Anthony Carfano


Anthony Carfano

Anthony Carfano (c. 1898-September 25, 1959) aka "Little Augie Pisano"" was a New York gangster who became a caporegime, or group leader, in the Luciano crime family under mob bosses Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Frank Costello.

Early life

A longtime friend of Costello and mobster Joe Adonis, Carfano began his career as a gunman for mob boss Joe Masseria in the Frankie Yale crew during the Prohibition era. After Yale's murder in 1928, Adonis, Vince Mangano, and Carfano, his top lieutenants, divided the criminal organization. Carfano took over Yale's bootlegging and illegal gambling operations in Brooklyn. Following the bloody Castellammarese War between Italian-American gangs in New York, Carfano became a lieutenant to Adonis and Costello in the Luciano crime family with Luciano as boss. By the time Luciano went to prison for pandering in 1936, Carfano had become a caporegime under acting boss Vito Genovese. When Genovese fled to Italy in 1937 to avoid a murder trial, Carfano became a top leader as underboss Costello assumed leadership of the Luciano family.

From the Bronx to Miami

In the late 1930s, Costello and Adonis sent Carfano to South Florida to expand family operations in that region. Based in Miami, Carfano successfully organized both illegal gambling operations and legitimate spas and hotels, including Miami's "Wofford Hotel".

At this time, mob associate and Florida gambling operator Meyer Lansky persuaded the Mafia Commission that both Miami and Miami Beach should be considered "open cities", places in which any crime family in the country could set up operation. Despite Carfano's objections, Costello persuaded him to cooperate with Lansky. By the late 1950s, Carfano had carved out a multi-million dollar gambling empire in South Florida. Florida crime boss Santo Trafficante, Sr., based in Tampa, controlled the majority of the state, but was closely aligned with the New York bosses and his Southern counterparts in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Family Power Play

In the late 1940's, Genovese was extridited from Italy to New York, but managed to escape the murder charges. Genonese not set about retrieving control of the family from Costello. Over the prior decade Genovese had garnered much support from the "blue collar faction" of the crime family, the soldiers who carried out the street level crimes and had felt neglected under Costello's rule, while higher level crime family members within the "white collar faction" led by Costello carried out and oversaw the operations such as union and labor racketeering, stock scams and political corruption.

In May 1957, Costello survived an aassassination attempt organized by Genovese. Immediately after the attack on Costello, Genovese ordered all the caporegimes in the family to accept him as the new boss. Costello had few allies support him. Costello ally Willie Moretti had been murdered in 1951; Adonis had been deported in 1956; John De Noia and Rocco Pelligrino were retiring. In a show of support for Costello, Carfano flew to New York from Florida to meet with him. In retaliation for supporting Costello, Genovese ordered his right-hand-man and caporegime Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo to murder Carfano.

Assassination of Carfano

On the night of September 25, 1959 (although other sources incorrectly claim September 29), Stollo invited Carfano to dinner at Marino's restaurant and Carfano accepted. Earlier that night Carfano relaxed at the famous "Copacabana" nightclub and later that evening left to meet with Strollo. At Marino's, Carfano ran into mutual friends among them Janice Drake, a former Miss New Jersey and the wife of comedian Alan Drake. Drake had been previously called in as a witness to testify on gangland slayings of Manhattan Nathan Nelson and Gambino crime family boss Albert Anastasia. Carfano offered to drive Janice home after supper to her apartment in Rego Park, Queens where her 13-year old son Michael was sleeping.

In the middle of the meal, Carfano allegedly received a phone call. After hanging up, Carfano told his group that he and Drake had to leave; he had been called away "on urgent business." Carfano and Drake left Marino's and drove away in his Cadillac. Police later theorized that this phone call was from Costello warning Carfano about the hit. When Carfano and Drake left the restaurant, they were allegedly heading to La Guardia Airport in Queens to board a flight to Miami. However, according to this theory, Strollo had anticipated such a move and had hidden gunmen in the back seat of the Cadillac. Once on the road, the gunmen forced Carfano to drive to a quiet location near the airport. At 10:30 that evening, 45 minutes after Carfano and Drake left Marino's, their bodies were found in Carfano's car near the airport. Both had been shot in the back of the head.

While the facts of gunman hiding in the back of the Cadillac and Carfano and Janice Drake being shot in the back of the head are accurate, the flight to Miami is highly unlikely. Janice Drake was expected home. Her husband was appearing out of town with Tony Martin. She was a devoted mother who would never have just taken off in the middle of the night abandoning her child and a Welsh terrier named Gussie presented to her by Sherman Billingsly [Stork Club] . (The dog's name derived from "Uncle Gus," as Carfano was known to the family.) Drake was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time and Bonanno crime family mobster Anthony Mirra had to murder her also.

Alternative theory on Carfano's murder

Another theory regarding Carfano's death lies with his vast gambling empire in South Florida and a belief he was making moves to investment in Cuban casinos at the time of his death. With the emergence of Genovese as the new leader of the Luciano crime family in late 1957, former boss Luciano lost a great deal of underworld influence in New York and America. No longer in control of his crime family, longtime Luciano ally and supporter Meyer Lansky who had vast gambling interests across America, along with casino interests in Las Vegas and Cuba was in need of a new sponsor and ally within the former Luciano family. Luciano and Costello had given Lansky underworld protection for decades. Now Lansky sought an alliance with new boss Vito Genovese.

