Sunday, December 29, 2013

January 2014 issue preview


Here's a peek at the cover of the January 2014 issue of Informer. Scheduled release date is Jan. 27 (but it probably will be available earlier).

Contents:

  • Brooklyn's twice-stolen and twice-returned Regina Pacis jeweled crowns, 
  • The ascent of Neapolitan Vito Genovese within the traditionally Sicilian Mafia, 
  • 50 years ago - Warren Commission considers Oswald's alleged relationship with the FBI, 
  • Detroit Mafia membership chart,
  • More.


Friday, October 11, 2013

October 2013 Issue of Informer

October 2013 Contents
Editorial

The name “Giuseppe Ruffino” occurs often in the history of the Mafia criminal society. Giuseppe Ruffinos have been associated with Mafia operations on both sides of the Atlantic. A number have received a good deal of press ink and interest from historians. In this issue, organized crime historian Joshua Henze takes a close look at one Giuseppe Ruffino who has been largely neglected.

Though involved in a high-profile federal case in the early years of the Twentieth Century, this Ruffino has been virtually forgotten. The reason is unclear. Perhaps he was merely overshadowed by the other underworld figures in the United States and Italy who shared his name. Perhaps he was brushed aside because his primary illicit enterprise was offensive, awkward to write about or at odds with the legendary “rules” of Mafioso conduct. This Giuseppe Ruffino procured young Italian women for American houses of prostitution. (Preview)

Also in this issue of Informer:

- Author Christian Cipollini provides an excerpt from his recently published book Diary of a Motor City Hit Man. (Preview).

- Bill Feather dedicates his latest Mafia Membership Chart to the early Sicilian-Italian underworld of southern California (Preview).

- Columnist Richard N. Warner discusses various organized crime figures who have “found” religion (Preview).

- A recently released biography of Joseph DiCarlo revises the history of the Magaddino Crime Family of western New York (Preview).

- Thomas Hunt reviews Diary of a Motor City Hit Man by Christian Cipollini and discusses its relationship to organized crime history (Preview).

Sixty-eight pages including cover.

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Ruffino and the White Slave Trade

October 2013 Contents
Feature Article

Ruffino and the 'White Slave' trade
By Joshua R. Henze

"The history of the Mafia criminal society is brimming with Giuseppe Ruffinos, and each of the men mentioned above has caught the attention of gangland chroniclers. However, one Giuseppe Ruffino, has virtually escaped the notice of history. Neglected to date, Giuseppe Ruffino of San Giuseppe Jato, Sicily, is worthy of some attention. In the summer of 1908, he gained sensational headlines as an elusive “Black Hand” leader who evaded law enforcement in Rochester, New York, and Chicago, was captured in Milwaukee, and was ultimately convicted in New York for white slavery..."

Thirty-three pages, including eight images and ten and a half pages of notes.

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Hit Man Chester Wheeler Campbell

October 2013 contents
Feature Article

Pandemonium in the Courtroom
By Christian Cipollini

An excerpt from Diary of a Motor City Hit Man.
"As if the Detroit-area judicial system did not already have more than its share of legal mischief, outlandish courtroom antics became the norm in the summer of 1975. Scandal, rumor and conspiracy worked their way into legal proceedings, and accusations of unsavory behavior were not directed solely toward accused criminals. The supposed “good guys” were under scrutiny for doing some not-so-good things, and the “bad guys” were being testified against by, well, basically just a bunch of other bad guys. In Michigan’s sultry summer months, various elements combined to create Pandemonium in the courtroom. Decorum surrendered to more arguments, physical altercations, threats and theatrics than could be seen in any television drama..."

Eight pages, with seven images.

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Los Angeles Mafia Chart

October 2013 contents
Mafia Membership Chart

Los Angeles Mafia Chart, 1910s-40s
By Bill Feather

Sixty-five documented and suspected members of the Southern California crime family based in Los Angeles active in the period of the 1910s through the 1940s. Chart contains information on aliases, birth, death, immigration, family connections and underworld rank.

Four pages.

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Books: Motor City Hit Man

October 2013 contents
Column

Just One More Thing
By Thomas Hunt

Review: Diary of a Motor City Hit Man

"In Diary of a Motor City Hit Man, author Christian Cipollini expertly crafts the intriguing story of Chester Wheeler Campbell's life and criminal career. Campbell was a freelance killer, who worked for various narcotics outfits in the Midwest and was for a time considered the most-feared man in Detroit. The narrative springs from a detailed description of a single, random event, the 1975 near-collision of Campbell's rented Oldsmobile with a Keego Harbor, Michigan, patrol car..."

