Often in the shadow of the organized crime families of New York and Chicago, Philadelphia has a rich mafia history. The Philadelphia mafia was believed to have started in 1911 when the Sicilian mafia imported Salvatore Sabella to Philadelphia to run the city’s crime rackets. Sabella ran organized crime in the city until he died in 1927.
Joseph Bruno and Joseph Ida
Joseph Bruno took over the crime syndicates after Salvatore Sabella’s death. He had to fight off a challenge to his authority in Philadelphia’s first mafia war in mid 1930s from John Avena. He remained mob boss until he died in 1946. Joseph Ida took over after the death of Joseph Bruno. He did not manage to stay long since he fled to Siciliy in 1959 after being convicted in narcotics charges in what was a lackluster crime reign.
Angelo Bruno was the man that put the Philadelphia mafia on the map as well as starting up the organized crime scene in Atlantic City. Bruno had close ties to the Genovese family in New York, and the Bruno crime family became the most prominent in the country outside of New York and Chicago. He even wound up sitting on the Mafia’s ruling commission.
Angelo “The Gentle Don” Bruno rarely employed violence in his operations. Although this was one of the reasons he was so successful, it rubbed some of his associates the wrong way, in particular his consigliere, Antonio “Tony Bananas” Caponigro, who had been making waves about Bruno’s tactics. He started a plot to kill Angelo Bruno, and ultimately assassinated Angelo Bruno on March 21, 1980, when they gunned down the mob boss. He was set up by his associate John Stanfa, who had been driving the car. Stanfa was hit by some bullet fragments, but was otherwise uninjured in one of the biggest hits in mob history. Things didn’t go so well for “Tony Bananas” Caponigro. The heads of the five families in New York summoned him for a meeting, and exacted some vengeance by beating and strangling him and his associate Alfred Salerno to death.
Check out my Philly mobsters as they tangle with vampires in my novel Blood Street, out now from True Grit Publishing.