Thursday, November 14, 2013

Milwaukee Mob Attorney - A tale of a double life?
Dominic Frinzi
He was Frank Balistrieri's personal lawyer for many years from the 1950's throughout the 70's. I first became aware of him as I was doing research for an earlier post titled The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek). The actress that played Lt. Uhura in the Star Trek series' real name was Nichelle Nichols, and was a very talented singer and entertainer. Nichelle was hired to perform for two weeks as the main act at one of Balistrieri's newly refurbished nightclubs (former strip club) in Milwaukee during the 1950's.
Nichols was a big hit and brought in a lot of business. Upon seeing this, Balistrieri tried to ensnare and take control of her career for his benefit.
Nichelle was from Illinois and her father was nearly executed by the brother of Al Capone. She was quick to realize that she was working for a mob controlled business and had to get out. After hearing of her father's experiences dealing with the Capone mob in Chicago, Nichelle knew she couldn't just walk away from the mob and started to devise a plan. After Frank "convinced" her to come back, extend her contract and keep her performing at the club, Balistrieri decided to turn on the charm and the following was published in her book:

"Enter Frankie’s lawyer, Dominic Frinzi or Mr. F. as everyone at the club called him. In his $1000 silk suits, he was slick, suave and cunning as a snake. He tried to buy her with a key to an apartment, fur coat and jewelry, which Nichelle had to continually refuse."

Frinzi grew up in the Milwaukee's Third Ward, and probably knew Balistrieri for most of his life. He had to have known about his mobbed up life and willingly defended him and nearly every Mafia member that got in trouble throughout those years.

As Gavin C. Schmitt wrote in his piece, Milwaukee Mafia, the Balistrieri Years: "Frank Balistrieri held a party at his nightclub, The Scene, on March 20, 1968. Between 100 and 150 people were there, including almost all of the Milwaukee LCN. Two people were noticeably absent: Santo Marino and Al Albana. The party was a fundraiser for mob attorney Dominic Frinzi, who was running for Milwaukee County Judge." Also in the same piece: "Frank Balistrieri threw a Christmas party on December 21, 1969 at the Kings IV Tavern (722 North Water Street). Approximately 150 guests were there, including Walter Brocca, Sally Papia, Harry DeAngelo, Albert Albana, Frank Buccieri, Dominic Frinzi, Frank Stelloh, Steve DeSalvo, Benny DiSalvo, Jerry DiMaggio, John Rizzo, William Covelli, Dominic Gullo, Joseph Enea and the majority of the Milwaukee LCN (La Cosa Nostra)."

This guy was Frank's lawyer and had a nickname at Balistrieri's club of Mr. F? I guess the money talks and scumbags walk. At Frank's direction, this fine "upstanding" lawyer (future candidate for governor) tries to sleep with a woman to keep her under Balistrieri's control? Either that or Nichelle Nichols is a liar. The double lives that some of these people led have amazed me. Frinzi died in 2008. Contrast the above with the glowing account  of a "holy man" below!

