This section is continued from here.
Frank LaGalbo called the Grande Cheese Company in Fond du Lac in January, March and April 1973. Some time in early 1973, he made calls to George F. Kouba (a restaurant supply salesman) in West Bend. In January 1973, he made calls to both Anthony Balistrieri, 924 Melrose Avenue and Balistrieri’s Red Coach night club in Chula Vista, California. (Anthony was the son of “Big Frank” Balistrieri, Frank P. Balistrieri’s uncle.)
On January 4, 1973, agents continued their surveillance pattern of following Sidney Brodson from the Insurance Exchange Building (6150 West Fond du Lac Avenue) to his home on Stratford Court around 6:15pm.
By January 10, 1973, the Brass Rail was closed because of lack of business. The employees went to work at the Center Stage. An informant said the place was not kept up properly and was “stinking and run down”, which scared customers off.
On January 10, 1973 the FBI transmitted funds to the General Accounting Office to handle a settlement with Frank Balistrieri and Jennie Alioto over their eavesdropping lawsuits (Balistrieri v. Holtzman and Alioto v. Holtzman). $3700 was paid to former FBI agents LeGrand and Lovrien for attorney expenses from the Frisch, Dudek, Slattery and Denny firm. $7368 was paid to Ogden and Company, the real estate company that owned the building where recording was done. Slightly over $19,000 was also paid to the Wisconsin Telephone Company to reimburse them for the settlements they paid out.
On January 12, 1973, a 1969 Oldsmobile traced to Greenfield was seen parked in Anthony Spilotro’s garage (2612 East Siesta Avenue, Las Vegas). The owner was traced to a man with green eyes, gray hair, 184 pounds and 5’10” with only traffic tickets on his record. He had several other cars registered in his name. Who from Milwaukee was visiting Spilotro?
An informant went into the Center Stage on January 14, 1973 and saw Peter Balistrieri and Frank Balistrieri there. Approximately 70 patrons were there. The informant talked to Frank briefly about his time in jail and the informant noted that Balistrieri “looked older and very worn”. Working behind the bar was Joseph Maniaci.
Sally Papia and Frank Buccieri stayed at the Palm Springs Spa Hotel (Palm Springs, California) from January 18 to the 25, 1973.
Frank Stelloh was pulled over by Mukwonago Police on January 21, 1973 for obstruction of view. He was driving a Plymouth and told the officers that he was heading to Sally’s farm in Eagle, Waukesha County.
Special agents went to Chico’s on January 26, 1973 and spoke with Angeline LaGalbo, who they described as “uncooperative”.
Madison LCN member Vincent Troia died in a Madison hospital on January 31, 1973. The only Milwaukee member to attend the funeral was Nick Fucarino.
Nick Gentile called the police in early February 1973 and turned in two prostitutes that were working out of his tavern. An informant told the FBI that this was a “ruse” and a “high-class girl” was still working for him there.
Frank LaGalbo called the office of Al Pilotto, head of the Laborers International Union, in February 1973.
Around February 1973, Tony LaRosa was subpoenaed to appear in Madison at a grand jury investigating an old cigarette tax case.
On February 1, 1973, agents observed Sidney Brodson in the Insurance Exchange Building (6150 West Fond du Lac Avenue). From 4:30 to 5:53pm he was on the second floor, talking to various people while he had sheets in his hand. Exactly what office he was in was unclear, but he seemed to gravitate around the Shefchik, Smirl and Duke Advertising Agency. Ralph C. Duke was an interesting character; he worked at the Shrine Circus and helped set up the Hayloft Theater on Port Washington Road, as well as serving as a medic in Korea.
An agent tried to enter the Insurance Exchange Building (6150 West Fond du Lac Avenue) on February 3, 1973 in order to watch Sidney Brodson. The agent approached a mailman to attempt access, but the door was locked and the mailman had no key.
Special Agents interviewed Vito Aiello at his home (3038 North Maryland Avenue) on February 9, 1973. Aiello said he had the flu the last three days, but usually works as the head bartender at the Eagles Club (24th and Wisconsin) from 3:00pm to closing time. When asked about the Louis Fazio murder, Aiello said Fazio was a “good guy” and that he had heard a number of rumors about his death. Personally, Aiello did not believe that the motive was robbery because a robbery would not have required a murder.
James Schiavo was interviewed by the FBI on February 12, 1973 concerning Louis Fazio. Schiavo said he had known Fazio and heard about his killing, but had not seen him in five years and had no idea who was behind the murder. He further said he had no knowledge of Fazio ever being in Madison.
Around February 12, Vincent Maniaci was subpoenaed concerning a shooting at Eddie Carroll’s.
Charles S. Librizzi, 25, committed suicide on February 21, 1973. He was high on narcotics at the time. An informant told the FBI that just prior to his death, he was gambling with others at a tavern, including bowler Carl Muccio, playing a form of Russian roulette. He would use one bullet and spin a revolver cylinder and then shoot the ceiling. Those present would bet $10 on the outcome. According to my sources, the suicide may have been an accident. The gun used was known to jam and Librizzi may not have believed that the gun was capable of firing.
Special agents went to Chico’s on February 28, 1973 to ask Frank LaGalbo about the murder of Louis Fazio. He was not there, and an employee who called his house informed the agents that LaGalbo did not wish to speak with them.
In late February and early March 1973, Richard J. Milcarek was in Louisiana and gave the rental car company his contact information as Universal Builders in Metairie.
Sally Papia, daughter Candy Papia and Frank Buccieri drove to Las Vegas on March 1, 1973 for the purpose of trying to set Candy up in show business. They stayed there until March 8. FBI agents later requested records from Recrion Incorporated, the company that owned the Stardust Hotel. Records indicated that Papia and Buccieri stayed at the Stardust for free, and the food and drinks were complimentary as well.
Vincent Maniaci was at the Castaways Hotel, 16375 Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach from March 2-5, 1973. He stayed in Room 104.
August Chiaverotti called the FBI’s Milwaukee office on March 5, 1973 and asked to speak to an agent who was not available because he was on special assignment at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Instead, he spoke with Special Agent Eugene Murphy and they arranged to talk March 12.
Steve DeSalvo flew to Louisiana on March 5, 1973 and informed the people there that Universal Builders was shutting down. On March 9, DeSalvo and another man departed Louisiana in a green Cadillac with a trailer hauling personal possessions and the company’s financial records. The office of Universal Builders was left “filthy” and the man left $329 unpaid at the Imperial House Motor Hotel in Metairie. DeSalvo told his associates in Milwaukee that the siding business in Louisiana did not work out due to bad weather.
Around March 1973, Leroy Bell, 48, the owner of the Tender Trap (514 East Center) would send girls to Sally’s Steak House for the purposes of prostitution. At the steak house, manager James Jennaro would connect the women with male customers who were willing to pay $100. Katherine (Casey) Erbach, 21, would later testify that she would have sex with men at a nearby hotel. Likewise, Angela Wiedenhoeft, 22, would testify that she engaged in “an act of sexual perversion” with an elderly man. Erbach would later join a convent.
Vincent Maniaci returned to Milwaukee on March 9, 1973 after being in Florida for a week.
The FBI opened a file on Joseph Frank Sardino on March 9, 1973. They believed that Sardino was allowing prostitutes to operate out of his businesses, Sardino’s Bull Ring (1532 East Belleview) and Sardino’s Inn (1617 North Farwell). Sardino was also believed to be a close friend of Leroy Bell, the known pimp. There were also rumors that Sardino operated the Brothers Lounge (2379 North Holton), which had been Bell’s business before he moved to the Tender Trap. These rumors were likely false; one Leroy Foster identified himself as the owner and manager when questioned by the FBI.
August Chiaverotti spoke with Special Agent Eugene Murphy on March 12, 1973. At this meeting, Chiaverotti was friendly, candid and expressed a high opinion of the FBI. He was presently appealing a charge of altering coins and was suffering from diabetes and ulcers. He told Murphy he would consider furnishing the bureau with information. The topic of Louis Fazio came up, and it was the mobster’s opinion that Frank Balistrieri was behind the murder, and ordered the hit to re-assert himself as the boss of the Milwaukee Family. He did not know who would commit the murder, though. He said only Frank Stelloh would “have the guts” to kill Fazio, but because Balistrieri and Stelloh were fighting, it seemed unlikely that Stelloh would do Balistrieri any favors. Chiaverotti told the agents that although he had been having problems with Frank Stelloh, he forcefully told Stelloh to leave him alone and has not seen him since and does not know his activities or whereabouts.
An employee of the City of Milwaukee contacted the FBI on March 14 and told them he believed that the Mafia was involved in the city’s garbage collection. Two days later, an agent visited his house to talk about it further. The man said he worked for the Waste Disposal Department many years and was a member of Ashmen and Trash Haulers Local 61. While the man could offer no concrete evidence of the Mafia’s involvement, he said no one would show him the contract the city had with the dumps, and also felt the private companies that owned the dumps were cheating the city. No one he talked to would listen, and this only further made him feel an “organized element” had control. The agent noted in his report that the man “wandered from subject to subject, and it was almost impossible to follow his train of thought. He made general allegations but had no specific information to back up these allegations.”
On March 16, 1973, an informant told the FBI that while Frank Balistrieri was in prison in Minnesota, the only person who kept in contact, updating him of events in Milwaukee, was Sally Papia.
Sidney Brodson’s gambling newspaper subscriptions stopped on March 19, 1973.
On March 27, an FBI agent spoke with a representative of Ashmen and Trash Haulers Local 61. He said his union represented the drivers of garbage trucks, as well as the men who rode on the back. Other unions represent workers at other stages of the refuse disposing process. He explained that Local 61 is affiliated with Teamsters Local 200, but this was only for political purposes. Local 61 was independent when it came to bargaining, pensions and other matters. They dealt almost exclusively with city and county government and had no arrangements with private companies. The man said “there is not and never has been any corrupt activities” in Local 61, nor was he aware of corruption anywhere else in the garbage business.
The FBI spoke with a Milwaukee tavern owner (name redacted) on March 29, 1973 concerning gambling. The man said he has spent the last few years building up his business and spent approximately $100,000 to get there, so he was not going to let illegal gambling ruin it for him. He had recently testified at a grand jury hearing about gambling concerning a man who was using his phone to make $10 and $50 bets. He said recently he had noticed some gamblers hanging out in the evening, shaking dice for drinks and making small wagers with each other while talking about big wagers of $500 to $1000 they make on sporting events. He had received complaints from other customers because these men were frequently using his restroom telephone to make long distance calls. Interestingly, Judge Christ Seraphim was one of the men who stopped in to shake dice for drinks, and Seraphim was upset when a new policy was enacted to only allow shaking for drinks to happen before 4:30pm to discourage gamblers. The man said he knew most of the gamblers in town, but really did not know anything about their activities. When asked about Frank Dimiceli, he acknowledged knowing him as a director of the Tri-City Bank.
An informant told the FBI on March 28 that Joseph Sardino was “straight” and not involved with the underworld. Besides the businesses already known, the informant said Sardino’s South (4641 South 108th Street) was run by Sardino’s son-in-law John Volpe. He also said there was rumor that after the murder of Louis Fazio, Sardino had received a call threatening him and saying he was next.
Joseph Enea was observed tending bar at the Ad Lib Lounge on April 4, 1973.
Vincent Maniaci was at the Castaways Hotel, 16375 Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach from April 6-10, 1973. He stayed in Room 507.
Special agents checked up on James Jennaro on April 8, 1973 to investigate rumors that he was having an affair (why they cared is unclear). They determined that if he was, it was with a female equestrian who drove a black Lincoln Continental. She may possibly have worked for the Badger Company.
The FBI consulted with an informant on April 10, and he told them that Acme Disposal and Waste Management were the same company, and were both controlled by criminal elements. Waste Management had its base of operations in Hinsdale or Oak Park, Illinois. (It is this author’s opinion that the informant had no idea what he was talking about.)
A captain of the Milwaukee Police Department alerted the FBI on April 12, 1973 that Walter Brocca may be in possession of some M-16 machine guns.
Carmelo Jerome Curro (Santo’s brother) died on April 12, 1973. Nick Gentile, Peter Balistrieri, Sam DiMaggio, Steve DiSalvo and Vincent Maniaci attended the funeral.
When “Mad Sam” DeStefano was murdered on April 14, 1973 by Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro, August Chiaverotti began spending more time in Chicago. The FBI thought he might receive a part of the settlement from DeStefano’s estate.
Agents interviewed Joseph Gumina at his home (3373 South 16th Street) on April 16, 1973. He said he did not know Louis Fazio well, had not attended the funeral and had no idea who killed him. Gumina denied any connection to Frank Balistrieri or organized crime. He said he was retired and had no interest in any business of any kind, though he mentioned having a relative who was an attorney. The agents noted in their report that Gumina was friendly and receptive.
Two uniformed Milwaukee police officers were at the Ad Lib Lounge on April 19, 1973 at 1:30am and were seen taking drinks into the back room behind the cigarette machine. Several employees and dancers went back in the room while they were back there and apparently brought them drinks. One officer left at 1:40am and the other stuck around past 2:30am and struck up conversation with an older woman.
On April 20, 1973, FBI agents interviewed Frank John Provinzano at his home (1619 West Capitol Drive). He declined to talk about any association he had with Frank Balistrieri, other than to say he had not seen Balistrieri for some time. Provinzano was asked about the fire at Angie’s, and he said he did not know the cause. However, he was in financial difficulties, so he did not expect to reopen Angie’s ever again. Provinzano further commented that if the FBI wanted to know about his problems with the IRS (where he was a former agent), they would have to talk to his attorney.
From 12:05am to 1:02am on April 23, 1973, Special Agent [Redacted] was at the Centre Stage Dinner Playhouse (624 North 2nd Street). He saw Frank Balistrieri in conversation at the bar with another man. Steve DiSalvo was walking around the lobby. At 12:12am, Balistrieri struck up conversation with Vincent Maniaci. At 12:20am, the agent overheard Balistrieri speaking in hushed tones to an unknown man. He was able to catch the comment that Louis Fazio should have been offered protection by the FBI. Balistrieri further said he would be hiding the next day, and if he could not afford to take a vacation in Europe, he would just have to vacation in West Allis.
Around April 23, 1973, the FBI interviewed a man in Saukville about Harry DeAngelo. The man said that DeAngelo claimed to work in construction, always drove new Cadillacs and never paid for things in anything but cash. The man said when he was younger, DeAngelo would tell him and his friends to stay out of certain night clubs in Milwaukee because they were run by hoodlums. The man then went out of his way to visit these places and found that they were, in fact, full of shady characters. The man acknowledged that he had heard rumors that DeAngelo was in the Mafia, but never had any evidence to support that.
The FBI interviewed Walter Brocca on April 30, 1973 at his used appliance store (722 South 2nd Street). Brocca said he had known Sam DeStefano, but knew nothing about his death other than what he had read in the newspaper. He was also asked about Louis Fazio, and Brocca said he had no idea who killed Fazio as he was “such a nice, peaceful fellow.” He said he had not seen Frank Stelloh for a while, but knew he had been a night watchman for Sally Papia until he was fired so that Sally’s father could have a job. Brocca said he no longer associated with Frank Balistrieri or “any of those boys” because he did not go downtown anymore. He also said he thought his Mitchell Street store started on fire because of a faulty furnace and did not think anyone was targeting him. The agents noted that Brocca’s new store had a bigger selection of appliances than the old store, and they saw several new and slightly damaged refrigerators.
On May 1, 1973, Walter Brocca “provided information concerning” Frank Stelloh to the FBI. (What he said is unknown… was it casual or was Brocca an informant? And what did he add that he did not know the day before?)
Carmelo Curro’s funeral was some time recently before May 2, 1973. Among other attendees was Harry DeAngelo.
Joseph Enea was tending bar at the Ad Lib on May 4, 1973 at 10:00pm Only five or six patrons were there.
An informant told the FBI on May 9, 1973 that an Italian man was breaking into vending machines in the Kenosha area, including at Johnson’ Wax. He was believed to be using a set of keys.
The FBI was advised on May 12, 1973 that Harry DeAngelo was the money behind a “shady retail tire business” operating out of Green Bay.
After a few failed attempts, the FBI interviewed Michele Mineo at his residence on May 16, 1973. His wife Catherine helped “translate” for him, as he was mostly only able to gesture. Mineo told the agents that he had suffered a stroke and was confined to his residence. He had not spoken with his old associates in many years, and only knows what he reads in the newspaper.
Palmy Corporation (6873 North 40th) filed its articles of incorporation on May 17, 1973. The president was John J. Lassa, secretary-treasurer was Rose Lassa, and the directors were both Lassas and Ignatius J. Fettig. The Lassas lived at the 40th Street address, and were August Palmisano’s in-laws. Three hundred shares of stock were issued, with August Palmisano owning 100 shares.
Special agents attempted to interview Sam Cefalu at his home on May 17, 1973 but he refused to talk.
An FBI agent ran surveillance on the Rafters Motel May 22, 1973 from 10:00am to 11:32am, but did not see anything more interesting than an Oak Creek city employee working on the road.
Frank Balistrieri was in Madison from May 25 through the 28th, 1973. He met with Joe Amato and James Schiavo at 6102 South Highlands Avenue. The purpose of the meeting is unknown, but one suspects it involved Balistrieri’s attempt to “take over” Madison.
Robert Horbinski began working with the government in February in order to have a charge against him dismissed. On the evening of May 29, 1973, Horbinski went to Frank Angelo Picciolo’s house at 4110 North 74th Street to discuss plans for selling the cocaine. Both Picciolo and Michael G. Butala were there. Horbinski told Picciolo that he had found a buyer and the three discussed the manner in which the sale was to be made. It was decided that Horbinski would meet the “buyer” at a restaurant and call Picciolo if the buyer had the $7,000 purchase price. Butala agreed to accompany Picciolo to the dropsite to watch “to make sure that nothing went wrong.” The three then went in Picciolo’s car to look for a place to make the exchange. At Butala’s suggestion, the trio decided on a location in Dineen Park on the north side of Milwaukee at approximately 63rd and West Melvina.
Picciolo and Butala then dropped Horbinski off at the restaurant and returned to Picciolo’s house to await Horbinski’s call confirming the sale. At the restaurant, Horbinski met with a federal agent who made arrangements to apprehend Picciolo and Butala at the dropsite. Horbinski called Picciolo and told him everything was set for the exchange.
Detective Thomas McKale was in the area of Dineen Park at approximately 7:30pm on the evening of May 29, 1973. He observed a white and silver Cadillac stop at the curb in the 6400 block of West Melvina. The driver, later identified as Picciolo, got out and walked into the park about 25 feet to a large forked tree. He looked around, took a brown paper bag from under his jacket and placed it on the ground next to the tree. McKale stopped Picciolo as he was returning to the car and placed him under arrest.
James Hardke, an agent for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, was assigned to the surveillance unit in the park and instructed to watch for a lookout. Shortly before 7:30pm, Hardke was parked in an alley in the 6500 block of Capitol Drive near Dineen Park. He saw a black Pontiac arrive and park in mid-block in the 3900 block of North 64th Street. The driver, identified as Butala, remained in the car with his view directed to the area of the exchange. Following Picciolo’s arrest, Butala was held for investigation and, although released the same evening, was later arrested and charged for his role in the scheme.
Special Agent Richard Tewes, a United States Treasury agent, performed a field test on the contents of the paper bag. That test indicated that the substance might be cocaine. (The chemist who later analyzed the substance found that it was procaine, a synthetic drug with properties similar to cocaine. Procaine was not on the list of controlled substances.)
Picciolo was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and his bail was set at $10,000. Judge Christ Seraphim called Picciolo “a big pedlar.” He had filed for bankruptcy a month prior (due to losses from Picciolo’s Restaurant) and was working as a coin dealer.
On May 30, 1973, an informant told the FBI that prostitutes were using the house at 1302 69th Street in Kenosha.
Frank Balistrieri threw a large graduation party for John Balistrieri (who received his law degree from Valparaiso) at his Center Stage night club on June 3, 1973 with over 1,000 guests. The entire Maniaci family was invited, with one notable exception: August Maniaci. Also absent were Sally Papia and her employees and all Chicago LCN members. An informant speculated that if Papia was not at this party, it likely indicated a severe relationship problem between her and Balistrieri. Baby Joey Balistrieri was absent because he was in Las Vegas. Nick Gentile, Tony Machi, Angelo Alioto, Joe Dentice, Dominic Frinzi, Nick Fucarino, Sam Ferrara, Joe Enea, James Schiavo, Frank Stelloh, Vince Maniaci, Frank LaGalbo, Vito Aiello, August Palmisano and John Rizzo were in attendance. City clerk Allen Calhoun was there, as was Judge Vel Phillips. Restaurant owner Joseph Sardino was there, allegedly as a favor for loaning Balistrieri the money he needed to pay the IRS. The party started at 8pm and went until 2am, and was hot and overcrowded. John received some gifts and a large number of cash-filled envelopes. A fight broke out between Steve DiSalvo and Vincent Maniaci at 4:00am, probably fueled by alcohol. Agents from the Wisconsin Department of Investigation sat outside taking pictures while Dominic Frinzi and Joseph Balistrieri banged on the sides of their panel truck.
James Jennaro’s wife filed for divorce in Waukesha County on June 4, 1973 citing cruel and inhumane treatment. She further said that James made her embarrassed, nervous and upset. Jennaro was ordered to pay $217 per month alimony.
An agent with the organized crime department of the Wisconsin Bureau of Investigation advised the FBI on June 7, 1973 that he believed James Jennaro was Frank Balistrieri’s “stool pigeon” within the Sally Papia camp. Despite Jennaro not getting paid by Balistrieri for as long as eight months, the agent still believed that Jennaro’s loyalties were with Frank and not Sally. Allegedly, Sally said she would fire Jennaro if he attended John Balistrieri’s graduation party. The agent told the FBI that he had regularly been getting information from Papia, such as the intelligence that a murder was “fabricated” in order to get Peter Balistrieri to be “made” and that Vincent Maniaci was being shaken down for his meager bookmaking money. Papia said she had closed the sale on Frank LaGalbo’s restaurant, but once Balistrieri found out who the buyer was the price doubled.
Frank LaGalbo threw a benefit party at Fish’s Tavern on June 10, 1973 for someone who was sick. Guests included Frank Balistrieri, Vince Maniaci, Sam Cefalu and Steve DiSalvo.
On June 11, 1973, August Chiaverotti began serving his two year sentence for altering U.S. coins at Sandstone Prison, Sandstone, Minnesota.
On June 11, 1973, an informant told the FBI that August Maniaci might be kicked out of the Milwaukee Family because he committed a minor violation. Maniaci had spoken with Charlie Vince about the problems he had with Frank Balistrieri. It was a violation to discuss Family business with a member of another Family (Vince was a member in Rockford, not Milwaukee).
August Palmisano was surveilled meeting with Vincent Maniaci at Richie’s on June 14, 1973. An FBI agent was in the tavern on this day at 11:15am and sat at the bar. He overheard Palmisano say “7 in the 9th” and at one point, a man with a briefcase came in and gave Palmisano several slips of paper. A young black man was at the bar wearing a beret with a pencil in it. Palmisano took a cigar box from under the counter, pulled out some money, and gave it to the black man, who then left. At one point Palmisano’s girlfriend came in. At some point during surveillance Joseph Enea double parked and picked up a white female. The agent left at 1:45pm.
An FBI agent was in Richie’s on June 15, 1973 from 12:15pm to 2:30pm. He witnessed several customers come and go, and saw Palmisano pay a black man (presumably the same man as the day before) from a cigar box. The man was carrying a tape recorder.
On June 18, 1973, at 11:20pm, Joseph Balistrieri was hit by a car near North Avenue and Cramer Street. He was brought to the hospital and treated for a broken leg. Police would not disclose who was driving the car, but indicated it was an accident.
On June 20, 1973, August Palmisano was observed in Richie’s with another man. The man gave Palmisano various slips of paper, while Palmisano gave the man three bundles of currency that he pulled out of a bag. The man drove a brown Cadillac with a white vinyl top.
Agents wrote down license plates in the parking lot of Sardino’s (1617 North Farwell) on June 29, 1973. Among them was a Cadillac belonging to Carlo Cianciolo.
Joseph Caminiti retired from Teamsters Local 257 on June 30, 1973. He had been involved with the union for 38 years. In part, his retirement was due to Local 257 merging into the larger Local 200.
August Palmisano began operating Richie’s on Broadway on July 1, 1973. The tavern was owned by the Palmy Corporation, which had received a liquor license on June 28.
In July 1973, Nick Gentile helped an associate get his liquor license approved five days early. He called a Sergeant (redacted), who worked in the License Bureau on the 7th floor of the Safety Building. The officer took the license and made sure to give it immediate approval.
Around July 1973, Sally Papia tried to purchase Chico’s restaurant from Frank LaGalbo for $70,000-$100,000 after negotiating with an LCN member through his attorney. She was going to change the name to Sarina’s. This sale did not actually happen, though, as she was unable to come up with the money. Frank Balistrieri had advised LaGalbo to double the asking price once he found out that Papia was interested in buying it.
The FBI became suspicious of the General Jobbing Corporation, operated by brothers Jim and Jack Knippel, around July 1973. GJC “sold low quality merchandise” and rumors were going around that stolen items were being fenced through this business.
Vincent Maniaci and August Palmisano were surveilled entering an apartment building on July 9, 1973.
An informant told the FBI on July 9, 1973 that Nello Cicchini (deceased) had operated gambling and prostitution in Kenosha that catered to the black community.
Agent C. Hall went into Sardino’s (1617 North Farwell) on July 10, 1973 and just observed the surroundings. He overheard one patron saying “Joe” (presumably Joseph Sardino) was out playing golf. He heard another person say, “Frank gets in every now and then, but not that often as Joe doesn’t give him a piece of the action. There is no reason for him to come here.” Out of context, there is no way to know what this comment meant.
An informant told the FBI on July 17, 1973 that Kenosha prostitutes were going by the carload up to Milwaukee in order to work the Summerfest grounds.
Two agents interviewed Sam Ferrara on July 23, 1973 at The Peacock Lounge on the corner of VanBuren and Brady. He said he knew Frank Balistrieri and Louis Fazio, as well as many of their associates, as he had lived on the East Side for four decades. He denied that he knew anything about organized crime in Milwaukee or anything helpful about the murder of Fazio.
The FBI interviewed the apartment owner of 1535 North VanBuren on July 23, 1973 concerning August Palmisano, who was renting apartment #105. She said that Palmisano started renting the apartment in April and was the only tenant, but she was positive he was not actually living there. She said another man started renting an apartment in June — he had moved to Milwaukee from Florida and worked for Palmisano in some capacity. The manager’s husband (another manager) was contacted the next day and had nothing good to say about Palmisano. He said that Palmisano was not timely with the rent and that he would have to go to Richie’s in order to pick up the money.
August Palmisano was observed in the company of three other white men at Sally’s Steak House on August 2, 1973 from 1:24pm to 1:50pm.
The FBI spoke with a lieutenant of the Green Bay Police Department on August 3, 1973 concerning General Jobbing Corporation. The officer said that the business was rumored to have fenced merchandise, but numerous investigations were not able to prove these rumors. One man associated with the business was also known to formerly have committed criminal acts in Milwaukee. GJC also came under suspicion when their outlet at 517 West Mason (Green Bay) burned down shortly before it was to be demolished to make room for a new bridge. The company collected on its insurance.
On August 3, 1973, a green Chrysler registered to Central Wisconsin Transport of Wisconsin Rapids was seen parked outside of the Bamboo Hut in Chicago. The FBI found this interesting because the vehicle was often used by an employee of Local 200 and the Bamboo Hut was connected to Frank Calabrese. (Records aren’t clear enough to determine much more.)
A brown-over-white automobile was seen in front of Richie’s on August 10, 1973. A man was selling jewelry from the car’s trunk.
On August 11, 1973 a group of young men and women were at Richie’s and were seen snorting cocaine from a brown bottle. They drove a Pontiac with Illinois plates, which one woman said belonged to her mother.
Nick Fucarino was seen talking with August Palmisano at Richie’s on August 14, 1973 at 2:25pm.
Sally Papia was in St. Michael’s Hospital on August 14, 1973. She claimed she had too much to drink and fell down the stairs. Inside sources said the true story was that Frank Buccieri beat her up at the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva and then dropped her off in Milwaukee.
The FBI interviewed a man at the Standard service station at Plankinton and St. Paul on August 22, 1973. They told the man that he was rumored to be a heavy bettor. He said this was not so, and he only made small bets — such as for a couple dollars or for a beer. The man said he went to two bars, both about the same frequency — Mike’s Place and Richie’s on Broadway. He said he was not aware of any betting going on at either tavern, but would let the FBI know if he found any.
The FBI interviewed a man at London Vending on August 31, 1973. The man said Carl Dentice was running a “Mickey Mouse” operation, primarily targeted at other Italians. He had not seen Dentice in years, but was still owed $1200 by him. He used to deal with Frank Balistrieri, and Balistrieri got out about the time Dentice started, so he always thought Dentice was a “front” for Balistrieri.
Roughly September 1, 1973, Angelo Alioto’s daughter was married and a reception was held at Alioto’s with 450 people attending. Those present included Frank Balistrieri, Thomas Machi, Joe Dentice, Peter Balistrieri, Joseph Balistrieri (walking with a limp from a car accident), and James Schiavo. August Palmisano’s brother was there, but not August himself.
Four mink coats valued at $10,000 were stolen from Evans Fur Company in Chicago on September 4, 1973. It would take authorities over a year to connect this theft to Milwaukee’s underworld.
