This article was last modified on June 4, 2019.

Black Sheep: The Story of Louis Fazio

This page will be used to collect all information on Louis Martin Fazio.

Angelo Fazio was born July 6, 1888 in Naso, a town in northeast Sicily (near Messina). His parents were Vincenzo Fazi oand Josephine Reale. Today, if Naso is known at all, it is because this is the town Lady Gaga’s great-grandparents were from. The Fazio family — other than Louis — was not known to be involved with Mafia activity in Milwaukee. This is supported by their being from Naso, rather than the more Mafia-heavy origin cities of Prizzi and Santa Flavia.

Cona Fazio was born on July 19, 1885, also in Naso. Her parents were Luigi Fazio and Anna Messini (or Missimi).

Angelo immigrated around 1905. He settled in Milwaukee in 1905, first boarding with fellow Italians Jun and Basilio Lanz. Jun was a tavernkeeper. (I suspect these names are not accurate.)

Louis was born July 20, 1914 in Milwaukee to Angelo and Cona Fazio. Some sources say 1913, but the record in the register of deeds says 1914. Whomever transcribed the birth record gave the family surname as “Fatzio.” Angelo was described as a “laborer” and the family lived at 210 Jefferson Street. On his 1917 draft card, Angelo was a laborer for the Wisconsin Telephone Company.

Louis was arrested January 11, 1933 in Milwaukee for carrying a concealed weapon. He was given a suspended sentence.

Louis Fazio was married in Waukegan on January 8, 1935 to Josephine “Peppy” Criscimagna. Her father was Natale, and his mother was Catherine Zaccheria. Peppy’s sisters were married into the Balestrieri and Librizzi families.

Louis Fazio was arrested in Waukesha on November 20, 1935 for assaulting Willard Kliebe, the proprietor of the Cat and Fiddle, and was released on $3,500 bond. When the case went to court, Fazio pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months hard labor by Judge David Evans.

On April 2, 1938, Louis Fazio and Frank Sansone burned down Anna Shibosh’s Colonial Club in Waukesha.

On Friday, May 6, 1938, Mariano Megna signed the $2,500 bond holding Frank Sansone and Louis Fazio for their arson charges. Mario Megna, their attorney, was Mariano’s son. A preliminary hearing was set for May 13. (Newspaper records on this are scant, but the case appears to have dragged out for two years and was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence.)

Salvatore Gagliano, Louis Fazio, along with a man named “Duffy”, set up a 15-year old Milwaukee girl (who lived at a foster home in Wauwatosa) with a brothel called Maxine’s (also known as the Colonial Club, owned by Maxine and Chris Constance), two miles west of Sheboygan Falls on County Highway C (across from O’Neill’s restaurant) in May 1941. Gagliano, 27, (also known as “Teddy Capp, the singing bartender”) met the girl on the nights of May 1 and May 2, at Nick du Laveris’ tavern (corner of 4th and Wells) telling her that he had a job for her. After taking her to an east side hotel (where he falsely told her they would be meeting with friends), they went to a barroom and met up with Fazio and Duffy. The three men drove her to Maxine’s. The girl worked there for a while, but rebelled when asked to perform for a group of young Sheboygan businessmen. Maxine drove her back to Nick du Laveris’ tavern where the girl paid Gagliano $100 to be “released”.

Nick Machi and a 20-year old woman were on trial for disorderly conduct on May 26, 1941. They were represented by Mike Megna. The case was dismissed, and then the same day Megna represented the woman in juvenile court where she was trying to get custody of her illegitimate 18-month old son.

Mario A. Megna, an attorney, allegedly had a 20-year old prostitute (the woman from May 26) working at the Blazing Stump in June and July 1941. On July 6, he brought a 15-year old girl from Stevens Point to the Blazing Stump to see the 20-year old. On the ride there, they were joined by Louis Fazio and Nick Gentile. Fazio allegedly punched her on the chin during the ride. The girl later testified, “Mike didn’t do anything but encourage me. He asked me how I like the racket and when I said I didn’t like it and was forced into it, he said, ‘Well, you’re getting a lot of money out of it, aren’t you?’”

