Thursday, October 3, 2019

Early NYC Mafia issue now a Kindle e-book
An Informer issue devoted to a groundbreaking discussion of the evolution of the early New York City Mafia is now available as an Amazon Kindle e-book. It is our hope that this will allow a wider audience for the "alternative theory" presented by Mafia historians Richard Warner, Angelo Santino and Lennert Van`t Riet.

Click to preview this issue on Amazon (US).

Sicilian hometown allegiance and kinship ties may have played larger roles in early Mafia development than previously thought. Using government records, other archival sources and published accounts, the writers follow offshoots of established Sicilian underworld organizations from Palermo, Corleone and Castellammare del Golfo as these propagate in a new land. The writers define relationships among and within the developing crime families and explore factional frictions through two early Mafia wars.

The discussion is accompanied by photographs, maps, charts and timelines. More than two hundred endnotes are provided.

This Informer issue was first released in print and PDF electronic editions (through MagCloud) in May 2014, and those editions remain available. It is the third Informer issue to be made available as a Kindle e-book.

Monday, September 16, 2019

1931 Piccola pic also NOT Maranzano

Informer adds to 'Maranzano muddle'
by reprinting a mislabeled portrait

A 1931 photograph said by Italian periodical Piccola to be a likeness of New York-based Mafia leader Salvatore Maranzano has turned out to be an image of a German mass murderer.

In our August 2019 issue on Maranzano, Informer printed the image (above) along with a short article describing the photo's recent discovery by a Canadian researcher and a caption reading: "The 'real' Maranzano?"

It was hoped that the discovery represented a victory in the eighty-eight-year quest for a photo of the living Maranzano. (There are a couple of crime scene photos taken following Maranzano's September 10, 1931, murder.) But, like another photo long believed to be the Mafia boss (but a decade ago proven in Informer to be a mug shot of an English vice criminal), it turned out to be someone else.

Due to the efforts of a keen-eyed European crime historian, the recently discovered photo was traced to portraits made of convicted multiple murderer Peter Kurten. Some known photos of Kurten - often referred to as "The Monster of Dusseldorf" or "The Dusseldorf Vampire" - match the supposed Maranzano photo published in the November 10, 1931, issue of Italy's Piccola. The photos match in facial details, hat and clothing. One also shows identical facial positioning and seems to be the original full-length image from which the Piccola portrait was cropped.

Image above from Criminal Encyclopedia
Kurten was convicted of multiple murders and attempted murders in spring 1931. He was executed by guillotine in Cologne, Germany, on July 2, 1931. Photos of Kurten were published around the world in spring and summer of 1931. So, an image of the killer was probably close at hand when Piccola sought to illustrate its article on Maranzano's assassination.

We were advised of the connection to Kurten on the evening of September 15, 2019, and immediately posted a notice on our website and our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Our investigation quickly revealed that the Piccola image was Kurten.

We apologize to our readers for inadvertently contributing to the generations-old "Maranzano muddle."

Image at left from Murderpedia

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Concerns over Maranzano photo

We just received some disappointing news about the recently discovered Maranzano photo, which was revealed and discussed in our latest issue. 

We are checking into the details now. And we should have an announcement tomorrow.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thanks to you

I want to take just a moment to thank all of you - friends, collaborators, contributors, advertisers and, of course, readers - who have helped keep Informer going since September 2008.

Over the course of eleven years, Informer has published twenty-nine issues containing more than two hundred articles and a total of 2,102 pages. (Someday, I may get around to counting up the number of source citations.) I had high hopes for Informer at the time of its launch. But, honestly, I never expected it would survive for more than a decade.

You have been the reason for the periodical's surprising longevity. You have encouraged, supported, inspired and helped to fill each issue. You have combined to communicate some truly groundbreaking discoveries in a form that allows others to benefit from and build upon them.

