The Utica New York Crime Family

Cam and I discuss a little-known mafia family in upstate New York. From 1970 to 1992, Salvatore and Joseph Falcone led organized crime in Utica, NY. This family went back to the late 1930s. They were a powerful crew of the Buffalo, NY Maggadino Family, also known as The Arm. The New York State troopers arrested both men at the Apalachin Meeting in 1957. This crew was made up of approximately 15-20 “made” members.  the famous witness, Joseph Valachi, claimed they were a separate family but it is more likely they were a powerful autonomous crew under Stefano Magaddino.
In 1972 the older brother Salvatore Falcone died in Miami and in 1974 Buffalo boss Stefano Magaddino died. The younger Falcone brother, Joseph is aging and to outsiders there appeared to be a leadership vacuum. Carmine Persico ordered members of the Colombo Family to move into the area. Tony Falange, a top lieutenant of Falcone begins making moves, showing disrespect to Falcone. For example, he often failed to attend meetings or ask permission to expand the business. Someone robbed Falcone’s safe of $54,000.

By September of 1976 Albert Marrone, a young Turk, was released from prison after using violence to collect on a loan. He immediately began making threats against everyone and expressed his intention to take over Utica’s rackets. Marrone had a history of violence and had been implicated in two murders in the early 1970s.

By October 1076, things got crazy. Albert Marrone and his girlfriend were at dinner with local mob attorney Louis Brindisi and his wife. Brindisi excused himself, after which, Marrone became very nervous. Later that evening, Marrone walked toward his apartment when he was shot. He shielded his girlfriend, but he was killed. There are conflicting reports as to who was responsible. But it is believed that Donato “Danny” Nappi and Jack “Jake” Minicone were two of the shooters. They were working for the Colombo Family. Marrone is known to have threatened Colombo Family representatives. On the other hand, a Falange Lieutenant named Angelo Conte was reported to have wanted Marrone dead. The strongest supposition was that the Colombo family members acted without permission, despite being advised that Marrone’s actions could be dealt with in a sit-down. This unilateral action by the Colombo family—a sign of disrespect—is believed to have sparked further conflict in Utica.

This all sets the scene for a long and protracted bloody mob war for the Utica New York rackets. The Colombos move in and start to extract a street tax on the bookies and they are met with much resistance.

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36 thoughts on “The Utica New York Crime Family”

  1. There were three shooters, and two others listening to police scanners a few blocks away. The paper dubbed them as the “not so straight shooters” because at least 20 rounds hit the garage and neighboring houses. Joseph Falcone signed off on the hit.

      1. Ever, been in a shootout? I have,, most guys aren’t professional marksmen. And in a spur of the moment ambush, you aren’t taking a wide 2 foot stance youre running shooting ducking shooting… Bullets fly esp. with 3 guns.

        1. Thanks for the comment. No I have not but I had several friends who were and you are exactly right. Bullets everywhere as they tried to find cover.

        2. I knew these 2 idiots before the killed Dawn. They were both tough guys and you knew it when you met them. If you lived in Utica and you knew certain people like I did. You k we what and who ran Utica.

        1. Where is Dick now? Is he in FL? Tell him Anne moved back to NY state after living 60-yrs in CA. I truly wish him well Thx

  2. I come from Utica, NY.
    I remember Dominick Bretti, he came for secret meetings at Padula’s Market off of Bleeker Street back in late 70’s.

    Utica is a very economic depressed area, weather bad seven months of the year.
    Nothing to do, why not join a crime circle?

    Family oriented town with family businesses, very cliquy, i was in the circle With Falcone.

    I never got caught, the organized crime chapter continues. Very low key, if you only knew whats happening still!

    Anyhow, good gossip session on your part for your ratings.

    Good luck.

    Anthony Gambino

  3. I grew up in Utica was born at st Elizabeth’s in 64
    My Father was Joe ( sonny ) Aquilo
    He worked possibly ran to bars there
    Peperadas and the canteen in the late 60’s
    Not sure if I spelled peperades correctly.
    He was there since the 40’s
    He was married to a lady who’s family owned the gellotti cheese factory ( I don’t know if I spelled that right either. Just wondering
    I moved from there in 75

