This week I thought I would tell a story about a person you may know only from a short, explosive roll in a movie. On April 8th 1929 Remo Ferretti was born on the West Side of Erie Pennsylvania.
The Ferretti family changed their last name to Ferritto and Remo was Americanized to Raymond and so he became known as Ray Ferritto. Many know him simply as the guy who blew up Danny Greene in Cleveland in the movie “To Kill An Irishman.”
Ray was much more than a guy who detonated a bomb. I touched on his story when I was writing about Jimmy Frattiano in the Los Angeles family.
Ray began his criminal career in the Little Italy neighborhood of Erie by learning the art of burglary, not of houses, but of businesses. Once he was caught in action and was beaten by a beat copper who had Ray remove his shoes so that he could beat the bottoms of his feet with a nightstick. This very painful episode pushed Ray to the next level instead deterring him. He waited and waited and when the incident was no longer fresh in the officer’s mind, he pounced on him from behind while he was walking down the street. The brass knuckles Ray was wearing made quick work of the copper who curled up in the fetal position only to be kicked repeatedly. He was away from his beat for months after the attack. This incident made its way around underworld circles until it reached a local crime boss named Serafino Romeo. Serafino was Ray’s cousin’s stepfather but he chose to bring Ray into his business because he was tough and smart. Serafino was big in the vending machine rackets, so Ray quickly learned the game and soon he was off dealing with the customers. He received a draft notice and joined the Marines but because of an earlier foot injury he was Honorably discharged.
Once back on the street, Ray quickly picked up where he left off with Serafino, collecting cash and busting heads. Serafino saw that Ray was a capable guy so when he was meeting with crime boss Russel Buffalino and a problem needed to be taken care of, he lobbied for Ray to handle it. Buffalino was against it at first, but after listening to Serafino talk about young Ray he gave the okay. Ray went away for the weekend and took care of the problem. He did it without a hitch, but because he was the type of man who kept things to himself it would bother him for years.
Ray was on his way up in the Italian Underworld and soon he was putting together his own crew of like-minded young guys. Soon Ray and his fellow crew member Anthony "Cy" Sciotti were pulling down scores. They had learned how to bypass alarms and even crack safes. Things went well for the crew until someone dropped a dime on them one night and they were caught in the act. Ray was sentenced to 3 years in Rockview Penitentiary and this turned out to be a good thing, kind of like going away to college. Ray was locked up with many of the guys who would play great roles in his life. There were guys from the Cleveland Combination, Warren-Youngstown all run from Murray Hill in Cleveland. Ronnie "The Crab" Carabbia, Allie Calabrese, Frank "Skinny" Vellotta and many others. After he was released he made the trip to Murray Hill and met with Jack White Licavoli and John Scalish. The Cleveland bosses made a call to Russell Buffalino, who let them know know Ray was a capable guy.
They soon were pulling down large scores from jewelry stores and markets, bypassing the alarms and cracking the safes.
Ray then proved how capable he was to bosses. Jack White had been ripped off for 75k from a deadbeat who was hiding out inside his home which was a fortress. Ray dressed up like a priest and the man’s wife let him inside along with Julius Petro. Once inside, they grabbed the wife and found the deadbeat who begged for his life. The man then made another stupid move as if he was going for a pistol. Ray quickly shot him twice, one to the chest and the other in the head. The widow quickly showed them where they kept the cash so they tied her up and left with the cash. This made Ray in Cleveland because he did the work and brought back the cash.
Ray was never one to sit idle so when a former engraver from the US mint came to him with a proposition he jumped on it. The guy could make perfect plates for 20's and 100's and soon they were moving it all the way in Las Vegas. Thanks to some Chicago Outfit connections they were able to pass a lot of the cash in the count rooms of casinos for the next two years. Then, like all criminal enterprises, it had to end and he moved on to other rackets.
Ray came up just like most Mafia Associates except he was able to put in the work when asked. It is a falsehood that all Mafia men are killers. Many take part in murders as a driver or back up shooter but few can pull the trigger. So Ray was special, much like his friend Jimmy Frattiano, who was also a killer.
Bosses love to use guys like Ray and Jimmy but when they are not being useful they are being feared.
Next week I will show you just how much honor the Mafia really has for its men. They use everyone and then they discard them, and this is why they are in so much trouble today.