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Bloodlines and Betrayal: Civella vs. Spero

Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins brings you the best in mob history with his unique perception of the mafia. In this episode of the Gangland Wire Podcast, Gary Jenkins explores the intense gang war between the Civella and Spero families. Gary explains the key figures, Nick Civella and his brother Cork Civella, and outlines their roles within the mob. Jenkins also highlights Nick Spero, a flamboyant character with connections to the mob. He explains Nick Civella’s strict dress code, including rules against facial hair and the requirement for specific haircuts. He shares stories of Civella’s involvement in sports gambling charges and the first FBI wiretap that led to his indictment. The murder of Saul Landie and the attempted murder of Lester Moore further escalated tensions within the organized crime network. Moving on, Jenkins focuses on Carl Spero and his criminal activities. A professional criminal, Carl aligns himself with other professional criminals to create his own organization. The speaker emphasizes Carl Spero’s cautious nature and his crew’s efforts to avoid surveillance. He describes the stalking of the Spero faction by the Civella Faction. Tensions rise as both families continue surveillance efforts, culminating in a shooting incident at the Virginia Tavern that leaves Carl Spero paralyzed. In the latter part of the podcast, He provides updates on Joe Spero’s involvement in a bombing attempt and eventual capture. After Joe Spero is killed, Carl remains a target, facing multiple assassination attempts, including a dynamite bombing of his car. Jenkins highlights the collaboration between an undercover state trooper and a professional thief and as thet build a case against Spero. Ths stoy culminated in a bomb planted under Carl Spero’s office, signaling the end of the Spero-Civella War.
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[0:00] Well, hey, all you wiretappers out there, good to be back here in the studio of Gangland Wire. This is Gary Jenkins, retired KCPD intelligence detective.
I’m going to tell you another story about my career and things that I lived through here in Kansas City, the 1970s mob wars.
I told you about the war in the River Key, the war between the Commissaros and Bonadonna and the fallout from all that.
Well, now I’m going to tell you about the Civella-Spero war.
I did a movie on this. The Civella-Spero Mob War, I think was the name of it.
I don’t know, but if you want to find it, you’ll find it.
First thing I want to talk about is the Civella family. Nick Civella, he was a famous boss that came out of Appalachian.
He was caught back there with Joe Filardo, who was an old gangster from the 30s and 20s.
He was being introduced as a new boss in 1957.

[0:51] Growing up in the mob, really, during those years, He had been the boss until he died.
He had a brother, Cork Civella, who was a real firebrand. The guy really never had a little crew that worked for him.
He seemed to be kind of an independent operator, although he always bent to the will of his older brother, Nick Civella.
They called him Cork because he’d pop off. He was the kind of guy that he got mad at some newsmen one time during a grand jury hearing.
They were all sitting around in the hallway outside the grand jury room.
Cork was waiting to go in and he started getting mad at him for some reason.
We don’t really know why. And he hollered at him, he got their attention, and he pulled his dick out and shook it at him.
So it was a famous incident. And that tells you a little bit about Cork.
Nick is the kind of guy that read books.
Now, during this time, Nick Civella had a headquarters. It was called The Trap, the North End Social Club or the Northview Social Club or the Northview.
But we all refer to it as The Trap. So when I talk about the trap, that means the social club that we had here in Kansas City.
Introduction to the Spero family and Nick Spero’s character

[1:57] Now there was this other family, brothers, Nick Spero was the oldest brother, Mike, Joe, and Carl Spero, and they all grew up in the North End with their cousins whose name were Couzze.
And they will all kind of come back into play in this mob or at least one of the Couzzes will.

[2:14] And Nick Spero, he was a real flamboyant, dynamic character that everybody liked.
His brothers and the koozies down in North End, when they were kids, they were kind of like the Bowery Boys down there running all around the streets.
And the Speros, they were good criminals, but they were hard workers and they were more your blue collar crime, more blue collar guys, whereas the Civellas were the white collar guys is the best way I can describe that.
Nick Spero was a hard worker, grew up around the freight docks and he started getting jobs with the Teamsters and he got a job with Yellow Freight, which is a great big trucking company at the time.
Yellow Freight had a lot of mob guys working there because the mob had the Teamsters and Teamsters put guys to work on the Yellow Freight lines and the other truck docks down there. Yellow Freight was just a big duck down there.
Nick Spero gets a job down there. He’s an associate this time.
He’s kind of in with the mob and working around them and works with them.
And when you steal something, if it’s decent, then you need to fence it through the mob or a mob-connected guy.

