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The Pittsburgh crime family, also known as the LaRocca crime family, is an American Mafia crime family based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

History Edit

Prohibition era Edit

The Italian underworld in Pittsburgh was broken into two ethnic factions – the "Sicilian Mafia" controlling the North and South sides of the city, and the "Neapolitan Camorra" which controlled the East end of the city. In the early 1920s, the two factions became involved in bootlegging - the illegal making, selling and transporting of alcohol. Throughout the Prohibition era the factions fought in the city for control over the Italian neighborhoods of Larimer, Homewood, Hill District and Downtown. In the outer suburbs of southwestern Pennsylvania the factions fought over New Kensington, Arnold, Wilkinsburg, McKees Rocks, Wilmerding and Braddock. During the late prohibition era, from 1926 to 1933, there were over 200 murders in Allegheny County.

While Stefano Monastero reigned as boss in the late 1920s, he rivaled other Pittsburgh gangs and a Chicago gang. He and his brother were eventually murdered on August 4, 1929. The "Yeast Baron", Giuseppe Siragusa, became boss, but was also cut short do to his allegiance to the Castellammarese Clan in New York City. Siragusa was murdered on September 13, 1931, just days after Salvatore Maranzano was murdered.

Bazzano vs. the Volpe brothers Edit

After the murder of Siragusa, the family came under the control of Sicilian John Bazzano, who was selling sugar and yeast to home breweries, allowing them to manufacture illegal alcohol. Bazzano formed an alliance with the eight Volpe brothers, whom he allowed to operate out of a coffee shop in Middle Hill. The Volpe brothers already had control over the Neapolitian faction and illegal rackets throughout the Turtle Creek and Wilmerding areas. The alliance ended when the Volpe brothers began expanding into East Liberty and the North Side. Bazzano retaliated by sending a hit team on July 29, 1932, murdering three of the Volpe brothers. The surviving Volpe brothers went to the Commission in New York where it was decided that Bazzano would be held responsible for his unsanctioned hits. Bazzano would be stabbed and strangled to death, and his body was found on August 8, 1932 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

The LaRocca era Edit

Vincenzo Capizzi became the new boss after Bazzano's murder, but he eventually resigned in 1937, and was replaced by Frank Amato. As boss, Amato began expanding his influence over the gambling rackets in and around Allegheny County, but in 1956 he became ill and stepped down, becoming underboss.

John Sebastian LaRocca took control of the crime family and reigned as boss for nearly thirty years. In 1957, LaRocca attended the Apalachin Conference with caporegimes Gabriel Mannarino and Michael James Genovese. LaRocca escaped the federal authorities, but Mannarino and Genovese were unsuccessful and were arrested. LaRocca and Mannarino became partners with Tampa crime family boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. in the Sans Souci hotel-casino in Havana, Cuba. In 1959, Fidel Castro took control of Cuba and forced all of the mobsters out of the country. Through bribery LaRocca became a powerful Mafia boss by controlling politicians, police officers and other officials in the Pittsburgh area. His family also maintained control of labor unions through local 1058. LaRocca's influence also grew through close ties to Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino, Bufalino crime family boss Russell Bufalino, Philadelphia crime family boss Angelo Bruno and Kansas City crime family boss Nick Civella. In 1964, LaRocca supported Frank Valenti, allowing he and his brother, Costenze "Stan" Valenti, to split from the Buffalo crime family and create the Rochester crime family together. With LaRocca becoming ill and stepping away from running the every day rackets in the late 1970s, he formed a ruling panel to oversee the day to day operations of the family; from 1978 to 1980, Michael Genovese, Gabriel Mannarino, and Joseph Pecora sat on the ruling panel atop the Pittsburgh crime family. Pecora was imprisoned on gambling charges in 1979, and Mannarino passed away a year later. With both of his contemporaries out of the picture, Genovese became the acting boss in 1980. Four years later, John LaRocca passed away on December 3, 1984, clearing the way for Genovese to become the next boss and officially take over the crime family.

