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October 10, 1891
Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Italy
|Died||July 19, 1974
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
|Resting place||St. Joseph's Cemetery, Niagara Falls, New York|
|Nationality||Sicilian, Italian, American|
|Other names||"Don Stefano", "The Undertaker"|
|Occupation||Bootlegger, Businessman, Mobster, Racketeer|
|Known for||Boss of the Buffalo crime family|
Stefano "The Undertaker" Magaddino (October 10, 1891 – July 19, 1974) was a Sicilian mafioso who became the boss of the Buffalo crime family in western New York. His underworld influence stretched from Ohio to Southern Ontario and as far east as Montreal, Quebec. Known as Don Stefano to his friends and The Undertaker to others, he was also a charter member of the American Mafia's ruling council, otherwise known as The Commission.
Born in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Magaddino emigrated to the United States in 1909 and settled in Brooklyn, New York. One of Magadinno's cousins from Sicily was Joseph Bonanno, the future boss of the Bonanno crime family in New York City.
In 1921, in Avon, New Jersey, Magaddino was arrested for his involvement in the murder of Pietro Caiozzo, a member of the rival Buccellato clan from Castellammare del Golfo. In 1924, Magaddino became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Buffalo crime family
Magaddino eventually moved to Niagara Falls, New York, then in later years further north to Lewiston, another town on the Niagara River facing the Canadian border. Although he was a successful mortician operating his legitimate Magaddino Memorial Chapel funeral home business in Niagara Falls, with Prohibition in effect in the United States, Maggadino made his real money running a profitable bootlegging business by smuggling wine and spirits across the Niagara River into New York State, thereby supplying the needs of speakeasies located in Buffalo and the very "Honky-tonk" Niagara Falls. After Prohibition ended, Magaddino and his crime family made their money by means of loan sharking, illegal gambling, extortion, carjacking and labor racketeering as well as other legitimate lucrative businesses such as linen service businesses that served the needs of most of the hotels located throughout the region as well as taxicab companies and other service-oriented businesses.
Magaddino's crime family held power in the underworld territories of Upstate and Western New York, namely, Buffalo, New York, bordering Canada and situated on Lake Erie, Rochester and Utica, along the Mohawk River as far east as Amsterdam, New York; from Eastern Pennsylvania as far west as Youngstown, Ohio, and in Canada from Fort Erie (opposite Buffalo, NY) to Toronto, Ontario and as far east as Montreal, Quebec. Magaddino led his Buffalo family through its glory years and its most powerful and profitable era in La Cosa Nostra. He was an old-style boss who preferred to stay in the background and not draw any attention to himself or his criminal activities if possible. Due to his territory's remoteness yet the vast amount of it he controlled and being geographically insulated from the inter-family squabbles of the New York City-based families, he was held in high regard and was at times called upon to be an arbiter involving territorial disputes between crime families based there.
National crime figure
For fifty years, Magaddino was a dominant presence in the Buffalo underworld. He was the longest tenured boss in the history of the American Mafia. Magaddino was also very involved in national La Cosa Nostra affairs. Magaddino was a charter member of Charles "Lucky" Luciano's Mafia Commission and attended important underworld summits such as the 1946 Havana Conference and the 1957 Apalachin Conference.
Although fairly popular, Magaddino had enemies and survived several assassination attempts. In 1936, rival gangsters attempted to kill Magaddino with a bomb, killing his sister instead. In 1958, an assassin tossed a hand grenade through his kitchen window, which failed to explode. This second attempt on his life was said to be directed by mobsters who blamed Magaddino for the failed Apalachin Meeting, which was raided by New York State Police.
Arrest and fall
Magaddino had never spent any significant time in prison, but in 1968, he and his son Peter were arrested and charged with interstate bookmaking. A raid on his son's home in Niagara Falls led to the discovery of approximately $473,134 in a suitcase. This created great animosity between the Buffalo family members and the Magaddinos, and led to a breakdown of their cooperation concerning criminal activities. The Buffalo family split into dissident factions; the leaders met in Rochester at the end of 1968, and by early 1969 ousted Magaddino as boss, leaving him to lead a faction made up of his once powerful in-laws and older crime family members, from 1969 until he died several years later.
Stefano Magaddino died of a heart attack on July 19, 1974 at age 82 at Mount Saint Mary's Hospital in Lewiston, New York. His funeral mass was celebrated at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic church and he was buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery on Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls.
Mob Boss, written by Mike Hudson, is a book about Magaddino's life as a mob boss. Magaddino is also mentioned in Niagara Falls Confidential, also written by Mike Hudson. He also gets a passing mention in The Valachi Papers by Peter Maas.
Magaddino is an unseen character in the third season of the hit HBO series, Boardwalk Empire.
- Critchley, David (2009). The Origin of Organized Crime in America. New York: Routledge. p. 172, 179, 214-222. ISBN 978-0-415-99030-1.
- Perlmutter, Emanuel (July 21, 1974). "Stefano Magaddino dead at 82". New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
- Hunt, Thomas; Tona, Michael A. (2007). "The Good Killers: 1921's Glimpse of the Mafia". The American Mafia. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Checkmark Books, 2005. ISBN 0816056951
- "NiagaraTimes.Com". Retrieved 2005-10-09.