The Rochester Mob Wars
Johnny "Broadway" Cavagrotti
William "Billy" Lupo
Celestino, Dominic “Sonny” was once beat up and kicked out of the Rochester Mafia Family in 1975, on the orders of Sammy Gingello, for violating one of the rules of the Organization, “thou shalt not sleep with a fellow members’ wife or girlfriend.”
He returned in 1977 when Gingello, Picarretto, and Russotti were put in jail. He then became the leader of the “B Team” after Thomas Didio was murdered in 1978. Sonny Celestino was indicted along with 6 others in a 14 count indictment for the bombing crusade against the “A Team,” which took the life of Sammy Gingello. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. (30) He was released from prison on November 8, 2000 after serving about 20 years or of 2/3 his sentence.
Unfortunately, like most mobsters, crime is in their blood. Sonny Celestino was arrested again and indicted in April of 2004, in a plot to steal $90 million with his former partner in crime Frank Frassetto.(28) He was 73 years old at the time. Four years later, at age 77, Celestino pleaded guilty to that crime. He was sentenced May 8, 2008 to six months of home confinement and three years probation. Authorities said that the plot never played out and Celestino’s role was minimal. (29)
If he is still alive, Celestino would be 86 years old in 2017, according to the inmate locater.
DeCanzio, Albert Jr. was a prominent figure during the heyday of Rochester's mob. He was the “triggerman” in the Ernie White murder in 1973. Some said he also boasted of at least three other “notches” on his belt, while active in the Rochester Mafia.(46) But according to eye witness Charles Monachino, who was present at the White slaying, DeCanzio said, “that was number 16” moments after he murdered Ernest White. (47)
DeCanzio was a "soldier" in mob hierarchy in the 70’s, he was a bodyguard for Frank Valenti, the man who helped build a Mafia presence in Rochester during the 1960s and 1970s. On May 15, 1975, he was convicted of murder for the Ernie White killing. (48)
DeCanzio later became a government informant and he was placed into the Federal Witness Protection Program.His testimony played a large role in dismantling the Rochester Mafia. He died Dec. 28, 2012 at the age of 70.
Marotta, Thomas E. was an enforcer for the Rochester Crime Family and close associate to "Under Boss" Sammy Gingello. He later became a “Capo” of the “A Team” of the Rochester Mafia. He was convicted with many others in 1976 for the murder of Jimmy Massaro but released a year later. His cousin, Thomas Didio, was a member of the opposing Valenti crew. Marotta was shot twice in 1983 by hit man Dominic Taddeo, and lived. One of those times he was hit seven times by a 22 caliber bullet. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in December of 1984 after being found guilty of RICO violations including murder and conspiracy. (22)
Marotta was a model inmate from 1984 to 1996 and was released eight years early from prison. In January 2001, he was jailed on parole violations and in June of 2001, a Federal Grand Jury indicted him on cocaine trafficking charges. He was temporarily released on $300,000 bail which was put up by “friends” including Tony Gingello, nephew of Salvatore “Sammy G” Gingello. Marotta took a plea deal. In April of 2003, he was sentenced to nine more years in prison.(61) Thomas was then again released from prison on February 11, 2011. He would be 74 years old in 2017. (49)
Alloco, Dominick “The Deacon” was a mafia muscleman. He was a gambler who “owed” huge sums of money to other mobsters. Because of that, he was not welcome at most of the gambling establishments in Rochester at the time. He was shot in the head and dumped in a field on February 23, 1965. (1) He allegedly was “playing the snitch” to the Sheriff at the time as well. (2) In fact, Alloco was reporting directly to top city and state police officers. His murder was regarded by police as a message from the “syndicate” to “stoolies” that informing will not be tolerated. (3)
Monachino, Angelo was the owner of Bar-mon Construction Company located in Brighton. He was a successful construction contractor. He also was a "made" member of Rochester’s La Cosa Nostra and a member of Frank Valenti’s “special crew” before Valenti's overthrow in 1972. Angelo was “made” by Frank Valenti along with Jimmy “The Hammer” Massaro and Spike Lanovera after the Billy Constable murder, to insure their silence, omerta! (81) Angelo Monachino participated in at least two murders, besides Billy Constable, he was was also an accomplice in the murder of Jimmy “The Hammer” Massaro. Monachino was facing 34 felony indictments before he made the decision to become a government informant. Angelo Monachino was placed into the Federal Witness Protection Program in 1975. His testimony put many Rochester Mafia Soldiers and Bosses behind bars for many years.
Anthony "Nippy" Arena
Arena, Anthony “Nippy” was a “made” member of the Rochester La Cosa Nostra. (12) He was indicted on April 7, 1976 (United States vs. Piccarreto), along with 7 others, on two counts of racketeering involving an "arson-for-hire" ring operating in the Rochester area. The Indictment alleged that Arena was part of an arson-for-hire team, which operated as part of a larger organization (Rochester Mafia) engaged in illicit activities in the Rochester area and had been responsible for at least eight fires that occurred there between 1970 and 1973.
The arson ring allegedly agreed with the property owners to destroy their buildings in return for a share of the insurance proceeds. The government charged that insurance companies had been defrauded of about $480,000 as a result of the eight fires. Two of the other defendants were found guilty, Arena was acquitted. (10)
Although Anthony Arena was acquitted of the crime of arson, he was not necessarily “innocent” of that crime. Angelo Monachino testified before the United States Senate on August 22, 1978 in what is commonly referred to as the “Arson For Hire” hearings. Here is an excerpt from that testimony. “On one occasion, in November 1972, DiFrancesco came over to my shop because he needed some materials for an arson. I loaded excelsior and market baskets in my car. Then we met Nippy Arena, another member of the organization at a shopping center and loaded everything into his car.” “We then drove to a hardware store across from a coin operated laundry on Lake Avenue in Rochester. We bought paint thinner and carried everything into the laundry during the afternoon. There was nobody in the laundry, but it was open for business. I padlocked the door while Arena and DiFrancesco set up the flammable liquids in the backroom.” Monachino’s testimony continues on to say that the building burned down that night and that was one fire that he did get paid for. (11)
“Nippy” Arena passed away on October 11, 2009 at the ripe old age of 94 years old. He was one of the few members of the Rochester Mafia that escaped both prison and a premature death without having to be relocated into the Federal Witness Protection Program.
