Angelo Bruno

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Angelo Bruno
Born May 21, 1910
Villalba, Sicily, Italy
Died March 21, 1980 (aged 69)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Cause of death Gunshot to the back of the head
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, Pennsylvania
Nationality Sicilian, Italian, American
Other names "The Gentle Don"
Citizenship Italian, American
Occupation Businessman, Crime boss, Mafioso, Mobster, Rum Runner, Racketeer
Known for Boss of the Bruno crime family
Religion Roman Catholicism
Spouse(s) Sue Maranca (1931-1980)

Angelo "The Gentle Don" Bruno (born Angelo Annaloro; May 21, 1910 – March 21, 1980) was a Sicilian-American mobster, notable for being boss of the Philadelphia crime family for two decades. Bruno gained his nickname and reputation due to his preference for conciliation over violence.

Early years[edit]

Born in Villalba, Province of Caltanissetta, Sicily, Bruno emigrated to the United States in his teens and settled in Philadelphia. The son of a grocer, Bruno was a close associate of New York Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino. Living with Bruno was a cousin of mobster John Simone. Bruno dropped the name Annaloro and replaced it with his paternal grandmother's maiden name, Bruno. Bruno was married to Sue Maranca and had two children. Bruno owned an extermination company in Trenton, New Jersey, an aluminum products company in Hialeah, Florida, and a share in the Plaza Hotel in Havana, Cuba. Bruno's first arrest was in 1928 for reckless driving. Subsequent arrests included firearms violations, operating an illicit alcohol still, illegal gambling, and receiving stolen property.

Family leader[edit]

In 1959, Bruno succeeded Joseph Ida as boss of the Philadelphia family. Over the next twenty years, Bruno successfully avoided the intense media and law enforcement scrutiny and outbursts of violence that plagued other crime families. Bruno himself avoided lengthy prison terms despite several arrests; his longest term was two years for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Bruno forbade family involvement in narcotics trafficking, preferring more traditional Cosa Nostra operations, such as bookmaking and loansharking. However, Bruno did permit other gangs to distribute heroin in Philadelphia for a share of the proceeds. This arrangement angered some family members who wanted a share of the drug-dealing profits.

Bruno preferred to operate through bribery rather than murder. For example, he banished violent soldier Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo to the then-backwater of Atlantic City for being too violent.

Later in his tenure, Bruno had to deal with the New York crime families' desire to operate in the increasingly lucrative Atlantic City gambling industry. The Five Families thought Atlantic City was far too lucrative for the Philadelphia family to get all of the action, although Atlantic City had long been regarded as Philadelphia's turf. While under Mafia rules, they could not set up shop in Atlantic City without Bruno's consent, Bruno knew better than to challenge the New York families. Each family was far stronger than his, and any attempt to challenge them could have led to Bruno's death. Instead, he allowed them to operate in Atlantic City in exchange for a cut of their profits, a decision that did not go over well with his underlings.

Rebellion and death[edit]

Angelo Bruno murder scene

Several factions within the Philadelphia family began conspiring to betray the aging Bruno. On March 21, 1980, the 69-year-old Bruno was killed by a shotgun blast in the back of the head as he sat in his car in front of his home at the intersection of 10th Street and Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia. It is believed that the killing was ordered by Antonio Caponigro (aka Tony Bananas), Bruno's consigliere. A few weeks later, Caponigro's body was found stuffed in a body bag in the trunk of a car in New York City. About $300 in bills were jammed in his mouth and anus (to be interpreted as signs of greed). The Commission had reportedly ordered Caponigro's murder because he assassinated Bruno without their sanction. Other Philadelphia family members involved in Bruno's murder were tortured and killed.

After Caponigro's murder, Philip "Chicken Man" Testa led the family for one year until he was killed by a nail bomb at his home. Testa's death resulted from an attempt by Peter Casella, Testa's underboss, and Frank "Chickie" Narducci, a capo, to become the Philadelphia boss and underboss. After Testa's death, Scarfo took over the Philadelphia family. In the ensuing years, the Philadelphia family would be decimated by government informants, more infighting, and the prosecutions of Scarfo and other mobsters.


  • Blood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob - The Mafia's Most Violent Family by George Anastasia, 2003, ISBN 0-940159-86-4
  • Bureau of Narcotics, U.S. Treasury Department, "Mafia: the Government's Secret File on Organized Crime", HarperCollins Publishers 2007 ISBN 0-06-136385-5

Further reading[edit]

  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book One Before Bruno: The History of the Mafia and La Cosa Nostra in Philadelphia. Publication date: 4/28/2000, ISBN 9780967733418
  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book Two Before Bruno: The History of the Philadelphia Mafia, 1931-1946. Publication date: 11/28/2001, ISBN 9780967733425
  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book Three Before Bruno and How He Became Boss: The History of the Philadelphia Mafia, Book 3--1946-1959. Publication date: 8/28/2005, ISBN 9780977053209

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Joseph Ida
Philadelphia crime family

Succeeded by
Philip Testa