[3:24] He went to the trap a lot back when he was a young man.
I think he wanted to be part of it when he was a young man. He realized pretty soon that he wasn’t going to fit in.
Nick Spero’s conflicting lifestyle and Nick Civella’s disapproval

[3:33] This is what kind of guy that Nick Spero was.
He got a job at Yellow Freight, like I said.
He set up a load of liquor to be stolen.
Then he went to his bosses and he said, ”Hey,” he said, ”I can get that back for you.” He was able to get it back and they were so grateful that they then promoted him into a little higher position.
He was some kind of a scheduler or dispatcher or something, and it really put him in a position where he knew who the truck drivers were, he knew them all by then, he knew where the loads were going, and who was weak and who was strong, and he could set up loads.
He knew he could assign a guy to a load of, say, calculators.
Calculators was a big deal of steel when they first came out.
They’re real expensive.
You get a truckload of calculators, and you can get like 75 bucks a piece off of them because they were selling for $100 to $150 in the stores.
So he could set up those loads, and pretty soon they started realizing that.
They got rid of him as soon as they could. it was hard for him to do because he was in with the union and he was making money for the mob because he was fencing through these mob-connected fencing people. This is the 60s.

[4:42] The 60s, Nick Spero is of the age, you know.
He’s a little bit older than me. He was probably around upper 20s in the late 60s, middle 60s.
I was probably, what, 16, 17 years old.
He was up in his 20s, early 20s.
But he likes the lifestyle. He likes the chicks. He turns hippie.
He lets his hair grow out a little bit. He has a Fu Manchu mustache.
He’s wearing kind of a bell-bottom, he had a pair of flowery bell-bottom overalls, he would wear with engineer boots.
But everybody on the street still liked him. But Nick Civella does not like this now.
This may seem unbelievable, but I bet you’ll find this replicated in every other city in the United States if you really burrowed in.

[5:27] Nick Civella did not allow anybody that was one of his guys to have facial hair.
Everybody had to have high and tight haircuts, facial hair.
They all wore basically the same clothes, no kind of hippie thing, no bell bottoms or anything like that.
They all had sansa belt slacks, no jeans, sansa belt slacks and polo shirts, leather coats in the winter and windbreakers in the summer and flat top caps like this.
That’s why I started wearing this back in the day because all those guys were wearing them as I was driving around and I fit in with the neighborhood at least a little bit.
Nick Civella’s indictment and the Peckerwood gamblers

[6:02] Now Nick Civella is under indictment here in the late 60s for a sports gambling charge.
It was the first wiretap that the FBI had done, and they caught him on the wire down to the trap with his main guy that ran his sportsbook network, a guy named Frankie Tusa.
Caught him on the wire, worrying about the layoff and the gambling.
It was out of balance. The books weren’t in balance. They liked to have an equal amount of bets for one team and bets against this team.
And the Chiefs were playing the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl, and it was way out of balance in Kansas Everybody was betting on the Chiefs in Kansas City, so they needed to lay off somewhere.
They worried about that, and that’s really what brought him into the gambling network and caught him a case, caught him a charge.

[6:47] Now, there’s two Peckerwood gamblers. Peckerwoods are non-Italians.
Two Peckerwood gamblers was subpoenaed to the grand jury.
One was a jewelry store owner named Sol Landi and a Chevrolet dealer named Lester Moore.
These guys are big bettors, and they could tie big-time sports gambling directly, to Frank Tousa, who then was tied directly to Nick Civella.
Nick needed to have something done with these guys. And Saul Landing and his wife were found murdered in their bed in what appears to be a home invasion.
By the time the investigation was done, the police will learn that a Civella associate named Johnny Frankovilia hired some black kids to do a home invasion and told him to murder Sol Landi and make it look like a home invasion.
It all fell down on, but it stopped at Johnny Franks or Johnny Frankovilia.
He would never say that anybody above him ordered him to do that.
Civella will always claim that he didn’t know he was going to do that. He did that on his own.
The other guy, Lester Moore, the Chevrolet dealership, and this is a big Chevrolet dealership, and he was real successful.
He had Chevrolet dealerships down in southern Kansas, and I think he owned more than one dealership at the time.
But his headquarters was up here in a suburban town named Liberty.
He orders Nick Spero to take care of Lester Moore because Spero is a connection that brought Moore into the gambling ring. I don’t know how Lester Moore became connected to the Spero brothers, but he did.
Nick Spero’s task of taking care of Lester Moore

[8:12] Because he’ll eventually, when Carl Spero gets out of jail the next time, he’ll give him a no-show job out there.
He’ll be going around with business cards saying he’s a car salesman for Lester Moore, but he never showed up up there.

[8:24] Nick Spero refuses, but see, it was his job.
If this guy was going to be a problem and Nick Spero’s the one that brought him in, then it’s Nick Spero’s job to take care of him. or who if Carl Spero brought him in, whoever brought him in, but it was a Spero connection that brought him in.
They won’t do it. Listen to this little clip here that kind of tells you a little bit about Nick Spero and how he fits in with the mob.
I ain’t no jockstrap and I don’t want to be one. They use you until the stretch is all gone and then forget about you.
I’ve always been my own man. The only man I listen to is my father and he’s dead.