An informant told the FBI on September 5, 1973 that Joseph Gumina was let go from the Milwaukee Family because he refused to share with Frank Balistrieri, and further did not like the way Balistrieri was running things.
Special agents conducted surveillance on a redacted individual on September 11, 1973. They observed him entering the Iron Horse restaurant at 9:15am and having breakfast with several individuals. The individual struck up conversation with a black male “dressed similar to a pimp” who was carrying school books. Agents stopped surveillance around 10:30am and the individual was still drinking coffee with other men.
Sally Papia was contacted by FBI agents at her restaurant on September 11, 1973 and she told them she had been hospitalized for 22 days following a fall at the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. She had allegedly fallen down a flight of stairs, causing numerous bruises and strains. An informant later told the agents that Papis had been severely beaten by Frank Buccieri.
Special agents observed August Palmisano and a black female (name redacted) exiting the apartment at 1535 North VanBuren on September 15, 1973 around 11:31am. They were holding hands. Palmisano drove off in his 1964 Lincoln and the woman left in her Pontiac.
Surveillance was conducted in front of Richie’s on September 22, 1973. August Palmisano was seen entering at 10:50am. Various other redacted people come and go throughout the day.
An informant told the FBI on October 1, 1973 that Frank Balistrieri and Steve DeSalvo had recently met a Greek man from Palm Springs at Kosta’s White Manor Restaurant.
Surveillance was conducted in front of Richie’s on October 2, 1973. Tony Machi was seen out front talking with August Palmisano at 10:55am. Machi walked south on Broadway at 11:12am. James Jennaro arrived at 11:40am and left at 11:57am. Palmisano entered and exited the tavern repeatedly until 1:47pm.
August Palmisano and another man (redacted) went to Chicago on October 3, 1973. (Around this time a source told the FBI enough information to fill 32 pages on Palmisano’s connections in various taverns, but the file is so redacted that not much can be made of it. The source did note that Palmisano’s daughter was dating a “playboy” from New York.)
An informant told the FBI on October 4, 1973 that Frank Balistrieri had recently been in Chicago meeting with Marshall Caifano. He also said that stolen cigarettes and fur coats were floating around Milwaukee. Nick Gentile had been offered a fur coat but could not afford it.
On October 11, 1973, the following letter was written to August Palmisano and sent to Richie’s tavern from Florida: “This letter is to let you know what has been happening since I last saw you September 20th. My primary purpose was to make enough money to repay what you loaned me. This trip was to last six days. However, there were more stops on the way to New Orleans than I was originally told as well as a long layover to get a return load. I didn’t call you because I didn’t think you could understand the situation. While I was gone, I’ve been told you made threatening phone calls to the folks’ house and sent your people to [redacted] place looking for me. Since I was still several hundred short, I decided not to contact you until I had the entire amount (but something has come up you should be aware of). Tomorrow I’m [redacted]. Tonight I spoke with [redacted] and [redacted]. [redacted] said you sent “the boys” in his place looking for me with guns and you wanted to put me away. Also, they made threats on him. I don’t believe him or think he’s funny. I really don’t mind him telling me this, but he met [redacted] folks and told them the same thing. Also, he said he has been giving me money to pay off a $5000 gambling debt to you and if I didn’t pay it you would be after [redacted] and the kids, too. He suggested they take [redacted] and the kids out of town. To make this short, [redacted] parents were upset. [redacted] was upset and went to her attorney, explained what [redacted] told her and she feared the kids’ lives and got her okay to ship the kids out of town. I calmed [redacted] down and told her she should have known better to believe [redacted] or go to her attorney. Nothing more will be said by her. As far as [redacted] is concerned, I want to straighten him out. He made me out to be running from you and only with his help I made it. Augie, I’m not running from anybody. I only want to make enough to get my personal debt paid off. [redacted] wanted to look like a big shot to [redacted] and her parents. I’m asking you to leave him alone until after I talk to him. I hope you see my view of this situation. When you loaned me the money you said to pay it back when I had it. However, something came up and you gave me a deadline. When I return this time I’ll be able to take care of the Ins. and most of my personal debt. The money I expected to come in while I was home, didn’t, and the last month I was with you, I worked for nothing. So I had to get away in order to make it. I should be in Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. I will be in touch with you at that time.”
On October 12, 1973, an informant told the FBI that cabbies for Peppy’s Cabs in Kenosha were pimping for the local prostitutes.
Another letter addressed to Palmisano was dated October 16, 1973: “Enclosed are the keys to the tavern and J. Box. Also, the insurance premium of $261.20 has been forwarded to the Home Office along with [redacted] $75. [redacted] health premium was sent to American Family as soon as he gave it to me, but I check my bank records to make sure they received it. I’m enclosing a money order in the amount of $200 as a first installment on repayment of my loan. I’ll send another $300 next week. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.”
A blue Dentice Produce panel truck was parked outside Richie’s on October 17, 1973. Richie’s was not a produce customer, and it was suspected that this had something to do with gambling. Dentice Produce was run by Salvatore Jack Dentice.
Surveillance was conducted at the home of Vito Seidita (3428 North 48th Street) on October 18, 1973 from 4:00pm until 4:30pm. The agent saw no one and no vehicle, leaving him wondering whether or not Seidita was still able to drive.
Surveillance was conducted at Richie’s on October 19, 1973. August Palmisano was seen entering the tavern at 11:45am wearing a blue jacket with “The Shack, 2011 South KK” written on it.
A man from Fort Lauderdale (possibly Jimmy Fazio) came up to Milwaukee on October 21, 1973 and met with Frank Balistrieri while staying at the Pfister Hotel. They met again on the 24th.
The Greendale Police Department received an anonymous call on October 27, 1973 that said, “I just called to let you know that (redacted) is going to be hit just like (redacted).” They informed the Milwaukee police, who put him under protection along with the Fox Point police.
Downtown striptease was on the decline by November 1973, when the Milwaukee Sentinel made its final Ad Lib visit. “It’s a slick, fast, nonstop show without verbal graffiti. Cigar smoking bartenders change 45RPM records and shout for applause. Girls operate their own light board and manage their own feather boas. A chenille tiger named Tolly has all the fun. The usual assortment of young men and balding grandfather types watch girls take it off. Later, couples, conventioneers and young hippie types pay $1 per person to see Lilli, Miss Stuttgart Germany 1969 and a Marquette University PhD holder, work her bubble blowing machine.”
Special Agents stopped by Universal Builders in Milwaukee to talk with Steve DeSalvo on November 5, 1973. DeSalvo asked them if they had a warrant or subpoena and they said no. DeSalvo told the men he did not wish to discuss anything and told them not to contact him again without a warrant or subpoena.
On November 7, 1973 at 2:10am, two Milwaukee police officers passed Richie’s and saw various cars parked out front. They drove by again at 2:20am and he cars were still there. As taverns had a 2:00am closing time, they went up and looked in a window. August Palmisano was seen inside mixing drinks for a few people (five men and three women). The officers knocked on the window and Palmisano let them in. He said these were not patrons, but employees. The officers did not believe him, so a sergeant was called. While waiting for the sergeant, Palmisano called someone and tried to hand the phone to an officer, but the officer refused to speak to the person on the phone (believed to be another police officer). When the sergeant arrived, he offered to talk to the person on the phone, but then Palmisano hung up. He was ordered to appear before the city attorney the next day, and he did. Charges of allowing patrons to liter after closing time were dismissed.
On November 8, 1973, an informant told the FBI that there was a major drug problem at UW-Oshkosh. Someone in Oshkosh was having large quantities of cocaine shipped up from Kenosha for sale at the school.
The FBI contacted a representative of the General Jobbing Corporation at his office on November 9, 1973. He apologized for not being available sooner, as he had been on a buying trip in New York and Chicago. The man denied knowing Harry DeAngelo or relatives of (redacted), who was suspected of criminal activity. He did say he had heard the redacted man’s father had been deported from Milwaukee.
Joseph Anthony Angeli was convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior on November 9, 1973. He was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to undergo psychological testing by Judge Harry Gundersen.
Nick Fucarino visited Bee’s Tavern in Madison on November 11, 1973.
By November 13, 1973, the FBI had figured out that calls were being made between Frank LaGalbo and Alfred J. Pilotto, a union president and the new Chicago Heights LCN boss that replaced Frank LaPorte.
An FBI agent went to the Centre Stage on November 16, 1973 and spoke with the receptionist. She said that the place opened at 4:30pm but Peter Balistrieri did not generally show up until much later. He mostly stopped in just to check the day’s receipts.
A Special Agent posing as a patron sat in Richie’s on Broadway on November 27, 1973 at 12:20pm. He saw a 25-year old man in a windbreaker speaking with August Palmisano about gambling debts that needed to be collected by this man for Palmisano. Specifically mentioned were The Mad Hatter and Mike’s.
August Maniaci and Joseph Gumina were planning to go to Fond du Lac on November 27, 1973 to see about getting reinstated in the Milwaukee Family. Whether or not the trip occurred and who they met with is unclear.
Two special agents interviewed Benny DiSalvo at his home (2902 North Humboldt) on November 29, 1973. He said he was not involved in criminal activity and did not know anyone who was. He said he knew Louis Fazio and his murder “was a mystery to him”.
Heights Rental and Concrete Products of Chicago Heights called someone in Racine on November 29, 1973.
The FBI stopped by the residence of Harry DeAngelo (2505 Highway O in Saukville) on December 4, 1973 and briefly spoke with his wife, who told them that Harry was in Milwaukee.
Special Agents conducted surveillance inside Kuglitsch’s Bowling Center (4401 West Greenfield Avenue) on December 12, 1973 from 6:41pm to 9:00pm. They observed a man named “Rollie” wearing a Stadium Club jacket, but little else of interest.
Catherine Alioto (widow of John Alioto) died of heart failure on Wednesday, December 19, 1973 at St. Michael’s Hospital. She was survived by a son, Angelo Alioto; three daughters: Frances (Joseph) Dentice, Nina (Frank) Balistrieri and Mary (Joseph) Caminiti. James Schiavo of Madison attended the funeral.
One of John Alioto’s granddaughters was married on December 23, 1973. An informant reported the guests were primarily young people and not “connected” Italians.
Throughout January and February 1974, Steve DeSalvo was witnessed meeting with a group of known gamblers on Saturday mornings for coffee at the Pfister Hotel Coffee Shop. The men would meet from 9:00am until 10:15 or 10:30am and discuss basketball.
Heights Rental and Concrete Products of Chicago Heights called someone in Milwaukee on January 12, 1974.
Utilizing sixty agents, the FBI conducted a raid at various places, including Richie’s tavern (346 North Broadway), on Super Bowl Sunday, January 13, 1974 and arrested August Palmisano and bartender Raymond Dulski. Also present was patron Joseph R. Trepanier, 63. Halmo was caught on charges of conspiring to gamble and running a gambling business, while Palmisano was also busted for running a gambling business and storing 93 sticks of 1.25×8 inch dynamite (along with a coil of safety time fuse) in the basement of the tavern. Also in the basement was a Winchester Model 94 rifle. Behind the bar was found a Harrington and Richardson model 733 nickel-plated .32 revolver and a Smith and Wesson .32 2-inch barrel revolver. $364.75 was found in Palmisano’s pockets. The dynamite was stored at bunker #9014 at Fort McCoy (60,000 acres between Sparta and Tomah).
Other raids were simultaneously made at the following residences: the home of Sidney Albert Brodson, 66, 2420 East Stratford Court; Robert George Pick, 60, of Marathon, Florida; John Joseph Morn, 40, of Elm Grove; James G. Kops, 36, 943 East Circle Drive; George Kermendy, 52, 3571 South 61st Street; Donald J. Danowski, 31, 1930 West Rogers Street; Richard I. Thoma, 36, 5419 North 83rd Street; and Russell J. Kent, 31, 614 South 63rd Street. No charges or arrests were made in these home raids, but information gathered was presented to a grand jury.
At Brodson’s home, a search began at 2:15pm and the FBI found account sheets showing that Brodson was owed $250,000 by members of his “nationwide beard system”. The notations were cryptic, but seemed to indicate Steve Halmo, a man from Pittsburgh (who owed $30,000) and someone identified as “401” (someone in Boston who owed $189,000), among others. His wallet was searched, and many names and phone numbers were found, including a listing for a man from Newark and Sauna Bath Equipment of Lafayette. Promissory notes in the amount of $60,000 were seized — $35,000 was owed to Brodson by the NBC Corporation. An envelope addressed to “Attorney Sidney Brodson” was found with a postmark of Las Vegas from almost exactly one year prior — inside was a note reading, “Will send you a dime every month on the old.” (The word “dime” is gambling parlance for $1000.) $6000 in cash was taken, as was a key stamped M-3. A statement of earnings for the Interstate Advertising Agency was taken. During the raid, Brodson called attorney James Shellow; all four attorneys from the Shellow and Shellow law firm arrived. $41 was found in Brodson’s wallet, as well as various business cards. Marion Brodson was not searched, although her purse was. The search ended at 5:30pm.
At 2:55pm, agents went to Brodson’s law office (6150 West Fond du Lac Avenue), but found their search warrant to be defective and made no search of the premises.
The FBI went to Steve Halmo’s residence around 2:15pm. As they shouted “FBI”, he was seen through a sliding glass window to get off his couch and immediately throw various papers into his fireplace. Agents tried to pry open the door with a screwdriver, which caused Halmo to leave the firepalce and open the door. Agents quickly collected the ash residue in a bag. Two firearms were found, which Halmo admitted owning, despite being a convicted felon. One was a loaded .38 five-shot manufactured by the Forehand Arms Company (serial number 16400) — a company that went out of business in 1902. The other was a 7.65 caliber Beretta automatic, serial number 7C6324. They also took $7000 in cash, a black address book, green address book, two pink telephones, a black telephone, a yellow wall telephone and a beige telephone. An empty syringe was found in a waste basket. A large number of miscellaneous papers were found, many gambling related. A calculator was found along with a Copymate dry copier. A business card was found for a special agent of the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation. A box of photographs was taken, along with a bill of sale for an aircraft. Three reels of film were found marked “Deep Throat 3, 4 and 7” in a box marked “Pussycat”. A title to a Volkswagen was found, as well as a marriage announcement from five years prior. He then faked a heart attack, agents called an ambulance and he was hauled away on a stretcher with an oxygen mask.
At Robert Pick’s home in Marathon, Florida, the FBI (including Special Agent Sinecio Gutierrez) found eight sheets of paper in his guest bedroom tracking bets with names including “Bobby Pick” and “Halmo” written on them, 12 sheets of printed material in a living room desk drawer with football odds information from September through December, and eight more sheets of bets in the same desk. Taken were a telephone book and a “black telephone instrument”. Copies of Fans Weekly Sports Service and Weekly Sports Journal were found, as well as a couple of personal letters. Nothing was found on Pick’s person. During the search, two family friends (redacted) arrived at 3:25pm. A call came in at 3:35pm asking for “Bobby”. The caller would not identify himself or leave a message. The search ended at 5:15pm. (In my opinion, the evidence suggested that Pick was a much more minor player than Halmo, Brodson and Palmisano.) When told what the search was about, Pick said, “If that means telling (redacted) that Miami is 6 1/2 here, then I am guilty as hell.”
The ATF in Washington, DC received a sample of Richie’s dynamite on January 17. They contacted the Milwaukee Inspector of Buildings, who informed them that no one had been permitted to have or use dynamite since the prior August, when the John Ernst Cafe at 600 East Ogden was demolishing a concrete structure. Any dynamite in the possession of Richie’s would be a violation of city law.
Captain Floyd Engebretson was working with the FBI on January 18, 1974 and they had decided to share information with two lieutenants who were working an internal affairs investigation. Due to surveillance, the police and FBI knew that certain officers associated with Richie’s Tavern and on one occasion were photographed removing corn from the tavern. (Two officers would later be transferred to other divisions.)
On January 22, 1974, an informant told Special Agent Eugene Murphy that Tony Petrolle was in West Palm Peach, Florida and had been driven there by Tony Alioto. The other Tony Machi had just gotten out of the Wisconsin General Hospital where a tumor was removed from his colon. Fred Aveni was identified as the bartender from the Iron Horse.
The ATF attempted to trace the dynamite from Richie’s on January 23, but could only determine it was 50% ditching dynamite and did not know the manufacturer or strength. The code on them (“02 CH 502”) meant the explosives were made before 1971 and were therefore untraceable. The forty-seven feet of Ensign-Bickford Clover Brand fuse, on the other hand, was traced to Geenen Explosives Inc of Freedom, Wisconsin and was under a year old.
Bobby Pick voluntarily came in to the Milwaukee FBI office on January 24, 1974. He said he started gambling when he was 18 years old, working as a wheel roller for his father (Sam Pick) at the Club Madrid in Milwaukee on Bluemound Road, just over the county line. The Club Madrid had been a controversial gambling spot from the 1930s through the 1950s, and was a hangout for actor Spencer Tracy, but was not a Mafia-run business. Bobby Pick said he left his father’s employ but then went on to sell football gambling cards — sometimes up to 30,000 a week — but lost money in this venture. Pick then went into the Army, and when he got out worked on gambling boats off the coast of Florida. By the 1930s, he was employed as a dealer in Las Vegas (before the city had barely been built). In the early 1950s, he moved back to Milwaukee and opened a tavern on the corner of Reservoir Avenue and 12th Street. He played poker and had a horse book that he laid off with Frank Sansone. In the late 1950s, he took action from Sidney Brodson. In the early 1960s, Pick heard that gamblers in Milwaukee were being harassed by the Mafia. One night at Gallagher’s, he was motioned into the bathroom by Steve DeSalvo. DeSalvo asked him if he had been pressured, and Pick said no and he would not pay if he was asked to. As Pick left the bathroom, a man with a pistol in his belt blocked the door, but DeSalvo waved him off. Around this time, gamblers were having trouble paying Pick — one man who owed $6000 paid Pick instead with tropical fish. One of Pick’s bartenders was told by Vince and August Maniaci that Pick was to pay $100 a week, but Pick was never told to pay directly and never did. In the mid-1960s, Pick was sent to Sandstone Prison for gambling. He had been getting his line from Frank Sansone. He left his meager $5000 business with two men, and when he was out of prison six months later, they had lost it all. He started with a new partner, and within a few years, he lost $175,000 to the partner who embezzled it. Some of the money ended up with John Rizzo and a Racine attorney. At this point, he moved to Marathon, Florida. Pick continued to provide the line to (redacted), who gave it to Halmo, who gave it to Brodson. He said he only deals with one bookmaker in Florida, a man in Islamorada. Pick said he never regularly paid off the police, but on occasion he “threw them a bone”. He said Halmo once loaned a banker he met through Louis Fazio $50,000 but never got paid back; he did not know if Halmo was paying a share to the Mafia.
Heights Rental and Concrete Products of Chicago Heights called someone in Milwaukee on January 30, 1974.
The FBI interviewed fruit salesman Julius J. Goldman (2612 North Maryland), 70, on February 8, 1974. Goldman said he spent a good deal of time around St. Paul and Broadway, and therefore goes into Richie’s often to relax or play cards with other patrons. He said he had placed bets on horses with August Palmisano on numerous occasions, but the bets were never more than $50. He had also seen dice games there on occasion. (Goldman may have been a retired dentist, as he had graduated from the Marquette School of Dentistry.)
The FBI attempted to interview Sam Cefalu at his home on February 12, 1974 but he refused to talk.
An inspector with the Racine Police Department told the FBI on February 14, 1974 that John Rizzo was believed to frequent the Cham-Tap Tavern (2511 Durand Avenue, Mount Pleasant). The tavern was already under investigation by the FBI for being a hangout for known horse gamblers. Despite being in an undesirable area of town, the men hanging out there drove new Lincolns, Cadillacs and Buicks.
Angelo DeGeorgio was released from Columbia Hospital on February 20, 1974, after suffering a heart attack. He would stop back for treatment twice in the next few months.
On February 23 or 24, 1974, Vincent Maniaci, August Pamisano and another man ate dinner at Sally’s Steak House. Maniaci was at this point involved with Palmisano’s bookmaking operation.
Joseph Purpora, 69, 1205 South Ninth Street, was interviewed by the FBI on February 27, 1974. He said he goes to Richie’s about twice a week to get some drinks and play cards. However, he denied knowing who August Palmisano was and even denied knowing that the tavern had been raided.
In March 1974, Joseph Basile was at a tanners convention where he attempted to recruit women to work as prostitutes. On March 9, he rented a room at a motel to use as a “command post” for girls to come and drop off the money they earned. There were a total of four prostitutes working for Basile, and they would go between Angelo Fazio’s restaurant at 1601 North Jackson and the motel. Basile, Jack Schelecter and Herbert Holland were to take one-third of the gross, Fazio’s bartender Jimmy Taugher was to take 10% and Fazio opted to take nothing, saying he would make up the difference due to increased business. The women charged $50 and made $1400 over three days at the convention.
On March 7, 1974, an informant told the FBI that Joseph Balistrieri had lunch every day with his law partner at the Wisconsin Hotel.
The owner of The Shack (2011 Kinnickinnic Avenue) was interviewed by the FBI on March 14, 1974. She said that she had owned the property since 1962, and since June 1973 she had been renting the property and fixtures to August Palmisano for $245 per month, but knew nothing of his gambling and only knew him as a renter.
On March 14, 1974, the Department of Justice sent a letter to the FBI asking if either Angelo DiGiorgio or Katherine Picciurro would be good candidates to grant immunity to. They were hesitant on DiGiorgio, as he was investigated as recently as three months earlier. His known associates included Frank Balistrieri, John Rizzo, Frank Daddabbo and Sam Dentice. The FBI had no record of Picciurro. Exactly what thr DOJ wanted these two to testify about is unknown.
On March 19, 1974, Joseph Balistrieri filed a claim of $225,000 against the estate of Andrew Lococo, saying he had helped secure loans from the Teamsters for Lococo between November 1968 and February 1971. Balistrieri’s claim was rejected by Lococo’s wife on July 12, 1974. Balistrieri, in turn, sued the estate on October 15, 1974.
On March 20, 1974, Frank Balistrieri met with Kansas City mobsters Nicholas Civella and Carl DeLuna in Las Vegas. During the meeting, the mobsters agreed that Balistrieri would meet with the mafia front man in Las Vegas, Allen Glick, to secure an option to purchase part of his Argent Corporation. Glick would agree to sell half of the corporation’s ownership to Balistrieri’s sons, John Balistrieri and Joseph P. Balistrieri, for $25,000 which, as the mobster later claimed, “he had an obligation arising from the assistance to Glick in obtaining a [Teamsters] pension fund commitment in the amount of $62.75 million.”
At 3:00pm on March 20, the FBI observed a white man knocking on the door of 1802 North 22nd Street. No one answered, and he drove away. The agents pulled him over a few blocks away and asked if the house was a brothel as had been rumored. He said yes, he believed it was. He had met a 25-year old black woman at the Mine Shaft (300 West Juneau) and followed her home. When he found out she was a prostitute, he got concerned his wife would find out.
Two special agents interviewed Matt Jeray, 65, 716 South 1st Street, at Jack’s Tap (same address) on March 21, 1974, regarding knowledge he had of gamblers. Jeray had formerly been a liquor salesman and was familiar with the area taverns. Jeray admitted being close friends with a known bookmaker (redacted), and also said he had previously owned a tavern at 1st and Maple that he sold to Sam Librizzi. He had been involved in the tavern business since around World War II when he was a bartender for the Taxi Inn. He said he knew many police officers and named one (redacted) who drank on duty, but was not aware of any payoffs. The FBI did not press Jeray further because he appeared to be senile. (Jeray was born in Port Washington, raised in Sheboygan, and his father — also named Matt Jeray — was a Yugoslavian immigrant. Jeray came to Milwaukee with his wife Mary and stepson in the 1930s, and lived at 738 West Pierce Street. He passed away three months after this interview.)
Joseph Balistrieri was observed having lunch with other people at the Wisconsin Hotel (720 North 3rd) on March 27, 1974.
Santo Marino’s tavern went downhill over the years, possibly because of his ongoing feud with Frank Balistrieri. An informant told the FBI in March 1974 that Marino’s bar was “crummy” and served “winos, poor blacks and Indians”. He continued to associate with “old mustache Petes”. The FBI did a random surveillance of the tavern on April 9 from 11:00 to 11:33am and observed the clientele: some men from a moving truck company and the postman.
An informant advised the FBI in April 1974 that Frank and Angeline LaGalbo frequently visit a relative of Angeline’s at Southern Colony in Union Grove. Southern Colony was an institution for mentally disabled people.
Frank Angelo Picciolo pleaded guilty on April 1, 1974 before Judge Max Raskin for receiving stolen property and being party to the robbery of Frenchy’s. A pretrial investigation report was scheduled for May 1. (Picciolo was already serving 2 1/2 years in Waupun for drug possession.)
Special Agent Joseph R. Fitzpatrick spoke to an informant on April 4, 1974. The informant said that “he does not believe that a Mafia exists in Milwaukee.” Furthermore, he “believes that the Mafia is a myth perpetrated by some law enforcement agencies for their own benefit.”
Agents interviewed a man in California (name redacted) on April 4, 1974 and asked him how Sidney Brodson’s phone number ended up on his phone bill. The man said he did not know Brodson or August Palmisano and had never been outside the state of California. He further claimed to never have made any bets over the phone or even locally. The man volunteered that he had an uncle in St. Cloud, Minnesota, but said he had never called that uncle.
James Jennaro testified before a federal grand jury investigating gambling on April 8, 1974.
On April 9, 1974, the FBI knocked on the door of 1802 North 22nd Street and spoke with a woman there who fit the description of an alleged prostitute who resided there. (The conversation is redacted.) Shortly thereafter, the agents ran the woman’s info and found she had no record. Seeing no sign of a federal violation, the potential case was dropped.
Sam Ferrara died on April 12, 1974 at age 78. He had recently started drinking heavily and was losing a great deal of weight, but had been generally unhealthy since his wife passed away two years prior. The funeral was held on April 15 and 16. Frank Balistrieri attended the wake and then had dinner with Steve DiSalvo, Peter Balistrieri and an unidentified gambler at the Towne Room restaurant. Joe Caminiti, Dominic Gullo, Vito Seidita, Harry DeAngelo and Albert Albana also attended the funeral. August Maniaci attended and “was accepted by almost all of the LCN members… which would appear to indicate that Maniaci will be back in good graces of the Milwaukee LCN in the near future.”
On Tuesday, April 16, 1974, Sally Papia’s taxes were the topic before a grand jury. Testifying were Charles LaVora (Papia’s father) and Chicago hoodlum James Bianco. Previously testifying was James Jennaro, the manager at Sally’s Steak House.
Agents tried to interview Joseph Enea at his residence (1522 East Kane Place) on April 18, 1974, but he was not home.
Frank Buccieri’s daughter was married on April 21, 1974 at the First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. A reception was held at the Riverside restaurant in North Riverside. Sally Papia and Frank Trovato attended the wedding, as did James LaPietra, Donald Angelini, Dominic Cortina, Joseph Aiuppa, Illinois state senator Sam Romano and others.
Agents again tried to interview Joseph Enea at his residence (1522 East Kane Place) on April 22, 1974, but he was not home. His wife was home, and she said she would tell him that the FBI wanted to see him.
Around April 23, 1974, Vito Seidita retired from the Milwaukee City Dump and began drawing his pension.
FBI agents interviewed Joseph Gumina at his home (3373 South 16th Street) on April 26, 1974 while he tended to his garden. Gumina was noted to be open and friendly. The agents said they wanted to talk to him about “the Family” and he replied that the only family he was concerned with was his wife and children. He admitted knowing Frank Balistrieri, but said that he had no business with him and preferred to keep to himself. Gumina said he had first come to America when he was 14 years old along with his father, but after a few years his father returned to Sicily while Joseph remained in Milwaukee. He said he visited his homeland once for about three weeks but felt it had become unsafe since his childhood and the living conditions had become even more poor. One agent suggested that Gumina was “shunned” at Sam Ferrara’s funeral by the Mafia. Gumina said he did not think he was shunned, but even if he was it would not bother him. He asked why the FBI was interviewing him recently, as they had never done so in the past. He said he did not mind, however, as he knew they had a job to do and should be commended for doing their job.
On April 29, 1974, the Riverside restaurant (where Frank Buccieri had a half-interest), 8406 West 26th Street in North Riverside, Illinois was destroyed by arson and nine containers of gasoline were found in the basement. The building was insured for $568,000. An informant suspected one-armed Max Adonnis of being the perpetrator.
A brinks truck outside the K-Mart in Wauwatosa was robbed on April 29, 1974, with $40,000 taken. Initially, the FBI received word that the “big man” in the robbery lived on 92nd Street. This had them suspecting Frank Stelloh, who lived on 92nd Street. The real robbers were later caught — Steven C. Sadowski, 23, and Joseph G. West, 22. Neither lived on 92nd (Sadowski lived on 103rd) and there seems to be no reason to connect them to Stelloh.
An informant told the FBI on May 3, 1974 that prostitution was happening at the Clayton House Motel in Kenosha (or maybe Racine?).
Surveillance was conducted at Vito Seidita’s home on May 7, 1974 from 10:30am until 11:14am. Nothing unusual was reported, but the agent did note that a 2-door black 1973 Buick was parked in the driveway.
