This article was last modified on October 23, 2020.

The Kenosha Gambling Network of Alfred DeCesaro

(This is a collection site for all info on Alfred F. DeCesaro and his associates, not necessarily a coherent article. Although DeCesaro was generally considered the top guy — and I’m following that tradition — an argument could be made that the major bookie was actually Angelo Germinaro, as he seemed to be the longest-active gambler.)

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.

June 2, 1948: Alfred DeCesaro was arrested in Kenosha for operating a gamblign house.

October 2, 1952: Frank “Effie” Manna was picked up in Milwaukee for being drunk and gambling. He was fined $100.

November 21, 1959: Angelo Germinaro was arrested in Chicago for gambling conspiracy and keeping a gambling house. He was briefly held in the Cook County Jail. The records are vague, but it looks like “gambling conspiracy” was dropped and the other charge was reduced to being an inamte of the gambling house rather than the keeper.

Jasper Pellicane was interviewed at the Albion Grille (6548 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago) on February 27, 1962 by Special Agent Edward Nehls. He said he had purchased a federal gaming stamp from the IRS the past year for himself and Angelo Germinaro so they could book horses, but decided not to get one this year because there was too much heat from law enforcement. He pointed out a man in the restaurant who he said was a sheriff’s deputy. Pellicane said he never received any gambling information from a wire, but rather he tuned into the radio. He said he considered Rocco Potenza a personal acquaintance but was not engaged in any business with him. He further said he had not seen Germinaro since he closed down the horse room. (Germinaro had long been known as a gambler. A “bookie joint” run by Bartley O’Mara was raided way back on November 7, 1949 and 38 people were arrested. Joseph Fasulo and Angelo Germinaro were named as employees with Louis Molinaro named an inmate. The remaining people caught were from Milwaukee, West Allis, Racine, Kenosha and two cities in Illinois. Officers seized horse betting equipment.)

Special Agent Higgins interviewed Eugene Thomas (4708 22nd Avenue) on June 8, 1962 concerning Angelo Germinaro. Thomas said he had known Germinaro since childhood, as they had grown up in the same neighborhood. Germinaro visited Thomas’ Vagabond Club roughly three times per month, but Thomas said he was never a regular employee and never operated gambling from the club.

On July 18, 1962, the Chicago Office of the FBI contacted the Milwaukee Office to inform them that they had recently interviewed (redacted). The man denied involvement in gambling other than the occasional poker game in the basement of the Misty Lounge among the 150 members of the Misty Lounge Hunters Club. He said the only interstate activity he was aware of concerned Peter Zocchi of (5013 25th Avenue) Kenosha, who ran the Tip-Z-Top Tavern (4426 Sheridan Road) and took layoff bets from Chicago people in Winthrop Harbor. (While technically interstate, this was barely more than a local issue — Winthrop Harbor lies on the Illinois side of the Wisconsin border.)

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.

June 26, 1963: Agents observed John Buttera enter Carl’s Delicatessen briefly and then walked across the library park area and enter a residence (redacted).

July 1, 1963 (I think): FBI agents spoke with Carlo “Cookie” Scola. Scola said he was born in Italy in 1902 and had tried to become an American citizen but was rejected because of a 1940s gambling arrest. He was still an alien. Scola said he was not married, but had a sister Rose in Highland Park, Illinois who was married to Tony Greco. His nephew Dante Greco was a bank president (Bank of Highwood) and niece Elsie Greco was a teacher.

Scola freely admitted that he ran a gambling spot at 2007 56th Avenue from 1940 through 1947 with Frank T. Tenuta (later of Tenuta’s Town House), but claimed he couldn’t recall any of his former employees. When asked about Albert Albana and Dominic Principe, Scola said both men had been in his place of business, but neither had worked there. He said these years were tough and he was drinking heavily, so he left the gambling life to work for Simmons Mattress and later the American Motor Company. Scola denied being forced out of gambling by competitors. He was asked about a kidnapping story going around, and Scola denied knowing anything. Coincidentally, Ralph Masaro walked in to the deli at this time and was asked about kidnapping and he also said he had heard no such thing. Masaro was asked if he was booking out of the delicatessen and said, “No, not here.” When asked if this meant elsewhere, he freely admitted he was booking “at home” and “on the street.”

August 21, 1963: An informant told the FBI that scratch sheets came in by train from Chicago and the rail station (5410 13th Avenue) and were brought across the street to the 400 Club (5331 13th Avenue). From here, they were brought to Becker’s Cigar Store and inserted inside newspapers. The newspapers were distributed to various taverns around Kenosha. (As of 2020, this is still the train station, but the 400 Club seems to be long gone.)

Also August 21: John Buttera was at Carl’s Delicatessen with Alfred DeCesaro and Ralph Masaro. Buttera was later seen leaving the delicatessen and walking to Chick’s Bar. From 10:39 to 11:26am, the deli was watched by the FBI, where DeCesaro was seen handing a package to Carlo Scola. When DeCesaro left the deli, he went to Poodles Inc, the American State Bank, Ace Hardware and then Chick’s Bar.

August 22, 1963: Surveillance was run from 10:28 to 11:54am near Carl’s Delicatessen. DeCesaro and Buttera were seen there. They were also seen at Chick’s Bar and the Henock News Agency.

August 26, 1963: John Buttera was seen talking with Ralph Masaro at Carl’s Delicatessen. His car was seen the same day outside Effie’s House of Sterling (tavern and hotel).

August 27, 1963: John Buttera was seen at Carl’s Delicatessen.

September 18-27, 1963: Kenosha police officers Bill Lee and Bob Husted kept a running surveillance on 5103 28th Avenue and noticed a steady stream of gamblers coming and going. They acquired a search warrant and returned on October 6 with a battering ram, knocking in a door and catching 11 men in the middle of a poker game: Willie Beasley, Peter Scola, Richard Johnson, Wallace Glaspie, Ralph Masaro, Walter Lenz, John Scripanti, Frank Volpentesta, Herb Brandes, Raymond Matera, and Ernest Sullivan. At least $1,000 in cash was confiscated, along with “several” cases of whiskey, eight cartons of cigarettes and cases of playing cards. Whose house this was is unclear — it was not the address of any of the 11 men.

On September 24, 1963, (redacted) was interviewed about John Buttera after the FBI had witnessed Buttera visiting X’s residence over a dozen times in 1963. Following this interview, Buttera was not seen visiting the house again.

On September 26, 1963, an informant told the FBI that football pool cards were coming in to Kenosha and Racine from Waukegan on Tuesday nights. The informant knew the cards were coming to Angelo Germinaro and Eugene Thomas at the Office Lounge, but at this point did not name Germinaro (or anyone else) as the source of the cards.

The Kenosha police raided the Office Lounge (518 58th Street) in Kenosha on October 11, 1963. The search warrant was read to the bartender on duty, Angelo Germinaro, and the first floor and basement were searched. While they did find a police scanner, there was nothing whatsoever related to gambling on the premises. A few days later, an informant told the FBI that the police had screwed up the raid — Eugene Thomas could see them preparing and destroyed or removed any evidence he could before they entered the tavern. Thomas had actually loaded some of the records into a briefcase, stuffed it with dirty linen, and then walked out the back right past some of the officers who paid no attention to him, apparently thinking he was a customer.

