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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Mafia Leaders Who Were Not Murdered and Died Normal Deaths

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We all have heard about the mafia, and a lot of us have somewhat of a fascination with

the lives of mafia members.

And when we think about them, we mostly imagine they either died in prison, or they were made

tosleep with the fishesor werewacked”.

This list however presents those important, but few lucky ones from the Prohibition-era

that did not meet the fate reserved for people like them, and who instead were met with a

normal end, not dying in some prison cell, on the electric chair, or gunned down, but

from natural causes, sometimes even at home surrounded by theirfamily”.


Meyer Lansky, the Mob Accountant

Born on July 4th, 1902 in Grodno, Russia (now Poland), he immigrated to the United States

in 1911 under the name of Meyer Suchowljansky and settled in New York City.

In 1920 he met Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano.

Together with Bugsy, they formed theBug and Meyer Mob”.

Later, Lansky came to be known as one of theBig Sixalong with Bugsy Siegel, Jacob

GurrahShapiro, LouisLepkeBuchalter, Lucky Luciano and Joe Adonis.

His initialbig moneycame from the gambling operations he established in Florida,

Cuba and New Orleans.

He was also the man who suggested Bugsy Siegel to handle the construction and management

of the Flamingo hotel and casino in Las Vegas, as an investor.

By the 1960s, Lansky was involved in numerous criminal activities, such as drugs, pornography,

extortion etc.

It was estimated that his total holdings were around $300 million.

In the FBI files, an informant states on April 26th, 1963 that Lansky is extremely wealthy

and has more points in the Las Vegas casinos than anyone else.

Those files also state that Lansky was associated with practically every known leading figure

in organized crime, and was equal in rank to all of the leading ten La Cosa Nostra figures

in the United States.

In 1970 he was risking arrest for income tax evasion, which made him flee to Israel.

He however could not escape arrest and was returned to the United States.

The charges were later dropped because of his poor health.

Meyer died of lung cancer in Miami Beach, Florida on May 15th, 1983, at 80 years old.

Even though he was estimated to be worth around $300 million, no money was ever found.

His granddaughter told author T.J.

English that at his death, Lansky left only $37,000 in cash.


JohnnyPapaTorrio aka.

The Immune

Born on January 20th, 1882 in Irsina, Italy, Torrios mother immigrated with him to the

US after the death of his father, when he was two years old.

They settled in New York, and his mother later remarried.

His stepfather owned a grocery store, which was an illegal liquor front, where he was

hired as a porter.

This place was the start of Torrios criminal career.

As a teenager he joined the James Street Gang.

The gang was connected to the Five Points Gang, ran by Paulo Vaccarelli.

Torrio saved enough money and opened a billiards hall in Brooklyn.

The place soon became a hangout for rising young criminals such as Al Capone.

Torrinos success drew the attention of Paulo Vaccarelli, and who made him his lieutenant.

Paulo Vaccarelli also made Torrio his mentee, transforming Torrio from a street thug into

a well-dressedbusiness man”.

After a while he moved from New York to Chicago when his uncle by marriage, Big Jim Colosimo,

made him second in command.

Colosimo controlled much of the Chicago underworld.

His organization was known as the Chicago Outfit.

In 1919, when the Prohibition era began, Colosimo didnt want to be part of illegal distribution

of liquor.

Two years later, on May 11th, 1921, Colosimo was killed while leaving a meeting.

No one was charged, but one of the suspects was Capone.

After Colosimos death, Johnny Torrio became the leader of the Outfit, and with the help

of Capone, the bootlegging operation brought as much as $100 million per year at the height

of the Prohibition.

An assassination attempt on January 24th, 1925 sent Torrio into semi-retirement in Italy

and left the Outfit to Capone.

Later in his life, he returned to the United States to serve as a mentor to Lucky Luciano

and the Genovese family in New York.

He is credited for the creation of the National Crime Syndicate, which later became the Commission.

In 1939, he was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

After his release he retired.

He died on April, 1957 from a heart attack, at the age of 75, while sitting in his barbers



PaulThe WaiterRicca

Born in 1897 in Naples, Italy as Felipe DeLucia, he changed his name to Paul Maglio and fled

to the United States via Cuba because of a murder he committed.

On his way to America, he met a bootlegger and restaurant owner from Chicago, Joseph

Diamond JoeEsposito.

Once he arrived to the U.S. he changed his name to Paul Ricca and moved from New York

to Chicago, and started smuggling whiskey and moonshine liquor.

Diamond Joe soon appointed him the head of waiters at his restaurant, thus gaining the

nicknameThe Waiter”.

In his time as head of waiters, he met Al Capone who was a frequent patron of the restaurant.

After meeting Capone, he went to work for him.

He rose very quickly in the gang ranks, and soon became good friends with Capone.