Opera-loving lawyer ran twice for governor
Dominic H. Frinzi was a man who loved both opera and the law - and who thought nothing of bursting into song while waiting for a verdict at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
William Janz, a former columnist with the Journal Sentinel, told a piece of that story.
With the news that one jury had returned, Frinzi punched his client in the arm, Janz wrote.
"This is the last act of 'Lucia di Lammermoor,' " he declared. "Your fate is decided."
Frinzi was, by all accounts, something of a colorful character. Best known in recent decades as a leader in the local Italian community, he was also a man who twice ran for governor. He was part of a little cadre that legally appropriated the name Atlanta Braves, so the departing team could not use the name in Wisconsin. He loved the sport of harness horse racing. His legal clients included the infamous Ed Gein.
Frinzi died of heart problems Monday. He was 86.
He grew up in Milwaukee's Third Ward, where his dad ran a butcher shop. He studied to become a priest but left before taking vows.
"My brother and I, we were the first generation in 400 years that didn't go into the meat business," Frinzi said in another story. "My father insisted we have school, and that's why none of us became butchers."
Nor did he become a doctor.
"My father taught me how to butcher, and I was pretty good with a knife. He thought I'd make a terrific doctor," Frinzi said. "But I couldn't afford medical school, so I became a lawyer."
He ended up representing both high-profile clients and countless unknown ones.
Frinzi was first appointed to represent accused serial killer Gein for a competency hearing. Ten years later, he represented him at trial, and Gein was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
In the 1960s, Frinzi represented Frank P. Balistrieri, years later convicted as a local organized crime boss, then facing tax evasion charges. The case continued to make headlines after Frinzi found illegal wiretaps in his law office.
"It was a break-in before Watergate," said son Joseph, explaining that the illegal wiretapping violated the attorney-client privilege in both the Balistrieri case and for other clients.
"My dad sued the FBI and the phone company - and won a settlement," said his son, now with the Milwaukee County family court commissioner's office.
Frinzi worked mainly as a criminal defense attorney, believing that doing so helped to uphold the highest principles of the U.S. Constitution, said friend and fellow attorney Henry Piano.
"He believed in pro bono work," Piano said.
"He represented a lot of people who could not afford an attorney," Joseph Frinzi said. "He always fought for the little guy."
Election bids included runs for governor in 1964 and 1966. A Democrat, he didn't get the nomination in either year.
Last year, Frinzi was elected to a record seventh term as president for the Italian Community Center, also serving as chairman of the Festa Italiana board. He was long the reigning star of the festival's "Golden Age of Opera" tent.
"I have three batons at home, and I conduct and sing at the same time," Frinzi said of opera. "It takes you to another world. It's a joy that never ends."
A board member with the Florentine Opera Company and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, he once appeared in a production of Verdi's "La Traviata" at the Marcus Center. Cast in the role of a servant, he delivered his single line with gusto.
"He told us he got a bigger ovation than some of the opera stars," his son said with a laugh.
For his roles in the Italian community here, the government of Italy awarded Frinzi the rare title of Cavaliere all'Ordine del Merito della Repubblica Italiana, or a Knight of the Order of Merit.
"He was a legitimate character," said Piano, who, with Frinzi's death, will again serve as ICC president. "He didn't beat to anybody else's drum. He spoke out on issues that were important. He wasn't afraid of controversy. And he always spoke from the bottom of his heart."
Other survivors include sons James and Dominic Jr., sister Norma Angeli, brother Romeo, his former wife, Jane, and grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Schmidt & Bartelt Guardalabene & Amato Funeral Home, 10121 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa. Visitation will continue from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesday at Gesu Church, 1145 W. Wisconsin Ave. The funeral service will follow at noon.
Read more from Journal Sentinel:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men - REVISED!

Revised and updated 
6/30/2013 - The Mafia's control of the cigarette and candy vending business in Milwaukee.

Back in the 1970’s, I was a franchised gasoline station dealer with Clark Oil and Refining Corp. While still in high school, I obtained a job pumping gas for a Clark dealer named Chuck. He was a great guy to work for and actually helped several of his employees, including me get their own stations. My station was on Santa Monica Blvd and Hampton Ave. in Milwaukee. In those days, nearly one third or better of our business profits came from selling cigarettes to the customers right on the fuel island. Customers would drive in, roll down the window and not have to get out of their car for cigarettes. All the Clark Station dealers had a cigarette 'jobber' or vendor that would come by once a week and keep us stocked.  There were two main competitors for most of the Clark Stations being run by independent dealers. When I got my station, I used the cigarette man that my former boss used, a man by the name of Ted Stroiman (Since all the principals are now deceased, I am using real names). My best friend, Bob, who had another Clark Station on Teutonia Ave, after a while, started using an Italian vendor by the name of Joseph Frank Alioto. Joe was trying to grow his business and was offering twice a week delivery, so the dealer had less inventory to carry. I was early into my 20’s at that time, and had no idea until many, many years later of how closely intertwined the Milwaukee Mafia was in the cigarette and candy vending business!
Typical Clark gas station in the '70s
Because the vendors were so competitive and wanted to retain our business (Clark stations sold a very high volume of cigarettes) they would give us dealers a sort of 'under the table' kick back of free cigarettes, which you either smoked them up or put them into inventory and took out the cash for your pocket! It wasn't much, maybe 10 or 14 free packs on an order of 70 or 90 cartons. Of course, this was not legal, but back then, it didn’t seem like a big deal to us.
As I mentioned, Ted Stroiman was my cigarette man. His father, Jack was born in Russia and came to Milwaukee as a boy in 1912. For several years, he ran a small laundry and in 1917 founded Jack Stroiman & Son, a candy and cigarette vending firm. His firm was one of the first in Milwaukee to use automatic vending machines. Ted took over the business after his father had a stroke in 1956 and at some point renamed it 'Stroiman Vending'.  Ted was a good guy and I haven’t seen him since about 1980. I remember he used to bring his wife 'Ruth' along with him on his route. They were both very friendly and outgoing people. His obituary said he ran the business for over 40 years, so he would have retired about 1996 or 1997 at about the age of 70.
Joe with his wife at their wedding, 1970 or 71. In the middle
is George, founder of Upper Crust Pizza around the corner 
from my station

