Sunday, September 19, 2021

Looking at Youngstown for 2022

While nothing is set in stone at this point, the current plan is to dedicate a fall 2022 issue of Informer to the organized crime history of the Youngstown, Ohio, area - the fertile crescent of racketeering that includes the Mahoning and Shenango valleys in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

 If you'd like to contribute material to this issue, please contact us at your earliest convenience:

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Ad: Mafia Genealogy

New advertiser in October 2021 issue: Mafia Genealogy website by Justin Cascio.

Ad: Blackhand of Southern Colorado

New advertiser in October 2021 issue: The Blackhand of Southern Colorado by Michael O'Haire.

Ad: Los Angeles Underworld

Images of America: Los Angeles Underworld by Avi Bash and J. Michael Niotta PhD.

Ad: Troublesome Robbery Gang

One of the Most Troublesome Robbery Gangs: The Murders and Crimes of George McKeever and Francis McNeiley by Jeffery S. King.



Ad: Gangsters Inc

New advertisement in October 2021 issue. 

Our old friends at Gangsters Inc. have streamlined their web address to

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

California Mob is focus of new issue

The October 2021 issue of Informer will focus on the Mafia in California. (It will include some other items as well.)
We want to thank these writers for contributing their work: J. Michael Niotta PhD, Justin Cascio, Michael O'Haire, Lennert van 't Riet and Jeffery King.
The issue - the thirty-first published since 2008 - should be available for purchase within a month. Here's a sneak peek at the issue cover.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Informer No. 31 set for October

The next issue of Informer will be released October 4, 2021.

The articles deadline is August 2. Please contact the editor as soon as possible if you're working on something you intend to submit. (For this issue, we're especially interested in crime and law enforcement history articles with a California connection.)

The advertising deadline is September 6. Camera-ready ads and payments must be received by that date. A rate/policy sheet is available upon request. As usual, special ad pricing is available to authors of crime history books seeking to publicize their works.


Friday, May 7, 2021

New info, praise from author Carlino

In a May 6, 2021, web presentation, our good friend Sam Carlino presented new information related to the Carlino Mob of Colorado and the federal agent who managed to infiltrate that organization. Near the end of his presentation, Sam also offered some extremely flattering remarks about Informer and its publisher.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Missed an issue? No worries!

All thirty issues of Informer - dating back to 2008 - remain available. They can be obtained in print or electronic PDF format and can be previewed before purchase.

Use these links to locate the issues of interest to you:



Monday, November 23, 2020

20% holiday discount on paperback edition

Holiday shopping for a crime history reader?

The special trade paperback edition of our latest Informer issue is for sale at a 20% discount during the 2020 holiday season. Nick Gentile, subject of the issue, was a pal to Lucky Luciano, Albert Anastasia, Al Capone, "Joe the Boss" Masseria and other memorable crime figures. His life story and bios of dozens of his associates are presented here in a 382-page book available through

Gentile's story begins with the formative years of the U.S. Mafia and runs through the Prohibition Era gang wars and consolidation into the transatlantic narcotics rackets of the post-WWII years.

The special issue benefited from contributions of a dozen historians: Thomas Hunt, David Critchley, Steve Turner, Lennert van't Riet, Richard N. Warner, Justin Cascio, Sam Carlino, Michael O'Haire, Jon Black, Margaret Janco, Bill Feather, Christian Cipollini.

(This holiday discount is only available on the trade paperback version of the issue and only until December 24, 2020.)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

October 2020 issue of Informer

October 2020 Issue contents - Editorial


Mafia history and Nick Gentile

The memoirs of Nicola Gentile contain a wealth of information on early Mafia history in the United States. But this treasure has been inaccessible for most Americans. Published twice in Italy – in 1963 and in 1993 – the book, Vita di Capomafia, has never been released in an English-language version. Copies of the Italian-language editions are rarely available for sale and nearly impossible to locate in U.S. libraries.

In this issue of Informer (our thirtieth), we strive to bring Nicola Gentile’s entire life story to the English-language reader. Building on extensive original research by a team of Mafia history experts and on U.S. government documents designed to extract meaning from the memoirs, we attempt to balance Gentile’s obviously self-serving and self-aggrandizing autobiographical work with verifiable history, to correct the misinformation and to fill in the wide gaps in his personal account.

We lead off with a detailed biography of the well-traveled Mafia leader, from his 1885 birth to his disappearance from history in the 1970s (Link).

Sidebar biographical articles deal with Gentile’s first criminal racket (Link), his murder of a man (or men) in Pittsburgh (Link), the young family he created and abandoned in western New York (Link), the 1930s narcotics case that convinced him to flee the U.S. (Link), the American spy he befriended in Italy (Link), the various printed forms of his life story (Link) and his Italian coauthor Felice Chilanti (Link).

Source material is also shared through a statement given by Gentile to a U.S. Customs agent in Italy (Link), a set of Gentile address books acquired by U.S. officials (Link) and a Gentile letter from Italy seized from its courier on the way into New York (Link).

David Critchley delves into the failure of U.S. authorities to promptly and fully exploit information provided by Gentile (Link). Richard N. Warner examines Gentile’s statements in an effort to detect an underlying moral code (Link). Thomas Hunt surveys the discrepancies, distortions and deceptions found in Gentile’s memoirs (Link).

