Sunday, October 30, 2022

November 2022 issue of Informer

 November 2022 issue contents - Editorial

Mesopotamia of the Mob

In addition to launching human civilization, the fertile farmland of Mesopotamia – the “between rivers” valley in the center of what is now known as the Middle East – acted over time as a magnet for various tribal rulers seeking to monopolize its riches. Similarly, the United States region of the Mahoning River and Shenango River valleys in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania were enticing to many chieftains of organized crime...

In the opening decades of the twentieth century, Youngstown, Ohio, was “the heart of one of the greatest wealth-producing sections of the nation – the Cleveland-Pittsburgh district.” The sources of the region’s wealth were the ingredients of steel manufacture – iron ore, bituminous coal and limestone – buried in its ground, the multiple railroads that served the region and a rapidly expanding, low-cost, immigrant labor force. As the mines, quarries and steel mills grew, the need for labor drew many immigrants to the area. Italian Americans, almost unknown in the Mahoning Valley around the turn of the twentieth century, reportedly numbered more than 10,000 by 1920.

New Castle followed a similar developmental path, but never rivaled the economic strength of Youngstown. The Lawrence County seat became a hub for regional rail lines and it served as an industrial and retail center for the region. Immigrant labor was drawn to the tin plate mill and the nearby limestone quarries. By the dawn of the twentieth century, New Castle was one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Thousands of Italian immigrants lived in the New Castle area by the arrival of the Prohibition Era.

As the hard-working laborers began to succeed in creating brighter futures for their families, they found themselves preyed upon by many of the same thugs and racketeers who had plagued them in the Old Country. These outlaws became entrenched in the community, corroding institutions of law and order. And, with the passage of time, new threats to health and wealth emerged, as organized criminal elements swept in from nearby regions. 

In the early 1930s, when the U.S. Mafia imposed hierarchical structure on the underworlds of major American metropolitan regions, the Youngstown area was left an “open” territory without a single crime family designated to rule over it. As in the better known “open” cities of Las Vegas and Miami, ambitious and aggressive criminals found Youngstown’s rackets potential irresistible. Gangsters from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Detroit and St. Louis established themselves in the Youngstown-area rackets and further corrupted local officials and law enforcement. Their blatantly illegal and frequently violent activities and the protection often afforded them by bribed police, courts and politicians gave the city a savage reputation. By the 1960s, Youngstown was being referred to as “Crime Town U.S.A.” and “Murdertown.”

In this issue

“La Mafia” was first reported in the region around 1893. Officials in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, claimed to have captured the leader of the local criminal society and planned to try him for murder. See “Mafia or hysteria?”

A criminal society rooted in Calabria, the extreme southern portion of the Italian mainland, appears to have been the earliest organized crime entity to firmly establish itself in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys. It was likely these Calabrian criminals who were investigated by East Youngstown Justice of the Peace William Haseltine. Haseltine’s effort to document and expose the organization went up in smoke, quite literally, a couple of months before his 1906 retirement from public service. See “East Youngstown judge briefly battled gangsters in 1906.”

The Youngstown-based Calabrian criminal organization, and a boss named Giuseppe Cutrone, may have been responsible for the 1906 murder of former Italian lawman Francesco Romeo during Romeo’s visit to the New Castle, Pennsylvania, area. Or that may have been a bit of misdirection introduced by Romeo’s accused killer Rocco Esposito, when law enforcement finally caught up with him three decades later. See “1906 ‘Black Hand’ killer wriggled free of the law.”

Cutrone and others in his organization played roles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s murder case against Hillsville underworld society boss Rocco Racco in 1908. The terms “Society of Honor” and “Mafia” were used during Racco’s trial, but the proceedings included very unmafioso behavior, with witness after witness admitting to underworld associations and pointing accusing fingers at fellow gangsters. See “Hillsville mob leader Racco on trial for his life in 1908.”

Family bonds, Old Country traditions and underworld tactics contributed to the success of Sicilian produce merchants in Ohio and nearby Pennsylvania. The Society of the Banana case of 1909 revealed bloodline and Mafia links among these merchants. See “When the Mafia fed America.”

At the dawn of the Prohibition Era, a Sicilian immigrant known as “Big Jim” Falcone controlled rackets in the “tenderloin” vice district of Youngstown. Falcone’s reign as underworld king came to a sudden end with his April 1921 murder. See “Early Prohibition boss Falcone gunned down at saloon.”