My friend, Bob was getting his cigarettes from Joe Alioto. I found out many years later that Joe was a convicted felon, who in 1970 had to sell his business 'Alioto Distributing' to his sister Jane Alioto because Joseph could not own a license. According to Joe’s nephew, the felony was related to some 'gambling pinches'. A cousin by the name of John Balistrieri was appointed manager. Turns out that John was the lawyer son of the reputed leader of the Milwaukee Mob. It has been well documented that Mr. Frank Balistrieri took over the leadership of the Milwaukee Mafia from his father-in-law, John Alioto in 1962. Knick-named 'Frankie Bal' and 'Mad Bomber', Frankie ruled the Milwaukee underworld, with control over loan shark “book”, sports betting and large scale control of the vending business. The vending business was very attractive for the mob, as all the proceeds are cash and very easy to hide. Besides the fact that you have a ready market for bootlegged cigarettes! His tentacles reached all the way to Las Vegas as he was receiving regular skim payments from the old Stardust and Fremont Casinos. (The movie 'Casino' with Robert De Niro was loosely based on Balistrieri's exploits with the Teamsters, Kansas City Mob and Vegas Casinos) The FBI had Frankie on tape saying that it was time for his regular monthly flight to Las Vegas to get his “transfusion”!
I have spent quite a bit of time over the years trying to read and research as much as possible. These people were pretty secretive and only recently learned about the felony that Joe Alioto was convicted of, thanks to his nephew. The following is my opinion of what I think most likely occurred!
Joe Alioto, was the nephew of the man that ran the Milwaukee Mob and because of his felony conviction, had to make a deal. Joe’s sister, Jane, had a full time job and was unable to run the business. John Balistreri was 'Frankie Bals' son and a lawyer. They wrote up the sale with a man by the name of Herb Rahn running the day to day and John Bal running the back end, according to Joe’s nephew.
Joe worked hard to grow the Clark Station business and was competing with Ted Stroiman. In 1976, Joseph Frank Alioto died suddenly at the age of 39 of a massive heart attack. His funeral was held at the Guardalabene & Amato funeral home on Holton St. According to Gavin Schmitt's book, "this funeral home was the primary business of it's type used by members of the mafia, their families and close associates". A friend of mine, Karl, who was a Clark station dealer at that time and attended the funeral wrote: "Joe looked like he was stuffed into a casket that was too small for him." Shortly after his death, control of Alioto Distributing went to the Balistrieri's. They actually went to the Clark gas stations that Joe had been selling to and informed the dealers that they no longer were going to service their businesses! As you can imagine, they wanted nothing to do with invoices and checks, they were only interested those vending machines that fill up with cash!
This is certain: 
  • Joe died in 1976 with the Balistrieri family in control afterwards.
  • In 1977, a Paul La Galbo sold his firm 'Midwest Vendors' to Alioto Distributing for $4100. 
  •  In 1978, undercover FBI agent Gail T. Cobb was told by a New York gangster (Benjamin Ruggerio) that he could not operate a vending machine business in Milwaukee without “sharing” the business with Frank Balistrieri. 
  •  In 1979, a man by the name of Leo Dinon sold his cigarette distributing company to Alioto Distributing for $8000 to  $9000.
  • In 1984, Jane Alioto testified at John Balistrieri's extortion trial that she bought Alioto Distributing from her brother in 1970, and had given Balistrieri “the power to run it for me”.  As far as I knew, it sure seemed to me that until Joe’s death, in 1976, he was the one running the business. Jane testified that Balistrieri was her cousin, advisor, and legal counsel and that she trusted him to manage the company. But not her own brother? 
  •  Also in 1984,Peter Picciurro testified that in 1979 he had asked John Balistrieri to "take over" management of his vending company, Pitch's De-Lish-US Distributors.
  • And on Monday, April 10,1984, Frank P. Balistrieri, described by the FBI as the head of organized crime in Milwaukee, was convicted of extortion for trying to take control of a vending machine business run by an undercover FBI agent Gail T. Cobb. Also convicted were his two sons, Joseph, 43 and John, 35! Joe and John each received a prison sentence of two years for extorting a vending machine businessman. 'Frankie Bal' got four years.
Back to Ted Stroiman. He and his father ran that cigarette and vending business for a combined total of about 80 years! I wish Ted were still alive, I bet he would have some stories to tell. Ted and his father were of Jewish faith and I wonder now whether he was able to insulate himself from the mob boys all those years, or if he wasn’t forced into 'sharing' with 'Frankie Bal' and the Milwaukee mob! I have the feeling that since Ted was well established, with a long history, running a small business, they probably left him alone. However, there could be a related taped remark from 'Frankie Bal' in the paragraph below. I can find no record of Stroiman Vending today. I don’t know if he sold the business or just liquidated it. He had a couple sons, but they live in different states. By the time Ted retired in the mid to late 90’s, the Milwaukee mob was a shell of it’s former self and pretty powerless. From the information I can gather, what’s left is now controlled by the Chicago Outfit. 'Frankie Bal' died of natural causes in 1993 at the age of 74. Son, Joseph Balistrieri died in October, 2010 at the age of 70. Interesting note: Ted's funeral was held at the Goodman Bensman funeral home right across the street from my old Clark station in 2010!