Since its release a few days ago, sales of the
August 2019 special issue on Salvatore Maranzano have been brisk, and it appears the issue may turn out to be Informer's best seller. That's you again.

It has been my pleasure and my privilege to work with you and for you for the past eleven years.

Thank you,
Tom Hunt

Monday, August 5, 2019

August 2019 issue of Informer

August 2019 issue contents

So... why are we discussing
Salvatore Maranzano now?

Researchers have long been bothered by the lack of a photograph of Prohibition Era Mafia leader Salvatore Maranzano.

One decade ago, in the July 2009 issue of Informer, Mafia historian David Critchley discussed a widely circulated mug shot photo that had been passed off as Maranzano. Critchley noted that the image had made the rounds since initial publication in a 1990 book. It had been copied into books, magazines and websites, always captioned as Maranzano and never credited to any specific source. Critchley revealed that the same photo had been printed with an article on British vice criminal Salvatore Messina in an August 1967 London newspaper. He confirmed that the photo was of Messina, not Maranzano, by locating Messina's mug shot in a Scotland Yard resource.

There seem to be no official U.S. government mug shots of Maranzano for the simple reason that Maranzano was not arrested. He was sought by law enforcement on more than one occasion, but never photographed until after his murder. During the police investigation of the killing, two known photographs were taken of the dead Mafia leader. These did not provide much in the way of facial detail. The only other known image of Maranzano was a coroner’s sketch that roughly showed a profile of his face and pinpointed the wounds inflicted on his body.

For the July 2009 issue, Informer attempted to blend the crime scene photos and sketch into an image of the living Maranzano. But there was no method of gauging the accuracy of the result.

Then, early this past April, Informer received an email from a Canadian researcher, who believed he was on the verge of obtaining an actual image of Maranzano. [UPDATE: It has since been proven that this photo too is NOT of Salvatore Maranzano.]

Peter Kalm discovered an old magazine that contained an article and a photograph of Maranzano and told Informer of his find. We initially were skeptical that any published image of the Mafia leader had managed to escape notice for nearly eighty­ eight years. But on April 25, Kalm shared the magazine article and photograph. We noted there were obvious similarities between the image and the crime scene photos, coroner’s sketch and our own blended image of Maranzano.

As he provided the materials, Kalm wrote, “Maranzano has intrigued me since I saw the movie The Valachi Papers years ago. Sadly, it is probably too late for anyone to write a book about his life since there is no one around who remembers him and also so little information about him still exists.”

In case there are some who do not already know, Maranzano was a bootlegger and Mafioso in the New York area during the late 1920s. He rose to command a successful gangland rebel­lion against reigning boss of bosses Giuseppe Masseria in 1930-­31 and took for himself the boss of bosses position. His term in office was merely a few months, as he was assassinated by gunmen working for Salvatore "Charlie Lu­ciano" Lucania in September 1931.

We considered how best to publicize Kalm’s discovery and to make known his vigilance, good fortune and extreme generosity. He indicated that he was uninterested in any personal publicity but hoped the appearance of the photograph would reignite Maranzano research.

It seemed to us that the most appropriate method of bringing the image to the public was to package it in an entire Informer issue that discussed all that we know about Maranzano. While it falls somewhat short of Kalm’s wish for a Maranzano book, we hope it will serve as a foundation for future research.

This issue contains a number of articles that approach the issue from different perspectives. These articles contain some overlapping data, but each is written to address a specific question about Salvatore Maranzano:

  • What can we learn from recent discoveries? (Preview.)
  • Why was Maranzano important in U.S. Mafia history? (Preview.)
  • What did Maranzano certainly NOT look like? (Preview.)
  • What was Maranzano up to in Dutchess County, New York? (Preview.)
  • Why did Maranzano select Coll to kill "Lucky"? (Preview.)
  • What was revealed about Maranzano by those who knew him? (Preview.)
  • Where were significant locations of Maranzano’s life and career? (Preview.)
  • When did Maranzano ­related events occur? (Preview.)
  • Did Maranzano become a United States citizen? (Preview.)
  • How has Maranzano been depicted in motion pictures? (Preview.)
  • What happened on Sept. 10, 1931? (Preview.)
  • What was in the memorandum book? (Preview.)
  • What do we know about Maranzano in Sicily? (Preview.)
  • Was there really a post­ Maranzano purge? (Preview.)