[8:59] Pretty interesting, I never heard that stretch that jock strap out there’s no stretch left in it and then throw you away.
It’s pretty appropriate though, it’s really good.
During this time informants are telling the Bureau that, hey, this Nick Spero, Civellas don’t like him anymore.
They say that he’s a hippie and can’t be trusted ever since he turned fucking hippie and different quotes like that. Now the guy’s out for being different, looking different, and then he won’t do what Nick Civella wants him to do.
And, you know, I don’t know. All of a sudden he’s found dead in his trunk north of the river, which is the mark of a mob murder.
Found dead in your trunk north of the river here in Kansas City.
I won’t tell you how Kansas City is laid out, but trust me, north of the river by this time is a new Little Italy kind of area up around Vivian and Antioch.
So Well, that didn’t mean anything to anybody I understand. Carl Spero was in jail on a jewelry heist.
Carl Spero was the youngest brother and he was the professional criminal, just like Nick was.

[10:02] Only Carl Spero never even had the cover job of working on the docks, or Nick Spero once tried to start a RC Cola dealership or distributorship, and he never even tried to have any kind of a cover job back then.
He just went on heist, like stole a whole bunch of suits, a trailer load of suits out a warehouse just across state line, got caught on that.
He would go out with these traveling jewelry heist crews and burglarize jewelry stores throughout the United States.

[10:30] He’s in jail, Nick’s dead. He gets out.
He gets a job as a no-show job as a car salesman at Lester Moore Chevrolet.

[10:39] But this is 1971. What he does, he starts building a crew.
He gets into the construction business, and that’s kind of a cover he’s got.
I remember him having that go in the intelligence unit in the 76.

[10:52] By that time, he’s got a tractor-trailer truck with a low-boy trailer, and I see him hauling a bulldozer, and then they say he’s in the construction business helping build new homes with his bulldozer.
He makes a lot of connections in that. It also kind of gives him a cover because he ends up stealing some bulldozers and taking them somewhere else and selling it. We were able to catch him on one of those.
But he’s starting to recruit this crew.
And during this time, these River Key problems are popping up that I talked about in the war in the River Key. And there are several murders from that. So check that out.
He doesn’t really get involved. Carl Spero doesn’t even try to get involved down here with a joint or anything in the River Key. He doesn’t get involved with any Sabella people.

[11:38] He’s just involved with his three brothers and a cousin called Scratch Koozie, and there’s a couple other cousins that kind of drift in and out of this.
None of the Koozies were like total professional criminals like Carl was.
And not up for murder and those kinds of things for the most part, although we will get one involved in the periphery, but I digress and I told you that he was stealing bulldozers.
I started watching this used car dealership or he was hanging out and I developed an informant out of that and he leaves and the informant leaves and somebody else takes over the car dealership reasonably quickly.
And I didn’t know this guy at the time, but I developed him after he left that and I talked to him and he said, yeah, Carl was stealing bulldozers.
And he’s connected up to, there’s a basement builder named Jim Feron from Blue Springs and there’s an ex-con named Leonard Crego, they call him the A-Rab.

[12:34] So I go out and I find this Jim Farrin who actually had a sister that worked for the police department and interviewed him.
And he told me, he said, yeah, I said, I know Carl, I really like him.
And he was trying to recruit me. He said that he was going to move in on the Civellas.
This guy, he was a peckerwood. He didn’t really understand what he was saying.
He said, yeah, he’s trying to move in on the Civellas. He’s going to have a club where he’s going to have a back room club, a joint under the 3rd and State line.
And he’s going to have a place in the back room where we can meet.
We’re going to be moving in on the Civellas. But, you know, I don’t really want to do that.
Of course, what I didn’t know at the time, this Jim Ferrin was getting involved with, cocaine was starting to become popular and he was getting involved with a cocaine ring will eventually get him killed in the next two or three years.
Another guy named Leonard Crego called him the ARAB and my informant had told me about these guys.
He was able to overhear some conversations and they said they were trying to get Leonard Crego and another guy out of the penitentiary by giving them jobs and this guy called the A-Rab or Leonard Crego shows up.
Get him identified, see him around Carl Spero, see him at the Red Apple joint over in Kansas City, Kansas with Spero, and he is a bad dude, I mean a really bad dude.
My informant said he is like the most scariest, dangerous man I’ve ever met, and I interviewed this guy later on, and I believe it, I agree.

[13:58] Koozie gave him a no-show job with a meat market that he owned. That was his business.
He comes to Kansas City, and all of a sudden, there’s a Civella Meat Locker.

[14:09] The BNC Meat Locker, BNC Company, BNC Meat Locker, I think was the name of it, Brandenmeier and Civella.
He was partners with them. He’s also a sports gambler and a bookie.
So he had a lot of cash around, and one day a guy shows up, carries two guns, puts two guns on him, robs him, puts him in the trunk of his car and slams the trunk down.
And he starts yelling, you tell Nick Civella the ARABs back in town and start shooting into the trunk.
We know this because he didn’t kill the guy. He actually didn’t even hit the guy. So a Cadillac trunk’s big.
So I don’t know. Maybe he shot over to the sides. I don’t know.
He just got lucky, whatever reason.
Krigo will get caught in a robbing a dope house about two or three weeks later.
He’s carrying two guns. He gets caught because the dope dealer’s son sneaks out of the house and calls the police.
They send Krego back to the penitentiary. I go down to Jackson County Jail and try to interview him, but he won’t say anything.
And like my informant said, that was a scary dude. I did not like being in a room alone with that guy with no guards or anything in there.
He started to like getting angry because I was pressing him.
And he started to like come up out of his chair a little bit, just tensing up. and then he just calmed himself back down.
I’m like, oh man, oh man. And needless to say, he wouldn’t talk.