DiGiulio, Louis was the driver for "Mad Dog" Sullivan when he gunned down mob “Capo” John Fiorino. Joseph Sullivan was hired by Thomas Torpey and Thomas Taylor to kill Fiorino. DiGiulio was apprehended at the scene of the murder. Sullivan fled the scene but was apprehended several months later. After he (DiGiulio) was indicted for that murder, he became a government informant. (59)
For some reason Thomas M. Torpey and Thomas E. Taylor refused to aid DiGiuilio after he got caught, while he was in jail, it cost them his silence. DiGiulio agreed to testify against all of his co-conspirators rather than face life behind bars. His testimony would help send Torpey, Taylor and Sullivan to prison for the murder of John Fiorino, Vice-President of Teamsters Local #398.
Louis “Louie” DiGiulio testified to the timeline of the murder plot. According to DiGiulio’s testimony, they tried to lure Fiorino to various bars in order to shoot him. He ate, drank and snorted cocaine in restaurants with his co-conspirators while plotting the details of John Fiorino’s death while, waiting for the right opportunity to kill him.
On December 17, 1981, after getting a tip that John Fiorino would be at the Blue Gardenia, DiGiulio drove Joseph Sullivan to the Irondequoit restaurant. Upon arriving they saw Fiorino in the parking lot. Joseph Sullivan stepped out of the car, walked up behind Fiorino and shot him in the head with a shotgun.
After the murder, Sullivan hid in the snow, then fled the scene on foot. (60)
"The Banker" Lippa
Massaro, Vincent "Jimmy the Hammer" was a mob aronist and "hit man." In September and November 1973, Vincent Massaro complained to other organization members and some individuals outside the organization that he was not being paid enough for his efforts. Massaro’s specialty was “arson for hire.” During November 1973, Samuel "Red" Russotti had a meeting at the residence of his sister in Rochester, N.Y. The participants at that meeting were: "Red" Russotti, Rene Piccarreto, Salvatore Gingello, Richard Marino, Thomas Marotta, Sam Campanella, Eugene DeFrancesco and Spike LaNoverra.
A decision was made at that meeting by the upper echelon of the Rochester Mafia to order the murder of Vincent Massaro. Eugene DeFrancesco and Spike LaNoverra were then ordered to commit that murder, as a test of loyalty, since they had previously been soldiers under Dominic Chirico. DiFrancesco and LaNoverra were unable to accomplish the killing within the few days that they were given to do so.
So, another meeting was called and Angelo Monachino was ordered to attend. At that second meeting, Russotti, Gingello, Piccarreto, Marino, and Marotta ordered Angelo Monachino to assist Lanoverra and DiFrancesco in the murder of Massaro. Angelo Monachino was a close friend of Vincent Massaro as well as a former Chirico soldier.
On November 23, 1973, with the aid of Angelo Monachino and Spike LaNoverra, Eugene DiFrancesco shot Vincent Massaro to death in the Bar-Mon Construction Co. garage, a premises owned by Angelo Monachino. Massaro was killed with a handgun, equipped with a silencer provided by Rosario Chirico.
On November 28, 1973, Officer John Donlon of the Rochester, NY Police Department made a grisly discovery in the trunk of a car parked at 203 Atkinson Street in the city of Rochester. The body of reputed Rochester mafia member Vincent “Jimmy the Hammer” Massaro was found dead with half of his face blown off, stuffed in the trunk of his own car. He had been shot eight times in the head at close range. (169)
Joseph "Spike" Lanovara
Samuel C. "Sam Camps" Campanella
Fiorino, John “Johnny Flowers” was Vice-President of Teamsters Local #398 in Rochester, New York. He was murdered on December 17, 1981, outside of the Blue Gardenia Restaurant in Irondequoit, New York by Joseph “Mad Dog” Sullivan, on the orders of “C Team” mafia leaders Thomas Torpey and Thomas Taylor.
At the time of his death, The FBI considered John Fiorino to have been a “made” member and “Captain” of the Rochester Mafia Crime Family. (61) John Fiorino had also allegedly become an informant and was cooperating with the US Organized Crime Strike Force at the time of his death, although it remained undetermined whether Fiorino actually testified before he died. (62)
John Fiorino was also a family man who lived in the suburbs. He was described by his daughters as a great dad who never talked about crime, ever, in front of them. They said their father had a good sense of humor, took pride in taking care of his car and his lawn and was also a good cook. (63)
Salvatore "Sammy G" Gingello
Vincent "Jimmy the Hammer" Massaro
Didio, Thomas was a “Soldier” in the Rochester Mafia during the Valenti Regime. He was also in Valenti’s “elite crew.” Didio was the only member of that crew that was still trusted by the rest of the members of Rochester’s Mob after Russotti, Piccarreto and Gingello took over in 1972.
In 1973, Thomas Didio was recruited, along with several other Rochester mobsters, by Joseph T. Zito Sr., a Batavia mobster, to help shake down some vending machine operators. (49) After Zito got caught, was indicted, convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison, he became an informer. He then ratted out everyone he knew. His testimony would result in a string of trials against members of organized crime including one against Thomas Didio, for conspiracy and extortion, for his role in the vending machine shakedown. He was eventually acquitted of that charge for a lack of evidence.
In 1977, when the leaders of the Rochester Mafia were temporarily imprisoned for the Massaro murder, Thomas Didio was appointed “Acting Boss.” Upon their release, Didio refused to relinquish control of the Rochester rackets. He was then severely beaten up by other mafia members who were loyal to Russotti and Gingello. Didio formed an insurgent faction of the mafia that police and the media dubbed the “B Team.” He then went into hiding.
