Story thanks to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and it’s historic archives. Links provided:
Palmisano is Still an Enigma
by Bill Hurley
July 1, 1978 He was a hard working business man, a friend to the poor and a companion to the working man.
But August S. Palmisano, who was killed Friday by the explosion of a bomb under the hood of his car, also was a criminal.
To many, like a bartender at Palmy’s tavern, 348 N. Broadway, owned by Palmisano,he was “a nice man who paid his bills and didn’t cause any trouble.”
To some of the produce workers on Commission Row, where the tavern is located, however, he was a person to be feared, a man whose name meant trouble. When approached by a reporter Friday,several of these workers said they did not want to get involved and quickly walked away.
To police, Palmisano was a person to watch carefully, a man who they suspected had connections with organized crime.
Four years ago, Palmisano’s tavern, then called Richie’s on Broadway, was one of several area locations raided on Super Bowl Sunday. Police confiscated 93 sticks of dynamite, extensive gambling records, firearms and large quantities of cash.
Palmisano pleaded guilty in Federal court to conducting a gambling business. He was placed on two years’ probation.
Police have continued to watch Palmisano closely. Last month it was revealed his telephone was being tapped apparently as part of an FBI investigation. Also tapped was the phone of Frank P. Balistrieri, who, officials have said, had links with organized crime.
Palmisano also was a friend of Vincent J. Maniaci, who narrowly escaped an almost identical attempt on his life last summer.
A bomb placed under the hood of Maniaci’s car was not properly connected and did not explode, according to police.
Maniaci’s brother, August, was not as lucky. He was killed three years ago in what police said was a gangland slaying. He was gunned down while in his car behind his home on N. Newhall St.
‘A Friendly Person’
Irving Goldman, vice president of Morris Goldman, Inc., 223 E. St. Paul Ave., said Vincent Maniaci used to spend a lot of time with Palmisano at Palmisano’s bar.
Godman’s produce firm is owner of the building that houses Palmy’s tavern and is located across the street from it.
“(Vincent) Maniaci was around here a lot before he went to jail,” Goldman said. “They used to go out together to other spots, too. They used to be chums.” Maniaci was jailed in 1975 for loan extortion.
Goldman and other acquaintances of Palmisano, said however, that Palmisano was a friendly person and a good businessman. “To me he was a nice fellow, that’s all I know”, Goldman said. “He always paid (his rent).”
Worked Out of Tavern
Palmisano operated his own produce service from his tavern. Goldman said he often arrived at 5 a.m. to buy from local dealers and then organize deliveries. Some days, he would stay until the tavern closed early the next day.
“He’d sleep there in the days sometimes,” Goldman said. “He never used to sleep too much. He had too many things. In fact, sometimes he didn’t have any (sleep).”
Palmisano had several helpers to load the truck and a driver to make the deliveries, which were to small restaurants, grocery stores and nightclubs. Goldman said that Palmisano did most of his business in Madison, Eagle, Genesee, North Prairie and Mequon.
Palmisano had no warehouse or office for the produce service. The food was bought in the morning, stacked in crates on the sidewalk outside the tavern and loaded on the street. He kept the trucks parked on E. St. Paul Ave. Goldman said Palmisano did much of his book work on a table in the bar.
A man who drives trucks for Palmisano said of his boss, “He was good to bums, paupers, rich men and poor men. He would take a bum off the street and feed him. There ain't no one that could say anything bad about him.”
One unemployed man who was outside the tavern Friday said Palmisano once lent him money when he needed it.
The tavern is patronized primarily by produce workers along Commission Row during the day. At night, it attracts a variety of customers that keep it a relatively successful business, acquaintances said.
A small tavern with two pinball machines and a pool table, it draws considerable business from persons leaving Summerfest late at night, they said.
Behind the bar are two pictures of Palmisano, one superimposed over a drawing of Commission Row.
Palmisano, 49, had an apartment at Juneau Village Garden Apartments, 1319 N. Jackson St., and a home at 5358 N. Kent Blvd., Whitefish Bay. The explosion occurred in an underground garage at Juneau Village apartments.
Palmisano was the father of four children, the youngest of whom is 14.
Friday morning, the bar door was open and nearly all the bar stools were occupied. Few customers were talking about the murder despite the presence of reporters and the fact that detectives were questioning the bartenders.
By early afternoon, the door was closed and a sign had been placed on it. It read: “Sorry, the tavern is closed today. My father died this morning.” It was signed John Palmisano.