On September 16, 1941, a cab driver for the Appleton Cab Company said he drove four girls fro mthe Blazing Stump brothel in Appleton to the Gay Spot in Milwaukee. The cabbie haeard Fazio ask a girl why she had not made any money, and she said he was sick; Fazio then knocked the girl out and dragged her into the tavern. The cabbie recognized Fazio because he was a friend of the cab company’s owner.

Fazio would be charged with pandering and rape in September 1941, and after fleeing to Chicago and being caught on December 15, was sentenced to two to ten years in Waupun by Judge Henry Hughes of Oshkosh. Fazio also supplied girls to the Blazing Stump in Darboy (southeast Appleton) and the Tin Roof (a “men’s sporting club”) at the corner of County PP and South Street in Plymouth.

On October 18, 1941, Nicholas Gentile, 26, and Nicholas Joseph Machi, 27, were arrested at their bar, The Gay Spot (619 West Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee) for supplying girls to four houses of prostitution: Joy’s Lunch of DePere, Egan’s Riverside Tavern of Sheboygan Falls, Club Royal of Plymouth and the Blazing Stump of Appleton. They were accused of being suppliers between October 6, 1940 and June 6, 1941.

Nick Gentile, through attorney James Sammarco, pleaded guilty on November 5 to aiding and abetting prostitution by putting a 20-year old woman in a house of ill repute. Sammarco said, “The defendant did not profit personally. He was just a ‘good fellow’. What he did was done as a favor. He was a victim of circumstances. While ignorance of the law is no excuse, we are pleading it here since Gentilli knew no better. He is a sick man.” Judge Harvey L. Neelen sentenced Gentilli to a year in the house of correction.

On November 7, a 20-year old woman (who the paper described as “platinum blonde with spectacles”) testified she met Nick Machi at the Gay Spot on April 3. He said he had a job for her that would be “the chance of a lifetime”. At 1:30am on April 5, she drove to DePere with Machi and Nick Gentile, where they met Jack Forman, the operator of Joy’s Lunch. She started “working” on April 8 with two other girls. A few days later, Machi picked her up and brought her to the Riverside tavern in Sheboygan Falls, and he took $25 from her. The owner of the Riverside gave Machi $50, and when the girl was done on April 30, she gave Machi $57. On April 30, she was brought to the Club Royal in Plymouth and in early May was brought to the Blazing Stump in Appleton. Machi received about $115 more from her. On June 1, a woman at the Blazing Stump also gave Machi $100. By June 5, Machi had taken another $70 from the prostitute.

Attorney Mario “Mike” Megna, 34, was on trial Wednesday, December 17, 1941. He repeatedly referred to his accuser as a “liar” and accused her of committing perjury. Megna’s brother John had to tell Mike to relax. Mike said he had not met the 20-year old woman prior to May 26, when he had represented her and Nick Machi in court on a disorderly conduct charge. He later represented her in a court case where she attempted to get custody of her 18-month old son. He testified, “She called me to the gay Spot on June 12 and asked me if she could visit the kid at the dependent home. I took her there. I told her that if she ever wanted the kid she had to prove to the court that she had a good job. And I told her to get out of the racket.” Megna said he never took any money from her, nor was he ever paid for his legal services.

Nicholas Machi, 27, was convicted of pandering on January 6, 1942. He was sentenced to five years in Waupun State Prison by Judge Henry P. Hughes.

On December 30, 1942, Governor Julius Heil commuted Louis Fazio’s prison sentence to two to four years, though Fazio had only served about 9 months. He called the original sentence “excessive”. The governor said, at the earliest, Fazio should not be paroled until he recovered from syphilis. Women’s groups protested that this would put other Milwaukee girls at risk, and the original prosecutor believed that compared to other pandering cases, Fazio’s sentence was already light, especially given the age of the girl.