Please note, before reading this paragraph, in no way am I trying to impune or question the character of Ted Stroiman. I do not know for a fact who Frankie was referring to and just because you may be called to testify before a grand jury does not mean you are guilty of anything! You could be called for many reasons. I firmly believe that Ted was a man of good, moral character.  One government document used during Balistrieri’s trial refers to a taped conversation of a meeting on Sept. 13,1978 in which Frank stated he was worried “about the Jew who had been subpoenaed”. The reference was not clarified. It added that Balistrieri stated: “Neither the Jew nor the Jew’s attorney would indicate what was going to be said to the grand jury and he did not know whether or not the Jew had taken the fifth amendment”. The document said “Frank Balistrieri stated that he was always concerned when there were Jews involved because you can’t trust those Jew bastards”. The meeting was at 'Snugs' restaurant and those present were Frank, his two sons, Frank's brother Peter, Benjamin (Lefty Guns) Ruggerio and Steve DiSalvo. Ruggerio was affiliated with the Bonanno crime family of New York and had been involved in introducing the undercover FBI agent to Balistrieri.
I have read numerous transcripts of Frank Balistrieri's taped conversations and as you can read, he was ruthless and I think a very disgusting man. In his second book, "Unfinished Business" Agent Joe Pistone described how "it was disconcerting the way Frank Balistrieri treated his brother and sons. They bowed down to him like the Don that he thought he was. There was no feeling of fatherly or brotherly relationship. He barked at his brother in front of us like his brother was Fredo in The Godfather, and his brother took it."

More interesting facts,
In the early 70's, my friend Bob and his wife, my brother and I, lived in a four unit apartment building at 4381 N. Green Bay Ave in Milwaukee. 'Frankie Bal's Captain and right hand man was Steve DiSalvo and he was employed right across the street from us at Universal Builders (4380 N. Green Bay Ave). In 1973, Frank Balistrieri, Steve DiSalvo and Henry Nechy (president of Universal Builders) were subpoenaed to testify at a grand jury hearing in Miami! Of course the proceedings were secret and their testimony remains unknown. In September of 1974 the Wisconsin Justice Dept went to court and asked that Universal Builders be dissolved due to improper reporting procedures. The court was informed that Nechy and DiSalvo were known associates of Frank Balistrieri and the business was the subject of a criminal investigation.
In April of 1987 DiSalvo (while already in prison for the 1984 conviction with Frank Balistrieri) was questioned by a Federal grand jury about the unsolved 1963 murder of Kenosha vending machine dealer Anthony J. Biernat.

Quote from former undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone from his book "Donnie Brasco"
In 1978, New York undercover agent "Donnie Brasco" trying to introduce Milwaukee undercover agent "Tony Conte" to "Lefty Guns" Benjamin Ruggiero in New York. "Lefty Guns" was a made member of the Bonanno mafia crime family of New York. Brasco is telling "Lefty" that Conte is trying to start a vending machine business up in Milwaukee.
Lefty: "Where'd you say he was?" Brasco "Milwaukee". Lefty "Milwaukee! Is he connected?" Brasco "No, He don't know anything about the mob." Lefty "He's crazy. Doesn't the f***ing guy know you can't operate a vending business without connections? Especially, Milwaukee. They're crazy out there. It ain't like New York, where they may just throw you a beating to chase you out. Out there they're vicious. They answer to Chicago. They blow people up. If this guy's a friend of yours, you better tell him to get the hell out of that town. Tell him to move the business back to Baltimore. Baltimore is controlled by crews from Philly and Jersey. They're easier to deal with."
After an incredible 6 years of Joe Pistone “Donnie Brasco” being undercover, the FBI ended the operation in New York and Florida on July 26, 1981. Agent Pistone took the next available flight to Milwaukee to testify at a grand jury hearing on the Balistrieri case, which had been held in abeyance until the operation was wrapped up. On July 28, 1981 three FBI agents visited Dominick “Sonny Black” Napolitano in New York and informed him of the operation. “Sonny” was a captain in the Bonanno Mafia crime family and was killed by the mob shortly thereafter for his maleficence. They found his bullet riddled body in a trash bag with his hands cut off! "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The FBI sting resulted in over 100 Mob convictions and gutted the Milwaukee leadership, which, hopefully is near extinct!

