This article was last modified on May 31, 2019.

The Gambling Network of Alfred DeCesaro

(This is a collection site for all info on Alfred DeCesaro and his associates, not necessarily a coherent article.)

Ralph Masaro was born in August 1908 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania (30 miles from Pittsburgh).

By 1918 (probably sooner) Masaro’s father died and his mother Angeline remarried to Anthony Molinaro.

The FBI opened an ITAR investigation of Ralph Masaro on March 14, 1963. Masaro had a long history of gambling, including an arrest with Arthur Richio, and in 1944 was sent to prison for burglarizing the William Covelli tavern. He had also spent time in the Green Bay Reformatory for a 1930 highway robbery. The investigation was opened following information that Masaro and Alfred DCesaro were not only bookies, but transferred large sums of cash interstate to Waukegan a couple times a week. Their “bank” was believed to be in Highland Park, Illinois. Masaro was co-owner of a delicatessen with Carl “Cookie” Scola.

On April 24, 1963, John Butera’s vehicle was seen parked outside the deli.

An FBI agent (redacted, but formerly with ATF) observed Ralph Masaro receive a small package or roll, slightly smaller than a pack of cigarettes, from a man in a gray Buick in front of Carl’s Delicatessen on April 30, 1963 at 10:35am.

The FBI conducted surveillance on Wednesday, May 1, 1963 at the intersection of 64th Street and 14th Avenue in Kenosha. At 9:12am, a red Buick belonging to Ralph A. Masaro (C82-586), a yellowish green Oldsmobile (C99-424) and an unidentified car (Y24-242) were parked near Frankie’s Tap, Mac’s Lunch and Carl’s Delicatessen. At 10:10am, Masaro is seen bringing coffee out of Mac’s Lunch and then meeting up with Captain Dominic Mattioli of the Kenosha Police Department in Carl’s. They go into a back room. At 10:20am, Dominic Principe leaves a car parked in front of Smith’s Grocery and walks into Carl’s. Principe leaves at 10:39am in a tan Mercury with Illinois plates (790-936). At 11:02am, Masaro, Mattioli and a young man leave Carl’s and enter Mac’s Lunch. At 11:07am, a man parks a gray Buick (G77-364) in front of Carl’s. Masaro walks over to Carl’s and brings the man to Mac’s Lunch. Mattioli leaves at 11:14am in a white and maroon Rambler (H38-037). The man driving G77-364 leaves, and is with a man wearing a brown suit. At 11:26am, Masaro leaves in the red Buick.

On June 24, 1963, an informant said that DeCesaro was Masaro’s “bag man” and “makes all of the contacts.” Cookie Scola was said to hang out at Greco’s restaurant, playing cards with Albert Albana and William Covelli. Scola and Albana lived together over Dante’s bar. Two days later the informant said he moved his bookie joint from the deli to the apartment over Dante’s.

Angelo Germinaro was observed at Poodles, Inc. (60th Street and 22nd Avenue) on October 21, 1963. (This business was operated by either Ralph Masaro or Alfred DeCesaro.)

Angelo Germinaro met with Ralph Masaro at Greco’s Restaurant on November 17, 1963. They did not converse with anyone else.

An informant told Special Agent William Higgins on November 19, 1963 that the football pool cards were coming from an Outfit-controlled restaurant on Grand Avenue in Chicago. They were brought to Waukegan, where they were picked up by an AMC employee who lived in Waukegan but worked in Kenosha. The informant did not think Germinaro was directly involved in the transfer of the cards because his specialty was horse racing and not football. He further said that although Peter Zocchi was involved in football pools the year before he was not involved this time, even though his business was failing. Zocchi was too afraid of losing his license.

On January 23, 1964, DeCesaro was observed meeting with three men at Salfi Tailors (2212 60th Street). The men were riding in a black Chevrolet whose license plates traced to Irving Moss of Whitefish Bay.

US Attorney James Brennan met with the IRS and FBI on January 27, 1964, and discussed the plan to have the IRS raid Alfred DeCesaro on February 7. Although the IRS was to take the lead, the FBI was involved because Brennan felt the surveillance the FBI had been doing would help bolster search warrants. The affidavit for the search warrant was to only include surveillance information and make no reference — no matter how vague — to any informant. Furthermore, any tax case brought by the IRS would not prevent the FBI from bringing a gambling case if they wished. On February 5, the FBI turned over an affidavit to the IRS.

