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Ferritto got involved in criminal activities in his youth. In 1942, at the relatively young age of 13, he was convicted of burglarizing two gas stations and was sentenced to two years of probation. One year later, while Ferritto was working at a bronzing factory, an accident caused the amputation of two of his toes. Ferritto left high school at the age of 17 and joined the Marine Corps, but was honorably discharged a month later because of the injuries sustained to his foot.
During his twenties, Ferritto was a bookmaker and vending machine route man in Erie. He got married in 1948, and fathered three children before he divorced in 1956. He remarried in 1957 and had one child. By that time Ferritto had moved to Warren, Ohio where he met Ronald "The Crab" Carabbia and Tony Delsanter. Carabbia and his three brothers were all known as "the Crab", which was a play on their last name, and had become prominent in the organized crime scene in Youngstown. Delsanter was a made man in the Cleveland crime family. He managed the Family's gambling interests in the Mahoning Valley.
In 1958, at age twenty-nine, Ferritto was arrested for burglary. He pled guilty and served three years of a three to five-year sentence. Once out, Ferritto spent some time in the Cleveland area where he committed several burglaries with his childhood friends, Allie Calabrese and Pasquale "Butchie" Cisternino.
By the late sixties, Ferritto had moved to Los Angeles where he was associated with a group of Cleveland mobsters, including Julius Petro. In the forties, Petro wriggled free from a death sentence on a retrial in a murder case. Ferritto and Petro were associates of Jimmy Fratianno, who was closely associated with the Los Angeles crime family. Likewise, Ray Ferritto was trying to make a name for himself.
In 1969, Ferritto booked a flight from Los Angeles to Erie. He was driven to the airport by another burglar, originally from Cleveland. Accompanying the two, just for the ride, was Julius Petro. The accomplice wheeled the car into an airport parking garage spot. Ferritto waited for a plane to take off, thrust a gun to the back of Julius Petro's head and pulled the trigger. The single fatal report was muffled by the roar of the jet. The murder resulted from a conflict with a well-known and successful bookmaker in Los Angeles who used Petro as muscle. Ferritto and his accomplice were likely candidates for the contract, since they both disliked Petro.
Prior to the hit at the airport, Ferritto tried to plant a bomb on Petro's car. While assembling the explosive, Ferritto accidentally detonated the blasting cap, causing a minor injury to his leg. He opted for the "one-way ride" method of execution next. Petro's killing went unsolved for years, until a dramatic turn of events began to unfold.
In 1971, Ferritto was convicted of burglary, this time with explosives. He was sentenced to fifteen years and incarcerated at the California Institution for Men in Chino, California. Jimmy Fratiano also happened to be doing time at Chino and the two became friends. In 1974, Ferritto was released from Chino and returned to Erie. He started booking again and also worked for a vending company which was owned by a cousin. By that time, Ray developed a peptic ulcer serious enough to require partial removal of his stomach. To calm his nerves, he took handfuls of antacid tablets and even smoked Marijuana.
In the 70s, Danny Greene began competing with the Cleveland crime family for control of union rackets, resulting in a violent mob war. During this period, there were almost 40 car bombings in Cleveland and eight failed attempts to kill Greene. Finally, Cleveland family bosses Jack "Jack White" Licavoli and Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo contracted Ferritto to assassinate Greene.
On October 6, 1977, Greene was at his dentist's office. Ferritto and Ronald Carabbia parked a car containing a bomb in the side door, next to Greene's car. When Greene started entering his car, Carabbia detonated the bomb and killed Greene instantly.
The two witnesses to the murder scene were Greg and Debbie Spoth. Debbie Spoth, the daughter of a suburban policeman, was a sketch artist who drew an amazing likeness of Ray Ferritto for authorities. She took the sketch to her father, who in turn, took it to Cleveland police, who identified Ferritto from a police file.
When a search warrant was executed at Ferritto’s house in Erie, police found the registration papers for the bomb car and arrested him. The search of Ferritto's house also turned up a copy of Cleveland Magazine with a picture of Greene in it. Upon hearing of Ferritto’s arrest, Licavoli put out a hit contract on Ferritto. When Ferritto learned that the Cleveland family wanted him dead, he became a government witness and testified against his co-defendants in the 1978 trial. The State of Ohio indicted Licavoli, Lonardo, Ferritto, Carabbia and 15 other members of the Cleveland Family for the Greene murder.
Ferritto also admitted responsibility for the 1969 killing of Cleveland gangster Julius Anthony Petro. He served less than four years in prison for both murders. Ray Ferritto left the Witness Protection Program after one year and continued to stay in Pennsylvania. In 1992, he was convicted of criminal conspiracy and bookmaking charges. He was sentenced from 6 to 23.5 months imprisonment, given 3 years probation and ordered to pay $10,500 in fines. In the mid-1990s, Ray Ferritto was reportedly seen in Petaluma, California. Ferritto retired in 2000 and moved to Florida, where he died four years later of congestive heart failure at age 75.
In popular culture
- Porrello, Rick. To Kill the Irishman: The War that Crippled the Mafia. Novelty, Ohio: Next Hat Press, 2004. ISBN 0-9662508-9-3
- Ferritto, Susan. "Ferritto: An Assassin Scorned" Erie,Pa Ragpaper Press,2012 ISBN 978-0-578-10829-2
- Danny Greene - Plus 25 by Rick Porrello