When Capone was convicted in 1932 for tax evasion and sent to federal prison, Frank

The EnforcerNitti became boss, and Paul Ricca the underboss.

However, Carl Sifakis, crime historian, claims that Ricca was the real boss in the organization.

Sifakis also said that Paul Ricca was one of the most stereotypical gangsters ever produced

by The Chicago Mob.

When he wanted someone killed, he would sayMake-a him go away.”

After 1950, Ricca started passing responsibilities to Tony Accardo, who was a good friend, but

in 1957 he chose to replace him with Sam Giancana, as Accardo was facing tax evasion charges

and Ricca may have wanted for Accardo to take a low profile.

However, as Ricca aged, Accardo began to make the high level decisions.

In 1959, Ricca was convicted of tax evasion and was sentenced to 9 years in prison, but

was mysteriously released after serving only 27 months.

Ricca faced another indictment in 1965, again for tax evasion, but he was eventually acquitted.

He retired to Detroit, where he died of a heart attack at 75 on October 11th, 1972.

He was consideredthe brainsbehind Al Capone, Frank Nitti and Tony Accardos



EnochNuckyL. Johnson

As the son of the elected sheriff of Atlantic County, he also joined the force, first as

the undersheriff, and later, in 1908, when his fathers term expired, the sheriff.

After 1911, when he no longer held the position, he went on holding other various jobs, such

as Atlantic County Treasurer, County Tax Collector, newspaper publisher, bank director, brewery

director, and after 1945, a salesman for an oil company.

He was a lover of fine things.

His trademark was a fresh red carnation on his lapel, and in the winter, he was often

seen wearing a raccoon coat.

He also had a German personal assistant and valet.

His headquarters were on a ninth-floor suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

Enochs power reached its peak during the Prohibition era, as it was not effectively

enforced in Atlantic City, and which allowed for a very lucrative bootlegging business.

Johnsons income came from percentages he took from the selling of illegal liquor and

other activities, such as gambling and prostitution.

Under Johnsons rule, Atlantic City was known as one of the biggest ports for importing

illegal alcohol.

He was the host for the Atlantic City Conference in 1929, which was a national gathering of

crime leaders, such as Al Capone, GiuseppeJoe AdonisDoto, CharlesLucky

Luciano and others.

The meeting was instrumental in creating the true organization with which the syndicate

thrived in the first half of the 20th century.

His reign would come in 1941, as he was indicted for income tax evasion.

He was convicted for evading $125,000 in taxes.

His sentence was 10 years in prison.

He only served 4 years of his sentence as he was released on parole in 1945.

He returned to Atlantic City, but chose not to continue his previousbusiness”, instead

he worked in sales for the Richfield Oil Company.

He died on December 9, 1968 at the Atlantic Country Convalescent Home in Northfield, New


He was 85 years old.

I cant find anybody in the first half of the 20th century who was as dominant a

boss in his community.”

…“and was a power in two different worlds (organized crime and politics) and was able

to make those two spheres one thing.”

Author Nelson Johnson


TonyBig TunaAccardo, akaJoe Batters

Born from Sicilian immigrants on April 26th, 1906 in Chicago, he had no legal troubles

until 1922, when he was arrested for a motor vehicle violation.

He later joined the Circus Café Gang, name gotten for their hang out at The Circus Café,

which was owned by gangster John Moore, also known as Claude Maddox.

Tony, as a member of this gang, became close friends with his fellow gang member, Vincenzo


DeMora was promoted to Al Capones personal gang, and as Capone needed more soldiers for

his operations, DeMora vouched for Tony Accardo.

Tony became amademan in Capones gang in the spring of 1926, as he swore the

oath of Omerta, the code of silence.

Accardo was promoted to personal driver and bodyguard after saving Capones life by

pulling him down and shielding him as Capones rivals fired at them.

By 1931, as Capone was jailed for income tax evasion, he became caporegime (captain).

In the 1940s, Tony Accardo became the 2nd man in the organization, since many of the

top mobsters were jailed for their implication in the Hollywood Extortion case, having only

Paul Ricca, who was also his friend and counsel, above him.

Tony Accardo always denied any role in the Chicago mob.

When Paul Ricca retired in 1968, Tony allegedly became mob chief, and when Paul Ricca died

in 1972, he became the ultimate authority.

Accardo died at 86 years old on May 27th, 1992, of heart and lung disease.

His criminal career spanned over several decades, but he never spent a night in jail.


Giuseppe Antonio Doto, known as Joe Adonis, akaJoey A”, Joe DiMeo”, “James Arosa”,

Joe Adonis

Born on November 22nd, 1902 in Montemarano, Campania, Italy, he arrived in 1915 in New

York City, illegally by boat.

Here he made a living by pickpocketing and stealing whatever he could.

At a young age he met CharlesLuckyLuciano, and the two became very good friends.