Possibly a Falcone-related vendetta was responsible for the murders of the Barbaro brothers in 1924 and 1925. Police also had no luck figuring out those killings. See “The 1924-25 murders of Dominic and Frank Barber.” The Barbaro story spilled from the Mahoning River Valley into the Pittsburgh region and linked with the little known underworld history of the Sewickley-Coraopolis communities in Pennsylvania. See “Barber brothers were allied with Sewickley-Coraopolis mob.”

Following Prohibition, former Buffalo mobster Joseph DiCarlo moved his family, his underworld allies and his rackets to Youngstown. With the approval of Cleveland Mafia bosses, he attempted to organize all gambling in the Youngstown area under his leadership. See  “Joseph ‘the Wolf’ DiCarlo at Youngstown, 1946-1953.”

In the same period, just outside of Youngstown, twin brothers Mike and John Farah partnered with mafiosi in the operation of the popular Jungle Inn casino. The casino was an enormous money-maker and helped Mike Farah control area politicians. Mike Farah likely didn’t realize he was losing his underworld influence until the moment of his June 1961 murder. See “Syria-born Farahs partnered with mafiosi at Jungle Inn.”

Youngstown Police Chief Edward Allen, largely responsible for forcing gangsters out of the city and into surrounding communities, testified before the U.S. Senate’s Kefauver Committee in 1951 about the challenge of organized crime. See “Chief Allen's perspective.”

The government protections given to gangster Frank Cammarata were a cause of frustration for Chief Allen and others in law enforcement. Cammarata had been deported from the United States, before secretly returning and establishing himself in the Youngstown area. Still, his political guardians assisted him. Cammarata was called to testify before the U.S. Senate’s McClellan Committee in 1958, just before he exiled himself to Cuba. See “Cammarata the Untouchable.”

A series of bomb attacks further worsened Youngstown’s reputation for lawlessness. Gangland use of explosives dated back to Black Hand extortion days, but between 1953 and 1962 they graduated from a tool of terror to one of vendetta. See “When Youngstown became Bombtown.”

Possibly the same gang once commanded by Joe Cutrone and the Barbaro brothers, a post-Prohibition Calabrian organization was led for decades by Paul Romeo. During what appear to have been its final years, 1963 to 1988, the Calabrian unit was commanded by “Big Dom” Mallamo and “Brier Hill Jimmy” Prato, who blended it into the Pittsburgh mob. See “Mallamo and Prato: Last bosses of Calabrian mob?”

Once an aide to Calabrian gang leader Jimmy Prato, Lenine “Lenny” Strollo rose to become the Mafia’s leading figure in Youngstown-area rackets by 1991. Intense pressure by law enforcement caused many to abandon the rackets. Strollo’s own brother agreed to assist prosecutors. Not one to go down with the ship, Lenny Strollo cut a deal and cooperated in the dismantling of his organization and the prosecutions of both underlings and mob superiors. See “Local boy makes very bad.”

In addition to these subjects, we have added a collection of brief biographies of more than a dozen other regional crime figures. See “Other Youngstown-area mobsters.” With the exception of the abridged audiobook format, this issue also features a regional gangland violence timeline, some book news, and looks back at organized crime events of 10, 50, 100 and 150 years ago.

This issue of Informer is available in a number of formats: color print magazine, color e-magazine, b&w print book (hardcover or paperback), b&w e-book and audiobook (abridged). Visit MagCloud (magazine and e-magazine), Amazon (print and e-books) or Google Play Books (e-book and audiobook) to preview or purchase the issue. We have created this chart of the available editions.

This issue is available in seven formats. Use the table below to determine the appropriate format for you. Clicking a seller logo will take you to the related preview/purchase website.
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6" x 9"
378 pages
No Amazon logo
Print Paperback2 ISBN6:
6" x 9"
378 pages
No Amazon logo
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2 - The printed books are indexed. (Ebooks/Emagazines can be searched.)
3 - Kindle device or Kindle reader software required.
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5 - Print hardcover also has ASIN: B0BHRFTR4X.
6 - Print paperback also has ASIN: B0BHRB3L52.
7 - Audiobook created through Google Auto-Narrated Audiobook Beta program.
* - PDF e-magazine is free with print magazine purchase.

Mafia or hysteria?