[15:30] You know, about the time of this meatlocker robbery, there was a small pipe bomb put on the rear door of the trap late one night, it was full.
They always played cards and stuff there at night.
It was full and they put a pipe bomb on the back of the thing.
I talked to one of the bomb and arson guys and he said, somebody kept asking, one of the guys that hung out there at the traps said, well, could an electrician do something like this? He said, well, I suppose he could.
And I don’t know, within a couple of three weeks, there’s a guy named Johnny Brocato who was an electrician. He was also a good friend of Carl Spero’s.
He was really kind of on the periphery of this. We hadn’t really heard of him at the time, but we find out some of this stuff later. He goes missing.

[16:10] And someone calls one of his brothers and said you might want to check the airport parking lot goes up north the river to the airport check the parking lot they find his car.
Nobody knows about him being out of town so they call the police again the trunk and he’s in there did they found signs of cigarette burns on his body like he’d been tortured and during the autopsy the contents of the stomach were still frozen.
So, you know, think about Brandemeier and Civella Meat Market, the torturing, the cigarette burns.
He’s kind of a buddy of Carl Spero’s. Now the Civella family knows what Brocato knows, and Brocato, I got a feeling that this never came out, kind of speculation.
Brocato knew what Carl Civella had been talking about.
And really, if he’s going around telling people that he’s going to build a crew and move in on the Civellas and I can learn it at that point in my career, then anybody Civella can learn it for sure.
Stalking and Informants: Civella Faction targets Spero

[17:08] Civella Faction starts stalking Spero during this time and trying to run informants in on Spero. You see these guys show up.
He was hanging out at a tavern that a buddy his own called named Frankie Tadaro.
And Carl was hanging out at that tavern all the time.
I don’t know if this is the one he claimed that he was going to use at his headquarters, but it will become his headquarters.
And he’s there a lot and you see these guys that are kind of more associates of.

[17:35] Savellas coming in and hanging out a little bit and they aren’t usually down there And we’re picking up from some other stuff that they’re trying to run informants in on him They’re trying to watch him trying to get him set up.
We’re watching trying to catch him do this and, Nick Civella finally goes to prison on that old gambling conviction during the same time.
I know there’s a lot of facts here, but it’s an interesting story, I think, insight on a mob war.
Nick Civella is in the penitentiary and they’re on a wire up there, and he orders court to take care of all unfinished business before he gets out, because he wants to come out as like the peacemaker.
He knows the advantage of having any murders that need to be done while he’s still in the penitentiary, because he can say, I bring peace to this city, because he knows he’s a smart guy.
His brother was not that smart, so his underlings, Willie Cammisano, they didn’t care about all that. They were going to do what they were going to do.
Nick civella understood the publicity, I guess, aspect of being a mob boss and not having too much violent crime that happens.

[18:46] There’s two unrelated murders that happened right during this time, and they were mob-connected guys.
One had been a booster for a mob-connected record store, and he was a pretty important booster.
The other one was connected to a stolen car ring, and we know they had something to do with some of this unfinished business, but we don’t know exactly what.
Well, this is April of 78, and in early April 78, Carl, Joe, and Mike Spero all are in the Virginia Tavern one night.
Carl gets a call from John Carresio, who is a mob associate and part of a jewelry crew, and he keeps him on the phone quite a while.
We always suspect that he’s probably turned around and called somebody and say he’s down there now. Carl Spero had been at the bar earlier talking to his lawyer, calls Carresio, or Carresio calls him down there. I’m not sure how that went down.
Keep him on there on the phone. The other two brothers, Joe and Mike, stay in there and they’re sitting at the table away from the bar.
The phone is by the front door because we had a couple of our intelligence guys drove by and saw him on the phone, just kept on going because you’re like going down to Villa Capri, where all the Civella people hang out, see who’s down there, maybe swing back by and see if Carl’s there.
We’re just kind of drifting around the area because we know there’s some stalking going on. We’re trying to catch them stalking.
They don’t get too far away and a call comes out there’s a shooting at the Virginia Tavern.

[20:14] There’s a three-man crew just like the three-man crew that went into the back of the Mr.
O’Brien’s that got Sonny Bowen, if you want to listen to that River Key episode.
Three-man crew comes in the back door.
They’ve got a work car out in the back. They’ve got masks on.
Two of them spin to the left. They see Joe and Mike sitting at a table.
They walk directly to them and start shooting at them.
The third masked man spots Carl on the payphone up front, and it’s not really that big, maybe 20 yards from the back door to the front door, maybe even less than that.
Carl Spero spots that, he takes off out the front door across a four-lane boulevard.

