Bob Arnold and I had a source who ran a body shop and owned a tow truck. Carl Spero had stolen a  D-9 Caterpillar from a construction site. He had a spot to sell it down in the south central part of the state. He was taking it down on a low boy and the truck broke down. They called back to Kansas City and asked my guy to come down and tow the truck off and somebody else got the Cat pulled away and given to the buyer. We went down and my guy pointed out the exact spot. The County sheriff started asking questions and soon learned of a farmer with a new Caterpillar. A visit from the sheriff and the cat was soon returned to the owner.

No charges were ever filed because we did not want to expose the source. We had to be careful with sources as they may try to do illegal activities knowing they were protected. We could not allow that, but if they reported doing something shortly after the act and nobody was harmed,  then we may give them a pass. Plus these activities could not be started by the source, the source had to be an underling. This is how it works.

I had learned about this source from some public records checking. He held a business license to a car lot where some mob guys had been known to frequent. I searched him down at his new business. I walked in, identified myself and asked him what he knew about organized crime in Kansas City. This stolen property was on his mind and he agreed to help. He ended up becoming a valuable source for several years. I could send him into a situation and he would go in make some friends and let me know who was who. He was not really a criminal and never got involved in any more criminal activity. He knew a lot of people in the mob and was happy to keep me informed as to their legitimate businesses.

Gangland Wire will premiere at the Crown Center Screenland theater on Friday November 15, 2013. I have partnered with CinemaKC to show this film. I believe the film business in Kansas City is important for us as a Midwest cultural center and (click here to Like on facebook) CinemaKC promotes Kansas City films. CinemaKC produces a weekly television show on KCPT featuring local films and filmmakers talking about their work.

meat market smallThe B & C Meat Co. was owned by Al Brandmeyer and the Civella family. I remember it was located just east of Paseo about 8th or 9th St. They sold a lot of meat to restaurants. The Outfit has always owned companies that supplied bars and restaurants. Cigarette machine and other vending machines were often owned by mob dominated businesses. I believe this is  because many mob associates as well as people who gamble and drink are involved in these endeavors. You might notice the names of the two guys that did the arson on the Hereford House. Mr. Pisciotta and Mr. Sorrentino may be what we call, “connected guys”. When the Mob does business with restaurant and bar owners, they keep a constant  source of information coming in about who is doing good and bad. That information lets them know who is vulnerable and susceptible to illegal help.

Gangland Wire documents the war between the Spero Brothers and the Civella Family. Carl Spero wanted to put pressure on the Civella family in an attempt to “take over” the  La Cosa Nostra family in Kansas City. Part of this was the robbery of Al Brandmeyer of proceeds from B & C Meats.

Carl Spero helped  a  guy named Leonard Crego get out of the Missouri State Penitentiary by giving him a job (at least on paper). Crego was a very dangerous man. He was known as “the Arab” and was the head of all illegal activities among Caucasian prisoners in the pen.  His criminal specialty was armed robbery. He was in the pen for robbing a supermarket. During this supermarket robbery, The Arab carried 2 handguns.

Spero sent Crego to  B & C and he robbed Al Brandmeyer of over $10,000.00 in cash. This money was probably Civella money from the sports book. After the actual robbery, he forced Brandmeyer into the trunk of his own car. Once inside, Crego, who was carrying 2 hand guns, emptied both guns into the trunk. By some miracle, none of the bullets  struck Brandmeyer. While he was shooting, Brandmeyer reported the suspect yelled, “Tell that fucking Nick Civella the Arab is in town.” Shortly after, a suspect was arrested during the robbery of a drug dealer (a family member slipped out and called  the cops during the home invasion robbery). This suspect had 2 handguns and was named Leonard Crego. He was on parole and the parole was violated. Bob Arnold and I went to the Jackson County jail and interviewed him about the Spero connection. He refused to talk. The Arab was one of the scariest individuals I have ever interviewed.  I was relieved to exit that interview room. We heard that even the Spero brothers were relieved to get the Arab out of circulation because he was hard to control and so dangerous.

Leonard Crego goes back to Jefferson City, behind the walls, to maximum security. He has aged and lost something because he cannot regain his power and dies from a heart attack shortly after his return. This is not before he has to make a spear from a shank wired to a  broom handle and fight off 4 or 5 young prisoners. This guy was one bad dude. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of the Arab.

Nick Civella and his gang learned the identity of the B & C Meat Co. robbery suspect and his connection to Carl Spero. They would soon strike back in a horrible gruesome manner.

After Duardi was released from the Grove Oklahoma sentence, he started holding court at a small used car dealership at Gregory and Troost. A loan shark named Frankie Robertson and a small time mob associate named Joe Sivliango were usingJimmy Duardi this as a front. Joe was involved in cheating lending institutions using wrecked cars to get floor plan money and then he expanded to be involved in obtaining loans from a corrupt banker at the Shawnee State bank.

Jimmy was more sophisticated and he backed a guy starting an escort service and helped another guy get a bank loan from the Traders National Bank though a Teamsters supported banker and politician named George Lehr. Now Mr. Lehr was not really a corrupt politician or banker, he just thought he could run with the big tough boys. Of course, he was way over his head and his bank lost $300,000.00.

Bob Arnold and I were following Jimmy and Clifford Bishop and we watched him unload boxes of frozen meat from the back of his pickup truck at the Italian Gardens restaurant. We knew something was up because a restaurant does not buy meat out of an unrefrigerated  truck.

We got a whole team on him and found his connection to a Jim Elgin who had obtained the above $300 K loan and was on his way to busting out his trucking company called J&L Refrigeration. Several Kansas City food outlets were buying meat from the back of a pickup truck.

replica_sawed_off_dbl_shotgun Nick Civella attended the famous 1957 Mob meeting where La Cosa Nostra bosses from all the major families met to decide major differences within the 5 families in New York City and to set the direction for the entire country. One thing decided was that mob families would no longer participate in international heroin distribution. They left the decision as to local narcotics distribution to each family.

I found a most interesting book on this subject, Mafia Summit by Gil Reveall.

In Kansas City, the local Outfit has mainly elected to not participate in the narcotics trade other than a low level associate may participate. The rule is, they do not involve family members. Most do not because a mob guy who possess incriminating information on “made guys” is a high value target by the government. If they catch a case, they are are at extreme risk of being killed. When it becomes known they are facing a draconian sentence passed out for big time narcotics dealing, mob guys know the government is offering reductions for information. Just look at the most famous snitch recently, Henry Hill and read Pileggi’s, GoodFellas.

Henry Hill, the Ray Liotta character, was in the narcotics trade and got caught. He did a little time and testified against some big guys. Henry died recently of natural causes after he had written a book and gone around the country doing public appearances. So much for mob retribution. The main risk is before the snitch gives information. The main reason for a mob hit is money, not being a snitch.

imageI reported recently about fellow Intelligence Unit detective Bobby Arnold finding that Jimmy Duardi was making unescorted trips into Kansas City from the prison at Leavenworth. He was released shortly after. We had an informant tell us that he was meeting people and making criminal connections at a used car lot located at Gregory and Troost.

We took a look and there he was every day. The lot was hard to “sit on” and we would be spotted quickly on the street and there were no friendly businesses we could get inside and look out. We also wanted to shoot some photos.

Directly across Troost was a cemetery. We asked the manager to put up a funeral tent and close in the sides. We used that for a week and shot some great photos of Jimmy and his criminal connections. All those great photos were lost in an old file. I remember him meeting an old prison contact from Detroit. Later, in the next few years a Detroit connection was used in a local mob hit.