84 pages including covers and eight and a half pages of advertisements.

Researcher unearths Maranzano photo

August 2019 issue contents

Researcher unearths Maranzano photo
from old magazine sold on auction site

Early this past spring, Peter Kalm of Ontario, Canada, whose hobbies include antiques and history, happened to notice the eBay sale of an old periodical. The item description on the auction website indicated that the magazine contained an article on murdered New York Mafia boss Salvatore Maranzano...
[UPDATE: It has since been proven that this photo is NOT of Salvatore Maranzano.]

Three pages including two images.

Why was Maranzano important?

August 2019 issue contents


Why was Maranzano significant
in American Mafia history?

By Thomas Hunt

Prior to autumn of 1931, a single supreme arbiter stood atop the Mafia criminal society in the United States. The individual was designated as “capo dei capi” or boss of the bosses.

Some suggest that the power of a boss of bosses was limited to resolving differences between crime families, and that appears to have been the official purpose of the office. However, the holders of the position were known to install friends as members - sometimes even leaders - of crime families around the country, to demand tribute payments from other Mafiosi, to interfere in others’ racketeering ventures and to order the murders of their opponents.

Three pages including five images.

What Maranzano did not look like

August 2019 issue contents

What Maranzano did not look like

The Maranzano muddle

By David Critchley

[Ten years ago: Reprinted from July 2009 issue of Informer.]
An apparent photograph of “Salvatore Maranzano” has appeared in varied venues, ranging from books to the Internet. What those who print it fail to mention is that it’s not of Maranzano at all. The mistake made is a classic case of the much broader problem of inaccuracies plaguing accounts of the American Mafia, which spread myths and misunderstandings.

Two pages including five images.

Mafia, moonshine and murder

August 2019 issue contents

Mafia, moonshine and murder

Maranzano brings underworld
mayhem to Dutchess County, NY

By Lennert van`t Riet and David Critchley

A Maranzano distillery
For anyone researching the Mafia in the United States, the name Salvatore Maranzano is a household name. The one-time “boss of bosses,” who overthrew “Joe the Boss” Masseria’s leadership during the well-known Castellammarese War of 1930-31, has been one of the most prominent figures in the history of the American Mafia.

His escapades in New York City during the late 1920s and early 1930s have been widely recorded by, among others, Joseph Valachi, Nicola Gentile and Giuseppe Bonanno. Far less known are Maranzano’s activities in Dutchess County, New York, some ninety miles to the north of Maranzano’s Brooklyn base of operations. Dutchess County played an important part in his rise in Cosa Nostra, providing him financial resources and a secluded location to conduct key crime family business in private.

Thirteen pages including eight images and one and a half pages of notes.

Why did Maranzano select Coll?

August 2019 issue contents

Why did Maranzano select Coll to kill 'Lucky'?

By Thomas Hunt

Some of the lingering questions about Salvatore Maranzano relate to his hiring of Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll to murder Salvatore (a.k.a. “Charlie” or “Lucky Luciano”) Lucania: Why did Maranzano select Coll? How was he able to reach out to Coll? Why would Coll agree to serve as a Mafia executioner?

Clear, authoritative answers are not found in available source material, but we can make some educated guesses.

One page.

What acquaintances revealed about Maranzano

August 2019 issue contents

What was revealed about Maranzano
by those who actually knew him?

Several Maranzano contemporaries wrote autobiographies that included descriptions of Maranzano and his actions. Another close associate of Maranzano discussed him at length within range of an FBI listening device, resulting in a fourth authoritative source on the Prohibition Mafia leader.

