recounts the story of the true life Giacona family, who emigrated from Sicily to New Orleans in the 1890s. They came to the US to escape the influence of The Mafia, only to be confronted by the same challenges in the New World.

Pietro Giancona and Corrado Giacona, father and son, do what they must to defend their family and business from the dreaded Black Hand, as well as powerful organized crime families. They proceed the only way they know how, through bravery, guile, and tough choices. Although committed to living as 'Honest Italians, ' their choices lead them down a perilous path.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a fascinating glimpse of an important part of Americana, blending slices of true history with fiction, in a compelling story of organized crime in New Orleans.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

47 Top Mobster Nicknames

  1. Al Capone - Scarface
  2. Albert Anastasia - Lord High Executioner and Mad Hatter
  3. Albert Gallo - Kid Blast
  4. Albert Vena - Albie the Falcon
  5. Anthony Accardo - Big Tuna and Joe Batters
  6. Anthony Corallo - Tony Ducks
  7. Anthony Casso - Gaspipe
  8. Anthony Doyle - Twan
  9. Anthony Silvestro - Bugz
  10. Benjamin Siegel - Bugsy
  11. Carmine Persico - The Snake
  12. Charlie Luciano - Lucky
  13. Daniel Capaldo - The Wig and Shrek
  14. Dominick Ricigliano - The Lion
  15. Donald Angelini - The Wizard of Odds
  16. Felix Alderisio - Milwaukee Phil
  17. Frank Cali - Frankie Boy
  18. Frank Nitti - The Enforcer
  19. Frank Schweihs - The German
  20. Jim Colosimo - Big Jim
  21. John Cerone - Jackie
  22. John D'Amico - Jackie Nose
  23. John DiFronzo - No Nose and Johnny Bananas
  24. John Gotti - The Dapper Don and The Teflon Don
  25. Joseph Aiuppa - Joey Doves
  26. Joseph Andriacchi - Joe The Builder and The Sledgehammer
  27. Joseph Bonanno - Joe Bananas
  28. Joseph Lombardo - Joey The Clown
  29. Joseph Marra - Joe Fish
  30. Louis Daidone - Louie Bagels
  31. Louis Fratto - Cock-Eyed Louie
  32. Luigi Manocchio - Baby Shacks
  33. Michael DiLeonardo - Mikey Scars
  34. Michael Sarno - The Large Guy
  35. Michael Yannotti - Mikey Y.
  36. Paul Rica - The Waiter
  37. Paul Schiro - The Indian
  38. Patrick DeFilippo - Patty the Pig and Patty from the Bronx
  39. Philip Giaccone - Phil Lucky
  40. Salvatore DeLaurentis - Solly D
  41. Salvatore Gravano - Sammy the Bull
  42. Salvatore Vitale - Good Lookin' Sal
  43. Sam Battaglia - Teets
  44. Sam Giancana - Moony and MoMo
  45. Vincent Basciano - Vinny Gorgeous
  46. Vincent Gigante - The Chin
  47. Vincent Scura - Vinny Linen


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