Showing posts with label Los Angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Los Angeles. Show all posts

13 May 2017

95 years ago: End of DiGiorgio

Feared California Mafia leader killed in Chicago barber chair

Chicago Tribune
May 14, 1922

May 13, 1922: Vito DiGiorgio, the leader of southern California's Mafia, was shot to death in a barbershop at Oak and Larrabee Streets in Chicago.

DiGiorgio, forty-three, was returning from a Mafia meeting in Buffalo, New York, and stopped off in Chicago for a couple of days. He, thirty-five-year-old James Cascio and an unidentified third man visited the barbershop of Salvatore DiBella and John Loiacono, 956 Larrabee Street. The location was in the center of a Sicilian neighborhood in Chicago's Near North End. DiGiorgio sat down in a barber's chair, while Cascio and the third man busied themselves at a pool table in a rear room.

Just a few minutes later, two gunmen burst into the shop and, without saying a word, shot DiGiorgio in the side of his head and put three bullets into Cascio. Both victims died of their wounds. The gunmen, accompanied by the man who entered the shop with DiGiorgio and Cascio, fled through a rear door.

Police found papers in DiGiorgio's pockets that linked him to an address on Dauphine Street in New Orleans. DiGiorgio had lived in New Orleans for years, managed a grocery business and earned his underworld reputation there before relocating to southern California. He may have returned to his home in the Crescent City after being wounded in an attempt on his life at Los Angeles in the summer of 1921.

New Orleans Daily
Picayune, June 12, 1908

Cascio was said to have Buffalo and New Orleans addresses.

DiGiorgio (image at left) appears to have been closely aligned with New York-based Mafia boss of bosses Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila and may have secured his position as southern California boss through D'Aquila's insistence. (D'Aquila inserted his personal representatives into crime family leadership positions in a number of U.S. cities, including Boston and Philadelphia.)

At the time, D'Aquila was attempting to consolidate power by moving against supporters of the former Giuseppe Morello regime in New York and elsewhere. A Los Angeles-area Mafia faction led by Jack Dragna and Salvatore Streva had connections with Morello.

Sources:
  • "The Serio explosion a Black Hand deed," New Orleans Daily Picayune, June 12, 1908, p. 1.
  • "Shot down by mystery assailants," Los Angeles Times, July 18, 1921, p. 13.
  • "Two men killed in Black Hand feud," Logansport IN Pharos-Tribune, May 13, 1922, p. 8.
  • "Double murder in 'Little Italy' baffles police," Chicago Tribune, May 14, 1922, p. 18.
  • Gentile, Nick, Vita di Capomafia, Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1963.
  • Orleans Parish, Louisiana, Death Records Index, Ancestry.com.
  • United States Census of 1920, Louisiana, Orleans County, Precinct 2, Ward 8, Enumeration District 130.
  • Vito DiGiorgio World War I draft registration card, serial no. 1117, order no. A1450, Div. no. 7, New Orleans, Louisiana, Sept. 12, 1918.
See also:
http://amzn.to/2q08aOg

10 February 2017

40 years ago: Mafia executes SoCal informant

Bompensiero
On this date in 1977: Frank "Bomp" Bompensiero, a longtime leader of the southern California underworld, is shot to death near his apartment in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego.

At about 8:30 p.m., police found Bompensiero in a pool of blood on the sidewalk in front of an alley. Nearby were four spent .22-caliber cartridges and cigar stub Bomp was chewing on when he was shot. The Mafioso had four bullet wounds in his head. One slug hit him in the neck near the spine. One entered through his right ear. Two cracked through his skull closely together, creating a large hole behind the ear. Bompensiero was declared dead on arrival at Mission Bay General Hospital.

Detectives found no witnesses. No one had even heard the shots fired. The authorities concluded that a silencer was used by the killer.

Some cash and a notebook were found in Bompensiero's pockets. The notebook held coded loansharking figures and telephone numbers for phone booths around the United States. Bompensiero was convinced that law enforcement agencies had tapped into his own home phone and the phones of other Mafiosi and only communicated with underworld associates through pay telephones. He was said to have been returning home from a nightly visit to a phone booth when he was shot.

Bompensiero was well known to the police as a leading figure in the Los Angeles-based Dragna Crime Family. He was said to occupy the position of consigliere in the organization and to oversee rackets in the San Diego area.

Los Angeles Times, Feb. 11, 1977.

As the story of Bompensiero's assassination hit local newspapers, rumors surfaced that the San Diego underworld chieftain had been supplying information to the FBI for more than a decade. Several years later, Aladena "Jimmy the Weasel" Fratianno testified in federal court that southern California Mafia bosses ordered the murder of Bompensiero because he betrayed the underworld code of silence.

Read more about Frank "Bomp" Bompensiero.

18 January 2017

Hollywood Homicide


Was back on this date in 1933 that Tinsel Town lost one of their, if not thee, top bootlegger. Booze baron Harry Meagher, said to have a number of Hollywood stars as both friends and customers,was pulling up to his home when neighbors heard a series of pops and then a crash.

See, what happened was somebody gave Harry the works while Harry was pulling up to his abode, then this somebody, who was in the passenger seat at the time, turned his gun and killed James North who was in the back seat. Or did he give North the works first and then kill Meagher? Either way the result was the same. The car jumped the curbed and crashed into a light post. The killer got away while Meagher and North stayed put.

Why did Harry get dead? Three reasons were offered so you can pick one:
1) Gangsters from Chicago (or other eastern parts) were muscling in on the lucrative L.A. scene and it was just to bad for the local boys.
2) Harry himself was expanding into Arizona and Utah and them local fellas there weren't to keen on the idea.
3) It was an attempted robbery gone wrong.

PS
That third guy in the headline? He was an ex-boxer named Mickey Arno. He was killed about the same time and his body was found under a bridge near Long Beach. Police thought he may have been an associate of Meagher, then, after awhile, they thought that maybe he wasn't an associate of Meagher's.  Could of just been one of the coincidences.

05 January 2017

Hooray for Hollywood!



On this date in 1933 movie star Betty Compson was playing cards with producer E.D. Leshin in her Los Angeles home. The doorbell rang, and when Compson answered it, a gunman forced his way in. The actress and producer were forced upstairs into Betty’s bedroom where both were bound with piano wire and had tape placed over their mouths. 
The bandit helped himself to over $40,000 worth of jewelry and escaped. Fifteen minutes later Compson wriggled free and untied Leshin. The police were called and she filed a report. The following day, detectives came to question her further, but she told them that she had changed her mind and didn’t want the police to pursue the case. Detectives stated that she received a phone call from the robber threatening her during their visit. She denied it, stating only that she feared for her safety.  In the end, the bandit reached out to her lawyer and the jewelry was returned to the actress.  Although she denied it, the police felt that the robber had ransomed back the jewelry.
Being a star during Hollywood’s golden-years wasn’t always sunshine and champagne.

01 November 2016

Paul is Dead

No not that Paul, but Paul Robinson said to be a Los Angeles gangster, who was bumped off on this date back in 1932. Initially police believed that he was involved in some sort of  gangland feud. This stemmed from the fact that Robinson's bullet riddled corpse was found in a recently dug ditch near a San Mateo golf course.

Police determined that Robinson had been killed in San Francisco and his body taken to the golf course and dropped into the ditch. (I suspect a "hole in one" joke is applicable here so if you have one, by all means leave it in the comments) After Robinson's body was deposited his slayer fired ten more shots into him. The dead man's auto was then parked near San Francisco's Presidio district and set on fire.

Subsequent investigation showed that Robinson had left L.A. along with a confederate named E.P. Andrews alias Gene Shelton, whom the authorities felt was the one who did in Robinson. On the following December 8, Andrews was traced to the town of Banning where he escaped in his wife's car amidst a shootout with police. He didn't bother waiting for his wife who was taken into custody.

Andrews didn't remain free long, he was arrested on April 1, 1933, in St. Louis under suspicion of robbery.