Thomas Didio was largely responsible for the Rochester Mob Wars. Instead of stepping down from his temporary position of power, Didio forged an alliance with deposed and imprisoned Mafia don, Frank Valenti and began a bombing campaign against the “A Team,” or the established faction of Rochester’s Mob. He ordered the murder of Sammy Gingello and several bombings in the Rochester area during his short reign. (50)
Thomas Didio was subsequently machine-gunned to death at the Exit 45 Motel on July 6, 1978, less than three months following his ordering of Gingello’s slaying. Didio and created the “B Team” faction of the Rochester Mafia. (16)
DiGaetano, Sam was an attorney for some of the Rochester Mafia Members in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He wasn't just their lawyer, he was a “made” member of the Rochester La Cosa Nostra himself, according to Angelo Monachino, mobster turned informant.
He was charged in June 1975 in a plot to kill Monroe County Sheriff William Lombard and Chief of Detectives, Bill Mahoney. Angelo Monachino signed a sworn affidavit stating that Sam DiGaetano was a “made” member of the Rochester Mafia. Monachino said he was present at DiGaetano’s initiation ceremony which took place in Frank Valenti’s basement.
Despite the fact that Monachino claimed to be present at a meeting which included Sam DiGaetano in which a murder plot of the chief of detectives was discussed, the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence outside of Monachino’s testimony to sustain the charge. The charge was eventually dismissed. (57)
In April of 1977, DiGaetano pleaded “no contest” to a tax evasion charge. The following month, on May 25, 1977, Samuel DiGaetano suffered a fatal heart attack and died at the age of 54. He had been hospitalized twice previously for heart attacks. (58)
Who's Who in the Rochester Mafia
Members, Associates and Murder Victims
Lupo, William “Billy”
In 1970, Salvatore "Sammy G" Gingello, a mob soldier under Frank Valenti, had custody of approximately $100,000 of the organizations money. That money was ostensibly collected as “deposits” for a scheduled charter flight to Las Vegas on a gambling junket organized by local mob members. The money was allegedly stolen right out of Gingello’s house. William Lupo was conveniently (for the setup) Gingello’s next door neighbor.
Gingello reported this theft to the local police. The speculation by investigators based on circumstances and informant information was that Salvatore Gingello and “Underboss” Samuel “Red” Russotti conspired to place the blame for the alleged theft on William Lupo. It was suspected that the organized crime hierarchy would think that Lupo was involved in that theft, and then they would order Lupo to be murdered.
In April 1970, William Lupo was shot to death in Rochester, N. Y. He was found slumped behind the steering wheel of his car, shot in the head four times. It was noted at the time that Salvatore "Sammy G" Gingello immediately replaced Lupo as "Capo" of the strong arm unit of the Valenti Crime Family. The last vestige of the Jake Russo era was eliminated with Lupo’s death. At the time of his death, Billy Lupo was under Federal Investigation for loan sharking. Angelo Monachino would eventually be charged with his murder five years later. (151)
Misuraca, Angelo was Vice-President of Teamsters Local #398. On March 4, 1986, he was caught on an FBI wire tap taking orders from the Rochester Mafia “Acting Boss” Angelo Amico on how to run the Union and who to hire. Misuraca resigned from the position of Vice-President of Teamsters Local #398 in October of 1990 when faced with charges from the IRB, an Independent Governmental Oversight (Review Board) Committee of the Teamsters Union which was established to remove the mafia from the Teamsters Union. Instead of answering some questions about his relationship with the Rochester Mafia, he chose to quit his job.
Angelo Misuraco was also the brother-in-law of Richard Marino, who was considered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to be a high-ranking member of the Rochester Mafia Crime Family." (23) Marino was promoted to “Underboss” of the Rochester Mafia after the death of the previous “Under Boss” Salvatore “ Sammy G” Gingello.
Nalore, Joseph was the Fire Chief in the city of Rochester, New York. He was indicted on April 7, 1976 (United States vs. Piccarreto), along with 7 others, on two counts of racketeering involving an "arson-for-hire" ring operating in the Rochester area. The Indictment alleged that he was part of an arson-for-hire team, which operated as part of a larger organization (Mafia) engaged in illicit activities in the Rochester area and had been responsible for at least eight fires that occurred there between 1970 and 1973.
The arson ring allegedly agreed with the property owners to destroy their buildings in return for a share of the insurance proceeds. The government charged that insurance companies had been defrauded of about $480,000 as a result of the eight fires. Nalore was ultimately acquitted of those charges and filed a lawsuit against the city for that arrest. Angelo Monachino, a self admitted member of Rochester’s La Cosa Nostra testified before the Senate Investigations Committee that Nalore was not a “made” member of the organization but he was their “inside man.” (65)
Cavagrotti, Johnny “Broadway” was a gambler. He owned the Goodman Novelty Shop with his brother, at 1313 Goodman Street N., which was a front for a gambling operation. He supposedly was also in debt to the mob for some bad bets. (26)
John Cavagrotti and his younger brother Sam both had extensive arrest records for gambling. John was arrested as far back as 1950 with Red Russotti (future Rochester Mafia “Boss”) for running a gambling establishment. (27) But Sam was the owner of a $50 Gambling Tax Stamp and seemed to make out better in court because of it.
John J. “Broadway” Cavagrotti disappeared on September 21, 1967 and was presumed dead. He was last seen getting into a car with Sammy Gingello, who was a suspect in the disappearance, although he was never charged.(24) Cavagrotti reportedly failed to fall into line when Frank Valenti took over Rochester’s rackets in 1964. (25)
By fall into line, I mean of course to succumb to extortion. In 1964, Frank Valenti and his enforcers organized all gambling in the city of Rochester. They forced every proprietor of a gambling establishment to share a portion of their weekly earnings with the Rochester Mafia or they were closed down, beaten up or killed. In this case, John Cavagrotti was made an example of, and was murdered.
Canarozza, James was a convicted counterfeiter and close associate of local Rochester mobsters.(23) He was also a Business Agent for Teamsters Local #398 up until 1978, when Samuel Russotti, Rene Piccarreto and Sammy Gingello were let out of prison.