Agent C. Hall interviewed (redacted) on May 9, 1974 regarding Leroy Bell. The person said he had known Bell since 1947, when Bell got out of the Army. In the 1950s, Bell did time at the federal prison in Terre Haute. Later he purchased the Brothers Lounge on Holton from Joseph Sardino, but now leases the property out to Leroy Foster. He opened another business called the Tender Trap on Center Street. In business, Bell “doesn’t do well as he gambles too much and can’t keep his hands out of the till.” The man admitted to loaning Bell large sums of money. When asked about Frank Balistrieri, he said he knew Frank and thought he was “a nice man” who had been discriminated against by law enforcement. He said he did not know Frank that well, however, and only saw him at funerals or “passing him on the street”. The man said he knew August Palmisano, but only as a fruit peddler who had the nickname “Turkey Neck”.
On May 10, 1974 at 2:30pm, Colorado mob boss Eugene “Checkers” Smaldone was stopped on Interstate 25 by Colorado Springs police, along with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. He had been indicted by a grand jury with eight others on gambling charges. At the time he was pulled over, his driver was Milwaukee hoodlum Joseph Basile, and (Rockford?) hoodlum Frank Salardino. Basile and Salardino were frisked but not arrested.
The FBI observed Harry DeAngelo’s car (a 1973 white over gold Cadillac with license J50-584) at the Lake Pavillion, 2800 North Lake Drive, on May 21, 1974.
An informant told the FBI on May 24, 1974 that Sam Dentice and Sam Librizzi had recently gone to Las Vegas as part of a travel junket set up through a Chicago travel service. Dentice was apparently “the life of the party” and at one point was even streaking down the airplane aisle.
On May 29, 1974, Robert Puccio (of P&P Distributing) purchased Chico’s from Frank LaGalbo for $110,000. The loan was financed by the West Allis State Bank. The property would soon be changed from Chico’s to Trovato’s, managed by Frank Trovato.
On the morning of Thursday, May 30, 1974, Angelo Fazio was granted immunity to answer questions concerning his friend Alderman Mark W. Ryan and whether or not Ryan had ever accepted money to grant a liquor license transfer. Previously testifying was Patrick Tronca, was was said to be a middleman for transporting money. Ryan was later charged with misconduct in office and given a fine.
On May 31, 1974, Joseph Balistrieri was in the La Cantina (at the corner of Warren and Brady) with a girlfriend. He was acting like a big spender, at one point buying the bar a round and telling the bartender to keep the change.
On June 1, 1974, Frank Balistrieri was in conversation with Tony Petrolle. Petrolle said he needed a vacation and Balistrieri said if he waited a month he could join him in San Diego.
Jimmy Jennaro was in Las Vegas from June 2, 1974 through June 5.
On June 5, 1974, an informant told the FBI that Tony Petrolle and Tommy Machi had former Green Bay Packer Max McGee “over a barrel” because of his gambling debts. He allegedly owed them $10,000. The informant also said that Frank Balistrieri was remodeling the Brass Rail and was going to turn it into a place with sandwiches and dancing, not unlike Gatsby’s or Someplace Else. The FBI was further told that Frank Stelloh offered Tony Fazio the opportunity to have his brother’s killer killed in exchange for $10,000. Fazio turned it down because he thought that Stelloh would just kill anyone and take the money. Frank Trovato was also in the process of moving his restaurant into Chico’s. An informant also told the FBI that Robert Puccio was the president of P&P Vending and had been most of his life. He was an honest individual, but would do favors for anyone who asked.
On June 6, 1974, an informant told the FBI that August Palmisano’s Little League team had tied another team, and Palmisano did not want to have playoffs, so the teams were declared co-champions. The other team’s sponsor brought a trophy in to Richie’s and gave it to Palmisano. On top of it was a horse’s ass. Palmisano was furious and threatened to blow up the other man’s car. Whether he would have done it or not, there was dynamite in the basement at Richie’s for several months.
The informant also said Palmisano had been in the President’s Club the previous week and saw a black man put two hundred dollars on the bar. A prostitute came over by the man and tried to “hustle” him. Palmisano, as a joke, then set $15,000 on the bar and the woman left the black man and started to “hustle” Palmisano.
This informant further said that a former employee of the Shack Lounge had opened a new tavern, the Hide Out Lounge at 2690 South Sixth Street. Allegedly, the man had to pay a bribe to his alderman to get the liquor license. (When interviewed on August 28, the owner denied any such payments. The district attorney told the FBI that such bribery concerning the alderman in question was rumored, but could not be proven.) The Shack was owned by Palmy Corp, as were Richie’s on Broadway and Pat’s Clubhouse on Keefe.
On June 7, 1974, Frank Balistrieri was in conversation with another person in front of the Brass Rail while A&D Cartage and Movers unloaded bar supplies. At 3:02pm, the person was given money by Balistrieri, but it was soon given back. Balistrieri walked to the Midland National Bank (201 West Wisconsin) and conducted a transaction. At 3:10pm, he left the bank and walked to the Boston Store (331 Wet Wisconsin). At that point, the agent stopped following him. At 3:13pm, Steve DeSalvo arrived at the Brass Rail where he stayed and chatted with the person there until 3:31pm. (The unknown man was probably Rudolph Porchetta.)
The FBI drove by the Brass Rail on June 10, 1974 around 2:00pm. Steve DeSalvo and Frank Balistrieri were observed talking while workers from the Schmidt Glass Company were remodeling the front windows.
On June 11, 1974, the Milwaukee Police Department contacted (redacted) at the Great Lakes Naval Air Station in Great Lakes, Illinois. The man said he was a good friend of a (redacted) Milwaukee man and was associated with someone connected to Little Caesar’s in Milwaukee. (This information comes from a file on Palmisano and Vince Maniaci threatening people, but it so redacted that all the interesting parts are unusable.)
Harry DeAngelo was observed four times in June and July 1974 playing cards at the Lake Pavillion. He would spend his days there between 10:30am and 4:00pm.
The FBI set up surveillance on a brown Chrysler that was parked at Appleton Avenue and Perkins Street on June 13, 1974 at 3:28pm. At 5:24pm, Steve DeSalvo and an unknown man approached the Chrysler, and DeSalvo went in the passenger side and retrieved a brown package that was approximately 14 inches by five inches, and he gave it to the man. DeSalvo left in the Chrysler, and the other man brought the package to a red Plymouth. The man drove to 4687 North 75th Street and entered the residence.
Joseph Gumina was surveilled at his residence (3373 South 16th Street) on June 14, 1974 by a special agent. Between 7:30am and 3:00pm, he only left the house once — to retrieve something from his 1973 Buick parked in the garage.
The FBI passed the Brass Rail on June 14, 1974 at 1:04pm and saw workers from Everite Signs unloading equipment from a truck.
On June 18, 1974, a special agent called Universal Builders and asked for Steve DeSalvo. The secretary said he was no longer employed there.
A special agent, acting undercover, went into the Ad Lib on June 20, 1974 at 6:30pm. The 50-year old man sitting at the bar said the club was closed until 8:30pm. The agent then went to Nicolo’s on Brady at 7:00pm, and it was very crowded. There was a 25-year old male bartender and a 55-year old female manager. He went to Little Caesar’s at 8:00pm and saw an older Italian man sitting at the bar talking to Vincent Maniaci for 15 minutes. A 30-year old female bartender was working. He returned to the Ad Lib at 9:30pm where he saw a 48-year old bald bartender and three strippers. He overheard a stripper ask the bartender why he was upset, but could not hear the answer. There were approximately twenty customers there. At 10:30pm, the agent went to the New Yorker night club and saw two black strippers there, as well as three Italian men with a notebook (including a 50-year old bartender), and overheard the men say that “this is good gambling”.
After receiving the loan on June 24, 1974, Glick paid a kickback of $600,000 to Teamsters president Frank Fitzsimmons and Cleveland Teamsters leader William Presser.
Thomas and Tony Machi’s cars were observed outside of the Rafters Motel, 7228 South 27th Street in Oak Creek, on June 26, 1974. Owner Frank Dimiceli was allegedly running prostitutes through the motel.
On June 28, 1974 at 10:58am, a vehicle from Well Done Rug and Carpet Cleaners was seen in front of the Brass Rail.
The Vince Lombardi Memorial Golf Classic was held on June 28-29, 1974. Among those attending was actor Forrest Tucker (who had a soft spot in his heart for Milwaukee — having been married in Chicago and spent his Honeymoon at the Pabst Theater and Cudahy Tower). While in town for the tournament, Frank Balistrieri treated Tucker to dinner at the Towne Room and Trovato’s. With them were Sally Papia and Frank Buccieri.
In July 1974, Alphonse Caruso of Grande Cheese was in contact with top mobsters in Detroit.
Steve DiSalvo and Frank Stelloh were observed on July 3, 1974 eating breakfast at the Pancake House (Highway 100 just south of Grange Avenue in Hales Corners) at 10:00am. DiSalvo’s car had a trailer on the back with a motorcycle. A surveillance of DiSalvo showed him meeting a half hour later with a middle-aged man wearing glasses at Buffalo and Broadway. He then parked his car in the loading dock of Anderson, VanEngel and Zingale (115 South 2nd Street). He next went to the Marine Bank (111 East Wisconsin Avenue).
The Brass Rail reopened on July 5, 1974.
On July 9, 1974, DeSalvo and Stelloh were observed at DeSalvo’s home at 9:35am.
On Wednesday, July 10, 1974, the Federal Grand Jury handed down gambling charges against 12 men: Steven John Halmo, 52, 716 South 7th Street; Robert George Pick, 60, of Marathon, Florida; Peter R. Marino, 42, 1924 West Clayton Crest; Sidney Albert Brodson, 65, 2420 East Stratford Court; August Palmisano, 45, 5358 North Kent Avenue; Eli Gukich, 48, of Waukesha; Raymond J. Dulski, 35, 4439 South 38th Street; Donald J. Danowski, 31, of Cudahy; Martin Azzolina, 32, 2419 North Cramer Street; Russell J. Kent, 31, 614 South 63rd Street; George F. Kermendy, 52, 3571 South 61st Street; and John J. Morn, 42, of Elm Grove. There were also 7 unindicted co-conspirators: James G. Kops, 39, 943 East Circle Drive; Richard I. Thoma, 39, 5419 North 83rd Street; Frank G. Spinella, 2832 North Summit Avenue; Michael R. Tullis of Las Vegas; James Spalding of Madison; Susan M. Werwinski of Las Vegas; and Theodore Cosmides of Madison. Brodson, Halmo, Azolina and Morn appeared in court and were released on $5000 signature bond. The others were given 24 hours to appear voluntarily in court before a warrant was issued for their arrest. Everyone turned themselves in on time.
The FBI was advised by Rollin Charles Visser, 63, 833 North 25th on July 11, 1974 that he knew one of the bookmakers (redacted) in a recent newspaper article. Visser said he had not seen the man in twenty years, but used to make $5 or $10 bets on football games with him when the bookmaker was a bartender at Frank Balistrieri’s Melody Lane tavern at 4th and Wells (since demolished). (Visser was originally from Sheboygan Falls, and would later in life move to Las Vegas, where at age 82 he re-married.)
Robert Pick appeared before Magistrate Peter Palermo in Miami on July 12, 1974 and was released on $5000 personal recognizance bond.
On July 22, 1974, DeSalvo and Stelloh were observed at the Pancake House from 8:34am to 9:59am. Agents followed DeSalvo and saw him enter the Jewell Food market at 10:05am and exit at 10:25am with two bags of groceries. He then went home.
Nick Gentile was interviewed by two special agents at the New Yorker Bar on July 24, 1974. Gentile said he had owned the bar about four years, and hires girls from Milwaukee to work as go-go dancers. The girls rarely stay there longer than a month. He said he does not allow the dancers to proposition customers, but he knows that other prostitutes hang out at the bar but said there was little he could do about that considering his downtown location. Gentile said his vending machines were supplied by the WZ Company, who he said provide excellent service. Prior to his death, he had machines from Arnold Just. He said he grew up in the Third Ward as the son of Sicilian parents with eight children. His father worked in the produce business. One of his brothers, George, had been a police officer for thirty years. He acknowledged knowing Frank Balistrieri and attending weddings, funerals and other social events with known hoodlums, but said he knew nothing of their activities and had simply grown up with them.
Joseph Gumina was interviewed (again) at his home (3373 South 16th Street) on July 25, 1974. He was surprised by the agents, as he had been questioned only a few months earlier. Gumina said he was 72 so his activities were mostly limited to gardening and spending time with his family. He said he had not seen Frank Balistrieri or Steve DeSalvo in years and had no idea what their personal activities were.
On July 26, 1974, an informant told the FBI about a conversation he had with Frank Stelloh. Stelloh said he had a customer on “juice” and the man was behind in his payments. He went to the man and told him, in front of his wife, that he would not kill him for late payments… but he would throw acid in his wife’s face. The man apparently was not fazed, but it “sure scared the hell out of his wife.” The informant did not know the customer’s name but knew that he was in general merchandising.
Sally Papia had a hysterectomy at St. Michael’s Hospital on July 30, 1974.
On July 30, 1974, an informant told the FBI that any story of Max McGee getting himself in debt to the mob was nonsense. McGee was a gambler and held large card games in his office at the Left Guard, and only places bets outside of town. Even when playing card games, he was a “slick dealer” who manipulated cards so that he always won.
The Junior Italian Open was held at the Tumble Brook Country Club on August 4, 1974. Steve DiSalvo and Peter Balistrieri intended to have a craps table set up there, although it is unknown if they did.
Joseph Enea went to Madison on August 4, 1974 and stayed at the Edgewater Hotel along with two children. They stayed in Presidential Suite 307. The room was paid for by Mike Caruso of Sav-On-Liquor (1209 Williamson Street), and Caruso also had a fruit basket sent to the room. Caruso was also the vice president of Alpine Cheese of Fond du Lac, which was owned by F&A Cheese of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Caruso was also the brother of Alphonse Caruso, who was connected to Grande Cheese. They were both the sons of mobster James Caruso. Mrs. Enea and another child arrived at the hotel around 7:30pm. Joseph Enea was gone between 6:30 and 8:30am the next morning, but his whereabouts are unknown. He made one phone call from the room to a man from Hurley who worked for Groves and Kelco, but it is not known the importance of this.
George Kouba was interviewed by special agents on August 5, 1974 concerning his relationship with Frank LaGalbo. Kouba said he was previously employed as a salesman for Sexton Foods and was currently a salesman for the B. A. Railton Company, both suppliers of restaurant groceries. He said he stopped by Chico’s once and spoke to Angeline LaGalbo, and had spoken with Frank over the phone concerning about $200 in groceries. Kouba stated he had no further contact with LaGalbo and, in fact, had never even met him in person.
Agents went to the home of Nick Collura (2705 North Oakland, Apartment 2) on August 8 and 9, 1974 in an attempt to interview him. Collura refused to answer the door or speak with the agents.
Agents went to the home of Joseph Enea on August 13, 1974 in an attempt to interview him. He said he had no desire to speak with agents and that they could talk to his attorney. When asked who his attorney was, Enea declined to say.
Two special agents entered Little Caesar’s on the evening of August 14, 1974 and saw Vincent Maniaci at the bar. The bartender was approximately twenty years old and the seven customers were all roughly 18-21 years old.
Around August 26, 1974, August Palmisano threw himself a birthday party at Richie’s that was clsoed to the public. At one point someone mentioned Frank Balistrieri’s name and Palmisano said, “You know how we feel about him” and suggested that Balistrieri owed him thousands of dollars. Another person said, “If he comes around here we’ll blow his face off.”
An informant told the FBI on September 2, 1974 that Frank Stelloh had recently been selling things at a flea market up north and was clearing $400 per day by doing this.
Around mid-September 1974, Anthony Pipito was released from Waupun State Prison and took up residence at the halfway house at the corner of 13th and Juneau. He spent his time working as a busboy and dishwasher at Sally’s Steak House, as well as helping out around Trovato’s. He also worked as a bodyguard for Steve DiSalvo, but had to be back at the halfway house at night.
An attorney brought a check for $2,136.50 to the Milwaukee IRS office on September 18, 1974 in order to pay the delinquent taxes of (redacted, someone connected to Northbrook Inn). The check was drawn on the Midland National Bank.
James Jennaro was arrested on September 19, 1974 for two counts of soliciting a prostitute.
An informant told Special Agent Eugene Murphy on September 19, 1974 that Steve DeSalv ohad recently gone to Las Vegas with a wealthy Italian. DeSalvo was also attending a weekly poker or craps game at the Marc Plaza Hotel. The security guard there, as well as the Milwaukee police, were apparently aware of this game. The informant said Vince Maniaci and August Palmisano met at Fazio’s on Jackson twice a week, and Maniaci was at Sally’s three or four times a week.
An informant saw August Palmisano at the Towne Room Restaurant with two other men on Friday September 20, 1974. He talked to Palmisano, who said the charges against him and others had not slowed down the bookmaking at all. Palmisano said of everyone charged, only one of them (redacted) might get jail time with the rest expecting probation.
Joseph Basile, 33, was arrested by the FBI in Denver and charged with forgery on Friday September 20, 1974. Basile had used the name of his father, Vincent Basile, on an application from St. Francis Savings and Loan for a $7000 loan, and claimed that his father’s property was his. Basile, a former waiter at Fazio’s on Jackson, was now the part-owner of a restaurant in Denver.
September 20, 1974, Angelo DeGeorgio was back in Columbia Hospital for the second time that year. His heart trouble was amplified by his weight, which was over 300 pounds (some say he was over 400 at his peak).
An informant told the FBI on September 30, 1974 that Frank Balistrieri had been a frequent visitor to the Las Vegas area over the last several months. Balistrieri was apparently there to oversee a $60 million loan that the Teamsters had made to an associate of his for the purchase of the Stardust and Fremont. (Presumably, this refers to Allen Glick.) The informant also said Steve DeSalvo was occasionally in Vegas to check up on Balistrieri’s interest.
August Palmisano was finally charged on October 2, 1974 for illegally storing dynamite in Richie’s Tavern. He faced up to a year in prison and a $1000 fine.
An unknown man (redacted, subject of 92-1459) was interviewed by the FBI on October 4, 1974. He acknowledged having financial dealings with Steve DeSalvo but declined to say what those dealings were without a summons.
Vincent Maniaci was in St. Michael’s Hospital on October 9, 1974 for an abdominal checkup.
Harry DeAngelo was observed at the Lake Pavillion playing cards with three old Italian men on October 10 and 15, 1974.
The FBI went to the assistant US attorney on October 15, 1974 with their concerns about Balistrieri’s using money from the Teamsters pension fund. The attorney said this warranted further investigation and may be a violation of the Welfare Pension Plan Disclosure Act.
Sidney Brodson filed 12 motions regarding his gambling trial on October 21, 1974.
Sally Papia spoke with Richard Schmitz, Kurt Amidzich’s business partner in the Northbrook Inn (9601 North 124th Street), on October 21, 1974 concerning $5000 that Amidzich owed Papia. She told Schmitz, “People have gotten hurt by not showing respect… People that operate or do things such as what you have done to me, Dick, can have problems in business… You could come out here some morning and this place could be burned down.”
On Wednesday, October 22, 1974 [redacted] went to Little Caesar’s and talked to Vince Maniaci. Maniaci said that his expenses were getting difficult and asked the man about his job, knowing he hauled a lot of candy. Vince took the man out to dinner at the Town Hotel, and then they returned to Caesar’s and met up with a man named Frank. Vince and Frank spoke in Italian and then Frank told him he could get some guys to take a truckload candy the next day. Frank gave the man a phone number to reach him at and it was the phone number of the Milwaukee Inn. On October 25, approximately 400 cases of assorted Hersheys Candy (much of it Christmas candy) valued at $9000 was taken. The man was given $450 for his troubles.
Special Agents interviewed Vito Aiello at his residence (3038 North Maryland Avenue) again on October 29, 1974. Aiello said he was still employed as a bartender for the Eagles Club, tending bar from 3:00pm to closing. Aiello was questioned about gambling, specifically about members of the Eagles Club, but said he was never a gambler himself and knew nothing about such activities.
Two men connected to the Northbrook case took United Airlines flight 701 from Milwaukee to Denver on October 30, 1974 at 11:40am. (I suspect one of the men was Joseph Basile… will surely find out later.)
Two special agents were at Trovato’s restaurant on Farwell on October 31, 1974 at 7:30pm. It was very busy and they observed various people there. They next went to Little Caesar’s and saw Vincent Maniaci speaking with an older, overweight Italian man with curly hair and glasses. At 9:30pm, two young women (approximate age 18-20) came in and asked Maniaci about his recent hospital stay.
On November 1, 1974, an informant said that Joseph Balistrieri was considering opening up a nursing home. He was said to not know the business, but had contacts who did.
The FBI caught a break in the Evans Fur Company stolen mink coat case on November 4, 1974. A man brought in one of the stolen coats, an autumn haze Schiaparelli, to Littman Furrier at 314 West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee to have the coat appraised and soon found out it had come from the set of stolen coats. Littman’s traced the tag inside (3782-RN905) to the manufacturer, Goldin-Feldman of New York, and they said they sold it to Evans. A quick phone call, and Evans identified it as one of the stolen coats. From there, it did not take long for the Feds to find out where he had purchased the coat — the coats had been sold for $400 each in a back room of the New Yorker Lounge. (As Schiaparelli stopped making clothes in the 1950s, it is unclear if this was a vintage coat or another company with a similar name.)
Steve Halmo pleaded no contest to failing to file a 1963 tax return on November 4, 1974.
FBI agents spoke with an official of Teamsters Local 200 on November 5, 1974 (the name is redacted). The man said he was hired by the local after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and moved up the ranks after another man left. He said the union had around 11,000 members and was the largest in the state. They had their own health plan, but pensions went through the Central States Fund in Chicago. When asked if he knew Frank Balistrieri, the official acknowledged that he did, particularly because the local held their Christmas party at Balistrieri’s Centre Stage.
The FBI received an anonymous call on November 7, 1974 concerning a recent bomb that killed Larry O. Anstett, 15, a Milwaukee Sentinel carrier and was suspected of being carried out by the Outlaws biker gang to target the Heaven’s Devils gang (specifically Devils member Michael Vermilyea). The caller claimed he had overheard August Palmisano and another man in Trovato’s Restaurant and the conversation lead him to believe that although they had not set the bomb, they had offered a “contract” to do so. This seems unlikely to me, as the packaged bomb was on top of Vermilyea’s car and therefore clearly intended for him. I see no reason the Mafia would want to get involved in a biker feud.
An informant told the FBI on November 13, 1974 that he had seen Frank Buccieri sitting in a corner table at Trovato’s with a few other white men. He did not catch the whole conversation, but overheard bits and pieces suggesting they were talking about hijacked trucks in the Chicago area.
Agents observed Steve DeSalvo, Frank Stelloh and a man in his mid-30s at the Pancake House on November 19, 1974 from 9:00am to 10:30am. The unidentified man left with DeSalvo.
On November 20, 1974, DiSalvo and Stelloh were at the Pancake House from 8:30am to 9:30am. As they were leaving, Stelloh ran into someone he knew (who drove a Cadillac with license plate number SC6-790) and the two of them went inside the restaurant.
On November 21, 1974, Judge Walstead awarded $736.90 to Brennan-Morrissey and Associates, who had sued Frank Balistrieri and the Center Stage for advertising and promotional services. (Interestingly the lawsuit named Frank but not Peter.)
On November 21, DiSalvo and Stelloh were at the Pancake House from 8:30am to 9:50am. On November 22, they were at the Pancake House from 8:20am until 9:35am. The man from November 19 was with them again, and afterwards DeSalvo dropped him off at a residence near 10509 West Wisconsin Avenue.
A federal grand jury handed down an indictment on November 22, 1974 for Phillip J. Blake, 26.
On November 24, 1974, the funeral of Ralph Capone (brother of Al Capone) was held at Engstrom Funeral Home in Hurley, Wisconsin. John Capone attended, as did Iron County district attorney Alex J. Raineri, Angelo Fazio of Milwaukee was also present. (Within a decade, Raineri would become a judge and then be convicted for involvement in prostitution.)
On November 25, 1974, from 2:03pm until 2:41pm, the FBI observed Frank Stelloh in Hales Corners with another man (described as slender and blonde). They were looking at a rolled up paper, possibly blueprints.
Bobby Pick pleaded guilty to gambling charges (interstate transmission of wagering information) on November 26, 1974 under Rule 20. Judge Charles Fulton sentenced Pick to thirty days in jail and three years probation. He was expressly told to avoid gambling activities.
On November 27, 1974, Phillip Blake wore a body recorder to Sally’s Steak House and recorded Vincent Maniaci saying, “You understand what I mean. Don’t you dare put me in the middle. Be careful and keep your mouth shut, ’cause I’m going to tell you something. Any time you open your mouth, you stick your foot in it, ’cause if you open up your mouth, then you’re dead.” Maniaci was also recorded telling Blake to hire Max Goldsmith as his attorney because Goldsmith “handles all the boys” and would know what to do.
Agents interviewed Nick Gentile at the New Yorker Bar (again) on November 26, 1974. He was in very poor health. They showed him a photo of (redacted), and Gentile said he knew the man but had not seen him in over a year. Gentile was recovering from ulcers and alcoholism, and no longer stayed up late or had much social interaction with anyone.
Someone (redacted) was interviewed at his residence on November 26, 1974 and said that there used to be prostitution at the Holiday Inn Central, but this had slowed down greatly. He denied soliciting prostitutes and denied being a gambler.
Phillip Blake was arrested by Bureau agents on November 26, 1974 for interstate transport of stolen property — four mink coats valued at $10,000 brought from Chicago to Milwaukee in September 1973. He had stolen them in order to pay off a $1500 debt he owed to Vincent Maniaci. Blake had previously been beaten up by a thug on Maniaci’s behalf for the money owed.
A special agent entered Little Caesars at 7:20pm on November 27 and witnessed a man coming in and saying to the bartender that he needed to see Vincent Maniaci immediately. The bartender said he “left a few minutes ago”. Blake insisted it was “pretty urgent”, as he had just been “popped”. Maniaci could not be reached. Shortly after, the phone rang and it was Maniaci. Also, an elderly man with glasses came in with a plastic bag saying he was looking for Maniaci. The special agent left at 8:50pm.
Also on November 27, Phillip Blake met with Maniaci at Sally’s Steak House at 8:35pm. He was now wearing a wire (body recorder) provided by the FBI. The two went into the men’s bathroom and Blake told Maniaci he had been picked up by the FBI for the stolen furs and candy. Maniaci repeatedly asked if he was wearing a wire, Blake repeatedly said no. Maniaci said, “Those guys, they fix ya up, ya know.” He remained suspicious and told Blake that, “I ain’t got nothing to do with you in any respect.” Blake then asked Maniaci to set him up with an attorney. Maniaci did not seem too happy about it and said, “you got me for 775 already”. He asked, “Did ya ever mention my name to anybody?” Blake lied, “No man, I ain’t told ’em nothing yet. I ain’t told ’em a damn thing. Ya know I ain’t gonna open my mouth, alright.” After more back and forth, Maniaci finally recommended Blake go see an attorney who worked in the Majestic Building and have him call Maniaci to set the defense up. Maniaci said the attorney “handles all the boys”. He further said Blake was probably lucky he got busted because Maniaci said he “was going to break your fucking head, to tell you the truth… because you were fucking me, fucked me around.”
Sally Papia was in Palm Springs from November 30 to December 12, 1974. She had left via American Airlines from O’Hare Airport.
An informant told the FBI on December 2, 1974 that Frank Stelloh was told by a waitress at the Pancake House that the FBI had questioned her. The informant did not know if Stelloh and Steve DeSalvo were going to stop using the restaurant as a meeting place.
The FBI interviewed a man on December 3, 1974 with knowledge of the criminal activity around Little Caesars. He said that the Hershey’s theft was done by a man named “Frank” who drove a black Dodge and was a salesman in Kenosha. The informant also said he knew of stolen lawn mowers that had gone through Vincent Maniaci earlier in the year and had helped unload one from Vince’s car and into his brother Augie’s car. He knew of stolen guns, motorcycles and the sale of narcotics. The source said Vince was specifically interested in napkins and paper supplies. He had never witnessed any gambling, however.
The December 3, 1974 issue of the Milwaukee Journal had an interview with assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Hirschberg on the status of prostitution in Milwaukee. He said, “What you’re really talking about is a subculture. This is all black-run. For instance, of the 98 reported pimps in New York City, 96 are black. And as far as I know, all the pimps in Milwaukee are black. This is a black-run business, black organized crime. It’s all shifted that way. The whites aren’t into it much anymore. You see, it takes generations of education to run a sophisticated stock swindle, a securities sham or a bank swindle. Black organized crime is a different thing. You don’t need the education.”
On December 4, 1974, a quick check with Hersheys by the FBI revealed that the stolen candy was most likely sold to Master Products, doing business as The Candy House, at 720 West Mitchell. Hersheys noted that last year around Christmas, the company had purchased fourteen cases of bulk Kisses, but had not purchased any in bulk this year, suggesting they either were not selling Kisses — very unlikely — or had found some elsewhere. Agents then went to the Candy House and observed several two-pound bags of Hershey Kisses.
On Thursday, December 5, 1974, an advertisement appeared in the Milwaukee Journal saying that the Candy House was selling Hershey’s Christmas kisses at $1.19 per pound.
A special agent was in Little Caesars from 8:45 until 9:15pm on December 6, 1974. He saw Vincent Maniaci, made casual conversation, but heard nothing of a criminal nature.
