The San Francisco LCN Family

The Early Years 1920s-1932

The San Francisco LCN Family was born from the ashes, which concluded a bloody war during prohibition and the subsequent murder of several top racketeers. When it was over, a small but well respected syndicate would emerge. A syndicate, which along with San Jose and Los Angeles, would rule organized crime on the west coast.

On April 28, 1928 racketeer Jerry Feri was murdered at his San Francisco apartment. He had been seen as the top vice czar prior to his demise. His suspected conspirator was Alfredo Scariso, he too met the same fate and was murdered on December 19th of that year. His bullet riddled corpse was found in the Fair Oaks section.

The wiseguys began to fall like dominoes when Scariso's suspected murderer, Mario Filippi, was found shot to death on December 23rd. Frank Boca, yet another suspect in the Scariso murder, was found murdered behind the wheel of his car on July 30, 1929. The next in the death count was Genaro Broccolo, the self proclaimed "Al Capone of the West Coast", when he was found dead a day before Halloween in 1932. Known hijacker, run runner and arms trafficker Luigi Malvese would be gunned down in broad daylight while walking through an Italian neighborhood on May 18, 1932.

From this onslaught of violence, blood and bullets a crime family was born. A crime family which drew very little attention and is now today considered history. This bloody tale of deceit and violence is often forgotten when one looks at the history of the San Francisco LCN Family.

Dons (Bosses)

Francesco Lanza
Francesco Lanza was seen as the first true crime boss of the cosa nostra in San Francisco. The top rackets under his cloak were narcotics trafficking, loan sharking, gambling and control over San Francisco's prostitution.

Lanza operated out of San Francisco's famous Fisherman's Warf. The author finds this choice of headquarters quite fitting for a crime boss. His partner was Giuseppe Alioto who later went on to start the International Fish Company. On July 14, 1937 Lanza died of natural causes. His son would later become the top boss of San Francisco.

Anthony J. Lima
Anthony J. Lima was seen as the new rackets boss for the City by the Bay. Since so little is known about the San Francisco crime family, so little is known about Lima and his crew. The crime family itself was thought to have been very small and insular. The Lima time period is ear marked with an incident involving Chicago mobster Nick DeJohn. He turned up in San Francisco and was believed to have fallen out of favor with the Windy City crew. Lima and his alleged underboss Michael Abati conspired to have killed. Both Lima and Abati were investigated but the charges were dismissed. Lima then was tried and convicted of grand theft. On April 15, 1953 he was shipped off to prison and his power faded. He may have died of natural causes in 1973.

Michael Abati
The underboss to Anthony J. Lima, Abati was one of several Pennsylvania crime figures who migrated west. Abati joined the family of Anthony J. Lima rising to the rank of underboss by the early 50s. Lima counted on Abati to provide muscle for the San Francisco group. Abati proved his worth by dispatching transplanted Chicago crime figure Nick DeJohn in sensational fashion on May 9, 1947.

DeJohn began invading gambling and narcotics rackets controlled by the San Francisco family, Abati was given the task of restoring order. The murder of DeJohn elevated Abati's status within the San Francisco family. Fresh from a stint in a Pennsylvania prison where he served time for armed robbery, the settling of the DeJohn issue drew Abati into Lima's inner-circle. Both Lima and Abati were among four men tried for the DeJohn murder which ended abrutly when District Attorney Edmund G. Brown dropped the charges suddenly after the cheif prosecution [Mrs. Anita Vasquez] witness was found to have perjured herself.

By 1953 Abati sat atop a San Francisco family reknowned for its political ties and legitimate business holdings. Abati's reign was hampered by an on going battle with the Department of Immigration and Naturalization which resulted in his deportation on July 8. 1961. Abati died of natural causes 14 months later (Sept. 5, 1962) in Italy at the age of 62.

Joseph "Jimmy" Lanza
Jimmy Lanza, son of Francesco, would be the most well known San Francisco rackets bosses. He would also be well respected on a national scale and rarely leave his domain. His crime family was said to have no more than twenty-five "made" members. All them kicking in tribute from San Francisco's known skid row, where narcotics trafficking and prostitution were widely available. In addition there were the docks of Fisherman's Warf, where ample opportunities for shakedowns and loan shark customers existed. His crime family had also previously held representation in Las Vegas through William "Bones" Remmer.

Lanza was close with Joe Civello of Dallas, Joe Ceritto and Angelo Marino of San Jose. His underboss was Gaspareo Sciortino, first cousin to one time top Los Angeles mobster Samuel Sciortino. In 1976 Boston underworld figure turned government witness Joe Barboza was living in San Francisco. He had previously provided information and pointed the finger at many Boston based mobsters. Joseph Russo, top Cosa Nostra figure of the New England Patriarca crime family and a native of Boston, sought Lanza's permission to come to his city and seek revenge. Lanza obliged and Russo gunned down Barboza that year.