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Concern over Italian criminal society reached region in 1893

By Thomas Hunt

"Early in 1893, officials of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, delivered troubling news to the community: They stated that a Mafia criminal society had developed among recent Italian immigrants to the area, and they claimed that the top man in the county’s branch of that sinister international organization was lodged in the New Castle jail, awaiting trial for murder..."

Book page count: Eight pages, including one page of notes and four images.

Magazine page count: Four pages, including a half page of notes and four images.

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Judge briefly battled gangsters in 1906

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Haseltine appeared to pay a price for tangling with 'Black Hand'

By Thomas Hunt

"William C. Haseltine had a short but memorable term as the village magistrate in East Youngstown. While serving in the role of justice of the peace, he occasionally earned notice in the local newspapers until his final year in office, when he decided to publicly tangle with the area’s increasingly brazen racketeers..."

Book page count: Seven pages, including one page of notes and three images.

Magazine page count: Four pages, including a half page of notes and three images.

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'Black Hand' killer wriggled free of law

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

30-year pursuit of Rocco Esposito leads to courtroom acquittal 

By Thomas Hunt and Margaret Janco

"The 'long arm of the law' impressively extended itself across a thousand miles – over an international border – and through three decades to arrest the alleged perpetrator of an early 'Black Hand' murder. However, it ultimately failed to punish the killer. While the October 1906 murder and related events occurred largely within the State of Pennsylvania, the crime appears to have been initiated within Youngstown, just over the state line in Ohio..."

Book page count: Twenty-seven pages, including one sidebar story, about six pages of notes and five images.

Magazine page count: Fourteen pages, including one sidebar story, about three pages of notes and seven images.

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Hillsville boss on trial for his life

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Underworld abandons 'code of silence' as Rocco Racco is tried for murder

By Thomas Hunt and Margaret Janco

"The first few witnesses called by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania merely set the stage. They testified about the topography of the Hillsville, Pennsylvania, area and about relatively minor events on March 2, 1906, the last day that Deputy Game Protector L. Seeley Houk was known to be alive. It was late on Tuesday, September 15, 1908, when District Attorney Charles H. Young’s fifth witness, Scott Hoffmaster, foreman for the Pennsylvania Railroad, was called to the stand in Judge William E. Porter’s Lawrence County courtroom. Hoffmaster described his April 24, 1906, discovery of Houk’s body. Hoffmaster was at work that April day, when an engineer on a passing train reported seeing the body of a man lying in a backwater area on the south side of the Mahoning River east of Hillsville Station..."

Book page count: Thirty-six pages, including five sidebar stories, about four pages of notes and thirteen images. 

Magazine page count: Twenty and a half pages, including five sidebar stories, about three pages of notes and thirteen images.

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When the Mafia fed America

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Sicilian produce merchants in Ohio and Pennsylvania had an edge

By Justin Cascio

"In 1912, Salvatore Arrigo was quite literally the picture of Italian organized crime in America. A full-length portrait of the fruit dealer illustrated an article in McClure’s, a popular muckraker, titled, 'Imported Crime: The Story of the Camorra in America.' Arrigo (1844-1922) was just released from the U.S. Peniteniary at Leavenworth, Kansas, after serving a four-year sentence for conspiracy to use the federal postal service to extort. In 1908, Arrigo had been the head of a dangerous 'Black Hand' extortion ring with members from coast to coast in America and back in his native Sicily..."

Book page count: Sixteen pages, including two pages of notes and seven images.

Magazine page count: Eight and a half pages, including one page of notes and seven images.

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Boss Falcone gunned down at saloon

 November 2022 issue contents - Feature

'Big Jim' Falcone was early Prohibition Era Sicilian underworld king.

By Thomas Hunt

"At the time of his April 1921 murder, James “Big Jim” Falcone was known as “king” of the vice-ridden “tenderloin” district in Youngstown, Ohio. It was about a quarter to ten, Thursday evening, April 28, when Falcone (or “Falconi”) stepped to the doorway of his business at 128 East Front Street, near the intersection with Walnut Street. He looked out across the B&O Railroad yards and the Mahoning River, winding a short distance away to the south and west and defining the lower boundary of downtown Youngstown..."

Book page count: Eleven pages, including two and a half pages of notes and three images.

Magazine page count: Five and a half pages, including one and a half pages of notes and three images.