On Friday afternoon, February 7, 1964, Treasury agents arrested Ralph Masaro, 50, and Alfred DeCesaro, 41, for accepting bets without having purchased a federal wagering stamp. The agents raided DeCesaro’s home (6537 51st Avenue), an apartment leased to both men (2016 61st Street) and Masaro’s delicatessen (63rd Street at 14th Avenue), and seized $1,984. They also confiscated DeCesaro’s automobile. Hearings were set for February 20.

Also on February 7, a special agent from Chicago visited the Kenosha County Jail and spoke with inmates about gambling. The inmate names are redacted, but the inmates talked about gambling at Frankie’s Tap, Brass Rail (not to be confused with the BR in Milwaukee), Carl’s Delicatessen, Nickie’s Tap, Gino’s Lounge, Club 42 (Zion), Shel-Mar (Waukegan). The agent was told that one of the bookmakers also drummed up business for a local abortionist. Still further, there was allegedly a Milwaukee booking agent for show girls whose last name starts with an “N” who was involved in prostitution.

An informant told SA John Gassaway on February 7 that he had heard of Irving Moss and believed he was a gambler who enjoyed craps games in Kenosha.

On February 9, 1964, Milwaukee detectives conducted surveillance at the home of Irving Moss in Whitefish Bay. Out front they saw a white station wagon driven by Russell A. Lohr of Milwaukee. Also, a white Pontiac owned by (redacted) of LaGrange, Illinois. A records check determined that Moss was associated with Irving P. Bear in a business called the Better Living Remodeling Center (3356 North Green bay Avenue).
The FBI interviewed DeCesaro on February 17, and DeCesaro said his attorney advised him he should talk as long as he does not talk about himself. DeCesaro said he did “not know anything” about gambling in Kenosha and had never been approached by anyone out of state to go into a gambling business with him. DeCesaro says he knew Angelo Germinaro all his life and does not know Germinaro to be involved with gambling. The agent showed him photographs of known gamblers and DeCesaro commented, “I’ve seen them around.” Lastly, he was asked about his “gambling relationship” with Masaro, and all DeCesaro did was smile and correct them — “alleged gambling relationship”.

Masaro and DeCesaro were supposed to have preliminary hearings on February 20, but this was postponed to make time for a grand jury hearing on March 4-5, 1964 that was to cover Kenosha gambling.

An informant was shown arrest photos of Ralph Masaro and Alfred DeCesaro on February 28, 1964. Masaro was identified as a card dealer at a place called Chim and Eddie’s on Highway 131 in Illinois. DeCesaro looked familiar, but the informant was not sure how.

On March 24, 1964, an informant told the FBI that he had been at the Club 32 on a Thursday night roughly two weeks ago and saw two “stick men” there that he recognized as former employees of William Covelli. The men were short and believed to be Italian. The craps table would usually have $200-$250 in play at any time. He said he was under the impression that the Kenosha gamblers felt the heat was dying down following the arrests of Masaro and DeCesaro and games might pick back up again.

Ralph Masaro and Alfred DeCesaro pleaded not guilty to failing to purchase a federal wagering stamp on April 13, 1964.

A Kenosha County sheriff’s deputy advised the FBI on February 8, 1965 that Gene Thomas was somehow connected in horse booking with Alfred DeCesaro and tavern owner Dante Cardinali.

Ralph Masaro, 56, died of cancer on May 15, 1965 after wasting away to 60 pounds. Not even morphine was said to ease his suffering. He sold his interest in his grocery store at 63rd Street and 14th Avenue to Carl “Cookie” Scola.

Kenosha County’s chief investigator checked with his confidential sources and then reported to the FBI on September 9, 1966. He said that Alfred DeCesaro was “far more important” than he was given credit for and “plays things down intentionally”. This attempt to stay in the background put him at odds with Ralph Masaro before Masaro’s death because he (Masaro) was talking too much, especially when drinking. The investigator said that DeCesaro was “wired into” the Chicago Outfit, and therefore did not have to pay a cut of his booking to William Covelli. Covelli was the top man for the Milwaukee Family in Kenosha, but the city was coordinated between the Milwaukee and Chicago mobs.