Quote, from Former FBI agent Gary Magnesen's book, Straw Men
"Soon after being assigned as case agent, I followed Frankie Bal to the apartment of John(sic) Alioto, nephew of the former boss, small time bookie and straw man for Alioto Distributing." He got the name wrong in the book and had to be referring to Joe Alioto.

More, thanks to Joe Alioto’s Nephew,

"In 1983 or 84 there was a Sentinel article written about Alioto Distributing and its ties to organized crime. In the article unbeknownst to my parents, that my mother and father were officers of the company. Jane who was at our house just about every Sat and Sun until my mother passed away in 1994, had added their names. After that article came out, our neighbors who were already scared of us, were then really on pins and needles. We didn't know if it was because of the article or the screaming and yelling my father unleashed on poor Jane."

"Joe Alioto had the nickname ‘Minnow’. This is how he came by it, My uncle and Joe Balistrieri were busboys and uncle Joe started acting like a big shot, barking orders to the other busboys. The mater'd caught my uncle's big shot act and sternly told him that there was only one big fish in the joint and you are just a Minnow."

"When I returned from the service I went to my cousin Joey Balistrieri, who had been my juvenile attorney. I chose the service at 17 over a career path that held no promise. I wanted to work in the vending business and Joe discouraged me and told me that I could have a legitimate career or start my own business since I had done very well for myself in the army. And that's what I did."

"Joe gave me the best advice ever and Joe & John included me in their revitalization of the La Societa di San Giuseppe (sicilian men's organization)."
"Did you know Joe drove a school bus for a time before the vending business?
The bus, Minnow and his father Angelo would be at our house on Oakland ave in Whitefish Bay daily."

Update 1/17/2013  The following are additional comments that were received in the past month or so by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous. He knew Steve DiSalvo (Balistrieri's second in command) and his family well during those years and has some very interesting stories!
Enjoyed your article, very informative. I knew the DiSalvo family very well. They lived a modest life in a home in back of Segals junk yard in Cudahy Wisconsin. Steve senior was quite a nice guy who treated his 3 kids well. My family went to school with all his kids.We were all shocked when he was arrested. We were walking toward his home when the FBI and who ever closed in. Pretty wild! Steve was very good looking fella and always reminded me of Bob Deniro. He was very generous man. He often give us all money to go out on but I think he was trying to get us out of the house. He did buy me a new pair of shoes and a suit when his son got married. Well I just thought I comment some. Hope I didn't bore you.

I do have quite a few stories. That is if I can remember them. Vince was Steve's oldest son and a hell of a nice guy. He had another son Rick and a daughter whose name I don't recall. None of them were involved in the family business. It was said that Steve did the hit on Anthony Biernat, the pinball man because he wouldn't cooperate. They found him in a shallow grave out at Bong air force base. But I don't think it was ever proven. I had relatives in KC and would fly there often and would see the Milw gang going there, more that once. One time I saw Steve walking with his group and approached him and came close to getting shot by one of the group. Last time I did that!  My brother-in law was good friends with Frankie Bel “not Ba” and tended bar for him in one of the downtown strip joints he owned. I think one was called the "Brass Rail". My friends and I went down to see my brother in-law on occasion and would run into Frankie Bel in the Bar. He always had two women with him or two men who sat on each side and two more hoods sitting in the booth behind him for protection. The first time my brother-in law introduced me I went to shake his hand and one of the hoods waved me off. He wasn't a very pleasant guy, but you never had to buy a drink while he was there. Getting back to Steve DiSalvo, when his son got married the reception was at that then fancy Hotel across from the airport. Every mob boss in the country was there. None of them with their wives. They were with some of most gorgeous young women I ever saw in my life. I'm sure the FBI had all our pictures'. Gifts were in the form of hundred dollar bills and the groom couldn't fit them in his pockets. I hope you found this interesting. Sorry about the earlier name error but its been a long time.

Frank picked his bartenders carefully because he was afraid he could be taken down easily by anybody in his position. Although he trusted my brother-in-law he would sometimes order drinks and make the girls drink them first. I forgot to mention something strange about Steve DiSalvo. When he died in prison and his body was sent home the mortician said he had a hole drilled into his head to which there was no explanation. The family was very upset to say the least!