Genovese's leadership Edit

Since the bootlegging and ammunition trading industries were no longer flourishing, Genovese turned primarily to gambling and drugs. By this time, around the 1980s, the mob was slowly losing its influence, and the lone principle income for the family would be drug trafficking. Not long after his ascension to boss, the FBI quickly dismantled all of the heavy players in the Pittsburgh drug game, convicting associate Eugene "Nick the Blade" Gesuale in 1985; next to go would be high ranking soldier Louis Raucci and underboss Charles "Chucky" Porter in 1990. The biggest challenge the Pittsburgh family faced under Genovese would be old age and attrition; he had only inducted five new members during his reign. Those to get their buttons under Genovese included Thomas Ciancutti and Charles Porter in 1986, Youngstown leaders Joey Naples and Lenny Strollo in 1987, and Henry "Zebo" Zottola in 1989. However, the decline of political and governmental power led to the murder of Naples in 1991 and the cooperation of Strollo in 1999. That same year, it was later revealed that Porter had been cooperating with the government during the last 8 years from his prison cell. Because of this, the mafia commission barred Pittsburgh from inducting any new members, and Genovese's reign (along with the family) was basically finished.

Current status Edit

After the conviction of the hierarchy (except for Genovese) and nearly all of the "high ranking" soldiers and associates in the 1990s, the family was believed to be on it's last legs due to old age and attrition. After Porter's conviction and decision to cooperate with the government, Genovese became paranoid and limited the circle around him; at the same time, the Genovese Crime Family in New York (no relation), which represented Pittsburgh on the Commission, told Genovese that he would not be allowed to make any new members and that the books were closed. Following the deaths of soldiers Louis Raucci, Henry "Zebo" Zottola, Anthony "Wango" Capizzi, along with caporegimes Antonio Ripepi and Pasuale "Pat" Ferruccio, the remnants of the Pittsburgh Crime Family were all but extinct. Long time boss Michael Genovese passed away in 2006, and his successor, John Bazzano, Jr., would also pass away two years later. As of 2008, aging mobster Thomas "Sonny" Ciancutti is the last official "made man" left in the crime family, and is considered the de facto boss.

Historical leadership Edit

Boss (official and acting) Edit

Underboss (official and acting) Edit

Consigliere Edit

  • 1956 - 1980 – Michael Genovese – served on ruling panel/acting boss; became official boss
  • 1980 - 1989 – Joseph Sica – semi retired; stepped down
  • 1989 - 2002 – Charles "Charlie Murgie" Imburgia – passed away 2002
  • 2002 - 2006 – Thomas "Sonny" Ciancutti – became underboss
  • 2006 - present – Position vacant

Youngstown faction Edit

The Youngstown, Ohio faction operated throughout the Mahoning Valley and also Farrell, Pennsylvania as well as other parts of Mercer and Lawrence counties. Situated nearly halfway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the Pittsburgh crime family and Cleveland crime family went through a violent struggle in the 1960s and 1970s for control of the Youngstown gambling rackets. The Youngstown faction was controlled by Pittsburgh capo Vincenzo "Brier Hill Jimmy" Prato until his death in 1988. In 1987, realizing he didn't have much time left, Prato had Joseph "Little Joey" Naples and Lenine "Lenny" Strollo inducted into the crime family. After Prato's death, Naples and Strollo were "co-bosses" of the area until Naples was gunned down by a sniper's bullet in August of 1991 outside of the mansion he was building in Beaver Township, Pennsylvania[1]. Many believe, although never confirmed by law enforcement, that Amil Dinsio, a Marine trained sniper and part of an infamous Youngstown bank robbery crew, murdered Naples in the hopes of gaining favor with Strollo. Following Naples murder, Michael Genovese ordered that Strollo would now answer to consigliere Charles "Charlie Murgie" Imburgia and one of his most trusted soldiers, Henry "Zebo" Zottola, who would now be the conduit between Genovese in Pittsburgh and Strollo in Youngstown.

Current members Edit

  • Boss – Thomas "Sonny" Ciancutti – took over Kelly Mannarino's New Kensington gambling rackets.[18] In 2002, Ciancutti was given probation for controlling gambling operations in Allegheny and Fayette counties.[
  • Underboss – Robert "Bobby I" Iannelli – controls a sports bookmaking operation; he also took over Tony Grosso's old numbers and illegal gambling operation.
  • Soldier – John V. Leone - Controls gambling operations in Pittsburgh. Gesuale's top lieutenant and a major player in the "Pittsburgh Connection".
  • Soldier – Mauro P. Matone - Controlled video poker machines in Pittsburgh.
  • Soldier – Ricky "Sonny" Luciano Spraguerelli, Jr. aka Ricky "Sonny" Luciano Sprague, Jr. Great nephew of Samuel "Red" Russotti; Relocated back to Pittsburgh in 2006

Made members Edit

Boss (de facto)Thomas "Sonny" Ciancutti – Became the de facto boss in 2008 following the death of John Bazzano, Jr., by virtue of being the last "made man" left in the family. Ciancutti took over the New Kensington territory and gambling rackets following the death of his mentor, Gabriel Mannarino, in 1980. He was inducted into the family in 1985 and was promoted to caporegime shortly thereafter. In 2002, Ciancutti was given probation for controlling gambling operations in Allegheny and Fayette counties. In 2013, several associates, including Ciancutti's top lieutenant Jeffrey Risha, were arrested for being involved with a massive Pittsburgh gambling operation.

Associates Edit

Robert "Bobby I" Iannelli – Controls a sports bookmaking operation; also controlled one of the largest numbers rackets in the country with Adolfo "Junior" Williams – the Pittsburgh LCN seized this numbers operation from Anthony "Tony" Grosso after he was convicted and sentenced to prison in 1986.

Eugene "Nick the Blade" Gesuale – Recently released from prison after being convicted for drug charges in 1985 (leader of the "Pittsburgh Connection" that famously supplied cocaine and heroin to Lucchese crime family associate Henry Hill). Believed to be semi-retired in Florida.

John "Johnny Three Fingers" Leone – Controls gambling operations in Pittsburgh. Gesuale's top lieutenant and a major player in the "Pittsburgh Connection".

John "Duffy" Conley Jr. – Controlled an illegal video poker machine ring in Pittsburgh. In 2006, Conley was arrested for running illegal gambling operations.

Mauro P. Matone – Controlled video poker machines in Pittsburgh.

Ralph "Big Head" Maselli – Controls gambling operations in Pittsburgh.

John V. "Johnny A" Adams – Controls gambling operations in Pittsburgh.

Salvatore A. "Sonny" Williams – Controlled illegal gambling operations and video poker machines along with John "Duffy" Conley. The nephew of former numbers kingpin "Junior" Williams and the son of his brother, Salvatore Williams.

Jeffrey Risha – Considered Ciancutti's top lieutenant and advisor. Believed to control sports betting and video poker gambling operations with Ciancutti. Charged in the 2013 gambling bust.

Rodney "Rodney I" Iannelli – The son of "high ranking" associate Robert Iannelli. Believed to control sports betting, numbers, and video poker gambling operations. Charged in the 2013 gambling bust.

Kirk "K-Prime" Mollica – The son of former "high ranking" associate Primo Mollica, who once controlled gambling throughout Glassport, McKeesport, and the surrounding areas. Believed to control sports betting and video poker gambling operations. Charged in the 2013 gambling bust.

Ronald "Porky" Melocchi – Believed to be the major figure in sports betting and video poker gambling operations. In the 2013 indictment, Melocchi was accused of and boasted that he had law enforcement and local city council members in his pocket. Charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and criminal organization acts in the 2013 gambling bust.

Former members Edit

Frank Amato – Former boss. Amato controlled rackets in New Kensington and West Virginia, also expanding the crime family's territory throughout Allegheny County. Because of bad health, he stepped down as boss in 1956, passing the job to John LaRocca. Amato would serve as underboss until his death in 1973.

Sebastian "John" LaRocca – Former boss. Under LaRocca's leadership the crime family became a powerful force in Pittsburgh's labor unions. He established rackets in Ohio, while sharing some of the illegal income with the Cleveland crime family. LaRocca also formed an agreement with Tampa mob boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. to operate casinos in Havana, Cuba. In 1957, LaRocca attended the Apalachin conference with Michael James Genovese and Gabriel "Kelly" Mannarino. He later died on December 3, 1984.

