This article was last modified on June 30, 2019.

Sally Papia: A Mob of Her Own

(This is just a collection of my notes on Sally Papia, not any attempt at a coherent article.)

Sarena Marie “Sally” LaVora was born March 20, 1929 to Charles LaVora and Josephine Piscuine. Her uncles were the well-known gambling Piscuine brothers. Charles laVora operated a small grocery store at Bradyand Astor in Milwaukee. Sally learned to cook from her godmother, Angeline Catanzaro.

In 1962, she opened the first Sally’s Steak House at 431 West Michigan.

A second restaurant, Sarena’s, opened around March 1967 at 718 North Water Street.

In June 1967, Sally Papia slipped on an ice cube and suffered a brain concussion. From her hospital bed, she told the press, “You can’t keep a good Italian down.” One floral arrangement sent to her was from her employees and read, “Dear mother hen… hurry back before your chicks run astray.” The newspaper reported her as being 34. In fact, she was 38.

On April 19, 1968, an informant told the FBI that Papia was taking over the Red Lion Room in the Knickerbocker Hotel. He said that on April 9, a pre-opening party was held with Frank Balistrieri, Steve DiSalvo, Sam Cefalu, Paul Bogosian, Dominic Frinzi, Jimmy Jennaro and Peter Balistrieri.

On June 29, 1968, a captain with the Milwaukee Police Department told the FBI that there were rumors going around that Felix Alderisio had recently been in Milwaukee and was with Sally Papia. However, he said he could not personally verify the rumors.

Some time in mid-October 1968, Sally Papia went to Fazio’s on 5th and bragged of her Mafia connections and how she could open a restaurant on 5th Street and put Fazio’s out of business. Papia was thrown out of the restaurant, but soon told her boyfriend, who came back and broke someone’s jaw in three pieces. (Presumably one of the Fazio brothers.)

Frank Balistrieri was at Sally’s Steakhouse until very late in the evening Christmas Eve 1968, causing his wife to get very upset. She called Sally Papia and told her to stay away from Frank.

At 10:00pm on June 24, 1969, two special agents went to the Ad Lib, where they saw James Jennaro, Sally Papia and Walter Brocca. The agents spoke with Jennaro, who said that business had gone down $500 each week since they discontinued using female impersonators, but it was worth the money loss to keep the police off their backs and keep the “excess number of homosexual customers” away. (Note: it is unclear from this whether Jennaro disliked homosexuals or simply disliked the police harassment of homosexuals, so not too much should be assumed here. As he was running a drag show, it may well be the latter.) He said Jerry DiMaggio the bartender had cancer and was receiving cobalt treatments in Madison five days a week.

Frank Balistrieri threw a Christmas party on December 21, 1969 at the Kings IV Tavern (722 North Water Street). Approximately 150-200 guests were there, including Walter Brocca, Sally Papia, Harry DeAngelo, Albert Albana, Frank Buccieri, Dominic Frinzi, Frank Stelloh, Steve DiSalvo, Benny DiSalvo, Jerry DiMaggio, John Rizzo, William Covelli, Dominic Gullo, Joseph Enea and the majority of the Milwaukee Mafia.

Chicago mobster Frank Buccieri was seen by the Milwaukee police having lunch with Sally Papia at her restaurant on January 26, 1970. An informant told the FBI that there was a rumor that Papia or Buccieri would be taking over Balistrieri’s King’s IV tavern on Water Street.

A black Fleetwood Cadillac with Wisconsin plates was seen in front of Frank Buccieri’s apartment in Forest Park, Illinois on the morning of April 27, 1970. This was Sally Papia’s car. Milwaukee police officers interviewed Frank Buccieri on May 6, 1970 and he told them he was engaged to be married to Sally Papia and was in the process of getting a divorce from his current wife.

Agents from the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation stopped by Sally’s Steakhouse on October 26, 1970 and observed a meeting between Frank Buccieri, Frank Balistrieri, Sally Papia, Steve DiSalvo and Jimmy Jennaro. Three other men the agents did not recognize were there, too. Balistrieri, DiSalvo and Jennaro left at 2:00am and went to the Ad Lib.