The FBI met with US Attorney James B. Brennan on June 24, 1968 to discuss the possibility of getting a subpoena for the phone records of Alfred DeCesaro, Angelo Germinaro, John Puntillo and Eugene Thomas in order to determine if they had an organized system for laying off bets across state lines. Brennan said he was “not inclined” to ask for the subpoena on a “speculative” basis. He encouraged the FBI to pursue other avenues and then using the subpoena only when necessary.

The FBI met with the Wisconsin DOJ again on October 28, 1968. This time, the DOJ said they had an undercover officer who had witnessed Eugene Thomas, Angelo Germinaro and Alfred DeCesaro in conversation. They were overheard to discuss a “bundle” of parlay cards that had been stolen from their truck, and while watching them, Thomas accepted three bets over the phone. DeCesaro was seen making a call from a pay phone. Surveillance had been attempted at World Wide Arts, Puntillo’s place of business, but have failed to see anything yet. They believed this was where he was distributing the parlay cards.

An informant on January 10 told the FBI that John Puntillo had been running to Chicago each Monday in relation to football parlay cards. The rumor was that due to losses Puntillo was now in debt $9000 to somebody in Chicago.

An informant told the FBI on January 15, 1969 that Frank Tenuta and Alfred DeCesaro held meetings every Sunday morning at Tenuta’s restaurant. (This informant had at one time worked at Nino’s restaurant and was considering going back.)

An informant told the FBI on February 14 that Bernie Olsen of Kenosha was receiving tips from someone in Libertyville and then used those tips to place bets on horse races with Alfred DeCesaro.

On February 26, 1969, a gold Ford registered to Gladys Paul of Glenview, Illinois was seen in Angelo Germinaro’s driveway.

An informant was contacted on March 27, 1969. He said he believed William Covelli was out of the gambling business altogether, and Kenosha gambling was completely in the hands of Alfred DeCesaro. The informant said DeCesaro received two “lines” — the Northern line, which came in through Eau Claire from Minnesota, and the Southern line from Chicago. Louis Gerolmo was said to be laying off with DeCesaro. DeCesaro’s “movers” at AMC were Ray Matera, John Puntillo and a man named Woodbury.

Two FBI agents went into the Office Lounge in Kenosha on April 9, 1969 at 11:00am. They saw Angelo Germinaro talking with Eugene Thomas and Alfred DeCesaro. Their conversation was interrupted several times by telephone calls that the agents could not hear. Around noon, John Puntillo showed up, and the agents left at 12:15pm.

An informant told the FBI on April 12, 1969 that John Puntillo “controls all gambling activities” at the AMC plant. He was primarily involved in football betting and used parlay cards. Such cards allowed for a gambler to get bigger returns if they correctly predicted the outcome of multiple games. Conversely, this increased the odds of losing because the odds were lower. This informant did not know if Puntillo was involved in baseball or basketball, but assumed so. He also did not know who Puntillo “laid off” with.

On the morning of April 15, 1969, agents saw Alfred DeCesaro and Angelo Germinaro at Nino’s Midway Restaurant. DeCesaro also stopped at the Red Arrow Tap and the Office Lounge, where he met John Puntillo.

On April 16, 1969, FBI agents (including Daniel Brandt) watched Alfred DeCesaro enter and leave various businesses in Kenosha. Between 9:48am and 1:00pm, he entered George’s Custom Tailors, the Park View Motel, Villa Capri Liquor Store, Towne House Restaurant, Louie’s Tap, Joe’s Bar, Park Liquor Store, the Elks Club, Bartley House Tavern, Office Lounge, Schmidt’s Club Bar, and Art and Joyce’s Tap. During this surveillance, John Puntillo was also seen at the Office Lounge and DeCesaro was seen having a brief conversation with John Buttera.

An employee at the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department spoke to the FBI on April 25, 1969. He said Alfred DeCesaro had been a gambler all his life and was close with the owner of Tenuta’s. In the past, the owner had been observed passing an envelope of cash to a Kenosha policeman. He said there was “a good deal of corruption” in local law enforcement and in City Hall.

On April 25, an informant said that Louis Gerolmo was betting with Gene Thomas, sometimes as much as $100 or more on each Chicago Cubs game. The source said Thomas was a partner with Alfred DeCesaro, and they did not take bets over $200 because they were not laying off with anyone and could not afford the loss. DeCesaro would let his underlings, such as Angelo Germinaro, to take all the risks.