Mob Killing Tied to Mob Rivalry
by (reporter(s) not credited by the Journal Sentinel)
July 1, 1978 August S. Palmisano, who was killed in his car Friday by a powerful bomb blast, apparently was the victim of a rivalry between organized crime factions in Milwaukee, police sources said Friday.
“There was some speculation that maybe somebody thought he was going to talk.” one highly placed police official said. Another source said the killing was part of a long standing feud between criminal factions in the city.
Police described Palmisano, 49, a convicted gambler, as a ‘Substantial figure in organized crime in Milwaukee.”
He was killed shortly before 9 a.m. Friday when a bomb exploded in his car in the underground garage in the Juneau Village apartments, 1319 N. Jackson St. Palmisano’s brother, Ted, said he knew of no motive for the bombing. “It’s a bad situation, that’s all,” he said.
Palmisano was found burned almost beyond recognition behind the the driver’s seat of his 1977 white Mercury.
Police said the bomb apparently was placed under the hood on the driver’s side of the car. The force of the explosion pushed the front seat of the auto into the back seat, according to police.
“It was one heck of a bang,” said Michael Thiel, 22, who lives on the first floor of the complex. “The blast actually knocked pictures off the walls,” he said.
Robert Martin, a second floor resident of the apartment building, said the explosion felt like an earthquake. A third floor resident said the explosion rocked the building.
Police said Palmisano’s car registration listed a Whitefish Bay address 5358 N. Kent Blvd. However, Al Sunn, manager of the Juneau Village garden Apartments said Palmisano had lived in a third floor apartment there for several years. Palmisano’s son, John, lives in a first floor apartment in the same building.
Neighbors of the Whitefish Bay address, where Palmisano’s wife, Jean, and two of the couple's four children live, said Palmisano kept late hours but occasionally was seen at the Whitefish Bay home.
One neighbor said in the last two years she had only seen Palmisano four or five times, usually coming home from work, or letting out the family dog.
Palmisano was one of nine persons whose phones were wiretapped in May by the US government as part o a federal investigation of illegal gambling. The probe is part of a nationwide investigation involving organized crime, gambling, loan sharking and interstate transportation of stolen property, according to government sources.
Palmisano was convicted along with two other men in 1963 on federal charges of gambling the required $50 occupational gambling tax stamp. He was fined $1000.
In 1975 Palmisano pleaded guilty to federal charges of conducting an illegal gambling business and was fined $500 and placed on two years probation. At that time, he also was charged with unlawfully storing 93 sticks of dynamite in the basement of his tavern at 346 N. Broadway, which was then named Ritchie’s on Broadway. It is now called Palmy’s tavern. The dynamite charge was dismissed when Palmisano pleaded guilty on the gambling charge.
Police sources said that Palmisano had been the subject of various investigations in connection with prostitution, receiving stolen property, extortion and commercial gambling.
According to records in City Hall, Palmisano owned one-third interest in Palmy Corp., which owned Richie’s on Broadway, until June, 1976, when he transferred his ownership to his son, John A., 24.
While Palmisano owned the tavern, from 1973 until 1976, he was cited several times for license violations, including keeping the tavern open beyond closing hours.
Detective Lt. Thomas Perlewitz said Palmisano was reportedly last seen by his son, John, at Palmy’s tavern approximately 2:30 a.m. Friday.
First Battalion Fire Chief Thomas Konicke said when firemen arrived at the apartment building Friday morning, the garage was filled with smoke. Firemen pried open the garage door and found the car in the center of the block long garage.
Police said they were still investigating to determine what type of explosive was used. They also did not know if the bomb was rigged to explode when the car was started.
Police said the garage is a locked building which can be opened only by a key. Officials had no information on how the bomb got placed in the car. Konicke said about 20 other cars in the garage were damaged by the blast, but no one else was injured.
A second minor fire occurred at the garage Friday night as a result of the earlier bombing, Fire Department officials said. Firemen were called about 7 p.m. to extinguish a fire in a car that had been parked next to the Palmisano auto.
Lt. Gale LeFebvre said the gasoline tank of the car next to Palmisano’s apparently was ruptured by the explosion and some gasoline leaked onto the floor. he said the fire may have been ignited by a discarded cigarette. The fire burned part of the tire on the car.
Smoke in the garage after the morning explosion prevented firemen from finding Palmisaro’s body until about 15 minute after they arrived. The interior of the car was on fire and the sprinkler system in the garage was on when firemen arrived, Konicke said.
The sprinkler system was damaged in the blast, as were electrical conduits in the ceiling. A concrete block partition near the car buckled from the force of the blast and parts of the car motor were strewn about the garage, officials said.
“It almost severed the front of the car,” Konicke said of the explosion. “It was a very, very forceful explosion.”