    1. What I remember is Bleeker street as a kid in its prime. New Look Barbae Shop, Florentine, My UNCLE Johns gambling joint he ran for Falcone’s and Farina Sausage. I could tell you great truthful stories’ about my father bring me and my brother 5and 6 years old maybe to Bleeker streets and secret basement meeting with Salva Farina. My father and him some type of business. They would cook sausage and talk in the basement. Believe me I found put later, these brothers were head of the Black Hand, they real enforcers even used by Falcone’s. no body fucked with them. I found out later my father and Salve were discussing a tax issue as the feds coming after them. Of course their grandson Matty Cuda teed to be a gangster later and well come on Matty,

  4. My Dad and I went to Utica in the late 60’s to have lunch with this guy and his wife. The wife couldn’t speak english very well. She made spaghettis and meatballs for us. I had never seen it served the way she did. After the meal, we went out on this mans front porch and just my Dad and him talked. I remember a few guys standing across the street watching all around plus a car that had a few guys just sitting in there. When we left, I remember my Dad telling me that this guy was a really big deal and that if I ever needed anything, to just go to this guy and he would help. I never went back but always wondered who this guy was. I think I was scared. My Dad told me to never talk about our day in Utica to anyone. This is the first time ever to do so. I have no idea who the guy was…..I’m sure you won’t be able to help with this but I found it interesting.

  5. I would like to ask what sources you have tying any of this to the Columbo’s.  I would like to further my own research.  Add to the myth vs mystery vs history.

    Joe Falcone (& his brother Sal before him) were captains in Utica for Magaddino (with rackets in Rome and Syracuse – which was basically an “open city” for lack of a better term.

    Angelo Conte was one of his top earners.  “Made” to Buffalo.  His Soldiers included Dominic Bruno, Phil Tardugno, Rocco Luri, and the Terzini brothers.  Jimmy T was a bigwig in LIUNA (local 442 and 11).  They ran things around Sylvan Beach from the Three Rivers.  Rocco Luri was the mentor to Jack Minicone, a muscle/enforcer, absolutely tied to the Buffalo crew in Utica. Other mobsters reporting to Falcone were the Inserra brothers, Anthony Falange, Ben Touri, Angelo Gerace.  There’s dozens more.  I’ll leave it to the “joirnalists” to define who is “made” vs associate.

    Do you have any evidence of the Columbo family moving in on Utica.

    Wire taps record Falange and Falcone together for years before these events.  Decades.  Falange was born in Utica, not an NYC Columbo guy.  No prior recorded with Columbo’s. 

    My research ties the Columbo’s to Buffalo heavily.
    -Ancient history of Profaci and DiCarlo/Magaddino, but those things certainly changed when these events happened.
    -Columbo himself was in Buffalo in 70. 
    -The Pieri group had ties to them. 
    -The Hamilton group had narcotics runs with them. 
    -At the exact time you are writing the Columbo’s were muscling in, FBI recorded them dining at Joe Fino’s house in Buffalo.  Joey Aiuppa from Chicago was there too. It had to do with Family leadership changes, but more so about LIUNA. 
    -On a different trip, the Columbo’s were in town at a meeting at the Ramada Inn in Cheektowaga with Roy Carlisi, Joe Fino, and Dan Sansanese.  Joe Pieri was close with the Columbo’s. Carmine Persico even recommended him to be boss in the early 80s.
    -Buffalo mobster Paul Volpe from Toronto had several deals with them, in both Toronto, Atlantic City, and Haiti.
    -The Todado’s were working with them in the 80s.

    So I’m just curious as to what sources or wires/informants indicate the Columbo’s were moving against Buffalo, and Central New York was the battlefield. 

    My research puts them together, for several years through several “bosses” due to money earned together from several people.

    Local wires in Utica certainly picked up Falcone complaining about Falange.  Falcone was getting long in the tooth.  Falange had folks from (who the media dubbed) the Barge Canal Crew rob Falcone’s house – then he tried to kill one of the burglars to silence them so Falcone wouldn’t find out (until safe Cracker Mike Andrello became an informant).

    Al Marrone was made the skipper around 71.  Appointed by the new leaders in Buffalo.  Fino/Frangiamore/Carlisi/Pieri.  Didn’t last long though.   Al went down for extortion/loansharking around 74 with Jack Zogby, Carl Mazza, James Talerico, and Louis King (who got caught trying to throw a grenade in an FBI officer’s house). 

    Dom Bretti was named the new skipper.  Johnny Catz from Buffalo helped him lock up the rackets through transition.  Bretti was a Utica guy.  Tied to the rackets for decades. 
    Not some NYC Columbo transplant. 
    Informant Sonny Franzese confirmed he was a “Utica guy,” not a Columbo like him.