Mike Farina was shot multiple times with a .38 and killed about 3:00am, March 13, 1946 by Louis Fazio. With Fazio were John and Jerome Mandella, and Dominic Lampone. Jerome Mandella had been the owner of a tavern at 1411 West Fond du Lac Avenue. The quartet forced a truck containing Mike and Joe Farina, along with former Milwaukee prize fighter Tony Bruno, off the road near where Highways 41 and 43 meet in Kenosha County. The killers were driving Mandella’s Chrysler. Joe was shot in the jaw but survived to identify the assailants. He had the bullet removed from his jaw about two weeks later by Dr. R. P. Gingrass at County General Hospital. Jerome Mandella would later testify that on the night of the shooting, he was visiting his sister, Mrs. Thomas Tarantino, at her tavern, The Highway Tap, at 1682 North VanBuren. John Mandella testified that he was home in bed. And Fazio testified that he was playing cards with Sam Cefalu, Leonard Mercurio and Sidney Schiewitz at Pick’s Music Store, and was later brought home by taxi driver John Latona.

Sam DaQuisto was arrested on March 16, 1946 and sent to Kenosha County for a murder charge (presumably Farina). He was released.

On June 15, 1946, four members of the Mandella gang convicted of the murder of Mike Farina and attempted murder of brother Joseph Farina. Gang includes Dominic Lampone, John and Jerome Mandella, and Louis Fazio. The jury of ten men and two women had deliberated for three hours. Sentencing was set for June 24.

Circa June 24, 1946, four Mandella gang members were sentenced to life terms for the murder of Mike Farina. Judge Edward Gehl (sitting in from Washington County) also added one to thirty years each for the attempting murder of Joe Farina. Defense attorney Eugene Sullivan said he planned to appeal. “Justice was not done,” he said. “The jury made its decision on conjecture rather than evidence.” Sullivan was especially upset that his clients were tried together rather than individually; the state accused Louis Fazio of being the triggerman, and the other three could possibly have been acquitted if not tied to him in what the state saw as a conspiracy.

Attorney Mark Catlin, now a state assemblyman, agreed to work for Louis Fazio’s clemency in the background if the Fazios would pay $5,000 in advance and promise $5,000 more upon Louis’ release. On January 8, 1954, Louis’ brother, Frank, paid $5,000 in cash to Catlin. No receipt was given. Frank was assured by Catlin that Louis would be freed on the second application if not the first.

Americo DePietto was sentenced to ten years in Waupun State Prison (where he became inmate number 34313) on August 17, 1954 because of his role in the Oscar Zerk burglary. While in prison, he met and befriended Milwaukee hoodlum Louis Fazio. DePietto also married a Chicago waitress while in the prison on January 18, 1956.

Fazio’s Italian restaurant, 1601 North Jackson, was bombed early on Wednesday, June 1, 1955. There were at least two blasts, blowing two holes in a north basement wall and damaging cars parked nearby. The restaurant’s windows were blown out, as were the windows at the Fazio residence (1609 North Jackson), windows at residences at 524 and 526 Pleasant Street and five other homes on Jackson. John Bruno, 20, of 526 East Pleasant was injured by broken glass that fell into his bed. The bombers were unknown, but the result was a holdup in granting the Fazio family another license to open their new restaurant at 634 North 5th (formerly the Tic Toc Supper Club). Information received by the FBI contended that either Frank Balistrieri or Phil Valley had ordered the bombing and that it was carried out by a hanger-on of the hoodlum element. (Although another informant said it was Balistrieri’s revenge for not being able to buy the Tic Toc and it was carried out by a man from Chicago who was in town to offer a washroom cleaning service.)