In the 1920, as Luciano went on working for Joe Masseria, Joe Adonis stayed and chose

to work for mafia boss Frankie Yale, who controlled much of the criminal activities in Brooklyn.

After Luciano arranged the murder of Masseria in 1931, with the contribution of Joe Adonis,

Luciano took control of Masserias family and formed the National Crime Syndicate (The


Joe Adonis was appointed on the board of directors for this organization, and thus he received

a great deal of power.

Adonis established his headquarters at his restaurant, Joes Italian Kitchen.

From here he managed to net millions of dollars in profit from all kind of operations such

as prostitution, gambling etc., and by 1932 he was controlling Brooklyn.

In 1944, Adonis moved his headquarters from Brooklyn to New Jersey, another restaurant

called Dukes Restaurant, located in Cliffside Park.

Adonis managed to avoid prison until 1951, when he was forced to plead guilty to violation

of state gambling laws.

In 1956, as he was facing charges for perjury, Adonis agreed to be deported to Italy.

Adonis lived a life of luxury in his Milan villa, occasionally meeting with his life-long

friend Charles Luciano.

He attended a requiem mass for Charles Lucianos death, where, with tears in his eyes, he presented

a final floral tribute to his friend with the messageSo long, Pal!”

On June 20, 1971 hew was exiled by a Milan court to the town of Ancona.

Six months later, on November 26, he died of natural causes at the age of 69.

His remains were returned to the U.S.A.


Raymond Loreda Salvatore Patriarca, Sr.

The boss of the Patriarca Family in New England for nearly 30 years was born in Massachusetts,

1908, to Italian immigrants.

His criminal career started from an early age, and by the 1930s he was given the

status ofPublic Enemy No. 1”, but by using his political connections he was able

to get a pardon.

During the 1940s, Patriarca was on a power rise, and after Philip Bruccola, the boss

of the family, fled the country to avoid prosecution, Patriarca took his place as the boss.

During his career he was arrested more than 30 times for charges raging from bootlegging

to conspiracy and even murder, and he served several prison sentences.

The last charges he faced were in 1983 for ordering the murder of burglar Ray Curcio,

the man who broke into the home of Patriarcas brother, Joseph.

One year later, he was arrested for another killing, that of Robert Candos, another robber.

He was not convicted for this one, as he died of a heart attack before the start of the


He was 76 years old.

The power was inherited by his son, Raymond Patriarca Jr.


JosephJoe BananasBonanno

Bonano was born on January 18th, 1905 in Castellammare del Golfo, Italy in a powerful Sicilian family,

so he gotfront row seatsin observing the men of honor – “men of the old Tradition

the name referring to the Sicilian mafia members.

Bonano moved to the United States when he was 3, but only for a short while, because

4 years later his family had to move back to Italy due to rising tensions between his

family and the rival Buccellatos.

Bonano lost both his parents by the time he was a teenager.

He then went to become a sailor, but the rise to power of Benito Mussolini got him suspended

for his anti-fascist activities.

As a result, he had to leave the country and went back to the U.S.

Not before long, Bonano got involved in bootlegging, and he went on working for Salvatore Maranzano

as an enforcer.

Bonano was a great help for Maranzano in the Castellammarese War, but as the war ended

with the murder of Maranzano, Bonano took over his crime family (which later became

to be known as the Bonano family).

Over the years, Bonano strove for respectability by investing in a number of legitimate businesses

that helped him with his illegal activities.

After serving eight months in 1983 for obstruction of justice, his biographyA Man of Honor

was released, which angered the other New York Mafia leaders, as it was considered he

broke the omerta code (code of silence).

His autobiography drew the attention of then-U.S. district attorney Rudy Giuliani, who wanted

Bonano to testify about his criminal connections.

As Bonano refused to comply, he received a 14 months term in a federal medical facility.

After his release in November of 1986, he moved to his home in Tucson.

He is one of the few mafia members that got to retire from the Mafia.

He died of a heart attack in May 11th, 2002 at the age of 97 in Tucson.

His funeral was attended by 300 people.

Bonanno is credited with creating thedouble coffin”—a coffin with a special compartment

for disposing of a corpse beneath another body prepared for burial.

Also, it is believed that he was one of the inspirations for the character Vito Corleone

in Mario Puzos novel, The Godfather


Alphonse GabrielAlCapone, aka Scarface

Born on January 17th, 1899 in Brooklyn, New York, Capone was not like the usual gangster

from the early 20th century who came from impoverished backgrounds.

He was from a respectable, professional immigrant family, and we believe that the career that

followed couldnt have been easily foreseen.

Capones career is tied to meeting JohnPapa JohnnyTorrio, who became a mentor

to Capone, teaching him thetools of the tradein organized crime, especially in

the racketeering business.

Capone joined Torrios James Street Boys and later the Five Points Gang, becoming a

bouncer at premises such as brothels.

