baltimore colorful mafia history

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Below is some information on the LCN/Gambino Baltimore crew being involved in the Baltimore underworld:
"This was a low-key crew that never really drew much attention to itself, though they had something like a dozen made members at their peak. Here is some info on them through the late 1960s:
- The captain before Frank Corbi was Luigi Morici, originally from Palermo, who had been close to Albert Anastasia. An informant ID'd Morici as likely being a capodecina as far back as the 1940s. At that time, Morici was self-employed as a "music box operator". Apparently Morici, Joseph Gigliotti, and others in Baltimore were fearful following the Anastasia murder gave their close relationship with him.
- Most of the made members of this crew were not believed to have been heavily involved in rackets, with Jewish associates being the most dominant in gambling, numbers, loansharking, etc. The Baltimore crew worked with these associates and either extorted them or partnered with them. The members who were more hands-on with the rackets were typically involved in craps games, numbers, and loansharking.
- An informant claimed that in 1952, Antonio "Tony" Messina was murdered in Baltimore on Albert Anastasia's orders.Sometimes after this, still in 1952, Salvatore "Big Sam" Zannino of Baltimore was killed, also supposedly on Anastasia's orders. The informant says that Baltimore captain Morici was upset about the Zannino contract and protested, but Anastasia forced him. He says Frank Malvaso participated in the Messina murder in some way and was the last Baltimore member made before the books were closed. By 1967, Malvaso had retired to Florida.
- Not sure if Antonio "Tony" Messina and Salvatore "Big Sam" Zannino were members before their murders, but given Anastasia's direct involvement and Morici protesting, it seems they were either members or important associates. Shortly after Messina's death, a newspaper article came out stating that Messina and Philip Mangano had been close, and seemed to suggest that their murders were related. It also said that Messina and Mangano had participated in a triple murder in upstate NY together in 1925 and that Messina disappeared after that, only to later turn up in Baltimore. We know that Phil Mangano was arrested in Buffalo in 1925 and I believe was living in that area at the time, so seems possible he could have done work upstate. The same article says Mangano had several "conferences" with the FBI before his murder.
- Joseph N. Gallo, though only an acting captain, served as the point of contact with the Baltimore crew beginning in the early 1960s and on occasion was aggressively involved in the crew's activities, to the point of directly participating in extortion of Jewish gamblers in the Baltimore area. An informant said that Gallo had his own rackets and associates in Baltimore and Philadelphia and visited both cities frequently. I'd be curious what associates/operations he had in Philly, though he is said to have less there than Baltimore.
- Another informant said Gallo had been involved in Baltimore since as far back as the early 1950s and he had been visiting Baltimore every week for a day or two for "10 to fifteen years", so it appears this went back to when he was just a soldier and was a very strong connection. A source with the NYPD claimed that Gallo was "offered Baltimore" when Morici retired but apparently turned it down.
- Gallo's involvement in Baltimore got progressively less and less after 1965 and by 1967 he hadn't been to Baltimore in over a year. All of this coincides with him having more important administrative duties in NY. Seems the Baltimore crew, in general, began to slowly fade out by this point.
- Patsy Corbi was involved in the 1923 murder of Frank Naples in West Virginia and fled to Baltimore where he and his brothers Frank and Anthony were later involved in the 1932 murder of a woman named Bella Lemon. The informant believed that Frank Corbi killed the woman but Patsy took the fall because Patsy had had political contacts to save himself from the electric chair, whereas Frank would be executed if convicted of the crime. Another report says nobody was ever tried for the murder.
- Gambino associates James and Peter Sclafani, described as brothers of Augustus Sclafani and Vincent "Corraro" (Corrao? Described as a buttonman in the Lombardozzi crew), visited Baltimore after Augustus Sclafani and James Russo (same guy as "Jimmy Russo" Corona?) were sentenced to 20 years for committing a robbery with a deadly weapon in Maryland. The Sclafanis met with Frank Corbi, Joe Gigliotti, and Mario Anello, members of the Baltimore decina, the reason for the meeting was the Sclafani brothers trying to get a new trial. Another report makes it sound like James and Peter Sclafani were also arrested in Maryland for robbery but the other report makes it more clear that it is their more well-known brother who was arrested. If someone has more info on this please share.
- An informant claimed that Connecticut Gambino leader Dave Iacovetti sent a man named Frank Dee to Baltimore, who became Frank Corbi's constant companion.