The engagement of Milwaukee restauranteur Sally Papia and Chicago hoodlum Frank Buccieri (brother of another hoodlum, Fiore Buccieri) was announced in December 1970. The engagement was called off soon after.

Sally Papia and Frank Buccieri went to Acapulco, Mexico on January 9, 1971, allegedly to be married. There is no evidence that any ceremony ever took place.

On April 2, 1971, Frank Buccieri was staying at a rented house with Sally Papia at 2705 Livmor Avenue in Palm Springs.

On July 4, 1971, the home of Sally Papia was burglarized and jewelry valued at $49,000 was stolen. Her former fiancee, Chicago hoodlum Frank Buccieri, went around Milwaukee trying to track the jewelry down. He succeeded, finding some rings in the possession of Edwin S. Siegel, the operator of a barber shop at 5922 W. North Avenue. Siegel told Buccieri, Sally’s maitre’d Max Adonnis and steak house manager Frank Trovato that a man named “Pete” came in to his shop and had four rings for sale. One was purchased for $700 by a dentist, Dr. Alvin Gloyeck, who happened to be in the shop at the time.

Around the same time, Max Adonnis and an unidentified man held Allen Quindt hostage in a West Side garage and threatened to kill him for the theft, which he was apparently not part of. Quint had his jaw broken but escaped with his life.

Informants told the FBI that Frank Buccieri had been trying to take over the Milwaukee family while Frank Balistrieri was away, but the burglary of Papia’s residence made him “lose face” and provided him with too much notoriety. Buccieri gave up any attempt at a takeover.

Sally Papia held a golf tournament on July 18, 1971 in Alpine Valley.

Felix Alderisio’s wake and funeral were held in Chicago on September 26-28, 1971. Sally Papia attended with Frank Buccieri.

Around November 18, 1971, Sally Papia was named the vice president of Enroc Industries, a company that owned 11 restaurants in Milwaukee and Denver, a candy manufacturing facility in Sherwood (Wisconsin) and oil and gas interests in Ohio. The company’s registered agent was Alvin Kriger. Enroc was part of the holding company First Midwest Investment Corp (FMIC), which was run by Fred A. Shapiro, 30, a graduate of Marquette Law School. Shapiro’s father Norton was president of Midwest Tire Auto stores and his father-in-law, S. Daniel Tishberg, was president of Towne Realty.

A car registered to an employee of the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas was observed outside of Sally Papia’s residence on March 14, 1972.

On September 29, 1972 a 25th anniversary party was held at Sorini’s in North Riverside. Sally Papia and Frank Buccieri attended, as did Sam and Charles English and Turk Torello. (Whose anniversary is unclear.)

Sally Papia was visited at her home by the FBI on October 24, 1972 under the pretext of discussing the murder of Louis Fazio. She said she had already spoken to the Milwaukee police about it and was aware that anonymous calls had been made saying she was going to die, too. She said she considered the calls to be pranks.

Sally Papia took a busload of friends to Frank Buccieri’s Riverside restaurant in North Riverside near Chicago for a Christmas party on December 17, 1972.

Sally Papia and Frank Buccieri stayed at the Palm Springs Spa Hotel (Palm Springs, California) from January 18 to the 25, 1973.

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.

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.

The FBI interviewed Walter Brocca on April 30, 1973 at his used appliance store (722 South 2nd Street). 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 (Charles LaVora) could have a job.

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.

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.

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.

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 Papia had been severely beaten by Frank Buccieri.

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.

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.

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.

Sally Papia had a hysterectomy at St. Michael’s Hospital on July 30, 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 $5,000 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.”

Sally Papia was in Palm Springs from November 30 to December 12, 1974. She had left via American Airlines from O’Hare Airport.

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 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.

On January 6, Schlecter’s wife Phyllis called the police and told Detective Edward McHugh what her husband had done. 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.

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.

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.

Sally Papia flew from O’Hare Airport in Chicago to Palm Springs on February 2, 1975 aboard American Airlines Flight 581.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

Sally Papia was in Palm Springs from April 6 to April 9.

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.

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.

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.”

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”.

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 27, 1975, Sally Papia and her co-defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges of arson and extortion.

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.