At that time Canarozza quit his job, put his house up for sale and left town, just like his pal Sam Campanella did. He too was a “B Team” member and Didio loyalist. In the midsummer of 1977, James Canarozza and Sam Campanella were added to the list of persons who were allowed to visit with Frank Valenti who was imprisoned in the Springfield Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, in Springfield, Mo.
Actually, it was closer to September 1977 when these two quit their jobs. It was right after Thomas Didio, Angelo Vaccaro and Sonny Celestino were beat up by members of the “A Team” of the Rochester Mafia at the Blue Gardenia and went into hiding. (22) That was the exact time that the Rochester Mob Wars started. James Canarozza and Sam Campanella probably had their lives spared by their forced exile from Rochester.
Fate had allowed them both to escape the consequences suffered by the vast majority of the Rochester Mafia, which was death, jail or Witness Protection Program. Very rarely was anyone allowed to just “retire” from this line of work.
Indovino, Charles T. “Charlie the Ox” Indovino was identified by police on April 24, 1978, the day after Sammy Gingello was murdered, as the leader of the “B Team” of the Rochester Mafia. Indovino was reportedly close to Russello Bufalino, the reputed “Boss” of the Binghamton Mafia. Underworld sources said that Bufalino never forgave Piccarreto, Russotti and Gingello for ousting Frank Valenti, who was Bufalino’s close friend.
On January 29, 1987 Charles Indovino was indicted for counterfeiting. (83) On May 20, 1987, Indovino was indicted for conspiracy and explosive charges for an attempted murder plot for attempting to kill Joseph J. DiBattisto. DiBattisto was an eye witness to another murder committed by a friend of Indovino’s.
“Charlie The Ox” Indovino and his fellow mobster Christopher Pelitera were both still in jail, at the time on the counterfeiting charges, (84) they were both denied bail because they were identified by Eric Harnischfeger, a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, who testified that Charles Indovino and Christopher Pelitera were members of Rochester’s Organized Crime Family. (85)
On June 29, 1987, “Charlie The Ox” pleaded guilty to his part in the bombing attempted murder of Joseph DiBattisto. (86) On September 18, 1987 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. (87)
Richard "Dick" Marino
Campanella, Salvatore “ Sam Camps” was the Vice-President of Teamsters Local #398 in Rochester, New York, until 1978, when he quit his job and left town to prevent the Rochester Mafia from killing him. Campanella first attained his position in the Teamsters Union after filing charges against the previous Vice-President of Local #398 and forcing him out of the union in January 1959. A highly suspicious move, since Campanella had only been a Teamster for one month at the time. The month previous, in December of 1958, Campanella was still driving a taxi cab and was one of several cab drivers questioned in a homicide at the Ivanhoe Hotel. (19)
Sam Campanella also ran a gambling establishment, a gaming room located behind a storefront at Main Street East at Scio, next to the Pussycat Strip Club. He was a “made” member of the Rochester Mafia. Originally an “A Team” member. Campanella was indicted along with 9 other men, the top echelon of the Rochester Mafia, for the Vincent “Jimmy The Hammer” Massaro murder. He was then eventually released, for a lack of evidence.
Campanella was one of several men who were supposed to share in the responsibility of taking care of the imprisoned mob leaders’ families. Instead, Campanella at some point switched allegiances and became loyal to Thomas Didio, who was temporarily left in charge of the Rochester Mafia. Didio became the leader of the insurgent faction of the Rochester Mafia called the “B” Team. In the midsummer of 1977, Campanella and James Canarozza, who was also a Teamsters Local #398 Officer, were added to the list of persons allowed to visit with Frank Valenti who was imprisoned in the Springfield Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, Springfield, Mo. (20)
Then the real leaders of the mob, the “A” Team, were released from prison in 1978 when it was discovered that detectives lied, and fabricated evidence at their trials. Thomas Didio was murdered, the “B” Team was routed and Campanella was forced to quit his job and leave town. (21)
Oliveri, Anthony was a "made" member of the Rochester La Cosa Nostra prior to him becoming a government informant ant testifying against the the leaders of the Rochester Mob in the 1984 Russotti RICO trial. Oliveri testified that he was inducted into the mafia in December of 1978 on the same day as Joseph LaDolce. Oliveri had since been placed into the Federal Witness Protection Program.
Anthony Oliveri was a good friend of Anthony Columbo and participated in several crimes with him including the attempted murder of "Oskie" DeMarco and the successful murder of Thomas Didio. Oliveri testified that he stood guard as a lookout while Anthony Columbo machine-gunned Thomas Didio to death at the Exit 45 Motel in Victor, New York.
Barton, William “Billy” had a long history of violent crime and associations with the Rochester Mafia. In January of 1976 he was charged with attempted murder for shooting Daniel Bookless in the head and leaving him for dead. (13)
But when it came time to identify Billy Barton in court, Daniel Bookless’s memory got fuzzy. He said when he first identified Barton as the shooter, he was still mixed up (from the shooting) and then realized he was “telling all the wrong things.” The judge dismissed the attempted murder charge.
A couple years later, Barton was identified as a member of the “B Team,” the insurgent faction of the Rochester Mafia that was responsible for the death of Sammy Gingello. He was convicted in 1980 along with 6 others in a 14 count indictment for participating in the bombings in the Rochester area in late 1977 and 1978, while attempting to wrestle control of the Rochester Mafia from the established leadership with his fellow “B Team” insurgents. He was given a ten year prison sentence. (14)
Billy Barton was released from prison on December 16, 1985, after serving about five years. He then wanted to return to Rochester, so he sent his brother in law to speak to “Acting Boss” Angelo Amico, to get permission. That conversation was picked up by FBI surveillance and was recorded. (15) The conversation was about setting Barton up to be murdered if he did come back to Rochester. That conversation being just one of many caught on tape by the FBI.
William “Billy” Barton would be 80 years old in 2017 if still alive.
