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Frank Balistrieri

Frank P. Balistrieri (May 27, 1918 – February 7, 1993), also known as "Mr. Big", "Frankie Bal", "Mr. Slick", and "Mad Bomber", was a Milwaukee Mafia boss who was a central figure in casino skimming during the 1980s.

Contents

Early years

Balistrieri was college educated and attended law school for six months. Short in stature, Balistrieri took great pride in his appearance. As a young man, he started working for the Milwaukee crime family, which owed allegiance to the powerful Chicago Outfit criminal organization in Chicago. Balistrieri soon built a reputation for arrogance, cruelty and ruthlessness. Balistrieri allegedly received the "Mad Bomber" nickname because he frequently used Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) attached to cars as weapons against his enemies. His father-in-law and Milwaukee boss, John Alioto, was soon grooming Balistrieri as his successor.

In 1961, Alioto retired and Balistrieri took control of the Milwaukee family. Balistrieri eventually referred to himself as, “....the most powerful man in Milwaukee.” After the "hit" on acutance, August "Augie" Palmisano, Balistrieri was quoted as saying, "He called me a name - to my face - and now they can't find his skin!" Balistrieri conducted his business at a table at Snug's restaurant in Milwaukee's Shorecrest Hotel, giving orders over a red telephone. In March 1967, Balistrieri was convicted of income tax evasion and was sent to prison for two years. In June 1971, he was released.

Casino skimming

On March 20, 1974, Balistrieri met with Kansas City mobsters Nicholas Civella and Carl DeLuna, in Las Vegas. During the meeting, the mobsters agreed that Balistrieri would meet with the mafia front man in Las Vegas, Allen Glick, to secure an option to purchase part of his Argent Corporation. Glick would agree to sell half of the corporation's ownership to Balistrieri's sons, John Balistrieri and Joseph P. Balistrieri, for $25,000 which, as the mobster later claimed, "...he had an obligation arising from the assistance to Glick in obtaining a pension fund commitment in the amount of $62.75 million."[1]

Soon Balistrieri and Civella were feuding over each other's share from the skimming operations. Finally, they requested arbitration from The Outfit. The results of the arrangement, as ruled by Outfit leader Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa and underboss John "Jackie The Lackey" Cerone, demanded that The Outfit receive a 25% tax as its cut in skimming operations. The 1982 car bombing of mob associate and the Stardust Casino's Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, in Las Vegas, was attributed to Balistrieri.

Conviction

In September 1983, Balistrieri and his two sons were indicted on charges of skimming over $2 million in unreported income from the Fremont Hotel and Casino and the Stardust. This was the first case in which federal authorities had successfully connected mobsters from four different states. While awaiting sentencing on extortion and bookmaking charges, Balistrieri claimed to be innocent. He even told the press, "The first time I heard the word, 'Mafia,' was when I read it in the newspapers." However, on May 30, 1984, Balistrieri was sentenced to 13 years in prison and fined $30,000. His sons were convicted of extorting a vending machine businessman and each received two years in prison.1

In September 1985, Balistrieri was tried in Kansas City, Missouri with eight other associates for skimming an estimated $2 million of the gross income of the Argent Corporation from Syndicate casino operations. Federal prosecutors further accused Balistrieri of skimming the unreported income and distributing it to organized crime figures in Kansas City, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Cleveland. In failing health, Balistrieri pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy in exchange for dropping federal charges, which included attempting to conceal ownership of a casino to skim profits and interstate travel to aid racketeering. He also attempted to shield his sons from any charges.

In December 1985, Balistrieri was sentenced to 10 years in prison (to run concurrently with his 13-year sentence from 1984). Close to achieving a seat on the ruling Mafia Commission in New York, Balistrieri was thwarted by this prison sentence. According to the Bureau of Prisons, Balistrieri was released from prison in 1991.

Frank Balistrieri died of heart-related natural causes in early 1993. Joseph Balistrieri is currently the boss of the Milwaukee family.

Further reading

  • Capeci, Jerry. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 978-0-02-864225-3
  • Neff, James. Mobbed Up: Jackie Presser's High-Wire Life in the Teamsters, the Mafia, and the FBI. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989.
  • Turner, William W. Hoover's FBI. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1993.
  • United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi - Hearings Before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. 1988. [2]

Notes

1. Ambler, Jay C., "Milwaukee, WI," ("Mafia Family Cities"), Pg. 3; americanmafia.com

References

  • Kelly, Robert J. Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-313-30653-2
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-8160-5694-1

External links

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