On July 13, 1955, while accompanying her husband, Assemblyman Mark Catlin, Mrs. Catlin spoke with Governor Kohler about the Louis Fazio case. Kohler said to her, “I don’t see how I can do anything in the Fazio matter in view of the incidents that have happened.”

Frank Fazio, brother of Louis Fazio, called Mrs. Catlin in the fall of 1955. In one conversation he said to her, “If my brother gets out, I will buy you a nice present.” She said she did not want a present.

On October 21, 1955, Anthony Fazio telephoned Catlin on behalf of the Fazio and Mandella families and discharged Catlin, who told him they were making a mistake. Catlin would later be brought before the State Bar Association and be found guilty of unethical conduct; he was fined $1,500 and his law license was suspended for six months.

Father Angelo Fazio died on October 23, 1955. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum, Milwaukee. His wife Cona had died the year before.

On August 16, 1956, Thomas Bourke of the parole board testified he was never pressured by Mark Catlin to parole any inmate. On August 17, Louis Fazio testified that Catlin told him he had failed to get clemency because of a “double cross” and “a couple of events that happened in Milwaukee.”

Jerome Mandella, 38, who was previously convicted of killing Mike Farina, was paroled on Friday, February 15, 1957. Three days later, Dominic Lampone’s parole was authorized by Wilbur J. Schmidt from the state department of public welfare. Lampone had “made a good institutional adjustment and has been an excellent worker in recent years,” Schmidt said. “We feel that we have accomplished the maximum good that we can do for him in an institution.”

On November 5, 1957, Mark Catlin had his law license suspended six months by the State Supreme Court and was fined $1,500.

On December 2, 1957, Louis Fazio was paroled. He was the triggerman in the Farina shooting in 1946. He was expected to work as a meat cutter for one of his brothers.

Louis visited his brother in Florida on February 24, 1958, registering there as a visiting felon under Fort Lauderdale ID16452.

FBI agents watched Ralph Capone in Milwaukee from February 28 through March 5, 1958. He visited the Ambassador Hotel, Frenchy’s Restaurant (North Avenue), the Vogue Tavern (1414 Wisconsin), Timber Ridge Restaurant, James Gagliano Fruit and Produce Company and Fazio’s Restaurant on Jackson. At Fazio’s, he was seen talking with three unknown men — two left in a car with license H79855 (registered to Joseph Gagliano) and the third left in a car with license K82391 (registered to Bay View Sheet Metal Company). A follow-up conversation between Gagliano and the Milwaukee police had Gagliano saying this was the first time he met Capone and that he wants nothing to do with him, as he suspects that Capone would force him to pay tribute for the privilege of operating his own trucks.

Ralph Capone came to Milwaukee on September 1, 1958 and stayed at the Stratford-Arms Hotel on the corner of 15th and Wisconsin, registered as R. C. James, and stayed in room 218. He was accompanied by two people identified as “old family friends” and stayed one week. Around this time he started investing in plastic pouring caps for liquor bottles which were patented by someone in Milwaukee, possibly Angelo Fazio.

A Milwaukee police officer observed Americo DePietto visiting Louis Fazio at Fazio’s on 5th on May 11, 1959. Fazio and DePietto had met in Waupun prison, and DePietto was a known fence — he was believed to provide Fazio with stolen liquor. The officer asked DePietto if his parole officer gave him permission to travel (DePietto lived in Chicago) and he said that he did. FBI records would show DePietto occasionally making calls to Fazio’s restaurant, but beyond that he had little or nothing to do with Milwaukee (or Wisconsin in general).

Louis Fazio’s parole was revoked on October 26, 1959 and he was returned to Waupun. The parole violation was due to his paying burglars in cash for 700 cases of stolen liquor. Fazio was not formally charged, but failed a polygraph test.