We also provide biographies for dozens of individuals who played important or interesting roles in the Gentile life story (Link), a timeline of events relating to Gentile’s life and underworld career (Link) and a listing of Gentile-related addresses in the U.S. and Italy (Link).

Also in this issue:

  • Sam Carlino examines Gentile’s interactions with Colorado Mafiosi and explains the feuds and the Mafia “trial” that grew out of Pellegrino Scaglia’s murder (Link).
  • Michael O’Haire finds that figures from his own family history crossed paths with Nicola Gentile in Pueblo, Colorado (Link).
  • Jon Black discusses New York underworld leaders Giuseppe Masseria and Frankie Yale in an excerpt from his soon-to-be-released book, Secret Societies (Link).
  • Justin Cascio explores the early Los Angeles Mafia through the circumstances surrounding the 1906 murder of George Maisano (Link).
  • In The Warner Files, Richard N. Warner looks at the impact of COVID-19 on organized crime (Link).
  • Book announcements: Colorado’s Carlino Brothers, Secret Societies, The Italian Squad (Link).
  • Obituary: Martha Macheca Sheldon (Link).

Our discussion of Gentile in this issue benefited from research, writing and editing contributions of underworld historians around the globe. We wish to express our appreciation to Steve Turner, David Critchley, Lennert van’t Riet, Margaret Janco, Bill Feather, Richard N. Warner, Sam Carlino, Michael O’Haire, Jon Black and Christian Cipollini.

A note about this issue's formats:

As we proofed the October 2020 issue, we encountered serious problems in the output from our usual printing service, MagCloud. MagCloud was unable to address these problems in a timely manner. In order to generate readable output in the print edition, we were forced to produce an electronic MagCloud PDF edition that did not have Informer's usual searchable text. We understand that some of our readers enjoy the ability to search our electronic issues (the Kindle e-book format still contains searchable text). We have added a searchable PDF version of this issue, as well as an EPUB-format e-book (for non-Kindle readers) through Google Play Books. While the contents of these various editions are essentially the same, layout differs between the magazine and book formats, and the magazine contains a few page-filler items not found in the book.

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Nicola Gentile biography

October 2020 Issue contents - Feature

‘This was the life… This was my life’

Nicola Gentile: Chronicler of Mafia history

By Thomas Hunt, David Critchley, Steve Turner and Lennert van’t Riet

"Researchers into the early history of the Mafia in the United States have fairly little in the way of primary source material. Just three autobiographical works provide valuable insight into underworld activities during the Mafia’s formative years: A Man of Honor by Joseph Bonanno (1983), the unpublished manuscript The Real Thing by Joseph Valachi (1964) and Vita di Capomafia by Nicola Gentile with introduction and notes by Felice Chilanti (1963)... Gentile was about two decades older than his fellow chroniclers and was active in criminal rackets across the United States when they were still in diapers. While well acquainted with New York matters, Gentile spent his young adulthood in perpetual motion. It seemed he was everywhere – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans… – and had a hand in everything..."

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Gentile's fabric racket

 October 2020 Issue contents - Feature

Gentile’s first criminal venture

Traveling salesman of phony linen

By Thomas Hunt

"Just three months of manual labor in the United States was sufficient to turn Nicola Gentile to a life of crime. Upon arrival in the United States, eighteen-year-old Gentile, a native of Siculiana, Sicily, went to work with his older brother Vincenzo on an Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway construction job outside of Topeka, Kansas. The brothers and their coworkers were paid little for demanding labor – $1.25 for each day of dawn-to-dusk work. They and other crew members were accommodated in a railroad car that they had to maintain themselves..."

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Murder(s) in Pittsburgh

October 2020 Issue contents - Feature

The man (or men?) gunned down by young Gentile

By Thomas Hunt, Margaret Janco and Steve Turner

"Nicola Gentile did not provide the name of the man he gunned down early in his underworld career on orders from Pittsburgh Mafia boss Gregorio Conti. In his book, Vita di Capomafia, he gave readers some clues, including the motivation for Conti’s order and the details of the killing, but those clues actually point to two different murder victims. According to Gentile, Conti targeted the man responsible for the earlier stabbing Salvatore 'the Banana King' Catanzaro. Catanzaro, he said, was a Termini Imerese native, a member of the Pittsburgh Mafia and a giant in the local produce industry. Gentile stated that the stabbing occurred two years before he settled in Pittsburgh. In the interim, Conti had tried importing some hired gunmen from New York for the job but merely got cheated out of his advance payments to them. The assignment was given to Gentile sometime after his arrival late in 1915..."

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Gentile’s other family

October 2020 Issue contents - Feature

A wife and children in Rochester, New York?

Gentile’s other family

By Thomas Hunt

"Genealogical records appear to have explained Gentile’s off-hand mention of Finger Lakes, New York, communities in his book, Vita di Capomafia: The mob big shot hay have had a wife and children in that area. The mention occurred early in Chapter 10, during a discussion of 1932 events that would lead to the murder of Pittsburgh Mafia boss John Bazzano. Gentile stated that he was leaving the Cleveland-Pittsburgh region, wanted to say goodbye to his friend Bazzano but could not find him. Bazzano apparently had been aware of the planned departure. Gentile considered the lack of a sendoff rude 'because I had done so much for this wretch. I had even proposed him as head of the Pittsburgh borgata. I could not understand his behavior.' But Gentile, as arranged, “left for Syracuse in New York State...”

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