Pittsburgh crime family
|Founded by||Gregorio Conti|
|Founding location||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
|Territory||Pittsburgh (especially Bloomfield); territory throughout Allegheny County, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Eastern Ohio.|
|Ethnicity||Italian-American and other ethnicities as "associates"|
|Criminal activities||Racketeering, Murder, loansharking, extortion, and gambling|
Philadelphia crime family
Cleveland crime family
Patriarca crime family
DeCavalcante crime family
Detroit crime family
|Rivals||Various gangs in the Pittsburgh area.|
Prohibition era bosses
In Pittsburgh the Italian underworld was broken into two ethnic factions, with the "Sicilian Mafia" controlling the North and South sides of the city and the "Neapolitan Camorra" controlling the East End of the city. In the early 1920s, the two factions became involved in bootlegging, the illegal making, selling and transporting of alcohol. Throughout the Prohibition era the factions fought in the city for control over the Italian neighborhoods of Larimer, Homewood, the Hill District and Downtown. In the outer suburbs of southwestern Pennsylvania the factions fought over New Kensington, Arnold, Wilkinsburg, McKees Rocks, Wilmerding and Braddock. During the late prohibition era, from 1926 to 1933, there were over 200 murders in Allegheny County.
The earliest known Pittsburgh family Mafia boss was Stefano Monastero, who in 1925 was distributing bootlegging supplies throughout several warehouses on the North side of Pittsburgh. During Monstero's reign he was suspected of ordering the bombings of rival bootleggers facilities and for ordering the murder of his competitor Luigi "Big Gorilla" Lamendola in May 1927. Monastero was murdered on August 6, 1929 in front of St. John's hospital.
After Monastero's murder Giuseppe Siragusa became the new boss of the Pittsburgh family. Siragusa emigrated in 1910 from Sicily to Brooklyn and later to Pittsburgh, where he manufacture and trade of illegal alcohol in Allegheny County. He became known as the “Yeast Baron” after becoming the largest supplier of yeast to illegal beermakers. Siragusa was a close ally to the Castellammarese Clan in New York City and paid tribute to Salvatore Maranzano. On September 13, 1931, Siragusa was murdered in his Squirrel Hill home, just days after Salvatore Maranzano was murdered.
Bazzano vs. the Volpe brothers
After the murder of Siragusa, the family came under the control of John Bazzano. The new Sicilian boss Bazzano had immigrated to the United States in the 1890s and built a bootlegging empire selling yeast and sugar to home breweries and thereby allowing them to manufacture illegal beer. Bazzano formed an alliance with the eight Volpe brothers, whom he allowed to operate out of a coffee shop in the Middle Hill. The Volpe brothers were the leaders of the "Neapolitan faction" and controlled illegal rackets throughout the Turtle Creek Valley and Wilmerding.
Bazzano became upset when the Volpe brothers began expanding into East Liberty and the North Side. On July 29, 1932, Bazzano sent a hit team to murder the Volpe's and had three of the Volpe brothers murdered. Two of the surviving Volpe brothers went to the "Commission" in New York, and it was decided Bazzano would be held responsible for his unsanctioned hit. On August 8, 1932, Bazzano's body was found in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He had been stabbed and strangled to death.
Vincenzo Capizzi became the new boss after Bazzano's murder, but he eventually resigned in 1937, and was replaced by Frank Amato. Amato began expanding his influence over the gambling rackets in and around Allegheny County, but in 1956 he became ill of a kidney ailment and resigned, becoming underboss.
The LaRocca era
In 1956, John Sebastian LaRocca became the boss of the Pittsburgh family and reigned as boss for nearly thirty years. LaRocca was born in 1901 in Sicily and moved to the United States in 1910, he later moved in 1933 with his wife to Pittsburgh. He started a business selling beer equipment and concrete blocks in Oakland. LaRocca later gained control of multiple illegal rackets and was convicted on several occasions for larceny, receiving stolen property and operating an illegal lottery. In 1953, Immigration and Naturalization Service tried to use LaRocca's criminal record to deport him but several prominent figures testified on his behalf during the hearings and he was able to remain in the country until his death in 1984.
