Based on coverage from The Plain Dealer
Created by jkroll on Feb 28, 2011
Last updated: 03/09/11 at 02:27 PM
Tags: danny greene john nardi shondor birns kill the irishman mafia mob
Ritson, Danny Greene's top lieutenant, was never found. His car turned up a week later, smelling like a dead body but without any evidence of a crime. Mobster Angelo Lonardo would later claim that he had been killed not as part of the mob feud but rather by a criminal who believed Ritson was going to finger him as a drug dealer. Others claim it was a beef over Ritson taking cash for a hit but failing to follow through.
Brittain was one of Greene's men, often organizing high-stakes poker games. He had beaten and shot to death a man at a game the year before, but got off with a misdemeanor. While he reportedly had long feared someone would seek vengeance for the killing, his associate -- Keith Ritson, Danny Greene's top lieutenant -- would tell reporters that the slaying was tied to the mob feud.
Ritson was Danny Greene's top lieutenant, and next in the crosshairs after Greene was killed. Mobster Angelo Lonardo would testify later that the attack was probably ordered by James (Jack White) Licavoli. Ritson, who suffered only some cuts, said he was outside the house when a bomb was thrown, but it hit a wall and bounced away.
Greene was leaving a dentist's office when a bomb planted in a car next to his was triggered. More than a dozen men tied to the main branch of the Mafia would be convicted of roles in his death. Click the link to read The Plain Dealer's extensive coverage from the day after the bombing.
A federal judge allows agents to continue monitoring wiretaps on the home of Licavoli, whom they labeled the head of Cleveland's organized crime family. Those wiretaps would later lead to the indictment of about a dozen men for Danny Greene's murder, including Alfred Calabrese, himself the apparent target of a 1975 bombing, and Thomas Sinito, who also had an alleged connection to Cleveland's Model Cities scandal.
Nardi died in a car bombing outside a union hall. Mobster Angelo Lonardo would later testify that the hit was ordered by rival mob boss James (Jack White) Licavoli. Click the link for The Plain Dealer's story (the bombing was just blocks away from The PD).
Enis Crnic was trying to plant a bomb in the car of John DelZoppo (pictured), identified by the FBI as part of James Licavoli's faction of the Cleveland mob.
A bomb ripped off the garage door. Neighbors said the family had moved to Florida earlier that month. Police again said the bombing was likely connected to a fight for control of gambling and rubbish hauling contracts. Neighbors petitioned for a street light, saying it was too dark to see any bombers. Ciasullo's home was one of the locations police had found marked on maps in the possession of Danny Greene's top lieutenant, Keith Ritson, and Greene's nephew, Kevin McTaggart.
Pircio died when he started a car leased by his neighbor, Al Calabrese (the car had been parked in Pircio's driveway and he was trying to move it). Police assumed the bomb was intended for Calabrese (pictured), whom they connected to a struggle over control of gambling and garbage hauling contracts. According to later testimony, Calabrese had recently tried to kill rival John Nardi, and Nardi's partner, Danny Greene, was behind the Calabrese bombing.
Several years later, an FBI affidavit would identify Nardi as the heir apparent to lead organized crime in Cleveland before losing out to James Licavoli. Mobster Angelo Lonardo later testified, "As far as I know, Al Calabrese and Butch Cisternino shot at Nardi. They were having their own problems with Nardi and [Danny] Greene."
His blood-spattered car turned up a month later. The FBI said Moceri had been left without a faction to protect him when Cleveland's organized crime family split between loyalty to James Licavoli and to Danny Greene. Mobster Angelo Lonardo told the feds, "I believe that Moceri was murdered by Danny Greene and Keith Ritson. This was done because John Nardi was having trouble and headaches from Leo Moceri, who at the time was the underboss of the Cleveland family."
Ritson, Danny Greene's top lieutenant, and Greene's nephew, Kevin McTaggart, hold 11 men at a poker game at bay while a third accomplice beats and shoots to death Joseph Illius. The killer, Elmer Brittain, got off with a misdemeanor after saying that his gun accidentally went off as he was pistol-whipping Illius. Ritson and McTaggart had the case against them thrown out by controversial Judge Sam Zingale, who said they couldn't be tried for felonies when the killer got only a misdemeanor.
Ciasullo was injured and soon moved to Florida. Police suspected a connection to a struggle over control of gambling and rubbing hauling contracts. In later federal testimony, mobster Angelo Lonardo would say Danny Greene ordered the bombing "because Greene was having trouble with him."