Michael James Genovese – Former boss. Under Genovese's leadership the crime family became heavily involved in drug distribution in the Midwest and Northeast. His crime family also took control over rackets in Ohio after several Cleveland crime family members were imprisoned. Genovese also had members attempt to infiltrate an Indian casino near San Diego. After the 1999 defections of his underboss, Charles Porter, and Youngstown leader Lenny Strollo, the Pittsburgh family gradually lost all of it's muscle and power. He stayed boss until his death in 2006 at the age of 87.

John Bazzano, Jr. – Former boss. Bazzano's father, John Sr., was boss of the Pittsburgh family before being murdered in 1932. During the 1950s, he joined his father-in-law, Antonio Ripepi, operating gambling rackets in the Monongahela Valley. Bazzano was released from prison in 1981 and was promoted to capo controlling Kelly Mannarino's old crew. He later became underboss to Genovese in the waning years, and eventually succeeded him as boss in 2006 after Genovese's death. John Bazzano, Jr. passed away on July 28, 2008.

Joseph "Jo Jo" Pecora – Former underboss. Pecora controlled gambling rackets in the panhandle of West Virginia and supervised Wheeling crime boss Paul "No Legs" Hankish, who fell under the umbrella of the Pittsburgh LCN. He was imprisoned from 1979-1983 on illegal gambling charges and died in 1987.

Gabriel "Kelly" Mannarino – Former underboss/capo. Mannarino controlled the New Kensington territory and gambling rackets until his death on July 18, 1980 from cancer. Attended the 1957 Apalachin conference with family boss John LaRocca and Michael Genovese.

Antonio Ripepi – Former capo who controlled Monongahela Valley gambling, with his son-in-law John Bazzano Jr. His other son in law was Costenze "Stan" Valenti, who was made in Pittsburgh and became boss of the Rochester crime family with the support of LaRocca and Ripepi. Ripepi passed away from old age in 2000.

Pasquale "Pat" Ferruccio – Former capo in Canton, Ohio; controlled operations in Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Ferruccio was friendly with and worked in conjunction with the Cleveland family. He passed away from old age in 2006.

Frank "Sonny" Amato Jr. – Former capo who operated in East Pittsburgh, Braddock, Turtle Creek and North Versailles. He was the son of former family boss Frank Amato.

Frank Valenti – Former soldier in the early 1960s. Valenti was given permission to break away from Pittsburgh and was given his own family in Rochester, New York.

Louis Raucci – Former soldier. Raucci took over the Penn Hills territory and rackets (along with Charles "Chucky" Porter) that formerly belonged to consigliere Joseph Sica. He was convicted and imprisoned alongside Porter in 1990, and passed away in 1995.

Joseph Sica – Former consigliere who controlled rackets in Penn Hills. He was believed to be semi-retired by the Pennsylvania Crime Commission in the 1980's, and passed away in 1991.

Anthony "Wango" Capizzi – Former soldier. Capizzi operated in Las Vegas alongside the Bufalino crime family. He died in 2007.

Henry "Zebo" Zottola – Former soldier. Zebo was believed to be the right hand man of Michael Genovese after underboss Charles Porter was sentenced to prison in 1990. He was the conduit (along with eyes and ears on the street) between Genovese and Lenny Strollo in Youngstown. Zebo would pass away from cancer in 1998.

Rival Edit

Anthony Grosso – Controlled gambling operations in the Pittsburgh area. The FBI never categorized Grosso as an organized crime member, but he was believed to "kick up" some of his profits to the family. Grosso was linked to Chucky Porter, and he had ties to the Pittsburgh political system allowing him to run his organization unscathed for many years and unconnected to organized crime. He was eventually arrested by law enforcement and he served significant jail time, ultimately dying while incarcerated. After being convicted and incarcerated, the Pittsburgh LCN took control, seizing Grosso's gambling operation and putting it into the hands of mob associates Robert "Bobby I" Iannelli and Adolfo "Junior" Williams. Grosso's antics were so legendary Hollywood loosely based the movie "Lucky Numbers" starring John Travolta on them.

  1. http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/end-of-the-line/Content?oid=1472059