When I find myself thinking back to the time I spent around the guys in the Los Angeles Mafia family, it makes me sad that they are all gone now. They were a link to a bygone era that can only be understood if you were there. The mafia does not publish books about the reign of each regime. All we had was the oral history passed down from one guy to another.
Some scholars working with law enforcement will write about the family but they will not understand how it worked or what the men were really like in person. The law enforcement version only contains what they know about the family from looking at them during various investigations. These scholars are just people that make things up to fit their theory of how they think it really worked.
John Vaccaro was the last of the active guys that were inducted into the family after Dominic Brooklier went away. He worked with the Boss Pete Milano when Pete was still a Capo. Pete was always big in the gambling and John was a gambler.
John spearheaded the takeover of the restaurant in the 9000 building on Sunset to use as a gambling joint. He was said to be in on the planning to get rid of John and Frances Dubeck, who were murdered before they could testify outside their Las Vegas apartment.
John passed away November 16, 2015 at just 75 years old. He had lived the last 12 years in Boulder City, Nevada where he enjoyed fishing.
He had done a long stretch for cheating casinos out of hundreds of thousand of dollars by fixing slots and games.
He was one of the few that knew and worked with the legendary New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello.
I never met John because he was away for so long. I can tell you that he was well respected in the family. Louie Gelfuso and his son Michael both spoke highly of him.
Jimmy Caci liked him and had nothing but good things to say about him.
The singing soldier Bobby Milano aka Charles Caci never had a bad word to say about him.
John was also in the Black Book in Nevada along with Steve Cino, Mike Rizzi and Louie Dragna. This means he was not allowed to set foot inside a casino.
The Mafia Families across the country are either dying off or going deep underground. A lot are going back to what they started as. Secret Societies that only induce people who are related. Some like what is left of Los Angeles are run by Sicilians who do not mix well with the Americans.
The old guys who are no longer around were from the 1970’s which was the end of the golden age of the mafia. Jimmy, Fat Stevie and Bobby Milano worked closely with the Buffalo family. When they came to Southern California they did the right thing and checked in with the boss.
Outsiders never understand it's not about the size of the family it's about respect. Every family was equal. Some of the Los Angeles guys did business with the Denver Mafia family and I'm talking about right up to the 2000’s. I was introduced to a guy named Paulie and his nephew from Denver. I was told that Paulie was just like Pete Milano meaning Paulie was the boss. The Los Angeles guy bought into a hotel in Las Vegas and they bought a piece of land on the strip in Las Vegas together with Paulie. I was told by the FBI that Denver had no family. Yet I met Paulie with Jimmy Caci, Steve Cino and Louie Gelfuso not at the same time and they all described Paulie the same to me. They all respected him.
Bobby Milano settled in Palm Springs and after Jimmy was released from prison he followed. Pete Milano wanted him in the family so Jimmy was in.
There were other guys like Mike Rizzi and the Fiatos. The Fiatos are still alive but Mike Rizzi is gone.
I am glad I got to know the Los Angeles guys, but it is my past. I value the information that I learned but I never want to live the way I did back then.
The passing of John Vaccaro is the end of the that era. There are a few guys left like Rocky Zangari who was a bad drunk and moved back east. He may be dead. Louie Caruso who is a lot younger. John DiMattia may still be around. Fat Bobby Paduano was alive in Orange County but he was never inducted.
Will the last Los Angeles Mafia guy please turn out the lights