Harry DeAngelo’s Cadillac was observed at the Lake Pavillion on December 10 and December 12, 1974.
An informant told the FBI on December 12, 1974 that Frank Stelloh was planning on fencing stolen jewelry, though he did not know where said jewelry would come from. He also said that Stelloh told him that Steve DeSalvo expected to be indicted by a grand jury because of his aluminum siding business. Stelloh remarked that “the Jews have DeSalvo in a crack”.
The FBI interviewed someone at Master Products Company (also known as Candy House), 720 West Mitchell Street, on December 13, 1974. He said his business was purchasing candy in bulk and then re-packaging it into smaller units for sale in his retail store and other local businesses. He had, for example, purchased a bulk quantity of Hershey’s kisses and had repackaged them into two-pound units. One agent informed him that they had seen Hershey’s records and did not think he received any shipments this year. The man said he had, in fact, received 20 bulk cartons only yesterday and had not even unpacked them because he was still selling candy left over from the previous year. He showed the agents these cartons and they wrote down the serial numbers. One agent purchased a two-pound bag of kisses.
In the Milwaukee Journal on December 13, 1974, Wisconsin Hotel manager Stephen Machi was interviewed about downtown prostitution. He said, “I just visited my home country of Italy and there it is legal. They give the prostitutes yellow cars. They must apply for licenses and be inspected. Unless you live in a place where it’s legal, you don’t know what it’s like. You would not believe the number of police hours which are saved, the number of judges who are saved. The amount of time trying to control it is very unproductive. I’d rather spend my time providing a legitimate service to my guests.”
At around 4:30pm on December 15, 1974, someone (I think Phillip Blake) was driving his sister’s car when he stopped at a red light at 43rd and Burnham in West Milwaukee. Two men jumped into the car, one in front and one in back. The men said they were friends of the man’s friends. The one in front pulled a gun from his jacket and held in on the man, and asked why he had not contacted the attorney like he had been advised to do. He was told he could be killed right now, but if he contacted the attorney, he would be treated well in jail and compensated after. The man pulled over at 43rd and National, letting the two men out. The man with the gun slapped the driver and ordered him to get on the freeway.
A man who had financial dealings with Steve DeSalvo and was represented by Joseph Balistrieri testified before the grand jury on December 16, 1974 and pleaded the Fifth.
A female source for the FBI went into Little Caesars on December 15 and witnessed Vincent Maniaci talking with a skinny Italian man in his 50s.
At 7:30pm on December 16, someone (Blake?) called Little Caesars from his home, where agents had consensually tapped his telephone. The man told Vince that he had received a subpoena to testify in front of a grand jury the next day. Vince told him that he was at Little Caesars if he needed to talk, but did not wish to on the phone.
The same man called Little Caesars again at 8:42pm on December 16. This time Vince said he did not wish to talk and said, “I’ve got nothing to do with anybody. I never did anything with anybody.” After prodding about whether Vince would talk in person, he said “why sure” and hung up.
Two special agents were in Little Caesars on the evening of December 16 around 9:20pm. They saw the heavy man with glasses who had been seen twice before and this time caught that he was a carpenter. A man came in and told Vince that he had $40 for him and would have the rest on Friday. He then borrowed a dime for the telephone, and Vince jokingly said that he would owe him 20 cents on Friday. Someone (presumably Phillip Blake) came in around 9:30pm. Maniaci took him into the women’s bathroom and told the man that “they” knew he had talked and he was a “dead man”. Vince frisked the man, looking for a body recorder (he found none), and told him to take the Fifth at the grand jury. The man left around 9:50 and the agents left at 10:25pm.
On the evening of December 16, an obese, balding, mustachioed wholesale jeweler was seen talking with Nick Gentile.
The FBI interviewed Phillip Harlen Jung on December 17, 1974. Jung, 610 West Wisconsin Avenue, said he was the manager of the Empire Lounge at 716 North Plankinton. He recalled about 10 months prior being in the back room at the New Yorker Lounge with a few men, one of them he knew as ex-con Joseph Martinkowski. The men told him that they were trying to get rid of some fur coats and asked Jung if he knew where they could go. Jung said he would ask around. He did not recall exactly when, but Jung told the agents that soon after he ran into someone at the Casino Cabaret Lounge who was interested and introduced the man to Martinkowski. Jung told the agents that later Theodore Denovan Beaver, owner of the Casino Cabaret, came to him and said the FBI had talked to him and would probably be talking to Jung, too. Manager John J. Whitehall told Jung to keep quiet or “Beaver will bury you.” Jung told Whitehall, “I know nothing and I’ll say nothing.”
Also on December 17, Frank Cicerello, 3454 North Humboldt, voluntarily appeared at the FBI Office. Cicerello said he knew Vince Maniaci quite well and frequently goes to Little Caesars, but he was not involved in any criminal activity with Maniaci, Hershey’s kisses or otherwise. He denied ever having been at McDonalds at 2520 West National Avenue (which still exists in 2012) or the McDonalds on 76th by the Southridge Shopping Center. He told the agents he drove an AMC Ambassador.
On the evening of December 17, Vincent Maniaci was in conversation with Nick Gentile and August Palmisano concerning the investigation of Maniaci. Gentile joked, “They can’t hang anything on me.” Around midnight, Gentile became upset (for reasons unknown) and had the music turned off, and asked the patrons and go-go dancers to go home. Shortly after midnight a man arrived with a package for Palmisano, to which he replied, “I’ve been waiting for these.”
Vincent Maniaci, 2025 East Greenwich Avenue, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday, December 18, 1974 for extortionate credit transactions. He was found to have threatened people with violence and to be indirectly responsible for Phillip Blake’s theft of fur coats. A bench warrant was issued, and Maniaci was picked up by the FBI the same day and brought before Magistrate John C. McBride. Bond was set at $30,000 personal recognizance. An internal FBI report at the time of arrest referred to Maniaci as “a financier, major fence, and mastermind behind numerous large thefts around the Milwaukee area.” They also suspected him of being a Mafia member, which appears to be incorrect.
Vincent Maniaci was overheard on December 24, 1974 taking a phone call. Maniaci said to the person on the phone, “you can eliminate people in Chicago, but you can’t do it here… what’s wrong with you?” He then added, “If you can’t do your job I’ll get somebody else to do it and they will take care of you, too.” Maniaci then told the person overhearing to move back and no more was heard. Vince was seen then making a phone call to New York.
The annual Christmas party for Local 200 was held at the Centre Stage Playhouse on December 27, 1974.
On the evening of Saturday, December 28, 1974, Vincent Maniaci was inebriated at Little Caesars. He told those around him that they did not need to go the New Yorker Lounge to see go-go dancers, and then began taking off his clothes. When all his clothes were off, he hopped on a chair and began dancing until he fell on the floor and passed out.
On December 29, 1974, Joseph Basile called Jacob Schlechter between 10:00pm and 10:30pm, and the call was answered by Mrs. Schlechter. Basile asked for her husband, and instructed Schlechter to set the Northbrook Inn on fire that night. Schlechter did so in the company of his wife, who later contacted the police and began supplying information concerning the ongoing conspiracy. Following the fire, Schlechter went to Basile’s home to collect money for his work. Basile gave Schlechter $100 and told him that another $900 would be forthcoming from out of town. Schlechter asked what the fire was all about, and Basile told him that it was ordered because Kurt Amidzich had “screwed over” Sally Papia and because of a “personal grievance” Basile had against Amidzich.
The owner of the Northbrook Inn called his alderman at 8:00am on December 30, 1974 to make sure the police and fire departments were properly investigating the origin of the fire. The owner believed that due to footprints he saw in the snow and because of where the blaze began (a storage area) that arson was involved. The alderman called an assistant fire chief.
On December 30, 1974, August Palmisano bought a produce route for $1000. The route covered Madison, Lake Mills and vicinity.
On New Year’s Eve 1974, two days after the fire, Sally Papia ran into Kurt Amidzich at Trovato’s Restaurant (1550 North Farwell Avenue). Dropping a lighted match into an ash tray, Papia said, “I told you this was going to happen.”
In early January 1975, Schlechter asked Basile for the balance of the money due him for setting the fire. Basile deflected the request by advising Schlechter that they were getting pressure from Frank Balistrieri, who had lost some juke boxes in the Northbrook Inn fire, and that Schlechter should not tell anyone of his involvement in the fire.
The FBI interviewed Karl Lotharius, the owner of Oliver’s Cabaret (782 North Milwaukee) on January 3, 1975. Lotharius said that he once managed I.V. A-Go-Go at 151 North Jackson, but this business no longer exists. At the time, he also worked for the Wisconsin Gas Company. Since his business did not have a cabaret license, they had to close at 1:00am and he would often walk with his customers over to Little Caesars under the expressway. He thus became acquainted with Vincent Maniaci and August Palmisano. In September 1972, he purchased Oliver’s Cabaret. Three weeks later, Maniaci asked Lotharius (who he called “Carlo”) what sort of vending machines he had in his place of business, and Lotharius told him a cigarette machine, pool table and jukebox from Wisconsin Novelty Company. Maniaci said he did not have to honor that contract and told him to “throw them out” and offered him $1000 to start using another distributor (name redacted). Maniaci also offered to fix the ceiling above the band area. Lotharius “strenuously declined”. A few days later, Lotharius was drinking with six friends (names redacted) at Pitch’s Lounge when Palmisano pulled a gun on Lotharius. Palisano said, “You better know who your friends are. Your head is getting too big for your own good.” Lotharius told the FBI he had been drinking and therefore did not think to report it to the police at the time. Not long after, Maniaci (and a redacted man) again tried to get Lotharius to accept a machine, this time a sex-oriented one from someone named DeGeorgio (most likely Angelo B. DiGiorgio). Lotharius again declined. In the early part of 1974, he went to Oliver’s and found a new machine (a condom dispenser) installed in the bathroom. The cleaning lady had allowed an unknown man to come in the night before and install the machine. When a man came in to service it, Lotharius ripped the machine off the wall and told the man a “drunken sailor” had destroyed it. On May 10, 1974, two men (named redacted) asked for a tour of the club, and he showed them the club, including the basement where he kept the liquor. The next day, his club was broken into through the roof and the Wisconsin Novelty Company machines (including a jukebox and cigarette machine) were smashed. Over $1000 was taken. He was later told by (redacted) that (redacted) had committed the burglary. Lotharius later told the man he had a taped conversation between him and Maniaci just to see what the reaction would be. That night, his home was broken into and movies canisters were taken (which may have been thought to be audio tape).
On January 6, 1975, the FBI discussed Lotharius’ situation with US Attorney William J. Mulligan, and he said the situation definitely warranted a Hobbs Act (anti-racketeering) investigation.
January 6, Schlecter’s wife Phyllis called the police and told Detective Edward McHugh what her husband had done. This same day, the FBI stopped by Berther Brothers at 423 West Juneau and interviewed Salvatore Seidita. He informed them that he grew up in the Third Ward, and was thus well acquainted with the Italian families of Milwaukee. Seidita confirmed that he knew Frank Balistrieri and others, and knew they were considered hoodlums, but said he only knew them through social events and had no knowledge of their criminal activities.
On January 7, Russell Enea approached Schlechter in Papia’s restaurant and asked him if he knew anything about the fire. Schlechter, complying with Basile’s order to keep mum, said that he did not. Three days later, apparently satisfied that Schlechter could be trusted, Enea again approached Schlechter and directed him to break Amidzich’s wrists “so he never cooks again.” Enea said that “Max” would get in touch with Schlechter to talk about the job. Shortly thereafter, Max Adonnis contacted Schlechter and told him to kidnap Amidzich and take him to a garage so that Adonnis and Enea could break his wrists personally. Schlechter and Adonnis then discussed the plan with Herbert Holland, who was to assist in the endeavor. Adonnis explained to Schlechter and Holland that Amidzich owed Sally Papia $5,000, that he had “screwed over Sally,” and that he wasn’t going to get away with it. Adonnis gave Schlechter a slip of paper listing Amidzich’s address, the make of his car and its license plate number. A week later, Adonnis passed along a photo of Amidzich taken in Papia’s restaurant on which Papia’s handwriting appeared.
The Milwaukee office of the FBI called the Bureau’s Chemistry Unit on January 8, 1975 and asked if they had the ability to tell how old chocolate was. They could not.
An informant told the FBI on January 9, 1975 that prior to Gus Chiaverotti’s death, Frank Stelloh had threatened Chiaverotti’s girlfriend and she went to Chiaverotti in a state of complete hysteria. Chiaverotti confronted Stelloh about this, but the informant believed that the stress contributed to Chiaverotti’s heart failure. The informant also said that Anthony Pipito was now always in the company of Frank Balistrieri or Steve DeSalvo. He further said someone from San Diego was now working at the Center Stage.
On January 10, 1975, the FBI went to Oliver’s Cabaret and spoke to the bartender (name redacted). He said a few nights ago a bartender from Ritchie’s was in along with a man from New York. (This section is very redacted, but it appears that the Ritchie’s bartender was able to get the combination to Oliver’s safe.)
On January 11, Schlechter met with Adonnis and Holland at Holland’s massage parlor (1915 West Hampton), and Adonnis there hired the two men to beat up Amidzich.
On January 15, 1975, the FBI spoke with a man in Brooklyn who had been a former business associate of Karl Lotharius. The man said Karl was “tight” and therefore often had cash on hand, and had even purchased Oliver’s for $65,000 in cash. He was with Karl the night Palmisano pulled a gun on Karl and remembered Palmisano’s words almost as exactly as Lotharius did. The man added that Lotharius responded, “You’re the ones driving Cadillacs, not me.” With Palmisano were at least two other men and a woman who was also armed. The man recalled the company that was pressuring Lotharius to install machines was “Dino’s Vending Machines”. (This may actually be Leo Dinon’s vending company.) The man had a pretty good idea who was behind the burglaries (unfortunately much of this is redacted), and he identified the suspect as a “fall guy” for Maniaci and Palmisano. Around Christmas 1974 he ran across someone who told him that Karl “bought his suit”, implying the suit was purchased with money stolen from Lotharius. The man related a second-hand story about a bartender (name redacted) who worked for Maniaci but quit because Maniaci was a heavy drinker and was very abusive. After he quit Maniaci told him he would never work on the East Side again and if someone hired him, Maniaci would break both his legs.
FBI agents spoke with Joseph James Martinkoski on January 17, 1975 at Waupun State Prison. He said that he knows Phillip Jung, served time with him at Waupun, but would not call him a friend and only saw him on the outside once. That was by accident at a restaurant and they only exchanged a few words. Martinkoski denied ever being in the New Yorker, the Casino Cabaret or any other “strip joint” in Milwaukee. He denied ever being with a prostitute in his life. He asked the agents when he allegedly met with Jung and was told in September; Martinkoski said the last time he got out of Waupun was in October, so this would have been impossible. The prison records verified his claim.
During the next couple of weeks, Holland, Schlechter and Adonnis attempted to locate Amidzich without success. On January 18, Enea, disturbed by the lack of progress, approached Schlechter and, gesturing with his wrists, inquired what Schlechter was doing about Amidzich. Schlechter and Holland renewed their efforts to locate Amidzich but failed to do so, much to the expressed chagrin of Enea and Adonnis. Finally, Adonnis saw Amidzich at a local restaurant and obtained his new address, place of employment and license plate number, which information he passed on to Schlechter with instructions to do the job right away.
Sally Papia made arrangements with Vagabond Travel Agency to be in Palm Springs in February on January 20, 1975.
Frank Cicerello voluntarily appeared at the office of US Attorney William J. Mulligan on January 21, 1975. Mulligan informed Cicerello that he was considering offering Cicerello immunity for his statements against Vincent Maniaci. Cicerello said he recalled meeting with Maniaci and Phillip Blake the previous October. That same evening, Cicerello said he called up the Candy House and spoke to someone there named Nick who knew Cicerello’s brother Sammy, a former prize fighter. He told the man he had 400 cartons of assorted Hershey’s candy. The man agreed to buy it. Blake was told to meet Cicerello at the McDonalds at 2520 West National Avenue the next morning at 10:00 (where Cicerello would have to stop on his soda distribution route). They met as planned, and Blake with with a hippie in a beat-up old car. Blake in turn brought the candy to Candy House where it was unloaded by an employee. Cicerello was paid $1000 (with $1500 to come later) and gave the money to Maniaci, who let him keep $300 for setting up the operation. A few days later, Nick paid Cicerello the remaining $1500 and it was turned over to Maniaci. Cicerello still maintained he was never at the McDonalds in Greenfield, as this was not one of his customers. He agreed to submit to a polygraph exam.
A man (name redacted) made a sworn statement to Special Agent Samuel M. Wichner in Brooklyn on January 27, 1975. He said he had been stationed in Milwaukee in 1969 and 1970 and knew about some of the problems his friend (redacted) was having with Vincent Maniaci and August Palmisano. In September or October of 1972, he was in Pitch’s and Palmisano pulled out a gun because of difficulties his friend was having regarding vending machines. He was in Milwaukee in December 1974 and was told who had committed a recent burglary (names of business and suspects redacted). He had worked at a place in Milwaukee where he knew the combination of the safe, and only knew of two others who knew it.
The FBI interviewed a man at his residence on January 28, 1975. The man said he had been at Little Caesars the night before the truck of Hershey’s candy was stolen, and heard Vince Maniaci and Frank Cicerello talking about it. Cicerello then left and came back with a man connected to a local candy business who was willing to pay for the stolen candy.
Sid Caesar opened a three-week run of “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” beginning on January 28, 1975 at the Center Stage Dinner Playhouse. The story was a black comedy from Neil Simon, which coincidentally was also released as a film just as Caesar’s Milwaukee run was ending.
Sally Papia flew from O’Hare Airport in Chicago to Palm Springs on February 2, 1975 aboard American Airlines Flight 581.
August Palmisano and Steve Halmo pleaded guilty on Monday, February 3, 1975 for gambling charges stemming from the last year’s Super Bowl raid. Palmisano’s attorney, Charles Hausmann, claimed that his client did not really know Halmo very well, and that when he did take layoff bets for him, he did not make any money. Hausmann further pointed out that Palmisano came from a good family, had four children to raise, and woke up at 4am every morning to help with the family produce business, which involved driving a truck for eight hours, and then he still had to manage the tavern. Furthermore, he said Palmisano’s wife Jean had a mastectomy in December and was scheduled to have a hysterectomy soon, which made Palmisano so nervous that his hands shook. Justice Department attorney Gregory Ward countered that Palmisano’s gambling business could hardly be considered “minor” and that he was receiving 10% “juice” for the bets he took. Judge Myron Gordon dismissed the charge of unlawfully storing dynamite. Palmisano was fined $500 and put on two years probation, with Gordon citing that he had no prior record besides traffic offenses.
Karl Lotharius spoke with the FBI at Oliver’s Cabaret again on February 3, 1975. He said for the past year Vincent Maniaci had been trying to convince Lotharius to let him be the entertainment manager for Oliver’s. Maniaci said because of his connections in Chicago, he could easily pay his wages with one good week. Lotharius was not interested, but kept in contact with Maniaci because he thought it was important to maintain a rapport with other bar owners. After his cabaret was burglarized, he started receiving calls with nobody speaking on the other end. Then one day Maniaci called and said, “Carlo, you need help. I’ll help you. I’m getting too old to run my own place.” (Maniaci was about 55 years old.) Lotharius told him he was not interested in a partner. After that, Lotharius attached a tape recorder to his phone and began recording his calls. On one, he recorded Maniaci denying any connection to the burglary at Oliver’s. Lotharius said on January 20 of this year, after his last talk with the FBI, he returned home to find that someone had broken in through a bedroom window, left his lights on, stole $300 in coins, urinated on his toilet seat, and left smoked Camel cigarette butts around the house. He reported it to the police. He told them the night before (February 2) he left work at 4:30am and had breakfast at George Webb, and then felt like he was being followed home. Shortly after getting home, someone slashed all of his tires, and he again reported this to the police.
Frank Cicerello stopped by the FBI office on February 4 and told them that he now remembered the employee who helped unload the candy was named Erv. He also had heard that the stolen candy was being stored outside of town. Cicerello was given a polygraph examination and was found to be deceptive on 7 of 15 questions.
The FBI contacted Harry DeAngelo at the Lake Pavillion on February 4, 1975. DeAngelo said he was not associated with the criminal element and knew the Italians on a social basis. He did not wish to speak with the agents further.
The FBI interviewed a man (name redacted) on February 6, 1975, who told them that in late October or early November he was contacted by a man from the Candy House named Erv Komassa who had “hot” candy he needed to get rid of. The man saw what he believed to be 500 cartons of Hershey’s candy in a storage room on the second floor of the Candy House. Together, they rented a Budget Rent-a-Truck to haul the candy out. The man recalled that this was two or three days after someone was subpoenaed, and they thought it best to get the candy out of the store. It was left sitting inside the truck for a few days and then brought to Chicago and given to someone Komassa knew. The man said he was promised $100 for helping but has not seen the money. He believed that Komassa still had 20 or 30 cases of the chocolate at his residence.
After purchasing a baseball bat and two ski masks for use in the battery, Schlechter and Holland went to Amidzich’s place of employment (Milwaukee Inn Town Room East) in the early morning hours of February 9, 1975. While waiting for Amidzich to leave work, the two were confronted by police at 1:20am because the auto in which they were riding (a 1970 Chevrolet convertible) matched a description of a stolen car. Apparently shaken by the incident, Schlechter and Holland decided to go home and contact Adonnis, who advised them to halt their efforts while he checked out possible problems with the police.
Sally Papia returned to O’Hare Airport in Chicago from Palm Springs aboard American Airlines Flight 388 on February 9, 1975.
Steve Halmo made a voluntarily statement to the FBI on February 11, 1975. He said he was 53 years old, was born in Milwaukee, and knew Sidney Brodson as a professional gambler for the past ten years. They first met when Brodson wanted to bet with Halmo, but Halmo lost so much money in the first two weeks that he stopped letting Brodson bet. They soon teamed up together to bet with other bookies. About three years prior, Halmo learned that another gambler was getting his line through Bobby Pick in Florida, and Halmo and Brodson began making bets with Pick, too. Although Halmo makes Brodson’s bets for him (which allowed Halmo to keep part of the money), Brodson was aware that one line came from Bobby Pick and would ask about “Bobby’s line” or “the line from down south”.
On February 14, Schlechter and Holland were arrested by Greenfield and Milwaukee Police Departments on state charges (armed robbery, assault and threatening a life) unrelated to the Northbrook case. They were held in Milwaukee County Jail on $110,000 bond each. The baseball bat, ski masks, and the slip of paper listing Amidzich’s address and license plate number were found in Schlechter’s possession at the time of his arrest. That same evening, Russell Enea visited Amidzich at work and told him, “You know by fate last week you were saved… You were going to see your own blood and they were going to break both your wrists so you would never be able to cook again… They missed you and I’m going to do it personally.”
The FBI visited Waupun State Prison on February 19, 1975 and spoke with a man there. He said in February or march 1973 he was approached by August Palmisano at the Shack bar (2011 South Kinnickinnic) to burglarize an apartment above Papa Joe’s bar, which was across the street. The man declined. Another time, at the Hideout Tavern on South 6th, he was again approached by Palmisano, this time with Vincent Maniaci. Palmisano told the man to meet him at Pitch’s (1801 North Humboldt), which he did, and then Palmisano told the man he wanted the Stone Toad and Hannah’s “torn up”. Hannah’s was on East Locust and the man was instructed to wait next door at the Comstock Lode until closing time, then break in and tear the place up. He was offered $1500 for each job. He was also told to go to Oliver’s and get in a fight with the owner, Karl Lotharius. Around this time, he was also taken to the basement of Richie’s on Broadway and Palmisano showed him a large quantity of dynamite. Palmisano told the man that one of the bartenders at Oliver’s would let them stay after closing so they could plant the dynamite. The man did not want to use any dynamite, but went back to Oliver’s to start a fight but the owner wasn’t there. He was given $750 up front to destroy the Stone Toad, and went on May 15, 1973. But when he got there the door was unlocked and the building was empty. He thought it was fishy, so left, and was arrested for burglary by waiting police outside. Not long after, the man was at Little Caesar’s and Vincent Maniaci asked about Oliver’s. The man said he didn’t want to get in any more trouble. Maniaci said he could use the money to pay his attorney from the Stone Toad incident, but the man refused. (I was not able to find this “burglary” in the paper to narrow down who this was. The Stone Toad, incidentally, was a club at 618 North Broadway run by Mike Cochran. It closed in 1983.)
Ervin Alvin Komassa, 57, 2621 West Pierce, voluntarily appeared at the FBI office on February 21, 1975. He said he was a part-time employee for the Candy House, with his primary job being making out of state deliveries to Michigan and Illinois, bringing chocolate to other stores with a Hertz rental truck. Komassa said he occasionally helped unload, but loads never got bigger than 50 cases — certainly never 400 or 500 cases. He denied knowing Frank Cicerello and Vincent Maniaci, and said he had rented a Budget truck, but it was for moving furniture. The FBI doubted his story and noted that his police record was extensive, with multiple counts of forgery, larceny, con games, disorderly conduct, fraud and embezzlement. Komassa had spent roughly five years at Waupun State Prison in the 1960s.
Phillip Jung, 43, was beaten by Casino Cabaret owner Theodore D. Beaver, 41, and Clarence J. Harris, 35, in the early morning hours of February 25, 1975 for testifying against Vincent Maniaci. John James Whitehall, 29, also took part in the beating. Jung suffered injuries to his eyes, neck, nose and head and required medical attention at the Central Clinic. The doctors there found him bruised with his eye swollen shut, his throat bruised from being choked, and he had a concussion though he did not have any broken bones. Beaver was arrested two days later by the FBI and held on $10,000 bond for obstruction of justice, but Harris remained at large. (Beaver had grown up in Rhinelander at the home of his grandfather, Austrian immigrant Jacob Miller.)
Upon his arrest at the Casino Cabaret (634 North 5th Street) for assaulting a federal witness on Thursday, February 27, Theodore D. Beaver, 41, said that any story involving him threatening to harm someone was completely false. He acknowledged getting into a fight at the Empire Lounge, but said that it was Clarence Harris who had done the actually beating. Beaver said he thought Jung was okay when he left, and he (Beaver) returned to the Casino Cabaret and fell asleep on a bar stool.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge Charles P. Monroe observed Steve DeSalvo and Frank Balistrieri at the Towne Room East restaurant inside the Milwaukee Inn Hotel on February 28, 1975.
FBI agents and a detective from the Greenfield Police Department questioned the owner of the Candy House on February 28, 1975. He denied knowing Vincent Maniaci and Frank Cicerello and said he has only purchased candy through normal, legal means. He was familiar with Sammy Cicerello, who had been a boxer, and he admitted that Erv Komassa was employed by him off and on, but said he knew nothing of any dealings Komassa might have had with Cicerello and Maniaci and he had never loaned money to Komassa.
On March 3, 1975, one week before Sidney Brodson was to go to trial, the prosecution applied for authorization to disclose the evidence of of their investigation for the case. Brodson’s attorney, James Shellow, objected, saying that the government received authorization for a wiretap to check one law, and then the conversations were used by the grand jury to indict Brodson on a different law. Judge Myron Gordon denied the application on March 10 and dismissed the entire seven-count indictment against Brodson without prejudice. (The reasons are technical, but it appears the dismissal is largely because Gordon believed the government was on a “fishing expedition” (his words) and had not followed wiretap regulations. The government should have requested a court order to present evidence of “interstate transmission” when the grand jury was supposed to be looking for an “illegal gambling business” violation.) Justice Department attorney Gregory Ward immediately appealed, saying the two different violations were “intertwined”.
State agent Gary H. Hamblin subpoenaed Steve DiSalvo on March 4 to appear at a John Doe hearing on the 8th. DiSalvo fought Hamblin, saying, “I’m not taking anything. Don’t give me anything. I’ll knock you on your ass. I’ll twist that mustache around your neck.”
Angelo DeGeorgio was observed going to Trovato’s on March 5, 1975. He was driving a white over maroon Buick Century registered to a relative.
While awaiting trial on the state charges, Schlechter agreed to cooperate with authorities investigating the Northbrook Inn fire and to meet with his co-conspirators while equipped with a hidden tape recorder. On March 6, Schlechter taped a conversation with Adonnis, who told Schlechter of the efforts he and Enea had made to raise bail money for him. Schlechter asked Adonnis if “that thing” with Amidzich was still on. Adonnis replied, “Right now it’s gonna be very, very cool” because he had been told by a police informant that they were all under investigation. When Schlechter asked whether Enea was going to come up with some money for him, Adonnis replied that Enea was trying to work something out and hoping that “when things calm down a bit, maybe you will make another move.” Schlechter then asked if “Sally got wind of all this.” Adonnis responded that “all she knows is that the two of us got somebody.” Adonnis reassured Schlechter, however, that Papia would learn of his efforts: “You’re doing it for her. When it gets done, she’ll know cause she’s gonna pay you.”
Frank Balistrieri, Peter Balistrieri and Steve DiSalvo met at the Milwaukee Inn on March 7, 1975. Among other things, they determined that Jimmy Jennaro would no longer be allowed at the Milwaukee Inn.
On Saturday, March 8, 1975, there was a “secret weekend John Doe investigation” in Washington County. Testifying were Frank Balistrieri, Joseph Enea, Jennie Alioto, Antonio Machi, Vincent Maniaci and Peter Balistrieri. Enea, Alioto and Peter Balistrieri were represented by Joseph Balistrieri. Frank Balistrieri’s testimony took about 20 minutes, and he probably said nothing. Both Enea and Alioto were granted immunity. Machi was represented by Gerald P. Boyle. State agent Gary Hamblin testified about his encounter with Steve DiSalvo. DiSalvo was scheduled to appear but did not, and was arrested for his failure to do so by the State Department of Justice and charged with criminal contempt. He was released on $1000 bond.