[20:52] Admiral Boulevard, and the guy jumps out the front door with a shotgun and pops him from the doorway and hits him as he gets across the street.
And he goes down, runs back in, they all jump in their car and they take off.
Well, our guys get there about that time, I walk over to Carl’s laying out in the street, they’re like watching, you don’t know if somebody’s going to pop out and try to finish him off or whatever.
And one of them, my friend Harold Nichols, he said, hey, he said, what happened? Who did this?
Carl Spero said, I ain’t talking, I ain’t talking. Come on, who did this? I’m not talking.
Ambulance gets there and they take him in. He’s paralyzed the rest of his life from the waist down.
The brother, Mike, he’s dead. Joe was wounded, and he’ll live to go on and have his own little plot to get revenge for his older brother, and now his other older brother, Mike.
We set up on Carl at this point in time and just watch him night and day.
He lives way out in the country north of a little town called Kearney, Missouri. It has about a 10-acre plot.

[21:57] There’s about four or five of these 10-acre plots with houses on them.
It was a gravel road at the time.
He knew we were watching him, and we were just trying to catch him, stalking him, and maybe get him stopped.
You don’t know what you’re supposed to do. You just try to do something.
Bureau’s working the wires, setting up, you know, they’ve set up this bug in the Villa Capri, which then spins off into the skimming from Las Vegas, which takes a lot of the investigative, tools and manpower away from the Spero situation and puts them on the wiretaps and the whole skimming from Las Vegas situation.
Several things that happen during these next few months, and one One time we’re sitting up there at the Virginian, and all around Carl, he’s back out on the street.
He’s a paraplegic, he’s got his wheelchair that he puts in the back seat of his big old Cadillac and pulls himself out and gets in it.
He’s running his own little crew of boosters buying and selling drugs, selling Dilaudid.
He’s got a doctor that’s got a little run prescripts for him for Dilaudid.
And he’s got boosters out there working for him. He’s trading Dilaudid for stolen property then turn around and sell a nip to somebody else dealing in swag and some guns and drugs.

[23:12] Still recruiting other guys in, which will kind of be in a way would have been his downfall, because he recruited in an undercover state trooper with an informant that we had.
So we’re watching him all this time. We see stuff like, we see him driving around, they see us and they take off.
Maybe see him drive by, but they catch you and say, we’re like we’re in slick cars, but we’re in a kind of a shady neighborhood most of the time, wherever he is.
And we’ve got used rental cars, but we’re all 30, 40 something fit guys.
And it’s just really hard to fit in when you’re just sitting there, especially we didn’t really have the wherewithal to do anymore because we didn’t have anything.
We didn’t have anything. They’re coming down. there’s no way to set up.
So we just kept this up, but kept it up. The bureau put a few agents into it and popped for some money.
They rented a four-wheel drive because by now it’s winter and it’s snowing and we have to go up in the country.
So they rented us a brand new Bronco, a four-wheel drive Bronco.

[24:15] Which will be kind of an interesting story in the end.
Follow him over to the Red Apples, the strip club, and he starts dating a dancer over there named Antoinette Lanfranca, and I guess apparently it didn’t take away all of his feeling from the waist down, just his ability to move his legs because he ends up marrying her.
She’d been dating Corky Civella. There’s a whole spin-off story about that.
She leaves Corky and starts dating Carl and ends up marrying him.
Kansas City’s kind of a small town, as I’ve said before.
We keep following him, and one day we’re at the Virginian, and we see a car drive by. It looks like this one guy, Joe Ragusa.
So we just spread out, but we don’t see him again. We get back together, and we’re smoking and joking. This is boring, and we’ve been sitting there for another hour.
We see a car that we don’t know with three heads in it drive by the Virginian, and then it looks like it came back around and was going by it again.
We both split up real quick, and as I drive down by the Virginia and I pull out and this car appears behind me.
It’s swung back around a couple blocks away and it’s coming back right in front of it.
I’m coming out from beside it and they end up right behind me.
We go a couple blocks and then we turn south on Paseo, was the name of the street.
We go about three blocks and they’re still behind me and I’m like on my walkie-talkie.
A Close Encounter with Elusive Criminals

[25:33] Down in my lap, hollering at the other guys, hey, these guys are over here following me, get a district car.
And by then they know they’re calling on police radio to get a district car to come over and stop him.
Because this isn’t the movies. We don’t just like crash into them or block them off and jump out with our guns drawn and start screaming at them and get out of the car and end up in a gun battle with them.
You just get a district car to come in and stop them and hopefully they got guns in the car.
You know, we got them. So I get up to the stop sign and I just kind of, I’m sitting there and I’m forced to go straight and they can go left.
I said sign light and the light changes And I kind of glanced over just slightly and I see Tuffy DeLuna, our underboss, looking at me, gives me about a half a grin.
They turned left and they took off like a bat out of hell. We never saw him again. That was the closest we ever got to catching him.
There’s a couple other times that they made the circle around, but they left right away. They’ve got these fine tuned antennas.
One time the court got a call from a guy and he said, yeah, he’s down there right now by himself.
And we didn’t know exactly where it was. And he said, yeah. He said, do you see agents around? and he said, I don’t see anybody. Court says, they’re there then.
So they were super, super cautious. I’ve got some wiretaps about this here. Listen to this one.
So this is going on, there’s all this stalking and going back and forth.
The Bureau’s mainly focusing on the SCIM.

[26:54] Well, Joe Spero, remember, he’s the other brother that was in the Virginia that was wounded.
He recruits a couple of peckerwoods, and one of them was a police informant.
He was a burglar and just an all-around knock-around guy.

[27:09] He had a little escort service for a while, and that’s where he started talking to this one police sergeant when he had the escort service to try to take out competition and things like that.
But he got in with Joe Spero and a guy named Conrad Metz, who was some kind of an in-law, I think, to Joe Spero.
Conrad Metz had a club about a block away called Little Caesars from the Villa Capri.
Villa Capri was the Civella Hangout. It was where the famous bug was in place where they were talking about the skim.
So those guys are there every night, practically, especially every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, real late Saturday night.
They will leave till right at 1.30 and sometimes still be in there after 1.30.

[27:51] That guy was able to report on a lot of the movements to Joe Spero and the informant was reporting back to the police, actually in my squad, but we ended up being assigned to them.
He was in the white collar crime squad and we ended up being assigned with them to help them on this because this guy was reporting about the Spero, Joe Spero, was getting a bomb and there’s a remote control bomb and he was going to put it under Tuffy’s car. Tuffy DeLuna was the CVivella Underboss.
He also bragged to this kid that he had once driven by Tuffy’s house, kind of stalking around him, saw him walking in late at night.
He had a deer rifle in the backseat and he grabbed it and stuck it out the window and took a shot and I missed him.
Now these guys, they do not talk because they sent a couple detectives out after they learned that and said, did anybody ever take a shot at you one night?
And he said, no, I don’t know what you’re talking about. And they said, well, what about that bullet hole there in the side of your house?
I don’t know where that came from.
Thanks guys. So we’re really watching Joe Spero now, and this informant is reporting what’s going on.
Foiled Bomb Plot and Arrests

[28:56] Joe Spero is getting amped up because it’s getting close to one year since that attack on the Spero brothers at the Virginia Tavern.
The informant gets called down to the Little Caesars Lounge, Conrad Metz’s lounge one night. Joe Spero’s there.
And by the time he gets there, Joe Spero said, yeah, you got to be here.
You got to watch this man.
He said, we got the bomb over underneath Tuffy’s car and he’s got a remote control detonating by.
So They’re all standing kind of in the front door, a little alcove, watching the front door of the Villa Capri.
Tuffy walks out, gets in his car. Joe starts stabbing the button and nothing happens, and Tuffy just drives off.

[29:35] Joe Spero, which I found kind of interesting, made this Conrad Metz go up and get the brown paper sack.
It’s kind of funny when, after the bomb wouldn’t go off, Joe Spero made this Conrad Metz walk up and get this brown paper sack that had the bomb in it and carry it back.
Now, would you want to go up and pick up remote control, detonated bunch of dynamite and carry it back after it wouldn’t go off with the initial pushing of the plunger, if you will?
I don’t know. I’d say, you know, Joe, that’s your bomb. You go get it.
But he dutifully went and got it the next day or two. They were going to go test it.
So our informant, about two days later, he calls his control and said, Oh, man.
He said, They’re getting ready to do it again. He said, we went out and I went out with Joe and tested that bomb.
And he found out that it wasn’t close enough or the antenna wasn’t long enough.
But now they’ve got an apartment that looks down on it. And they think maybe it’ll work this time.
But if it doesn’t work this time, then he said.

[30:35] The anniversary is coming up in about a week.
He said he’s just going to plant that bomb on the front door of the Villa Capri and blow it and get Civella.
And when it comes out, when they all come running out, he’s got a shotgun and we’re all going to stand out there with the guns and we’re just going to shoot people as they come out.
So upper management on the police department said, we got to stop this right now.
So they get a search warrant for the houses. We know about a stolen car that he’s got, he was going to use in any kind of these situations, his work car, hidden down in a truck lot, parking lot for a truck line.
So we’re sitting on that. They put a hound dog or a electronic transmitting device up underneath it.
They get a search warrant for Joe’s house. They get a search warrant for Conrad Matz’s house and his bar, another place that Joe has access to.
So the next morning, we’re going to serve all these search warrants and arrest everybody, serve all search warrants.
They sat and watched that car all night in case somebody came out in the middle of the night and started moving in it, and then they could follow it.
They find the bomb in that car with the remote-controlled detonating device, which works off an electric signal.

