The "Great Angel" and the death of the Cleveland Mafia
In 1983, Angelo Lonardo, 72, a one-time head of the Cleveland Mafia, turned into a government informant. He shocked family, friends, law enforcement officials, and especially criminal associates, with his decision after being sentenced to life plus 103 years for drug and racketeering convictions. The sentence followed a monumental investigation by local, state and federal agencies that only wiped out the Cleveland mob.
The "Big Angel" as he was called, was the most ranked mobster. He testified at the Las Vegas casino in 1985 at the skimming of the Kansas City trials and in 1986 at the New York Mafia's "ruling committee". Many of the country's largest mafia leaders have been convicted as a result of these trials.
During his testimony, Lonardo recounted that at the age of 18 he took revenge for his father's murder by killing the man believed to be responsible. He further testified that after that murder, he was responsible for the murders of several Porrello brothers, his father's business rivals during Prohibition.
The Birth of the Cleveland Mafia
During the late eighteen hundred, the four Lonardo brothers and seven Porrello brothers were boy friends and other sulfur mine workers in their home town of Licata, Sicily. Nineteen hundred came to America in the beginning and eventually settled in the Cleveland Forest District. They remained close friends. Several Porrello brothers and Lonardo worked together in small businesses.
Clan leader Lonardo "Big Joe" has become a successful businessman and community leader in lower Woodland Avenue. During Prohibition he became successful as a corn sugar trader used by bootleggers to make corn liqueur. Big Joe provided quiet raw materials and raw materials to poor residents of the Italian district. They would make alcohol and Big Joe would buy it out by giving them a commission. He was revered and feared as a "padrone" or godfather. Big Joe became the leader of a powerful and vicious gang and was known as the "Corn Sugar Baron." Joe Porrello was one of his wives.
The first bloody corner
With the advent of Prohibition, Cleveland, like other major cities, experienced a wave of rebellion-related killings. The murders of Louis Rosen, Salvatore Vella, August Rini and several others created the same suspects, but without charges. These suspects were members of the Lonardo gang. Several killings occurred at the corner of E. 25th and Woodland Ave. This intersection became known as the "bloody corner."
By this time, Joe Porrello had left an Lonardos employee to start his own sugar wholesale business.
Porrello and his six brothers raised money and eventually became successful corn sugar traders based in upper Woodland Avenue around E. 110th Street.
With small competitors, sugar traders and swimmers, mysteriously dying of a violent death, Lonardos & # 39; business flourished as they gained almost monopoly on the corn sugar business. Their main competitors were their old friends Porrellos.
Raymond Porrell, the youngest of his brothers, was arrested by undercover federal agents for arranging to sell 100 gallons of whiskey at a barber shop owned by Porrello, E. 110 and Woodland. He was sentenced in Dayton, Oh. Workhouse.
The Porrello brothers paid the influential "Big Joe" Lonard $ 5,000 to get Raymond out of jail. "Big Joe"
failed in his attempt, but never returned $ 5,000.
Meanwhile, Ernest Yorkell and Jack Brownstein, self-proclaimed "tough guys" from Philadelphia, have arrived in Cleveland. Yorkell and Brownstein were mold artists and their furnished victims were Cleveland Clevelanders who laughed as the two found it necessary to explain that they were tough. The real tough guys didn't need to tell people they were tough. After ridiculing the Gligesters of Cleveland, Yorkell and Brownstein took a "one-way ride".
Corn sugar and blood
"Big Joe" Lonardo in 1926, now in the midst of his wealth and power went to Sicily to visit his mother and
relatives. He left John's closest brother and business partner in charge.
During his six-month absence from "Big Joe," he wasted much of his $ 5,000 a week on Porrellos, who took advantage of a lack of business skills and the help of a disgruntled Lonard employee, John Lonard. Big Joe is back and business talks between Porrellos and Lonardos have begun.
They "invited" Porrelose to restore the lost clientele.
On October 13, 1927, "Big Joe" and John Lonardo went to Porrello Barber Shop to play cards and talk to Angela Porrello as they had been doing for the past week. When the Lonardos entered the back room of the store, two attackers opened fire. Angelo Porrello bent under the table.
The underworld of Cleveland has lost its & # 39; the first boss as "Big Joe" came down with three bullets to the head. John Lonardo was shot in the chest and groin, but pulled his gun and managed to chase the assailants through the barber shop. He threw his gun into the store, but continued to chase armed men into the street, where one of them turned and shot Lonard several times in the head with the blade of his gun. John fell unconscious and bled.
The Porrello brothers were arrested. Angelo is charged with the Lonardo brothers & # 39; murder. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. Joe Porrello succeeded Lonardos as the "Baron" of corn sugar and later named himself the "cap" of the Cleveland mob.
Meeting in Cleveland
The trace of blood from saliva continued to flow with the numerous killings resulting from the Porrello-Lonardo conflict.
Lawrence Lupo, a former Lonardo bodyguard, was killed after it was made clear to him that he wanted to take Lonardos & # 39; corn sugar business.
Anthony Caruso, the butcher who saw Lonardos & # 39; the killers fled and were shot. It was believed that he knew the identities of the attackers and would reveal them to the police.
On December 5, 1928, Joe Porrello and his lieutenant and bodyguard, Sam Tilocco, hosted the first known major Mafia meeting at Cleveland's Statler Hotel. Many major Mafia leaders have been invited from Chicago to New York, Florida. The meeting was transformed before it actually began.
Joe Profaci, leader of the Brooklyn, NY Mafia family, was the most famous of the gangsters arrested. Within hours, to the consternation of police and court officials, Joe Porrello brought together some thirty family members and friends who set up their homes as collateral for gangsters & # 39; bonds. Profession was fired by Porrello personally. There was a great deal of controversy over the validity of the bonds.
Several theories have been given as to why the meeting was convened. First, it was thought that gangsters, the local presidents of Unione Siciliana, a mafia-infiltrated immigrant relief society, were there to elect a new national president. Their previous president, Frankie Yale, was recently killed on the orders of infamous Chicago-based Al Capone. Second, it was believed that the meeting may have been convened
to organize a very lucrative corn sugar industry. It was also said that the men were there to "confirm" Joe Porrell as the "capo" of Cleveland.
It is reported that Capone, a non-Sicilian, was in Cleveland for a meeting. He left shortly after arriving at
a tip from associates who said the Sicilians didn't want him there.
Another bloody corner
As the power and wealth of Joe Porrell grew, the heirs and close associates of the Lonardo brothers became fierce for revenge.
Angelo Lonardo, the 18-year-old son of "Big Joe" with his mother and cousin, drove to the corner of E. 110th and Woodland, the Porrello stronghold. There, Angelo sent the news that his mother wanted to talk to Salvatore "Black Sam" Todaro. Todaro, now a lieutenant lieutenant, worked for Angel's father and is believed to be responsible for his murder. In later years it was believed that he was in fact one of the attackers.
As Todaro approached to speak with Mrs. Lonardo, whom he respected, Angelo pulled out a pistol and inserted it into the standing frame of "Black Sam." Todaro collapsed onto the pavement and died.
Angelo and his cousin have been missing for several months, reportedly hiding in Chicago out of the kindness of Lonard's friend, Al Capone. It was later believed that Angelo was spending time in California with his uncle Dominick, Lonard's fourth brother, who fled west when he was charged with robbery in 1921.
Eventually, Angelo and his cousin were arrested and charged with the murder of "Black Sams." For the first time in the history of the Cleveland homicide, justice was done after both young men were sentenced and sentenced to life. Although they will serve, the judiciary will be in short supply as they will only be released a year and a half later after winning a new trial.
Climb the Mafia Road
On October 20, 1929, Frank Lonardo, Big Joe's brother and John, were shot to death while playing cards. Two theories were given for his death; that he had been avenged for the murder of "Black Sam" Todar, and that he had been killed for not paying his gambling debts. Mrs. Frank Lonardo, when we were told
her husband's murder screamed, "I'll get them. I'll get them myself if I have to kill an entire regiment!"
By 1929, little Italian crime boss Frank Milano rose to power as the leader of his gang, "The Mayfield Road Mob." Milan's group was made up of the remnants of the Lonardo gang, and was associated with the powerful "Cleveland Syndicate," Morrie Kleinman, Moe Dalitz, Sam Tucker, and Louis Rothkopf. The Cleveland Syndicate was responsible for much of the Canadian market being imported across Lake Erie. In later years, they got involved in the casino business. One of their largest and most profitable businesses was building a Desert Inn hotel / casino in Las Vegas. Dalitz would become known as the "godfather of Las Vegas."
Joe Porrello admired Milan's political organization, the East End Bipartisan Political Club, and, seeing the value in such an influence, wanted to network with the group. Milan refused. Porrello was later reported to have joined the newly formed 21st District Republican Club. He hoped to organize voters on Woodland Avenue while Milan did so on Mayfield Road.
More corn sugar and blood
By 1930, Milan had become quite powerful. He went so far as to claim part of a lucrative deal with the Porrello corn sugar. On July 5, 1930, Porrello received a phone call from Milan requesting a conference at his Venetian restaurant on Mayfield Road. Sam Tilocco and Joe Porrello, brother of Raymond, urged him not to go.
Around 2pm, Joe Porrello and Sam Tilocco arrived at the Milano & Speakasy restaurant. Porrello, Tilocco and Frank Milano sat down at the restaurant to discuss the business. Several of Milan's assistants were sitting nearby. The atmosphere was tense when Porrello refused to accede to Milan's demands.
Porrello reached into his watch pocket to check the time. Two of Milan's men, probably believing Porrello was reaching for his gun, opened fire. Porrello died immediately with three bullets to the head. At the same time, a third member of the Milan gang fired at Tilocco, who was hit three times but managed to rush through the door to his new Kadiluk. As the attackers followed him, he fell to the ground, finishing with six more bullets.
Frank Milano and several of his restaurant employees were arrested, but only charged with suspected persons. Armed men were never identified. Only one witness was present at the salon when the shooting began. There was Frank Joiner, a vending machine vendor whose only testimony was that he "thought" he saw Frank Milano at a restaurant during the killings.