Theodore Beaver was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with obstruction of justice on March 10, 1975.
On March 12, Schlechter taped a conversation with Basile, who admitted that he “took the rap” for the Northbrook Inn fire when confronted by an upset Frank Balistrieri, who wanted to know why Basile had the place burned down without telling him. While pointing a pistol at Basile’s knees, Balistrieri had told him that he had jukeboxes in that building. During the conversation with Schlechter, Basile also admitted that he and Enea had agreed to burn the Northbrook Inn down: “I said [to Enea], I’d like to burn that place down. I never liked [Amidzich] to begin with, that’s what I told him. He said, OK, why don’t we do that then. I said, I got to have some expense money.”
Moreover, Basile acknowledged that Enea had checked with him before directing Schlechter to kidnap and assault Amidzich: “Oh, I know, you were supposed to get Kurt… You don’t think he [Enea] was gonna send [unintelligible] without them telling me, do ya? You know what he wanted to know: if you could do the job. I said `he can do the job.’ He asked me, How stand up is he? I says he’s probably one of the best [expletive deleted] guys around you’ll meet in a long time. I says not only that, I says he’ll get the job done.”
FBI agents found Clarence J. Harris, 35, on Thursday, March 13, 1975 — he was in the Milwaukee County Jail where he had been placed after his arrest on an unrelated burglary charge.
On March 14, Milwaukee police officer Paul Viljevac turned over a photo of a man named Thomas Sack to Max Adonnis, who was working at AFL Motors. Adonnis gave him some chrome-plated motorcycle parts — the two men knew each other conversationally through the business. This exchange was witnessed by a man named Mark Gary, also known as Ray Stoekle. The photo was requested by Herbert Holland, who intended to “blow the guy away”, and Adonnis was able to secure it under false pretenses that he wanted to turn Sack in for drug trafficking. Viljevac was fired in June 1975 by Chief Breier when his actions came to light.
An informant claimed that Sally Papia went to the Center Stage on March 14, 1975 and kissed Frank Balistrieri. The two spent the evening together and on until the early morning hours. Her boyfriend, Frank Buccieri, was in Palm Springs.
On Monday, March 17, 1975, Judge Myron L. Gordon ordered six Kenosha gamblers to avoid illegal gambling: Raymond Matera, Frank “Effie” Manna, James Salerno, Ronald Gregorski, John Puntillo and Louis Gerolmo. He ordered three additional men to do the same, as well as handing down a $500 civil penalty: Eugene Thomas, Angelo Germinaro and Alfred DeCesaro.
An informant told the FBI on March 17, 1975 that Steve Halmo had some sort of business interest in Sturgeon Bay.
Tony Machi was seen on Tuesday, March 18, 1975 entering the Knickerbocker Hotel at 10:42am and leaving at 11:45am. He was believed to be picking something up from Sally’s Steak House.
A March 19, 1975 article in the Milwaukee Journal identified Anthony Pipito as the “set designer” of Frank Balistrieri’s Center Stage Dinner Playhouse. The theater was putting on a production called “I Do! I Do!”, which starred Ken Berry (Mayberry RFD) and Jeannine Ann Cole. The newspaper called Pipito’s set “workable but drab, with an unfinished air to it.”
The North Central Sporting Goods in Menomonee Falls was burglarized on March 22, 1975. Frank Stelloh quickly became a suspect when it was found that he was transporting fishing gear to Chicago.
On March 26, Schlechter taped a conversation with Enea in which Schlechter asked if he would get any money for his efforts in trying to assault Amidzich. Enea replied that “nothing was done.” Schlechter protested, “Yeah, but time was invested in it.” Enea responded, “We would have already had him if you wouldn’t have gotten outta line, you… Well, stay in touch with Max, ya know, in case I gotta get hold of ya.”
Around 12:30am on March 28, 1975, various people woke up to the sound of two shotgun blasts. Someone had two windows shot out. The vehicle where the shots came from appeared to be a black-over-red car. (The record is redacted, so it is unclear where this was, but it somehow involved Vincent Maniaci.)
On March 28, 1975, the US Attorney’s office noticed that two transcripts from a federal grand jury concerning Vincent Maniaci were missing.
Phillip H. Jung was interviewed by the FBI on April 1, 1975. He was contacted at the U.S. Marshal’s Office, where he was receiving protective custody. He was shown a spread of photographs, including one of August Palmisano, and asked if any of them were present when he was beaten. He could not recognize any of the photographs. He did say he knew one person there who threw an ashtray at him.
Sally Papia was in Palm Springs from April 6 to April 9.
The court reporter who was present during grand jury testimony concerning Vincent Maniaci was given a polygraph examination on April 7, 1975 to help clear up whether or not she had stolen the missing grand jury transcripts. Although appearing calm, she said she was quite nervous and asked whether the machine could tell the difference between nervousness and deception. Despite being prescribed tranquilizers on April 4, she claimed to have had no stimulants or depressants in the past 24 hours and had not had coffee that day. Her answers concerning how she handled court reports was “ambiguous” and she seemed to have no strict procedure. Eventually, she started crying and told the agent present that she had given the FBI a copy and not the original notes. (Where the original notes were is unclear to me.) Judge Myron Gordon suggested that if the transcripts were not found, the case against Maniaci might have to be dismissed. Her boss, Gene Kempfer, told the press, “The only thing that I can figure out is that when she takes the notes and she takes a break, someone could have very easily come in and ripped them off.”
Phillip Blake testified against Maniaci on April 7, discussing how he had stolen $3,000 worth of merchandise from Kennedy and Cohen appliance store, as well as fur coats, in order to pay off his gambling debts. Blake was still in pain from being beaten and had suffered kidney damage. Following his testimony, he collapsed in the judge’s chambers and was unable to speak. This collapse caused Judge Gordon to adjourn (postpone) the trial until April 22.
The court reporter found her stenographic tapes on Thursday, April 10, 1975 while looking for her diary and turned them over to the FBI. US Attorney William Mulligan said simply, “The FBI has obtained custody of the stenographic tapes. The defense attorney has been notified, and the FBI investigation of the matter is continuing.” Defense attorney Gerald Boyle told the press, “All I know is I’ve been asking for them for three weeks and now all of a sudden they’re found.” (The FBI later found that the woman’s husband had come home to find the tapes on the kitchen counter and then put them on a shelf under the counter so he could spread out his blueprints. He had completely forgotten about moving them.)
On April 11, 1975, John Whitehall, 29, was charged with obstruction of justice for his role in the beating of Phillip Jung.
On Thursday, April 17, 1975, Judge Max Raskin heard the case of James Jennaro and Leroy Bell, both charged with being pimps. When asked if he had ever solicited a prostitute, Jennaro said, “No way. Never.” Katherine “Casey” Erbach, 21, testified that Bell had brought her to Sally’s, where Jennaro set her up with another man, who paid her $100 to perform a sex act. After that, she gave the $100 to Jennaro and asked for change so she could take a taxi to the Tender Trap, Bell’s tavern. She said on another occasion state agents questioned her and she said nothing, and then told Bell. Bell allegedly told her if she had talked, she might be killed. Angela Wiedenhoeft, 22, told a similar story, where Bell brought her to Sally’s, and Jennaro set her up with an elderly man and they performed an act of sexual perversion. Jennaro testified that he had never discussed prostitution with Bell. He further said 400 people a day eat at Sally’s. “I don’t know if they are prostitutes, businessmen, judges or lawyers. We serve all people.”
On Friday, April 18, 1975, a jury found both Leroy Bell and James Jennaro guilty of soliciting prostitutes. Assistant District Attorney Thomas P. Schneider said in his closing argument, “They did everything but turn back the covers on the bed.” Jennaro’s attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, said of Casey Erbach’s testimony, “In 15 years of practice, including five years as a federal prosecutor, I’ve never heard a witness so schooled.” He said Schneider coached the witnesses and twisted words. Bell’s attorney, Dominic Frinzi, said the witnesses were “women of flexible virtue” and they were not reliable or trustworthy. Erbach “has you believe that she is a modern day Mary Magdalene.” A presentence investigation was ordered.
An informant spoke with the FBI on April 19, 1975 and said he did not believe that Vincent Maniaci or his attorney were responsible for stealing the grand jury tapes. In fact, Maniaci seemed quite upset about the whole thing. He suggested that if Maniaci had taken the tapes, he would never have brought them back. Possibly it was someone who wanted to make Maniaci look bad so he would be found guilty.
A special agent and a detective from the Milwaukee Police Department spoke with Max Adonnis at AFL Motors on April 21, 1975. Adonnis talked openly with them about his history with Sally Papia and the other suspects in the Northbrook case. Adonnis freely admitted knowing them all, saying he had worked with some of them at Sally’s and others had visited him at AFL to borrow tools or have a motorcycle looked at. He volunteered that he thought the Northbrook fire was suspicious, but claimed that he heard that “silent partners” had done it because they were losing money and unhappy with the management.
On April 21, 1975, Leroy Bell, 48, was sentenced to six years in state prison. A presentence report found that Bell was “deeply involved with La Cosa Nostra organization.” Defense attorney Dominic Frinzi said the report was “innuendo, based on feelings and indications and not founded on fact.”
On April 22, 1975, Phillip J. Blake, 26, testified about being beaten. After this, he talked to Vincent Maniaci, who told him, “If you fuck with me again, you’ll end up head first in the sewer.” The next day, he was followed to work by a man who confronted him in the parking lot at Mayfair and said, “I’m going to make sure you do things right and come across for Vince today.” Blake did not know the man, but said he carried a small pistol. Allegedly, Blake was followed by the man all day, even to Skokie, Illinois. Fearing the man, Blake stole four mink coats. One was given to Maniaci, two were sold to bookstore owner Thomas Hamm, and one was sold to Casino Cabaret employee John Whitehall, 29. The money he received ($1,400) was then given to Maniaci.
The Federal Grand Jury indicted Sally Papia on April 22, 1975. Papia and her co-conspirators were arrested on April 24 and brought before U.S. Magistrate John C. McBride. Two special agents and a Milwaukee detective entered AFL Motors (1905 West North Avenue) at 9:24am and arrested Max Adonnis. As he was being taken away, Adonnis advised the other two men working there to call his attorney. One man was arrested at 9:32am while leaving his apartment building in the 1500 block of Prospect. Papia had actually gone with her attorney to turn herself in, and was found by agents in the Federal Building’s elevator at 10:40am. They were each charged and released on bond.
Vincent Maniaci took the stand in his own defense on Thursday, April 24, 1975. “I know I have never done anything with this gentleman (Blake),” he testified. “And I never wanted to get involved in anything he ever did.” He said he charged no interest on loans he gave to Blake and only loaned him money because “he begged me for it” and was “quite a good customer” and “always a gentleman. Maniaci later referred Blake to attorney Max Goldsmith as a favor “because I am that particular kind of individual.” Maniaci’s testimony was patently absurd given the overwhelming evidence that he was involved in fencing goods and ordering his friends to beat Blake.
James Jennaro was arrested by FBI agents at 9:32am on April 24, 1975 as he left his residence at 1570 North Prospect. Jennaro told the agents he would not make any statement without his attorney present. At 10:30, Magistrate John C. McBride set his bond at $10,000.
On April 25, Max Adonnis and Sally Papia met with Mark Gary, who testified at trial that Papia had offered him $5,000 to murder Amidzich and Schmitz, saying: “I want to get rid of them. I want them dead… I’ll give you $5,000 if you’d kill them.”
Vincent Maniaci was found guilty of extortion and moving stolen goods on April 28, 1975 after seven men and five women deliberated for 5 1/2 hours after a 9-day trial. He was sentenced to three years in prison. The Journal reported that he “remained expressionless while the verdict was read, but wept while leaving the courtroom.”
Vincent Maniaci forfeited his operators license for Little Caesar’s (1758 North Water Street — the Trocadero in 2011) in late April 1975 due to being convicted in federal court.
The FBI interviewed a woman (name redacted) on May 1, 1975 who used to work for Sally Papia. The woman said “she was relieved to leave Sally’s employ because she found it difficult to work with Sally and felt Sally was always interfering with her. Sally was also very well-known for her temper and was upset when she quit.” The woman further said she briefly dated a man connected to Sally who had a bad temper and beat her “several times”.
The Kentucky Derby was held the first Saturday in May 1975. August Palmisano had roughly $1000 in play there and won $750. He had one customer (redacted) who bet $100 on Foolish Pleasure, the winning horse.
Defense attorney Gerald P. Boyle wrote a letter to Special Agent in Charge Herbert Hoxie on May 8, 1975 concerning the recent Maniaci case. He wrote, “I am hereby expressing to you our deepest admiration for the agents who were in charge of the investigation for their cooperation, objectivity and professionalism. This is in no way to say that we are happy that we lost… As a former prosecutor and at present a defense attorney, I admire professionalism and, knowing that we are all interested only in a search for the truth, I must commend the agents who worked on this case as being fair and upright. Finally, I hope we win on appeal.”
On May 9, 1975, Assistant US Attorney Leah Lampone said there might be a conflict of interest with having Franklyn Gimbel represent James Jennaro in the extortion case, as his brother Stanley Gimbel was going to be a government witness. She also said there was a possible conflict of interest having Gerald Boyle represent Russell Enea, as he had previously represented Herbert Holland in state cases.
An informant told the FBI on May 9, 1975 that Vito Aiello had taken up the call against Balistrieri and was telling people they must “get rid of” him. The informant said at this stage it was just talk and Aiello would need more backing.
On May 10, 1975, due in part to an investigation by the newspaper, the Common Council began to look into Frank Trovato, who was alleged to have filed a false application for his tavern. Alderman Clarence Miller was ready to proceed, but wasn’t sure if it was his job or that of the district attorney. “Do we — the city — initiate charges for falsification of affidavits by Trovato or does the district attorney?” he asked. To the Journal, he said, “It distresses us when you people dig these things out that our own people should be catching.” With regard to police opposition, Miller said, “Police objections to licenses are all with the same kind of fervor. We never know whether it is a mild or strong objection. Most of the time (Deputy Inspector William) Jens sits there and doesn’t make a strong presentation.” Trovato was alleged to have hidden past arrests, lied about his residency, and hidden his interest in another tavern.
On May 16, 1975, the Milwaukee Journal reported that their investigation uncovered an improper license for the Northbrook Inn. The license was in the name of Arthur Schroeder for the Marine Gardens. William Gillan and Richard Schmitz, who were renting the building for $500 per month from Schroeder, had not bothered to transfer the license. As Schroeder had no management or ownership role in the Northbrook, beyond being the landlord, his license was not valid for their use. City Clerk Helmund Wolf further told the newspaper, “A license is not transferable from person to person. Northbrook would have had to apply.”
James Jennaro and Leroy Bell were convicted of soliciting a prostitute on Monday, May 19, 1975. He was sentenced to one year in the house of correction by Judge Max Raskin. A presentence report connected Jennaro to a variety of organized crime activities, particularly concerning Frank Balistrieri and Frank Buccieri. He was named a “principal figure” in Milwaukee’s crime syndicate and may be “possibly interstate”. Positive references were given by Judge Ralph Podell, Roundys executive John Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal vice president Eugene Cuske, Towne Realty president Daniel Tishberg and Father Leonard Sherrer. Cuske said he knew Jennaro only casually, not on a personal level, but had nothing “derogatory” to say about him. Scherrer said, “Jennaro has always been and still is a very high-minded man. I never saw any indication of anything other than that.” Judge William A. Jennaro, James’ cousin, said James was “a gentleman, a kind man and concerned for his family.” Spicuza had formerly employed James and his father in the produce business and considered James “a very nice kid.” In the report, James Jennaro said, “I don’t know why I’m convicted of this crime. It’s just not true. I allegedly introduced some men to some women. The women happened to be prostitutes. What they did together is none of my business. I didn’t do anything that any other tavern keeper hasn’t done. I have suffered greatly for this. My family has suffered greatly — all of the publicity. I think this whole thing is very unfair.” Jennaro was given one year in the House of Correction with Huber privileges, a year probation and fined $1,000. Bell was sentenced to two years to run concurrent with a six-year sentence he was already serving.
District Attorney E. Michael McCann spoke out against Jennaro’s sentence. “We are profoundly disappointed with Jennaro’s sentence. Probation is a farce for him… There is no meaningful indication that Jennaro intends to terminate his association with those people mentioned in his presentence report who are known to have underworld activity.” McCann then referenced five black men who received sentences of five to nine years for a similar charge, and compared them to Rose M. Curro, 37, who ran a call girl operation and served only four months in Taycheedah. “Whites with organized crime connections who promote prostitution clearly fare better than blacks who promote prostitution whether they have organized crime connections or not.” Jennaro’s sentence “will reinforce the cynical perception of the law by organized criminals and will enhance the perception by blacks that whites generally fare better in the criminal justice system.” Finally, he attacked Jennaro’s Huber release. “While others are spending stifling hours in jail, Jennaro will wile away the hours in an air-conditioned restaurant exchanging pleasantries.”
Frank Trovato was interviewed by Sgt. Raymond Owsiany on May 20, 1975, concerning allegations that he falsified his liquor license. Specifically, Trovato discussed his relationship with Sally’s, which included him as an officer when he said he was not, having been one from 1968 to 1972, but no longer. The report said, “He was under the opinion that when he left their employment, he would also be removed as an officer of the corporation. He stated he never received any financial interests of shares or stocks while a vice president.” Trovato was supported in this by Leo Crivello, the president of Sally’s, who said that Trovato received no financial benefit other than a Christmas bonus, and that ended when he quit. Further supporting him was the latest liquor license application for Sally’s, which listed the vice president not as Trovato, but as Carolyn Candace Marie Papia, daughter of Sally Papia. Trovato’s liquor license application also had a discrepancy with his residence, as he claimed to have lived in Milwaukee for many years, when in fact he had been in Chicago for a while (1972-1973). Trovato said that he maintained a residence in Milwaukee at his mother’s house, so never considered himself having left. Regardless, the license only required one year of residency, so as long as he had been in Milwaukee since May 1974 (which he was) the point was moot.
On May 20 or 21, 1975, Kurt Amidzich was placed in federal protective custody. He had previously declined the offer, and was now the third person in the Northbrook Inn case to be protected. Also under guard were Jacob John Schlechter and Richard Schmitz.
On May 22, 1975, jail authorities rejected James Jennaro’s request to be released 18 hours each day for work. He claimed to go to work each day at 8:00am and be there straight through until 2:00am. The authorities decided this was not only absurd, but clearly against Huber rules which state the maximum time out of jail per day is 14 hours, which includes driving time. Jailer Joseph Littel noted, “He’s not the first guy to want to be out more than 14 hours. That’s a real common request when they get here. We have people who get part time jobs, who want to go to church service and attend school all of a sudden.”
On May 27, 1975, Sally Papia and her co-defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges of arson and extortion.
An informant told the FBI on May 29, 1975 that Joseph Enea had bought the Empire Lounge with help from relatives in Minneapolis (presumably the Carbone family). He was unable to get a license, however, because of a $9,000 tax lien against the Ad Lib, which was in Enea’s name. Enea went to Balistrieri — the true owner — and was told since the lounge is in his name, it is his problem.
A Milwaukee Journal article on June 1, 1975 was titled “The Outfit Cheats Us of Millions”. Reporter Richard L. Kenyon wrote, “Organized crime in Milwaukee is a flourishing multi-million dollar a year business with thousands of people at the bottom contributing their money to a handful of bosses at the top.” Was this an exaggeration?
An FBI agent went to Joseph Enea’s home (1522 East Kane Place) on June 3, 1975. Enea told the agent that he did not wish to talk, but asked what specifically had brought the agent there. The agent said he heard that Enea had purchased the Empire Lounge but was having financial and licensing difficulties. Enea said any troubles he had would be taken care of with help from his family and he had no desire to talk to the FBI about it.
On June 4, 1975, Milwaukee aldermen indicated that Vincent Maniaci’s tavern license would not likely be renewed. Alderman Clarence Miller opposed the renewal, and Alderman Edward Griffin (who was Maniaci’s alderman) was not in favor. Griffin said his district had enough taverns and “I don’t need some guy who’s tied up with big crime. I just don’t need it.”
On the night of June 19, 1975, a gunman (suspected of being Butch Blasi) entered Sam Giancana’s kitchen in Oak Park, Illinois and shot him in the back of the head as he was frying sausage and peppers. After Giancana fell to the ground, the gunman turned him over and shot him six more times in the face and neck. This would mark a turning point for the Maniaci brothers in Milwaukee, as Giancana was seen as their protector (despite his falling out of favor with the Chicago Outfit).
On Friday, June 20, 1975, the Milwaukee Police Department submitted a report opposing the license of Sally’s Steak House, pointing out the arrests of James Jennaro, Sally Papia and Max Adonnis. The records of these people, as well as assistant manager Russell Enea, were attached to the report. Alderman Kevin D. O’Connor also said he would
oppose the renewal of the license unless Jennaro was fired as manager.
On June 30, 1975, it all ended with a whimper when the Ad Lib liquor license quietly expired. Unable to keep the license, and facing sizable tax liens, management moved on to a disastrous run at the nearby Empire Lounge (716 North Plankinton).
Edward V. Minkowski, 49, president of Kenosha Liquor Company, was shot once in the back with a .22 on July 8, 1975 while sitting in a parked car at 6640 15th Avenue, on the south side of Kenosha. Albert Brownlee, 18, was later (December) charged with the murder, but for a while suspicions arose that this might be a gang hit, and the FBI stepped in to handle ballistics in order to compare the bullet to other murders. Tests were inconclusive and the weapon from Minkowski’s death was never recovered. Minkowski was survived by his wife, Betty Drago Minkowski, and parents Edward J. Minkowski and Lillian Mawacke Minkowski.
In the summer of 1975, August Maniaci’s daughter got married. Maniaci invited Frank Balistrieri, but Balistrieri did not respond and went so far as to tell other mob members not to attend the wedding.
On Monday, July 14, 1975, the License Committee castigated the Milwaukee Police Department for not updating Vincent Maniaci’s record. Maniaci, who was applying for a license renewal, did not have his extortion conviction on his application. Conversely, the police warned against Richard Czarnecki for his association with gamblers Palmisano, Halmo and Dulski and his “questionable moral character”, despite having no convictions. The Committee turned down Maniaci but accepted Czarnecki, who was to take over Little Caesar’s. Alderman Edward Griffin also objected to Czarnecki, and despite the tavern being in his ward, he was outnumbered. Alderman Warren Braun said that guilt by association was no reason to deny a license and the police were “not going to act like a Gestapo”.
The next night, Tuesday, July 15, 1975, the Czarnecki license went to the entire common council for a vote and was rejected. There was a heated debate, with Alderman Robert Anderson defending Czarnecki and saying, “When you deal with the US Constitution, there is no such thing as aldermanic privilege.” Alderman Griffin said he was trying to protect people on the East Side protected from tavern owners that might be associated with criminals. Ultimately, Griffin won the debate and the council voted 10-6 against Czarnecki.
On July 19, 1975, the Apollo Weight Lifting club (1915 West Hampton) closed its doors in exchange for a guarantee that prosecutors would stop their case against it, as they believed it was an illegal massage parlor (i.e. brothel). City prosecutor David Felger said he would hold the case open for two years to make sure there were no tricks. Herbert Holland, 31, had been charged with operating a massage parlor without a license. Michelle Payne, 21, was charged with massaging without a permit and allowing her client to be unclothed. Holland was facing fines ranging from $7,000 to $24,000, making closure the obvious choice. Holland told reporters that he felt he was forced out of business because he simply couldn’t afford to risk the costs of court. He hinted that he might reopen the business outside of city limits. Felger said that might enough to bring the charges back. “We don’t live in an isolated vacuum,” he commented. “We’re concerned also about the surrounding suburbs.” The newspaper noted that only the city had anti-massage parlor laws. The county and state had no such laws.
At the end of July, Richard Czarnecki sued the Common Council for denying his license, saying the denial was “arbitrary, capricious and without factual foundation.” The City Attorney asked Judge George Burns to dismiss the suit, arguing that Czarnecki had “failed to avail himself of the proper remedy at law.” Judge Burns threw the suit out two weeks later, saying that blaming Alderman Griffin was not valid when the council voted in the majority.
Sally Papia filed a complaint against the Common Council on July 29, 1975 saying that the condition of removing James Jennaro as manager was “arbitrary and capricious”. She said she had removed him to get the license approved, but had thus far been unable to find a replacement who could handle the job. Jennaro was “necessary for the proper management of the restaurant and its related activities”.
On August 5, 1975, an informant told the FBI that a contract had been put out on Sally Papia, who was considered a “weak link”. Allegedly $7500 was paid to have her killed by Thanksgiving.
Castenzio John Mattano was found lying on the floor of his Legion Barber Shop at 415 West Wells Street (inside the Belmont Hotel) on August 13, 1975. He was the victim of a robber who beat him about the head area, then shot him in the head with a .25 causing his death. The killer then removed money from the victim’s pants pockets. Castenzio was known to his customers as “Steve,” he was 65 years old, a barber all of his life, and was at his Wells Street location for 10 years.
Joseph Balistrieri testified at a grand jury hearing on August 13, 1975 concerning Leo Roethe’s attempts to secure a Teamsters loan. Balistrieri told the court, “I rendered services to Mr. Roethe in my professional capacity and I have a legitimate belief that those services were as a lawyer and as an attorney.” When asked if he was paid a retainer, he said he could not answer because it violated attorney-client privilege. The judge said it did not, and Balistrieri then said, “In that case, I was paid no retainer fee by Mr. Roethe.” This testimony was later called into question: Balistrieri claimed to be Roethe’s attorney in order to avoid testifying, but Roethe said at no point was Balistrieri ever his attorney, but had in fact been representing the Teamsters in their discussions.
On the evening of August 13, 1975, Frank Dimiceli bought a 1224-pound steer named Bachman at the State Fair auction for $18,000. Traditionally, the winning steer was purchased by Pabst Brewing, but Dimiceli kept outbidding them. When asked why he paid so much, Dimiceli said he wanted to “help the kid”, meaning 20-year old Robert May of Mineral Point, who had raised the animal. May said he would use the money to raise more cattle.
Nunzio C. Ferraro, former boxer and bodyguard for Rocco Youse, applied for the liquor license for the Ad Lib night club on (roughly) August 19, 1975. The previous operator, Joseph Enea, had not renewed his license.
The Milwaukee Journal reported on August 20, 1975 that Anthony Cimino was going to rent the restaurant space in the Shorecrest Hotel from Joseph Balistrieri for $1500 per month.
Chicago Heights capo Alfred Pilotto called Frank LaGalbo at his home twice on August 21, 1975. The nature of these calls is unknown.
On August 22, 1975, an informant said Walter Brocca was back in business at 1243 South 16th Street with a place called Dinette City. Further, that Frank Balistrieri recently went to Chicago to meet the new group of LCN members who were “made”. Joseph Enea was rumored to make the Empire Lounge a gay bar (despite his not being gay) because of the profit potential. The lounge would be out of business within three months. Angelo Aiello was already running the Mint Bar as a gay bar and it was working out well for him. The informant said in his opinion the death of Castenzio John Mattano was strictly robbery with no ulterior motives — Mattano was not known to be involved in any criminal activities, was well-respected and well-liked.
By August 28, 1975, Anthony Pipito became employed at the Publix Garage at the corner of Green Bay Road and Capitol Drive. He lived in an apartment over the top of the garage.
Patricia Wisniewski, 35, was shot in the chest and killed in her mobile home at about 1:00am on August 30, 1975 in Beecher, Marinette County. Her three small children were inside the trailer at the time but did not find her for almost seven hours because they had been asleep. Julie (8), Brenda (7) and Emil (3) walked to the home of neighbor Joan French and said their mother was “sick”. French found Patricia lying face down. After declaring her (obviously) dead, Wisniewski’s body was taken to Iron Mountain for an autopsy. Wisniewski’s husband, Antone, was a truck driver for Kohl’s Food Stores and had been a witness in the case of mobster Vincent Maniaci. Antone claimed he had received three anonymous calls threatening him and his wife between March and April, around the time of the trial. Maniaci’s involvement in this death is highly questionable (in my opinion). The death may have simply been a hunting accident, though there was speculation that someone had knocked on the door prior to shooting Wisniewski. Strangely, this had been the fourth fatal shooting in Marinette County in the last two months; prior to that, no one had been killed for three years.
On September 1, 1975, the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation went through a reorganization, shifting their focus away from organized crime and towards narcotics and white collar crime. Herbert Krusche, who was head of the Organized Crime Bureau, became the head of the White Collar Crime Bureau. The department was facing budget cuts, and 16 agents who had worked on alcohol and tobacco were transferred to the State Revenue Department. Although the Organized Crime Bureau was discontinued, its “functions” were going to be handled by the General Investigations Bureau, headed by Russell Nelson. DCI administrator Frank Meyers told the press that white collar crime “is a more important problem in Milwaukee and Wisconsin than traditional organized crime.” Meyers explained that the DCI had not run an “extensive” anti-Mafia campaign, such as one with surveillance, in several years.
On September 4, 1975, Irv Komassa was interviewed by the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office. He said he knew Pat Wisniewski and she had no enemy in the world. Her death shocked him.