- In 1964, Joe Corbi asked Philadelphia member Peter Maggio to intervene in order to get Corbi money he was owed from a Joe LNU. Maggio went to Angelo Bruno, who told him he would bring it up to Carlo Gambino. Bruno was scheduled to meet with Gambino over a different issue involving real estate.
- Baltimore soldier Frank Malvaso had a brother living in Philadelphia who owed Joe Rugnetta money. Rugnetta asked Peter Maggio to contact Frank Malvaso in order to settle the issue. Maggio was also involved in an issue with someone named Jack LNU who owed Joe Corbi money. It's not clear if this is connected to either of the other situations. Seems Maggio was the Philly family's main liaison to Baltimore, and a big reason was that his cheese was purchased by Baltimore members in the pizza and food distribution business.
- Angelo Bruno comes across as leery of the Baltimore group in a recorded discussion with Maggio. In this conversation, Frank Corbi is referred to as a drunk and Bruno seems to caution Maggio in his dealings with the Baltimore group.
- The Corbis and other crew members were in various parts of the pizza industry, including Joe Tamburello. At some point, Tamburello was involved in a business dispute that he was recorded discussing with Peter Maggio. This dispute somehow involved a business merger and a guy named Frank Arena, whose godfather was an "amico nostra" according to Tamburello. It also involved a "Joe Random" (ph.) who is the brother of a Tony Coletti/Covetti.
- Some of these men were only suspected members and at least a couple was dead by the mid-1960s, but all of the following were identified as members of the Baltimore crew at various points through the mid-1960s:
Mario Anello
Charles Barbera
Louis Comi
Vincent "Jimmy Russo" Corona
Frank Corbi
Joseph Corbi
Pasquale "Patsy" Corbi (died 1955)
Joseph Gigliotti
Gaetano LaFata (died 1965)
Benjamin "Benny Trotta" Magliano
Frank Malvaso
Luigi "Don Luigi" Morici
Angelo Perrera
Giacomo "Jimmy" Romano
Joseph Tamburello
- Benny "Trotta" Magliano, described as one of the leading members of the crew during Morici's time, was a well-known boxing manager/promoter close to Frankie Carbo who lost his license. Sam Zannino was also a fight promoter and was Magliano's partner before his 1952 murder, which Magliano was suspected of being involved with. Magliano also ran a number of sleazy clubs.
- At one point in the late 1960s, an informant claimed there were 11 made members in Baltimore. This would include Morici, who was inactive by the mid-1960s with Frank Corbi as acting captain. Morici seems to have officially stepped down by 1967, with Corbi taking over.
- Patsy Corbi's exact affiliation is a bit confusing. One informant claimed he was a member, but implied he was made with a different group in West Virginia before coming to Baltimore. Corbi, a Calabrian, was linked to a local Black Hand type group in WV and this may have been some sort of Camorra. Maybe that's what the informant is referring to. Corbi was also said to have close ties to NYC and visited there frequently. A different informant made statements indicating that Patsy Corbi had been a leader in Baltimore.
- They had a few ties to the Pittsburgh family, one being Joe Gigliotti who was said to have lived and operated in Pittsburgh decades earlier but was eventually chased out of town by "other racketeers". He was said to have been close to the murdered Volpe brothers. Gigliotti was also tried for a murder in the Pittsburgh area but not convicted and the informant felt the Gigliotti was a "gun" (hitman) for the mob.
- Pittsburgh member Anthony Ripepi had ties to Baltimore and in 1966 was charged with attempted murder during a visit to Baltimore. One side said that Angelo Tromberi shot Frank Corbi and Ripepi, who was in attendance, attempted to kill Tromberi in retaliation. Tromberi, however, claimed that the three men had been together Corbi's office when Corbi signalled Ripepi to strike Tromberi with the butt of a gun. Tromberi says he wrestled the gun away and Corbi was shot in the struggle. Corbi survived and Ripepi denied being in Baltimore at the time.

- An informant reported that Joe Franco, ID'd as a Gambino capodecina, and Carmine Lombardozzi attended the wake of Patsy Corbi in the 1950s. The same informant said that a short time later Lombardozzi attended the wedding of the daughter of a Baltimore member. This same informant goes on to discuss activities at Apalachin, which he attended, so it's clear this informant is Lombardozzi. To his discredit, he says he met 50 members of the Baltimore crew at the Corbi wake. Either he or the transcriber was confused and he meant there were 50 total Gambino members (including members from outside Baltimore) in attendance or he was including associates in with the number.”

- What else is known about this crew at any point in their history? Two of the earliest known members were Morici and LaFata, both from Palermo, but it's not clear if the crew goes back before Morici was captain or what the origins might be. I'd be curious if anyone has come across the names of other Italian underworld figures in Baltimore pre-1940s, whether they've been connected to the "mafia" or not.

Submitted: April 22, 2019

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