Six and a half pages.

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Books: 'DiCarlo' revises Buffalo mob history

October 2013 contents
Books

DiCarlo biography revises
Buffalo underworld history

"The crime family of western New York was not at all a Magaddino-monolith as it is often portrayed. The Buffalo branch of that organization predated notorious Mafia boss Stefano Magaddino’s arrival in the region by decades, frequently resisted his control and eventually threw off his leader-ship to briefly restore the older DiCarlo-Pieri underworld dynasty, according to a coauthor of DiCarlo: Buffalo’s First Family of Crime..."

Four pages.

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The Warner Files: Religion and Mafia, Part 2

October 2013 Contents
Column

The Warner Files

Religion and the Mafia, Part 2
By Richard N. Warner

"In this issue we look at the personal side of religion and the Mafia. Most readers of the Cosa Nostra, except for those who live under rocks, have heard of Michael Franzese. He is the son of Colombo crime family underboss John “Sonny” Franzese, a former caporegime, and was one of the Mafia’s biggest earners thanks to a scheme to cheat the United States government of gaso-line taxes by using dummy corporations..."

Three and a half pages.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

October issue deadlines

Articles deadline for the October issue of Informer is today (Aug. 26).
Ad deadline is Sept. 30.
Scheduled publication date for the issue is Oct. 28.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 2013 Issue of Informer

July 2013 Contents
Editorial

“Diamond Joe" Esposito entered the United States at a time when there was no easily discernible difference between organized crime and organized politics. Each had the same objectives and made use of the same tactics. Frequently, they had the same membership rolls.

After settling for a time in Brooklyn, Esposito migrated to Chicago, effec-tively blazing a trail that later would be followed by such gangland figures as Johnny Torrio and Al Capone. In the Windy City, Esposito performed apparently conflicting functions while inhabiting the twilight area between underworld and overworld, between the unprincipled street toughs and the respectable citizens.
That he used his influence to assist the poor immigrant families in his district is well established. However, it cannot be denied that he also aided those who preyed upon and terrorized the same families.

The story of Esposito’s life, provided by Lennert van`t Riet and David Critchley, is a window into a tumultuous period from the close of the Gilded Age through the early years of the Prohibition Era. (Preview)

Also in this issue of Informer:

- Bill Feather provides an early Buffalo Crime Family membership chart (Preview).

- Thomas Hunt and Michael A. Tona relate how a successful raid by Prohibition agents led to the distribution of poisonous alcohol in the United States and Canada (Preview).

- Longtime Bonanno Crime Family member Frank Bonomo is the subject of a gangland profile by J. Dugard (Preview).

- Oscar Goodman, former mob defense lawyer and mayor of Las Vegas, sits down for an interview with Richard N. Warner (Preview).

- Thomas Hunt ponders the re-release of The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano (Preview).

Eighty-eight pages including cover.

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'Diamond Joe' Esposito

July 2013 Contents
Feature Article

'He was a faithful, generous and loyal friend'

The Life and Crimes of 
'Diamond Joe' Esposito

By Lennert van‘t Riet 
and David Critchley

"An early example of the rise of Italian immigrants to positions of political influence in the United States, Giuseppe 'Diamond Joe' Esposito was a legendary mediator between organized criminals and political interests in Chicago. Rarely involved directly in criminality and seldom held legally accountable for his follies, Esposito was accused of using old-style political beneficence to enhance his own power and expand the influence of bootleggers and racketeers. The causes of his 1928 murder remain something of a mystery, but probably relate to the violent intersection of organized crime and organized politics in the Windy City..."

Thirty-two pages, including five pages of notes, sixteen photographs and one map.

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Bootleg Poison

July 2013 Contents
Feature Article

A raid by Prohibition agents set in motion
events that led to deaths, blindings

Poison

By Thomas Hunt and 
Michael A. Tona


"One of Prohibition’s more severe unintended con-sequences was a wave of deaths and blindings among residents in western New York and nearby Canada that lasted through the early summer of 1926. Reports of the casualties followed closely behind a successful law enforcement raid of an alcohol redistilling operation in mid-spring..."

Fourteen pages, including two pages of notes and ten images.