As boss of Pittsburgh LaRocca attended the 1957 Apalachin Meeting along with his capos Gabriel Mannarino and Michael James Genovese. When the Police raided the Apalachin meeting LaRocca was able to escape the federal authorities but Mannarino and Genovese were unsuccessful and were arrested. LaRocca and capo Mannarino became partners with Tampa crime family boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. in the Sans Souci hotel-casino in Havana, Cuba. In 1959, Fidel Castro took control of Cuba and forced out all the mobsters in the country. Through bribery LaRocca became a powerful Mafia boss by controlling politicians, police officers and other officials in the Pittsburgh area. His family also maintained control of labor unions through Local 1058. LaRocca's influence also grew through close ties to Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino, Bufalino crime family boss Russell Bufalino, Philadelphia crime family boss Angelo Bruno and Kansas City crime family boss Nick Civella. In the 1960s, LaRocca's family started a conflict with the Cleveland crime family when they expanded into Youngstown, Ohio. In 1964, LaRocca supported Frank Valenti's takeover of the Rochester crime family from Jake Russo. LaRocca died on December 3, 1984.
Genovese and Porter
Michael Genovese became the new boss of the Pittsburgh crime family, with the death of LaRocca. As the new boss Genovese pursued members of the Pittsburgh mafia to begin illegal drug trafficking. The family's drug trafficking activities led to more police and federal authorities focusing on the Pittsburgh family. On March 3, 1987 longtime Underboss and West Virginia gambling leader Joseph N. "Jo Jo" Pecora died. After Pecora's death Genovese promoted Charles "Chucky" Porter to Underboss of the family. By the late 1980s, the Pittsburgh family was in decline as they weren't accepting new members and their leadership was growing older, according to a 1989 report by the Pennsylvania Crime Commission. During the late 1980s the FBI investigation into Pittsburgh's top cocaine traffickers, Charles Porter and Louis Raucci, Sr. continued. In 1990, the indictment was released and charged Charles Porter along with other members of the family on racketeering and drug trafficking. Porter the underboss of the family decided to cooperate with the government leading the conviction of many Pittsburgh mobsters.
By 1992, there was only a few members and associates operating in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. The Pittsburgh family's main source of income was illegal sports and numbers gambling. On October 31, 2006 boss Michael Genovese died after of years of fighting with bladder cancer and heart disease.
After the conviction of the top members in the late 1990s and the death of many important members in the last decade the family has few members left. Most recently discovered in Grand Jury testimony of "Operation Pork Chop" there has been cooperation of high-ranking associates leading to new information of the family. In 2013, retired FBI special agent Roger Greenbank spoke about the Pittsburgh family and said "There's no real structure anymore. There's no real family."
The family is mostly involved in the local gambling rackets and has maintained a low profile in recent years.
Boss (official and acting)
- c.1910s–1920 – Gregorio Conti – retired
- 1920–1925 – Salvatore Calderone – retired
- 1925–1929 – Stefano Monastero – murdered on August 6, 1929
- 1929–1931 – Giuseppe "Yeast Baron" Siragusa – murdered on September 13, 1931
- 1931–1932 – John Bazzano – found dead on August 8, 1932, in Red Hook, Brooklyn
- 1932–1937 – Vincenzo Capizzi – retired to Italy
- 1937–1956 – Frank Amato – stepped down, becoming underboss
- 1956–1984 – John LaRocca – died on December 3, 1984
- 1984–2006 – Michael James Genovese – died on October 31, 2006
- 2006–2008 – John Bazzano Jr. – died on July 28, 2008
- 2008–present – Thomas "Sonny" Ciancutti
Underboss (official and acting)
- 1925–1929 – Salvatore "Sam" Monastero – brother to boss Stefano Monastero
- 1936–1956 – John LaRocca – promoted to boss
- 1956–1973 – Frank Amato – died 1973
- 1973–1987 – Joseph N. "Jo Jo" Pecora – imprisoned 1979–1983, died 1987
- Acting 1979–1983 – Charles "Chucky" Porter
- 1987–1990 – Charles "Chucky" Porter – arrested April 1990; convicted in 1990, sentenced to 28 years, defected to the government
- 1990–2006 – John Bazzano Jr. – became boss in 2006
- 1956–1985 – Michael James Genovese – promoted to boss
- 1985–1989 – Pasquale "Pat" Ferruccio – controlled gambling in the Canton, Ohio area, imprisoned in 1991
- 1989–2002 – Charles "Murgie" Imburgia – his nephew Anthony Murgie was connected to the Genovese family.