Lanza also helped pave the way for Cleveland mobster turned top Los Angeles syndicate member Aladena "Jimmy the Weasel" Frattiano. Not happy with the current status of the Los Angeles Dragna crime family, Frattiano sought to form alliances with Lanza but nothing ever materialized and it was probably better for Lanza. Later Frattiano would be one of the first high ranking members of the American mafia to turn against them and show up in court as a witness.

Lanza would quietly operate his crime family behind the scenes and face little in the way of prosecution. He would die of natural causes on June 19, 1989 at the age of 73. With his death, much like the San Jose and Dallas syndicates, the crime family by the Bay withered. A name that still hold some reminder of the days gone by and remnants of their golden era is the one time alleged Lanza underboss Frank "Skinny" Velotta. He was listed as second in command in 1986 by the Federal Government. He remains on the streets as of this writing (2003), has convictions for burglary and was an associate to Frattiano.

The current underworld status of San Francisco is like a hodge podge of the great American melting pot of cretins. With the 1990s came an influx of Asian gangs, bikers and Black street gangs, all vying for a piece. In addition, law enforcement believe that in the past ten years the Genovese crime family of Manhattan may be operating by the Bay.

Frank J. "Skinny" Velotta
Close confidant of Jimmy Fratiano, is believed to have led efforts in tandem with Sal Amarena to revitalize a dormant San Francisco family. A native of Cleveland Ohio, Velotta arrived in California after completing a 1957 burglary term in an Ohio prison. The leader of a gang specializing in burglaries, Velotta's specialty was put to good use by Jimmy Fratianno. Inspite of his higly specialized skill in bypassing high tech alarm systems, Skinny was twice sent to California prisons "1968 and 71," after failed attempts at securing a big score. Released in 1976, Velotta hooked up once again with his criminal mentor as he and several members of the Los Angeles family organized a takeover bid.

Velotta became Fratianno's constant companion serving as his roomate and bodyguard after the Weasel's life had been threatened by Los Angeles family leaders. Velotta remained loyal to Jimmy until the very end but even loyalty came with a price with Skinnny. In his last act before entering the WITSEC program, Fratianno ordered Velotta to deliver his Cadilac to his wife. Fratianno had purchased five new radial tires for the car and before delivering the car to Jimmy's wife, Skinny stole the cars tires and replaced them with 4 badly worn tires from his own vehicle.

Velotta would pay for this act of treachery years later when Jimmy appeared as a witness in two trials against Velotta ultimately sending his former henchman to prison on a drug rap for 16 years in 1983.

sotto capi

Sergio Maranghi
A native of Florence Italy, Meranghi arrived in the US and joined the Lanza family in San Francisco. After operating below the radar of federal investigators for more than a decade, Meranghi's elevation to second in command of Lanza's struggling crime family exposed him as a likely successor to the aging boss. Headquartered out of North Beach, Meranghi operated several successful legitimate businesses including a dress design firm which imported designer fashion wear to the states. He was also listed as an employee of Starfish Co., a small fish processing business which did quite abit of business with Alioto's Restaurant.

Maranghi could often be found conducting meetings with various rackets figures at the Anchor Cafe on Columbus Avenue until it closed in 1983. He then shifted his business meetings to the popular Portofino Cafe directly across the street. Slated for the top slot in San Francisco's underworld, Maranghi's rise was interupted in December of 1989 when federal authorities charged him with running an international drug smuggling operation. Charged along with Meranghi was his 22 year old son John, the pair were accused of selling heroin and cocaine to high drug customers in 100 kilo lots. Meranghi pled out and was deported to Italy in 1990.

Salvatore Amarena
Well known bay area proprietor of bars and restaurants, Amarena, like Velotta, was a close confidant of Jimmy Fratianno in the 70s. A well traveled rackets figure, Amarena was convicted in Alabama in 1951 for operating gambling devices. He was also arrested at a bar he owned in Louisiana for the same offense but suffered no conviction in that case. Prior to moving to California, Amarena owned a restaurant in Cuba which was frequented by Santo Trafficante and Fidel Castro. Upon arriving in San Francisco, Amarena established himself as a fence hocking the goods secured by the burglary gang run by Frank Velotta out of his Expresso cafe.

Sal's Expresso shop was also used as a message drop for Fratianno during his bid to seize control of the Los Angeles family from Dominick Brooklier and Sam Sciortino. In recent years Amarena has been mentioned as the pre-emminent power in the Bay area in conjunction with his longtime business partner Frank Velotta. The exact order of who is on top remains unclear.

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