Lanovara, Joseph “Spike” was a member of Frank Valenti’s “special crew” in the Rochester Mafia before that regime was overthrown in 1972. Joe Lanovara was given the original contract to kill Jimmy “The Hammer” Massaro. Having failed to locate Massaro quick enough, he was given help. He was then assisted by Angelo Monachino and Eugene DiFrancesco, who “pulled the trigger,” on “The Hammer.” Lanovara faced with murder charges, became a government informant and entered into the Federal Witness Protection Program.
Lanovara testified that he was initiated into the Rochester Mafia on the same day as “Jimmy The Hammer” Massaro in the spring of 1971. He also testified to witnessing his death by execution. (90) Joseph Lanovara was also involved in the “arson for hire” schemes in the early 1970’s. Those schemes involved regular businessmen hiring the mob to “torch” their property, then splitting the proceeds of the insurance money with them. Lanovara allowed the torching of his own home as part of that scheme. (91)
By 1978, Joseph Lanovara was one of eight people in the Rochester area who had become government informants against the Rochester Mafia. (92) That number would eventually double. In the newspaper article “Eyesight Poor But Still Assigned to Kill”, defense attorney F. Lee Bailey ridiculed the idea that Lanovara and DiFrancesco were given the assignment to kill Vincent Massaro. By his own admission, Lanovara said he probably could not hit the side of a barn with a pistol. Clarifying he said he might have hit a barn in practice. F. Lee Bailey responded by asking Lanovara if he was inside the barn at the time. (93)
Mastrodonato, Joseph P. "Big Joe" was a gambler who ran a gambling parlor on Lyell Avenue in Rochester which was disguised as a "novelty shop." He had been arrested at least four times for gambling offenses. Despite getting three dismissals out of four, Joe succumbed to government pressure and purchased a $50 Gambling Tax Stamp. The stamps did not give their holders immunity from prosecution on gambling charges but they did prevent prosecution for tax evasion.
Joe was a former fight promoter. He was listed in the city directory as an "expediter." Police said that Joe Mastrodonato had been known to "expedite" bets. He was also listed as a clerk at the AGBE Novelty Store at 410 Lyell Avenue in Rochester, New York, which was a front for a gambling operation.
The Rochester Mafia Membership List (A-O) Members, Associates and Murder Victims
Eugene "Gene D" DiFrancesco
LaMendola, Joseph was a member of the Rochester Mafia. He was married to author, actress, model and race car driver Georgia Durante. According to his wife Georgia, he was once severely beaten by fellow mobsters Angelo Monachino, Joey Tiraborelli and Jimmy “The Hammer” Massaro on orders of Sammy Gingello. Apparently the beating was given to teach LaMendola a lesson on how to treat women because Gingello had seen bruises on Georgia. Georgia Durante published a book called “The Company She Keeps,” which is about her life and the time she spent with LaMendola and other mobsters. (88)
In his early years Joe was an avid bowler, often making the newspaper for rolling a high series of bowling games. (89) Later in life Joseph ran a restaurant and nightclub called Caesars II which was located on the corner of Dewey Avenue and Lyell Avenue.
Compared to the “Company He Kept” LaMendola led a relatively peaceful life, avoiding both the newspaper and jail. He was never identified as being on either the “A Team” or the “B Team” when the “Rochester Mob Wars” took place.
LaMendola died on Thursday, July 19, 2012 Beloved husband of Georgia R. LaMendola. (20)
Constable, William T. “Billy” was murdered on December 14, 1970 by Jimmy “The Hammer” Massaro, (70) for allegedly attempting to muscle in on mob enterprises.(41) He was an employee of Angelo Monachino, who owned Bar-Mon Construction. Bar-Mon construction had been associated with Frank Valenti, “Boss” of the Rochester Mafia. Valenti was the owner of several of Bar-mon’s bulldozers. Angelo Monachino was also a “made” member of the Rochester’s Mafia.
Charles Monachino fingered his brother Angelo and Albert DeCanzio for the Billy Constable murder, although Jimmy “The Hammer” pulled the trigger. Angelo Monachino and DeCanzio were indicted on April Fools Day 1975 along with Gene DiFrancesco and Frank Valenti for the murder. (42) Angelo Monachino was freed on bail and the charge against DeCanzio later was dropped. Both DeCanzio and Monachino later became government informants and both of them were placed into the Federal Witness Protection Program. (43)
Police at the time thought that William Constable’s death may have been linked to a liquor theft, but they did not elaborate. (44) The police also called the killing a “gangland execution” intended to be a warning to other hoodlum elements. (45)
William "Billy" Barton
Gingello, Anthony, brother of “Sammy G” was the President of Local 1635, a city employees union. In April of 1973, Joseph T. Zito, a Batavia mobster turned informant, testified that Anthony Gingello was one of 7 men that operated a $100,000 a day blackjack game at the 44 Club, a gambling parlor at 44 Lake Ave in Rochester, New York. (74)
He was also one of Eight men who were indicted in connection with the Columbus Day, 1970 bombings. He was charged with conspiracy to bomb the old Federal Building in Rochester and four other locations. (73)
Anthony Gingello was arrested on felony charges on December 29, 1974 for possession of stolen property, a charge he denied. He was suspended from his job as President of Local 1635, pending the outcome of the investigation and charges. (75) A little more than two years later on March 9, 1977, the “possession of stolen property” case against Anthony Gingello was dismissed for lack of a speedy trial. No other explanation was given for the delay. (77)
Anthony Gingello was suspended from his job as Union President shortly after his arrest on bombing charges for the 1970 Columbus Day Bombings. On January 26, 1978, Anthony Gingello was acquitted of those bombing charges against him. The only person found guilty of that crime was Eugene DiFrancesco. All others charged, were acquitted. (78)
On February 5, 1976, Gingello was convicted of breaking union rules for what he called a preexisting condition and he was prohibited from holding office for one year. Gingello claimed he was the victim of a frame-up. (76) Those minor setbacks apparently did not prevent Anthony Gingello from having a long and prosperous career as President of the Employees union for the City of Rochester.
Ten years later Gingello was still making headlines, but not for his mafia connections. He was in the news for making $250,000 legitimately, by drawing three salaries at the same time. He received $191, 939 for heading two employee unions and $58,321 from the city of Rochester for being the President of their Employee Union. (79)
Gingello was still working in 2003. He celebrated 50 years of service to the City of Rochester, 32 of those years were as the President of the City Employees Union Local 1635.
Lippa, Joe “The Banker” was known as the numbers kingpin of the west side of the city of Rochester, New York. He ran a supermarket on Prospect Street that was a front for his gambling operation. Later he ran a laundry mat for the same purpose.
On January 30, 1965, it was arrest No. 26 for Big Joe Lippa, the policy racketeer with a genius for staying out of jail. It came at a time when “The Banker” as police call him was already awaiting trial on a 14-count indictment handed up June 19, 1964. The indictment charges Lippa, 48, of 44 Madison St., with felonies of operating a policy or betting business, and misdemeanors of possessing lottery slips. (94)
In all, Joseph Lippa was arrested over 30 times for gambling. He ran one of the biggest numbers rackets in the entire city. By police estimates he had over 50 people working for him. On March 30, 1965, Lippa was sentenced to one year and nine months in jail for operating a policy business. But overall Lippa served very little time in jail despite his lengthy arrest record and frequent police raids to his business. (95)
On one occasion in August of 1971 somewhere between $60,000 and $155,000 turned up missing after a raid on Joe Lippa’s Laundry Shop. It seems that police confiscated much more money than they turned in, resulting in the questioning of at least nine police officers who where involved in the raid. Lippa said that it was not the first time that money was confiscated and not turned in. He claimed the exact same thing happened in a raid at his supermarket in 1962. (96)
Throughout all the years that Joe Lippa ran his very successful numbers operation, he remained an independent. He never once succumbed to mafia pressure to share his proceeds nor did he ever let the mob become his “partner.” Lippa claimed that he stood up to the mob on at least two occasions.
But that independence, in a city where the mafia controlled every aspect of illegal betting that they knew about, came with a cost. Joe Lippa’s Laundromat was firebombed in the middle of the night on November12, 1974, while his brother was sleeping in an apartment upstairs. Unknown persons threw two firebombs made from gasoline into the Laundromat.
He also had a rock thrown through his front window. A note on the rock said, “The black god wants you out of the area. Watch for snipers.” (97) Lippa was so strong that he threw out three organized crime enforcers who bullied their way into his Laundromat demanding payoffs. Lippa said there had also been three holdup attempts by armed gunmen. Each time they had asked for “Lippa’s Bag.” He threw them out as well. Such trouble annoys Joe Lippa, he said. But it does not scare him.
Joe Lippa was very well liked by the people in the neighborhoods that he took bets from. Joe was very generous to the people in his community. “He used to buy food and clothes for everybody. He’d help everybody out.”
Joseph Lippa died suddenly on October 7, 1977 of natural causes at the age of 61. (98)
Dominic "Sonny" Celestino
LoDolce, Joseph was a member of Teamsters Local #398 until he was kicked out of the Union by the IRB, an Independent government oversight committee of the Teamsters Union for being a "made" member of the Rochester Family of La Cosa Nostra. He was indicted on RICO violations on October 3, 1987 and charged with violating the federal anti-racketeering and conspiracy statutes. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Joseph was released from prison on January 13, 1994. (39) The former strong-arm collector for the Rochester Mafia, Rochester resident Joseph LaDolce, was indicted 15 years later, on charges that he sexually abused a Rochester boy in November of 2009. He was 67 years old at the time. He was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree criminal sexual act and endangering the welfare of a child. (46) He died on February 6, 2014 at the age of 72. (47)
Frassetto, Frank was the owner of Dad’s Farm Market on the corner of Mt Read Blvd. and Maiden Lane in Greece, New York. He was also a member of the “B Team” of the Rochester Mafia. He held frequent meetings in his Greece home on Lida Lane to strategize their bombing expeditions against the “A Team.”
Frank was convicted in 1980 along with 6 others in a 14 count indictment for participating in the bombings in the Rochester area in 1977 and 1978. Those bombings resulted in the death of Sammy Gingello, who was the “Under Boss” of the Rochester Mob at the time. Frassetto was attempting to wrest control of the Rochester Mafia with his fellow “B Team” insurgents. Frassetto once bragged to Rodney Starkweather that he was so close to Gingello’s car when it blew up that chunks of Gingello’s car hit his own car. (64)
He was given a 30 year prison sentence. (65) He was released from prison in 1997 after serving 17 years of that 30 year sentence. Seven years after his release, in April of 2004, Frassetto was indicted in a plot to steal $90 million. (67) In June of 2006 he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin. He was sentenced to 10 more years in prison on September 20, 2006. (68)
Frank was again released from prison on October 9, 2009. (66)
Charles T. "Charlie the Ox" Indovino
Marino, Richard J. “Dick” was a Business Agent for Teamsters Local #398. He was also identified as the "Underboss" of the Rochester Family hierarchy during hearings entitled "Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi" before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the United States Senate. An Investigations Officer, Agent Ulmer (FBI) indicated that "Marino was considered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to be a high-ranking member of the Rochester Family." Furthermore, Marino was charged in the Russotti matter with being the "Underboss" of the criminal enterprise described in that prosecution. The "enterprise" in the Russotti matter (1984 RICO Indictment) was identical to the Rochester Mafia Crime Family. Marino was serving a 40-year sentence at a federal penitentiary in Leavenworth for his 1984 conviction on racketeering, extortion and conspiracy. (21) Richard was released from prison on September 23, 2004. He died at the age of 64. (48)
Geniola, Joseph, was a union steward with Teamsters Local #398 and an employee of Schiavone Construction Co., based in Secaucus, N.J. He was also a member of the Rochester Mafia. In October of 1987, Geniola was named in a RICO indictment, charging 5 men with conspiracy and racketeering. (70) He was identified as an "enforcer." Anthony Oliveri, former Rochester Mob member turned informer testified that Joseph Geniola was present when he himself was initiated into the Rochester Mafia.(69)
The second RICO indictment involving the leaders of the Rochester Mafia was released on October 3, 1987. The first RICO Indictment netted the top 7 Rochester Mafia leaders in 1984. Indicted the second time around were Angelo Amico, Loren Piccarreto, Joseph LoDolce, Joseph Geniola, and Donald Paone. All 5 were charged with violating federal anti-racketeering laws.
Joseph Geniola was sentenced to four years in prison. (71) Joseph was released from prison on June 24, 1992. He would be 88 years old in 2017.(72)
Chirico, Rosario was the brother of Dominic Chirico. He was a “made” member of the Rochester Mafia with a long arrest record. He was a “B Team” member and a member of Frank Valenti’s “special crew” before that.
On November 28, 1961, he was arrested for a $1,700 theft from three safes that he broke open at a Pepsi plant in Virginia with three buddies. He was caught with his three accomplices in a car that had secret compartments containing a revolver and burglary tools. (37) At the time of his arrest, he was awaiting trial on a counterfeiting charge that he had been indicted on, in March of 1961. Soon after that, he was found guilty of the counterfeiting charge.
Rosario Chirico also made silencers and provided weapons to the members of the Rochester Mafia. (38) In the late 1970’s as the Rochester Mob war progressed, Rosario Chirico predictably ended up on the “B Team.”
In July of 1979, he was found guilty of loan sharking. The following year he was then indicted, and convicted in 1980, along with 6 others in a 14 count indictment for participating in the bombings in the Rochester area in 1977 and 1978. Those bombings were responsible for the death of Sammy Gingello. Rosario was released from prison on July 1, 1988, after serving about 18 years. He would be 90 years old in 2017. (39)
Monachino, Charles, brother of Angelo, was an “associate”, of Rochester’s La Cosa Nostra. He was indicted in January 1975 on theft charges. He was also connected with Zeke Zimmerman, the mob’s “fence”. Charles Monachino started cooperating with authorities in January 1975. Charles was in on the planning of the Irondequoit, New York DMV Robbery with Al DeCanzio and Jimmy “The Hammer” Massaro. Charles Monachino also witnessed Al DeCanzio murder Ernie White, a black man hired to commit the robbery. Charles was not a made member of the mafia like his brother Angelo. He got caught for a possession of stolen property crime and he blew in his own brother for murder to avoid going to prison for his own crime. He later became a government witness and was then placed into the Federal Witness Protection Program. (66)
Chirico, Dominick was a “Capo” in the Rochester Mafia under the Valenti regime. He was Valenti’s personal bodyguard as well as the head of Valenti’s “special crew.” He was murdered in 1972 as a message to Frank Valenti to step down as “Boss” of the Rochester Family of the La Cosa Nostra. Chirico was Frank Valenti’s No. 1 hit man.
Valenti was forced to step down as boss of the Rochester mob in the spring of 1972 for two reasons. He was secretly stashing criminal proceeds and not sharing with the rest of the “Family” and he reportedly ordered the murder of Russotti and Gingello, in response to them confronting him about it, but Chirico’s men refused to carry out the order. (34)
Instead, Russotti’s men acted first and Chirico was shot-gunned to death on June 5, 1972 as he got out of his car in front of his girlfriend’s apartment building on Raines Park in the city. It was punishment for his boss, Frank Valenti’s misdeeds. Police had few clues to go on, they were looking for two men in a dark station wagon last seen heading toward Dewey Avenue. Chirico, who was shot three times was found face down in a pool of blood. (36)
Chirico had previously spent time in prison for counterfeiting in 1962. (35) The 1972 murder of Dominic Chirico was the 7th gangland type slaying in the Rochester area since 1960.
Amico, Angelo was considered by the Federal Bureau Of Investigation to be a high ranking member of the Rochester Mafia Family. In 1987, Amico was listed by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of The United States Senate as the “Acting Boss” of the Rochester La Cosa Nostra, (4) after the entire leadership of Rochester’s La Cosa Nostra were imprisoned in 1984 on a “RICO” indictment for crimes including conspiracy and murder.(5)
Amico was also the target of FBI surveillance. On March 4, 1986, he was caught on tape recorder giving orders to Angelo Misuraca, Vice-President of Teamsters Local #398 on how to run the Union among other things.(6) He was one of five men charged in the 2nd RICO indictment of the Rochester Mafia on October 3, 1987. The Indictment charged Amico with conspiracy and racketeering for operating an illegal gambling establishment and for extorting money from others who ran similar gambling establishments in Rochester.
The money from this operation was used to pay the legal fees of other imprisoned mobsters and help support their families. Angelo Amico pleaded guilty right before his trial was to start. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but only served about five years. (7) He was released from prison on August 3, 1993.(8)
Amico passed away on March 21, 2011, after a losing battle with cancer. He was 79. (9)
Mastrodanoto, Nicholas was 33 years old when he was murdered. He was an associate of Thomas Torpey and Thomas Taylor. He was murdered by Dominic Taddeo, hit man for the “A” Team on May 25, 1982. He was a suspected member of the “C” Team. Samuel "Red" Russotti, "Boss" of the "A Team," had ordered the murder of all insurgent members of the mafia in retaliation for the murder of "A Team" "Captain" John Fiorino. Mastrodonato was one of three "C Team" members who were murdered by Dominic Taddeo.