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 $7,500 was paid to have her killed by Thanksgiving.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Frank Balistrieri was secretly recorded on January 9, 1980 making threats concerning Sally Papia. “I told her I’m going to drop both pimps, the pimp and the bodyguard, right on the doorstep. The only reason I told her that, because I’m not going to do it right now. See, now let them concentrate on that end. But Jimmy Jennaro, you know, he knows something or something… All of a sudden he stops hanging around here, and he’s not doing anything to promote our places.” Presumably, given Jennaro’s history with prostitutes, he was the “pimp”. Jennaro managed Balistrieri’s Ad Lib night club from 1965 until 1972, when he left to manager Sally’s. The bodyguard was likely Frank Trovato, known as “the enforcer”.

On July 26, 1981, reporter Walter Fee caught up with Kurt Amidzich, who had come to the media’s attention as a victim of Sally Papia years earlier. Amidzich, who was said to be operating Schlehlein’s at the beginning of 1981 apparently no longer was. According to Matt Schlehlein, Amidzich “has nothing to do with the place at all.” Fee claimed that during the brief time Amidzich was attached to the restaurant, he had not paid any rent or put his name on any of the licenses.

In 1982, Sally Papia signed a document known as the “1982-1985 Hotel Agreement” (1982 agreement), a purported collective bargaining agreement with Local 122. The 1982 agreement was supposed to apply to all eligible employees. But not all of Sally’s eligible employees were enrolled in the union. Instead, Papia submitted the names of seven employees, from all job classifications, to include on the union’s membership rolls. Papia told these employees that she had submitted their names to Local 122, and she also paid their membership dues.

The practice of carrying a limited number of Sally’s employees on the union’s membership rolls began long before 1982; the arrangement had existed under a series of contracts with Local 122 dating back to the early 1970’s. The arrangement allowed Papia to avoid full unionization (and the costs associated with it).

Sally Papia’s cozy arrangement with Local 122 began to unravel in early 1985. Joann Calarco, a waitress at Sally’s, had incurred significant medical expenses the past October, and was facing additional expenses in January. Calarco discussed her predicament with her mother, who advised her to contact Vince Gallo, a long-time family friend. Gallo was Local 122’s business manager, having replaced Phil Valley, the old business manager (and the union official with whom Papia mainly had dealt in the past) in 1984. Calarco explained her situation to Gallo who, much to Calarco’s surprise, told her that Sally’s was unionized and that she was eligible to join Local 122 and receive health benefits. Before allowing Calarco to join the union, however, Gallo told Calarco to inform Papia that she wished to join.

When Calarco told Papia that she intended to join the union, Papia became angry. Nevertheless, Calarco joined. After Calarco joined Local 122, two other waitresses joined, and other Sally’s employees became interested in joining (principally to take advantage of the union’s health benefits). At about this same time, Papia began to receive notices from the administrator of Local 122’s employee benefit plans about employer contributions she had failed to make under the 1982 agreement. Also around this time, the FBI began to investigate Papia’s relationship with Local 122. Sally Papia told FBI agent Roger Trott that Gallo was “pressuring” her to unionize Sally’s. To combat this pressure, Papia’s attempt to avoid full unionization moved to a different tack.

Shortly after Papia spoke to the FBI agent, Papia and Gallo began negotiating a new contract for the period beginning in 1985. During these negotiations, Gallo pressed Papia to submit all her eligible employees’ names to the union. Papia resisted this because of the cost of paying union benefits for all her employees. Instead, Papia submitted twelve names to Gallo for union membership. However, Papia did not inform these twelve employees that they would be listed on the union rolls. Papia also prepared twelve Local 122 membership cards for these employees, forged their names on them, and submitted them to the union.

On June 15, 1985, the 1982 agreement expired. Negotiations over a new contract continued. A couple weeks later, Papia had ballots prepared for her employees to indicate whether or not they wanted to join Local 122. Each ballot contained a line for the employee to sign. All employees except one (including the twelve employees whose names Papia had submitted to the union) voted against joining Local 122. Papia sent copies of most of these ballots to Gallo. She did not, however, send copies of the ballots signed by the twelve employees whose names she had previously submitted to Gallo.