A rough draft of Nicola Gentile’s memoirs may have been the first of these to reach U.S. authorities. But Gentile’s story would not be released to the public until it was published in Italy in 1963 under the title, Vita di Capomafia. In the same year, Americans were spellbound by the testimony of Mafia turncoat Joseph Valachi. At the government’s urging, Valachi composed his own autobiographical work, The Real Thing, which became source material for The Valachi Papers by Peter Maas, released in 1968. In between those Mafia memoirs, in 1965, the FBI benefited from electronic surveillance of the Niagara Falls headquarters of western New York Mafia boss Stefano Magaddino.

The public received another large dose of Maranzano information in 1983, when Joseph Bonanno’s autobiography, A Man of Honor, was published by Simon and Schuster.

Eleven pages including eight images and one page of notes.

Locations linked with Maranzano

August 2019 issue contents

Locations linked with Maranzano

By Thomas Hunt

Salvatore Maranzano did a fair amount of traveling in his lifetime. Starting out in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, he is known to have lived and worked in the cities of Palermo and Trapani. He visited Havana, Cuba, and Miami, Florida; owned a farm in Ontario, Canada; and at various times had addresses in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Buffalo and Dutchess County, New York.

This article attempts to pinpoint as well as possible the locations of importance in Maranzano’s life and career and to show their significance.

Eight and a half pages including seven images and two and a half pages of notes.

Maranzano chronology

August 2019 issue contents

Maranzano chronology

A look at the timing of significant events in Salvatore Maranzano's life and underworld career.

Seven and a half pages including six images and two pages of notes.

Did Maranzano become a U.S. citizen?

August 2019 issue contents

Did Maranzano become a U.S. citizen?

After Maranzano’s assassination, authorities looked into his alleged connections with an alien smuggling ring. The investigation was ultimately unproductive. But it triggered a search for Maranzano’s citizenship papers and revealed they were missing.

One-half page.

Salvatore Maranzano in the movies

August 2019 issue contents

Salvatore Maranzano in the movies
Hollywood's portrayals have influenced public perceptions

By Thomas Hunt

For better or worse (probably worse), much of what the public knows about Salvatore Maranzano has been conveyed by Hollywood productions.

Maranzano has appeared as a character in several movies - two feature films and two made-for-television Mafia dramas. Interestingly, in only one of the movies was he played by an actor with any sort of Italian background.

Much of the material presented in the movies was invented by the involved scriptwriters, directors and actors. A great deal of it was in disagreement with known historical fact. But the movies surely have affected the public image of Maranzano as a Mafia leader and as a man.

Five and a half pages including four images.

What happened on Sept. 10, 1931?

August 2019 issue contents

What happened on Sept. 10, 1931?

Gangsters posing as law enforcement officers entered Maranzano's offices, Rooms 925 and 926 on the ninth floor of the New York Central Building at 230 Park Avenue, separated him from others in the office and shot and stabbed him to death. The basic storyline of the September 10, 1931, assassination is firmly established. But details in the story vary with the teller...

Two pages, including a half page of notes.

What was in the memo book?

August 2019 issue contents

What was in the memorandum book?

A book of contact information was found on the sidewalk outside the New York Central Building following the September 10, 1931, murder of Salvatore Maranzano. It was referred to in the press as a "diary," an "address book" and a "memorandum book"...

Two pages, including a table.

Mafia warrior and boss of Trapani

August 2019 issue contents

The Warner Files
Mafia warrior and boss of Trapani

By Richard N. Warner

For this special issue on Salvatore Maranzano, it's worth providing a little info on his background. He was born in Castellammare del Golfo on July 31, 1886, to Domenico Maranzano and Antonina Pisciotta. He married Elisabetta Minore, the sister of Salvatore "Don Toto" Minore of Trapani, probably around 1912. Together they had one daughter and three sons.

