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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tampa: Long History of Mob Connections

Tampa again finds itself in the center of the latest chapter of mob intrigue.

Reported organized crime boss John Gotti Jr. was arrested in New York on Tuesday, and will be arraigned in Tampa on murder conspiracy charges stemming from an investigation that began in the Bay area.

As mob towns go, Tampa is no New York, Chicago or even Philadelphia. But over the years Tampa has found itself with at least a tenuous connection to the latest news from the organized crime world.


In the 1940s, Sicilian immigrant Santo Trafficante Sr., a known member of the Mafia, took over organized crime in Tampa. The Tampa mob ran gambling, loansharking operations, drug trafficking, stolen property rings, strip clubs, fraud and political corruption, according to Scott Deitche, author of the book, "Cigar City Mafia."

When Trafficante Jr. took over, the man authorities called Florida's "boss of bosses" testified in front of a 1978 U.S. House panel that he was involved in a plot to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He denied knowledge of any mob plot to kill President Kennedy.

In 2006, four alleged members of the Gambino crime family went to trial in U.S. District Court in Tampa on charges of racketeering and extortion. Authorities said the group, led by Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio, committed robbery, extortion and murder from New York to Miami. They reportedly ran valet parking businesses at restaurants, hospitals and strip clubs.

In 2007, Trucchio was sentenced to spend life behind bars.

The city's sometimes unseemly criminal landscape has wooed Hollywood filmmakers as well.

The 1990 crime classic "Goodfellas" featured a scene at Lowry Park Zoo in which Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, and James Burke, played by Robert De Niro, terrorized a local bar owner who refused to pay a gambling debt by dangling him over the lion cage. The "Goodfellas" depiction is pretty close to the real thing, according to Deitche.

Apparently, the owner of Char-Pal Lounge at 3711 E. Busch Blvd. asked Hill and Burke to come to Tampa to persuade Gaspar Ciaccio to pay his $13,000 debt, Deitche said. They dined at the Columbia Restaurant before tracking down Ciaccio.

Hill and Burke apparently beat up Ciaccio in the back room of the Char-Pal and then threatened him at the lion cage at Busch Gardens, said Nicholas Pileggi, who adapted his book "Wise Guys" into the screenplay for "Goodfellas."

"It all really happened," said Pileggi, who came to Tampa to take pictures of the area and interview people for his book.

The reason organized crime appeared to flourish in Tampa seems as varied as the experts who have studied it.

Pileggi said Tampa's organized crime spun off from Prohibition days in the 1920s and '30s.

Many of Florida's elected leaders and law enforcement officers either didn't enforce the laws or were in cahoots with bootleggers, Pileggi said. "There was an infrastructure of corruption," he said.

Deitche focuses on the large influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Mob bosses in New York and Chicago generally didn't speak Spanish, so the Trafficantes leveraged their links with Cuba and Latin America to dominate organized crime in Florida for more than three decades, he said.

Authorities credit the Trafficante family with creating a mob language known as "Tampan," a hybrid of Italian and Spanish created to confuse police.

Howard Abadinsky, an organized crime expert and professor of criminal justice and legal studies at St. John's University, said the reason the mob moved into Tampa and South Florida had more to do with the shifting economy. The mob bosses followed the money, he said.

They saw thousands of retirees from the East Coast and rustbelt states flee to sunny Florida for the winter, bringing their money and spare time.

Tampa's growing population would have been irresistible for organized crime families with ties to garbage hauling unions, shipping interests, gambling, bars, strip clubs and other ventures. "They are always on the prowl for opportunity," he said.

Deitche, Abadinsky and others agree on thing: High-profile, organized criminal activity has been on the decline for decades. Criminal investigations are credited with part of the decline. But mostly, the old-time mob bosses have died off.Trafficante Jr. died March 17, 1987, after heart surgery in Houston."

Since then, it's sort of subsided," said Bill Iler, who worked for the Tampa Police Department from 1966 to 1986, much of it investigating organized crime. "All the old guys hooked up with the Mafia are about dead now."

Thanks to Baird Helgeson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

phils two s=attroney sons Rudy G LaRussa and James P. LaRussa are big democratic political organizers here and own most all judges in hills borough county Da's office etc

these are cousins of mine who turned against me two years ago is why i decided to conduct a life long vendetta against them to teh point i threatened to file habeous corpus in federal court against him and corrupt drunken State attorneys office but they relented quickly after that because i ha dthe goods via official records

anyway i have submitted st pete times newpaper articles that surprisingly i googled phil larussas name and they turned up but not really because it could only have occurred by my inquiry two years ago when i resreached it from comments made about this mob group by my parents who my father salvatore leone was next in line to take over from phil had it not become so bloody

I am assuming you know the history here in Tampa of Charlie Wall

anway i just plugged in my great uncles name in google and shit when i see a newspaper clipping of him and Wall named in a gambling bust in 1938

the old man never said shit to you as a kid and we were at his house most every week.

If any group of people could have pulled off a kennedy killing these medieval bastards could they either lie or tell different accounts or dont knwo shit.

i was shocked to see thsi clipping in here but then i was unlocking past shit i recalled when my grandfather showed them to me which he distanced himself from these types.

anyway the old man was ok but i had trouble with his two lawyers sons a few years back and a real bad vendetta ensued when i reserached every real estate title transfer back to 1965 and further you need go to county clerk but instead i started spreading thsi shit virally to st pete times and just the whol state fbi you name it because i could tie it up that phil never worked a day in his life, had a mansion built near downtown in 1933 when not one house was built here, and this police charge was dropped and records destroyed. you see newspaper article of arrest but never an official record.

plush gambling casino where governors of georgia played right near henderson and kennedy- still a foundation there

Rex Farrior- I knew his sons went to school with him and met the judge at a st patricks club function. italians running a st patricks day club they never stop thinking of shit

you read teh artice nothing ever happened- i have been to many civil trials suits for me and others with thsi same pattern

anyway charlie wall was the face and these guys did teh organizing- wall was having a problem he went to phil all nervouse and shit

ok capone gang wants teh action early 50'( this is teh part i had to figure out with previous facts and gaming theory)so they starte executing each of phils capos one every few weeks apart. they were told they wer being bought out then later killed. my grandfather showed me that article too it is around somewhere the family was shaken up bad after they did five guys thsi way all mugs on front page

now i just found this tidbit out in 1986 one of phils nephews a legit attorney who lived in Miami- for good reason and a brilliant one at that-did real estate, banking, title work,- well he tells me this story a year before he dies but he ads that when teh same group came to phil after killing the other who really were loud mouth cubans with big showy egos that had to go anyway that phil just told them " you cant buy me out just take everything"

now i am told by someone close phil worried till the day he died they would get him- who they? it cant be the replacement team you see you cant run but i only figured out recently it was had to be from teh family of the five he had killed to save his own ass
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