On December 16, 1985, Sally Papia told the village of Mukwonago’s Plan Commission of her intent to build a restaurant. The next day, her nephew Jeffrey Tomaro convinced the Village Board to rezone the proposed site from agricultural to business. As far as this author knows, the second restaurant was never built.

Cheryl Kane was working as a waitress for Sally Papia in August 1986. After her husband, Anthony Pipito, beat her severely that month, Papia did not allow her to work for a few weeks due to her appearance.

The FBI interviewed an attorney for Local 122’s Health and Welfare Trust Fund on August 7, 1986 at his office at 250 East Wisconsin Avenue. He said he had held the position since May 1979, and in the last three years the Health and Welfare Fund had become insolvent. He said this was because the fund was self-insured. Prior to 1982, it was insured by Mutual of Omaha and was quite lucrative. The fund was currently in debt to the Milwaukee County Medical Complex for $125,000. When asked about Sally’s, the attorney laughed, and said no one knew if Sally’s was unionized or not, and the restaurant was not considered part of the Knickerbocker Hotel so they would be a separate contract. He said he did not think Vincent Gallo had any significant mob connections and he joked that if he wanted to contact them, he could just as easily pick up the phone and call them himself.

The FBI interviewed twelve Sally’s employees on August 13-15, 1986 concerning their signatures being on Local 122 union membership applications. None of the twelve had ever seen the application before, and only one of them was aware that they were in a union.

The FBI executed a search warrant on August 20, 1986, scouring the Local 122’s offices for all files on Sally’s Steak House. Some were found, some were not, and they were told that any election held to unionize Sally’s would have taken place when Phil Valley was running Local 122.

Attorney Fred A. Shapiro, formerly associated with Sally Papia at Enroc Industries (and married to her daughter Candy), was arrested on August 22, 1986 for hiring a client to rob a Glendale drug dealer of his cocaine and cash. Shapiro had a cocaine addiction, but was unaware his client was working for the police. The attorney was caught on tape saying, “Now we got a piece (gun). Now we’re gonna start getting some names. We’re gonna rip off five, six people really fast. Each of us will put 30, 40 grand in our pockets. Sounds like Heaven to me and we’re get free coke all along. That’s what we’re gonna do.” Shapiro was able to supply his client with a .357 Magnum. Another tape had Shapiro threatening the client over the phone, saying, “My wife is going to kill you and I’m going to kill you.” Bail was set at $3000, which Shapiro paid.

The FBI interviewed a Mrs. SanFilippo on September 3, 1986 concerning her employment at Sally’s Steak House. SanFilippo said she had been employed there for six years and was currently on a leave of absence because she was nine months pregnant. She had disagreements with Sally Papia in the past, but was told she could return to work when she was ready. As for the union, she was not aware that anyone at Sally’s was in the union until about a year ago. She had first heard rumors about a union six years ago, but was told that it was “hush hush” and not something to talk about. She had extensive surgery in October 1984, and at that time was told she could pay back dues at Local 122 in order to have the health insurance fund help her with bills. When Sally Papia found out that SanFilippo had joined the union, she called her into a meeting with Jimmy Jennaro. Jennaro told her she should keep her mouth shut and not tell the other employees. Papia told the other employees that SanFilippo was a “nitwit”. SanFilippo told the agents she feared and distrusted Papia and believed that Papia had tape-recorded phone conversations they had.

The FBI interviewed an employee of Local 122 on June 3, 1987. He said he had come to Milwaukee in May 1982 from Toledo, Ohio to replace a retiring employee who had been an international organizer with the union. The man’s family stayed in Toledo for three years before finally joining him in Milwaukee. He had gone to two meetings at Sally’s and as far as he knew they were always unionized. He said Sally Papia was a “tough nut” and it was commonly known that “she openly berated and was generally hard on her employees.”

On December 1, 1988, Sally Papia was indicted with two felony counts of paying off Local 122 a total of $4,000 “disguised as union dues” to keep her employees off the union rolls. Prosecutor Stephen Liccione said this deal saved Papia’s restaurant $250,000 in health insurance premiums and pension benefits over a five year period. Papia faced ten years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted. Defense attorney Franklyn Gimbel said he “planned to bring some legal challenges to this indictment.” The Milwaukee Sentinel noted the Papia investigation was spun off from an investigation into Local 122’s Vincent Gallo, who had formerly been the manager at Snug’s.