An informant told the FBI on October 16, 1963 that Angelo Germinato of Zion, Illinois was the source of football pool tickets in Kenosha and Racine. The cards were usually distributed on Tuesdays.

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.

The Assistant US Attorney considered charging Angelo Germinaro with interstate transportation in aid of racketeering on December 30, 1963. He had learned that Germinaro had formerly lived in Kenosha while operating a horse book at the Albion Grille (where he was a short-order cook) at 6548 North Milwaukee Avenue in Niles for Rocco Potenza and Jasper Pellicane. However, he said for the charge to stick he would have to show that Potenza and Pellicane knew that Germinaro lived out of state. (As Kenosha is nowhere near Niles, I am unclear how he could live in one city and work in the other.)

Special Agents Logan Pickerl and William Herrmann interviewed Gladys Vogel at her residence (7704 West Palatine, Chicago) on December 31, 1963 at 10:55am. She denied knowing Angelo Germinaro, but did recall a man by his description who worked at the Albion Grille. She declined to say anything about her involvement with horse gambling and Rocco Potenza, other than to say she knows Potenza, because, “I don’t want my house blown up.” She then added, “I am glad I quit playing the horses.”

Special Agents Logan Pickerl and William Herrmann interviewed Anthony Green on January 2, 1964 at the Slinglander Drum Company (6633 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago). Green was shown photos of Angelo Germinaro and Rocco Potenza, and said he recognized Germinaro from when he used to eat dinner at the Albion Grille. He thought (incorrectly) that Germinaro was the proprietor. He said he had seen Potenza around, but did not know his occupation. Green freely admitted he played the horses, but said he only did so at the track and never tried to place a bet at the Albion Grille or anywhere else.

On January 3, 1964, Kenosha Police Chief Leo Buchmann told the FBI he had heard the bookies had devised a new system. Now all the bettors were assigned a number, and all the taverns were assigned numbers, so a bettor could call his bookie and give his number, his tavern number (where he would pay and pick up winnings), and his wager. No names would have to be written down on any slips and the cash would go through each tavern’s cash registers as though it was regualr income.

On January 9, 1964 at 1:30am DeCesaro and Masaro were parked in front of a light-colored brick home at the corner of 19th Avenue and 37th Street.

On Friday, January 17, 1964 at 12:30pm, forty-five police and IRS agents lead by Agent Delbert Skeens simultaneously raided the Tip-Z-Top Lounge (4426 Sheridan Road, Kenosha) and a boardinghouse at 721 Center Street in Racine. United States Attorney James Brennan said, “This concludes about two months of intensive investigation in the Kenosha-Racine area.” In Kenosha, they arrested tavern owner and former high school basketball star Peter Zocchi, 43, and his janitor, John C. Buttera, 56. Zocchi was charged with accepting wagers without a gambling stamp and a failure to pay excise taxes on the wagers. Buttera was released due to improper wording on the warrant but was told to go to the district attorney’s office on Monday. At the Racine house, resident Leah E. Molgaard, 44, was arrested and charged the same as Zocchi. Zocchi was found with $233 in cash and gambling paraphernalia in his possession, with a preliminary hearing set for January 31. Molgaard had $3,700 in cash and paraphernalia.

An informant told the FBI on January 17, 1964 that Club 32 at Highway 32 and Sheridan Road in Zion, Illinois hosted craps, bingo, poker and dice. The owner of the club appeared to be a swarthy Italian with a “protruding stomach”. Gambling was also available at an unknown tavern on Highway 131 adjacent to a barber shop and the Canales Restaurant in Winthrop Harbor. A buzzer was outside the tavern, and if pressed, you could be let in to the gambling area without having to go through the tavern.

On January 23, 1964, DeCesaro was observed with three other 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 January 31, 1964 informant William Jahn told the FBI that he had been in the Prime Steak House of Racine the same time as Leah Molgaard and overheard her conversation with the bartender there. According to Jahn, Molgaard said she was the only one who would “get hurt” and planned to take the fall herself rather than implicate any of her gambling associates.

The FBI checked with the Milwaukee Police Department regarding Irving J. Moss of Whitefish Bay on January 31, 1964. They had no record on Moss, other than to note that someone had once used his name to cash a forged check at a tavern. Moss was a colsultant for Alhorn, Inc and was not known to have any criminal connections.

A federal grand jury investigation into gambling opened on February 4, 1964, which prosecutors said was “partially” related to the recent arrests of Peter Zocchi and Leah Molgaard. By the end of that day, Zocchi and Molgaard were formally indicted.

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. Most of the inmate names are redacted (one is identified as “Brown”), 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 delicatessen was said to have gambling records in the basement. 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”.

On February 12, 1964, an informant told the FBI that recent raids have gamblers in Kenosha and Racine talking to each other and some are closing up shop — at least temporarily — because things were getting “too hot.”

On February 14, 1964, and informant was asked about Irving Bear and any connection he might have to Ralph Masaro. The informant said that Bear had bee na contractor back when business was booming and there was enough work for everyone. When the economy slowed down, he switched to remodeling. The informant said that “most contractors were a little kinky” but did not think that Bear had any connection to gambling, Masaro or any other hoodlums. He was an upstanding man, and a past master of the Masonic Lodge.

Leah Molgaard pleaded not guilty on February 17, 1964 to the charge of failing to purchase a gambling stamp.

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.

February 28, 1964: Stanley T. Smolinski, suspected of being a “runner” for DeCesaro, was interviewed by the FBI. Smolinski said he worked for Kenosha Auto Transport, a company that brought new cars from American Motors to dealerships via semi trailer. He acknowledged knowing DeCesaro, and admitted he had received a scratch sheet on occasion. He also admitted receiving envelopes on occasion that he passed on drivers. Smolinski said the envelopes probably contained money, but he never opened them and was never visibly handed cash. Smolinski said he was not a bookie or a runner, and his only involvement in gambling is placing horse bets with DeCesaro.

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.

An informant spoke with the FBI on April 9, 1964 about Peter Zocchi. He said that Zocchi had gone out of business and started leasing his property to two “young fellows” recently. Zocchi had been in financial trouble for a while and with the lack of gambling income he could not make ends meet.

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

On April 21, 1964, agents interviewed Irving Moss concerning his apparent meeting in Jnauary with Alfred DeCesaro. Moss explained he was in Kenosha that day with an attorney to get some papers signed concerning a house that had been sold to the owner of Salfi Tailors. The “meeting” was a coincidence. While there, DeCesaro entered the store and said he wanted to “see some cloth” but when he noticed others (Moss and the attorney) were in the store, he left. Moss said he had no idea who this man was until they showed him a mugshot. Moss further said he was not a gambler and did not associate with gamblers.

An informant told Special Agent William Higgins on April 23, 1964 that Angelo Germinaro was still tending bar at the Office every day after 6:00pm, and he was sure that there was horse booking going on because Eugene Thomas could not afford his new Lincoln Continental and bathroom remodeling from bar income alone.

On May 18, 1964, agents drove by the Pink Poodle (60th Street and 22nd Avenue) and noticed there was a sign saying the business was moving to Waukegan. Agents drove by DeCesaro’s house (6537 51st Avenue) shortly after and saw a “for sale” sign in the yard.

On July 8 and 9, 1964, DeCesaro and Masaro were on trial for not having a wagering stamp. With the FBI testifying to the surveillance of these two men, Judge Kenneth Grubb found them guilty. A presentence investigation was ordered.

In August 1964, the new Pink Poodle (also known as Poodles, Inc) was visited in Waukegan. As far as could be determined, the owners were a young couple with no connection to DeCesaro. Everyone there had a dog with them, and the business seemed to be a legitimate grooming service.

On August 24, 1964, an informant told the FBI that Ralph Masaro had gone in for surgery and the doctors discovered lung cancer. He was expected to only live another 6 to 12 months.

On September 26, 1964, an informant told the FBI that Masaro’s “days were numbered.” In an effort to stop his lung cancer, doctors removed one of his lungs, but the cancer was still present. Masaro was undergoing cobalt treatment but was not expected to recover.

On October 12, 1964, DeCesaro was fined $1,000 and put on two years of probation for not having a wagering stamp. Masaro was still waiting his sentence (it finally came in January and was the same).

On November 10, 1964, an informant told SA Higgins that DeCesaro had “gone straight” and was now working as a liquor salesman for Racine Beverage Company.

An informant in Kenosha spoke with Special Agent William Higgins on January 15, 1965. He said that Angelo Germinaro comes into town several nights a week from Zion, Illinois and meets up with Gene Thomas at the Office Lounge where horse booking was taking place. The man handling horse bets on the West Side was James “Skeins” Salerno. Pete Zocchi had not been seen much lately and was not known to be involved in gambling, but was working as a bartender at the Parkside restaurant. The other gamblers were laying low because of the ongoing John Doe probe.

An informant told SA Higgins on January 28, 1965, that he does not see DeCesaro around town much, and the only gambling action he knew about was with Gene Thomas and James Salerno.

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.

February 27, 1965: An informant told Agent William Higgins that Alfred DeCesaro was a legitimate liquor business employee and this left him no time for gambling.

April 29, 1965: Alfred DeCesaro was in court with the FBI and IRS over a gray 1962 Buick that was seized. During a break, DeCesaro struck up conversation with the agents. He said he was employed by Lakeshore Liquor of Racine as a Kenosha representative, getting orders from Kenosha taverns. He estimated he would make $8,000 to $10,000 annually, not including commissions. DeCesaro told the agents that Ralph Masaro was a very sick man and had recently received cobalt treatments in Madison. He was home now, but was too sick to drive and had lost a large amount of weight and was “sinking fast.” DeCesaro said he sold his home on 51st Avenue and now lived on Green Bay Road where his wife ran Poodle City, a dog breeding and grooming business.

Ralph Masaro, 56, died of cancer on May 15, 1965 after wasting away to an estimated 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.

May 17, 1965: Angelo Germinaro was booked in the Lake County, Illinois jail for drunk and negligient driving. Alfred DeCesaro called the sheriff’s office to see about arranging bail.

August 17, 1965: A Kenosha police detective told the FBI that he had been following DeCesaro closely for months but couldn’t find anything to prove he’s been booking.

October 2, 1965: Alfred DeCesaro called Milton Sklonsky in Racine. He would call Sklonsky six times between October 1965 and March 1966.

December 8, 1965: Although there was no indication that DeCesaro was currently booking, he was arrested for “receiving bets” between 1960-1964 based on the earlier John Doe proceedings. He posted $500 bond and had a court date set before Judge Earl Morton.

December 9, 1965: The FBI asked Burlington postmaster Walter Paepke about a man named Pflug. Paepke said Pflug lived on Bohners Lake, and knew nothing about him other than that he received a lot of newspapers. The agent drove past his house and saw he drove a Rambler station wagon, and then went to the Beach View grocery store and make inquiries. The agent was told that pflug was “a fine, honest man, who was well respected in the community.”

April 26, 1966: An investigator from the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office told the FBI that they had developed no information that DeCesaro was actively booking. An informant had told them that they DeCesaro was lucky he had not been raided on a “good day” or his fines and assessments would have been much higher. The investigator warned the FBI to be cautious when working with the Kenosha police, because he felt there were multiple leaks. He had given them information in the past that found its way back to the gamblers.

The investigator believed the gambling in Kenosha was backed by “the syndicate,” though it was split between Chicago and Milwaukee. Eugene Thomas, Angelo Germinaro and that group was affiliated with Rocco Potenza of the Chicago Outfit. Dante Cardinali, John Rizzo and Weezer Covelli were under protection by the Milwaukee Mafia. In general, Milwaukee had “cards and craps” while Chicago had sports and horse betting. A Racine attorney (name redacted) might be booking, and might be affiliated with Eugene Thomas. Warren Rasmussen, who took bets at Penrod’s Tavern, appeared to be independent. (Gavin notes: I’m not sure Cardinali was with Milwaukee, but otherwise this division seems accurate.)

June 27, 1966 (approximately): DeCesaro was fined $500 for his “receiving bets,” after pleading no contest. His attorney, David M. Phillips, pointed out that his client was “rehabilitated” and now was legitimately employed. The prosecutor agreed they had no evidence that DeCesaro was still active.

June 29, 1966: An informant told the FBI that DeCesaro was levied $107,000 in back taxes by the IRS, which was an estimated 10% of his unreported gambling income. The informant said DeCesaro still carries a “scratch sheet” with him on his liquor route, and was still booking. News reports that DeCesaro had “reformed” were funny, according to the informant.

July 27, 1966: Real estate agent John O. Bitven died of an apparent heart attack, age 53. James Salerno, who had only recently become an agent, took over the business at 2420 52nd Street. (While this was fortuitous for Salerno, there is nothing to suggest the death was anything but natural.)

August 23, 1966: An informant spoke to the FBI about Warren Rasmussen. The informant believed Rasmussen hung around at Frank Cairo’s Idle Hour Tap. Rasmussen was said to have an antique store in Chicago, a pet store in Milwaukee and ran the Union Loan Company in Kenosha. Somehow he still had time to take bets. Furthermore, the informant said Gene Thomas had stopped booking from his Office Lounge ever since the John Doe charges.

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. At one point, Covelli and (redacted) got in a feud, resulting in the two men shooting each other’s windows out, and Milwaukee had to have a sitdown with Chicago where lines were drawn.

Angelo Germinaro and Sammy Marcy were arraigned on Friday, September 23, 1966 in Kenosha County. Both men pleaded not guilty to conspiring with Gene Thomas to receive bets at the Office Lounge, and Judge Harold Bode scheduled their trial for October 26. Germinaro also claimed indigence and Judge Bode appointed an attorney for him. Peter Zocchi also appeared before Judge Baker (separately) and pleaded not guilty to a charge of receiving bets. His trial was set for October 24.