Eugene Alfano (6316 47th Avenue) came to the Kenosha FBI office on December 3, 1969. Alfano said he knew nothing about football parlay cards, although he had seen them. He said he also was not aware of what happened in the factory at American Motors, because he worked for the company in the office. Alfano said he knew John Puntillo, Eugene Thomas and Alfred DeCesaro, but did not know of any illegal gambling. He said he worked part-tiem at the Office Lounge, and also ate lunch there. Alfano said he had gambled on horses in Illinois, but had never played a football parlay card and would not even know where to gamble in Kenosha if he wanted to.

On April 24, 1970, an informant said Robert Carlson took bets over his bar, the Paddock Club. He was associated with Lou Gerolmo and James Salerno, and would lay off his gambling to Alfred DeCesaro.

Agents ran surveillance at the Donut Hole on July 1, 1970 from 6pm until 9:50pm, and made note of the license plates they saw parked nearby.

On July 8, 1970, agents ran surveillance on Becker’s store from 7:20pm to 12:20am.

Angelo Germinaro met with James Salerno at Mr. Z’s Tavern at 4:12pm on July 14, 1970.

On July 15, 1970, agents ran surveillance on Angelo Germinaro from 4:00pm until 9:15pm. The next day he was followed from 3:45pm until 9:07pm.

Louis Gerolmo met with Alfred DeCesaro on July 17, 1970 at 10:25am. This was noticed while agents ran surveillance on Eugene Miller from 9:00am until 4:00pm.

An informant told the FBI on November 12, 1970 that Alfred DeCesaro made daily trips to a restaurant where he picked up white envelopes from the waitresses that presumably had betting results inside. (The name of the restaurant is redacted.)

An informant again told the FBI on November 23, 1970 that Eugene Thomas an Angelo Germinaro were “cozy” about who they gave their phone number to and who they accepted bets from. This was actually not a hindrance because they were more likely to allow big bettors and not those who only wanted to risk $2. An informant (maybe the same one) said he again saw DeCesaro picking up white envelopes from waitresses, as well as Eugene Thomas.

On December 9, 1970, agents saw Angelo Germinaro in his car with (redacted) at 4:00pm.

On December 14, 1970, an informant joined an agent to a pay phone at the Pershing Plaza Shopping Center. With the agent overhearing, the informant called and placed a bet with Angelo Germinaro.

An informant spoke with the FBI on December 15, 1970 about gambling in Kenosha. He believed Angelo Germinaro to be the biggest bookmaker in town, and Germinaro was working for Alfred DeCesaro. He recalled that when John Woodbury was working for DeCesaro, he was turning in $3500 each week. The informant speculated that if all the bookies working for DeCesaro were added up, it could be as much as $5000 per day going to DeCesaro. The informant said Germinaro became the biggest bookmaker following a meeting of Germinaro, DeCesaro, Eugene Thomas and James Salerno. Salerno and Louis Gerolmo had recently taken big losses due to an Illinois gambler named Adrian Dean “Dino” Northcutt, so betting was moved over to Germinaro, and a “union” was created to protect the group from big losses.

On February 27, 1971, twenty search warrants were issued in Kenosha at eleven different locations: the residence and vehicle of Alfred DeCesaro; residence and vehicle of Angelo Germinaro; residence of Eugene Thomas; residence of John Puntillo; residence of John Woodbury; residence of Raymond Matera; residence of Frank “Effie” Manna; vehicle of James Salerno; business office of Dino Bernacchi (at Bernacchi’s Pharmacy); the Office Lounge. From the searches, a great deal of gambling material was recovered and $4,100 in cash. Fourteen guns were seized from DeCesaro, Thomas, Puntillo and Bernacchi. DeCesaro, Thomas and Puntillo were convicted felons and were not allowed to own guns. Furthermore, three of them were Winchester Centennial Rifles that had been stolen from an interstate shipment in 1965.

Indicted in Kenosha on Tuesday, September 14, 1971 for being involved in illegal sports gambling were Alfred DeCesaro, Angelo Germinaro, Eugene Thomas, John Puntillo (currently in prison for an ITAR conviction), Frank Manna, John Woodburry, Raymond Matera, James Salerno, Ralph Gregorski, Richard Thiel and Louis Gerolmo. They each faced five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

On January 28, 1972, Donald Huber of the FHA branch in Milwaukee furnished information that Angelo Germinaro may have lied on his application for a home loan. His income was reported as being a bartender for the Office Lounge — but if he had unreported gambling income, the loan would be fraud.

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.

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

Leave a Reply