Current made members
- Boss – Thomas "Sonny" Ciancutti – took over Kelly Mannarino's New Kensington gambling rackets. In October 2000, Ciancutti along with his wife Sylvia Thorpe Ciancutti, his two close associates Jeffrey Risha and Ralph Maselli and eleven other associates were arrested and charged with running a gambling network that spanned Westmoreland, Allegheny and Fayette counties. Ciancutti's two lieutenants in the operation were Jeffrey Risha, who controlled sport betting and numbers rackets in Fayette County, Ralph Maselli who ran the Allegheny County gambling operations and also was involved in the placement of video poker machines. In 2002, Ciancutti was given probation for controlling gambling operations in Allegheny and Fayette counties.
Fayette and Allegheny gambling ring
- Jeffrey Risha – is an associate of Pittsburgh family. Risha is considered Ciancutti's top lieutenant and controls sports betting and video poker gambling. In October 2000, Risha along with Pittsburgh made member Thomas Ciancutti, associate Ralph Maselli and eleven other associates were charged with illegal gambling in Fayette County. It was revealed in court that Risha and Ralph Maselli were Ciancutti's top lieutenants who operated from Pittsburgh before moving into the "New Beacon Club" in Bloomfield. The courts described Risha as Ciancutti's top lieutenant controlling sports betting and numbers rackets throughout Fayette County and was responsible for ensuring the betting was profitable. In 2013, Risha was charged with Ronald Melocchi, Rodney Iannelli and others for illegal gambling.
- Ralph "Big Head" Maselli – is an associate of Pittsburgh family. In October 2000, Maselli along with Pittsburgh made member Thomas Ciancutti, associate Jeffery Risha and eleven other associates were charged with illegal gambling in Fayette County. It was revealed in court that Maselli and Jeffery Risha were Ciancutti's top lieutenants who operated from Pittsburgh before moving into the "New Beacon Club" in Bloomfield. The courts described Maselli as Ciancutti's lieutenant controlling sports betting and numbers rackets throughout Allegheny County and also was involved in the placement of video poker machines.
Southwestern gambling ring
- Robert "Bobby I" Iannelli – is an associate of the Pittsburgh family and the leader of the "Southwestern gambling ring" who controls illegal sports gambling and numbers lottery in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties from his Chub's Place restaurant in North Park. Iannelli was fined by Pittsburgh police in 1959 with football pool sheets. Iannelli started his criminal career under Tony Grosso a Pittsburgh gambling boss. After Grosso was imprisoned Iannelli took over the illegal gambling in Western Pennsylvania on behalf of the LaRocca crime family and mafia don Michael Genovese. Iannelli partnered with the Williams brother and controlled Grosso's illegal lottery, he also aligned with Pittsburgh capos Anthony "Wango" Capizzi and Frank "Sonny" Amato, Jr. His son Rodney "Rusty" Iannelli joined him in the criminal gambling rackets. In 2019, Iannelli was arrested and charged along with his son Rodney Iannelli and twelve others with operating an illegal gambling operation.
- Rodney Elia "Rusty" Iannelli – the son of "high ranking" associate Robert Iannelli. Rodney was arrested in 1991 on illegal gambling from Chub's Place. He was charged in the 2013 with illegal gambling along with Pittsburgh mob figures Ron "Porky" Melocchi and Jeff "Biscuit" Risha. In 2019, Iannelli was arrested and charged along with his father Robert Iannelli and twelve others with operating an illegal gambling operation.
McKeesport gambling ring
- Ronald "Porky" Melocchi – is an associate of the Pittsburgh family and leader of the "McKeesport gambling ring". In 2013, Melocchi was indicted along with Jeffery Risha, Rodney Iannelli and fourteen others on illegal gambling charges. Melocchi was accused of run the illegal gambling operation from his defunct business the Coffee Pot in McKeesport. The indictment also charged Melocchi with selling illegal gambling machines and with controlling illegal gambling activity of lotteries and bookmaking throughout Monongahela Valley and McKeesport area. In the indictment Melocchi was accused of and boasted that he had law enforcement and local city council members in his pocket. The indictment alleged that Melocchi bought "Back Alley Vending", a Glassport business from Primo Mollica, a Pittsburgh Mafia associate who controlled illegal gambling in Mon Valley until he died in 2001. In June 2015, Melocchi was sentenced to a decade of probation.
- Kirk "K-Prime" Mollica - the son of former "high ranking" associate Primo Mollica, who once controlled gambling throughout Glassport, McKeesport, and the surrounding areas. Before his father Primo Mollica died in 2001, he had sold his "Back Alley Vending", a Glassport vending business to Ronald Melocchi. In 2013, Mollica was indicted along with Ronald Melocchi, Rodney Iannelli, Jeffrey Risha and fourteen others on illegal gambling charges. The indictment list Kirk's "M&M Coffee Shop" in Glassport associated with Melocchi's "Back Alley Vending".
Duffy gambling ring
- John Francis "Duffy" Conley Jr. – a Pittsburgh family associate who operates an illegal video poker machine ring in Pittsburgh area. Conley owned two vending machine companies "Three River Coin Co." and "Duffy Vending" and controlled illegal gambling Allegheny County. Conley was associated with both Pittsburg family associates Ralph Maselli and John Adams. In 2006, Conley was arrested for running illegal gambling operations. The federal investigation never proved that Conley paid the Pittsburgh mob for protection, but the Pennsylvania Crime Commission claimed Conley received video poker machines from a company aligned with New Jersey's Lucchese and DeCavalcante organized crime families. In November 2006, Conley and Chris Hankish were charged in a gambling ring. Conley was release from prison in July 2009. In 2010, Conley and William Curtin opened a legal online gambling website. 
- William Curtin – is Conley's number two man in the gambling ring. In 2010, Curtin and John Conley opened a legal online gambling website. 
- Michael “Mickey” Flynn Jr. – an associate of Conley's. He pleaded guilty November 1, 2006 to gambling conspiracy charges in connection with Conley's illegal gambling operation. Flynn is the owner of the Union Grill in Washington, and was convicted on state gambling charges in 2004.
- John V. "Johnny Three Fingers" Leone – a Pittsburgh associate who was involved in narcotics trafficking. Leone was Eugene Gesuale's top lieutenant and a major player in the "Pittsburgh Connection" a drug trafficking operation along with Pagans motorcycle gang boss Daniel Zwibel with drug trafficking.
- Mauro P. Matone a Pittsburgh associate. Matone worked closely with Eugene Gesuale and involved in the narcotics distribution. He was released from prison on February 22, 1996.
- John V. "Johnny A" Adams Jr. – a Pittsburgh associate. Adams controls a large gambling operations in the Pittsburgh area and is a close associate of John Conley Jr. and Ralph Maselli.
- Salvatore A. "Sonny" Williams – a Pittsburgh associate. His father controlled a large Pittsburgh gambling ring. Williams is a close associate of John Conley Jr. Williams was also a close associate of Paul Hankish.
- Anthony Murgie – a Pittsburgh associate. He is the nephew of Charles Imburgia and was a close associate of Charles Porter and Michael Genovese. Murgie was involved in illegal gambling.
- Frank Unis, Jr. – a Pittsburgh associate. He operates a large illegal gambling in Beaver County and was a close associate of Paul Hankish.