[31:44] And then there’s the hound dog tracker, which sends out a signal so you can follow that signal.
They’re only about a foot from each other, so the frequencies were different.
Otherwise, when they stuck that thing up in there and started activating it.
Why it would have set off that bomb while they were up underneath that car.
It’s crazy. They’d said about eight feet from the car all night long in a band because they really just could not let, anything. You couldn’t lose this car. You couldn’t lose any of these guys.
If you had to blow the whole thing, you just had to do it because it had gotten too dangerous.
Take all them off. Joe’s convicted. Conrad Metz is convicted.
Joe doesn’t appeal. His appeal gets denied.

[32:27] Carl is, meantime, he was not connected to this. We know now that he had the bomb built.

[32:33] He got the dynamite from another guy that he met at the strip club and gave all that to Joe after he had this other professional thief named Bobby Jean Jones build the bomb.
Got that to Joe, and Joe never talked about Carl’s part in this, and Conrad Manson, or the informant, knew anything about Carl’s part in this.
So he’s out, he’s still operating, and he’s still really a knife to the throat of the Civellas, in their opinion. Joe goes out to check on a storage facility he had that we didn’t know about after his appeal was denied.
Now, there’s a lot of speculation on this, but a huge amount of dynamite blew, killed Joe, and blew his car up, blew up the whole end of a storage facility.
Some say that he had all the rest of the dynamite that he had for that first bomb stored in there and he was building another bomb and it accidentally detonated and the sympathetic detonation set off these other 60 or 70 sticks of dynamite.
Some people say that the Civella faction set an explosive device in there, and when it went off, the sympathetic explosion then blew all the rest of Joe’s dynamite up.
There’ll be a couple of guys who are accused of that later on, and an informant will say a guy named Johnny Joe Killeen. George Bruton did it.
Killeen is dead, and he would never talk to anyone. George Bruton is in penitentiary forever, and he would never talk about that, and it doesn’t really matter now.
Joe’s Death and Carl’s Accusation

[33:57] And Joe’s dead. So that leaves only Carl. Joe leaves a letter and he claims that that night at the Virginian that Tuffy DeLuna is the guy that had the shotgun that ran out and put Carl down in the middle of the street.
And that’s why they really wanted to do Carl DeLuna or Tuffy DeLuna.
Continued on, we got Carl’s out there. You’d think maybe it was over, but no.
Somebody plants a bomb on Lester Moore with about 30 sticks of dynamite, but it doesn’t go off.
Somebody plants a bomb underneath Carl Spero’s car. We backed off.
We’re not watching his house anymore.
Somebody plants the same kind of a bomb as on Lester Moore’s car, up underneath Carl Spero’s car, 25 or 30 sticks of dynamite, way overkill.
His nephew was staying overnight with him. He came out early in the morning and he happened to see something up underneath the car, so he alerted his uncle.
And his uncle said, oh, you see something wrong in my car? We’re calling the bomb squad.
So he calls Clay County deputy sheriff who calls in a Kansas City bomb squad.
And they find this big bomb that was sent on a mercury switch.
But as soon as he moved, jostled that car a little bit, it would have gone off and taken out about half that house, too.
He’s still operating. He’s still driving this Cadillac with he’s got license plates that say Spero on it, S-P-E-R-O.

[35:12] And he’s going all the places that and he’s high profile, still going to the Virginian. Civella is not done with Carl Spero
That’s where our state trooper and this professional thief that we got out of jail to work with him, our undercover state trooper, we brought in from out of town, out from across the state, and they start getting in with Carl and they start…
Doing a lot of deals with him. They buy a gun from him.
They get delighted from him. They take him what they think, what he thinks are stolen property because they’re like boosters getting drugs for him.
So they got a really good case made on him and they’re really ready to take it down, but they’re trying to get as much as they can.
Even one of Spero’s compadres in front of Spero, so he had approval of it, set up a burglary at a shopping mall.
The guy was a maintenance guy out there. So he gave them the whole scheme and told them which stores that would not be locked and didn’t have alarms and that kind of thing.
They were just going to stay in the shopping mall and then go in and hit some jewelry stores that were in there and then break out.

[36:13] But they didn’t have time for that to go down. What they did actually, they did have time for it to go down, but they went in this one Sunday night.
And what we did is we had a couple of police cars, marked car just sit out in the parking lot like they were talking to each other for a couple hours.
And finally, they slip back out of the mall and say, hey, there’s two police cars out here in this parking lot. We’re nervous about this.
Let us do this another time.
So all’s cool. They’re going back down one day to the car parking lot or the car lot that Carl Spero was operating out of.
Bomb Attack on Carl Spero’s Office and the End of the War

[36:45] He’s operating out of another used car lot by now. I think I forgot to mention that.

[36:50] And they get a call and go back to the office or go back to the undercover location that you’ve got.
We had a house out there because we had to babysit this informant.
When he wasn’t out working, we had to sit with him because technically he was in jail.
So when we got done, you had to put him back in jail and then work a deal to get him out and into witness protection, which they did.

