Its important to talk about the Gangster brothers before we move on into the 1980's in the Los Angeles Mafia Family.
Who are the Gangster Brothers? The Fiato Brothers! They were two tough Boston transplants that moved to LA and made people stand up and take notice. The first time I ever heard about these brothers was when I was being questioned by an FBI Special Agent named Carl. He had an LA Times paper and he said to me. "You think you are tough? These guys are tough!" He handed me the paper and it was folded so I could see the LA Times story written about them. My thought on seeing the article was how tough could they be if they flipped. This was long before I flipped and it was before I grew up. I used to look at guys who went away or went straight as weak. After I lived life and got older, I started to see the life for what it was...A dead end.
Anthony Fiato and his family had moved to LA from Boston in 1960. From the stories he told me, Los Angeles blew his mind. He had a cousin who worked at the record store on Sunset and Laurel where he would go and listen to records. Anthony's father had come to LA to give his family a better life. He had a job waiting for him at the Villa Capri, a well known Italian restaurant in Los Angeles.
The Villa Capri is where Anthony Fiato met the LA Underworld. Michael Rizzitello aka Mike Rizzi was a Bartender, Johnny Roselli and Jimmy Frattiano were regulars, along with many of the LA Family guys. If anyone ever read Jimmy Frattiano's the Last Mafioso, he describes taking a woman out to the Villa Capri and being treated like royalty. That would not be the first or last time that Anthony would interact with LA Guys. One time Jimmy Frattiano and a few others came in for a private dinner. Anthony put them in a private room which really pissed off the Gangster Squad, who was following everyone.
I had a lot of long talks with Anthony and the guy is smart. He knows Cosa Nostra better than anyone and he was around during the Golden age of the Mafia. There was no RICO or WitSec and the Mafia had a long memory and a longer reach.
One of the guys Anthony would get to know well was Joe Sica. I’ve blogged before about Joe Sica and his brothers, what they were able to do in the Southern California Underworld was huge. So many successful Mobsters got their start around Joe, it is really crazy that not many people have heard of them. I only wish I could have met them. Anthony would meet him at the Formosa Cafe. He did a lot of work for LA guys down in Watts.
When his family decided to head back to Boston, Anthony went also, and he soon learned that he had been in the Mafia Minor Leagues. He returned to Boston, to the North End and it was locked down by guys in Patriarca Family. He was soon hooked up with Nicky Giso and JR Russo, heavy hitters for the family. I can only imagine what he learned from these guys. The fact that he was well respected by all of them is a testament to how he operated.
He later made his way back to LA where he hooked up with his old buddy Mike Rizzi. Anthony was older and his younger brother Larry was now also grown up. The two of them made a fearsome pair in a time when most people were smaller. These two brothers were well over six feet tall. They didn't take crap from anyone and soon they made names for themselves. Anthony is the most feared of the two because he was sharp and he would get you. He knew how to hustle and make money. He ran clubs, collected money and soon became a shylock’s shylock. He had his own Shylock business going and he was bringing in cash from the vig every week. A Shylock makes loans to people who cannot get a loan from a bank or someone who needs cash now. I always liked drug dealers or guys who could steal because they would have huge fluctuations in their cash flow. Gamblers are always a steady source of vig because no gambler wins every time.
He had built up his reputation as a fierce guy who got things done. This is when Robert "Puggy" Zeichick came to Anthony to provide him muscle and protection for his Shylock business. Anthony was soon the biggest Shylock in LA and everyone wanted to be around him.
He went to New York with Mike Rizzi and they met with Aniello Dellacroce, the powerful underboss of the Gambino family. This was a far stronger Gambino Family than John Gotti's. The Gambino's at that time had 23 street crews all over the US and Mike Rizzi was well known to them as a man of action. Soon after the meeting Mike Rizzi and Anthony were back in California taking care of business for the Gambino's. Mike Rizzi was a Capo in the LA Family but he had little use for them.
Anthony and Mike Rizzi had their own “family” and they had little use for the LA Family which was now being run by Peter "Shakes" Milano. Pete was known as a bookmaker and “business” guys like Mike Rizzi and Anthony scared him. Pete was a boss more like Big Paul Castellano of the Gambino Family. Big Paul had his term cut short on a Manhattan street one winter evening by a thug named John Gotti and his men.
Pete had started beefing up the family by bringing in new blood. He Made his brother Carmen, who was a lawyer, who worked with his father and the Family for years. Carmen had worked with the Unions and even went to New York to meet guys with his father, he was known. Carmen had been disbarred and now he was the underboss of the family. Pete had also Made another faction, which I will call the Buffalo faction. This was Jimmy Caci, Rocco Zangari, Steve Cino and Bobby Milano. Anthony and Mike Rizzi did not like this at all. Mike and Anthony were the guys who did all the heavy work for the LA Family.
Anthony had built his Shylock up to the point where he was pulling down 30k a month from it. He had other bookies laying their action off with his people. Anthony was a man of action and when people heard that he was coming to see them they were afraid. The problem that was brewing was with Mike Rizzi. Mike was a heavy guy, but he was a short buck guy. This was because he was never good at making money. He did everything for the here and now. Mike's crew with guys like John DiMattia and John Bronco was never good at bringing in the cash. John DiMattia is a tough talking wannabee who can’t do a thing, the guy is not tough at all. He was roughed up by a well known lawyer and it would come out that he was talking to the LAPD Vice. John Bronco, this guy was a guy who could beat up a smaller guy, but he never had the balls to go any farther. John had done many years in the can for counterfeiting and while he was down his daughter had gotten involved in a plot to kill her husband. John was released so he could go wear a wire against the killer. John would later flip again in Las Vegas in the 1990's.
Anthony and his brother were soon making bigger waves in the LA Underworld. This brought the attention of the FBI to their operation. Soon a man who was close to Mike Rizzi was wearing a wire in their home. The FBI also bugged the house and one early AM they raided the home.
Anthony did not know it at the time, but his brother agreed to cooperate. Anthony is a very sharp guy, there are few guys in the life that I have spoken to as much as I did with him. He knows the world and where things will go. Anthony also decided to go with Team USA and wear a wire.
The LA Family had wanted to bring Anthony into the fold but he had rebuffed all their attempts until now. He went with them and soon they wanted him in the family The guy to step up and propose him was Consigliere Jack LoCicero and later Capo Louie Gelfuso would be the second guy to propose him. You need two made guys to propose someone to be made in the family. Anthony’s family was well known to the LA guys so that part was out of the way. Anthony had done work for the family years before so they knew about him. Pete, always the careful one, had Louie Gelfuso reach out to Frankie Skyball aka Scibelli, a Capo in charge of Genovese Family's Springfield, Connecticut crew. He knew all the guys in Boston and Providence and he knew Anthony.
I was told this by Louie Gelfuso after The Animal in Hollywood was out in bookstores. Louie also told me that they were going to have a ceremony to induct members into the family but when Jimmy Caci and his faction arrived they did not like the fact that Fat Bobby Paduano was at the house. So they left and called it off. So Anthony was short changed in the ceremony department much like Mike Rizzi. Louie Gelfuso came to him and told him he was in the family. Later Pete sent for him and went over the rules and spoke to him about having a legit business.
Anthony and his brother took down over 60 guys from West Coast to the East Coast.
If it was not for Anthony, I would not be here now writing this blog. So many times I wanted to just bail out of the informant thing with the FBI. Anthony made me realize that it was all a waste and the guys in the life were all users. I made it through the program and started writing. For the whole Fiato story, buy his book “The Animal in Hollywood” or read his blog.