Hasn't been seen since 1962
|New York Daily News|
On this date in 1962...
Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo, sixty-two-year-old leader in the New York-area Genovese Crime Family, disappeared on Sunday evening, April 8, 1962.
Strollo's wife Edna filed a missing person report with the local police on Thursday, April 12. She indicated that Strollo was last seen at 10 p.m. Sunday, when he left their Fort Lee, New Jersey, home with an unknown associate in a borrowed black 1961 Cadillac.
Strollo was born in Manhattan on June 14, 1899, to Italian immigrants Leon and Jennie Strollo. He grew up on Thompson Street near West Houston Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, an early base for what later became known as the Genovese Crime Family.
He worked as a truck driver but found his greatest success as a racketeer. As the modern New York crime families were formed in 1931, Strollo was designated a lieutenant within the organization commanded by boss Salvatore "Charlie Luciano" Lucania and his underboss Vito Genovese. Joseph Valachi, who decades later became an important underworld informant, was one of the Mafia "soldiers" assigned to Strollo's crew. Valachi instantly disliked his underworld leader. "He was conceited and a miserable person," Valachi later wrote.
Strollo married Edna Goldenberg in New York City in spring of 1932. The newlyweds lived at 12 Perry Street in Greenwich Village before moving a few blocks away to 45 Christopher Street. By the 1940s, Strollo was a powerful underworld leader in Greenwich Village. His loansharking, gambling and bookmaking rackets territory extended throughout the village and onto the Hudson River docks. He is believed to have held financial interests in cafes and night clubs in the area. In this period, Strollo and his wife moved across the river to Fort Lee, New Jersey.
New Jersey Teamsters Local 560 came under Strollo's control when he arranged for the election of Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano as local president. (Provenzano was later suspected of involvement in the disappearance of former Teamsters International President Jimmy Hoffa.)
In 1952, Strollo was in newspaper headlines when a midnight meeting he had with Jersey City Mayor John Kenny came to light. Strollo refused to testify at a New York State Crime Commission hearing about the meeting.
Strollo reportedly gained power and influence when a failed 1957 assassination attempt against crime family boss Frank Costello convinced Costello to retire and permitted Strollo's close ally Vito Genovese to take over the crime family. Genovese ran into his own troubles, however. In spring 1959, he was convicted of narcotics offenses. He was sentenced to fifteen years in federal prison.
|Anthony Carfano, Janice Drake|
Later that year, Strollo was suspected of involvement in the Genovese-ordered murder of Anthony "Little Augie Pisano" Carfano. Strollo and Carfano had been close friends for many years.
Carfano and a companion, Mrs. Janice Drake, dined with Strollo and others at Marino's Italian Restaurant, 716 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, on the evening of September 25, 1959. Carfano and Mrs. Drake were later found shot to death in an automobile in Queens. (When Valachi became an informant, he revealed that Carfano had been killed on instructions from Genovese. Carfano had reportedly been insubordinate following the attempt on his friend Frank Costello's life. According to Valachi, Strollo had no idea that Carfano was to be killed.)
Strollo is believed to have played a key role in convincing Joseph Valachi to surrender to the authorities after Valachi jumped bail early in 1960 to flee narcotics charges.
Understandably upset at his fifteen-year narcotics sentence, Genovese took an interest in determining how federal authorities were able to assemble their case against him. He may have had reason to blame Strollo.
Strollo was known to be a sponsor of Vincent Mauro, who was captured by federal agents in Spain and provided information on international drug smuggling operations. Strollo also was the longtime superior of Valachi, suspected by underworld leaders of giving information to the authorities.
While Strollo was said to have brokered a recent and momentary peace in the rebellion of the Brooklyn Gallo gangsters against Profaci Crime Family leaders, it was suspected that he had a role in inciting the Gallos.
The New York Daily News
reported that Strollo had been in trouble with his underworld colleagues because of "several injudicious moves in the past eighteen months."
'A few minutes'
As Strollo prepared to leave his home, 1015 Palisade Avenue, on the evening of April 8, his wife warned him about the weather: "You'd better put on your coat."
His response, which turned out to his final words to his wife of thirty years, was, "I'm only going to be a few minutes. Besides, I'm wearing my thermal underwear."
Edna Strollo gradually became concerned that "something awful" happened to her husband. It was not unusual for Strollo to remain out all night, but when his absence stretched into days, she consulted with his attorney and then called the police.
She could not say who her husband went off with, who had provided the Cadillac or what Strollo was wearing when he left.