[37:10] Somebody planted a bomb underneath this little shack that he used as an office.
And so that morning, that day, he drove down, he rolled up the ramp into the little shop or the office, gets at his desk, calls somebody, one of his sisters, I think Joe’s widow, or she calls him.
They’re talking on the phone, and the phone goes dead.
They have another case of dynamite underneath this thing because he was blown clear up out through the roof and dumped him in a wheelchair out in the parking lot. It was crazy.
That was the end of the Spero-Civella War. No Speros were left.

[37:48] I have a little aside, one last thing here. I did that movie, The Civella-Spero War, after it was released and had a little run here in the local theater, got a little publicity on it.
One of the surviving Civella descendants told a friend of mine, he said, man, I wish he hadn’t done that.
He said, I played bocce balls with some of those Spero guys every Friday, but apparently they’re all still getting along.

[38:14] That’s the Civella Spero War in an hour or less.
I really appreciate you guys tuning in. I really appreciate all your comments on my Facebook group, Gangland Wire Podcast.
If you’re not on it, get on it. A lot of good mob discussions from all over the United States there.
If you have a problem with PTSD and you’ve been in the service, be sure and go to the VA website.
If you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, get a hold of our friend Anthony Ruggiano. He’s a drug and alcohol counselor down in Florida, a former Gambino member.
He has a YouTube channel. I’m always promoting him. He never promotes me, I don’t imagine, but it’s fine. I appreciate what he’s doing.
I’ve talked to him. I had him on the show once and he’s a real earnest guy and he really wants to help people and he wants to tell stories and wants to make a little money out of his career in the mob.
He didn’t really walk away with anything that I know of and I’ll tell you those drug and alcohol counselor jobs don’t pay very well. He’s got a hotline number on there and maybe you can even get him to be your counselor.
So don’t forget to like and subscribe. Give me a review. If you’ve got any ideas for stories, let me know.
Any mob guys out there that might wanna tell their story on the podcast, steer them to me. All right, thanks a lot, guys.

2 thoughts on “Bloodlines and Betrayal: Civella vs. Spero”

  1. I don’t understand the stories of Dennis Hathcock. The son of W.O.Hathcock. He’s Nephew of Louise & Jack Hathcock.Dennis make alot of stories/claims? Most of Mike Elam book is stories from Dennis &dennis said dad fear Buford ?
    1) He claims He follow Pusser around with his motorcyle (even father’s car?) watched what Pusser did during the day/night ?Infact 8-12-1967 He Claim He follow Pusser to his girlfriends at Maintainance Dept where she was at,Then Pusser follow her to her Home? That same night Dennis Hathcock / Johnny Harrison follow Pusser to 2 locations? Supposedly they could sense or mind read where Pusser go next ? Then Hathcock claim they both went home? (Dennis Hathcock son W.O.Hathcock lived hwy45 Shamrock or any W.O.Hathcock businesses) Dennis at Hwy 45 could seen & Heard commotion go on the area but he admits to Johnny Harrison call him Pauline d.o.d. that day? Then Dennis Hathcock goes up to bridge talks PD there , Pd tells him has leave crime scene, Dennis Hathcock goes up (2mi) claim he found scalpwithhair blood & shell casings in the road? Dennis go back up to the Bridge tries to tell the PD that in the wrong spot &that it is further up road?
    2)Dennis Hathcock claim his dad W.O.Hathcock sold buford weapon as Teenager/young guy? W,O claim loss stolen money in newspaper?
    3)W.O Hathcock (&HowardBunch_) paid $100,ooo for jack/Louise properties?
    4)Rumor Susan Anderson Hathcock Jones(husb Ray Jones )supposedly in jack Hathcock will to inherit jack properties? Susan/husb d.o.d. same day together 12-4-1967?
    5)W.O Hathcock in newspaper’s supposedly shot a man (customer)?
    6)W.O Hathcock & few men arguement over road next Shamrock? Argue over use of use road in vacant lot next Shamrock?Haywood King,Berry Smith jr,W.O.Hathcock.Fight over gravel Road?BerrySmith own end of Rd?Howard Bunch distribute alcohol to state line hwy45 customers?
    7)Towhead White mother live Corinth Ms. Howard Bunch lived Corinth Ms?
    8)Mike Elam seems to be use Dennis Hathcock stories for his book(few others)? Elam edit video with Bill Way which supposedly Way at Pauline crime scene all day took pix in the video tells Mike Elam it didn’t happen that way & his dad was state trooper that gave him special treatment to get his reports?
    9)mike Elam claim no illegal activity go on at Shamrock/Iris because bldg too small&no meeting place?
    10) coworker of Pauline claim that Pauline wore 2 sets of clothing to work? If teenager did it because She going leave home with 1set on take off the other got to school?
    11)Pauline had children Diane ,Michael & Karen Vance?And Dwana Pusser? Pauline adopt out Karen because of medical issues? Pauline meets Pusser at Wrestling bar at same place her husb Roman Vance is wrestler at Buccaneer? Same place Buford wrestler & Pauline meets Buford wed 1959?
    Can you please explain these things & which ones are right/wrong?

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