Conte had ties to Cleveland's Model Cities program, a mob-infested boondoggle, as well as to a struggle over control of vending machines and to a man suspected of having bombed Danny Greene's home. According to later testimony from mobster Angelo Lonardo, Greene beat Conte to death or had him beaten. His body was found near Youngstown, but his wife said he was on his way to a meeting with Greene when he went missing. Greene said he didn't have anything to do with Conte. But the next spring, police searched Greene's trailer (pictured) and found evidence -- a baseball bat, wire, and tiles buckled by moisture -- that led them to believe Conte had been killed there. The trailers were on the site of the Greene home that had been destroyed in an earlier bombing.
Greene again escaped death. Police at the time speculated that he had heard breaking glass when the bomb was thrown into his house and had time to run across the second-floor hall to his kitchen, where a falling cabinet and a toppling refrigerator formed a lucky shelter from the rain of bricks, boards and other debris. Click the link for The Plain Dealer's original story.
Birns had a criminal history dating back to at least 1925. He was a kingpin in local rackets and worked with Danny Greene. But when Greene split with the largely Italian mob leadership, Birns stuck to the mafia. His death in a blast outside a West Side bar earned him a bold banner headline. Click the link to read The Plain Dealer's original story and its recap of Birns' career.
Moss picked up a brightly wrapped package he found in his car and it exploded. Police were reported to suspect a man associated with Moss in a snow cone machine franchise, and the same man had a connection to John Conte, who was going to be a witness before a federal grand jury investigating Cleveland's Model Cities program before he was beaten to death. The Model Cities scandal, which resulted in no indictments, was nonetheless connected to at least two other violent deaths.
Carcione showed up wounded at his apartment building, with a story about having been shot while in a phone booth. Police didn't believe that. They did suspect that Carcione's shooting was connected with the shootings of two other men on the same day. And they found it curious that Carcione showed up at a hospital with a list that included the name of Danny Greene and other mob-connected men, as well as Robert Doggett, head of Cleveland's scandal-ridden Model Cities program, who had been shot earlier in the year.
Robert Doggett, head of Cleveland's Model Cities program, is shot but survives. He claims the gunman was Jerald Johnson, hired by a disgruntled ex-employee of the program. Police, however, suspect Johnson was paid by a numbers racketeer to kill both Doggett and Larry Steele, who died in a car bombing earlier in the year. Johnson himself would turn up dead several days after the attack on Doggett.
As Steele gets into a van owned by Drug Abuse Centers outside a bar close to 2 a.m., the van blows open (as if it had been ripped apart by a can opener, police say). Police later link evidence at the bombing to Jerald Johnson, a hitman also accused of shooting the director of Cleveland's Model Cities program. Steele was an associate of Ronald (Grier) Bey, a mob-connected racketeer whose links to Mayor Ralph Perk's administration included questionable contracts from the Model Cities program.
Two years earlier, Seawright had sought police protection, claiming threats over a garbage hauling contract. The Plain Dealer described him as a former numbers racketeer. He also had contracts with Cleveland's scandal-soaked Model Cities program.
Danny Greene shot and killed Frato; he admitted it. But he successfully pleaded self-defense, saying Frato had shot at him first. Click the link for a Plain Dealer story from that time.
Sneperger, one of Greene's henchmen, is blown up as he tries to plant a bomb in Mike Frato's car. But reports later suggest that Danny Greene himself triggered the bomb after learning that Sneperger was a police informant. Click on the link for The Plain Dealer's original story.
Greene escapes with minor injuries when a bomb explodes in his car. He would tell the police that the bomb was thrown from another car passing in the opposite direction. Stories later, though, would suggest Greene was carrying the bomb to an attack when it went off, leading him to decide from then on to rely on others to transport explosives.
The heyday of Wexler’s Theatrical Grill, one of the after-hours joints that crammed the narrow street in downtown Cleveland called Short Vincent, was during the 1960s and '70s. It was a favorite hangout for mobsters, reporters, cops and lawyers.
Greene took over the union local when the previous president was ousted by the parent union. By the next year, The Plain Dealer would have enough evidence of violence and corruption to run a long investigative series.
After his mother died in childbirth, Greene spent his early years at Parmadale orphanage before moving in with relatives in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood.