Nick Civella – A Reporter’s View

Nick CivellaBill Norton covered the Kansas City mob boss Nick Civella and the crime beat for the Kansas City Star newspaper from his first day as a reporter. In the Nick Civella1970s, the KC Police Department furnished a bare bones office with one desk and a telephone for the crime reporter. Bill did not report to the Star offices but rather went to work each day at police headquarters. He developed police sources as well as many criminal sources during his tenure. Bill gradually was able to leave the reporting of day to day crime and became the Star’s expert on the mafia. Bill tells how he learned from the older reporters about covering Nick Civella and relates several funny stories about his various interactions with the KC crime family.





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15 thoughts on “Nick Civella – A Reporter’s View”

  1. Russell Farley

    I have a story about this guy.. My 2nd wife was from KC, and although we lived in the Dallas area, she claimed that Nick Civella routinely called her for numbers to bet at the roulette wheel in Vegas. She said he actually won $50,000 one night from a number she gave him. To say the least, I thought that a little farfetched, until one Saturday evening when the phone rang, with some guy wanting to talk with my wife. I asked who it was, and he said “Nick.” “Civella?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said. Well, I just had to take my chance, so I told him of my wife’s tale of she giving him numbers for the roulette wheel. “True,” he said. “And,” I went on, “Did you really win $50,000 using one of the numbers she gave you?” He paused a second, then said, “Yeah. True.” With that, I said, “Well, thanks for talking me. Here she is.” True story.

  2. Jack Anderson owned the Red Apple and Bachelor’s III. The reason Carl Spero spent so much time there was because his girlfriend, Toni LanFranca worked there. He finally married her and it was her mother that was Gene Shepherd’s girlfriend. She had been Cork Civella’s girlfriend prior to going with Carl Spero. I was married to Toni LanFranca’s step-father, Louie Cornejo who raised her. Freddy Bonadonna was a close friend with Louie Cornejo and was the godfather of one of his children. As a matter of fact, when Freddy’s father was killed we heard it on the news. I was cooking dinner and Freddy showed up unexpectedly and we asked him what he was doing there? He was laughing and joking until we told him what we had just heard on the news. He hadn’t heard about it yet. I was very close to everything that was going on in those days.

    1. Hey Sharon, love to chat with you. Toni, Corey, Richard, and Raymond were my cousins. Gene and Irene were my Aunt and Uncle.

    2. Raymond Cornejo

      i remember going to poor freddie with you and dad and remember when he came to our house on 7th st also the day i seen my sister not knowing it would be the last and how you and dad wouldn’t let us watch tv cause that shit was on the news nonstop it still hurts knowing that i lost alot of family back then but thankful that your still hear to give me the closer i need with things from those times ……thank you love your son

    1. Thank you Jonathan, we try. Bill Norton had a very exciting life covering the mob. I have tried to get him to write his personal story.

  3. Raymond Cornejo

    growing up in those times and loosing my sister a few days after my birthday that was the last time i seen her i will never forget what she said to me that day, she was a stand up lady and very strong i miss her and everyone that i have lost in that era and im thankful for my stepmother that was there for my brother and i during that time cause being so young hard to understand why this is happening thank you mom

  4. Michael Sean Quinn

    My father, James P. Quinn [sometimes Jr.} (or James Patrick Quinn )was a lawyer in KC from early 1930s until 1975 or so. He represented Nicholas Civella in court on a couple of occasions. The newspaper clippings I have are from my father’s law practice history. I am looking for information about him, but I met Civella several times, and he was involved in meetings that took place in the back law library of Quinn & Peebles. As I understand it, my father was not in attendance at any of these meetings, although I have been told that at least on some occasions the firm phone was wiretapped, (I officed at Quinn & Peebles, and worked as a law clerk there, while I went to law school at UMKC). Although I am also told that this never happened when any lawyer was on the phone. I have heard nothing about the library room itself being “bugged.” I am more interested in my father’s history, most especially his law practice, than I am in the history of the KC mafia, unless my father was more substantially involved than I have been led to believe. Please let me know what you have turned up and/or direct me in the right direction as to where to look further. (I saw Tiger Cardarelly several times as he passed through the office; one of the Civella Groud owned a restaurant downstairs, and the son of somebody was a junior associate in Quinn & Peebles. He handled only civil cases, I think.

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