    There was certainly conflict in the 70s and 80s with the crews from Binghamton that kicked up to Scranton.  They were Teamsters (through Rocco DePerno, Guv Guarneri, and Dave Osticco). The Utica crew was LIUNA through the Terzini and Inserra brothers.  This was the initial point of conflict.  There were also conflicts about gambling in Elmira, Courtland, Syracuse. 

    There was a case from NYC with wires overhearing the commission wouldn’t get involved in “cow towns” over the squabbles between Sciandra’s PA Binghamton crew and Todaro’s Utica crew along the NY-PA border. 

    There was some bad blood… but there was little blood.  Todaro and Sciandra met several times in Florida, a few times with Nicky Scarfo.  But Sciandra and Todaro were still tied.  Their families had been tied since the beginning. 

    Sciandra the first boss of NE PA came up in Buffalo.  He was related to Magaddino’s alleged underbody John Montana and several mobsters in Buffalo.  He left when he was 22, allegedly as a way to organize the southern-tier bootlegging lines- followed by a slew of murders across the NY-PA lines attributed to Sciandra involving back from Buffalo. 
    Sciandra was replaced by Joe Barbara (of Apalachin fame). He came to the US from Castellammarese and became a hitter in Buffalo for the senior Castellammarsse Magaddino.  Near the end of Prohibition he moved to Endicott.  He was eventually replaced as boss by Russ Buffalino, who also came up in Buffalo and was made there. He didnt move to PA until the 40s when he was 37, already made. Long police record in Buffalo including several murders. When he got old and semi-retired, he was replaced on the streets by Ed Sciandra-  Buffalino’s cousin, both related to several Buffalo mobsters by blood. (FBI called him.condiglieri, underboss, and street boss at different times).

    When Todaro was in Florida in the 80s, the FBI focused on him immediately after the Commission Trial.  He was one of the senior most mobsters in the country.  They had recorded him with Persico, Langella, Scopo/Columbo people… along with leaders from nearly every family.

    Scranton had loosely pushed for what the press dubbed the “C Team” to get involved in Rochester’s splits.  The A team (Buffalo family loyalists) and the B team (Valenti and gingelo) were fighting.  As the A team was weakened and the B team was shooting in the dark after the Commission told them to stop their little rebellion, then the C team came in quietly to add another layer (loosely backed by Sciandra’s people- by that I mean they were mostly outsiders, but hired and armed through Scranton). Ultimately the A team wiped most of them out, and organized the CNY/Utica crew along the same lines as Rochester.

    Al Marrone was making a lot of noise in jail that he was going to assume control when he got out.  Bretti killed him a month after release – had Minicone and Zogby and Teeter Noel as shooters, Brindisi setting it up, and Inserra was in the getaway vehicle on the walkie talkies listening to police scanner. These were all Buffalo guys.

    It was over these disputes between the Binghamton/Endicott against the Utica/Rome/Syracuse crews (mostly gambling, drugs, and LIUNA vs Teamsters), that led to the conversation being recorded where people are saying the Commission won’t get involved in “cow towns.”

    Eventually, Buffalo’s capo Bretti was having his conversations recorded by Anthony Mastracco. He was arrested with Danny Nappi and Johnny D’Amico in one of the Grillo murders (husband Angelo was killed a few years later for threatening to attack anyone connected). Bretti went to jail.

    Carcone became the skipper.  And when Benny and Russ got hit with RICO in 89 with Jack Minicone, Inserra and Zogby, then Johnny Catz came back to Central NY and kept things organized.  The crew got busted on a major burglary ring thing a few years back.  Looked more like organzied shoplifting really.
    So I’m just trying to add to my research here.  I have decades of ties between the Colombo’s and Buffalo (through several “bosses” and administrarions).

    From Joe Profaci to the DiCarlo’s in the 20s.  Magaddino and Profaci. Colombo with Magaddino, Carlisi, Fino, Pieri.  Persico with Todaro and Pieri. 
    Likewise, a century of ties between Utica to Buffalo.  And between Buffalo and Scranton (nearly every Family for that matter).

    So I’d be interested to tap into your sources to add some context to a Columbo move into Central NY. 