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The murders of Dominic and Frank Barber

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

One year separated killings of Barber brothers, Calabrian gang leaders

By Thomas Hunt and James Barber

"Two brothers, believed to have held leadership posts within a northeastern Ohio criminal society, were murdered precisely one year apart in the Youngstown area. Both were shot from behind. Their precise positions in the regional underworld, even the outlaw organization to which they belonged, remain mysteries to this day. It appears likely that they were involved with a tightly knit Calabrian organization later linked to Paul and Mike Romeo. There are very few clues regarding the identities of their killers or the motivations behind their murders..."

Book page count: Eleven pages, including two pages of notes and six images.

Magazine page count: About six pages, including one page of notes and six images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue. 

Barber brothers allied with Sewickley mob

 November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Mike Rosato ruled Gizzeria gangsters in western Pennsylvania

By Thomas Hunt and James Barber

"The brief and ultimately tragic 1924 stay of Youngstown’s Rocco Michael 'Mike Barber' Barbaro at a Sewickley, Pennsylvania, home belonging to Michelangelo 'Mike Ross' Rosato called attention to the close alliance of two Calabrian underworld factions in the region. While Barbaro’s older brothers – Dominick and Frank Barber – led a criminal organization transplanted to Youngstown, Ohio, from Casignana, near the Ionian Sea in the Reggio Calabria Province, Rosato’s Sewickley-area group was rooted in Gizzeria, near the Tyrrhenian coast in the Calabria region’s Catanzaro Province..."

Book page count: Sixteen pages, including three and a half pages of notes and five images.

Magazine page count: Nine pages, including two pages of notes and five images.

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Joseph 'the Wolf' DiCarlo at Youngstown

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Former Buffalo mafioso sought to control Mahoning Valley gambling

By Thomas Hunt and Michael A. Tona

"Events must have convinced Joseph DiCarlo that there was limited opportunity for advancement in the western New York Mafia once commanded by his father. Following the death of Buffalo-based boss Giuseppe DiCarlo in 1922, a Mafia faction originating in coastal Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, became dominant in western New York, and its leader, Stefano Magaddino, was selected as the new boss. Giuseppe DiCarlo’s sons, Joseph 'J.D.' and Salvatore 'Sam,' and other mafiosi with roots in the Vallelunga-Valledolmo region of Sicily were reduced to supporting players. Joseph DiCarlo’s efforts to carve out a lucrative rackets territory for himself in the Buffalo area were repeatedly thwarted..."

Book page count: Twenty-seven pages, including five pages of notes and six images.

Magazine page count: Fourteen and a half pages, including two and a half pages of notes and eight images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue. 

Cammarata the Untouchable

 November 2022 issue contents - Feature

The law never really made an impression on gangster Frank Cammarata

By Thom L. Jones

"Following a December 1958 committee hearing, Senator John L. McClellan reportedly wondered how a notorious hoodlum, with a criminal record as long as your arm, managed to escape prosecution for evading income taxes. He might well ask. The hoodlum, Francesco Cammarata, had been committing crimes, spending time being arrested or in prison, and avoiding taxes for a lot of his adult life in America..."

Book page count: Eighteen pages, including two pages of notes, six images and a two-page sidebar.

Magazine page count: Eight and a half pages, including one page of notes, six images and a one-page sidebar.

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Chief Edward Allen testifies

 November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Youngstown police head brought his view of organized crime to U.S. Senate's Kefauver Committee

"On Thursday, January 18, 1951, Youngstown Police Chief Edward Joseph Allen appeared in Cleveland’s Federal Building to testify before the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Kefauver Committee). The committee hearing was attended by its chairman, Senator Estes Kefauver; Chief Counsel Rudolph Halley; Assistant Counsel Joseph L. Nellis; and Investigator John McCormick. Allen provided a diagram of criminal organizations engaged in rackets in Youngstown and discussed his understanding of group relationships and criminal activities... His 1951 testimony indicates he believed northwestern Ohio organized crime was under the control of mafiosi in the Detroit area, who he saw as superiors to Cleveland mobsters. Allen seems not to have fully understood the various competing criminal interests present in his city. Portions of his testimony are shown here to illustrate law enforcement’s view of Youngstown organized crime in the period..."

Book page count: Ten and a half pages, including a half-page of notes and two images.

Magazine page count: Six pages, including a third-page of notes and three images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue.