On March 10, 1989, Special Agent Roger Trott testified about conversations he had with Sally Papia. “She said the union and Vince Gallo were pressuring her to unionize her restaurant. She told me it would break her to be unionized.” At one point, Papia gave out ballots to her employees, but had them write their names on them and made the waitresses fear they could lose their jobs. One waitress, Constance Puchert, testified to being scared. Not surprisingly, the ballots came back 59-1 against joining the union.

On March 12, 1989, Sally Papia’s trial switched to the defense phase. Interestingly, not one witness was called, not even Papia herself. Defense attorney Franklyn Gimbel told the court, “We don’t think that there’s anything to defend against. The defense rests.”

On April 28, 1989, Sally Papia was sentenced to 16 months in prison, two years probation and a $10,000 fine for paying off Local 122 to keep her employees out of the union. She had letters from Governor Martin Schreiber (1977-1979), Milwaukee detective Joseph J. Miszewski and 23 others in her favor, but the judge seemingly ignored these. Schreiber wrote, “One could not come away from Sally’s without believing that the restaurant was owned and operated by a person with the utmost integrity and compassion… She and her restaurant have been a credit to our community.” Miszewski said, “I believe that her high moral standards and superior business character have been the No. 1 factor in his successful years as a restaurateur.” (Miszewski had previously been tied to California mob figure Andrew Lococo.) WISN radio personality Larry “The Legend” Johnson wrote, “She is a super lady and has done a lot for our great city.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Liccione said that due to information that came out during the trial, “a few new avenues of inquiry have opened… and we will be pursuing them.” He seemed to be alluding to the fact that no one involved with the union had been prosecuted for the misconduct. Judge Thomas Curran openly questioned why they had not during Papia’s sentencing. Papia addressed the court with a letter at this time, which read in part, “I know I’m not perfect and for sure I’ve made many mistakes over 25 years in business… But I never intended to break any laws. If I did, I’m so very, very sorry… How could I hurt the people helping me grow?”

Investigator Mike Koll of the US Labor Department also spoke to the press, saying, “The FBI and my section are hopeful we can seek the prosecution of what we see as a corrupt union… We’re encouraged by some of the judge’s comments that this is a corruption of the labor-management arrangement.”

Sally’s Steak House closed in February 1994. Sally Papia and her daughter Caroline “Candy” Papia had feuded many times over the years, and while Sally was the face of the restaurant, Candy was 70% owner because convicted felon Sally could not hold a liquor license. Disagreements reached new heights and Sally quit. When co-receivers Frank Trovato and Frank LaVora (Sally’s cousin) declined to keep their positions, ownership reverted to Candy.

June 3, 1996: Frank LaVora was planning to take over Snug’s restaurant in the Shorecrest Hotel and make it a night club called Frank’s. LaVora had previously managed LaVeer’s tavern and Sally’s Steakhouse when Sally Papia was in prison.

Around July 31, 1997, Sally Papia was sued by her Pewaukee homeowners’ association for not removing a fence, clothesline and antenna from her property. “I think it’s ridiculous,” Papia told the press. “I could see if you had a big satellite dish or a big fence that you couldn’t see through. But (my fence) is a cute little vinyl, 3-foot-tall fence.” The case went to court in December, and Papia’s attorney Frank Crivello argued that a “little old Italian lady” was “being treated unfairly”. Regardless, Judge James Kieffer decided she had, in fact, violated her subdivision’s policies. Papia said she would probably comply with the order, but still maintained that her fence was “adorable” and helped keep neighborhood kids from falling into her hot tub or getting attacked by her dogs.

Sally Papia and her daughter Candy slid off an icy Waukesha County road on January 1, 2005, as Candy was driving her 1991 Jeep Cherokee. At 3pm, the vehicle left County D and hit a tree, killing Candy instantly. Sally went into a coma and died from her injuries days later at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Wauwatosa. One of Milwaukee’s most colorful figures had died. She had dated a high-profile lawyer, a Chicago mobster, a cop, a banker and was friends with Senator Herb Kohl.

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

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