Sunday, October 6, 2013

Iowa Family

Everyone knows that the Mafia is in Chicago and New York, but most people do not know that there were 26 Families around the country.  A lot of them have died out and the descendants have moved on to live productive, law abiding lives.  These families did not disappear because of competition from other groups, they just died out because they no longer had a pool of poor hungry men to take their place in the family.

Charlie "Cherry Nose" Gioe

The Iowa Family is one of those La Cosa Nostra Families.  It was based in Des Moines, Iowa and the first recorded boss was Charles "Cherry Nose" Gioe who was put in place by Al Capone.  Des Moines is strategically situated as the crossroads of America, all roads come together there for freight.  This location was really important after prohibition when mobsters had all been running trucking companies to get their booze to market.  This would also lead to their control of the unions.  

Things would soon change in Des Moines.  Louis Fratto, Aka Lew Ferral, Aka Cock-eye would come into town after being on the lam from some gambling charges (originally from Chicago and then Milwakee).  He would first work with Charlie Gioe in Des Moines until it was decided that he would replace Charlie.

Charlie wanted to go to Beverly Hills to work with the Movie studios for the Outfit. He would made a lot a money for the Outfit before the whole shakedown went bust.  He had made a lot of money for himself and he had invested it well. Charlie was one of the first investors in a company that would put whipped cream in a can.  He wanted other Outfit guys to invest in it and he asked Lou Fratto.  They all thought he was crazy but time would tell because that company was Reddi Wip.  
Frank Sinatra, Frank "One Ear"

In 1936 Lou would become boss of the Iowa family after being given the position by Paul Ricca and Anthony Accardo.  Lou took over what Charlie had built, but he brought in his own guys. There was a sizable Italian population at the time but he liked to work with Jews, so besides his core group of his brother Frankie “One Ear” Fratto, “Milwaukee Phil” Alderisio, Johnny Marshall and a few others, he would not make any new guys in Des Moines.  

The rackets were great in Des Moines but the legitimate business was better.  Lou was able to become the beer distributor for a number of named brands.  Lou was very close to the Labor Leader named Barney Baker. Barney would become important later in many things including the assassination of John F Kennedy. He was known to have spoken to Jack Ruby before the Assassination in Dallas.  Barney was also involved in the Boxing game when he was said to be close to Sonny Liston before he lost to Ali.

Lou Fratto quickly made himself part of Des Moines society.  Lou was made a lifetime member of the Chamber of Commerce and during World War Two he raised over 1 million dollars in War Bonds.  He also recruited 75 men to join the Navy at the same time.
Lou Fratto and a Boxer

He had games going on all over and when two of his men Hymie Wiseman and Al Cramm were arrested in a gambling house they were quickly released and the charges against Lou were dropped. The administration of the Outfit were soon sent away for extorting the Movie Industry and one of those men was Charles Gioe, his former boss.  

Lou would be the man entrusted with bringing the payoff money to the Lawyer so the Outfit guys would be released.  Charles Gioe wanted to be back in charge of Iowa and he stuck his nose in some Union business in 1954.  On the night of August 18 1954 Charles was out to dinner with Hymie Wiseman and another man when they got into a car and another car pulled alongside and emptied a magazine into the car killing Charles instantly. Hymie was not hit and later was questioned by police but that proved to be a waste.  Lou was arrested for the murder of his former boss but there was no evidence so he was released.

He worked with Hoffa and the Teamsters, he worked with New York leaders like Tony "Ducks" Corallo, Joey Glimco and Tony "Pro" Provanzano.  He had a spectacular career as the leader of the Iowa Mafia family but it would end on November 24 1967 when he passed away from cancer.
On the Left: Hymie Weisman, On the Right: Dead Charles Gioe

Lou's brother Frank "one ear" Fratto was his number two man so he stepped up to handle the family business with Lou's oldest son Frankie Fratto Farrell.  Sadly, Frankie would only live until 1969 when he was on a plane with Boxing Champ Rocky Marciano when it crashed.  Frank stepped up again until his death in May of 1996 at the age of 81.

Iowa has changed much like the rest of America and the Cosa Nostra.  Iowa will join other places where the Mafia is now part of History like San Jose, San Francisco, Denver, Erie, Pennsylvania, Dallas, New Orleans and soon maybe Los Angeles.  I cannot do this family justice on this blog but please go to for more information.
Beer Company Trucks


  1. theodore persico sr is almost out ken, what kind of leadership position would he be involve with if any ? also rumored has it around philly that skinny joey is planning to moved to l.a and hold court from there any truth to that??