- Gerald D. Sabatini a Pittsburgh associate. Sabatini's brothers John V. and Robert J. were associates of the Pittsburgh family and involved in illegal gambling operations. Sabatini's is a close associate of Thomas Ciancutti.
- Manuel Xenakis – a Pittsburgh associate. Xenakis is a close associate of Thomas Ciancutti and has been involved in sports and numbers bookmaking.
- Reginald "Nico" Demelio – a Pittsburgh associate.
- Jon Edward Scalzitti – a Pittsburgh associate. In 2002, Scalzitti was found guilty of a drug distribution network from Florida to Pittsburgh.
- Frank Amato – a former boss. Amato controlled rackets in New Kensington and West Virginia he expanded the crime family's territory throughout Allegheny County. He stepped down as boss becoming underboss to LaRocca. He died in 1973.
- Sebastian "John" LaRocca – a former boss. Under LaRocca's leadership the crime family became a powerful force in Pittsburgh's labor unions. He established rackets in Ohio, while sharing some of the illegal income with the Cleveland crime family. LaRocca also formed an agreement with Tampa crime family boss Santo Trafficante operating casinos in Havana, Cuba. In 1957, LaRocca attended the Apalachin conference with Michael James Genovese and Gabriel "Kelly" Mannarino. He died on December 3, 1984.
- Michael James Genovese – a former boss. Under Genovese's leadership the crime family became involved drug distribution in the Midwest and Northeast. His crime family also took control over rackets in Ohio after the Cleveland crime family members were imprisoned. Genovese also had members attempt to infiltrate an Indian casino near San Diego. His crime family also tried to take control of the McKees Rocks gambling rackets. After the defection of his underboss Charles Porter and capo Lenny Strollo in the 1990s, Genovese's family lost power. He stayed boss until his death in 2006 at the age of 87.
- John Bazzano Jr. – a former boss. Bazzano's father John, Sr. was boss of the Pittsburgh family before being murdered in 1932. During the 1950s, he joined his father-in-law Antonio Ripepi's crew operating gambling rackets in the Monongahela Valley. Bazzano was released from prison in 1981 and was promoted to capo controlling Kelly Mannarino's old crew. He later became underboss to Genovese and became boss in 2006. On July 28, 2008, Bazzano, Jr. died.
- Joseph N. "Jo Jo" Pecora – a former underboss who controlled gambling rackets in West Virginia, he was imprisoned from 1979 to 1983 on illegal gambling charges On March 3, 1987 Pecora died of heart disease in Florida.
- Gabriel "Kelly" Mannarino – a former capo who controlled the New Kensington rackets. He died on July 11, 1980, from cancer.
- Antonio Ripepi – a former capo who controlled Monongahela Valley gambling, with his son-in-law John Bazzano, Jr.; he died in 2000.
- Pasquale "Pat" Ferruccio – a former capo who operated in Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. He worked with the Cleveland family and died in 2006.
- Frank "Sonny" Amato Jr. – a former soldier who operated in East Pittsburgh, Braddock, Turtle Creek and North Versailles.
- Frank Valenti – a former soldier; in the early 1960s he took over the Rochester family.
- Louis Raucci Sr. – a former soldier, he took over Joseph Sica's Penn Hills rackets. In 1990 he was imprisoned, and he died in 1995.
- Joseph Sica – a former soldier who controlled rackets in Penn Hills, he retired in the 1980s and died in 1991.
- Anthony "Wango" Capizzi – a former soldier who operated in Las Vegas with the Bufalino family. He died in 2007.
- Henry "Zebo" Zottola – he died in 1998.
- Geno "Eugene" Chiarelli – a former soldier. He was released from prison in 2008. Chiarelli died on June 14, 2012.
