Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Shondor Birns & Danny Green: Cleveland's Killer Celebrities

The Weasel Sings

Along the way, Fratianno did something that, as it turned out, a lot of other criminals, including Danny Greene, were doing. He became an FBI contact.

According to his entry in Carl Sikafis' "Mafia Encyclopedia," "Fratianno found it worthwhile to get the law on his side by feeding it certain information and gaining a special measure of freedom thereafter, since the FBI does not keep close tabs on its informers."

As with Danny Greene, the FBI also fed criminals certain information and provided them with protection if they were charged with crimes. That's one reason Greene managed to avoid attempts on his life, and probably why he got off so lightly for his labor crimes.

Also, it was an insurance policy in case he was ever the target of his colleagues in crime.

In 1977, the time came for Jimmy to cash in his insurance policy.

He had reached the peak of his Mafia influence two years earlier when Dominic Brooklier (ne Brucceleri), head of the Los Angeles Mafia family, went to prison. He was named to help Louie Dragna run the family in his absence.

Dominic Brooklier
Dominic Brooklier

By 1977, Brooklier was out of prison and angry at the way Fratianno had thrown his weight around. He notified bosses in other cities that Fratianno had been "misrepresenting himself."

Jimmy got word from his friends in Cleveland that Brooklier was out to kill him. He tried to send word through Joey Aiuppa, the Chicago Mafia boss, that he wanted to "straighten things out," but Brooklier wouldn't talk to him.

Joey Aiuppa
Joey Aiuppa

Twice he narrowly avoided what appeared to be attempts to kill him.

"Jimmy Fratianno was a walking dead man, and he knew it," Zuckerman writes.

He decided it was time to cash in his insurance policy. He got in touch with his FBI contact. He offered to tell everything he knew about the Los Angeles Mafia, but he still balked at going to Cleveland.

As soon as Ferritto worked out his plea deal and signed a confession, the FBI Strike Force divided into teams to serve warrants around Cleveland.

Porrello records the arrests:

Licavoli was picked up at his home. Police confiscated his cane with a long hidden blade in it and $3,000 in his underwear drawer.

Lonardo asked for time to change into a suit and tie. His wife offered the agents coffee and cookies while they waited.

John Calandra complained of chest pains on his way to FBI headquarters. He was taken to a hospital, examined and released back to the FBI.

Carabbia was arrested at a motel in Miami Beach. Cisternino, Sinito and Alfred "Allie" Calabrese were picked up without incident.

And, in a San Francisco hotel room, Jimmy Fratianno surrendered to the FBI.

Next: In "The Valachi Suite" 

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