Office Lounge bartenders Angelo Germinaro, 48, and Sammy Macy, 37, pleaded guilty to charges of gambling (reduced from commercial gambling) on October 26, 1966. Germinaro was fined $300 and Macy was fined $200. Special prosecutor Francis Croak decided their taking bets was “an incidental part of their employment” by Gene Thomas.

On the afternoon of November 4, 1966, raids by state agents rounded up 10 men in Kenosha, and one man in Milwaukee. Warren Rasmussen was charged with dealing in gambling devices and possessing obscene material. Arthur Wick, a printer, was charged with dealing in gambling devices. Others arrested for gambling include: Kenneth Penrod (manager of Last Call tavern), Joseph Perone (owner of Perone Liquors), Felix Cairo (owner of Fritz’s Idle Hour), Carl Hermans (owner of Carl’s Barber Shop), Michael Misurelli (gas meter man), Gary Capozza (owner of Gary’s Tap), Chester Zanck (AMC supervisor), Ann Marie Judelka (owner Uptown Beauty Shop), Keith McIntyre (bartender at Last Call). To keep the raids secret, warrants were issued in Walworth County, rather than Kenosha or Milwaukee.

On December 7, 1966, Arthur Wick of Milwaukee faced more charges (on top of his previous charge pf printing 500 parlay cards). He was further alleged to possess obscene material, and was believed to have forged a drivers license and 50 cashiers checks. This same day, proceedings were started to revoke the license of tavern owner Felix Cairo.

On December 9, 1966, Felix Cairo (owner of Fritz’s Idle Hour Tavern) was bound over for trial for receiving and forwarding bets. Judge Earl Morton ordered the trial after hearing testimony from state tax agent Russell Nelson, who said he had made four bets with Cairo since May. The bets were very small, only $2, and Nelson’s biggest win was $6.60. Nelson further said that while at Cairo’s bar, real estate agent Warren Rasmussen offered him 3,000 football parlay cards that Rasmussen said had been printed in Milwaukee. On seven occasions, Nelson had placed bets with Rasmussen while at Cairo’s tavern.

December 19, 1966: A source told the FBI that DeCesaro had been very quiet, but it was unlikely he stopped booking. More likely, he was only taking bets from trusted stops on his liquor route. The source said, by comparison, Warren Rasmussen was acting in a far more blatant matter.

December 28, 1966: At 11:41am, DeCesaro was seen talking with Stanley Miller, a long-time gambler and close friend of murder victim Tony Biernat. Miller had at one time operated a brothel called the Hurry Inn on South Sheridan Road at a location later occupied by Schneider’s junkyard. He also had a tavern across the street from the Flamingo in the 40s and 50s before he was shut down for his gambling activities. (Gavin notes: I don’t recall what I knew about Miller when I wrote “Shallow Grave,” but it seems to me now I didn’t fully appreciate just how deep his connections went. Being in possession of the police file, I think he may not have been looked into nearly enough.)

January 11, 1967: DeCesaro was followed as he went from Kelly’s Bar to the Vagabond Club to the House of Gerhard. He went again to the Vagabond Club, and then Parcenka’s Tap. Agents followed him home where he was seen burning things outside in a barrel.

March 8, 1967: Someone from the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office told the FBI he had received information from a confidential source on Alfred DeCesaro. Allegedly, DeCesaro was ordered to stop booking after his last big bust. However, recently, we approached William Covelli and asked to start up again. Covelli spoke to Frank Balistrieri, who spoke with someone in Chicago, and DeCesaro was allowed to start up again as long as he was very discreet.

March 31, 1967: The FBI closed its file on Eugene Thomas after the US Attorney said that Thomas was a gambler, but there was no evidence his gambling was interstate (which would make it a federal violation).

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.

FBI agents ran surveillance on Angelo Germinaro on August 8, 1968. At 4:05pm, they saw him go into the Tower Drive-In Restaurant and order an ice cream, then stand outside and eat it.

The FBI spoke with the Wisconsin Department of Justice on October 4, 1968 concerning John Puntillo. The DOJ said it had been conducting surveillance on Puntillo, but up to this point had not been successful in catching him doing anything. They said they planned to have an undercover officer investigate further in the near future.

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 told the FBI on December 2, 1968 that football parlay cards had not been in Kenosha for the last two weeks. He said this was because their source in Waukegan had been raided, and furthermore because John Puntillo had been gone hunting.

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 $9,000 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.

By September 3, 1969, the FBI had opened up a file on Louis Gerolmo and Richard Thiel, who they saw as a bookmaking team. Thiel, originally from Eau Claire, received his degree in mortuary science but worked in the inspection department of American Motors. (Gerolmo worked for his family’s wholesale liquor business.)

On September 23, 1969, an informant tried to get parlay cards from AMC employee Larry Bruch, who handled the cards at the Puzzle House. Bruch told the informant that he had been getting the cards in Waukegan, but that place got raided, so he didn’t have any right now. The informant then tried to get cards from Frank Turk, another AMC employee who had the cards in the past, but he did not have any either.

An informant told the FBI on September 30, 1969 that John Puntillo was getting his parlay cards from an unknown man in Waukegan. The FBI suspected he was getting them from Mama Mia’s Restaurant in Park City. From checking his phone records, they knew he was also in frequent contact with P-Jacks, a tavern in Chicago that was a known hangout for bookies. The informant believed Puntillo was on “juice” from someone in Illinois.

Beginning on October 20, 1969 officers Donald Kenney and Ronald Herion of the Chicago Police Department kept a building located at 610 North Bishop Street, Chicago, under surveillance on four successive Monday evenings. The officers observed an identical occurrence on each occasion: a car would stop at 610 North Bishop about 9pm, packages would be unloaded, and later packages would be picked up by a number of people. On November 3, 1969 the officers saw an automobile with Wisconsin plates arrive at the Bishop Street address. The driver entered the building, returned with a package, and drove off. Officer Kenney trailed the automobile and observed the driver as he got out of the car at a nearby restaurant. The officer then returned to 610 North Bishop and observed another person leave the building with a package that dropped on the street, spilling football parlay cards. On the following Monday, November 10, 1969, John Puntillo was arrested by officers Herion and Kenney at 610 North Bishop, and 70,000 parlay cards were seized during the arrest. Officer Kenney testified that after seeing Puntillo on November 10, he could identify the defendant as the same person who left 610 North Bishop with a package on November 3 and whom he later saw get out of an automobile at the nearby restaurant.

John Puntillo was arrested on November 10, 1969 after he was followed from P-Jacks in Illinois back into Wisconsin with a trunk full of football parlay cards. He was caught in the act of interstate gambling.

The FBI spoke with Frank Turk on November 12, 1969 inside the 400 Club. He said he knew what parlay cards were, but had had not bought or handled them. When shown a photo of John Puntillo, Turk said it looked like an electrician who worked at AMC, but he did not know him personally. He denied going to Illinois to get parlay cards and said he wouldn’t know where to go anyway.

