Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Shondor Birns & Danny Green: Cleveland's Killer Celebrities

Telling All

"My name is Angelo Lonardo. I am 77 years old, and I am a member of La Cosa Nostra."

Thus began Lonardo's testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on April 4, 1988.

He told of crimes he had committed: "In the 1930s, my cousin, John DeMarco, and I murdered Dr. Romano, the former boss of Cleveland, because Romano had a role in the death of my father and we believed that he had killed our cousin on the operating table."

He told why he had broken his vow of omerta.

"I was convicted and got life with no parole, plus 103 years. I know I will never get out of there alive and I miss my family very, very much."

Then he told the senators what he had been telling juries around the country for the last four years, with devastating effects on the Mafia.

He told how the Mafia manipulated the election of Roy L. Williams and later of Clevelander Jackie Presser as president of the Teamsters and how the Mob used the Teamsters  Central States Pension Plan, with headquarters in Cleveland, as its private bank, going back to the time Presser's father Bill was the top Cleveland Teamster.

He explained why the Cleveland Mob got a piece of Las Vegas:

"[Maishe] Rockman told me the skim started when Allen Glick approached Frank Balistrieri about Glick's obtaining a Teamsters Pension Found loan so that Glick could purchase a Las Vegas casino. Balistrieri was the boss of the Milwaukee family.

Frank Balistrieri
Frank Balistrieri

"Balistrieri talked to Nick Civella, boss of the Kansas City family, since he controlled Roy D. Williams, who was a high official with the Teamsters. Civella told Balistrieri he found find someone in Cleveland that could talk to Bill Presser.

Nick Civella
Nick Civella

"Glick told Balistrieri that in return for the pension loan he, Glick, would give the Milwaukee, Kansas City and Cleveland families a piece of the casinos. ... Our family averaged about $40,000 a month from Vegas and 25 percent of the Youngstown rackets, which would average about $5,000 per month."

He said Cleveland and Kansas City Teamster leaders each got about $1,500 a month from the skim. He explained how the Mafia dictated the choice of Williams as president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and decided on a replacement when the Feds closed in on Williams.

"When it appeared that Williams, who had been indicted, was going to be likely to be forced to step down from his position, Rockman and I made a second trip to Chicago to get Chicago's support for Jackie Presser as president of the IBT, because he was Maishe's protégé, and it would increase the Cleveland family's prestige and respect."

Next: Drugs Doom the Mafia 

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