Joseph Bonanno tells us that when he was a boy, "Maranzano was a chief warrior under Uncle Stefano Magaddino in Castellammare, and he too had fought against the Buccellatos"...

One page.

Was there a post-Maranzano purge?

August 2019 issue contents

Just One More Thing...
Was there a post-Maranzano purge?

By Thomas Hunt

One persistent Maranzano-related legend relates to a supposedly widespread post-assassination purge of Maranzano's followers. The slaughter has been referred to as "the Sicilian Vespers."

The term "Sicilian Vespers" originally referred to a Palermo uprising against an oppressive Angevin occupying force on the Easter holiday way back in 1282. The Sicilian community, apparently gathering for an evening Vespers religious service, suddenly and brutally attacked the occupiers. According to legend, thousands were slaughtered in the uprising...

The American Mafia-related version of the Sicilian Vespers legend suggests that Salvatore "Charlie Luciano" Lucania, successor to Maranzano's defeated Castellammarese War opponent "Joe the Boss" Masseria, organized a secret conspiracy against Maranzano...

Seven pages including two images and one page of notes.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Vinnitta: The Birth of the Detroit Mafia
In Vinnitta, author Daniel Waugh offers an in-depth account of the violent birth of the Detroit Mafia and its impact on the city's Little Sicily residents. The book climaxes with the Giannola-Vitale War of 1918-1921.

Vinnitta is available now in paperback and in Kindle e-book through Amazon and in paperback and e-book editions through other booksellers.

ISBN: 978-1483496276

Sunday, July 21, 2019

What will we find out about Maranzano?

Informer's special issue on Prohibition Era boss of bosses Salvatore Maranzano will be released by Aug. 12, 2019. 

E-book version available for pre-order

The official release date of Informer's special issue on Salvatore Maranzano is still a few weeks away, but the issue - in Kindle e-book form - can be pre-ordered NOW through (Link: or click on the cover image below.)

This is only the second time an Informer issue has been available for purchase through Amazon. It is the first time that an issue has been sold in the Kindle "MOBI" e-book format. (The July 2011 issue was provided for Kindle as a PDF conversion.)

Our usual magazine formats - standard-size print and electronic PDF - will be available soon through the MagCloud service.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Maranzano issue taking shape

 The August 2019 issue of Informer will deal exclusively with Prohibition Era Mafia leader Salvatore Maranzano - life, career, assassination and post-assassination aftermath. Through articles, photos and maps, Informer will tackle the many questions about Maranzano, including:

  • Who was Salvatore Maranzano?
  • What did he look like? (And what did he certainly NOT look like?)
  • What does a recent discovery tell us about him?
  • What was said about him by those who knew him in life?
  • Where were the locations significant to his life and career?
  • When did Maranzano-related events occur?
  • Why was he important in U.S. Mafia history?
  • How has he been portrayed by Hollywood?
  • What do we know of Maranzano's life in Sicily?
  • Was there really a post-Maranzano Mafia purge?

Pages for the issue are currently being laid out. (Issue is expected to weigh in at around seventy-two pages.)

Plans call for the August Informer to be released in the usual print and electronic/PDF formats (through the MagCloud service). And, with some luck, the issue also will be available in a Kindle ebook format.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Maranzano issue deadlines approach

Articles deadline for this summer's special issue is just a couple of weeks away. Unless an extension is arranged with the editor, all articles must be received by July 8, 2019.

Advertisement deadline is about a month off. If you plan to advertise in this issue, contact us by email by July 15, 2019.

Monday, May 20, 2019

August 2019 special issue: Maranzano

An August 2019 special issue of Informer will focus on enigmatic Prohibition Era Mafia leader Salvatore Maranzano. 

Editorial deadline for the issue is July 8. 

Advertising deadline is July 15 (email for advertising rates). 

The issue will be released on or before August 12.


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