On November 12, 1969, the FBI interviewed Frank Peter Sadowski, an employee at Dynamatic. He said he was a “pusher” for Larry Bruch. and Bruch would pay Sadowski ten cents for each football parlay card he sold. Bruch dropped the cards off on Tuesdays and picked up the money on Fridays. Sadowski said he would sell anywhere from 40 to 100 each week. Coincidentally, Sadowski said Bruch called him earlier that very day and said the “big boy got nailed” (presumably Puntillo) and there wouldn’t be any more cards for a while.

The FBI spoke with Walter “Go Go” Dziekan on November 12, 1969 in the Bureau car outside of his place of employment, the American Brass Company. Dziekan denied ever buying or selling football parlay cards. When shown a photo of John Puntillo, he recognized the photo as a man he knew as “John”. He said he did not know him personally, but at one time Puntillo was a repairman and he fixed Dziekan’s TV. He also believed Puntillo at one time worked in a Kenosha art gallery. Dziekan denied ever seeing parlay cards at American Brass or at his hangout, the Puzzle House. He admitted knowing Larry Bruch, who also hung out at the Puzzle House, but had not seen Bruch with parlay cards.

On November 12, the FBI spoke with Eugene Thomas. He said he had avoided parlay cards after getting in trouble about three years earlier. He “learned his lesson” and no longer wanted any part of that. In fact, he was surprised to hear about Puntillo’s arrest because he had not even seen any parlay cards in Kenosha this season. He knew Puntillo, and not long ago Puntillo brought him some fish he caught in Oshkosh, but they were not involved in gambling together.

On November 12, the FBI interviewed Robert Puntillo at World Wide Arts, Inc. Puntillo said he had given John the company books to bring to Customs in Chicago because there were some Guatemalan ceramics that needed to be handled with Customs. When he heard John had been arrested, he was more concerned about the company books than about the arrest. The Puntillo family knew John was a gambler and were concerned that this recent notoriety would be harmful to the family business. (The harm seems to have been minimal, as the business continued at least through the 1990s.)

On November 13, 1969, the FBI spoke with Frank Peter Bagdonas, a night shift worker at AMC. He said he did not know John Puntillo personally, but believed he was the source of parlay cards in Kenosha. Bagdonas bought cards from Walter “Go Go” Dziekan, and would get paid 15 cents for cards he sold to others. He told the FBI he was not a pusher, but usually sold about 8 each week to his friends at Chet’s Sports Bar. Bagdonas heard that Dziekan got his tickets from a man named John, who he believed to be John Puntillo, but he did not know firsthand.

The FBI spoke with Larry Bruch on November 13, 1969. He admitted knowing John Puntillo and Frank Sadowski, but denied knowing anything about football parlay cards.

The FBI spoke with Frank Turk on November 13, 1969 and told him they had evidence he was involved in parlay cards. Turk aid that what he had told the FBI in the past was “bullshit” and that “I may as well come clean. Sure, I pushed the tickets.” Turk did not recall who introduced him to John Puntillo, but it happened about a year ago and Puntillo said Turk could have 25% of the money from all cards he sold. Turk said Puntillo would get cards on Monday night and he (Turk) would pick up 300 or 350 on Tuesday mornings. Sometimes Puntillo’s wife would give Turk the cards and previous week’s payouts. He did not know where Puntillo got the cards from. Turk told the agents he did not want to name his customers, but would be more forthcoming if subpoenaed by a grand jury.

On November 14, 1969, the FBI arrested John Puntillo in the warehouse of World Wide Arts (his brother’s business). He left all his belongings behind except his matches and cigarettes. Puntillo declined to make a statement and was booked at the Kenosha County Jail on $2,500 bond for interstate gambling.

November 19, 1969: The FBI pulled the phone records for a pay phone inside Gerolmo’s Liquor (2201 56th Street) for the period covering April through September 1969. The FBI’s report noted that none of the phone calls were made to Minnesota. (I take this to mean they suspected Richard Thiel of knowing a bookie in Minnesota, being from the west side of the state.) Calls did go to Chicago, Detroit, Chattanooga, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Washington State. It should be noted, however, this is a public telephone and these numbers could have been called by anybody for any number of reasons.

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-time 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.

January 2, 1970: The FBI checked the Kenosha police department records of Louis Gerolmo and Richard Thiel, and found nothing of interest. A lieutenant (redacted) told them he had heard rumors of Gerolmo being a gambler but had nothing specific to pass along.

An informant told the FBI on January 19, 1970 that he spoke with gambler “Bud” Miller, and it was Miller’s understanding that John Puntillo was “not a big man” and was merely working for Eugene Thomas.

February 5, 1970: Two FBI agents sat outside Gerolmo’s Tavern around 9:30pm and wrote down the license plates of the cars there.

February 11, 1970: Milwaukee FBI agents looked into the Chestnut House of Franklin Park, Illinois. Gerolmo had called the business from his house. A quick search determined the building was owned by Guido DeChiaro, a noted member of the Chicago Outfit.

On March 12, 1970, during the gambling trial of John Puntillo, Frank Turk was granted immunity after refusing to testify. Turk then testified he had picked up football parlay cards from Puntillo the last two seasons, often from Puntillo’s wife. Turk would then handle the cards for Puntillo, and after each week Puntillo would give him the money to pay off the winners. The week after Puntillo was arrested, the winnings were given to Turk by a man at the UAW Union Hall in Kenosha. The FBI was trying to connect 70,000 cards to Puntillo as part of what they alleged was a multi-million dollar gambling network.

An informant spoke with the FBI on March 13, 1970 and clarified the connection between Greco’s and Gerolmo’s. There was apparently a buzzer system that allowed access to Gerolmo’s basement from a door behind the bar at Greco’s. The informant went to Greco’s with Frank Turk and watched him access the basement for gambling.

John Frank Puntillo was found guilty on March 16, 1970 of being involved in an interstate gambling business. He remained free until June 10, when he appealed the case on three grounds: the law was ambiguous, there was insufficient evidence, and the punishment was too harsh.

March 23, 1970: Milwaukee FBI agents followed a phone number connecting Gerolmo to Carson’s Cafe in Erin, Tennessee. The phone was a public one, so who was on the Tennessee end is unknown. Local police said the only gambler who hung around Carson’s Cafe was Charles Nance, but Nance had recently (February 1970) been killed during a card game in Murray, Kentucky. A man named Kirksey Whitlow shot him several times.

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

An informant told the FBI on June 3, 1970 that Adrian Dean “Dino” Northcutt, a bookie from Wheeling who also owned part of the Cheetah Bar in Kenosha had placed a “round robin” bet with Louis Gerolmo and Angelo Germinaro. Off this bet, he managed to win $2700.

Also on June 3, 1970, John Puntillo had his appeals turned down and was sentenced to two years in federal prison. He filed another motion and was again granted a stay of execution.

Around June 5, 1970, an informant told the FBI that bets could be called in to George’s Tavern in Kenosha. The payoffs were kept in envelopes behind the bar, and if someone went in to claim his envelope, it would be handed to him in the presence of the customers.