- Eugene "Nick the Blade" Gesuale – was released from prison in November 2015 after serving 28 years related to drug trafficking. During the 1970s and mid-1980s Gesuale was a narcotics trafficker and enforcer for Charles Porter and Penn Hills capo Louie Raucci. Gesuale became the Pittsburgh Mafia's liaison between the Mafia family and Pagans motorcycle gang boss Daniel "Danny the Deacon" Zwibel. He ran his marijuana and cocaine distribution network from East Liberty and Highland Park along with the Pittsburgh family and the Pagans motorcycle gang. Gesuale also was involved in bookmaking, loan sharking, extortion and ran a prostitution business in Manhattan's “Little Italy” section, with the apparent approval of New York City mob families. He was also a close mob associate of Pittsburgh family boss Michael Genovese. Gesuale became famously known from the movie Goodfellas and he was nicknamed the "Pittsburgh connection" after selling Lucchese mob associates Henry Hill cocaine. In 1985 an indictment charged Gesuale, his right hand John "Johnny Three Fingers" Leone and Pagans motorcycle gang boss Daniel Zwibel with drug trafficking. Gesuale died on July 29, 2016.
The Pittsburgh crime family operated a faction from Youngstown, Ohio and throughout the Mahoning Valley. During the early 1970s the faction gained control of the gambling rackets in Youngstown and shared some of the profits with the Cleveland crime family.
- 1960s–1988 – James "Jimmy" Prato – died 1988
- 1988–1991 – Joey Naples – protege of Prato, he was murdered in 1991
- 1991–1999 – Lenine "Lenny" Strollo – nephew of Prato, imprisoned and defected to the government in 1999.
Pittsburgh crime family associates controlled illegal gambling operations in Wheeling, West Virginia and the surrounding areas.
- c.1930–1970 – William G. “Big Bill” Lias – born on July 14, 1900. After Prohibition ended Lias moved into illegal gambling and controlled casino-nightclubs in Wheeling. In 1945, Lias purchase Wheeling Down racetrack. In 1964, Lias rivaled with Paul Hankish and was suspected of ordering the car bombing of Hankish. The U.S. government tried to deport Lias to Greece but they failed to prove he was born outside of the United States. Lias died in 1970.
- 1970–1988 – Paul "No Legs" Hankish – a Pittsburgh family associate of Gabriel "Kelly' Mannarino, Michael Genovese, Charles Porter and Joseph Naples. On January 17, 1964 Hankish was a victim of a car bombing which resulted in the partial amputation of both his legs. It was suspected the car bombing was a result of Hankish trying to expand his gambling territory into William Lias territory. After William Lias died in 1970, Hankish took over Wheeling criminal operations with the support of the Pittsburgh family. Hankish controlled drug trafficking, sports gambling, an interstate theft ring and loansharking. In July 1990, Hankish was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
- 1988–2008 – Christopher Paul Hankish – a Pittsburgh family associate operating from Wheeling, West Virginia. His father Paul Hankish was a powerful mobster. In 1990, Hankish was a codefendant along with Charles Porter and Louis F. Raucci Sr. Hankish pleaded guilty in 1991 to cocaine distribution and was sentenced to two years in federal prison. In November 2006, Hankish was charged along with his close associate John Conley Jr. on illegal gambling. Hankish died on September 19, 2008.
- Anthony "Tony" Grosso – controlled gambling operations in the Pittsburgh area. The FBI never categorized Grosso as an organized crime member. Grosso was linked to Chuckie Porter, and he had ties to the Pittsburgh political system allowing him to run his organization unscathed for many years and unconnected to organized crime. He was eventually arrested by law enforcement and he served significant jail time, ultimately dying while incarcerated. His organization has no members left operating in the Pittsburgh area today. Grosso's antics were so legendary Hollywood loosely based the movie Lucky Numbers starring John Travolta on them.
Government informants and witnesses
- Charles "Chucky" Porter – former underboss who became the highest-ranking member in the Pittsburgh family to cooperate with the government. He became a soldier in 1986. Porter was the right-hand man of Michael Genovese. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 1990 on charges of drug distribution, loansharking, extortion, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, illegal gambling and racketeering. Porter confessed to the infiltration of a Native American casino near San Diego and according to former FBI agent Roger Greenbank, Porter prevented 6 Mob-related murders through his cooperation. He was released from prison in 2000. Porter died on October 11, 2016 at the age of 82.
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