On Monday, September 8, 1975, police searched Antone Wisniewski’s Pewaukee home (709 East Wisconsin Avenue) while investigating his wife’s death. They found nothing there indicating he was involved in a murder, but they did find numerous items connecting him to theft. They found toiletries, 21 boxes of flash cubes, 15 packages of film, 11 boxes of razorblades, kitchen goods and clothing with Kohl’s labels on them.
Also on September 8, Theodore Beaver was given a polygraph examination concerning his claim that his beating of a government witness at the Empire Room was personal and not because of the man’s being a witness. The results were inconclusive. He insisted he was intoxicated and had gone to Jim’s Bar, but found it closed and went to the Empire instead, where the fight broke out. Prior to his exam, Beaver had drank “two Scotches” and the FBI noted that he was a heavy drinker and possibly an alcoholic. His demeanor was described as “cocky and self-assured and slightly antagonistic”.
On September 9, 1975, Joseph and John Balistrieri visited Alderman Edward Griffin at his office and urged him to grant a liquor license to Anthony Cimino, 27. Although Cimino had no criminal record, Griffin was holding up the license because he found it odd that a person fresh out of UW-Milwaukee would be able to afford the $1,500-per-month rent of the Shorecrest Bar. Griffin believed that Cimino was essentially a “front” for the Balistrieri family.
On September 11, 1975 gambling operator August Joseph Maniaci, a suspected informer, was murdered by five gun shots to the head (along with one to the left arm and one to the left shoulder) in an alley outside his Milwaukee home at 2121 North Newhall Street. The gun was a .22 with a silencer. The hit took place around 7:10 or 7:20am as Maniaci was preparing to go to work as a salesman for Prize Steak Products at 4264 South 27th Street, Milwaukee. Maniaci was moved to his garage. Augie’s wife, Mary, was hysterical, kneeling in his blood and shouting “Wake up! Wake up!” Vincent Maniaci, who rushed to the scene, was overheard by reporters muttering, “That son of a bitch. That son of a bitch.” The gun that killed him would later be found by a sanitation worker in a storm drain near the Milwaukee River.
The morning of the killing, the Milwaukee Journal spoke with a confidential source who claimed, “Maniaci isn’t the only guy who was supposed to drop. There might be others, at least that’s the word on the streets. Bigger fish than Augie, that’s for damn sure. He was small time and always was.”
A witness, under hypnosis, claimed to have seen Chicago Outfit member Charles Nicoletti near Maniaci’s home moments after his murder. In contradiction to this, Robert D. Hardin later testified that he helped Nick D’Andrea murder Maniaci. Maniaci apparently owed Chicago gangster Albert “Caesar” Tocco money. (Nick D’Andrea was later killed by another Chicago mobster, Nick Calabrese, in August 1981. His body was mutilated and placed in a burning car. In 1977, Nicoletti received three .38 slugs to the back of his head while waiting in his Oldsmobile in a suburban Northlake, Illinois, restaurant parking lot. He was brought to the hospital where he died six hours later.) Another witness, under hypnosis, picked out a photo of Paul John Schiro. However, when later asked to pick Schiro out of a lineup, could not do so.
A 1964 black Ford seen in the alley minutes before Maniaci’s death bore license plates that traced back to a 1971 Lincoln owned by Triangle Wholesale Company, a Kenosha business connected to Edward Minkowski.
The weapon involved in Maniaci’s slaying was traced. The gun, a .22 Browning automatic with serial number 74829U-7 and a silencer, had been purchased from Bob John Inc (doing business as Tamiami Gun Shop) in Miami in 1967. From there it went to the Duome Import-Export Company, but was soon passed on to an unidentified owner. Not long after this, the Duome Company went out of business. FBI and ATF investigations of Duome found that the company had purchased over 100 guns from Tamiami in 1967, but the company was never registered with the state, and inventory records of where the guns went when Duome shut down could not be found. The FBI strongly suggested that Duome was a false company for fronting weapons for the Lebanese government.
Few Milwaukee hoodlums attended August Maniaci’s wake, with the exception of his brother Vincent. Attending were Tony Guardalabene, Santo Marino, Peter Sciortino, Sally Papia, Jimmy Jennaro, Joseph Maniaci and Sam Cefalu. An informant told the FBI that Augie had been close friends with Sam Giancana, and it was interesting they were both killed by .22s with silencers.
An informant spoke with August Palmisano about the Maniaci murder on September 16, 1975 and Palmisano told him that he was very “shook up” about the murder, which he knew was a professional job. Although Palmisano did not know who did the killing, he suspected “it was an old vendetta that came out of Kenosha.”
Two FBI agents interviewed August Palmisano on September 18, 1975 at Richie’s Tavern. Palmisano said he did not know who killed August Maniaci but that he was very upset about it. He denied being involved in any illegal activities, which the FBI knew to be false. They also considered his answers evasive.
An informant told the FBI on September 18, 1975 that Steve DiSalvo had been appointed to the Board of Directors at Del Chemical by Frank Balistrieri, and this had upset Frank Stelloh. He did not know why Stelloh was upset. He further said Stelloh had patched things up with his girlfriend, but was also now seeing a younger woman who worked at the Pancake House.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Schneider and a state agent flew to California to speak with Sid Caesar on September 24, 1975 in relation to a John Doe probe conducted by Judge Elliot N. Walstead. Authorities would only say the probe was related to “a convicted felon with ties to organized crime”, but the questioning of Caesar made it obvious the target was Anthony Pipito. Upon his return, Schneider spoke with the FBIand informed them he was trying to ascertain how many people Pipito had set up with local prostitutes.
FBI agents observed Frank Stelloh on September 29, 1975 at 11:50am at Keith’s Pancake House with another man in a brown Cadillac. The agents followed the Cadillac to Bill Blackmore Oldsmobile, where another man was picked up.
John J. Whitehall, 29, was on trial before Judge Robert W. Warren on October 1, 1975 for federal obstruction of justice, for telling Phillip Jung that Theodore Beaver would “bury him”. The court was also presented with a transcript where Whitehall had allegedly told Jung, “You don’t know how lucky you are. We’ve discussed blowing your little bald fucking head off your shoulders.”
Attorney Gerald P. Boyle argued Vincent Maniaci’s appeal on October 5, 1975 before a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Appeals Court. Boyle said that because the judge had referenced “The Godfather” during his jury instructions, the jury was biased and the court’s decision should be reversed. Judge Wilbur F. Pell told Boyle, “I don’t think you’re giving the Milwaukee jurors any credit.” Judge Luther M. Swygert concurred, pointing out that sometimes judges “say too much”, but this does not automatically qualify as an error.
Whitehall was acquitted on October 7, following the closing argument of his attorney, Joseph Hallows. Hallows acknowledged that Jung had “a black eye and a fat lip” but pointed out that Whitehall “never laid a finger” on him. He said it was not logical for a beating after grand jury testimony, rather than before, to be an obstruction of justice. And he further said the insinuation that Whitehall was Vincent Maniaci’s “henchman” was a stretch, as the two had only met a couple of times.
An informant told the FBI on October 10, 1975 that Frank Stelloh was involved with a man in Oshkosh who was distributing pornographic films. The man was described as 45-50 years old, with brown bushy hair, and he was said to manage a department store.
On October 20, 1975, an informant told the FBI that Steve DiSalvo was putting ideas in Frank Balistrieri’s head in order to alienate him from other people. The informant also believed that DiSalvo was reporting to Tony Accardo about Balistrieri’s activities without Balistrieri’s knowledge.
On Tuesday, October 21, 1975, the Shorecrest Hotel had its liquor license approved under the name of Anthony C. Cimino, 27. Opposing the license was Alderman Edward Griffin, joined by Robert Ertl. Griffin, as he had earlier that year with Little Caesar’s, questioned who would really be running the bar.
Cimino, a few days later, started a court action against Griffin alleging possible libel or defamation. A hearing date was set for November 3 in front of Court Commissioner Henry G. Piano. At the hearing, Griffin was asked to name his constituent who allegedly gave Griffin unflattering information about Cimino. Griffin, through Attorney John Kitzke, said that information was privileged and would not divulge it.
Anthony Pipito was arrested on October 24, 1975 for three counts of soliciting prostitutes and one count of threatening a witness.
An informant told the FBI on October 24, 1975 that the Iron Horse had been foreclosed on by the bank. He further said “the black cook had lost her shirt trying to run the place”.
Thomas Piscitello was arrested on October 28, 1975 for being party to the crime of prostitution.(Couldn’t find an article, but presumably this was related to Pipito.)
The last week of October 1975, an informant was in Richie’s on Broadway and spoke with Vincent Maniaci. Maniaci told the informant that Frank Balistrieri had been “pulling some unethical deals” on the Milwaukee guys, and he blamed Balistrieri for his brother’s death. “I feel like blowing that little son-of-a-bitch’s brains out,” he told the informant.
On Friday, October 31, 1975, Anthony Pipito, 38, was bound over for trial for soliciting prostitutes for comedian Sid Caesar by Judge Patrick J. Madden. During a break in the hearing, Pipito told reporters, “They’re letting five people go to get me.” Caesar, a man and three prostitutes were granted immunity to testify against Pipito. A 23-year old prostitute said she met Pipito and Caesar at the Astor Hotel, where Caesar “was mumbling his words”. She stayed roughly an hour and performed a sexual act. Pipito was also bound over on a charge of extortion after Thomas Garrella testified that Pipito had threatened him not to tell what he knew about Pipito, the prostitutes and the pimp, Herbert Holland. Pipito was working as a set designer at the Centre Stage Dinner Playhouse, where Caesar was performing the Neil Simon play “Prisoner of Second Avenue”.
Max Adonnis was sentenced on November 3, 1975 to eight years in Waupun State Prison for two counts of auto theft from three years prior.
A preliminary hearing on November 5, 1975 saw two of the four charges against Anthony Pipito dropped. The next day he was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and had his bail set at $40,000. His trial was scheduled for January 7 by Judge Victor Manian. While in the underground parking lot of MacArthur Square, Pipito got into an exchange with prosecutor Thomas Schneider. Schneider did not want to lower Pipito’s bail, and the prisoner blurted out, “I could give you the guys who killed Fazio and Pogrob.” He further said, “Hey, Schneider, what are you trying to do to me, you little punk?” Schneider allegedly replied, “Justice.” Pipito shot back, “I’m going to beat these raps and throw a drink in your face. You just wait till I get out.”
An informant told the FBI on November 7, 1975 that Frank Stelloh was put in charge of collecting $8000 in bad debts for a man in Phoenix who had previously been a West Allis merchant. Apparently, two men from Illinois complained to the attorney general about Stelloh’s use of pressure.
On November 10, 1975, Judge Gerlach entered a judgment against Frank Balistrieri for $12,205. Jackie Bright Productions said Balistrieri had failed to pay the $4900 per week he was supposed to have done for featuring “Barefoot in the Park” at the Centre Stage.
A man who had financial dealings with Steve DiSalvo and was represented by Joseph Balistrieri testified before the grand jury on November 11, 1975 and pleaded the Fifth.
The FBI spoke with a Racine police officer on November 13, 1975. He said he had been watching Kate’s Lunch (1347 State Street, Racine) and Stanley Miller arrived between 9:30am and 11:30am to pick up bets from people inside. He did not know where the bets went.
An informant told the FBI on November 20, 1975 that Joseph Enea had been arrested after the owner of the Empire Lounge (716 North Plankinton Avenue) reported him for selling off the lounge’s furnishings (bar stools, lights, tables and piano).
A .22 Browning automatic with a silencer was found in a catch basin on the North Avenue Viaduct on November 20, 1975. The gun was matched with the murder of August Maniaci.
On November 28, 1975, a source told the FBI that August Palmisano was receiving football betting information, and also said that Pasquale’s on Capitol was beginning to get a reputation as a gambler hangout. The same source said that Vince Maniaci had been hosting craps games in his apartment, and numerous people were involved — losses were extensive.
Steve DeSalvo, Frank Stelloh and various Italians met at the Pfister Hotel on November 30, 1975. At one point, DeSalvo took someone aside and scolded them for mentioning Frank Balistrieri’s name while being taped by the FBI.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Vincent Maniaci on December 4, 1975.
An informant reported that Frank Buccieri was in town on December 10, 1975 and staying at the Holiday Inn Central at 19th and Wisconsin. He was allegedly helping to sell Trovato’s and was going to take the owner with him to Palm Springs. Buccieri was further rumored to “have something on” a manager (who was also an attorney) at the Holiday Inn and stayed there without charge.
By December 10, 1975, Joseph Enea was running Joey’s on Brady, which was a sandwich shop. His son was responsible for much of the cooking, and it was reportedly a failing business.
The Teamsters held their Christmas party at the Center Stage on December 14, 1975. They were billed for 327 persons at a cost of $12,406.99. Among the attendees were Mayor Henry Maier, Judge Robert Curley, Judge Louis Ceci, Judge John McCormick, Judge Robert Miech, Judge Michael Sullivan, County Supervisor F. Thomas Ament, and State Highway Commission Chairman Robert Huber. Mayor Maier spoke to the guests, though the press was not allowed inside to hear his remarks. As he was leaving, a reporter asked Maier what he had said. “What’s the point? What the goddamn point of this? What are you doing here?” the mayor asked. “I want to know what you said upstairs,” the reporter replied. “What are you trying to make of this? You’re trying to find the mayor guilty of some wrongdoing. The Journal has tried that for years and it’s found nothing.” When again asked to say what he spoke about, the mayor said the party was “a privileged affair, a private party and not an official appearance. There are six or seven judges up there. Are you going to take their pictures, too?” “We might. Was Frank Balistrieri there?” “He owns the place,” said the mayor. “I didn’t know that. We always thought Peter Balistrieri owned the Centre Stage.” “Well, I always thought Frank did.” “Was he there?” “He was in the lobby, but not right in the party.” “Do you want to be associated with Frank Balistrieri?” “I’ll tell you, I don’t want to be associated with the goddamn Journal.” The reporter asked again, and the mayor replied, “I want to be associated with one person, and that’s with Henry W. Maier.”
Charges against James R. Jennaro, 45, were dropped on December 15, citing lack of evidence. Closing arguments for the conspiracy trial involving Sally Papia, Joseph Basile and others were delivered on Wednesday, December 17, 1975. Joseph Balistrieri, Basile’s attorney, said, “I don’t know how you can convict him, based on the testimony of the gypsies, tramps, vagabonds and thieves that the government has presented in this case.” Those involved were convicted December 19.
Milwaukee Detective John Schroeder was forced to resign in late December 1975 after it was discovered that he was making visits to the home of Sally Papia. The purpose of these visits is unclear, but the conduct was viewed as unprofessional by Internal Affairs.
US Attorney William J. Mulligan wrote a letter to FBI Director Clarence J. Kelley on December 22, 1975 praising the Milwaukee Office’s work in the Sally Papia case. Mulligan wrote concerning the agent in charge of the investigation, “I can say without hesitation his performance exhibited the highest degree of professional competence and personal dedication.” The agent “followed every possible investigative lead” and “did the overwhelming amount of investigative leg work necessary”. The agent also provided “the personal advice which the prosecution sorely needed.”
Thomas “Tommy Fish” Piscitello, 54, plead guilty on Monday, December 29, 1975 to two counts of aiding and abetting prostitution at the Tender Trap and Fish’s Harbor taverns. His partner, Leroy Bell, was already serving time in Waupun when Piscitello accepted a plea bargain.
Joseph Frank Alioto died in 1976 at age 39.
Vincent Maniaci began serving a three year sentence in Sandstone Federal Prison on January 20, 1976 for violating the Extortionate Credit Transaction statute. A prosecutor in the Eastern District formally declined on January 28 to prosecute Maniaci for threats he had made to Karl Lotharius because Maniaci was in prison. Prosecution of August Palmisano and another man was not initiated because the prosecutor did not feel there was sufficient evidence.
An informant named Stanley Miller on January 21, 1976 as a runner (picking up bets) at Wimpy’s, Ace Stamping, Kate’s Lunch, AMC, and Sir Thomas Lounge. This same day, the FBI (including agent Edward Kinzer) followed him from Bernacchi Pharmacy to Cardinali Bakery, the Paddock Club and Kenosha Cartage before 10:00am.
Joseph Maniaci was convicted in Dane County of aiding in a fraudulent sale on February 5, 1976. He was sentenced to one year probation by Judge A. E. Simonson.
Stanley Miller was seen going into the Paddock Club at 7:38am on February 6, 1976. On February 10, he was seen going to Kate’s Lunch in Racine at 9:45am and again at 11:00am.
A red van (license C44780) arrived at the Del Chemical Company on February 11, 1976 and picked up office furniture and other equipment from the closed business.
Dismissed Detective Paul S. Viljevac went before the Milwaukee County Fire and Police Commission on February 17, 1976 to appeal his dismissal (he had provided confidential information to Max Adonnis, including a photo of drug dealer Thomas Sack). Viljevac told the commission, “Max had approached me and told me he had an informer that wanted to put down a big drug dealer.” Herbert H. Holland responded, “I told [Adonnis] we wanted it because we wanted to blow this guy away.” Inspector Kenneth Hagopian admitted that he had called Viljevac a “traitor”, a “snake” and “a cancer in our midst”. He clarified, “I had positive information that he had supplied confidential information to people who weren’t supposed to get it. I told him that if I were in his place, I would get off the department.” At the request of the assistant city attorney, a special agent testified at the hearing and Schroeder’s dismissal was upheld.
An informant told the FBI on February 18, 1976 that Bernacchi’s Pharmacy was used to call in horse racing bets by Stanley Miller, among others.
On February 19, 1976, Stanley Miller was followed by Agent Edward Kinzer to the Paddock Club (11:58am), Robinson Chevrolet (1:40pm), Javelin Rest (2:00pm) and Speedway (2:38pm).
Steve DiSalvo was witnessed in late February 1976 removing a gun from a trash can outside of a McDonalds’s. Menomonee Falls Police arrested DiSalvo and took the gun. It was a .25 (6.35mm) caliber Astra-Unsety CIA S.A.-Guernica (Astra Cub) with a serial number of 939050. There was no clip or ammunition. A trace was made with negative results, and the police handed the gun over to the FBI on May 19. Their analysis also could not trace the gun to any crimes.
Salvatore DiMaggio was paroled from Waupun State Prison on March 2, 1976. He went to live with his family at 2778 North 48th Street and took up employment with Turner Construction Company. An informant told the FBI that shortly after getting out, DiMaggio was already involved in the planning of several burglaries and was contemplating setting up a narcotics (cocaine) purchase in San Diego. The burglaries would be used to finance the cocaine purchases, as DiMaggio wished to start a narcotics trade without Frank Balistrieri’s knowledge or money.
Joseph Frank Enea died of a stroke at his brother Russell’s home in Bayside on March 18, 1976. He was only 44 years old. Frank Balistrieri provided a large floral arrangement for the funeral, and attended along with his two sons. Also present were Sally Papia and Jimmy Jennaro. A rumor started that Enea was hit on the head the night of his death while leaving a bar near Brady and Arlington, but the autopsy found no evidence of foul play.
FBI agents watched Stanley Miller at Kate’s Lunch in Racine on March 24, 1976 from 9:55am to 10:47am. When he left, he was heading south towards Kenosha. An agent in Kenosha followed Miller to Waukegan.
Max Adonnis was sentenced by Judge John Reynolds on April 12, 1976 to fifteen years in the custody of the Attorney General to be served concurrently with his eight-year state sentence. Reynolds sentenced Sally Papia to one year probation on April 26.
Theodore Beaver appeared in Milwaukee County Court on April 23, 1976 and pleaded guilty to one count of battery. He was sentenced to thirty days in jail and fined $125. Beaver had agreed to plead guilty o na state charge of battery if the federal charge of obstruction was dropped.
A party for Phil Valley was held at the Centre Stage Dinner Playhouse on the evening of April 25, 1976, beginning at 6:30pm. This was to commemorate Valley’s retirement from the Bartenders Union and also his 80th birthday. Over 500 people were expected to attend, including mobsters from Canada, Chicago, St. Louis, Brooklyn, Kansas City and San Francisco. How many hoods actually attended is unknown, though union officials from throughout the country — including the head of the Bartenders Union from Washington, DC — were present. A Chicago union man named “Paulsen” was there. Joseph P. Caminiti, Frank Balistrieri, August Palmisano, Frank Buccieri, Peter Balistrieri and Benny DiSalvo were seen. So were Jimmy Jennaro, Harry DeAngelo, Sam Librizzi, Eddie Maniaci, Walter Brocca, Angelo DiGeorgio, Andy Machi, Tom Guernieri, Russel Enea, “Camels” Lavora, Carl Dentice, John Piscuine, Arty Maniaci, Tom DeStefano, Tony “Petrolle” Machi, Tommy Ferrara, Tony Fazio, Angelo Fazio and Joe Sardino. Steve DiSalvo and his son Rick greeted people as they arrived, and Joseph Balistrieri served as master of ceremonies for the event. Sally Papia and her staff catered the event, with a rumor going around that she was planning to purchase Frenchy’s. One of the owners of Towne Realty (redacted, maybe Joseph Zilber) had a large table of guests. The union men from out of town stayed at the Milwaukee Inn.
On May 4, 1976, Judge Myron Gordon ordered Actors Equity Association to work with Peter Balistrieri through arbitration rather than cancel their contract with him. Balistrieri argued that if Actors Equity blacklisted him, it would effectively force the Center Stage out of business.
On Monday, May 24, 1976 Frank LaGalbo, who had previously been tied to three murders in Milwaukee, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the right side of his head. The weapon was a 6.35mm Astra automatic. Although it appeared as though he was getting into his car, the medical examiner ruled it a suicide. Two suicide notes were found in his home. Police did not investigate further, noting that LaGalbo had been in fear of his life for a long time. LaGalbo’s brother-in-law, Joseph Regano, was with Frank the morning he died and said Frank was depressed, especially since suffering a stroke in January that left him paralyzed on his left side. (How Regano was a brother-in-law remains unclear to me.)
Steve DiSalvo was observed at the Shorecrest Hotel on May 24, 1976. At 2:23pm, he was sitting in the front seat of a red Plymouth talking with another man.
On May 27, 1976, there was a conference between the FBI, ATF and the AUSA about bringing charges against Peter Balistrieri. They believed that Balistrieri had been lying on federal forms saying he was the sole owner of the Center Stage. They believed it could be shown that Frank Balistrieri was a hidden owner. They met again soon after with a copy of Form 11 (a retail liquor tax form), and while they believed the form had false information, they decided it would be too hard to prosecute.
James P. Venske, 36, was interviewed at Sandstone Federal Prison on June 2, 1976. He said he had met a man and they hit it off, and the man (redacted) told him to come to Milwaukee some time. Venske did so in February 1976 and was taken to Sandino’s Cocktail Lounge and Richie’s tavern, where he met August Palmisano and Vincent Maniaci.
In June 1976, August Palmisano sold his one-third ownership of Palmy Corp (which owned Richie’s on Broadway) to his son, John A. Palmisano.
On June 9, 1976, agents watched Stanley Miller go to Kate’s Lunch in Racine (9:54am until 11:05am) and then meet a man at Hardee’s (corner of Washington and Highway 31). At 11:46am, he headed south towards Kenosha.
On June 22, 1976, agents followed Stanley Miller to Kate’s Lunch, Hardee’s, the Paddock Club and Harriet’s Tavern.
On July 13, 1976, Special Agents observed Frank Stelloh arrive at Meurer’s Restaurant and Bakery (Forest Home at Morgan) at 6:50am. Steve DeSalvo arrived at 9:56am and meet up with Stelloh. At 8:44am, both men left the restaurant and drove separately to 5746 South 116th Street. At 9:19am, DeSalvo left the residence and went to the Southgate Shopping Center where he was seen window shopping before joining five other men at the Walgreens Drug Store Restaurant.
On July 15, 1976, Stelloh arrived at Meurer’s at 7:06am where he met with a man driving a black over blue Cadillac (license R99-862) one minute later. At 7:53am, DeSalvo arrived. At 8:29am, the three departed separately. Agents chose to follow DeSalvo, who went home, parking his Cordoba in the garage behind his house.
On July 16, Stelloh arrived at Meurer’s at 6:41am. He sat at the corner table left of the entrance. At 7:45am, another man arrived and sat with Stelloh. The second man left at 8:45am in a black Cadillac. Rather than stay with Stelloh, the agents tailed the other man to a house near South 116th Street and Seneca Trail in Hales Corners.
On July 21, 1976, Steve DeSalvo was observed at Frank Balistrieri’s residence from 2:45pm to 3:00pm.
On July 26, 1976, Frank Stelloh was observed leaving his home at 5:40pm and go to Grandlich Jewelers at the Country Fair Shopping Center (5620 South 108th Street, Hales Corners). He was in the store from 5:44 to 6:05pm. After this, he was followed north to Cedarburg and lost by the agents.
On July 27, 1976 at 5:39pm, Stelloh arrived at Grandlich Jewelers. At 6:00pm, Stelloh came out with an unknown woman and talked until 6:12pm. They went separate ways. He was then followed by agents to his home.
On July 28, 1976 at 6:50am, Stelloh arrived at Meurer’s. He was joined by the driver of a Cadillac at 7:07am. The Cadillac driver left at 8:24am. Stelloh and an unknown man in his early 30s exited the restaurant at 8:45am and walked to the man’s blue Ford pickup. The man drove off in his truck at 8:56am and Stelloh left a minute later. Some point this same day, the FBI went to Walgreens at the Southgate Shopping Center and wrote down the license plate numbers of the cars there, as Steve DeSalvo had used this as a meeting place and they wanted to know who he was meeting. (The file is redacted, so unless I want to run a VIN check on each of the cars, this will have to remain a mystery.)
Already waiting at Meurer’s on July 29, 1976 since 5:49am were the man who drives the black Cadillac and a man with a white Oldsmobile. Another man with a Cadillac arrived at 7:10am and purchased a newspaper from the stand there. Frank Stelloh arrived at 7:15am. DeSalvo arrived at 7:21am. At 8:27am, a man in his 20s arrived in a Ford Thunderbird. At 8:38am, everyone goes out to the parking lot to chat and the man in the T-Bird leaves. Stelloh and DeSalvo both left at 9:03am. The agents follow the black Cadillac after seeing the driver take an unknown item from Stelloh’s car. At 8:52am, the Cadillac parked at 6000 South 116th Street in Hales Corners and the surveillance stopped.
On July 30, Stelloh was seen at Meurer’s at 6:45am reading a newspaper. At 7:16am, another man arrived in his Cadillac and sat by Stelloh, conversing and reading the newspaper. DeSalvo arrived at 7:23am and joined them in conversation. DeSalvo left at 8:12am. The second man left at 8:21am, taking a newspaper from Stelloh’s car as he left. Stelloh left at 8:24am.
FBI agents were surveilling Frank Stelloh’s house on August 3, 1976. At 10:37pm, two men came out and shined a flashlight in and around Stelloh’s car before returning to the house. At 10:50pm he left, and Stelloh was followed west to a house at W310S1337 on County I in Mukwonago.
On August 5, 1976, Stelloh arrived at Meurer’s at 7:12am with his newspaper. At 7:24am, another man arrived and entered the restaurant with his newspaper. DeSalvo arrived at 8:23am. All three leave at 8:50am and talk in the parking lot. The unknown man left first, followed by DeSalvo at 9:26am and Stelloh at 9:28am. DeSalvo was observed at the Southgate Shopping Center and Walgreen’s Restaurant with an unknown white male from 9:30am to 9:41am. From 10:47 to 10:58, DeSalvo and the man were at St. Luke’s Hospital.
Stelloh arrived at Meurer’s on August 13, 1976 at 6:55am and brought a newspaper in with him. At 7:03am, the driver of a black Cadillac arrived and took a second newspaper from Stelloh’s car, bringing it into the restaurant. DeSalvo arrived at 7:48am. All three men, plus a fourth man, exited at 8:53am. The unknown man was followed in his brown Oldsmobile to Richie’s on Broadway. Once there, another unknown man came outside and talked to him briefly before the Oldsmobile drove off.
Steve DeSalvo was observed on September 10, 1976 at 4:30pm at Pitch’s Restaurant on Humboldt with an unidentified man.
Steve DeSalvo was observed on September 17, 1976 from 11:02am to 11:27am at the Walgreens on South 27th Street.
On September 23, 1976, Teamsters President Frank Fitzsimmons spoke with the press and said that Frank Ranney would cooperate with federal investigators — after reports that he was pleading the Fifth — and also resign his post. William Presser of Cleveland, another key figure of the pension fund, had already resigned. An unidentified source said Ranney had become ineffective since March, when he met in Kansas City with trustee Donald Peters and attorney Alvin Baron, the assets manager of the pension fund. Baron was close to Allen Dorfman, and would end up getting indicted in December for accepting a $200,000 kickback from Foy Bryant, who operated a cemetery in Fair Oaks, California.
By September 30, 1976, Frank Ranney had still not submitted his letter of resignation, and the Department of Labor gave him until October 1 to do so. Ranney’s attorney, Raymond J. Smith of Chicago, would not speak to the press. Smith had previously represented Allen Dorfman. A government spokesman said, “If there is no response from Mr. Ranney… we don’t know what we’ll do. We will have to make that decision afterward.” The spokesman said they have the authority to oust Ranney under the Pension Reform Act.
