November 14, 1913
|Died||June 29, 1993 (aged 79)|
|Other names||Jimmy the Weasel|
|Allegiance||Los Angeles crime family|
Attempted extortion (1954)
|Criminal penalty||Seven years' imprisonment (1937)|
Six years and three months' imprisonment (1954)
Five years' imprisonment (1977)
Aladena James "Jimmy" Fratianno (born Aladena Fratianno; November 14, 1913 – June 29, 1993), also known as "Jimmy the Weasel", was an Italian-born American mobster who was acting boss of the Los Angeles crime family. After his arrest in 1977, Fratianno become an informant and entered the Witness Protection Program in 1980. He admitted to having killed five people. Later in life, he became a writer.
Fratianno was born in Naples, Italy, in 1913, later immigrating with his family to the United States, settling near Cleveland, Ohio. He was first arrested at the age of 19, on suspicion of rape, but was not charged. Two years later, he was acquitted of robbery charges, but in 1937, was convicted of robbery and spent more than seven years in an Ohio state prison. Fratianno earned his nickname "Weasel" as a boy when from running from the police in the Little Italy section of Cleveland. A chase witness shouted "Look at that weasel run!" and the police quickly attached the nickname to his criminal record, falsely believing it was his alias. He was paroled in 1945, and moved to Los Angeles, California, where he associated with underworld figure Mickey Cohen.
In 1951, he was arrested but later released in connection with the gangland-style slaying of two mobsters believed to have plotted to kill Cohen. In 1954, Fratianno was convicted of attempted extortion; he served 6 years and 3 months, mostly at San Quentin State Prison. In 1968, he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from phony pay agreements with drivers at a trucking company he owned, and in 1971 he entered another guilty plea, this time for extortion. Fratianno married Jean in 1975, whom he had met in an airport in 1966.
Fratianno was known to have global connections. One such connection was with Australian organised crime figures. In 1976, Australian criminal Murray Riley met with Fratianno in San Francisco, allegedly, to organize drug shipments. The same year, Sydney businessman Bela Csidei also met with Fratianno in San Francisco. The FBI took photographs of this meeting.
Fratianno also associated with Australian/Hungarian transport magnate and managing director of Thomas Nationwide Transport, Peter Abeles. Through Fratianno's connections with Teamsters and Longshoremen's unions, particularly with Rudy Tham, a San Francisco Teamsters leader, Abeles was able to use his company to smuggle drugs in and out of the U.S., as well as reduce industrial tensions on the waterfront.
In 1975, the boss of the Los Angeles family, Dominic Brooklier, was sent to prison, and Louis Tom Dragna was made acting boss. He accepted the position on the condition that he run the family together with Fratianno. Fratianno accepted the proposal with the understanding that he would carry the majority of the responsibility.
Soon after, he was approached by Dragna in regards to having Frank Bompensiero murdered. Bompensiero was one of the few made men that Fratianno trusted, as they were old friends, and he was infuriated that the Los Angeles family would give him such a 'contract'. At this point Fratianno felt that he was tricked into becoming Acting Boss, a position which required him to be transferred from the Chicago Outfit back to the Los Angeles family. Because of his close relationship with Bompensiero, it was assumed that Fratianno could easily lay a trap and murder him. Fratianno stalled until the contract was given to other mob associates.
Brooklier returned from prison in October 1976 after serving 16 months. After a transition period he called Fratianno to a meeting some time before February 11, 1977 and announced he was ready to resume his position as Boss. Fratianno was once again a soldier.
Last stages of Mafia career
Some time between February 11 and May 16, 1977, Brooklier summoned Fratianno to a sit down and accused him running a separate 'crew' in the Los Angeles territory and saying, "Jimmy, you've got a bad mouth, like [Bompensiero]..." In 1977 Brooklier started claiming that Fratianno was never Acting Boss and that Fratianno was misrepresenting himself. Fratianno began to suspect that Brooklier was trying to poison his reputation and lay the groundwork to have him killed. Then at the wake for Tony Delsanter, Fratianno learned that Cleveland crime family boss James Licavoli had a mole in the FBI, a female clerk, that was feeding the family documents. Licavoli also told Fratianno that the Family had the code numbers for two informants and that the FBI clerk was working on getting their names.
Government witness and later life
On October 6, 1977, Irish mob boss Danny Greene, a secret FBI informant and mortal enemy of the Cleveland crime family, was killed by a car bomb outside his dentist's office in suburban Lyndhurst, Ohio. Soon after, Ray Ferritto, a soldier in the Cleveland and Los Angeles crime families, was arrested for the murder based on a detailed sketch by an eyewitness. Evidence found during a police search of his house further proved Ferritto's role in the murder.
Upon hearing that Ferritto had been arrested, Cleveland Mafia boss James Licavoli immediately ordered the former's assassination. When Ferritto learned of this, he became a cooperating witness and testified against his co-defendants in the 1978 trial. The Cuyahoga County District Attorney indicted Licavoli, Angelo Lonardo, Ferritto, Ronald Carabbia and 15 other members of the Cleveland crime family for conspiring towards Danny Greene's murder.
Ferritto also implicated Fratianno in the planning of Greene's murder, and Fratianno was indicted for charges related to the bombing. Similarly fearing for his safety, Fratianno also agreed to become a government witness against the Mafia. In return for his testimony, he pleaded guilty to multiple murder charges and received a five-year prison sentence, of which he served 21 months.