Cleveland's director of security, Edwin Barry, frustrated by the ever-increasing number of homicides in the bookies, has ordered the closure of all known sugar depots. He ordered the police officer to detail every detail to make sure he was not ingesting or removing sugar outside.
Meanwhile, six Porrello brothers applied black silk shirts and ties and buried their most successful brother. The attentive double gangster funeral was one of the greatest Cleveland has ever seen. Two belts and thirty-three cars overloaded with flowers led the procession of the slain don and his bodyguard. More than two hundred and fifty cars followed with family and friends. Thousands of bereaved and curious spectators lined the sidewalks.
The underworld of Cleveland was tense with rumors of an imminent war. Porrel's brother Vincente-James spoke openly about the erasure of all those responsible for his brother's murder.
Three weeks after his brother's murder, Jim Porrello was still wearing a black T-shirt while entering the food and meat market at E. 110th Street and Woodland. While choosing lamb chops at the meat counter, Ford's touring car is her # & # 39; curtains pulled tight, slowly passing the store. Several rifles were fired and two shots were fired, one through the front window of the store and one through the front door.
Amateur gunners were lucky. Two pellets found the back of Porrelo's head and entered his brain. He was rushed to the hospital.
"I think we may be killed by all Porrellos"
"I think maybe Porrellos will kill us. I think they might kill us all except Rosario. They can't
kill him – he'll be in jail. "So Ottavio Porrello gloomily but calmly predicted the likely fate of him and his brothers as he waited outside Jim's hospital room. Jim Porrello died at 5:55 PM.
Two local pet gangsters were arrested and charged with murder. One was released on probation and the other was released. Like almost all murders in Cleveland bookmakers, the killers have never seen justice.
Around this time, word spread that the Porrello brothers were marked for extermination. Survivors
the brothers were hiding. Raymond, known for his bold attitude and fierce mood, spoke as if his brother James had sought revenge. Raymond, however, was smarter and took active measures to protect himself.
On August 15, 1930, three weeks after the murder of James Porrell, Raymond Porrell's home was razed in a powerful explosion. He had not been home at the time since he took his family and left home in anticipation of the attack.
Four days later, Frank Alessi, witness to the murder of "Big Joe", Lonard's brother Frank, was killed. From his deathbed, he identified Frank Brancato as the attacker. Brancato was known mainly as a supporter of Lonardo and suspected of multiple killings. Brancato was acquitted of Alessi's murder charges.
In March 1931, Rosario Porrello was conditionally jailed from a London prison farm in Ohio, where he served one year for carrying a gun in his car.
In mid-1931, the national mob of "capo di tutti capi" (chief of all chiefs) Salvatore Maranzano was killed. His murder triggered the formation of the first Mafia national ruling commission created to stop the many murders stemming from conflicts between and within Mafia families and to promote the application of modern business practices to crime.
Charles "Lucky" Luciano was the committee's chief programmer and was named chair. Al Capone of Chicago, Joe Profaci of Brooklyn and Frank Milano of Cleveland were also appointed to the commission.
In December 1931, Angelo Lonardo and his cousin Dominic Suspirato were released from prison after being acquitted of the murder of "Black Sam" Todar during the second trial. As he avenged his father's death and (mostly) avoided it, he became a respected member of the Frank Milano Mayfield Road Mob.
The thirst for revenge did not satisfy the members of the Lonardo family. It was generally believed
that "Black Sam" Todaro encouraged and possibly participated in the murders of "Big Joe" and John Lonard. However, members of the Lonardo family believed that the remaining Porrello brothers, especially the unstable John and Raymond and Rosario's oldest brother, nevertheless posed a threat because of
the murders of Joe and James Porrell.
On February 25, 1932, Raymond Porrello, his brother Rosario, and their bodyguard Dominic Gulino (also known by several aliases) played cards near E. 110th and Woodland Avenue. The front door opened and, in a rush of bullets, the Porrello brothers, their bodyguard, and one guard came down. Porrelos died at the scene. Gulino died hours later. The stranger eventually recovered from his own
Hours after the killings, Frank Brancato, with a bullet to the stomach, dragged himself to John & # 39; s Hospital in Cleveland, west side. He claimed he was shot in a street fight on the west side. Days later, Brancato bullet tests revealed he was coming from a gun found at the murder scene of the Porrello brothers. Although never convicted of any of the murders, Brancato was convicted of false criticism for lying to the Grand Jury for his whereabouts during the murder. He served four years after Governor Martin L. Davey changed his sentence from one to ten years.
In 1933 the ban was lifted. The bookmaker killings largely ceased as organized crime moved to other businesses. Angelo Lonardo continued his criminal career as a distinguished member of the Cleveland family, eventually emerging through the ranks in northeast Ohio in 1980.
In early 1933, in the wake of the tragedy of the large Porrello family, Rosario's son Angelo, 21, was killed in a fight over a pool game in Buffalo. It was rumored that he and his uncle John were trying to get involved in the liquor business.