The FBI ran surveillance on the Doughnut Hole in Kenosha on July 1, 1970 from 6pm until 9:50pm. They wrote down car license plates that traced back to Steve Mikolas, Jay R. Decker, Raymond A. Olson, Walter A. Larsen, Alma E. Dunasky, Angelo Germinaro, and many others.

July 1, 1970: About this date, the FBI linked Louis Gerolmo to the OC Novelty company in Oklahoma City. The company sold crooked dice, marked cards and other such items. Was Gerolmo running rigged games?

On July 8, 1970, Special Agent Robert Christian followed John Ullmann, a nursing home orderly who was determined to be the source of the daily racing forms. At 8:28pm, Ullmann dropped off a stack of forms “a foot high” at Decker’s Cigar Store on 56th. Agent Michael Hamlin was inside the store and purchased a copy for 75 cents. At 8:46pm, Ullmann went to the Frost Top Restaurant and stayed there until 9:32pm. After that, Christian lost Ullmann in traffic.

On July 8, 1970, agents ran surveillance on Decker’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.

August 26, 1970: The FBI ran surveillance on Lakewood Lounge in Mundelein, Illinois, after phone calls from Gerolmo to the lounge were traced. Surveillance was run again on August 31. Licene plates were ran, including one belonging to Harriette Bailey of Volo, Illinois.

September 23, 1970: FBI agents again wrote down license plates at the Lakewood Lounge, this time including one Herbert Pohlam of Lake Zurich. One car traced to a man (redacted) who had previously held a wagering stamp in St. Charles, Illinois.

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 $3,500 each week. The informant speculated that if all the bookies working for DeCesaro were added up, it could be as much as $5,000 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.

An informant told the FBI on January 9 that James Salerno was no longer bookie following his recent hospitalization. However, someone who worked for Salerno was now accepting bets and working under Angelo Germinaro.

February 5, 1971: Attorney General John Mitchell approved wiretap actions against the Kenosha gamblers. (I’m not sure exactly who was tapped, though DeCesaro seems to be the primary target.)

On February 9, 1971, DeCesaro and Germinaro were seen meeting at Topp’s Department Store (Sheridan at Pershing) around 4:00pm.

On February 12, 1971, an agent was running surveillance around Lenny’s Tap (22nd Ave and 53rd Street) when he saw James Salerno come out with a packet of paper. Salerno walked up to a Rambler with Angelo Germinaro sitting inside and handed him the packet. The agent overheard the brief conversation, “Thank you.” “See ya!” Then Germinaro drove off.

On February 13, 1971, SA Daniel Brandt was running surveillance near the Sears Department Store (7630 Pershing Boulevard). Alfred DeCesaro was seen parking on the road nearby, and soon Angelo Germinaro parked behind him. DeCesaro exited his car and walked over to Germinaro. Germinaro handed DeCesaro a packet of papers wrapped in a rubber band, which DeCesaro put in his overcoat pocket. They spoke for only a minute and then Germinaro drove off. DeCesaro walked in to the Sears.

On February 16, 1971, an unidentified agent saw James Salerno receiving from Germinaro what appeared to be a packet of papers in an envelope outside Lenny’s Tap just before 4:00pm. Salerno threw a brown paper bag into Germinaro’s passenger seat. SA Brandt stopped in to Lenny’s Tap around 4:00pm. He saw James Salerno in the bar, though Salerno left a few minutes later, telling the bartender he had to meet someone at 6pm.

On February 20, 1971, SA Michael Hamlin was at the Office Lounge from 11:30am to 1:30pm. While there he saw Alfred DeCesaro, John Puntillo, Eugene Thomas (the owner), and two men he did not know. While there, DeCesaro and the two unknown men left together. Puntillo made numerous phone calls from the pay phone. Thomas took several phone calls from the lounge’s kitchen area. Puntillo and Thomas were actively in conversation (when not on the phone) talking about point spreads and the track records of various horses.

On February 20, 1971, around 4:15pm, SA Brandt observed Germinaro and Salerno in conversation in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot (22nd Avenue at 80th Street).

On February 27, 1971, SA Michael Hamlin was in the Office Lounge around 3pm. He saw DeCesaro and Eugene Thomas in conversation, though both men left after fifteen minutes. Not long after, an off-duty Kenosha cop came in and talked to the bartender. The cop (name redacted) was talking about how he had a wild night the previous evening with Thomas.

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.

While searching Puntillo’s residence, the agents found four hunting rifles. They informed him that as a convicted felon, he was not supposed to own firearms. Puntillo claimed to be unaware of this law. Later in the search they found a “German assault rifle” and showed it to him. Puntillo said he had bought it years ago for $11 at the Seven Mile Fair and forgot he even owned it.

Bernacchi’s pharmacy was searched by SA Keith Mendenhall. On Dino Bernacchi was found $63.70 and eight lottery tickets. He told the agent, “You guys must think this is a bookmaking place.” He said he did handicap horses and made the occasional bet with (redacted). The agents took an inventory of the money in the register, though it was hardly surprising a pharmacy would have money in a register. In the backroom bathroom were various things related to horse racing, including racing charts and the phone numbers of horse bookies. Daily racing forms and Sports Action newspapers were found, as well as a .32 Fabrique Nationale pistol (serial number 40703) with eight rounds in a drawer. A notebook with various notations was found, as well as an index card reminding the reader that a new police officer was on the morning beat. Information on baseball pools was collected, as well as four telephones and a .38 bullet (without matching gun). Bernacchi asked what he could do to get his money back, because he was in a financial difficulties. The agents told him he would have to take it up with the Eastern District court. Bernacchi told the agents he did “hobby betting” with Angelo Germinaro, but wasn’t a real gambler; he just needed a hobby to keep him from “losing his mind” during 12-16 hour days filling prescriptions.

At DeCesaro’s residence around 4:15pm, few gambling slips were found. Approximately $400 in cash was seized from DeCesaro’s person, and more cash in the house. A calendar and calculator were also taken.

The most gambling paraphernalia was probably found at Angelo Germinaro’s house. (The file is redacted so much it is hard to be sure.) Lots of papers were found, including racing sheets, two airline tickets, notes indicated to contact Harry Siegel at the Stardust in Las Vegas, and more.

At 4:06pm, agents were at Frank Charles Manna’s house (5420 23rd Avenue) and found a large amount of gambling notes and newspapers. Two telephones were also seized by Agent Eugene Sather. Interestingly, they presented him with a search warrant for the person of Louis Manna, and Frank had to tell them that Louis was his father and he was deceased. Manna was very helpful. He said, “I’ll show you what you want. I know why you’re here and what you want. I’ll save you a lot of time.” He explained he had only been doing this for the past month, since his mother moved to Hot Springs. He was 50 years old and on heart medication, so his job prospects were slim. Regarding the raid, he said, “That’s the chances you take.”