    1. Frank, Thank you for your input. Very interesting and well-researched facts. I noticed the Bureau recorded an important meeting in Joe Fino’s house. Was he the father of Ron Fino? I send you an email about the rest. I really appreciate your comment on this story.

    2. Hey frank im very intrigued on your knowledge and was wondering if u may be able to find our what my family was in Utica. I carry names like Talerico, Carlesimo, alberico, fiore . I hear about the TALERICOs the most and I would greatly appreciate a response.

    3. Frank, you have a bunch of mashed up tidbits. A mixture of facts and a lot of missed info. I’m a Falcone. Joe and Sal were my uncles. They controlled Utica and were tied to Maggadino and Buffalino. But they were their own family. They were made men. Very powerful.

      Falcones were very close with Profaci and regularly received shipments from his company in Brooklyn. There was also tension with Albert Anostassia. He had family in Utica and visited a few times right before he was clipped. He came in and made a move to take a percent of Falcone’s gambling/bookmaking rackets. This didn’t sit well with Falcone. I can say that Uncle Joe was aware of and somewhat involved in the hit on Annastasia.

      1. Falcone Family,
        When Anastasia tried to make that move in Utica on your Uncle’s gambling/bookmaking rackets, just before he died, Utica wasn’t the only place in the area that he stopped. Was it?

  6. As a kid, I think maybe 12, my dad and I went to Utica to have lunch with a friend of his. The guys wife spoke only Italian. E sat on the front porch after lunch, my dad and this guy were talking. I remember seeing guys across the street in both directions with sunglasses on just standing there watching. I have no idea who this guy was only that my dad told me if ever I needed anything, this would be the guy I should talk to. That’s all I remember about Utica

  7. My Dad was a door man for the gambling hub of New York State which was Utica, Utica was wide open back in the thirties, Gamblers from all over the state would come to Utica to gamble, This went on for decades until Fisher cleaned up the city in the fifties. They use to call Utica little Chicago.,

      1. They called Utica Sin City – Articles written referring to Utica as Sin City. Family owned a restaurant/bar next to the Court House called Mila Light in the 50’s

  8. I grew up in Utica, NY, in the 1980s. My father, who worked for volunteered for the frankfort fire dept, was called to bring the fire dept. rescue truck to recover dawn grillo’s body. It happened off Wilson Road, which we lived on. She got thrown down a ravine. He was called in for jury duty, but as you can imagine, was not selected.

    Also, according to family stories, my grandfather worked for A T & T, after WWII, and did some side work for the feds. One of the jobs was wire tapping the falcones, Joe, specifically. The story goes that he tapped the phones for the feds, so they could find out about apalachin meeting. I had no idea until a few years ago.

  9. Did one of the Falcone brothers have a son that was a Dentist?? Please settle this bet-Mr. Falcone live across the street from my grandparents on Mohawk

    1. I’m sorry, I can’t find the answer. I suggest you try finding any obituaries online to find the names of children and grandchildren. Good Luck!

    2. Yes, his son was a dentist. His grandson, also Joe, still lives in the house on Mohawk Street. The house has a dentist chair in the basement and a barber shop down there. Uncle Joe wouldn’t get his haircut outside.

  10. Saw a lot of that Rico Trial in 1990. Enough to know that if the defendants are Italian,they don’t stand much of a chance of getting aquittals,mostly because the jury and maybe even the defendants probably don’t usually understand the law.And the law itself was unfair.For example if a defendant already did time for a crime in state court years before,he could be punished again under Rico for the same crimes if convicted for commiting them as part of a racketeering enterprise regardlress of how long ago it was and whether the defendants even knew or associated with each other at the time or ever.As for the tapes,they can twist everyday conversation into something more sinister than it is.Not only that but the juries associate these guys and are influenced by too many movies,books,or just false stories about that life.
    Only two defendants got bail and maybe its just me,but they seemed like really good guys as did their families and those of the other defendants seem like very nice people

  11. I remember someone being blown up in East Utica but can’t remember who it was. I believe it was a car bombing. Definitely mob related. Can you refresh my memory and tell me who it was. Being full blooded Italian and growing up in East Utica I know many of these names. My family was not connected.

    1. October 23, 1983 – Mobster Tommy Bretti was bombed, February 14, 1980 – Utica tavern owner and mob associate Richie Clair’s bar is bombed, February 28, 1970 – Mob associate William Conley is blown up by a grenade attached to his car door after leaving Mr. Joe’s restaurant and tavern in South Utica. I hope this helps

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