This article was last modified on May 11, 2017.

Emmanuele Palazzolo, and the Pizza Connection

(This is a collection of notes on the only man in Wisconsin who was alleged to be part of the “Pizza Connection” heroin smuggling case. Was he really involved, or was his conviction “guilt by association”?)

On April 30, 1983, Pietro Alfano, who Badalamenti later conceded was his subordinate, called Vitale and Palazzolo, two of Alfano’s assistants. The same day, Mazzurco called Giuseppe Ganci and told him that “tomorrow I’m supposed to meet those people … bring them 95 cents.” Ganci said: “I’ve got about 40.” Mazzurco testified at trial that “them” was a reference to Alfano and others, and that “95 cents” was a reference to $95,000. The day after Mazzurco called Ganci, a government agent observed him leaving Ganci’s house carrying a brown bag. Mazzurco testified that he gave Alfano $40,000.

Around the summer of 1983, agents were checking the phone records of Pietro Alfano in Oregon, Illinois. He was found to be in regular contact with Emanuele Palazzolo, Sam Evola and Sal Mazzurco. This was not terribly surprising, because Palazzolo, Evola and Alfano were all related.

Emanuele Palazzolo came to the FBI’s attention while running surveillance on mobster Sal Mazzurco, who was at the Charcoal Grill in Long Island City on September 26, 1983. A car with four men pulled up to the restaurant, and when they got out, they greeted Mazzurco. After the meal, the men split up, but Palazzolo and Pietro Alfano rode with Mazzurco to a National Car Rental office, where Palazzolo rented a car. Records later showed that the car was driven to Toledo, Ohio where it was dropped off. Agents would later speculate that Toledo was the destination because this was near the home of Sam Evola.

On February 2, 1984, Palazzolo drove with Alfano from Ohio to Queens, New York, to make a delivery. The car was dropped off at LaGuardia Airport on February 4. After the delivery, in a February 7 telephone call to Palazzolo’s pizzeria in Wisconsin, Badalamenti spoke to Alfano in code about the delivery. Just over an hour later, Alfano’s wife called the pizzeria and had a coded discussion with Palazzolo.

On February 25, Palazzolo was called by his aunt Lia (Trupiano?) in Palermo who warned him to be careful because the authorities were monitoring them. Palazzolo then called Alfano and warned him, too. Not long after, Palazzolo’s wife was getting worried because she thought she could hear multiple people on their phone line.

April 1984, Emanuele Palazzolo was indicted for his role in the “Pizza Connection” heroin ring. His brother-in-law, Pietro Alfano, was said to be the ring’s primary contact in the Midwest. At the time the indictments came down, Alfano was in Spain, where he was later arrested. Palazzolo was arrested at Alfano’s house in Oregon, Illinois. There, agents found a $1000 bill and two $500 bills in Mrs. Palazzolo’s purse. Suzy Alfano (Pietro’s daughter) was found to have a .38 pistol in her pocket that had been reported stolen in 1979. When his Milton, Wisconsin pizza parlor (at 301 Parkview Drive) was searched, evidence was seized but no heroin was found.

On October 4, 1984, a federal clerk in Madison said that Emanuele Palazzolo would be extradited to Italy. He was expected to surrender voluntarily that same day. The Italian government wanted him as part of their Mafia crackdown. A hearing in the US was set for November 19, and Palazzolo requested that he remain free until then. “I won’t skip the country,” he told the judge. “I have been out on bond for several months and have made all other appearances.” With niece Suzy Alfano helping to translate, he stressed that he was not a risk, was not violent, and worked at his restaurant from dawn to dusk. Following the hearing, Palazzolo’s wife shouted at reporters that they were hurting the family’s business.

By November 16, a delay in filing extradition documents resulting in the arrest warrant against Palazzolo being dropped. He still faced trial in New York and Italy could re-request extradition.

The Pizza Connection trial finally began in October 1985.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $25,000 on the charges of conspiracy and racketeering.

Also try another article under Organized Crime
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

One Response to “Emmanuele Palazzolo, and the Pizza Connection”

  1. Drew Hunkins Says:

    What’s interesting is that the exact address where Palazzolo’s Pizza was located in downtown Milton has been home to another absolutely delicious pizza place called Georgio’s Pizza. In fact, several years USA Today named Georgio’s one of the best pizzas in the nation. I always found it quite peculiar that this little off the beaten path pizza joint in a tiny Midwestern town was able to garner such blaring good press by a national publication.

    Not sure if Georgio’s is still there, since I haven’t been there in about a year, but it was absolutely delicious pizza with a little history to go along with it.

Leave a Reply