On October 2, 1976 (during the 1976 football season), FBI agents observed Sam Librizzi meet with Steve DeSalvo in the parking lot of St. Michael’s Hospital. When they were observed, Librizzi had the trunk of his vehicle open and both were standing at the rear of the vehicle talking. Photographs were taken of them on this occasion by government attorney J. Kenneth Lowrie. Later on October 2, 1976, after Librizzi and DeSalvo left the St. Michael Hospital parking lot, DeSalvo was observed going to Frank Balistrieri’s house and then leaving a short while later. Librizzi had gone to Sammy’s Tap at 630 East Locust.
On October 3, 1976, agents of the FBI observed DeSalvo again meeting with Sam Librizzi in the parking lot of St. Michael’s. DeSalvo was at the lot when Librizzi arrived. Upon arriving, Librizzi got into DeSalvo’s car. The two were observed discussing something in DeSalvo’s auto for approximately 10 minutes. On October 4, 1976, agents again observed Librizzi meet with DeSalvo at the hospital parking lot. On this occasion, DeSalvo got into Librizzi’s car for a short period of time and then both got out and stood alongside the vehicle. The meeting lasted approximately four minutes, and during it DeSalvo was gesturing in a forceful manner and speaking in a very loud voice. On this occasion, Librizzi said little or nothing, and was observed shrugging his shoulders.
On October 6, 1976, the Milwaukee Police Department began a “bumper hook” surveillance on Steve DeSalvo. The FBI observed DeSalvo and Stelloh meeting at Meurer’s at 7:45am.
On October 6, 1976, Ranney had still not resigned. His attorney instead announced that he would cooperate with investigators, and as long as he cooperated the government could not force him to resign. President Fitzsimmons still wanted Ranney to step down. A pension fund spokesman said that Ranney’s attorney said that his client would “blow the lid off everything, whatever that means.”
On October 25, 1976, Teamsters pension fund executive director Daniel J. Shannon announced he would be re-structuring the fund’s board of trustees, including reducing the membership from 16 to 10. Of the new board, four members would be carried over and six would be new. Frank Ranney was specifically mentioned as one member who would not be returning. This decision effectively forced him out of the union (at least officially). Ranney would retire from the union altogether in December, although he maintained a strong connection to the union and continued to drive a car registered to the union.
On October 29, 1976, the new pension fund board was announced. Along with Frank Ranney, Milwaukee attorney Thomas J. Duffey was also removed. A new member was Robert E. Schlieve, the president of Local 563 in Appleton.
On November 6, 1976, special agents saw Steve DeSalvo, a redacted individual and Frank Stelloh arrive at Meurer’s at 7:35am. The FBI noted that DeSalvo “was closely followed on his arrival by two unmarked cars obviously being driven by detectives of the Milwaukee Police Department.”
By December 1976, Steve DeSalvo was involved with United Commissary and Supply and was suspected of trying to muscle in on the produce business on Commission Row. This apparently upset the Italian community. (UCS was incorporated August 3, 1976 and its registered agent was Joseph P. Balistrieri of 212 West Wisconsin Avenue.)
The Teamsters held their Christmas party at the Center Stage on December 12, 1976. They were billed for 298 persons at a cost of $12,981.73.
August Palmisano was with his girlfriend, Hattie Evelyn Sims, on December 24, 1976. While she was cooking dinner, she died of a heart attack at age 44.
Gambler Louis Simon died in Las Vegas in late December 1976.
On Wednesday, February 2, 1977, Federal Judge Myron L. Gordon declined a request from Steve DeSalvo and Joseph A. Logue to have the Milwaukee Police Department stop surveilling them. The two alleged that the police had used “unconstitutional strong-arm tactics, threats and obscene language” against them. Further, they alleged that the police had scared and intimidated friends of the Logues’ children.
Two FBI agents visited Joseph Caminiti at his home on March 1, 1977. Caminiti was reluctant to talk to them, but did admit knowing both August Maniaci and Louis Fazio, though knew nothing about who had killed them. He was shown a photograph of Frank Bompensiero and denied knowing who he was. Caminiti said he was not very active around Milwaukee since retiring from the Teamsters union.
In early March 1977, a reunion was held on Jackson Street for certain Italians. Steve DeSalvo was supposed to have been there, but was apparently out of town. August Palmisano and Tony Machi (owner of Teddy’s) were present.
On Sunday, March 13, 1977, Frank Fitzsimmons agreed to resign his post from the Central States Pension Fund following pressure from the government, particularly the new Labor Secretary, Ray Marshall. He was supposed to step down by April 30. In exchange for his stepping down, the IRS agreed to keep the Fund’s tax-exempt status and the Labor Department agreed to stop its investigation into the management of fund assets. (Unfortunately for history, a further investigation might have yielded more interesting stories.) Also stepping down were Roy Williams, John F. Spickerman and A. G. Massa. They resigned April 29.
On Tuesday, March 15, 1977, two pistol shots shattered the window of The Hair Company at 5:30pm. The Hair Company, on the second floor at 324 East Wisconsin Avenue, was owned by Charles Seth Gottlieb, the son-in-law of Frank Balistrieri. Gottlieb immediately called his business partner, Michael Haas, at his residence at 3240 North Gordon Place. Michael was not home, but his wife Marie informed Gottlieb that the home had also just been shot — with two shotgun blasts and four pistol shots.
On March 29, 1977, Charles Nicoletti received three .38 slugs to the back of his head while waiting in his Oldsmobile in a suburban Northlake, Illinois, restaurant parking lot. He was brought to the hospital where he died six hours later. Nicoletti’s car was never turned off, and consequently overheated and started on fire. Some said that Nicoletti was murdered in retaliation for a hit on a Milwaukee, Wisconsin mob leader, but this is probably a false lead.
Paul LaGalbo sold his firm, Midwest Vendors, to Alioto Distributing in 1977 for $4100.
Frank Fitzsimmons held a rally at the Washington Hilton Hotel on April 6, 1977. He vowed to not only finish his term as Teamsters president, but run for re-election. Protesters outside the hotel carried signs saying “Clean Up Your Act” and “Throw the Bums Out”.
An FBI agent visited Frank Stelloh’s residence (5743 South 116th Street) on April 21, 1977 and attempted an interview. Stelloh said, “I don’t give a shit what you want. I got nothing to say. I don’t know anything, so leave me alone.”
On April 25, 1977, Geraldine Carter, a witness to the August Maniaci murder was shown a photo of Charles Nicoletti by Agent Richard Hunt and positively identified him as a man she saw sitting in a black Ford. Unfortunately, Nicoletti had been killed a month before.
A special agent went to Fox Lake State Prison on April 26, 1977 to speak with Anthony Pipito about various murders. Pipito said the night of the Maniaci murder he had gone to Chicago with a friend to get some tools relative to his job at the Publix Garage (Green Bay at Capitol). He first heard of the killing over the radio. Pipito said he had heard news stories saying there was a series of murders being committed with silenced .22s, and he had solid alibis for all of them. When asked if he knew Charles Nicoletti, he said he knew a Chuck in Chicago, but not Nicoletti. When asked, Pipito said there was no Mafia in Milwaukee. He said he was “in good standing” with the Balistrieri family, and hoped to work at Snug’s when he got out of prison.
An informant later said a meeting was held at the Shorecrest in May 1977 and Frank Balistrieri said, “Vincent Maniaci was a troublemaker and should be murdered like his brother.” (I have no guess as to who the informant was. Who was part of the “inner circle” after Augie Maniaci was killed, and would also speak to the FBI?)
A special agent interviewed Vito Aiello in Aiello’s 1969 Cadillac parked on Maryland Avenue several blocks from his home on May 13, 1977. Aiello was asked about August Maniaci’s murder, and said he knew nothing but speculated that Maniaci owed a gambling debt to “those people”. When pressed about who he meant, Aiello responded that the agent “knew the people I’m talking about”. Aiello said he was a friend of the Maniaci family and knew most of the Italian hoodlums from social gatherings, but insisted he was not personally involved in any criminal activity.
In June 1977, the Lib Book Store (601 North 5th Street) came under scrutiny as possibly providing obscene materials for sale. Two clerks had been arrested for selling books with obscene photos two years prior. The building was rented to them by Nick and Beverly Gentile, who operated Beverly’s Lounge next door at 605 North 5th Street. The Gentiles, in turn rented out both sections from Ervin and Joseph Beck, the owners of Manitoba Corporation. The Becks also owned the Mitchell Novelty Company, a large pinball operation.
Albert Albana died on June 10, 1977.
On June 21, 1977 Vincent Maniaci was released from Metropolitan Correction Center in Chicago and placed in Milwaukee Inner City Halfway House at 2407 West Fond Du Lac Avenue. The administrator there was Clennistine Wilder.
Michael J. Maniaci was convicted of possession of cocaine on June 23, 1977. He was sentenced to one year probation by Judge V. Manian.
On June 28, 1977, The FBI witnessed Steve DiSalvo in a white over red 1977 Thunderbird with license plate GP8974 (a rental car from Econo Leasing Corporation). The car had been rented by John Balistrieri. With DiSalvo was Nick George Montos.
The FBI followed Steve DiSalvo on June 29, 1977. He met with a man (redacted) at 9:25am at the Ryan Road Stop. At 10:46am, DiSalvo entered the Thunderbird being driven by Frank Balistrieri at the Shorecrest Hotel and they drive to Peter Balistrieri’s home and enter it. At 11:58am, DiSalvo and Montos have a conversation in the alley behind Peter’s house and then Montos walks to 1506 North VanBuren to make a call from a pay phone. At 12:27pm, Peter Balistrieri and a passenger leave in a white over red Cadillac. DiSalvo and Montos follow in the Thunderbird, going to the Summerfest grounds. They return already by 12:56pm. At 2:02pm, Joseph Balistrieri arrives in a Rolls Royce and drops off Frank Balistrieri. From 2:06 to 2:21pm, Montos makes another call from the pay phone. At 2:23pm, Montos and DiSalvo leave in the Thunderbird. At 2:41pm, DiSalvo unlocks the Brass Rail and watches the Towne Room Hotel with Montos. At 3:12pm, DiSalvo drops Montos off at the corner of North and Lake (outside St. Mary’s Hospital, where he had been admitted for kidney stones at 1:30am that morning) and returns to Peter Balistrieri’s house. Montos is picked up at 4:20pm by a 1977 gold Cadillac (driver redacted) and returns to the vicinity of the Towne Room Hotel before heading on to Summerfest. (One of the phone calls was to the residence of John W. Kelly, 53, 1642 West Edgewater Avenue in Chicago. Kelly was employed by the Penn Central Railroad and was not known to have Outfit connections.)
On the morning of June 30, 1977, a blue Mercedes registered to John Balistrieri was observed following Vincent Maniaci.
June 30, 1977: Frank Balistrieri leaves his residence at 2:20pm and gets into a 1977 white over red Ford Thunderbird. He goes to the Prospect Mall (East Prospect) and is inside from 2:25pm to 2:28pm. From there, he goes to the Shorecrest Hotel and parks in the parking lot. He is in the hotel from 2:30pm to 2:51pm. Next, he goes to the residence of Peter Balistrieri and enters at 2:56pm. Peter arrives a minute later and goes inside.
July 1, 1977: Vince Maniaci entered Snugs restaurant at 10:45pm. Frank Balistrieri entered Snugs at 12:05am. They have a conversation, joined by a white female, until Maniaci leaves at 2:20am and goes to Pitch’s. Balistrieri leaves at 2:30am and goes to the Plankinton Hotel.
By July 6, 1977 the FBI had been informed that Joseph Caminiti had retired as underboss and no one was filling in for his position, leaving Balistrieri working directly with his two capos: Steve DiSalvo and Peter Balistrieri. It is this author’s understanding that with Caminiti stepping down, this is the smallest the Milwaukee Family had ever been since its earliest days.
July 13, 1977: A Special Agent walked in and saw Steve DiSalvo in conversation with (redacted) in the restaurant of the Milwaukee Inn at 9:50am. DeSalvo exited out the rear at 10:03am. The two men with DiSalvo drove a blue Mercury that traced to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Agents followed DiSalvo on Tuesday, July 19, 1977 both on foot and through aerial surveillance. At 6:35am, he bought a newspaper at 76th and Nash. From 7:06 am to 7:51am, he met with a man in a green jeep at the Country Kitchen. DiSalvo dropped his Chrysler off at Sears Automotive Center in Brookfield Square to have new shocks installed. He was picked up by the green jeep at 8:29am and brought to a flea market in Jefferson where (redacted) was selling jackets and purses at a flea market. They had lunch at a cafe on Highway 26 and then returned to Milwaukee to pick up the Chrysler at 1:11pm. At 2:53pm, DiSalvo picked up John Molle, who flew into town the day before, and brought him to General Mitchell Airport. At 3:44pm, Molle departed on an Ozark Airlines airplane.
On Wednesday, July 20, 1977, DeSalvo went to Arlington Park Race Track where he was watched by agents from both Milwaukee and Chicago. At the race track, DeSalvo met with approximately 8 to 10 individuals, one identified as Chicago mobster Joseph Anthony Ferriola, an associate of Frank Buccieri. Another man there was Paul John “the Indian” Schiro.
Friday, July 22, 1977: Surveillance began at DeSalvo’s residence (4163 North 82nd Street) at 6:15am. He leaves in a white Chrysler at 6:55am, buys a newspaper from a vending machine at 76th and Nash at 6:58am. At 7:18am, he enters the Country Kitchen restaurant at Edgerton Road and Highway 100 in Hales Corners. Man in a green jeep arrives at 7:40am. Frank Stelloh arrives. They have a conversation about DeSalvo having some “great steaks” (apparently a large quantity) and they think the FBI has paid people “a couple of bucks” to call in and give updates on them. DeSalvo also mentioned that he had to see “the man in the wheelchair”. The men leave the restaurant at 8:57am and converse in the parking lot. DeSalvo leaves and arrives at 317 North Broadway at 9:14am. At 9:28, DeSalvo leaves with another man and they walk to The Broadway. The men leave the Broadway at 9:50am, walk back to DeSalvo’s car, shake hands. At 10:00am, DeSalvo meets a 40-year old bespectacled black male at Atkinson Avenue just west of I-43. DeSalvo looks in the back seat of the man’s 1975 black Buick and then leaves at 10:08am. Between 10:20 and 11:31am, DeSalvo is at his home. He parks at Whitlock Auto Supply (Highway 100 at Grange Road) at 11:49am, collects a small brown bag and leaves. He heads south on Highway 45 and enters Illinois at 12:45pm. At 1:28pm, he stopped for lunch at Wendy’s in Mundelein on Highway 53. From 1:43pm to 3:45pm, DeSalvo stayed in the Classic Club area of the Arlington Race Track alone. He travels north and takes a bathroom break at 4:50pm at a wayside on Highway 45, just north of the state border. Surveillance was terminated at 5:13pm in Union Grove. By this time, the costs of rental cars and rental aircraft used in surveillance reached $904.
On July 22, 1977, an informant told the FBI that August Palmisano and Frank Balistrieri had been getting into arguments and were not getting along.
July 26, 1977: DeSalvo leaves his home at 6:59am, buys a newspaper at 76th and Nash, and then proceeds to eat breakfast at the Big Boy (2717 North 108th Street). After breakfast, he leaves and parks at the Milwaukee County House of Corrections at 8:20am. He meets another car and both of them continue to the Ryan Road Truck Stop (where Ryan Road meets I-94) at 8:40am. DeSalvo leaves at 9:18am, goes to the downtown area, is observed making numerous turns and u-turns, possibly to “shake” the surveilling agents. From 10:11am to 10:35am, he was inside an apartment complex near 28th and Kilbourn, using the rear entrance.
At 12:21pm July 28, 1977, DeSalvo used the phone on VanBuren between Pleasant and Lyon. He and another man then walk to Brady Street, where they each use a telephone at Brady and Astor. At 12:38pm, they return to where they were.
Allegedly, an informant told the FBI in August 1977, “Frank Balistrieri is grooming his younger son, John, to take over control of the Milwaukee La Cosa Nostra.” Who this informant was, I don’t know, but there seems to be nothing to back up this claim.
Special Agents again trailed Steve DeSalvo on August 2, 1977. He left his home at 7:06am, stopped and bought a newspaper at Nash and 76th. At 7:28am, he met (redacted) in the parking lot of Country Kitchen in Hales Corners. At 9:00am, DeSalvo leaves the Country Kitchen and goes to Ninth and Atkinson where he buys another newspaper. At 9:26am, he arrives at County Park at Green Bay and Hampton, where he reads his newspaper. At 9:40am, he leaves the park and takes I-43 south. At 9:49am, DeSalvo arrived at Produce Row (Buffalo at Broadway) and entered Maglio and Company. From there, DeSalvo and a white male go to Broadway Grill from 9:51am to 10:17am. DeSalvo returns to Maglio and Company, where a cardboard box is loaded into his car from a rear entrance. From 10:44 to 10:48am, DeSalvo was in the Plaza Motor Hotel (somewhere near Cass and State). He stops at home from 11:15 to 11:55am, and then uses the pay phone at 84th and Lisbon, and parks in the Sentry parking lot and enters 7504 West Appleton. At 12:22pm, he makes a call from Keefe and Appleton, then another call at 12:34pm at 56th and Burleigh. At 12:50pm, he parked his car at 29th and State and sat in his car. He makes a call from the phone booth on the corner, then walks to the rear entrance of the apartment complex at 2804 West Kilbourn. He leaves the apartment at 1:20pm and goes to the Mayfair Shopping Center. At 1:56pm, he returned to the Sentry parking lot and agents lost sight of him.
At 6:49pm on August 2, 1977, a special agent sat at the bar area inside Snug’s and soon (by coincidence) Frank Balistrieri sat down next to him. Soon, approximately ten other men sat at the bar, some of them wearing red, white and green (Italian) golfing hats. One of the men was August Palmisano. Another was a German (name redacted). The men were overheard ro say they were planning the Italian Open which was to be held August 7. The men presented Balistrieri with a small box which contained another one of the golfing caps. Also overheard was that one of them had recently purchased the Holiday Inn at 26th and Wisconsin and would soon be leasing the building to Marquette University. One man repeatedly asked the agent if he was a police officer, insisting that he had seen the agent somewhere before. The agent left at 10:34pm.
August 5, 1977: special agent entered Snug’s at 6:04pm. At roughly 6:24pm, Frank Balistrieri entered, sat at the table immediately to the left of the entrance, and started in conversation with another man. All the agent could hear was that either Balistrieri or the man were looking to get some trucks. The agent left at 8:13pm.
On Saturday, August 6, 1977, FBI agents ran surveillance on Frank Balistrieri from 3:53pm until 12:52am around Snug’s. He was seen with another person and a couple that came in a car with Florida license plates. The couple was followed to the Pewaukee Park Knoll Apartments.
Sunday, August 7, 1977: the Italian Open, with many gamblers and hoodlums in attendance. People connected to Steve DeSalvo were on the committee.
Roughly August 10, 1977, Vincent Maniaci was called before a grand jury to testify about the use of .22 pistols in gangland murders — over 25 such murders were known to have featured .22s in the last two years, including the murder of August Maniaci. Maniaci pleaded the Fifth.
On Thursday, August 11, 1977, rock star Peter Frampton testified in Milwaukee on a John Doe hearing investigated drug traffic by Charles Gottlieb. Frampton knew the Gottliebs because they were friends with Milwaukee native Penny McCall, Frampton’s girlfriend. When performing in Milwaukee, Frampton even wore a Hair Company jacket and the Gottliebs were backstage.
Also on August 11, FBI agents witnessed John “Johnny Apes” Monteleone driving a silver car with Illinois plates and following the activities of Vincent Maniaci around 2121 Newhall at 7:17am.
On August 12, 1977, a wake was held for Frank Balistrieri’s aunt Rose Balistrieri-Balestrere (wife of Vito Balestrere) at the Guardalabene and Amato Funeral Home. Steve DeSalvo was in attendance.
Attempted Murder of Vince Maniaci
August 17, 1977: 6:30am, Vince Maniaci came downstairs and had a cup of coffee and watched the morning news with Wally Vivians, the financial counselor of the halfway house. He left at 7:06am and had trouble keeping up with traffic. A bomb consisting of 18 sticks and 4 half-sticks of dynamite (Red Arrow Dupont, 70% strength) was found in his 1969 Buick Electra at the Lake Front Car and Cycle Shop (1334 North VanBuren) by mechanic Thomas Wendlandt. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ralph Hill arrived at 8:05am. Milwaukee police arrived at 8:20am and evacuated the surrounding buildings. The bomb did not go off because Maniaci had pushed own on the accelator, jamming the device. Had he turned the ignition before hitting the accelerator, the bomb would have detonated. At 2:00pm, a conference was held at the Milwaukee Police Department between the police, ATF, FBI, Vincent Manaici and his attorney. Maniaci was put under 24-hour guard, and after Maniaci left the room, the Milwaukee Police representative berated the FBI agent for not telling the police that they knew a contract was out on Maniaci’s life. The agent denied the accusation, saying they had several meetings over the last few weeks where this issue was brought up.
August 18, 1977 in the Milwaukee Journal an unnamed FBI official said, “All our Mafia sources are being tightlipped about this. We think Vince knows why the bomb was planted but doesn’t know exactly who put it there.” An FBI official (perhaps the same one) told the Sentinel, “He’s of the old school and won’t say anything.” Pierce County Sheriff Stanley Christiansen suggested the dynamite came from a theft of 1600 pounds of dynamite from Pierce County Highway Department’s storage sheds east of Ellsworth back on July 24. FBI agents said this was not the same dynamite. (It was soon traced to part of 431 cases from Potomac Works in West Virginia, but could not be further narrowed down. A dark brown hair was also found attached to the tape surrounding the bomb.)
August 19, 1977 in the Milwaukee Sentinel an unnamed ATF official said, “Whoever put that bomb together wouldn’t have worried about fingerprints, since the explosion would have destroyed all the evidence anyway.” He believed it was “unlikely it was put together by someone wearing gloves”, as the design was too intricate.
Angelo Fazio, 62, was convicted of soliciting prostitutes at his Landmark Restaurant (1601 North Jackson) on August 19, 1977. He was sentenced to three years probation, fined $1,000, and banned from operating a restaurant or tavern by Judge Victor Manian. Police officers Robert Kliesmet and Jerome Dudzik had written letters on Fazio’s behalf. Other letters came from lawyers, a judge, nuns, waitresses and businessmen. Defense attorney Henry Piano said these people “think it’s a damn shame that he’s suffered such tremendous political pressure for a stiff sentence.” Piano argued that Fazio was raising two step-children and was not in great health. Prosecutor Richard Trujillo countered that one of the prostitutes that Fazio had working in his restaurant was only 17 years old. Piano said that the prostitutes were working for “thugs and hoodlums” and that Fazio was not receiving money from them, although he did know they were there.
On August 23, 1977, Vincent Maniaci was sent back to Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago by William Bycott, the Wisconsin community programs officer for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. “It was my judgment that his safety could not be assured in Milwaukee,” Bycott said. “It was my decision entirely. I wouldn’t want to have to ride in a car pool with him.”
An informant told the FBI on September 11, 1977 that he heard a rumor that Nick Gentile was told by Frank Balistrieri a week before the car bomb that Gentile should keep his distance from Vincent Maniaci.
FBI Agents looked over the registration cards at the Holiday Inn (201 North Mayfair Road) on September 12, 1977 and found someone of interest in the Maniaci bombing had stayed there in Room 204 on August 11. (The name is redacted, but the residence is shown to be Milwaukee, and he had a guest.)
On Tuesday, October 18, 1977, oilman Ray Ryan, 72, was killed by a car bomb in Evansville, Indiana after leaving a health spa. The dynamite had been placed in the trunk of his Lincoln Continental — one piece was found 377 feet from the scene of the explosion. The bomb damaged nearby cars and took out power in eastern Evansville. Ryan, who had been born in Watertwon as the son of a highway contractor, had started his career as a horse book operator in 1920s and 30s Milwaukee before becoming a multimillionaire and co-owning the Mt. Kenya Safari Club with actor William Holden. Twelve years earlier, he had testified against mobsters Marshall Caifano and Charles Delmonico for trying to extort $60,000 out of him — they were both sent to prison. He had also been in trouble with the IRS for business holdings he had in Jamaica.
An arrest warrant was issued for (redacted) on October 20, 1977 for the murder of August Maniaci. The charge was dismissed, however, when the witness could not positively identify him in a line-up.
Dominic F. Picciurro was convicted of shoplifting on October 20, 1977. He was sentenced to one year probation by Judge Laurence C. Gram, Jr and ordered to undergo a psychological examination.
An informant told the FBI on October 31, 1977 that Frank Balistrieri had been talking about “taking care of” August Palmisano because he was a close associate of Vincent Maniaci. Eight months later he would follow through on this threat.
An informant told the FBI on November 4, 1977 that Balistrieri no longer considered Vincent Maniaic a threat, despite the failed bombing attempt. Balistrieri allegedly said that people now knew “if they stepped out of line, the Outfit would take care of them.”
The Teamsters held their Christmas party at the Center Stage on December 11, 1977. They were billed for 313 persons at a cost of $13,844.17.
Vincent Maniaci suffered a heart attack on December 18, 1977 while in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. He was rushed to the Cook County Hospital where he was in critical condition. Maniaci remained in the hospital until January 4.
Frank Balistrieri’s football gambling business accepted $6,710 in wagers on December 23, 1977, $11,090 in wagers on December 24, 1977, $1,850 in wagers on December 25, 1977, and $12,060 in wagers on December 26, 1977.
On December 29, 1977, Dennis Librizzi was observed meeting with Nunzio Basile, a writer for Sam Librizzi’s 1977 bookmaking operation, at the Kohl’s Food Store parking lot on Mequon Road. This meeting occurred pursuant to arrangements made the previous day in a telephone conversation between Sam Librizzi and Basile.
On January 2, 1978, Peter Picciurro was recorded telling Sam Librizzi, “Forget the cocksucker. He ain’t going to pay anyway, so what’s the difference?”
Joseph Basile was convicted of soliciting prostitutes on January 5, 1978. He was sentenced to five years by Judge Robert W. Landry to run concurrently with his federal sentence at Leavenworth.
On the evening of January 5, 1978 from 5:35pm until 8:40pm, someone (redacted) hid a tape recorder to try to get more information concerning the bombing of Vincent Maniaci and murder of August Maniaci. Unfortunately, the tape came back unintelligible and laboratory enhancement did not help.
On January 13, 1978, a tape recorder was hidden in the same location as it had been on January 5. This time the tape picked up some background noise, including a ventilator, and the general voice recordings were poor. However, the tape was still believed to contain “some pertinent information” to the Maniaci investigations. The tapes were played for two assistant US attorneys on January 20, and they agreed the information was not incriminating enough and that the sound quality was too poor to use at trial anyway.
In 1978, John Balistrieri helped Jennie Alioto to purchase a rental property at 1601 North Jackson Street in Milwaukee. Since the purchase, John Balistrieri had assisted Alioto in managing the property.
Thomas Torkelson was awarded $30,118 in civil court on January 19, 1978. Torkelson, who had owned the truckload of Hershey’s Kisses stolen four years prior, sued Frank Cicerello, Phillip Blake and Candy House owner Nicholas Baudo for their part in the theft of the truck and candy.
On February 2, 1978, Milwaukee attorney Thomas J. Duffey spoke to the press about his part as a defendant in a Labor Department lawsuit against the Central States Pension Fund. “Of course I’m going to fight this,” he said. “But I’ll do my talking in the court papers. I’m going to defend this thing vigorously. When somebody sues you for millions of dollars, you don’t slough it off. This is not something unfamiliar to me in my own practice. You always start out looking for a big figure, then go down… Do I look like I’m worried? For the record, you can say I’m concerned. But you come back in three years, and you’ll be asking how the government could do this. They’ve spent millions on this case. Just come back in three years.” Duffey explained his role in the fund. “Right now, I’d say I represent about 80% of the trucking firms in Milwaukee. I’ve represented trucking companies for years. That’s how I got involved in the pension fund… I was appointed to the board of trustees as an employer’s representative. The board is split, with some trustees representing employees, some employers.” Duffey implied that suing the fun for its bad investments was hypocritical. He said the fund was “in a lot better shape than most government plans, in better shape than the Social Security fund.” Also named in the lawsuit was Frank Ranney.
The FBI interviewed the operator of the Milwaukee halfway house (2407 West Fond du Lac Avenue) Vincent Maniaci stayed at on March 15, 1978. She said he parked his vehicle in the yard area, which was accessible from the alley behind the house. She further said he kept complete records of all visitors and every time someone came or left. She had learned since the bomb was discovered that if it had gone off near the halfway house, the explosion could have greatly damaged her home and injured or killed the eleven people living there at the time. She said she had once observed a a small blue and white car with three men in it near the house, weeks before the bomb was planted, but otherwise had no recollection of anything unusual during the time Maniaci lived in the house.
Thomas J. Wendlandt, the mechanic who found the Maniaci car bomb, was interviewed by the FBI on March 16, 1978 at Lakefront Car and Cycle (1334 North VanBuren). Wendlandt told them about finding the bomb, and said that once they knew it was a bomb, Maniaci had walked away before police arrived. He did not say who might have planted it, and Wendlandt had not actually even seen him since that morning.
On March 22, 1978, the operator of the halfway house got back to the FBI with her personal notes. She had actually written down what she believed was the license plate number of the suspicious car she saw. She further advised the agents that Maniaci would occasionally spend time at Satin Doll’s Lounge, a tavern at 2337 West Fond du Lac Avenue (less than a block away). The tavern was run by Minette D. Wilson, a former dancer with Duke Ellington. (The license plate she wrote down traced to a man in Coon Valley who was on his local school board with no criminal record.)
