Frank Bompensiero in an FBI picture (with file markings) taken in Palm Springs.
October 29, 1905|
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||February 10, 1977
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Murder|
|Known for||Mob Activity|
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Frank "Bomp" Bompensiero (October 29, 1905 – February 10, 1977) was a Mafia hitman and longtime Caporegime in the Los Angeles crime family. In 1956, with the death of boss Jack Dragna, Bompensiero was reduced to the rank of soldier by the new boss, Frank DeSimone. He was the older brother of associate Salvatore "Sam" Bompensiero. Bompensiero made a name for himself for the many killings he committed on the orders of his superiors. Jimmy Fratianno, a close associate, once said that Bompensiero "had buried more bones than could be found in the brontosaurus room of the Museum of Natural History."
Early life and family
Bompensiero's family was from Sicily. His family immigrated to the United States in 1904 along with the Balistieri family (Frank Balistrieri would eventually lead the Milwaukee crime family). After the family settled in Milwaukee Bompensiero was born on October 29, 1905. As a child he attended Andrew Jackson Elementary School in Milwaukee, but dropped out after the third grade. While in Milwaukee, he worked at an automobile parts manufacturer. He moved to San Diego as a young man in the mid-1920s and also served in the United States Army for a year. It was during his time in San Diego that he worked in organized crime. He eventually married Thelma Jan San-Felippe and had one child, a daughter Mary Ann. He also had a grandson named Frank. His first address in San Diego was at 5878 Estelle St. before moving to the Pacific Beach neighborhood later on in his life.
Bompensiero's early career in San Diego dates to the 1920s. Here he met Jack Dragna, who was working for the Los Angeles crime family and became his mentor. During this time he was active in bootlegging in San Diego during the prohibition era. He was convicted of a liquor violation in San Diego and his other early arrests were for possession of firearms, illegal gambling, kidnapping and murder. He eventually served a year in McNeil Island Corrections Center for the liquor conviction and was released in 1933. Impressed with the young criminal, Dragna eventually made him a caporegime (captain), placing him in charge of all of the L.A. family's interests in San Diego. He was later wanted for murder and was forced to leave the city to avoid law enforcement scrutiny, but returned in 1941. During the 1940s and 1950s, Bompensiero owned a San Diego music store with Gaspare Matranga and a wire service company. He also owned the Gold Rail cafe in downtown that he owned with Dragna's son Frank and nephew Louis. Bompensiero and his men owned and operated several bars in the downtown area where they often conducted loan sharking operations. During this time he was also used by Dragna as a hitman in San Diego and Los Angeles. He was involved in one of the botched attempts on Mickey Cohen's life. His San Diego crew consisted of men like Tony Mirable, Paul Mirable, Gaspare Matranga, Joe Adamo, Biaggio Bonventre, and Joseph Li Mandri. His close associates in Los Angeles included Jimmy Fratianno and Leo Moceri, both of whom he teamed up with on multiple occasions to commit murder. In 1955, Bompensiero was convicted of bribery, and conspiracy in an illegal liquor license transaction and was sentenced to 3–42 years in prison. He began his sentence at Chino in San Bernardino. While in prison, his wife Thelma died of a stroke. Bompensiero was escorted from prison by the police so he could attend her funeral. He was later transferred to San Quentin State Prison in Northern California, the same place where Jimmy Fratianno was serving a prison sentence.
During his time in prison, boss Jack Dragna died of a heart attack and Frank DeSimone took over the crime family. He demoted Bompensiero to soldier and placed Tony Mirable as boss of San Diego. Outraged, Bompensiero attempted to transfer to the Chicago Outfit, but was unsuccessful. While on parole, Bompenseiro worked several jobs for close associates. However, these were just front jobs to satisfy his parole requirements. Bompensiero had dealings in Las Vegas with Cleveland mobster Moe Dalitz and Chicago Outfit mobster Anthony Spilotro. He also counted retired Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Bonanno in Arizona, and John Roselli as his allies (although he'd have a falling out with the latter). In 1967, Bompensiero was arrested with Fratianno over a dirt hauling bribery scheme involving Fratianno's trucking company. Bompensiero agreed to become an undercover FBI informant and the charges against him were dropped.
In the early 1970s, Bompensiero and Spilotro started a loan shark operation in Las Vegas. In November 1975, Bompensiero helped Spilotro murder Tamara Rand, a millionaire real estate broker and investor from San Diego. At the time, Rand was suing Allen Glick, a mob front man in Las Vegas, to pay back a $2 million loan that she had made to him. Spilotro sneaked into Rand's house and fatally shot her.
FBI sting and murder
Since the death of Los Angeles boss Jack Dragna, Bompensiero had been highly critical of the new family leadership. Boss Dominic Brooklier, who never trusted Bompensiero, finally lost patience and decided to have him killed. Bompensiero was an extremely cautious gangster and proved difficult to kill. To make Bompensiero less cautious, Brooklier promoted him from soldier to consigliere. Six months later, the Los Angeles family was still trying to get to Bompensiero. In 1977, the FBI set up a pornography business called "Forex" and used Bompensiero to convince the Los Angeles family to make an attempt to extort it. The sting operation worked, and Michael Rizzitello was given a subpoena. After the Forex indictments in February 1977, Fratianno questioned Bompensiero about the company. Unsatisfied with Bompensiero's responses, Fratianno became convinced that he was informant. A week later, on February 10, 1977, Frank Bompensiero was shot to death at close range with a silenced .22 caliber handgun while standing in a phone booth in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego. In 1978, Fratianno told law enforcement that mob associate Thomas Ricciardi killed Bompensiero in return for membership in the Los Angeles family. When Ricciardi shot Bompensiero, Brooklier was on the other end of the phone line and Jack LoCicero was waiting with the getaway car. The government later charged Ricciardi with Bompensiero's murder, but he died of heart disease before the trial could start. The rest of the defendants were acquitted at trial.
The following is a list of confirmed murders that Bompensiero committed.
- Phil Galuzo - February 28, 1939
- Harry "Hooky" Rothman - August 18, 1948
- Frank Borgia - 1951
- Louis "Russian Louie" Strauss - April 1953
- "Red" Sagunda - date unknown
- Roemer, William F., The Enforcer- Spilotro: The Chicago Mob's Man in Las Vegas,Dutton Adult (June 30, 1994) ISBN 0-8041-1310-6
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso. New York: Bantam, 1981. ISBN 0-553-20230-8.
- Bureau of Narcotics, U.S. Treasury Department, "Mafia: the Government's Secret File on Organized Crime, HarperCollins Publishers 2007 ISBN 0-06-136385-5
- Moore, Judith. A Bad, Bad Boy by 2009 ISBN 978-0-615-29879-5
- Hearings before a Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate
|Los Angeles crime family