On October 10, 1960, Chief Johnson spoke with the media and questioned the wisdom of releasing Louis Fazio for the second time. Fazio was expected to be paroled on October 26. Johnson said, “I’m not against a guy getting a parole, not even Louis Fazio, but is he ready? The period of reconfinement has been so short that there is a serious question of whether he is readjusted. I’ve known him since he was a kid, and he’s always gone back to the same crowd. There are many fellows who never get their first chance at parole, much less a second chance.” Fazio was in fact paroled (again) and picked up by a brother.

A dinner party was held at the home of Louis Fazio in late February or early March 1962. In attendance was Steve DiSalvo with a “good looking blonde woman” as his date. After dinner, the party continued at Fazio’s on Fifth.

Fazio received permission to go to Florida from January 18, 1963 through January 28, 1963 to visit his brother. He drove there and back in a beige Cadillac. Local police noticed that he appeared to stay through February 19, but had caused no trouble — he was only seen at his brother’s home and restaurant.

On June 3, 1963, Frank Balistrieri, Louis Fazio and Joseph Caminiti were together and talking about jukebox routes. Balistrieri said he had 20 boxes ready to go and advised Caminiti not to use “any muscle, just persuasion”. Balistrieri was also overheard to say, “It doesn’t matter, I’ll deal with the man or with his widow.” The reference was unclear (Biernat?).

On October 11, 1963, John Allen Seybold and others robbed the Lebolt Jewelry store in the Mayfair Shopping Center in Milwaukee county. Outside the jewelry store, and while Seybold and his accomplices were escaping, an exchange of gunfire took place in which the defendant and a police officer were shot.

Fazio again received permission to travel to Florida with his wife from January 14 through February 29, 1964. He informed his parole officer that his brother was ill.

In February 1964, the FBI looked into the possibility that Fazio was involved with the robbery of the Lebolt Jewelry store at the Mayfair mall. A woman from Illinois (presumably Ruth DelVecchio) was caught immediately after the robbery, and she had been known to associate with Fazio, so they suspected he might have helped “case” the store.

On October 16, 1964, an informant said that Frank Balistrieri was hoping to officially bring Louis Fazio into the Mafia. He needed someone both strong and intelligent, and Fazio fit that description. The informant said that Steve DiSalvo was strong, but wasn’t particularly intelligent. The informant also said that a few days prior, Balistrieri had told Fazio that Felix Alderisio had just been made the #2 man in Chicago. (This raises some questions. One, if Fazio wasn’t already in the Mafia, why would Balistrieri tell him about Mafia business? And two, who is the informant in this case? Was it Fazio himself?)

In January 1965, the governor again denied Fazio’s application for clemency and he remained on lifetime parole.

In late January through February 25, 1965, Fazio again visited his brother in Florida.

An informant (possibly Maniaci) told Special Agent LeGrand on June 22, 1965 that he expected Joseph Enea and Louis Fazio to be “made” any day now…

In January-February 1966, Fazio was again in Florida, staying at the Fairwinds Resort Motel. He drove there in a brand new Chevrolet Impala. When he returned, he expressed an interest in opening a supper club in Atlanta.

Governor Knowles pardoned Fazio in January 1967.

A party was held for Louis Fazio on March 8, 1967 in honor of his being pardoned at Fazio’s on 5th. Steve DiSalvo, Dominic Principe and Herman Sosnay were in attendance.

On July 29, 1968, SA Daniel Brandt and another agent made spot checks at downtown businesses. Around 8:15pm they spotted Louis Fazio talking with a known hoodlum at Fazio’s on Fifth.

Two agents took a position on Brown Deer Road at 5:37pm on May 19, 1969 to run surveillance on the home of Frank Sansone, 8676 North Manor Court in Fox Point. He was seen in the front of his house in a black business suit. At 6:20pm he was mowing his lawn with a riding lawn mower. At 7:35pm, Sansone left his home and agents followed him to the Sheraton-Schroeder Hotel on Fifth where he gave his keys to a valet and then walked into Fazio’s on Fifth. Sansone talked to various people around the bar until 8:45pm, when he joined Louis Fazio for dinner in the dining room. The agents took a seat in the dining room and watched various people come up and talk to Fazio and Sansone until 10:15pm. Also in the dining room was Philadelphia-based comedian Anthony Santoro.