In its continuing effort to clean up its image, the Central States Pension Fund board of trustees forced Daniel Shannon to resign as executive director on April 20, 1978. He was repalced the following month by St. Louis accountant John E. Dwyer.
Joseph Caminiti was observed meeting with Frank Balistrieri at Snug’s Restaurant on March 30, 1978 at 2:30pm.
On April 5, 1978, the FBI spoke with a parole officer to get information on a man who stayed at the halfway house with Vincent Maniaci and was said to be his friend. The man was determined to be a member of the Outlaws biker gang, had dealt drugs and was now living in Joliet, Illinois. A telephone call to the man indicated that he was willing to be interviewed by the FBI.
Special Agent W. D. Moberg traveled to Joliet on April 7, 1978 to talk with the Outlaw gang member who knew Maniaci. The agent called the gang’s clubhouse and a woman said that the man would be there after 2pm. When the agent called back, the man was there but said he was hesitant to speak to law enforcement because it was possible some of Maniaci’s associates might retaliate. The man was told anything he said would be in strict confidence. He said he would consider talking to someone in Milwaukee on April 10. (He did not contact anyone.)
Around April 24, 1978, the FBI received word that a former Milwaukee police officer was bragging that he had placed the bomb in Vincent Maniaci’s car. The man was an associate of Frank Balistrieri’s and had been forced to resign from the police department roughly two years prior. Inquiries with the police department and bomb squad indicated the man was divorced from his wife (who was from Heinesville, Georgia) and was known to be a braggart, whose claims should be taken with a grain of salt. The bomb squad members said it was certainly possible that the man had placed the bomb, but it was of such simple construction that almost anyone — with or without police training — could have done it. They believed the man now worked for Central Watch, an electronic protection company on Kilbourn Avenue.
On April 27, 1978, agents interviewed the wife of John W. Kelly at the Edgewater Hospital (5700 North Ashland) in Chicago, where she worked in the business office. She advised that John had worked for the Penn Central Railroad but had retired about a year ago. He underwent cancer surgery the previous March and ultimately died in November. She identified a photograph of Nick Montos and said she had begun living with him about two years ago, but did not know his associates or even his occupation, as he was very close-mouthed. She only knew that he had relatives in Tampa, Florida. Mrs. Kelly was told not to tell Montos that the FBI had visited her, but that evening when they called her to ask for Montos’ unlisted number, she said she had told him that the agents had photos of him in Milwaukee. Montos had told her that he had nothing to hide and was in Milwaukee to get treatment for a medical condition.
On May 8, 1978, FBI agents (including SAC Hogan) met with Milwaukee police to discuss Vincent Maniaci. They believed that he was currently in Hawaii but would be returning to live in Milwaukee within the week, and would be a likely target of future assassination attempts. Arrangements were made for regular spot checks to be conducted on Maniaci.
On May 15, 1978, the FBI spoke with the ex-wife of the former police officer who had bragged about planting the bomb in Vincent Maniaci’s car. She said she rarely saw him, but confirmed he was a “braggart” and “loud-mouth” and should not be taken seriously.
On Thursday, May 25, 1978, the FBI told the media that they had wiretapped a Whitefish Bay home (presumably that of Sam Librizzi, but possibly August Palmisano) and a business on Brady Street in December and overheard conversations that would lead to gambling charges. Those overheard included Frank Balistrieri, Steve DiSalvo, Raymond Dulski, Frank Fortino, Sam and Dennis Librizzi, August Palmisano, Peter Picciurro and Joe Volpe.
In June 1978, FBI Agent Gail Cobb (as Tony Conte) applied for a vending machine license.
A former Milwaukee police officer was interviewed by the FBI on June 9, 1978 in Room 1705 of the Clark Building (633 West Wisconsin Avenue) in the presence of his attorney. He had been a police officer for ten years, with four of those years being on the bomb squad, before he was pressured to retire because of personality conflicts. He said he had received his bomb training at the US Army facility at Redstone Arsenal. He freely admitted to casually knowing Vincent Maniaci and Frank Balistrieri, and said he knew attorney Joseph Balistrieri from chatting in a courtroom setting. He insisted that he knew nothing about the bomb beyond what he had read in the newspapers, had not instructed anyone on how to make a bomb and had not placed the bomb himself. He denied knowing either John Monteleone or Nick Montos. The former officer specifically said he would not have told anyone he was involved, even if he was intoxicated, contradicting what others had told the FBI.
A suspected informer, August Palmisano, was slain by a car bomb at approximately 8:53am on June 30, 1978. He was inside his underground garage at Juneau Village Garden Apartments at 1319 North Jackson Street. The bomb tore his 1977 Mercury apart and damaged twenty-eight other nearby vehicles. A small fire broke out after another damaged car suffered a gasoline leak. Total damage was estimated at $20,000 by Deputy Fire Marshal Kermit R. Krupka ($4,000 structural damage, $7,000 to Palmisano’s car and $9,000 to surrounding vehicles). The only evidence left behind was a Radio Shack alligator clip. When reporters asked neighbors about the murder, most refused to talk. His landlord said he was a good man, a friend of Vincent Manaici’s, and paid his rent on time. One unemployed man said that Palmisano was known to give money to the homeless and downtrodden. The FBI immediately suspected Balistrieri, knowing that Palmisano was a friend of the murdered August Maniaci and that he had been feuding with Balistrieri over bookmaking (Palmisano was told he had to do all bookmaking through LCN member Salvatore Librizzi).
District Attorney E. Michael McCann told the Journal, “This has all the appearances of a gangland slaying.” An unnamed source told reporter Dan Hanley that Palmisano was targeted because he was too vocal following the attempted bombing of Vince Maniaci. The paper reported that John Palmisano, Augie’s son, drove him home around 2:30am the night before in the same car, meaning whoever planted the bomb had done so within those few hours.
When August Palmisano’s son John entered Palmy’s tavern at 5:30am, Saturday, July 1, 1978, he found the safe broken into and business papers scattered throughout the room. $145 was also missing. The burglars had come in through a wall (which was connected to a warehouse) and then “peeled” the safe, meaning he popped the dial off it with a crowbar. Police refused to speculate on a motive. An informant said the burglary had been planned by Frank Alioto, but Alioto was told to hold off. He did, but his partners committed the burglary anyway, getting Alioto in trouble with the Outfit. James Kopatich later confirmed this — he said he was at Summerfest with Russell Henkel and Bill Bennett when they heard Palmisano was killed. They figured they “might as well” go through with the crime. Kopatich said they got $10,000 from the safe, and gave a potion to Alioto to calm him down.
The FBI spoke with the Juneau Village manager concerning the Palmisano bombing on July 5, 1978. The manager said the garage door to the parking area could only be opened with an electric door opener, and nobody had reported one missing. The door closed after about 30 seconds, making it very hard for more than one car to enter. Likewise, entry to the apartment could only be done with keys or by being buzzed in. They had already asked around, and no one reported buzzing anyone in that they did not know. The manager conceded, however, that someone could possibly unlock the apartment with a credit card, and gain access to the garage through the apartment interior.
FBI agents interviewed Nick Montos in Forest Park, Illinois on July 6, 1978 concerning his possible role in the bombing of Vincent Maniaci. He claimed to have been visiting friends in Green Bay and stopped in Milwaukee on his way back through because he had a kidney stone attack and needed medical attention. Montos pointed out to the agents that his “M.O.” was burglary and thievery, not murder. (Montos had, indeed, been in the emergency room at 1:30am on the morning in question.)
An agent spoke with Nick Gentile on July 11, 1978. He said he was a close friend of August Palmisano but had no idea who was responsible or his death. Gentile said that although Palmisano kept a separate apartment from his wife, he was not legally separated from her.
On July 19, 1978, one of the Fazio brothers (presumably Jimmy) was in Milwaukee from Fort Lauderdale and held two meetings with Frank Balistrieri.
Frank Balistrieri was in Fort Lauderdale on July 27, 1978 and met with (redacted, probably Jimmy Fazio). Balistrieri left Fort Lauderdale at noon the next day and flew back to Milwaukee.
On July 29, 1978, in the presence of an undercover agent, Peter Frank Balistrieri, Joseph Zito, Charles F. Vince, Phillip Joseph Emordeno, and Benjamin “Leftie” Ruggiero, Frank Balistrieri stated, with respect to August Palmisano, “he called me a name — to my face”; he was “arrogant” and “now they can’t find his skin.” In the same conversation, it is reported Frank Balistrieri stated, with respect to Vincent Maniaci, “he was an informer too.” Also with respect to the July 29 meeting, after the undercover agent was introduced to Frank Balistrieri, Balistrieri pointed a finger at the undercover agent and stated, “I know all about you,” “we been looking for you all week — we figured you were the G” — and “We were gonna hit him — we didn’t know what this was about — we thought he was the G.”
Just prior to August 1, 1978 (exact date unknown), a man was arrested at Satin Doll’s Lounge for being in possession of a handgun. Upon questioning, he admitted knowing Vincent Maniaci and August Palmisano and said he had on one occasion driven Maniaci home from work to the halfway house in order to provide him protection.
On August 7, 1978, an informant (who was a personal friend of the agent writing the report), said Frank Balistrieri was at the Playboy Club that past weekend with his blonde girlfriend to see crooner Al Martino perform. Management was nervous because they thought word would get back to Balistrieri’s wife that he was in a highly public place with another woman.
On August 25, 1978, Special Agents Gail Cobb and Joseph Pistone of the FBI, acting in undercover capacities, and Benjamin Ruggiero went to Snug’s Restaurant in Milwaukee, where they observed Balistrieri seated at a table with Steve DiSalvo and others. Balistrieri motioned Ruggiero over to his table, and Cobb and Pistone remained in the bar area. After about twenty minutes, Cobb and Pistone were escorted to Balistrieri’s table and Pistone was introduced to Balistrieri and DiSalvo. After this meeting, Ruggiero told Cobb and Pistone what Balistrieri had said to him before they were escorted to his table. Ruggiero’s statements were recorded en route from Snug’s to the Midway Motor Lodge in Agent Cobb’s automobile. In this recorded conversation, Ruggiero repeated in substance that Frank Balistrieri had told him that football was the biggest thing in Milwaukee and that he (Balistrieri) had his own “office” which he wanted to discuss with Ruggiero and Pistone. Agent Pistone, experienced in these matters, understood Balistrieri’s reference to “office” to mean that Balistrieri had his own bookmaking operation.
Late the next evening (August 26), at the Peppercorn Restaurant in Milwaukee, Balistrieri and DiSalvo revealed their roles as owner and manager respectively of the gambling business operated by Sam Librizzi in 1977. This conversation began with a discussion between Pistone and DiSalvo concerning the upcoming football season and bookmaking in general. As the conversation proceeded, DiSalvo advised Pistone in the presence of Cobb, Balistrieri, and Ruggiero, that he was the one who handled Balistrieri’s sports bookmaking operation, that he wanted to get out of it, and that he was trying to talk Balistrieri out of the bookmaking business. The reason given by DiSalvo was that most of the bookmakers in Milwaukee were “stool pigeons” and he was attempting to convince Balistrieri to charge the other bookmakers in Milwaukee $1,000 a week in order to operate. In this way, DiSalvo explained, the bookmakers would be prevented by their own illegal activities from going to the FBI. DiSalvo further stated that there were so many stool pigeons in Milwaukee that they would need “Castro’s army to kill all the stool pigeons that Milwaukee had.” At this point in the conversation, Balistrieri confirmed that DiSalvo was in charge of his bookmaking operation and that he “Was looking for an individual to oversee the day-to-day operation, because the person that was running it last year, by the name of Sam, did not tend to business and wasn’t doing a good job and he was looking for someone he could trust to run the daily, the day-to-day operation for the upcoming football season.” Balistrieri further advised that they wanted somebody to take over this gambling operation from Sam, “so Steve wouldn’t have to spend so much time taking care of the book.”
After Frank Balistrieri announced that they were looking for someone to replace “Sam”, Ruggiero volunteered Pistone’s services to take over the day-to-day handling of Balistrieri’s bookmaking operation. Pistone concurred in Ruggiero’s offer. At that point, Balistrieri took Ruggiero aside and spoke with him out of the presence of Agents Pistone and Cobb. Although Cobb was only able to hear brief portions of this conversation to the effect that Balistrieri would have to call New York and that he (Balistrieri) was holding Ruggiero responsible, the full substance of this conversation was later revealed by Ruggiero to Cobb and Pistone in a tape recorded conversation in the early morning hours of August 28, 1978, after the trio left the Peppercorn.
After Balistrieri and Ruggiero concluded their private discussion at the Peppercorn, they returned to the area where Pistone and Cobb were standing and Balistrieri, in DiSalvo’s presence, advised Pistone to contact DiSalvo and make arrangements to meet with him to go over their bookmaking operation. At this point, DiSalvo agreed that Pistone should contact him to set up a meeting for Tuesday.
Allegedly, on August 27, 1978, both Joseph Pistone and Gail Cobb (while acting undercover) were invited to dinner at Frank Balistrieri’s house. Also allegedly, dinner conversation included talk about informants in the local gambling community.
On the evening of August 28, 1978, at Ruggiero’s direction, Cobb made arrangements to meet with Balistrieri around 10:30pm to advise him that Pistone would not be taking over the bookmaking operation. The reason given is that Pistone didn’t think he could handle Wisconsin winters. Upon learning of this fact from Cobb, Balistrieri said he would have to make some other kind of arrangements to replace “the guy that had it”. This statement indicated Balistrieri’s continuing intent to run his sports bookmaking business during the 1978 football season.
On September 5, 1978, Agent Michael DeMarco met with a confidential informant. The informant said that in the summer of 1977 he overheard a conversation between Frank Balistrieri and August Palmisano at the Shorecrest. There was an argument because Dennis Palmisano (a nephew of both men) had left Palmisano’s employment at Richie’s to go to work for Balistrieri at Snug’s. Allegedly, Balistrieri said, “You may get me, but I’ll get you.” (This echoed a different informant from July 1977 who claimed the argument had Balistrieri saying he’d “make chopped meat of you” and “write your name in blood.”)
On September 13, 1978, Agent Cobb met with Frank Balistrieri, Steve DiSalvo, Peter Balistrieri, and Joe and John Balistrieri at Snug’s. Peter and Frank Balistrieri had just returned from a federal grand jury appearance. Cobb heard Peter Balistrieri tell DiSalvo, “You got a problem.” Frank Balistrieri then told DiSalvo that the government had pictures of him meeting Sam Librizzi, “At the hospital … where you picked up the money.”
Agents spoke with Nick Gentile on September 22, 1978. He again told them he did not know who killed August Palmisano. The agents told Gentile that they heard a rumor that he might be in danger because of his friendship with Palmisano. Gentile said he was an old man and not afraid of Frank Balistrieri, with no quarrel existing between them. The agents offered to make his car tamper-resistant. He declined, saying he kept it in a locked garage and that was good enough for him.
On October 11, 1978, Special Agent Gail Cobb (as Tony Conte) had a phone call with Barbara Bertram and it was recorded. Barbara said to him, “You do your job and, as much as I don’t like it, I’ll just stay in the backlines.” Cobb responded, “As long as you understand it, because it’s tough for me to sit there beside you or stand there beside you and play a game, and think maybe you don’t know what’s going on.” Barbara then said, “Tony, all I want to do is be with you.”
FBI agents surveilled Frank Balistrieri on Thursday, October 12, 1978 from 10:100am until 10:45pm. Balistrieri was at his home for most of the day, except from 3:47pm until 7:12pm when he drove his Cadillac to Snug’s and met with a small man in his mid-50s. Also at Snug’s was Joseph Balistrieri with a woman.
On Saturday, October 14, 1978, Frank Balistrieri was seen from 1:17 to 1:58 in the afternoon making a 45-minute phone call from the Campus Laundromat at 2611 East Hampshire Street.
On November 13, 1978, an informant said that someone who was formerly on the outs with Frank balistrieri was not aligning himself with him. (The name is redacted.) The informant said this man was not a made member.
District Attorney E. Michael McCann spoke out against gambling on Tuesday, November 28, 1978. “There’s no way you can run a successful gambling operation without organized crime… In many communities, it’s not until a child or policeman is killed by organized crime forces before people say it’s going to come to an end… Part of that is people who’ll go and bet money… When [the Mafia] moved to the bomb, that was a flagrant flaunting that they will execute. They’re getting away with murder on the streets of this city.” He said Milwaukee gamblers “have blood on their hands.”
The Teamsters held their Christmas party at the Center Stage on December 8, 1978. They were billed for 329 persons at a cost of $14,888.65.
Frank Trovato’s restaurant in Thiensville burned down on January 1, 1979.
On January 26, 1979, a heating shutdown caused radiators to explode and water pipes to burst at 2206 East Kenilworth Avenue, as well as a neighboring building (2216 Kenilworth). The buildings were owned by John Balistrieri, but only one was insured — by Aetna Life and Casualty. Balistrieri put in a claim for $51,523 and the work was given to his childhood friend, plumber Thomas Cannizzaro. Aetna would later allege that the claim was fraudulently inflated to cover the cost of repairing both buildings. Secretly recorded messages where Balistrieri’s friend Anthony Cimino suggested he burn the houses down and one where Balistrieri speaks of conning creditors were used against him. Balistrieri was later acquitted.
Casamere A. Maniaci was convicted of heroin possession on January 31, 1979. He was sentenced to one year probation and ordered to continue methadone treatment by Judge Ted Wedemeyer, Jr.
At some point in 1979, Leo Dinon sold his cigarette distributing company (Dino’s) to Alioto Distributing for $8000-$9000.
By March 1, 1979, James Kopatich had switched sides from being an Outfit associate involved in burglaries to someone who wore a body recorder for the FBI. On March 1, he struck up conversation with Frank Alioto about John Palmisano. Alioto said he had to be an informer. When asked why, Alioto said because August Palmisano (his father) had been the government’s “number one informant”.
An informant said on March 28, 1979 that a well-known bookmaker (redacted) had all his legal problems sorted out and was planning to move to Las Vegas to be a blackjack dealer.
On April 2, 1979, an informant said that the cost of business had gotten too high and Mandella Disposal Company and Librera Disposal Service had to sell out to United Waste Systems. The same informant had previously said that UWS was Mafia-backed and were considered “our boys” by Teamsters Local 200. (Whether there is any truth in any of this, who knows?)
On Wednesday, May 16, 1979, a government affidavit went public after being sealed for a year. In it, the government alleged that attorney Joseph Balistrieri had received over $100,000 in a “suspected unlawful diversion” of casino revenue from the Stardust Casino. The money had been transferred to him by Allen R. Glick, owner of Argent Corporation. Further, Balistrieri “exerted control over the use of (pension fund) assets, even though he held no official position or relationship” with the fund. (The affidavit was sealed to protect the identity of an agent who infiltrated Anthony Spilotro’s inner circle. The government decided the agent’s life was no longer in potential danger and asked Federal Judge Warren Ferguson to unseal it.) Attorney Oscar Goodman, who represented both Glick and Spilotro, called the affidavit a “sham and a fraud” with “easily defended” allegations that were “wishful thinking” on the part of the government.
In June 1979, Frank Balistrieri was involved in a struggle with Nancy Antee at her home at 1919 North Summit Avenue.
The FBI observed a 1972 green Pontiac outside Frank Balistrieri’s home for two days around July 11, 1979. The license plates traced to a woman (name redacted) from Caledonia, Illinois. (Caledonia has fewer than 200 residents and is northwest of Rockford.) The local sheriff said the woman was a farmer’s wife, good Christian, and had no arrest record, leading the FBI to believe they had written down the wrong plate number.
On July 19, 1979, James Kopatich met with Frank Alioto at a newsstand (Wisconsin Avenue at 3rd Street) and purchased racing forms. Also there was Benny DiSalvo, whom Alioto described as Frank Balistrieri’s hitman who had killed “several” people for the Outfit. Kopatich and Alioto drove to the Arlington Race Track for the afternoon. Alioto further told Kopatich that Vincent Maniaci and August Palmisano were associates and “none of them were any damn good.”
On August 2, 1979, Frank Thomas Ammirato, 46, of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison for conspiring to transport silenced machine guns and drugs (including PCP and methaqualone). Dante Angelo Grassi, 36, also of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced to 14 years. And Jack Louis Gail, 35, of Wheeling, Illinois, was given 15 years. The men had been shipping .22 pistols and light machine guns to Chicago and equipping them with silencers. Ammirato was an associate and neighbor of Dominick Santorelli, a member of the Chicago Outfit, and was an important operative in Santorelli’s illegal loansharking, weapons and narcotics activities. Gail had sold undercover agents one silencer and offered to begin supplying fifty more per month. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel claimed that at “least 20 federal informants have been killed in the past year by hit men using silencer-equipped .22 pistols.” Although August Maniaci’s murder was not in the past year, he was likely included in this count.
FBI agents observed a Lincoln Continental parked at Frank Balistrieri’s residence on August 16, 1979 from 1:50pm until 2:55pm. The license plate traced to Teamsters Local 200, and further investigation revealed this to be the personal vehicle of Frank Ranney, 315 Park Hill Drive, Apartment D, Pewaukee. Ranney split his time between his Pewaukee apartment and home in Boca Raton, Florida. While running surveillance on Balistrieri’s house, the agents also observed Steve DeSalvo drive north on Shepard past the house in his white Chrysler Cordoba, then make a U-turn and come back south past the house around 2:40pm. From 2:46pm to 2:49pm, DeSalvo was seen making a phone call from a pay phone at the northwest corner of Maryland and Locust near the U-Frame It shop. After he left, an agent wrote down the number of the pay phone: 414-961-9748. At 3:19pm, Steve DeSalvo went to the Shorecrest Hotel. At 3:29pm, an agent could see DeSalvo and Frank Balistrieri in Snug’s through the window.
On August 24, 1979, a party was held at Leonardo’s in honor of Frank Fitzsimmons, president of the national Teamsters Union, who was in town as a guest for the Italian Open Golf Tournament. Steve DeSalvo served as a doorman at the party to make sure no unwanted people could join. The party was on the second floor and lasted until 5:00 in the morning. Members of Local 200 were there, as were attorneys from the Goldberg, Previant and Uelman law firm. The party was billed $745.03.
On September 14, 1979 at 6:40pm, a special agent entered Leonardo’s (1601 North Jackson) after seeing Frank Balistrieri’s Cadillac parked outside. Balistrieri was seen in conversation with another person at the bar, and the agent heard Balistrieri say “the muscle man with the juice”, but could not make out much else. He also caught that some remodeling was needed and had to be done by the wedding. Specifically, Balistrieri said he needed railings. He said for the wedding, they could move furniture from Center Stage and move it back later. Later, around 10:25pm, Balistrieri was in a heated argument with a woman and the agent overheard him say “the night of the Fitzsimmons party.” The argument was interrupted by three people who came out of the dining room to talk to Frank. He mentioned a trip he took to New York with Frank Ranney and a “Gus Chivato” many years ago to invest $50,000 in a “plastic bubble” and they stayed at the Waldorf Astoria. (This presumably refers to the plastic bubble gun and August Chiaverotti.) Frank said Gus brought his wife and his girlfriend, and they stayed in the same room. He further said Gus was the reason he (Frank) had been to jail, because Gus perjured himself and this lead to Frank’s conviction. At 11:55pm, Frank’s girlfriend arrived.
At the end of September 1979, Agent Michael DeMarco met with an informant. The informant said he was a good friend of Tony LaRosa, owner of Prize Steak Company, and knew there was “bad blood” between LaRosa and Balistrieri for a long time. About seven years prior, Steve DiSalvo had been visiting Prize Steak on a daily basis and LaRosa was afraid the mob wanted to take over his business. To help stand up to the mob, LaRosa hired August Maniaci, and Maniaci told DiSalvo to “stay the hell out of Prize Steak.” This resulted in a violent argument between the two in the company’s parking lot.
On October 13, 1979, wagering activity totaled $10,600.00. On October 14, 1979, it totaled $47,655.00, and on October 15, 1979, it totaled $100.00. The total of $47,655.00 for October 14, 1979, a single day’s wagering activity, exceeded any daily total in either the 1977 bookmaking operation when at least seven writers were involved, and in the 1980 bookmaking operation when at least ten writers were involved. Wisconsin law prohibited gambling businesses taking in over $2000 a day.
On October 20, 1979, the district court entered an order permitting electronic surveillance at Snug’s Restaurant and Leonardo’s Pasta House. In support of its motion seeking the order the government submitted a 110-page affidavit of Agent Michael De Marco setting forth evidence that Balistrieri and his associates were engaged in extortion, illegal gambling, and the murders and attempted murders of suspected informants. The electronic surveillance produced evidence that the government intended to introduce at Balistrieri’s trial. These orders were subsequently extended on November 19, 1979, and December 28, 1979.
In a telephone conversation between John Piscuine and Sam Librizzi on October 25, 1979, Piscuine protested his inability to reach Librizzi to place some wagers. At one point Piscuine stated, “I tried to get a hold of you. Dennis wasn’t there.”
On October 25-26, 1979, an informant spoke with the FBI about the “Madison Syndicate” (which they had suspected of being extinct for the past ten years). The informant said the Madison Family had good political contacts and there was a group of “several brothers” there. He said August Palmisano had once tried to expand his produce and vending businesses to Madison, but was only able to get a pool table there.
In a phone conversation on October 26, 1979, Balistrieri complained to Esther Ridgway about the losses he had suffered in his bookmaking operation. At one point he said, “I hollered at him, I hollered at Steve, I’m through hollering. Even the waitresses hear he hollering. That’s stupid.” Balistrieri was also recorded telling an employee at Snug’s, “I get no protection. Everybody wants to take their grandchildren to the circus. One guy goes to Las Vegas and when it turns bad, then they look for me. I gotta pay it.” (These may be from the same conversation; the source is unclear.)
The Milwaukee Journal heard on October 30, 1979, that a federal grand jury was questioning people connected to Frank Balistrieri. Reporter Walter Fee asked Attorney James Shellow about it and he said, “Since I entered the practice of law and began representing Mr. Balistrieri in the early 1960s, I can think of no year in which some federal agency did not attempt to secure publicity by investigating him or his family.”
An informant told the FBI on October 31, 1979 that Carlo Caputo remained the head of the Madison Family, but was not well liked by some members of that group. This is an odd comment, as the Madison Family at this point was virtually extinct. All members were either dead or retired, with no real criminal activity since the 1950s or earlier.
A bug recorded Frank Balistrieri talking to his son Joseph on November 7, 1979. Among other things, he remarked, “They are gonna make me out to be worse than Al Capone, because Capone was never involved in legitimate business. But me, I’m deadly and I surround myself with accountants.”
On November 8, 1979, Balistrieri was overheard saying, “By Monday or Tuesday, I’ll get my transfusion again.” (This was later interpreted to mean that he would be receiving skim money from the Stardust casino.)
On November 13, 1979, John Monteleone appeared before a federal grand jury investigating the attempted bombing of Vincent Maniaci and refused to answer questions, asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The government did not pursue his testimony further at that time.
An informant spoke with the FBI on November 14, 1979 and said that the Chicago Outfit did not like Sally Papia. This stemmed from her running the Riverside restaurant with Frank Buccieri. Apparently, the restaurant’s meat was supplied by a mob-backed business, possibly named American Meat Wholesale. When the restaurant burned down, Papia refused to pay the bills she owed to the meat business.
On the week of November 23, 1979, Frank Ranney testified in Las Vegas that he had made an oral and written agreement for a $40 million loan to St. Louis attorney Morris Shenker of the Dunes Hotel before the law banning such loans (Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA) went into effect. Shenker, former chief counsel to Jimmy Hoffa, was suing the Central States Pension Fund for reneging on the loan, and asking for a further $100,000 in punitive damages. The Fund’s attorney said they could not go through with the loan because the Dunes’ parent company also owned a Chicago trucking company which employed Teamsters, and the loan would violate the ERISA rules. Attorneys for the Dunes argued that the loan started before ERISA took effect, and the trucking company was sold off anyway when it was thought it might pose a problem. Ranney testified that he had an agreement with Shenker and he had the authority to bind the agreement to future agreements. Teamsters attorney Alan Mund questioned this authority, and pointed out that Ranney had months earlier (on June 4, while making a deposition) denied he had any such authority.
Although heavily redacted, an informant told the FBI on December 4, 1979 that one of the men convicted with Sally Papia for extortion was now connected with the Marriott Hotel on Moorland. However, it appears they lost this position when their record came out.
Richard G. Megna, 47, of Cudahy was convicted of soliciting a prostitute on December 15, 1979. Judge H. B. Jackson, Jr sentenced him to two years probation and banned Megna from operating a tavern while on probation. He had two prior felonies on his record.
The Teamsters held their Christmas party at the Center Stage on December 16, 1979. They were billed for 339 persons at a cost of $17,876.90. (Interestingly, despite only having 10 additional guests this year, the cost went up $3,000.)
The FBI met with the US Attorney on December 17, 1979 concerning a potential RICO case against Nicolo Safina. The FBI believed that Safina was falsifying financial information on various documents, but the US Attorney said the evidence was not solid enough to move ahead at this time.
The Waukesha State Bank was robbed of $8,000 on the morning of Monday, December 24, 1979. The man who robbed the bank left a bag behind which he claimed contained a bomb (it was actually a transistor radio). John Forbes told the FBI he believed that three men were involved although only one had entered the bank. These same men would rob a bank in Tomah two months later.