Material presented on The American Mafia history website ( and was gathered through decades of research into the history of American organized crime. A childhood interest in the subject blossomed into a full-time obsession in the late 1990s, when I began organizing collected newspaper clippings, notebook pages and index cards. That effort gave rise to this website in September 2002. The website is more of a process than it is a document. Very often new historical data becomes available and causes old assumptions to be revised or abandoned. Over the past few years, many underworld legends appearing on these pages have given way to more defensible statements. And other revisions are sure to be made in the months and years ahead. It is a pleasure to be able to share my interest with you. I welcome your emailed comments, questions, criticisms. I hope that the site is useful to you and that you check in from time to time to see what is new. Copyright © 2011, Thomas Hunt. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Banana War informer

I'm very pleased to announce that Edmond Valin has provided the American Mafia history website with a short article discussing a 1960s-era informer within the Bonanno Crime Family of New York. That informer provided law enforcement with a good deal of background information on crime family members during the period of the so-called "Banana War." Edmond Valin argues that crime boss Joseph Bonanno's son Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno was the informer. (Click here to read the article.)
I agree with Valin's assessment and actually reached the same conclusion through some independent research. I found it interesting that the initial claim that Joseph Bonanno was kidnapped by Buffalo boss Stefano Magaddino reached law enforcement and the media at approximately the same moment, in December 1964. At that time, Bill Bonanno was leading a shrinking group of Bonanno loyalists against the interference of Magaddino and the Mafia Commission. The story of Magaddino's involvement in the alleged kidnapping (I am one of those who believe the kidnapping was staged by Bonanno, by the way) was first mentioned in a column by Hearst newspaper personality Walter Winchell. (Winchell is believed to have had a role in leading Lepke Buchalter to the FBI a generation earlier.)
After just a few days, Joseph Bonanno's attorney William Maloney confirmed the Winchell report, citing details provided to him in a telephone conversation with Bill Bonanno.
(BTW: Maloney really stuck his neck out for the Bonannos, and he probably regretted doing so. When Joseph Bonanno reappeared a year and a half later than Maloney told law enforcement he would, he did so with brand new legal counsel. Maloney no longer represented the crime boss.)

Amazon book links

Budget problems in Connecticut and questionable business practices at are complicating the redesign of the American Mafia history website. We have been a longtime affiliate of and have provided sale links for books, movies and other Amazon products that have generated many tens of thousands of dollars in sales for the Internet retailer. Our relationship with Amazon has ended, however.
One of the steps that the State of Connecticut has taken to close its budget gap is to require that Amazon charge sales tax on purchases made through in-state web affiliates, like our website. Amazon has steadfastly refused to charge its customers sales tax. In the wake of the new Connecticut rule, Amazon fired all of its affiliates in the Nutmeg State.
We will shortly take steps to create a working relationship with another online bookseller, like Barnes and Noble, in order to serve the dual purposes of keeping the website financially viable and providing useful product links to our web visitors. In the meantime, we must remove the MANY Amazon sales links from the website.

Update (14 Feb 2013): With our relocation to Vermont this past summer, we have reestablished a relationship with and will offer revised links to books through that company.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Was Who filling up

The revised Who Was Who section is growing rapidly. There are about 90 biographies online at this time, ranging alphabetically from Accardo to Licata. More are being added daily. The Who Was Who entries are accessible through the main menu ( "People" selection. They can also be accessed directly through .

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some redesigned pages online

Some of the redesigned pages of the American Mafia website ( ) have come online. These include the main entrance page, the articles menu page, the Who Was Who menu page, the crimefighters menu page, several articles and about 70 Who Was Who entries.

Visitors are cautioned that the site remains under construction. Not all links will work. Some links are connected to old-style pages.

Many of the old pages contain out of date or incorrect information. These include the original Who Was Who biographies of mob figures that have been indexed by major search engines. While this transition continues, whenever possible, visitors should make an effort to obtain the new pages from the site.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who Was Who database grows

The American Mafia history website's Who Was Who database continues to grow. There are 41 crime and law enforcement bios in the database at this moment, and more are being added daily. The database will be tied into the website shortly. Until then, the entries can be accessed through:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who Was Who coming online

The American Mafia history website's Who Was Who biographies are slowly coming online in a new location. While they will remain accessible from the main / website, the biographies will be held in their own site on The direct address for accessing the biographies is: .

By placing the biography entries into the blogger site, they will be more easily searchable by name and keyword. With just 15 entries transferred into the new site to this point, the index has already reached 120 terms. As in the old biographies, links are provided from the biographies to American Mafia articles and crime family boss listings. Links to relevant issues of Informer and related books have been added.

All of the biographies are being edited/rewritten to bring them up to date with information acquired over the past nine years.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Joseph Barbara

One of the website changes that will probably draw some criticism is the removal of Joseph Barbara from the Scranton-Pittston, Pennsylvania, crime boss list.
Barbara is generally believed to have taken control of the crime family after the murder of boss John Sciandra in 1940 and to have served as boss until his own death in the summer of 1959. There are a number of problems with this accepted "history."
First, there is no evidence that Barbara ever gave orders to anyone in the Scranton-Pittston Mafia. That organization was controlled from the turn of the Twentieth Century by the "Men of Montedoro." (Barbara was from Castellammare del Golfo, not Montedoro.) Except for the insertion of Barbara into the succession of bosses, every other underworld leader of the region from 1903 through the middle of the 1990s had been born in Montedoro. There is little reason to believe that an exception was made in Barbara's case.
Second, there is no evidence that John Sciandra was killed in 1940 or at any other time. There are newspaper stories speaking of his death by natural causes in 1948 or 1949.
Third, Barbara seems to have had a very strong link to the Castellammarese population in Endicott, New York. The men closest to him were also from Castellammare. That Castellammarese outpost was mentioned in Joseph Bonanno's autobiography as the site of a meeting between Bonanno and Magaddino. While there are connections between Barbara and the Mafia of Scranton-Pittston, these seem to be secondary.
Finally, it seems very clear from the chain of events related to the 1957 meeting of Mafiosi at Barbara's country home in Apalachin, New York, that Barbara was at that time an underling of Stefano Magaddino. It was Magaddino – after urging from Tommy Lucchese (probably prompted by Vito Genovese) – who scheduled the meeting at Barbara's home. That is not something that could have been done unless Magaddino was Barbara's superior.

Monday, February 28, 2011

New address:

As work on the American Mafia history website redesign continues, there is a new web address for the site:

(Go ahead and try it now by clicking on the address above. I'll wait.)

The old address of will continue to function, but this new alias/address should be far easier for new visitors to remember.