William "Billy" Constable
DiFrancesco, Eugene “Gene” was a “hitman” for the Rochester Mafia. He was the “triggerman” in the Jimmy “The Hammer” Massaro murder in 1973. He was a member of Frank Valenti’s “special crew” and was involved in extortion and loan sharking, providing the “muscle” for those operations. (54)
Gene killed for the first time in 1952, at the young age of 18. He punched an 81 year old man in the throat. The man fell in the driveway, hit his head on the pavement and died. He was indicted for manslaughter, but that charge was eventually dismissed, because of a lack of evidence. (53)
DiFrancesco also participated in the “arson for hire” schemes and the Columbus Day bombings. He was indicted on July 24, 1975 for the Columbus Day Bombings and he was indicted on April 7, 1976 for the arsons. He was sentenced to a total of 10 years imprisonment for both racketeering counts, the “arson for hire” schemes and a total of 9 years for the bombings. (15)
In 1976, while he was being held for killing Billy Constable and “Jimmy The Hammer,” DiFrancesco had his bail was revoked because he threatened to “eliminate” William Mahoney, who was the Chief of Detectives at the time. (55)
Eugene was released from prison on December 23, 1983. He would be 82 years old in 2017. (56)
Colombo, Anthony M. was a member of the “A Team” of the Rochester Mafia. He was considered by the FBI to be a “made” member. (88) He was indicted and convicted in December of 1984 of “RICO” violations for conspiracy and murder among other things. Columbo was the triggerman for the Thomas Didio murder. He was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.(40)
Columbo was also arrested in 1979 for staking out with intent to kill Angelo Demarco, who was scheduled to testify the following day. Joseph “Joe the Hop” Rossi ordered Columbo, Anthony Oliveri and Joseph LoDolce to “get rid of” Angelo DiMarco.
Mysteriously, Anthony M. Columbo could not be located on the Inmate Locator website. The website keeps track of release dates for all prisoners that were convicted of federal crimes. Anthony Columbo’s conviction for RICO violations was a federal crime.
Columbo and six other defendants were convicted of racketeering and conspiracy for crimes committed for the Rochester Mafia Organization, including the murders of Vincent “Jimmy The Hammer” Massaro and Thomas Didio.
Demarco, Angelo “Oskie” was a co-operator of a gambling establishment called the Caserta Social Club located at 44 Lake Avenue in Rochester, New York. (52) He was also the target of an attempted assassination on March 13, 1979, allegedly to prevent him from testifying before a Federal Grand Jury. Anthony Columbo and Anthony Oliveri were arrested in relation to that crime.
On the night that they were arrested, Columbo and Oliveri were staked out in front of DiMarco’s home in Gates with a shotgun and .357 revolver. They took off when a patrol car came by. Oliveri and Columbo threw their weapons out of the car window, but they were recovered by police and the pair were charged with attempted murder and weapons possession.
The local newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle characterized “Oskie” DiMarco as a “Fringe member” of the “A Team.” (51) Angelo “Oskie” DiMarco lived to be 81 years old and died on April 4, 2005.
Gingello, Salvatore “Sammy G” was a young “Capo” during the Valenti regime, when Frank Valenti was the “Boss” of the Rochester Mafia. He attained that position in 1970 after the previous “Capo”, Billy Lupo, was accused of stealing $100,000 and murdered.
On March 5, 1970, Judge Culver Barr evicted Sammy Gingello from the Bay Street Social Club, a gambling parlor run by Gingello. Police said the club located at 606 Bay Street was a center for organized gambling activities. (80)
In 1972, Gingello, Rene Piccarreto and Samuel “Red” Russotti took over control of the Rochester mob, forcing Valenti to retire due to Valenti’s withholding of mob profits from the other family members. Gingello became the new “Underboss” and Samuel “Red” Russotti became the new “Boss.”
On August 26, 1971, he was jailed for harassing a police officer after a traffic stop. On June 26, 1975 charges against Sammy Gingello for possession of stolen property were dropped. Gingello was then immediately placed in handcuffs and taken to the Monroe County Sheriffs Department for questioning in an unrelated matter. (81)
Gingello was temporarily imprisoned in 1976 for the Massaro murder but was released the following year when it was discovered that the detectives had lied at the trial and the police had fabricated evidence. During his absence, Thomas Didio was temporarily left in charge of the Rochester Mob. Didio refused to relinquish control when Gingello and the other leaders were released from prison, and the “mob wars” began.
Sammy Gingello was murdered by a car bomb on April 23, 1978 by the opposing faction of the mob called the “B Team,” outside of Ben's Cafe Society in downtown Rochester, New York. Salvatore "Sammy G" Gingello, Rochester Mafia "Under Boss" was dead at 39. He was the first casualty in the Rochester Mob Wars in 1978. (82)
Chirico, Anthony is Rosario Chirico’s son. Like his father, he was a “B Team” member. He was indicted in July of 1978 along with Rodney Starkweather for illegally storing explosives. The explosives were the “B Team” stockpile that were being stored in the back of a Wise Potato Chip truck behind a gas station at the corner of Mt. Read Blvd. and Maiden Lane in Greece, N.Y. (31)
Anthony Chirico was also an active participant in the bombings in Rochester’s mob war. Like his father, Anthony was convicted in 1980 along with 6 others in a 14 count indictment for participating in bombings in the Rochester area in 1977 and 1978, while attempting to seize control of the Rochester Mafia with his fellow “B Team” insurgents.
He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. (32) Anthony was released from prison on October 7, 1992. He would be 64 years old in 2016. (33)
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Buscemi, Nardo was the President of Teamsters Local #398. He was indicted on October 4, 1963 on 17 counts of accepting payoffs from employers. He was accused of illegally taking payoffs from two employers that held subcontracts on projects from the Monroe County Sewer Agency.
Buscemi was accused of taking the money from the subcontractor's employees in exchange for membership into the Teamsters Local #398. (16) Buscemi charged employers $20 for every non union truck that he allowed the employers to use. (17) He was elected President of Local #398 in December 1960 in a bitterly contested race. Police records indicated that Buscemi had at least two minor gambling arrests prior to the "illegal payoff" arrest. One of those arrests was on may 17, 1948, when he was arrested with Rene Picarretto, "Consigliore" of the Rochester Mafia. At the time, Rene was just a young 23 year old gambler like Nardo.
Buscemi's "illegal payoff" arrest was the result of the second grand jury investigation into labor racketeering and shakedowns. The first investigation was conducted in August of 1959 by the State Commission of Investigation (The Crime Commission). Following his October 16, 1963 conviction for accepting payoffs from employers, Buscemi was brought up on internal union charges, filed by union members, and removed from his Teamsters Union job of President of Local #398 the following year. (18)