In his early 20s, he moved to Chicago, being called for by Torrio, who moved there

in 1909 to help him run the Chicago brothel business.

It is not exactly known, but it might have been Capone who assassinated Torrios boss,

Big Jim Colosimo, in 1920, helping Johnny Torrio becoming the new boss.

The rise of Capone started as the Prohibition era began, and so new bootlegging operations

opened which drew immense wealth.

By 1927, Capone wealth was estimated at around $100 million.

In 1925, in retaliation to an assassination attempt, Johnny Torrio was attacked and was

greatly injured by the North Siders Gang.

Recovering slowly from this attempt, he handed power over to Capone and he moved to Europe.

After the new found power, Capone moved his headquarters to the luxurious Metropole Hotel,

as he wanted to become more visible and somewhat of a celebrity.

Capone, dressing in custom made suits, having gourmet food and drinks, making donations

to various charities, started to have an image that appealed to the people.

But his image was to suffer greatly, with influential citizens demanding action from

central government, after the multiple assassinations of 6 North Siders and a mechanic in 1929;

assassinations that were namedThe Saint Valentines Day Massacre”.

Al Capones activities attracted the attention of President Herbert Hoover, who told his

secretary of Treasury, Andrew Mellon, in March, 1929, that he wanted Capone in jail.

In June 1931, Capone was indicted for federal income-tax evasion, tried, and sentenced to

11 years in prison.

His seven-year reign as crime boss ended when he was 33 years old.

He entered Atlanta penitentiary in May 1932, but was transferred to Alcatraz.

From the early period of his sentence, Capone started showing signs of syphilitic dementia.

Capones health deteriorated and he became confused and disorientated.

He was released after 8 years and moved to Baltimore Hospital, and later to his estate

in Florida.

In 1946, his physician and a Baltimore psychiatrist concluded Capone had the mentality of a 12-year-old


He died on January 25, 1947 in Palm Island, Florida at the age of 48 due to a stroke and

pneumonia with none of his former power and influence.

Due to his publicized image, he became the most famous mobster in American history, but

not our number one on the list.


Salvatore Lucania (Known as CharlesLuckyLuciano)

Born on November 24, 1897, in Lercara Friddi, Italy, Luciano moved to New York City with

his parents in 1906.

It took only one year for Luciano to get involved in crime.

So at the age of 10, he was mugging, shoplifting and extorting people.

He was also 10 years old the first time he saw life behind bars, was when he spent 6

months in jail for selling heroin.

The scars on his face were from the injuries he sustained in 1929 from surviving aone-way


He was abducted by four men in a car, beaten, stabbed, had his throat slit, and was left

for dead on a beach in Staten Island.

The nicknameLuckywas earned for his luck at the craps games and for the success

of evading arrest.

Teaming up with Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky and other young gangsters, he later joined

the crime boss GiuseppeJoe the BossMasseria in 1920, and by 1925, at 28 years

old, he beame chief lieutenant, responsible for bootlegging, prostitution, narcotics etc.

But Luciano is not known in history for his starting age in crime business, or for surviving

theone-way ride”, but for the role he played in the war between Giuseppe Masseria

and Salvatore Maranzano.

The war was instigated by Salvatore Maranzano in his attempt, which succeeded for a brief

while, to becomeBoss of Bosses”.

The war was named the Castellammare war, named after the birth place of Salvatore Maranzano,

and the end of it led to the establishment of the Modern Mafia.

But the idea of Maranzano being the newBoss of bossesdid not fit well with Luciano.

So six months later (September 10th, 1931) he had Maranzano murdered with the help of

Meyer Lansky and 4 other gunmen.

Luciano was now, without direct seeking of the title, theBoss of bosses”.

Luciano did not want the title, so, for preventing future wars like the Castellammare, he established

a power-sharing arrangement calledThe Commission”, a group of five Mafia families.

The Genovese family (Luckys family), Profaci (now Colombo), Gagliano (now Lucchese), Maranzano

(now Bonano), and the family of Vincent Mangano (now Gambino).

The second conviction came in 1936.

He was indicted, tried, and convicted for his call-girl empire and extortions.

The sentence was for a 30 to 50 year term.

Luciano continued to rule from inside the prison, and in 1946, after he helped the Navy

intelligence in 1942 to end the sabotage on the docks that blew up the luxury airliner

Normandie, his sentence was commuted and he was deported to Italy, where he settled in


He died at the Capodichino Airport in Naples in 1962 where he was to meet with Martin Gosch

about a film based on his life.

He was 64.

More than 2000 mourners attended his funeral.

In 1998, Time Magazine named CharlesLuckyLuciano acriminal mastermind”, and included

him in the top 20 most influential builders and titans of

the 20th century.

The Description of Mafia Leaders Who Were Not Murdered and Died Normal Deaths