Syria-born Farahs partnered with mafiosi

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Mike Farah lost his political allies and then lost his life

By Thomas Hunt

"Mike Farah was practicing his golf swing in the small back yard of his comfortable brick home at Kenilworth Avenue SE and South Street SE in Warren, Ohio. It was a warm and humid Saturday morning in late spring. What caused him to busy himself in that fashion is unknown. Possibly, he was just passing time. Possibly, he was waiting for a visitor. Farah was positioned about fifteen feet from his home’s back door and about thirty feet from South Street, when a gray-green 1959 Chevrolet four-door sedan pulled up to the South Street curb. A shotgun appeared in the automobile’s rear window, and it fired three times at Farah..."

Book page count: Nineteen and a half pages, including three and a half pages of notes and five images.

Magazine page count: Nine and a half pages, including two pages of notes and five images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue. 

When Youngstown became 'Bombtown'

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Shotgun murder leads to car-bombings of rackets leaders

By Edmond Valin

"The 1960 shotgun murder of racketeer Sandy Naples triggered a car-bombing campaign in Youngstown’s underworld that killed hoodlums Vincent DeNiro, Billy Naples and Charles Cavallaro. The violence overwhelmed local law enforcement. United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy dispatched the FBI to take control of the investigation. Despite the deployment of massive resources to the case, federal agents discovered there were no easy answers..."

Book page count: Twenty-six pages, including three and a half pages of notes and eleven images.

Magazine page count: Thirteen pages, including one and a half pages of notes and ten images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue.

Last bosses of Calabrian mob?

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Mallamo and Prato led secret subgroup linked with Mafia

By Thomas Hunt

"During the Prohibition Era, American Mafia units across the United States and Canada absorbed local branches of a Calabrian gangster network. In some cases, remnants of Calabrian gangs lingered informally as factions within crime families. In the Youngstown area, the Calabrian criminal network continued for several more decades as a distinct, locally led, tightly knit and highly secretive organization within the overlapping territories of the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Mafia families. The early history of the Youngstown Calabrian organization and the identities of its first bosses are somewhat hazy..."

(Photo of Nick Mallamo, murdered brother of "Big Dom" Mallamo. Nick likely served as an earlier boss of the Calabrian mob in Youngstown.)

Book page count: Twenty-five pages, including five pages of notes and eight images.

Magazine page count: Thirteen pages, including two and a half pages of notes and eight images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue.

Local boy makes very bad

November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Youngstown native and city crime boss, Lenine "Lenny" Strollo (1931-2021)

By Thomas Hunt

"At the time of this writing, it is just about one year since the passing of Lenine 'Lenny' Strollo, infamous as a Youngstown crime boss and as an underworld turncoat. Obituaries published following his May 19, 2021, death by natural causes noted that he was preceded in death by a number of close relatives. The obituaries made no attempt to list the rivals, underworld associates, corrupt government allies and racket victims who went to their graves before Strollo went to his. Even the criminal organization he once led, which could trace its history back to the dawn of the twentieth century, is believed to have perished before Strollo exited this life. And, more than anyone else, Strollo looks to have been responsible for its destruction..."

Book page count: Twenty-four pages, including five pages of notes and seven images.

Magazine page count: Twelve pages, including two and a half pages of notes and seven images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue.

Biographies collection

 November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Other Youngstown-area mobsters

Brief biographies of crime figures involved in the underworld of the Youngstown, Ohio, area: "Fats" Aiello; Ernie Biondillo; Giacinto Brogna; Ron, Charlie and Orlie Carabbia; Peter Devino; "Red" Giordano; James Licavoli; "Happy" Marino; Sandy, Billy, Jimmy and Joey Naples; Fedele Penna; Paul Romeo; Dominic Testa; "Zebo" Zottola.

Book page count: Thirty-two and a half pages, including ten and a half pages of notes and nine images.

Magazine page count: Seventeen pages, including six pages of notes and nine images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue.

Gangland violence timeline

 November 2022 issue contents - Feature

Brief descriptions of dozens of blood-spilling events from Youngstown-area history are placed in chronological order. (Not included in audiobook format.)

Book page count: Eight pages.

Magazine page count: Three and a half pages.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue.

Book news

 November 2022 issue contents - Books

News of several crime-history titles, released in 2022 and expected in 2023. (Not included in audiobook format.)

Book page count: Two pages, including four images.

Magazine page count: About one and a third pages, including four images.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue.

Looking back from 2022

 November 2022 issue contents - Looking Back

Collection of brief organized crime news items from ten, fifty, 100 and 150 years ago. (Not included in audiobook format.)

Book page count: One and a half pages.

Magazine page count: Half page.

Learn more about Informer's November 2022 issue.


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