New York Police discovered that one day after Strollo's disappearance, his mistress left her Sixth Avenue Greenwich Village apartment and had not been seen for more than a week. There was some speculation that she and Strollo left the country together. But police sources told the New York Daily News
that there was a "more than 50-50 chance that Tony and the lady... are dead by now."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation learned that Strollo's rackets were quickly taken over by Pasquale "Patsy Ryan" Eboli. Pasquale was the brother of Thomas Eboli, part of a ruling council over the crime family following Genovese's conviction. The council also included Gerardo Catena and Michele Miranda
A year after Strollo went missing, the FBI was secretly listening in on a conversation between two mobsters when the subject of Strollo came up. Anthony "Little Pussy" Russo told Genovese Mafioso Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo that Ruggiero "Richie the Boot" Boiardo of New Jersey had boasted that he killed Strollo.
Conflicting information was provided to the FBI in the summer of 1965. At that time, New Jersey racketeer Harold "Kayo" Konigsberg revealed that Tommy Eboli and Gerardo Catena ordered Strollo's murder after obtaining the approval of the imprisoned Genovese. According to Konigsberg, Eboli had been trying for years to eliminate Strollo.
On the night of April 8, Konigsberg stated, "'Pepe' Sabato called Tony Bender and drove him to the parking lot of the Milestone Restaurant in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where Tommy Ryan [Eboli] and Dom 'The Sailor' [De Quarto] were waiting in a panel truck. Tommy and Dom killed Bender in the parking lot."
Konigsberg did not know where Strollo's remains were taken but expressed the belief that Strollo was buried at an upstate New York farm.
- "F.B.I.-taped conversation sheds light on 1962 gangland slaying of Strollo," New York Times, Jan. 8, 1970, p. 33.
- "Pisano hurried to his death after mysterious phone call," New York Times, Oct. 2, 1959, p. 16.
- "Sketches of gangland figures named by Valachi in Senate testimony," New York Times, Sept. 28, 1963, p. 6.
- Andrews, Leon F. Jr., "La Causa Nostra Buffalo Division," FBI report 92-6054-296, NARA no. 124-10200-10453, June 14, 1963, p. 24-27.
- Donnelly, Frank H., "Anthony Provenzano aka Tony Pro," FBI report 92-7195-2, NARA no. 124-10221-10186, Dec. 20, 1963, p. 6-7.
- Durkin, Paul G., and Charles G. Donnelly, Harold Konisberg statement at Federal Correctional Institute, Danbury, CT, June 10, 1965, dictated June 15, 1965, "Harold Konigsberg," FBI report 92-1893, file no. 92-5177-161, NARA no. 124-10348-10067, Aug. 16, 1965, p. 135-137.
- Evans, C.A., "La Cosa Nostra," FBI memorandum to Mr. Belmont, file no. 92-6054-406, NARA no. 124-10220-10111, Aug. 13, 1963, p. 9.
- Federici, William, and Henry Lee, "Tony's mistress missing; cops: both may be dead," New York Daily News, April 17, 1962, p. 2.
- Flynn, James P., "Crime conditions in the New York division," FBI report CR 62-9-34-692, NARA no. 124-10348-10068, Dec. 3, 1962, p. 21-22.
- Grutzner, Charles, "Kenny admitted lie to jury on talk with pier gangster; police got $108,000 bribe bid," New York Times, Dec. 18, 1952.
- Grutzner, Charles, "Pisano witnesses changing stories," New York Times, Aug. 24, 1963.
- Hindes, Eugene J., "Salvatore Granello...," FBI report 92-3960-30, NARA no. 124-90066-10093, June 27, 1962, p. 44.
- Kanter, Nathan, "Hood Tony Bender missing since Sunday, wife reports," New York Daily News, April 13, 1962, p. 5.
- Mallon, John, and Joseph McNamara, "Valachi murder song turned over to DAs," New York Daily News, Aug. 12, 1963, p. 3.
- New York City Birth Records, Certificate no. 22743, June 14, 1899
- New York City Marriage Index, Certificate no. 7134, March 30, 1932.
- New York Census of 1905, New York County, Assembly District 3, Election District 11.
- New York State Census of 1925, Kings County, Assembly District 7, Election District 22.
- Perlmutter, Emanuel, "New lead on Pisano slaying provided by racketeer friend," New York Times, Oct. 1, 1959, p. 30.
- Trow's General Directory of the Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronx, City of New York, Vol. CXXIII, for the Year Ending August 1, 1910, New York: Trow Directory, Printing and Bookbinding, 1909, p. 1435.
- United States Census of 1900, New York State, New York County, Enumeration District 1062.
- United States Census of 1920, New York State, New York County, Ward 8, Assembly District 2, Enumeration District 204.
- United States Census of 1930, New York State, New York County, Assembly District 2, Enumeration District 31-68.
- United States Census of 1940, New York State, New York County, Assembly District 10, Enumeration District 31-884.
- Valachi, Joseph, "The Real Thing: Second Government: The Expose and Inside Doings of Cosa Nostra," Joseph Valachi Personal Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 1964, p. 370.