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Buffalo Mafia Chart

July 2013 Contents
Mafia Membership Chart

Buffalo Mafia Chart, 1910s-1940s

By Bill Feather

More than one hundred documented and suspected members of the Buffalo-based Magaddino "Arm" Crime Family active in the period of the 1910s through the 1940s. Chart contains information on aliases, birth, death, immigration, family connections and underworld rank.


Six pages.

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Gangland Profile: Bonomo

July 2013 Contents
Feature Article

Gangland Profile: Frank Bonomo

By J. Dugard

"Frank Bonomo was a long-time member of the Bonanno Crime Family, who briefly may have served as a capodecina (group leader) during the late 1970s. Equally adept at avoiding the attention of law enforcement and the wrath of rivals, he survived the New York gangland 'Banana War' and lived to the age of 86..."

Eight pages, including two pages of notes and six photographs.

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The Warner Files: Oscar Goodman

July 2013 Contents
Column

The Warner Files

Oscar Being Oscar
An interview with Oscar Goodman

By Richard N. Warner

"Oscar Goodman was born and raised in Philadelphia to well-educated parents who positively encouraged him and his siblings. The parenting strategy paid off with success stories for all the Goodman children. As a young attorney, Oscar Goodman worked under future senator Arlen Spector. From Spector, Goodman learned organization and diligence. The early training formed a foundation that led him to become known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the country..."


Eighteen pages, including three images.

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Return of 'The Last Testament'

July 2013 Contents
Column

Just One More Thing

Just when you think it's safe
to go back to the bookstore

By Thomas Hunt

"It is not especially surprising that Enigma Books is hawking a new (released last month) reprint of The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano. I can’t pretend to understand Luciano hero worship or the desire to plunk down a dozen dollars for snake oil in book form. But I do understand the actions of Enigma Books and Last Testament’s surviving coauthor Richard Hammer: The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano has made money before and could make money again. And what could be wrong with that? Writers and publishers are in business to make money..."

Two pages.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Glimpse of July issue cover

Here is a sneak peek at the cover of July's issue of Informer. (The 88-page issue has a publication date of July 29.)



Friday, April 26, 2013

April 2013 Issue of Informer


April 2013 Contents
Editorial

There is a degree of discomfort associated with directing attention to the crime history works of Herbert Asbury. In our modern Information Age, Asbury would be well suited to the role of negative example.

He related old underworld legends as they were presented in the sensationalized press, often refusing to challenge their truthfulness and sometimes sensationalizing them even further. While certainly not unknown today, these are unpardonable sins for the modern serious historian.

However, Asbury, who died fifty years ago, did not live to see this technological age, probably never imagined it. With the touch of a few keys on computers or “smart” devices, we now are able to access archives and databases around the world, to hunt down the tiniest facts and access a vast spectrum of interpretations on those facts. For Herbert Asbury, the raw material of history was contained in file drawers of yellowing newspaper clippings (the microfilming of document archives began in his lifetime). Still, even in his day, there were other resources, and he regularly was criticized for not verifying story details, for engaging in exaggeration and occasionally for committing outright errors.

Despite its weaknesses, Asbury’s work is deserving of our recognition for two major reasons. First, that work and its popularity helped to create and to define the field of true crime writing. Second, it served to entice many serious historians—those who read Asbury’s vivid accounts and needed to explore further—to enter the field. In that way, Asbury did advance the cause of factual underworld scholarship. For these reasons, it seems appropriate that we mark the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Asbury’s death with this issue’s lead feature. (Preview)

Also in this issue:

- Lennert van‘t Riet, David Critchley and Steve Turner conclude their Gunmen of the Castellammarese War series with Part 5, Salvatore “Sally Shields” Shillitani. (Preview)

- Bill Feather provides a Lucchese Family Membership Chart. (Preview)

- Edmond Valin exposes two Gambino Crime Family informants. (Preview)

- Richard Warner looks at the evolution of Mafia studies. (Preview)

- Thomas Hunt reviews Mafia Summit by Gil Reavill. (Preview)

- In the News. (Preview)

- 100 Years Ago. (Preview)

Issue has eighty pages, including cover.


