St. Louis LCN Family

The Early Black Hand Gangs

Late 1800s-Late 1950s

St. Louis has enjoyed a unique organized criminal lineage. There was undoubtedly old Black Hand gangs, stemming from the late 1800s and eventual migration of New Orleans based gangsters. It is, however, very clear that no one individual would appear supreme. In fact the St. Louis underworld would be carved up by several gangs, often at odds and often in colusion. These gangs, not all Italian Mafiosi, would continue to dominate the city's underbelly for decades to come.

The Green Ones: One of the earliest Black Hand gangs to arrive from Sicily were the Green Ones. The three dominant members were Alphonse Palizzola, John and Vito Giannola. The trio's arrival occurred prior to 1920. They quickly immersed themselves in extortion, robbery and gambling within the burgeoning Italian community.

During the years of Prohibition the Green Ones became embroiled in numerous gangland slayings. They all stemmed from vying for control of the bootlegging rackets. Alphonse Palizzola was the first, found shot dead in September 1927. Vito Giannola was next, his body blasted away by gunshot, on December 28, 1927. John Giannola retired out of fear and reportedly never remerged to stake his claim.

The Green Ones had battled three known gangs during their 20 year existence. These would be the rival Black Hand group known as The Pillow Gang, Egan's Rats and The Cuckoos. The latter two consisting primarily of a mixture ethnic background. However these early years would give the underworld such names as Licavolli, Zerillis and their respective associates. These individuals would come to rule the Mid West syndicates in the decades to come and continue their ties with St. Louis.

The Pillow Gang: The Pillow Gang came into prominence in around 1910. The Pillow Gang, their named thought to be derived from the shooting of mobster Carmelo Fresina in the buttocks, where he was said to have used a pillow for sitting. consisted of freelance or non-organized Italian criminals. The Pillow Gang would fight many wars with The Green Ones, which led to countless deaths and was for supremacy over St. Louis's underworld. Fresina himself, after being confronted with a rival faction within in his own gang, would be killed in 1931 in Illinois. It was said that several more incidences of violence occured following his death.

Following the ashes of the gangs, two powerful groups would emerge. The remaining Pillow Gang members , along with remnants of The Green Ones and The Cuckoos. These two groups would come to control the underworld pulse of St Louis. However by the 1940s Kansas City mobsters Thomas Buffa and Anthony Lopiparo were seen as the dominant leaders. Buffa, however would be murdered in Lodi, California in 1946 following his testimony in a Kansas City courtroom.

By the mid 1950s a clearer crime family tree emerged. These members were Lopiparo, Frank Coppola, Anthony Giordano and John Vitale. In the next few years Giordano and Vitale would come to rule the crime family. A crime family that held extensive ties, through a shared narcotics trade with The Detroit Partnership and were seen as a powerful criminal regime. It was believed, since St. Louis is part of the "westen" faction of La Cosa Nostra, that the Chicago Outfit would be an influencial mediator. In the case of the St. Louis crime family this wouldnt always be the case.

Dons (Bosses)

Anthony Giordano
(Late 1950s-1980)
Anthony Giordano had climbed from a drug runner in the St. Louis underworld to a nationally recognized and powerful crime boss. Despite being under the influence of the powerful Chicago Outfit, the St Louis syndicate alligned themselves with the Detroit Combination and their powerful partners. Giordano's syndicate was a trifeca of sorts, with assistance from his nephew Mathew Truppiano of Detroit and his underboss John J. Vitale. The crime family also carved labor racketeering, narcotics trafficking, illegal gambling and loan sharking with the Syrian Liesure gang and Frank "Buster" Wortman. Giordano, who only served a few small stretches in prison, would die from cancer on August 29, 1980.

Mathew "Mike" Trupiano
Mathew "Mike" Trupiano was the nephew of Tony Giordano. While Vitale's actual role, whether he was an official boss or acting temporarily, was never confirmed; Trupiano would be seen as the official and agreed leader.

Trupiano, a native of a St. Louis, spent a great deal of time in Detroit and much to his demise was almost a degenerate gambler. A very low key boss, Trupiano was convicted of running a bookmaking operation in 1986. He was fined and sentenced to four years. It was during this time that evidence leaked out regarding his soldiers not respecting him, holding back on tribute and forming private factions against him.

After his release, Trupiano was under intense police scrutiny. He was arrested and convicted for running a gin rummy game out of the back of a car dealership. This was an embarassing slap on the St. Louis syndicate, a boss getting pinched for such a nickel and dime racket. It was also found that Trupiano, an officer of UNILA Local 110, was gambling during his work schedule and possibly embezzling from the Local. He was stripped of his position and eventually sentenced to two years.

While in prison he suffered from several heart attacks and diabetes. Upon his release, many of the crime family duties, the remaining rackets, fell upon the shoulders of elder consigliere Anthony "Nino" Parrino. By all accounts Trupiano was a retired crime boss, having lost much respect, when he died on October 22, 1997.

sotto capi (Underbosses)

John "Johnny V" Vitale
(Late 1950s-1980)
(Acting Boss 1980-1982)
John Vitale would serve as second in command for Anthony Giordano during the prime of St Louis's underworld. His name would be linked to several murders, one which included the kidnapping of an 11 year old boy and give the world boxing legend Sonny Liston. He would operate eveything from loansharking, labor racketeering and narcotics trafficking. During the 1950s he formed a boxing racket combination with Lucchese LCN Family soldier Frankie Carbo and corrupt boxing manager Frank "Blinky" Palermo. In the end he served as acting boss following the death of Giordano in 1980 and later became an FBI informant. He would die in June 1982 from a heart attack and his role as an informant would be revealed years later.

Consiglieri (Advisors)

Anthony "Nino" Parrino
(early 1980s-present)
Coming out of the "Vitale side" of the St Louis family, Anthony "Nino" Parrino was heavily tied in with Teamsters locals and very much part of St Louis's underworld. He fell into the role of consigliere or counselor around the time Tony Giordano passed away. By 1986, with boss Trupiano going away to prison, Parrino was openly referring to himself "as the boss". With Parrino, the ties to Chicago and Detroit were assumed to be broken. Long time St. Louisan mobster Joseph Cammarata is thought to be operating the local crime family in tandem with Parrino. Parrino is an element for the bygone era of the St. Louis mob, an organization that seems not to concern law enforcement, both local and federal.

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