The Insider Magazine

Mafia – The Brains Of Angelo Bruno

Angelo Bruno was a different kind of mobster using his brains and his diplomacy he would rise through the ranks of the South Philadelphia underworld known as the docile Don he was at the top of his game but in the main streets of South Philadelphia the seeds of treachery and betrayal had been planted and it would end in one of the most famous mob hits Athens this is the real love story of Angelo Bruno Schneider Avenue in South Philadelphia this is the site of one of the most notorious mob assassinations to have ever taken place number nine thirty four was the home of Angelo Bruno reputed mob boss of Philadelphia a young Sicilian hood called John Stanford sat in a parked car next to his boss Angelo Bruno it was here that on a rainy night on March 21st 1980 that Angelo Bruno the Godfather of the city would meet his end Bruno was the victim of one of the boldest mob assassinations for years it was an unfortunate end for a man who would rule the Philadelphia underworld with diplomacy rather than violence. Angelo Bruno was born in V Albert Sicily in 1910 and was given the name Angelo Anna Laura B later changed an allure Oh for Bruno after his paternal grandmother's surname he arrived in America in the early 1920s settling in South Philadelphia.

He helped his father at his grocery store he ran until 1922 at the age of 12 he entered school but only stayed in education for a few years before dropping out to open his own store at 8th and Annan streets in passing square it was around this time that he would meet Salvatore Sabella who was the boss of the Philadelphia criminal underworld at the time Sibella saw potential in the young Angelo Bruno and put the young Sicilian to work in the criminal rackets under his protection this would mark the beginning of Bruno's education in traditional mob rackets such as bookmaking gambling and prostitution during his time bootlegging liquor Bruno became friends with the fellow Sicilian the man was small in stature and had a distinctive hooked nose the Sicilian hood was older than Bruno but the two had a mutual respect for one another they developed a close relationship one that would serve Bruno well in the decades to come [Music] in 1931 Bruno was officially inducted into La Cosa Nostra and became a made man in the Philadelphia family now a wise guy Bruno had access to a criminal network that spanned the United States and Europe the young ambitious Bruno would make the most of this in the decades to follow around the same time John Avena was appointed boss of Philadelphia however in 1936 he was shot and killed during a period of friction in the Philadelphia underworld Joe Ida replaced him his boss up until 1959 when he decided to retire as leader and return to Sicily he had a choice whether to make Angelo Bruno or another mobster by the name of Antonio “Mr. Miggs” Polina boss he decided on polina a choice that would be undone in the months to follow Polina was worried about Bruno Bruno had the popularity amongst the men as he was well respected and a good earner although Bruno had no ambitions to seize power Polina thought otherwise and decided to eliminate him luckily for Bruno he'd got wind of the plan and went to seek the help of his old friend from his bootlegging days his small hooked nose Sicilian friend was now a major player in the New York underworld through a series of Machiavellian master strokes he'd risen through the ranks to take over one of the city's crime families which now bore his name.

His friend was none other than the feared Carlo Gambino Gambino reassured Bruno that no one would make a move against him and fixed it so that Polina would step aside allowing Bruno to take the official reins of Philadelphia a move that now empowered Gambino as he now had proxy control over Philadelphia after Bruno took power Gambino asked if Bruno needed Polina to be whacked Bruno politely declined the offer in a shrewd move Bruno understood that if he murdered him Polina loyalists would take revenge so he opted for peace he allowed the demoted Polina to live and continue his activities during the 1960s and early 70s there was relative peace in the Philadelphia underworld Bruno expanded his operations as further afield as London England where he worked closely with the notorious Kray twins Ronnie and Reggie he was also introduced to a man by the name of Wilf pine and English gangster who had a close friendship with Joey Pagano a captain in the Genovese family pine would regularly deliver messages between the Genovese family and Philadelphia pine was instrumental and being the link between the italian-american organized crime and the criminal rackets in London in 1976 angelo received devastating news his longtime friend and business partner Carlo Gambino had died before his death Gambino appointed his nephew Paul big Paul Castellano as head of the Gambino family Bruno would maintain continuity in the close relationship with the Gambino's the mid-1970s saw a change in culture throughout the United States.

Especially with new drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine which were spreading in popularity mobsters across the country saw an opportunity to get into the lucrative markets Philadelphia mobsters were no exception they reveled at the thought of making huge profits Bruno however had different ideas he banned any members of the Philadelphia family to deal in narcotics the general rule in the mob was that drugs were not permitted as they carried heavy criminal sentences however not everyone followed the rules Bruno allowed cousins of his close friend Carlo Gambino control of narcotics territory and took a slice of the profits the double standard on drugs annoyed many members of his organization who felt that they weren't being given the opportunity to earn fuel was added to the fire in 1977 when Atlantic City passed a law permitting gambling Bruno welcomed the New York families in to take a piece of the action whilst cutting out members of his own organization South Philadelphia mobster filled the chicken man testa the underboss of the family was particularly unhappy testa was a blue-collar gangster whereas Angelo Bruno was a racketeer and white-collar mobster both of them based their businesses around South Philadelphia and they had differing opinions and how it should be run it was the start of growing tensions between the two personalities Bruno's grip on power started to slip the docile Don had trouble looming elsewhere consigliere Antonio Tony bananas Caponigro led the New Jersey faction of the organization and he was particularly dissatisfied with Bruno's stance on narcotics Caponigro sought to take the throne from Bruno as he wanted to expand his narcotics operations he'd been secretly running unbeknownst to Bruno he was being encouraged by a lieutenant of his named Ralph Blackie Nepali to make a bid for power against Bruno.

Blackie had a strong relationship with the Genovese family through their emissary Louis Bobby manna as they had both done prison time together in garden state correctional facility in yard Ville New Jersey Bobby manna had strong influence with the top administration of the Genovese family Blackie Napoleon knew that if Caponigro made a move against Bruno that the Commission the ruling body of the mob would mark him for death thus giving Blacky Napoleon the Genovese family control over lucrative North Jersey territory the seeds of treachery had been planted the plan began to bear fruit when Caponigro made a visit to New York to see if he had support for such a move he met with a feared Brooklyn mob heavyweight by the name of Frank Fonzie Thierry Thierry was considered by many to be boss of the Genovese crime family at the time however the Genovese family was secretly controlled by a man named Vincent the chin Gigante a move designed to cause confusion in law enforcement circles Caponigro explained the situation to Thierry he told Caponigro that if anything was to happen to Bruno that he Caponigro had the blessing of the Commission meanwhile Bruno was losing support from the Atlantic City faction of his organization a long time Bruno lieutenant named Nicodemo Little Nicky Scarfo was upset with Bruno a year earlier sensing there may be a power struggle between him and Phil testa Bruno asked Nicky who he'd side with if there was a war little Nikki told Bruno una familia meaning one family.

Nikki knew Bruno's enemies were lining up against him and didn't want to be on the wrong side months later Bruno turned down scarfo's request for a union contract deal to build new casinos it was basically punishment for not having skarphol support in a possible intra-family war as the new decade started tensions were mounting on the streets of South Philadelphia Caponigro now with the backing of Brooklyn gangster foods et re assembled his crew of conspirators consisting of Frank the Barracudas sin dome John Stanford and brother-in-law Alfred Salerno on the night of March 21st 1980 Stanford drove Bruno to his home after visiting cous restaurant owned by a Caponigro lieutenant Bruno's normal driving Raymond Long John Martorano was conveniently unavailable on the night stand for parked the car outside of Bruno's home at the corner of 10th Street and Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia as the two chatted in the car Stanford lured the passenger side window allowing Bruno to discard his cigarette it would be the last thing he ever did as it was then that a man approached the passenger side of the vehicle and blasted Bruno and his right ear with a shotgun.

Bruno died instantly and Stanfill left the scene. It was the end of the docile Don Angelo Bruno and the end of what would be known as a peaceful period in the Philadelphia underworld a few weeks later Caponigro was summoned to New York by the Genovese leadership he thought he was going to be officially appointed the boss of Philadelphia he was wrong Caponigro was led down to the basement of the Triangle social club in Greenwich Village Manhattan a panel of individual sat behind a table in a darkly lit room there was cigar jumping Anthony Fat Tony Salerno Genovese emissary Bobby Manor mob old-timer Frank Fonzie Thierry and the supreme leader of the Genovese family himself Vincent the chin Gigante Gigante asked Caponigro we're here to find out who gave you the permission to whack out your boss Angelo Bruno can you tell us Caponigro looked at Thierry and Thierry shot a look back at him stoned faced Caponigro said Fonzie told me I had the okay that the Commission approved the hit the county replied Frank what's he talking about Thierry replied I told you to straighten it out not to kill him it was then that the penny dropped Caponigro realized he'd been double-crossed by Thierry and as he started to plead for his life Jenna Pisan forces appeared from the shadows and started beating Caponigro to death it was a violent end for the ambitious CAFO negro his brother-in-law Alfred Salerno who was waiting in a nearby restaurant was summoned to the club on the rouse that Caponigro had asked for him he too was violently beaten to death. Their bodies would later be found in the trunk of a car with dollar bills found stuffed into all orifices of their bodies. A Sicilian message that their greed is what got them killed the cunning Fonzie Thierry and the Genovese administration had achieved their objective of taking control of lucrative New Jersey operations and having proxy control over Philadelphia. The Philadelphia underworld would never be the same Angelo Bruno the docile Don would be remembered for being a peaceful leader one who would prefer to use nonviolent methods to keep control of his family in the final years it was his poor judgment and inability to resolve the growing discord within his own family that would lead to his ultimate downfall.

Dirk Reynolds

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