I was good friends with a number of Milwaukee cops and also someone higher up in the County Sheriff's Dept. during the 60's. I also know of quite a few relatives of the Mafia gang. Some liked that their older family members were gangsters but most would have just as soon forgot it. Steve's family I think was the latter. His son and I ran together and got in some trouble, but minor compared to his Dad. I'm surprised he didn't mention Steve's brother Jack. He owned a restaurant in Cudahy that I'm sure it was a Mafia hangout. It was raided once by the FBI for gambling and they caught the Mayor and Police Chief and a few more big shots in it.

Steve seemed to be a main figure in the mob. I know for instance that Frank’s nick name was Bell not Bal. Where he got that I don't know. And the Cudahy police chief at the time of Franks reign wasn't who he pictured but was Fred Schleater. Oh well! All in all your blog is great and I will keep an eye on it. If I run across something interesting I will let you know. Thanks for the Info.

Angelo Lonardo's testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on April 4, 1988.
He explained why the Cleveland Mob got a piece of Las Vegas:

"[Maishe] Rockman told me the skim started when Allen Glick approached Frank Balistrieri about Glick's obtaining a Teamsters Pension Fund loan so that Glick could purchase a Las Vegas casino." Balistrieri was the boss of the Cosa Nostra Milwaukee family.

"Balistrieri talked to Nick Civella, boss of the Kansas City family, since he controlled Roy D. Williams, who was a high official with the Teamsters Union. Civella told Balistrieri he found find someone in Cleveland that could talk to Bill Presser."

"Glick told Balistrieri that in return for the Teamster pension loan he, Glick, would give the Milwaukee, Kansas City and Cleveland families a piece of the casinos. ... Our family averaged about $40,000 a month from Vegas and 25 percent of the Youngstown rackets, which would average about $5,000 per month."
He said Cleveland and Kansas City Teamster leaders each got about $1,500 a month from the skim. He explained how the Mafia dictated the choice of Williams as president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and decided on a replacement when the Feds closed in on Williams.
"When it appeared that Williams, who had been indicted, was going to be likely to be forced to step down from his position, Rockman and I made a second trip to Chicago to get Chicago Cosa Nostra Outfit's support for Jackie Presser as president of the IBT, because he was Maishe's protege, and it would increase the Cleveland family's prestige and respect."

Many thanks and credit to the “Writings of Gavin C. Schmitt” for much of the information obtained. A link to his site follows as he put together an excellent chronological history in two parts. “Rise of the Milwaukee Mafia, 1892-1961” and “Milwaukee Mafia, the Balistrieri Years: 1962-present” also thanks to the archives of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. Link to them below. Also to Joseph Pistone and I highly recommend his book "Donnie Brasco". Gary Magnesen's book "Straw Men" was also an excellent resource,6656648

Reprinted from the Milwaukee Journal Obituaries of August, 2010
Theodore “Ted” Stroiman of Glendale died on June 11. He was 84.
He was a Milwaukee native who graduated from Washington High School. He was the owner of Stroiman Vending for more than 40 years. He was a member of Congregation Sinai. According to his family, he won numerous awards for his volunteer work at places that included the Milwaukee Jewish Home, the Milwaukee Protestant Home, and Columbia Hospital. He also enjoyed playing poker.
He is survived by his wife Ruth (nee Pories); daughter Mindy Stroiman of Glendale; sons Marty Stroiman of San Diego and Jeffrey Stroiman of Newport Beach, Calif.; step-daughters Linda (Bill) Ross of Whitefish Bay and Judy (Michael) Hamrell of Yorba Linda, Calif.; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home handled arrangements. Rabbi David Cohen and Cantor Rebecca Robins officiated at the funeral on June 12. Burial was in Mound Zion Cemetery. The family would appreciate memorial contributions to the Wisconsin Parkinson’s Disease Association.

Reprinted from the Milwaukee Journal Obituaries of 7/8/1961
Jack Stroiman, one of the first cigarette and candy vending machine jobbers in Milwaukee died of pneumonia at the National Convalescent home Saturday. He suffered a stroke about four and a half years ago and had been in the hospital for two weeks. He lived at 2913 N 76th St, Milwaukee.
Mr Stroiman was born in Russia and came to Milwaukee as a boy in 1912. For several years, he ran a small laundry and in 1917 founded Jack Stroiman & Son, a candy and cigarette wholesale firm. The firm was one of the first in Milwaukee to use automatic vending machines.
The firm is now operated by a son, Theodore from the 76th St address. His father was active in the business until his stroke. Mr. Stroiman was a member of e Beth Jehudah congregation. Surviving besides Theodore are Mr Stroiman’s wife Rose, another son Harry, Milwaukee: a daughter Mrs. Eve Kitner, Montreal Que. and a brother Bernard Stroyman, Indianapolis. Burial will be in Mound Zion cemetery.
Frank Balistrieri with sons Joseph and John