Special Agent Dennis Condon went to the Clock Bar (715 North 5th Street) at 11:00pm and saw Edward D. Urdan. He next went to Eddie Carroll’s Steak House (formerly Fazio’s on Fifth) at 11:30pm and saw various men, including Sam Cefalu, Steve Halmo, Frank Sansone, and a man called “Ned” in conversation. Condon spoke with Louis Fazio, who said he had recently sold the bar to Carroll, and Carroll moved everything from the Casino Bar. Fazio said he was planning to open a new location in a 20-story building at 11th and Wells.

Louis Fazio went golfing in Palm Springs, California in January 1971.

The annual Italian-American Golf Tournament was held August 30, 1971 at Tuckaway Country Club. Louis Fazio and Tony Machi (owner of the Barn) were on the board of directors. The only out-of-town hoodlum noticed there was Joseph “Black Joe” Amato of McHenry, Illinois. Amato had dinner the night before the golfing with Fazio, Machi and Frank Sansone.

FBI agents ran surveillance outside of the Iron Horse on the afternoon of August 1, 1972. All they observed were a few men going to a nearby laundromat.

Returning home from his restaurant, the Iron Horse (1100 West Wells), on September 27, 1972 at 1:45am, Louis Fazio was shot to death in an alley behind his home at 2805 North Humboldt Avenue as he stepped out of his car. He was unarmed, other than a red ribbon on his rearview mirror for good luck, and took three to five bullets from a .38 at close range. Neighbors heard the shots. Arleen D’Amore (2815 Humboldt) was concerned, but went back to sleep. Tillie Cirra (2813 Humboldt) heard a sound she described as “bling-bling” and was so scared, she covered her head and could not investigate further. His wife never woke up at all. The body was not discovered until 6:45am in a pool of blood near his 1968 Chevrolet, with Fazio’s car keys and a copy of the Milwaukee Sentinel nearby.

An informant suggested the murder was also a robbery, as Fazio was known to transport money from Milwaukee to Chicago on Tuesday and Friday nights. The identity of the killers, or even suspects, was unknown. Some speculated that Fazio was “bumped off” by a man whose brakes he had cut not long before, but there was no solid evidence of this. There was also speculation that Frank Balistrieri knew in advance about the killing, as he would have to authorize it if it was a mob hit. Police and FBI monitored Fazio’s funeral and were able to identify about fifteen people (names still redacted in their files).

A John Doe hearing was held on Wednesday, March 10, 1976 for the 1972 slaying of Louis Fazio. Those testifying included Anthony Pipito, Jerry Mandella, Steven J. Halmo, Nick C. Tripi, Ben DiSalvo and Cosmo Carini. Continuing the next day, the star was Dominic J. Mandella, who was known to have fought with Fazio over money. Other testimony came from Francis C. Stelloh, 63, and neighbor Salvatore Crivello, 40. Stelloh was previously a suspect in the Isadore Pogrob murder.

An informant told the FBI on March 12, 1976 that the grand jury looking into Louis Fazio’s death had really shaken up the boys in Milwaukee. Frank Balistrieri was upset that Frank Stelloh and Benny DiSalvo had been called to testify. DiSalvo had Joseph Balistrieri as his attorney, so there was every reason to believe that Frank was notified of the secret proceedings.

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

2 Responses to “Black Sheep: The Story of Louis Fazio”

  1. Drew Hunkins Says:

    Gavin, Gavin, you keep out doing yourself. This is enthralling. Having grown up in the Milw area this is simply fascinating to me. Thanks for posting this.

  2. gavin Says:

    Thanks, Drew. There really isn’t much here I didn’t already have online. I’ve just started organizing better because the chronological pages are getting cumbersome.

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