On March 5, 1971, an agent went into the Office Lounge from 11:30am to 12:30pm. He saw Puntillo and Thomas in conversation but did not hear anything. He struck up conversation with the bartender, asking what the story was with the recent FBI raid. The bartender said, “I don’t know what it was all about. They don’t tell you anything. They just do what they want and don’t give any explanation.” When other customers asked the bartender about the raid, he would say things like “there wasn’t anything to it” and “nothing happened.”

On March 22, 1971, SA Condon interviewed Albert Molinaro. Molinaro said he was known as “Huntz” and had been a police officer for 24 years, so he knew the men who had been arrested for gambling. Molinaro claimed, however, that he had no firsthand knowledge whatsoever of any gambling activity in Kenosha.

On March 23, 1971, SA Condon stopped by Club 50 and talked to owner Frank Volpentesta. Condon explained that Volpentesta’s name had come up regarding gambling activities. Volpentesta said he knew Angelo Germinaro but was not a gambler and had nothing further to say on the matter. The next day Condon spoke with Merle Morgan, the club’s janitor, who said other than when he goes to the track, he knows nothing about gambling.

Also on March 23, an agent visited Eugene “Buggy” Alfano at American Motors. Alfano said he had worked at the Office Lounge, but never personally took bets. He did not know if Eugene Thomas was involved in gambling. He further said Angelo Germinaro had been a friend of the Alfano family his whole life, and he never heard of Germinaro being involved in gambling.

On March 24, Agent Daniel Brandt spoke with Louis Gerolmo. Brandt was told that Gerolmo would not testify against anyone unless they had done something illegal, and he did not believe that gambling was illegal. (Note: He did not say he thought it shouldn’t be illegal, he actually said he did not think it was.)

Also on March 24, Edward W. King was interviewed concerning any connection he had to James Salerno. King said his only connection was that he was involved in a car accident with one of Salerno’s customers and stopped by the office to pick up his settlement.

On March 25, John Dovorany of Racine was interviewed by the FBI. He said he owned the Douglas Bowl in Racine but was not a gambler. He knew Puntillo from fishing trips, and had even gone down the Missippi on a barge with him. But their friendship was only fishing and nothing more.

On March 29, 1971, George Nimmerguth was interviewed by the FBI at his residence (7939 20th Avenue). He said he got all his insurance — home, business, and auto — from Jim Salerno. All his liquor for George’s Tavern was purchased from Alfred DeCesaro, and he often golfed and bowled with Angelo Germinaro. Furthermore, Germinaro had been a bartender at George’s. He knew Eugene Thomas as another tavern owner, but denied knowing John Puntillo. He said, to the best of his knowledge, he had never placed bets with any of these men or allowed bets to be placed at his tavern.

Dennis Condon interviewed Loral Martin on March 29. Martin had served in the Air Corps during WWII and was originally from Eldorado, Illinois. Martin said he often visited Gerolmo’s tavern and gambled at the Arlington Race Track, but did not gamble at Gerolmo’s nor know of any gambling going on there.

Daniel J. Schuh was interviewed by Agents Carl Quatrocchi and Dennis Condon on March 29 about gambling activities, specificially Eugene Thomas. Schuh said he was in financial difficulties and had no money to gamble with. He was a forklift driver at American Motors. Schuh denied knowing Thomas.

Als on March 29, 1971, John Puntillo was in federal court in Milwaukee and the FBI tried to ask him questions on his way out, but they were stopped by Puntillo’s attorney. The attorney asked what questions they had. The agents said they had unresolved issues concerning a gun found at Puntillo’s house as well as some rain clothing and they were hoping to determine their source. The attorney had no comment at the time.

On March 31, 1971, Paul J. Domenk voluntarily appeared at the Kenosha FBI office. He said he knew Louis Gerolmo for several years and considered him a “fairly good friend,” but knew nothing at all about any gambling activity. (For what’s it’s worth, the family name was Domenico and they were Sicilian.)

April 8, 1971: The FBI went to American Motors to interview one Joseph Peter Nedweski about his association with “Effie” Manna. He said he met Manna two or three years ago when he started hanging out at Gerolmo’s Tavern. They had become friends and Nedweski joined the Gerolmo’s golf team and would go on trips with them to the Illinois horse tracks. He said he would often gamble in Illinois but never in Kenosha. The only connection to gambling in Kenosha was that Nedweski bought his racing forms at Becker’s Cigar Store or the Donut Hole. He knew Alfred DeCesaro, Louis Gerolmo, Richard Thiel and Laurel Martin, but never bet with any of them. He did not know Angelo Germinaro, John Woodbury or Raymond Matera. Nedweski claimed he knew nothing about any of their gambling activities and had never himself used the work phone to make bets.

April 15, 1971: The FBI returned to American Motors to talk to Joseph Nedweski again. This time he said on occasion he would give bets to Effie Manna if Manna was going to the horse track. He did not think this was illegal and never thought of this action as placing a bet with a bookie. (Gavin notes: Whether this was illegal or not I don’t know. Calling a bet to Illinois from Wisconsin is “interstate transfer of wagering information,” but is it ITWI if you hand a bet to a person in Wisconsin and he then goes to a track in Illinois?)

Throughout March and April 1971, the FBI spoke with just about anyone they could who was connected to the known Kenosha gamblers. They talked to Alfred DeCesaro’s tailor, a few people who used Salerno for insurance, and a man who sold Puntillo a motorcycle. Nothing of value was gained.

At some point in April 1971, Eugene Thomas sold his tavern and retired.

On May 12, 1971, FBI headquarters advised the Milwaukee/Kenosha office to consolidate 6 related gambling cases into the DeCesaro case. Milwaukee refused, saying that with nearly 30 volumes of documents, it would slow down the reporting of pertinent information.

On May 20, 1971, the FBI was running surveillance outside Salerno Realty (5007 22nd Avenue) at 2:15am. Salerno, parked in a car outside the building, was seen handing a man on the sidewalk an envelope.

On May 24, 1971: John Puntillo surrendered to the US Marshals and began serving his two year sentence.

May 25, 1971: Frank J. Volpentesta testified before the grand jury. He falsely said he had never placed a bet with Angelo Germinaro.

On May 26, 1971: Alfred DeCesaro was indicted by a grand jury for firearm possession.

On June 28, 1971, the FBI tested the six weapons they had confisctaed in earlier raids (the Strike Force attorney requested these tests on June 23). The following guns fired the first time: 30-30 Winchester model 94, 20-gauge Ranger double barrel shotgun, .22 Marlin 39A, .22 Springfield 87A and .38 Special Smith and Wesson revolver. A German STG44 machine gun was not operable, but after cleaning it internally and adding a new gas cup, it fired properly. The S&W belonged to DeCesaro, whereas the rest were owned by Puntillo. Both were indicted for owning firearms as a felon, and Puntillo was further indicted for owning a machine gun. (Apparently this was illegal at the time??)

July 13, 1971: The grand jury was presented with evidence that Frank Joseph Volpentesta had presented false testimony — he had placed a bet on February 17 and denied it. They indicted him for perjury and he was arrested the next day, and put in Kenosha jail. On his person at the time of his arrest were various papers related to horse racing and lotteries.

