17 July 2022

Car-bomb takes Youngstown rackets chief

On this date in 1961...

Minutes after midnight on Monday, July 17, 1961, the "Uptown" (South Side) business district of Youngstown, Ohio, was shaken by the explosion of a car-bomb. The blast claimed the life of rackets boss Vincent DeNiro.


Vehicle wreck removed from scene of explosion.

In addition to controlling vending machine, lottery and other rackets as the local representative of the Cleveland Mafia, the thirty-nine-year-old DeNiro co-owned Cicero's restaurant at Market Street and Indianola Avenue, across the street from the explosion.

Cicero's was closed on Sunday. DeNiro had a late dinner that night with friends at the Cafe 422 near Warren. At midnight, his companions - pizza restaurant owner Robert Parella and jeweler James Modarelli - drove DeNiro to a parked car on Market Street. The car belonged to a DeNiro girlfriend, Edith Magnolia. DeNiro's own car was parked behind Parella's pizza shop just a few blocks away, but he chose to drive Magnolia's car that night because he feared a car-bomb attack. (FBI was later told that DeNiro's enemies knew he was using different vehicles and had wired explosives to three different automobiles that night.)

DeNiro

The bomb erupted as he started the car at eleven minutes after twelve. The strength of the blast was said to be equivalent to ten sticks of dynamite. The hood of DeNiro's car was blown onto the roof of a nearby one and a half-story building. Windows around the business district were shattered. DeNiro's body was torn to pieces in the explosion. There was no autopsy.

The press reported that it was the seventy-fifth bombing in the Youngstown area in a decade and the fifth gangland murder in less than two years.

DeNiro was killed in retribution for the shotgun slaying of Youngstown's leading Pittsburgh-aligned racketeer, S. Joseph "Sandy" Naples in March 1960. Naples and DeNiro, once partners in the rackets, had become bitter rivals since the early 1950s. The brothers of Naples hired Dominick Moio of Canton, Ohio, to arrange the killing of DeNiro.

Moio was later hired by the Cleveland Mafia to set up the vendetta car-bomb murder of Billy Naples in 1962. Moio played for both sides in the feud until summer of 1963, when Cleveland bosses decided he was a liability. Moio's remains - shot and burned - were found in the trunk of his car outside of Canton.


Note: The November 2022 issue of Informer: The History of American Crime and Law Enforcement will contain more on DeNiro, his associates and the underworld history of the Youngstown area.


Sources:

  • "Bomb leads checked at Youngstown," Dayton Daily News, July 18, 1961, p. 7.
    "Fifth gang killing in Youngstown," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 18, 1961, p. 1.
  • "Gangland bomb kills Vince DeNiro; DiSalle assigns Melillo to probe," Youngstown Vindicator, July 17, 1961, p. 1.
  • "Naples murder gun owned by Canton police," Youngstown Vindicator, March 16, 1960, p. 1.
  • "Police quiz associates of slain Ohio racketeer," Chillicothe OH Gazette, July 18, 1961, p. 5.
  • "Rackets figure blown to bits," Sandusky OH Register, July 17, 1961, p. 1.
    "Won't enter Youngstown slaying probe yet -- Di Salle," Akron Beacon Journal, March 13, 1960, p. C1. 
  • "Youngstown night club owner killed by bomb," New Philadelphia OH Daily Times, July 17, 1961, p. 1.
  • "Youngstown slaying stirs Di Salle action," Akron Beacon Journal, July 18, 1961, p. 17.
  • Perkins, Zach, "Remembering Uptown (Part One)," Urban Youngstown, urbanyoungstown.weebly.com.
  • Peterson, Stanley E., "Unknown subjects: Bombing - Murder, Charles Cavallaro...," FBI report from Cleveland office, file no. CR 157-742-498, NARA no. 124-10220-10492, Sept. 9, 1964, p. Cover-S.

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