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Asbury: 'Chronicler of Sin'


April 2013 Contents
Feature article

An informal biography of Herbert Asbury
America's 'Chief Chronicler of Sin'
By Thomas Hunt

"It has been fifty years since Herbert Asbury, journalist, editor and author, passed from this world at the age of seventy-three, leaving behind both a collection of regional crime histories that would fill a fair-sized bookshelf and a vast army of readers hungry for more. His works, published and republished over the years, often have been derided by the academics as 'popular' history. Asbury personally acknowledged the claim but clearly preferred the term 'informal history.'"

Twenty pages, including two and a half pages of notes and twelve photographs.



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Gunmen of the Castellammarese War - Part 5


April 2013 Contents
Feature Article

Gunmen of the Castellammarese War, Part Five 
A lifetime of tangling with the law:
Salvatore 'Sally Shields' Shillitani
By Lennert van‘t Riet, David Critchley and Steve Turner

Salvatore Shillitani
"The fifth and final chapter of our series Gunmen of the Castellammarese War features the life of Salvatore Shillitani, better known as 'Sally Shields.' More than the others mentioned in the series, Shillitani’s life after the Castellammare War was one of incarceration and bending to penitentiary rules. In the criminal world, he was a failure. How Shillitani enrolled in such a life is unclear, but one factor may have been the bad examples he received from relatives..."

Twenty-four pages, including four pages of notes and thirteen photographs.


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Lucchese Mafia Chart


April 2013 Contents
Mafia Membership Chart

Lucchese Crime Family
Membership Chart, 1910s-1940s
By Bill Feather

More than one hundred documented and suspected members of the Lucchese Crime Family active in the period of the 1910s through the 1940s.

Four pages.


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Identifying Underworld Informants: Two Gambino Informants


April 2013 Contents
Column

Identifying Underworld Informants
Two Gambino informants had very different fates
By Edmond Valin

Carmine Lombardozzi
"On July 11, 1963, two men wearing makeup disguises entered a Brooklyn florist shop and fired five bullets into its owner before escaping. Shot dead was forty-year-old Gambino Family soldier Alfredo 'Freddie the Sidge' Santantonio. It didn’t take investigators long to figure out why. Nearly eighteen months earlier, Santantonio and two criminal associates were sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to sell stolen bonds. But unlike his accomplices, Santantonio never saw the inside of a cell. When Colombo Family member and informant Gregory Scarpa was asked at the time about the murder, he told the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 'it was common talk in Brooklyn that [Santantonio] was killed because he was cooperating with the government.'”

Fourteen and a half pages, including six and a half pages of notes and two photographs.


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The Warner Files: God and the Mafia


April 2013 Contents
Column

The Warner Files
God and the Mafia
By Richard N. Warner

"In 1969, Gordon Hawkins published an influential article in The Public Interest called 'God and the Mafia.' The point of the article is that it takes a leap of faith to believe in organized crime, a similar amount of faith to what Hawkins believed is required to believe in God. In 1969 many scholars had doubts in the existence of organized crime (meaning the Mafia or Cosa Nostra) just as they had doubts in the existence of God..."

Two and a half pages, including one photograph.


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Book Review: 'Mafia Summit'


April 2013 Contents
Book review

Just One More Thing
Review: 'Mafia Summit'
By Thomas Hunt

"When a review copy of Gil Reavill’s new book, Mafia Summit: J. Edgar Hoover, the Kennedy Brothers, and the Meeting that Unmasked the Mob (Thomas Dunne Books), arrived not long ago, I immediately opened it – as is my general custom with underworld histories – to the back. I am always hopeful that a book related to Mafia history will be of long-term use, and the material in the final pages is crucial..."

Seven and a half pages, including one photograph.


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In the News


April 2013 Contents
Column

In the News

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Jefferson Casper was randomly selected in March to preside over the upcoming federal racketeering trial of 83-year-old James “Whitey” Bulger...

One half page.

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100 Years Ago


April 2013 Contents
Column

100 Years Ago

Amadeo Buonomo, believed to be a henchman of East Harlem gang leader Aniello “Zopo” Prisco, is shot at close range...

One half page.


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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Glimpse of April issue cover

Here's a sneak peak at the cover of April's issue of Informer. (The 80-page issue has a publication date of April 29.)



Monday, January 14, 2013

Informer hiatus

After seventeen consecutive quarterly issues, Informer is taking a short break this winter. Publication of the journal will resume in spring 2013.

Note: All seventeen issues remain available in print and electronic format through HP's MagCloud service. (Electronic issues are priced at $5 or less and are free with each purchase of the corresponding print issue.) Click here to preview.