Underworld rumor has it that after Costello was deposed as boss of the Luciano crime family in late 1957, Carfano took it upon himself to show much disregard and even contempt for the new leadership. He apparently spent most of his time overseeing his criminal and legitimate interests South Florida and traveled to New York only when necessary, and by 1959 had begun making plans to expand his gambling operations into Cuba. The theory goes that Carfano, who was not a Genovese supporter began to encroach on the Havana casino operations of Meyer Lansky and the new Genovese crime family.

With Carfano's prior, blatant disrespect for his new boss Genovese and now his encroachment onto Genovese and Lansky territory without permission sealed Carfano's fate. This, along with the added bonus that Lansky would take over all the Carfano gambling interests in Florida where Lansky was also based gave the two New York Mob bosses all the excuse they needed to have Carfano hit that fateful September night. The fact that Lansky's criminal association with Genovese strengthened after his takeover of the Luciano crime family and that Lansky did in fact take over Carfano's Southern Florida gambling interests after his death is more than likely the catalyst for this theory surrounding Carfano's murder and Lansky's involvement.

In popular culture

The character's name, "Augie Pisano" is derived from Anthony Carfano, which is used for real-life Nick Civella's brother-in-law Carl DeLuna in Martin Scorsese's 1995 film "Casino", played by Vinnie Vella.

Further reading

*Capeci, Jerry. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia". Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 0-02-864225-2
*Fisher, David. "Joey the Hit Man: The Autobiography of a Mafia Killer". New York: Thunder Mouth Press, 2002. ISBN 1-56025-393-2

References

*Kelly, Robert J. "Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States". Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000. ISBN 0-313-30653-2
*Sifakis, Carl. "The Mafia Encyclopedia". New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3
*Sifakis, Carl. "The Encyclopedia of American Crime". New York: Facts on File Inc., 2001. ISBN 0-8160-4040-0

External links

* [http://jcgi.pathfinder.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,894246,00.html TIME.com: Finger Exercise] , October 5, 1959.
* [http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters_outlaws/mob_bosses/women/2.html The Myth of Mob Gallantry: The Tragic Death of Janice Drake] at the Crime Library
* [http://www.onewal.com/w-carfan.html The American "Mafia": Who Was Who ? - Anthony Carfano]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=23404 Anthony Carfano] at Find-A-Grave


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  • Anthony Carfano — (* um 1898; † 25. September 1959 New York City) alias „Little Augie Pisano“ war ein US amerikanischer Mobster in New York City und wird der Genovese Familie zugerechnet, die zu seiner Zeit von Lucky Luciano geleitet wurde, und hat für seine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Carfano — Anthony Carfano (* um 1898; † 25. September 1959 New York City) alias „Little Augie Pisano“ war ein US amerikanischer Mobster in New York City und wird der Genovese Familie zugerechnet, die zu seiner Zeit von Lucky Luciano geleitet wurde, und hat …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Anthony C. Strollo — Anthony C. Strollo, auch bekannt als „Tony Bender“ (* 18. Juni 1899 New York City; † 8. April 1962 Fort Lee, New Jersey) war ein hochrangiger US amerikanischer Mobster der La Cosa Nostra, dem die Tätigkeit in gleich drei der Fünf Familien von New …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Anthony Mirra — also known as Tony (c. 1922 Lower East Side, Manhattan February 18, 1982 Lower Manhattan) was a street soldier for the Bonanno crime family who worked under caporegime Michael Zaffarano, involved in extortion, gambling and drug trafficking. He is …   Wikipedia

  • Anthony Strollo — Anthony C. Strollo, auch bekannt als „Tony Bender“ (* 18. Juni 1899 New York City; † 8. April 1962 Fort Lee, New Jersey) war ein hochrangiger US amerikanischer Mobster der La Cosa Nostra, dem die Tätigkeit in gleich drei der Fünf Familien von New …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Augie Pisano — Anthony Carfano (* um 1898; † 25. September 1959 New York City) alias „Little Augie Pisano“ war ein US amerikanischer Mobster in New York City und wird der Genovese Familie zugerechnet, die zu seiner Zeit von Lucky Luciano geleitet wurde, und hat …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Strollo — Anthony C. Strollo, auch bekannt als „Tony Bender“ (* 18. Juni 1899 New York City; † 8. April 1962 Fort Lee, New Jersey) war ein hochrangiger US amerikanischer Mobster der La Cosa Nostra, dem die Tätigkeit in gleich drei der Fünf Familien von New …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tony Bender — Anthony C. Strollo, auch bekannt als „Tony Bender“ (* 18. Juni 1899 New York City; † 8. April 1962 Fort Lee, New Jersey) war ein hochrangiger US amerikanischer Mobster der La Cosa Nostra, dem die Tätigkeit in gleich drei der Fünf Familien von New …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Frank Costello — This article is about the New York gangster. For the English footballer, see Frank Costello (footballer). Francesco Castiglia Costello testifying before the Kefauver Committee. Born February 10, 1891 …   Wikipedia

  • Lucky Luciano — Charles Luciano 1936 New York Police Department mugshot of Lucky Luciano Born Salvatore Lucania November 24, 1897(1897 11 24) Lercara Friddi, Sicily, Italy …   Wikipedia


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