Friday, June 16, 2017
Cleveland Heights, Ohio (where I live) has a big-time Mafia connection. Cleveland Mafia boss Joseph Porrello lived at 2862 Berkshire Road in Cleveland Heights at the time of his death in 1930.
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In the early 1900s, two Sicillian gangs emerged in Cleveland. One were the Lonardos: Joseph, Frank, John and Dominic. The other were the Porrellos: Rosario, Vincenzo, Angelo, Joseph, John, Ottavio, and Raymond.
By 1920, Joseph "Big Joe" Lonardo had become boss of the Cleveland Mafia. The Cleveland Mafia grew rich and powerful supplying sugar to illegal alcohol manufacturers, and they had a lock on "corn sugar" (a cheap form of sugar common in Ohio).
In 1926, the Porrellos broke away from the Lonardos and set up their own crime family. Joseph Lonardo went to Sicily in the summer of 1927 to appeal to Mafia heads there for help. When he returned, Angelo Porrello asked to meet with him. Lonardo agreed. On October 13, 1927, Joseph and John Lonardo arrived at a Porrello-owned barber shop at 10902 Woodland Avenue. The Lonardos relaxed, playing cards. Two gunmen burst into the barber shop and killed them.
Joseph "Big Joe" Porrello now took over as boss of the Cleveland Mafia.
On June 11, 1929, Joseph Porrello's caporegime, Salvatore "Black Sam" Todaro, was standing outside the very same barber shop at 1:07 PM. A young man up and said someone in the car around the corner wanted to talk to Todaro. Todaro walked around the corner onto E. 110th Street and approached the car -- and was shot five times. Driving the car was Angelo Lonardo; beside him was Joseph Lonardo's widow, Concetta; in the back seat was another man. The car raced away south down E. 110th. Police believed that Concietta and the other man shot Todaro.
On July 5, 1930, Joseph Porrello was invited to a sitdown with Frank "Ciccio" Milano at the Milano-owned Venetian Restaurant at 12601 Mayfield Road (now a parking lot). For years, Milano had been attempting to set up a rival crime family, without success. Porrello and his caporegime, Sam Tilocco, were to meet with Milano, John Angersola, Alfred Plizzi, and Charles Colletti. Porrello and Tilocco had been in the restaurant only a few minutes when they were shot. Porrello died at his table. Despite three head-wounds, Tilocco managed to stagger outside and almost made it to his car before falling onto the sidewalk.
Roughly 2,000 people attended Joe's funeral. Porrello and Tilocco are buried close to one another in Cleveland's Calvary Cemetery.