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"In the late 1960s, a Florida-based member of the Bonanno Crime Family began to cooperate with the FBI. He shed light on gangland murders, spilled secrets about LCN members and gave the FBI a front row seat to the turmoil within the Bonanno organization. His cooperation was never suspected by his crime family, and he died a member in good standing. Now, clues found in declassified FBI documents may help to reveal his identity for the first time..."
"On July 11, 1963, two men wearing makeup disguises entered the Flowers By Charm flower store in Brooklyn, New York, and fired five bullets at the owner before fleeing. Lying dead on the floor was forty-year-old Gambino Crime Family member Alfredo Santantonio... Informant Gregory Scarpa told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that "it was common talk in Brooklyn that [Santantonio] was killed because he was cooperating with the Government."
By the early 1960s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to persuade two members of the Philadelphia Crime Family to reveal confidential information about La Cosa Nostra. The informants were sons of prominent LCN members who could trace their crime family connections to the 1920s. They provided agents with an inside look at the history, structure and membership of the Philadelphia Crime Family back to its earliest days.
Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno's quick rise within the Bonanno Crime Family divided the membership and set off a shooting war that the press dubbed the “Banana War.” The conflict reshaped the New York underworld and took down the last remaining boss of New York’s original five families. The Federal Bureau of Investigation had a front row seat to it all after they developed a secret source at the crime family's highest levels.
Declassified FBI documents show that more than ten Chicago Outfit members began to "talk" soon after Sam Giancana was deposed as boss and fled Chicago. The turnaround, up from virtually zero high-value informants in 1965, was due primarily to a more aggressive approach by law enforcement and the ongoing turmoil within the Outfit after a succession of bosses were quickly jailed.
According to Roemer, the three “best” Outfit informants were Richard Cain and two others who to this day are known only by their codenames, "Sporting Goods” and “Romano.” But who were "Sporting Goods" and "Romano"? A careful reading of Roemer’s books provides compelling clues. When combined with declassified FBI reports, the identities of these informants can finally be revealed.
Samuel Mannarino was a prominent La Cosa Nostra figure in Western Pennsylvania for decades until his death in 1967. He met with FBI agents throughout the mid-1960s after being forced into retirement from the rackets. He engaged in conversation with the agents mostly out of boredom and a slight sense of disappointment over the abrupt end to his criminal life. His revelations to the agents never went very far, but he did shed light on his criminal past and the history of the Pittsburgh Crime Family.
As the FBI entered the fight against organized crime on a national level, it benefited from membership data and organizational history obtained through confidential informants from a small Mafia family in northern California. For a brief period in the 1960s, there may have been more member-informants active in San Jose than any other LCN crime family. Their cooperation left the FBI better informed about the Bay Area underworld than its local boss Joseph Cerrito.