Bufalino crime family

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Bufalino crime family
Founded byStefano LaTorre
Named afterRussell Bufalino
Founding locationPittston, Pennsylvania
Years activec. 1900 – present
TerritoryNortheastern Pennsylvania Counties of Lackawanna and Luzerne, in Northwestern New Jersey, Southwestern New York and Southern Florida.
EthnicityItalian, Italian-American made men and other ethnicities as "associates"
Membership (est.)30+ Made Members Unknown Associates
Criminal activitiesRacketeering, counterfeiting, loansharking, extortion, illegal gambling, cartage theft, fraud, Bid rigging, Narcotics, automobile theft and murder.
AlliesBuffalo, Genovese and Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Patriarca crime families.
Rivalsother various gangs

The Bufalino crime family,[1] also known as the Pittston crime family,[2] Scranton Wilkes-Barre family,[2] Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family,[3] Northeastern Pennsylvania Mafia,[4][5] or Scranton Mafia,[6] is an Italian-American Mafia crime family active in the Northeastern Pennsylvania cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Pittston.[7][8]


Barbara and the Apalachin meeting[edit]

In 1957, Joseph Barbara, an alleged member of the Buffalo crime family,[9] held a Mafia Commission meeting at his Apalachin, New York home. The meeting was preceded a few weeks before by the assassination of Albert Anastasia and a smaller meeting at the New Jersey estate of Ruggiero Boiardo. The Apalachin meeting was attended by about 100 Mafia heads from the U.S., Canada, and Italy. A raid by New York State Police caught many heads of families or their deputies. Many other family heads and their deputies were suspected of being present by law enforcement but evaded detection and capture. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed many of the cases on legal technicalities. The initial appeal before the second circuit was brought by Russell Bufalino and was successful, therefore, vindicating him of the ensuing conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges and as a result all those other mobsters apprehended at the Apalachin debacle. The granting of Bufalino's appeal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit greatly increased Bufalino's stature among Mafiosi on the national stage.[10]

Bufalino era[edit]

After John Sciandra's death of natural causes[9] circa 1949, Russell Bufalino took control of the family as acting boss with Santo Volpe in an advisory role. Upon the death of Santo Volpe on December 2, 1958, Russell Bufalino officially took over the family.[7] Bufalino maintained a close alliance with the New York Genovese family. Imprisoned in the late 1970s on extortion charges related to the collection of a debt, Bufalino's underboss, Edward Sciandra, became the acting boss of the family. Sciandra was aided in running the family by captains Anthony Guarnieri, James David Osticco, and Phillip Medico, Consiglieri Remo Allio, as well as soldiers William D'Elia, Angelo Bufalino, John Rizzo, Angelo Son, and Joseph Sperrazza.[11] Bufalino was released from prison in 1980 briefly after serving his sentence for extortion. Towards the end of 1981 Bufalino was again imprisoned after being found guilty of conspiring to kill Jack Napoli, a witness in his 1978 extortion trial. Bufalino learned the whereabouts of Napoli, then in the Witness Protection Program, and conspired with Los Angeles mobster Jimmy Fratianno and another man he met in prison to murder Napoli. Fratianno turned government informant and testified against Bufalino at trial.[12] He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and released in 1989. Russell Bufalino died on February 25, 1994 of "natural causes" near Pittston, Pennsylvania.

D'Elia's leadership[edit]

William "Big Billy" D'Elia, became the new boss of the Bufalino crime family after the death of boss Russell Bufalino in 1994 and later, the retirement of Acting Boss Edward Sciandra. D'Elia, started his criminal career in the Bufalino family in the late 1960s as Bufalino's driver after his late sister married the only son of capo James David Osticco. According to the Pennsylvania Crime Commission D'Elia was placed in the crew of Caporegime Phillip Medico. D'Elia advanced through the ranks of the organization rather quickly due to the natural attrittion of members and indictments in the 1980s and 1990s. He took over the crime family's solid waste rackets and oversaw the traditional Mafia rackets run by the members and associates of the family. D'Elia also attempted to replenish the aging ranks of the family with limited success. As boss D'Elia worked with other crime families in New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Florida, and Los Angeles. In the 1990s, D'Elia was linked to a money laundering scheme involving numerous Northeastern Pennsylvania Bookmakers, Escort Services, corrupt politicians, and associates of Russian Organized Crime. D'Elia was closely aligned with the Philadelphia crime family.[13] When Philadelphia crime family boss John Stanfa was imprisoned D'Elia was one of Stanfa's choices as interim caretaker of the family.[14]

On May 31, 2001, agents from the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, US Postal Inspectors, and Pennsylvania State Police executed search warrants at the homes of D'Elia, his mistress Jeanie Stanton, Thomas Joseph, and former Pennsylvania Crime Commission informant Samuel "Cooch" Marranca, seizing records in an ongoing investigation. Marranca has been identified as an informant working for the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police. Marranca also testified on behalf of authorities against Louis DeNaples in front of the Fourth Statewide Investigating Grand Jury in regards to Mr. DeNaple's mob ties and his ownership of the Mount Airy Casino. Samuel " Cooch" Marranca also aided the Crime Commission in its investigation of Bufalino family member Joseph "Detroit" Sciandra and his involvement in the distribution of counterfeit designer clothing and sports wagering.[15] On February 26, 2003, D'Elia was banned from entering any Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement,[16] based on information shared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.[17]