In 1980, after his testimony resulted in the racketeering convictions of five reputedly high level Mafia figures, Fratianno entered the federal Witness Protection Program. Fratianno claimed that the Mafia had a $100,000 contract on his life. In 1987, after he published two biographies, The Last Mafioso (1980) with author Ovid Demaris and Vengeance is Mine (1987) with author Michael J. Zuckerman, Fratianno was expelled from Witness Protection after the Justice Department noted that it had spent almost $1 million on the Fratiannos in 10 years.
On June 29, 1993, Fratianno died of natural causes at his home in an undisclosed U.S. city, believed to be Oklahoma City. His wife Jean said that he had suffered from Alzheimer's disease, as well as a series of strokes. Fratianno is portrayed by Joseph Riccobene in Martin Scorsese's crime film The Irishman (2019).
Fratianno had admitted to committing five murders:
- Frank Niccoli - Niccoli was a bodyguard and collector for mob boss Mickey Cohen. Following Jack Dragna's orders, Fratianno tried to convince Niccoli to leave Cohen and join Dragna's mob, but Niccoli refused. In a few minutes, Fratianno and Joseph Dippolito strangled Niccoli to death. (1949)
- Frank Borgia - Borgia was a Los Angeles winemaker/former bootlegger and was a member of the Los Angeles crime family, according to Fratianno. Borgia was resisting an extortion attempt from Gaspare Matranga and Dragna. Bompensiero and Fratianno had a friend of Borgia's bring him to a house. Then Fratianno and Bompensiero strangled Borgia with a rope and other mobsters buried him. (1951)
- Anthony Brancato - Brancato and his criminal associate Tony Trombino were two young mobsters who were performing robberies in Los Angeles and Las Vegas without the sanction of the Los Angeles family. Jack Dragna told Jimmy Fratianno they needed to be "clipped", and asked Jimmy to set "something up". Within a few days, Fratianno set up the Two Tonys and killed them in their car. (August 6, 1951)
- Anthony Trombino - see Anthony Brancato. (August 6, 1951)
- Louis Strauss - Louis (Russian Louie) Strauss was a former casino owner in Lake Tahoe, and a mob connected man who was trying to extort money from Las Vegas casino owner Benny Binion, a friend of Dragna's. Fratianno set Strauss up by befriending him in Las Vegas, and telling Louis he had $10,000 cash in Los Angeles he would loan him. After driving to Los Angeles with Fratianno, Strauss then walked into a house, where Bompensiero and Fratianno surprised him with a rope, and strangled him to death. (1953)
- "Aladena Fratianno, Mobster-Informer, 79". The New York Times. July 2, 1993. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
- "'Jimmy the Weasel' Fratianno; Mob Figure, Informant". Los Angeles Times. July 1, 1993.
- Bob Bottom (1984). Without Fear or Favour (pp. 74–75). Victoria, Australia: Sun Books.
- "Evan Whitton: Can of Worms II - 6. Biographies".
- Bob Bottom (1984). Without Fear or Favour (p.75). Victoria, Australia: Sun Books.
- Bob Bottom (1984). Without Fear or Favour (pics at pp. 58–59). Victoria, Australia: Sun Books.
- Tony Reeves (2007). Mr Sin: The Abe Saffron Dossier (pp. 83–85). NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
- John Pilger (1992). A Secret Country (pp. 256–257). NSW, Australia: Vintage.
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Fratianno. Bantam Books, 1981, p.284
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Fratianno. Bantam Books, 1981, p.295
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Fratianno. Bantam Books, 1981, p.298
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Fratianno. Bantam Books, 1981, p.361
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Fratianno. Bantam Books, 1981, p.375
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Fratianno. Bantam Books, 1981, p.391
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Fratianno. Bantam Books, 1981, p.395
- "Oklahoma City Among World's Best Hideouts". 26 September 1993.
- The Irishman Full Cast & Crew at IMDb
- "Jimmy Fratianno" Videosurf
- "Frank Bompensiero" Crime Magazine
- "Winemaker's Fate Mystery" Los Angeles Times December 27, 1951
- "The Two Tonys" Archived 2010-01-03 at the Wayback Machine Allan May Crime Magazine
- "Frank Bompensiero: San Diego Hitman, Boss & FBI Informant (Part One)" Allan May Crime Magazine
- Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3
- Sifakis, Carl. The Encyclopedia of American Crime. New York: Facts on File Inc., 2005. ISBN 0-8160-4040-0
- Demaris, Ovid. The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Fratianno. Bantam Books, 1981. ISBN 0-553-27091-5
- The Sydney Morning Herald (16 September 1979). "Evidence Mafia already has a toehold in Australia". Includes photographs of James Fratianno meeting Bela Csidei.
- Lewis, Brad. Hollywood's Celebrity Gangster. The Incredible Life and Times of Mickey Cohen. New York: Enigma Books, 2007. ISBN 978-1-929631-65-0
- Moldea, Dan E. Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN 0-14-010478-X
- Neff, James. Mobbed Up: Jackie Presser's High-Wire Life in the Teamsters, the Mafia, and the FBI. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989. ISBN 0-87113-344-X
- Pizzo, Stephen; Fricker, Mary; and Muolo, Paul. Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989. ISBN 0-07-050230-7