More of my related mafia posts:

The Beef That Didn't Moo - Wisconsin Ties to the Mob
Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men!
Married to the Daughter of a Milwaukee Mob Boss-Our Pediatrician!
The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime
Tale of a Failed Milwaukee Mob Hit!
Lieutenant Uhura (of the Starship "Enterprise") - close encounters with the Chicago and Milwaukee Mob!
Part Two: The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek)
"Mr. Fancy Pants" Balistrieri - Tracking Milwaukee's most dangerous mobster

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Balistrieri's Milwaukee Mafia Car!

The actual restored car, Gilmore Car Museum in
Hickory Corners, Mi
joanna poe photo

A couple of months ago, I received the following email from a person called Mark. I'll keep his last name private:

"I was reading your blog about Frank, John and Joe Balistrieri.  Great info!!  I have a slight connection to that family.  My grandfather purchased a 1948 Cadillac Limo from John Balistrieri in 1990.  He restored it and kept if for years until he died and I inherited it.  The car currently resides at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. 
I tried to comment on your blog but my company’s security would not let me.  I once wrote a letter to John trying to find out more info on the car but never got a response.  I still have a letter and a bill of sale with the hotel’s company letter head and such.  I never thought to ask my grandfather about the car when he said it was a “mafia” car.  I just thought he was pulling my leg.  Great articles by the way!!  Feel free to email back with any info you may have.
Thanks, Mark"

Mark sent me copies of the title and bill of sale signed by John Balistrieri. The bill of sale was actually written on the Shorecrest Hotel stationary. I was then able to contact a relative of the Balistrieris to ask if he remembered anything about a 1948 Caddy and he wrote the following:

"Yes John (one of Frank Balistrieri's sons) had a Cadillac limo. He would say he used it to go for ice cream, possibly to Kopp's or  Pig 'N Whistle."

joanna poe photo
There have been some attempts to research the car's title history, so far without success. John refuses to answer any mail.

I then ran across this in the writings of Gavin C. Scmitt:
"Small-time hoodlum Jack Enea, 46, (1506 North Jackson Street) was found in a ditch on Plainview Road two miles northwest of Sussex, Waukesha County on Tuesday, November 29, 1955. Enea had been killed between 10:00am and noon. He had seven bullets from a .38 in him, and the last person known to see him alive was cement contractor Walter “Blackie” Brocca (1668 North VanBuren Street). Enea and Brocca had previously operated a tavern at 1932 West St. Paul Avenue."
"An unidentified FBI informant speculated that the killing was ordered by John Alioto at the request of Joseph Sciortino. Sciortino was Enea’s uncle, and owned a bakery on VanBuren Street adjacent to Alioto’s tavern. Allegedly, Enea burglarized the bakery and stole $1400. The informant also believed that a black Cadillac was involved and that at least two killers were used — one was identified as John Aiello. This seems questionable, because in 1947 Peter Sciortino moved the bakery from VanBuren to 1101 East Brady Street, and his father (possibly named Joseph) had returned to Italy. So, for this to be correct, the informant would have to have a) confused Sciortino’s name and b) meant to say that Sciortino used to own a bakery on VanBuren, though the one that was burglarized was on Brady."

Detective Inspector Rudolph Glaser of the Milwaukee Police Department believed that a black Cadillac picked Enea up from 1443 North VanBuren, where his Buick was parked. 1443 was previously (and possibly currently) the address of former boss Sam Ferrara’s tavern. He narrowed the car down to a 1948 or 1949 Cadillac after a witness informed him that the car had fin fenders.

Mark's car in the shade
Now imagine this?
In 1955 John Alioto was the boss of the Milwaukee mob with son-in-law Frank Balistrieri being groomed to take over, which happened in 1961. If John Alioto ordered the hit, could the killers have used his car? Could the Caddy limo then have been handed down to his son-in-law Frank Balistrieri, who then may have passed it on to his own son John? Could the car in the museum be the actual car used in the hit? Of course it's all speculation but 'what if' stories fascinate me.

I then sent the previous information in the following message to Mark:
"Hey Mark, check this out. Do you know what the original color of your car was. This one could have been owned by John Alioto!"

Mark's response was:
"Just a thought, but at night that Maroon can easily be mistaken for black. This is my car in the shade."