On May 31, 2006, D'Elia was indicted on federal charges of laundering $600,000 in illegal drug proceeds obtained from a Florida-based associate of the Bufalino crime family among others including Lucchese family associate Phillip " Fipper " Forgione. While D'Elia was free on bail, he solicited a U.S. Customs Agency informant to murder a witness in the case and was remanded to prison until his eventual guilty plea and sentencing.[18][19] In March 2008, D'Elia pleaded guilty to witness tampering and money laundering.[18] He was sentenced to nine years in prison.[18] D'Elia cooperated with the government and testified against Louis DeNaples, the owner of Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos. In 2010, D'Elia got two years dropped from his sentence for his assisting the government's investigation against DeNaples.[20]

Current status[edit]

In 2012, author Dave Janoski interviewed James Kanavy, a former Pennsylvania Crime Commission investigator and according to Kanavy there isn't a standalone family in Northeastern Pennsylvania anymore.[21] Kanavy said any remnants of the Mafia family would be aligned with the New York families.[21]

Historical leadership[edit]

Boss (official and acting)

Former members[edit]

  • James Osticco: served as underboss to Russell Bufalino.[1] Died in 1990.
  • Edward "Eddie the Conductor" Sciandra: served as consigliere to Russell Bufalino.[1] Died in 2003.
  • Angelo Polizzi: served as consigliere to Giacomo Sciandra.[2] He moved to Detroit and started the Polizzi line of L.C.N. figures in the Detroit area.
  • Anthony F. Guarnieri: former caporegime,[1] died in 1992
  • Frank Cannone: former soldier, deceased, he ran a bookmaking operation in Binghamton, New York.[1]
  • Anthony J. Mosco: former soldier, he was active in Binghamton, New York[1] Mosco served 17 years in federal prison for racketeering along with capo Anthony "Guv" Guarnieri and other family members and associates. He currently resides in Arizona and Florida and has been seen visiting with family members and associates in the Pittston area in recent years.
  • Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran: former associate[24] Sheeran is a suspect in the disappearance of James R. Hoffa. He died in 2003.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Organized Crime in Pennsylvania: Traditional and Non-Traditional. Pennsylvania Crime Concession. April 15, 1988. (The Nevada Observer. August 16, 2006) Archived November 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d e f Devico, Peter J. The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra pp. 188–189
  3. ^ Abadinsky, Howard (2016). Organized Crime. Cengage Learning.
  4. ^ Birkbeck, Matt (2013). The Quiet Don: The Untold Story of Mafia Kingpin Russell Bufalino. Penguin.
  5. ^ Ecenbarger, William (2012). Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback Scheme. New Press.
  6. ^ Martinelli, Patricia A. (2008). True Crime: Pennsylvania: The State's Most Notorious Criminal Cases. Stackpole Books.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The American Mafia.com "Scranton crime Bosses"". Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g 26 Family Cities "Northeast PA" Archived December 14, 2004, at the Wayback Machine by Mario Machi Rick Porrello's AmericanMafia.com
  9. ^ a b Informer April 2011
  10. ^ See United States of America, Appellee v. Russell Bufalino et..
  11. ^ 1980 Report: A Decade of Organized Crime. Pennsylvania Crime Commission
  12. ^ Laborers local 1058 (Pittsburgh) Order and Memorandum imposing supervision in lieu of trusteeship
  13. ^ Mafia kingpin William D'Elia gets nine years by Michael Rubinkam (November 25, 2008) Pocono Record
  14. ^ Taking Care Of Family Business. With Stanfa Behind Bars, Who Will Take Over The Mob?
  15. ^ " 1985 Report " Pennsylvania Crime Commission
  16. ^ William D'Elia - N.J. Excluded Person "William D'Elia" Archived October 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine New Jersey Excluded Person
  17. ^ William D'Elia pleads guilty in Scranton (March 28, 2008) Pennlive.com
  18. ^ a b c d "Reputed mobster gets 9 years in prison" Archived 2013-01-28 at Archive.today (November 24, 2008) MafiaToday.com
  19. ^ "Reputed mobster gets 9 years in prison" The Daily Item November 24, 2008
  20. ^ Reputed Pa. mobster wins sentence reduction of nearly 2 years for cooperating with government (June 30, 2010) Fox News and Associated Press
  21. ^ a b Janoski, Dave (July 17, 2011). "The rise and fall of a mob power". Citizenvoice.com. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  22. ^ Reputed mob boss gets prison term shortened by Matt Birkbeck. The Morning Call. June 30, 2010
  23. ^ Reputed Bufalino family boss D’Elia sentence reduced Mafia News Report.com
  24. ^ Lin Devecchio and Charles Brandt We're Going to Win This Thing: The Shocking Frame-Up of a Mafia Crime Buster see

Further reading[edit]

  • George Anastasia. The Goodfella Tapes (Avon, 1998). ISBN 0-380-79637-6.
  • Charles Brandt .I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride of Jimmy Hoffa (Steerforth, 2004). ISBN 1-58642-077-1.