As I’ve touched on before in this blog, contrary to Hollywood Portrayal or popular belief, there were plenty of Workers or Killers in the LA Family. Just like every mafia family, every man would have to at least participate in a murder to become a Made man. Nowadays, this is not so true. Even all Associates were encouraged to kill back then. You don’t actually have to pull the trigger, stab someone or strangle someone to participate. You could be the getaway driver, the crash car, a lookout, or the person setting up the kill. All those roles meet the requirement of participating in a murder prior to being made. The only reason to kill someone is to protect the family, promote the family, protect the territory, or for some violation of the rules. There are no unauthorized killings allowed. There is no one cleaning up after an unplanned murder, everything is planned, down to digging the grave or having a disposal site for the body in advance. Anyone who actually pulls the trigger earns respect by the rank and file but is feared by leadership, because they always fear that they are next or that they will be challenged for leadership positions.
Those who participate in murders are NEVER paid. There are no killers for hire in the mafia. Anything you read or hear in the news about the Mafia putting a 500K contract on someone’s head is bullshit. People kill because they are told to kill or asked to kill, in order to earn respect. Anyone who says they were hired to be a hitman by the mob is lying. There are always eager young men looking to get noticed who are willing to kill.
One of LA’s more notable workers was Mike Rizzatello, aka Mike Rizzi. After Dominic Brooklier passed away, Pete Milano took over leadership of the LA family in 1984. He inherited Capo Mike Rizzi. Pete really had no idea what to do with Mike, because Mike Rizzi was the exact opposite of Pete. Pete was a businessman. Mostly a gambler, a bookmaker, successful in his businesses. Mike Rizzatello was a strongarm guy, a worker, who had fought in the Columbo war in Brooklyn on Joey Gallo’s side. He had done many years in prison. Mike was a hard luck guy who could never make enough money. So he was a short buck artist. He would just shake someone down and take a thousand dollars, rather than thinking long term and shaking them down 500 a month for life.
So Pete in many ways feared Mike Rizzi. This created a rift in the family. The young tougher guys looked up to Mike and wanted to make a harder image or a throwback to the old days, which would not work at the time. What the family needed was to move into legitimate businesses that they could control with a monopoly, with the hammer in the background, but not so overt. However, a lot of the young guys could not see this and wanted to act like cowboys shaking down criminals and drug dealers for quick money. So Mike Rizzi and Anthony Fiato went to New York to meet with the Underboss of the Gambino family, Neil Dellacroce and Joe Piney Armone. Rizzi was well liked by both of them, and other members of the Gambino family. They authorized him to run his own family or crew in Los Angeles, separate from Pete. They also saw Pete as weak. In retrospect, it's clear that Pete’s leadership was the strongest path for the family to take.
Mike Rizzi started his own family in LA and made Anthony Fiato his underboss. He had a sizeable contingent of young, hard men who followed him over from Pete’s side. Mike’s constant need of money, kept him in constant trouble with the law. After a few prison terms, and finding out the news that Anthony Fiato, his former right hand man, and his brother, had worn a wire for the feds, he found himself in Orange County, California, where he reconnected with an old friend with a new name, Bill Carrol. Bill and Rizzi had met in Chino State Prison many years before when Bill was known by his real name, which is now erased because of Witness Protection. I’m not sure what his real name was.
Anyways, Bill had muscled his way into Orange County’s premier strip club, the Mustang Club, located in Santa Ana, California. The Mustang Club had been started by another convicted criminal, going by the name Jimmy Casino. Jimmy Casino made a ton of money from the Mustang Club, but spent it all as quickly as it came in, and didn’t pay his taxes. This was Bill Carrol’s opening. He loaned money to Jimmy Casino, and soon it became apparent that Jimmy Casino’s flamboyant ways were going to sink the Mustang Club.
One night, Jimmy Casino and his girlfriend came home and were ambushed by a couple of men who killed him and raped his girlfriend. Bill Carrol stepped right up and took over the club. This left the door open for Mike Rizzi, who was always looking for income, to get his hands in the club through his friendship with Bill. Joseph Grosso, a limo company owner, controlled the lingerie sales inside of the club. The club also had a bouncer named Big George Udavitch (big is an understatement for this massive man), who also happened to be relocated through witness protection, for testifying against Joe Piney and the Gambino family. Soon it became apparent that Bill Carrol was not going to share the wealth with his prison friend Mike Rizzi.
So one night, Bill Carrol, Joseph Grosso and Mike Rizzi went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Santa Ana. After dinner, they asked Bill Carrol to drop them off at Mike Rizzi’s car in a parking garage near South Coast Plaza. As soon as they pulled to a stop in the garage, Mike Rizzi reached his large arm around Bill Carrol’s neck and Joseph threw himself around Bill’s legs. Mike placed a pistol with a silencer on it to the back of Bill’s head. He snarled, “This is for not letting us eat.” He fired three times. Carrol jerked and blood splattered everywhere. They released Carrol’s now lifeless body and exited the car, their ears ringing. They got into Joseph’s car, and drove away. At dawn, a bloody, but somehow still alive, Bill Carrol, stumbled out of the parking garage where he startled security guards who called police and paramedics. At first, Bill Carrol refused to name the person who shot him. Big George Utavitch bragged that he had disposed of the bloody clothes and weapon. A few days later, Big George Utavitch, who was gathering cash to head back to New York, received a call in his hotel room at El Toro California. He was told that someone would meet him and bring him cash at a nearby Irvine parking lot. When Big George arrived, someone got into the passenger seat of his car, and fired two bullets into his head. He was able to get out of the car and walk around toward the trunk, where he got shot again, this time he was killed. As a side note, this location was close to Fat Bobby Paduano’s mortgage business. Fat Bobby is a long time LA mafia Associate. Bill Carrol was hidden away by the Feds where he recovered from being shot but was blind as a result. When the Feds agreed to drop some federal charges against him, he fingered Mike Rizzi as the shooter and Joe Grosso as his accomplice. Everyone always wonders why Mike at his age, and his high rank, would take part in a murder, and use an untested associate. Mike Rizzi, in his 60’s and sick with emphysema, was once again desperate for cash, and could not do hits alone because of medical issues. Mike was put on trial, and was convicted. He went away to the highest security prison in the state of California until he became sicker and was moved to a Medical prison. He was released a few weeks before he passed away in Cathedral City (near Palm Springs). At his funeral there were no members of the LA Family.
Bill Carrol dissapeared into witness protection once again.
Pete Milano lived a long and prosperous life and died in Westlake California in 2012 a free man.
Read more about the recent guilty conviction in the murder case of Jimmy Casino here:
If you want to read more about Mike RIzzi, read Anthony Fiato’s blog: