participate in the slaying of Cleveland Mafia boss
Todaro took power in the local crime family after the October 1927 murders of boss Joseph "Big Joe" Lonardo and his brother John. His position was secured with the murder of Lonardo loyalist Lorenzo Lupo the following spring. The Lonardo faction, closely aligned with the national Mafia leadership of boss of bosses Salvatore D'Aquila, was replaced by an administration of Todaro and the Porrello brothers. The new regime was supported by rising New York Mafia boss Giuseppe Masseria. (Masseria had relatives in Cleveland.)
The murdered Lonardos were given a lavish gangland funeral - reports said their caskets were silver. But Lonardo kin almost immediately began experiencing money problems.
Concetta Lonardo and Fannie Lanzone Lonardo both claimed to be the widows of Joseph Lonardo. Though never formally married, Concetta had lived with Lonardo for many years until their 1925 separation and she was mother to their five children. Fannie was with Lonardo in the last few years of his life and claimed that the two had been married in Sandusky, Ohio on September 8, 1925. A court battle between the widows tied up the family fortune - cash and property estimated to be worth $200,000. Lacking financial resources, Concetta faced the loss of the family home at 13700 Larchmere Boulevard. She reached out for support from the new underworld boss.
(Cleveland Public Library)
On the afternoon of June 11, Concetta's twenty-two-year-old nephew Dominic Sospirato came along for the ride to see Todaro. As usual, Todaro emerged from the warehouse to greet his former boss's widow. As he crossed the sidewalk toward the waiting car, gunshots were heard and "Black Sam" collapsed. He had been shot five times. The Chrysler sped away.
Todaro's brother-in-law, Angelo Sciara, witnessed the shooting and gave authorities the names of the occupants of the car. Concetta was later taken into custody as a material witness, though she claimed to know nothing of the fatal shooting of Todaro. Angelo Lonardo and Dominic Sospirato could not be located. Concetta and the two young men were all indicted for first-degree murder.
“Black Sam” Todaro's funeral featured an expensive bronze and silver casket and abundant floral tributes, but restrictions on the use of marching bands and the route of the cortege were put in place by local Safety Director Edwin Barry.
On November 12, Concetta went to trial alone for the Todaro murder. The prosecutor argued that she must have known that occupants of her automobile planned to shoot and kill Todaro. The state's case included a jury visit to the Cleveland corner where Todaro was killed. After a deliberation of more than six hours, the jury acquitted her.
|Angelo Lonardo in later years.|
Authorities briefly considered Lonardo a suspect when Rosario and Raymond Porrello and their bodyguard Dominic Mangino were murdered in February 1932.
Many years later, the seventy-seven-year-old Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo, by then a former Cleveland Mafia underboss who had become a government informant, testified before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Early in his testimony, he matter-of-factly stated, "...My father was murdered by Salvatore Todaro in 1927. In revenge, my cousin, Dominic Sospirato, and I killed Todaro."
- Gentile, Nick, Vita di Capomafia, Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1963.
- Neilsen, Sgt. William T., Criminal Complaint, Cleveland Police, June 11, 1929.
- Porrello, Rick, The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia: Corn Sugar and Blood, Fort Lee NJ: Barricade, 1995.
- Reports of the Detective Bureau, Police Department of the City of Cleveland, Oct. 13-16, 1927; June 13, 1929; July 2, 1929.
- United States Census of 1930.
- United States Census of 1940.
- Zicarelli, Det., Information report to Inspector of Detectives Cornelius W. Cody, Oct. 16, 1927, Nov. 16, 1929.
- "2 brothers murdered in bootleg war," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Oct. 14, 1927.
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- "Royal burial," Wilmington OH News-Journal, June 17, 1929, p. 4.
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- "Fails to get share of Lonardo estate," Akron OH Beacon Journal, Feb. 24, 1930, p. 23.
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- "Cleveland men found guilty," Mansfield OH News-Journal, June 12, 1930, p. 1.
- "Extermination of gang about complete today," Piqua OH Daily Call, June 12, 1930, p. 1.
- "United States Courts," Cincinnati Enquirer, July 19, 1930, p. 20.
- "Marriage here basis of suit," Sandusky OH Register, July 22, 1930, p. 12.
- Kenen, I.L., "Corn sugar racket has taken seven lives in Cleveland with five marked for death; once mighty Porello clan is tottering," Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug. 4, 1930, p. 13.
- "Acquitted at retrial," Akron OH Beacon Journal, Nov. 25, 1931, p. 9.
- "Free two convicts," East Liverpool OH Evening Review, Nov. 25, 1931, p. 11.
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- Koziol, Ronald, "Jailed mob chief agrees to testify in casino trial," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 29, 1985, p. 10.
- Culnan, Dennis, "Former boss calls Mafia disrespectful," Cincinnati Enquirer, April 16, 1988, p. A4.