July 14, 1971: Robert John Carlson (owner of the Paddock Club) failed to show up for his grand jury appearance. Judge John Reynolds ordered a bench warrant, and clerk Virginia Just had one issued. Later the same day, the FBI arrested Carlson for contempt and he was put in the Kenosha jail.

Also July 14: Joseph Peter Nedweski testified that he sometimes placed bets with Frank Manna, both for himself and for friends. He said the bets were between $2 and $5, never more than $25 on any day. (The government later claimed this was an underestimate.)

August 9, 1971: Frank Volpentesta was arraigned on a charge of perjury.

The federal grand jury concluded on Tuesday, September 14, 1971 with several charges approved. Indicted in Kenosha 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.

DeCesaro was pulled over in Kenosha. The FBI allowed him to call Lakeshore Distributors, but he was then taken in for photographs and fingerprints. He was released on the promise he would furnish $300 bond the following day.

Germinaro was arrested at the cocktail lounge inside the Howard Johnson located at the intersection of Highway 50 and Interstate 94 in Kenosha. On his person he had a comb, nail clippers, liquid antacid and a little bit of money. He was photographed, fingerprinted, and ordered to return with $300.

Eugene Thomas was arrested by Agent Dennis Condon. He, too, was photographed and fingerprinted and asked to return with $300. Salerno was arrested at Toni’s Delicatessen and was released after paying $300. Richard Thiel was arrested and various gambling slips were found on him, including a business card for Gerolmo Wholesale where he had jotted down a few bets. Louis Gerolmo likewise had a great deal of gambling information on him at the time of arrest, what appeared to people’s wagers on various horse races.

Frank Manna was arrested by Agent Eugene Sather at Gerolmo’s Wholesale Liquor (2211 56th Street). He was photographed, fingerprinted, and asked to return with $300.

October 12, 1971: Defendants all pleaded not guilty and were given 30 days to file any motions by Judge Myron Gordon.

October 28, 1971: Dino Bernacchi and his attorney went to the Milwaukee office of the FBI, and with the approval of the US Attorney, the items seized from Bernacchi back in February were returned.

January 21, 1972: The gamblers were granted their motion to have their trials severed. A motion to suppress evidence was still undecided.

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.

March 6, 1972: The Milwaukee office of the FBI met with the Milwaukee office of the US Attorney. Discussion focused on the severance of the 11 defendants in the gambling case. The US Attorney expressed frustration at this decision because one charge was “conspiracy,” which by definition makes more sense to prosecute as a group. But furthermore, having to go through 11 trials would put a real burden on the US Attorney’s office, meaning they would be more open to settling or even dismissing cases. The FBI suggested appealing the judge’s decision.

April 14, 1972: Joseph Peter Nedweski was indicted by a grand jury for perjury, having previously lied under oath. The government alleged that Nedweski lied when he said his bets never totaled more than $25 at a time with Frank Manna. A warrant was issued the same day and he was released on $2500 bond. At the time of his arrest, while riding in the Bureau car, Nedweski told the agents that as far as he knew, he had been truthful.

April 27, 1972: Frank Volpentesta was on trial for perjury before Judge John Reynolds. The jury ended up being hung and Reynolds ordered an acquittal under Rule 29B.

May 5, 1972: Joseph Nedweski appeared before Judge Reynolds and pleaded not guilty to perjury.

Circa June 19, 1972: Nedweski’s attorney filed a motion challenging the materiality of the charge. The argued the questions asked during the grand jury were too vague for Nedweski to give a clear answer.

November 1, 1972: Judge Reynolds granted a motion to suppress evidence gained from wiretaps on eight of the 11 gambling defendants. He felt that for there to be probable cause, a gambling business should have at least five people connected to it. Reynolds did not believe the evidence showed there were five people clearly linked to one gambling business. He said Germinaro and DeCesaro were part of one business, but beyond that it was hard to say. Reynolds next addressed Matera, who he could not conclude was part of the same business. Matera was allegedly laying off HIS bets with DeCesaro, but even that connection was only known because of a confidential informant… and he would be of questionable reliability. James Salerno was loosely linked to DeCesaro by another informant, who was also of questionable reliability. Joseph Michael Buratti was linked to DeCesaro by a third informant, and yet again the reliability was in doubt. The opinion of Reynolds goes on in this way. Between the suppression of wiretap evidence and the severing of cases, Judge Reynolds had greatly hobbled the government’s case.

December 1, 1972: The US Attorney’s office filed an appeal to Reynolds’ decision.

July 13, 1973: John Woodbury died at age 68, effectively dropping the indictment against him.

December 1973: The Seventh Circuit (finally) heard the appeal.

August 15, 1974: The Seventh Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision and sent it back. Almost two years had now passed since the lower court more or less squashed the prosecution.

February 19, 1975: The federal judge dismissed the case against Richard Thiel.

February 28, 1975: Because of new procedures that had been established in the past couple years, the US Attorney switched gears from a criminal to civil prosecution. They now sought to have a restraining order put on the various Kenosha gamblers. This tactic went forward on March 14.

On Monday, March 17, 1975, Judge Myron L. Gordon ordered six Kenosha gamblers to permanently 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. Defense attorneys who accepted the restraining order were Franklyn Gimbel (for DeCesaro and Thomas), Eugene Brookhouse (for Germinaro, Salerno and Gregorski), Robert Sutton (for Puntillo), Jay Schwarz (for Manna and Gerolmo) and  Dominic Frinzi (for Matera).

April 28, 1975: With the restraining order now in place, all pending criminal charges were dropped against the Kenosha gamblers.

July 17, 1975: John Puntillo signed a release authorizing the FBI to dispose of his German assault rifle.

August 8, 1975: Joseph Nedweski’s perjury case (finally) went to trial. He was fined $300, and like the others had a restraining order prohibiting him for gambling. Nedweski had retained both Francis Croak and John Malloy as his defense.

December 3, 1975: An agency submitted a “name check for immunity request” to the FBI for Louis Gerolmo. (I’m not sure what this is, but it implies to me they wanted to offer Gerolmo immunity for testimony.) The FBI reported back that Gerolmo was on their radar for his association with Alfred DeCesaro, but had also come up while investigating a man named Wilfred Louis Dam (1922-1998). I don’t know who Dam was, but he was investigated for gambling and was married to Frances Leonetti of Kenosha.

On July 28, 1989, Betty J. Puntillo was sentenced to two years of probation and given 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty of tax evasion. Puntillo was accused of receiving $60,000 in money owed to her husband John for his gambling business (he was dead). The money came in $500-per-week installments from her husband’s partner, who was not identified in court documents. Also on trial was bartender Eugene A. Schiaffino, who was accused of handling over $12 million in wagers within two years.

In March 1992, Daniel Schuh of Kenosha was indicted for conducting an illegal gambling business and conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business. He had been questioned many years earlier for links to DeCesaro and denied any gambling involvement. In November, Schuh was placed on two years of probation, six months of home detention and told to pay a $2,500 fine.

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

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