Mark has intended to try a title search of previous owners of the car. If I hear anything, I'll keep you posted.

More of my mob related posts:
"Mr. Fancy Pants" Balistrieri - Tracking Milwaulee's most dangerous mobster
Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggerio-The real story of the "wise guy"
The Beef That Didn't Moo - Wisconsin Ties to the Mob
Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men!
Married to the Daughter of a Milwaukee Mob Boss-Our Pediatrician!
The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime
Tale of a Failed Milwaukee Mob Hit!
Lieutenant Uhura (of the Starship "Enterprise") - close encounters with the Chicago and Milwaukee Mob!
Part Two: The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek)
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef - Part 1
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef Processors - Part II

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Las Vegas Mob Museum

las vegas mob museum
 The Mob Museum is going to expose you to history that your school textbooks didn't dare to cover.

Opened in February of 2012, "must see" attraction for mob history buffs next time in Vegas.

Located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas on Stewart Avenue and Third Street (right by Main Street Station), The Mob Museum is an interactive attraction showcasing the history of these famed gangsters. Here you'll get an inside look at organized crime's impact not only in Las Vegas, but its influence in America and the world.
From the same design team that created the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C., the 41,000-square-foot Mob Museum includes about 16,000 square feet of exhibition space on three floors. It features in-depth exhibits about the mob, myths about the mob, and so much more. 
Some find mobsters strangely fascinating, while others get excited about the good guys who brought them to their demise. If you're into the law enforcement side, you'll get a chance to read a lot about them, too.
One of the key exhibits is the actual courtroom used in the Kefauver hearings, the first mob-related event to be televised. The museum is located inside the former federal courthouse where the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings were held. The Kefauver Committee investigation contributed to the national debate on organized crime that developed after World War II. 
"This was the first media sensation," said Kathleen Hickey Barrie, curator for the Mob Museum. "Viewers invited the mob into their living room. The Kefauver hearings became the thing, and Americans were absolutely mesmerized with [it]. They'd spend hours watching them.
"The big thing about the Kefauver hearings is not so much the laws that came out of it, but really the way the public opinion turned," she continued. "And you have this marvelous cast of characters around the country talking about their business enterprises."
The dimly-lit courtroom shows historical clips on a big screen and just outside, you can read more about the hearings.
las vegas mob museum
More law enforcement exhibits include a wire-tapping station where you can listen in on actual conversations that happened. See testimonies of FBI agents on audio-visual panel (AVP) screens and even try your aim with an FBI firearms training simulator. There's also a police lineup booth where visitors can step into and be "suspects."
If you're all about seeing the bad guys and their dirty deeds, the Mob Museum exposes just that. Read a timeline of the mob, watch an AVP screen on becoming a "made" man, step into a room and learn how a "skim" works, and see a wall explaining where mobsters go once incarcerated. 
The museum's most valuable artifact is the brick wall from Chicago's Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929. The museum explains the murder of seven Moran gang members led by Al Capone's South Side Italian gang. The wall includes a 38-caliber Colt Detective special revolver, the only gun directly related to the shooting. This gun is believed to have belonged to Moran gang member, Frank Gusenberg.
"[This] was the most violent crime in America, even the world," said Barrie. 
Another object on display is the original barber chair where mobster Albert Anastasia (who was brutally shot and killed while getting a haircut and shave) once sat. Another artifact is an Abercrombie & Fitch leather valise that dates to the 1920s. This valise features a false bottom in which flasks of liquor were once hidden during Prohibition. 
The museum also carries items that belonged to Al Capone, Charlie Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin Siegel, Sam Giancana, Frank Rosenthal, Mickey Cohen and Tony Spilotro, among others. Other artifacts include guns, weapons, jewelry, personal belongings and hundreds of photographs.
If you're sensitive to gory details, then this museum may not be for you - the attraction showcases weapons and violent photos of deceased mob members found at crime scenes. 
For those into the glitz and glamour of the mob portrayed in Hollywood, the Mob Museum has you covered. Take a seat in one of the comfy booths in a posh and swanky theater room and see all your favorite clips from various gangster movies.
From the archives of the Las Vegas News Bureau, the Mob Musuem features photos of downtown as it appeared in the 1950s. Photos of hotels, local businesses and storefronts comprise this unique collection. The Mob Museum, seen from its days as a federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office, is also part of the exhibition.
The enormous gift shop includes all sorts of fun souvenirs, including tuxedo-printed baby onesies. 
Built in the 1920s, the restored courthouse is one of the city's last remaining historical buildings. The attraction cost approximately $42 million to construct.
-- By Jeannie Garcia