American Mafia History Website

American Mafia Website - Western New York Bosses

The existence of Mafiosi in western New York became apparent with the April 1903 discovery of a murdered Buffalo man within a barrel on a New York City sidewalk. Authorities learned that Benedetto Madonia was involved with a counterfeiting run by Manhattan-based Mafia boss of bosses Giuseppe Morello. At its height, the reach of The Arm - as the Mafia of western New York became known - extended into Ontario, Canada, the Erie region of Pennsylvania and across New York State to the Binghamton area.

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Giuseppe DiCarlo

1907 - Giuseppe DiCarlo (Oct. 18, 1873, to July 9, 1922). DiCarlo's documented presence in western New York dates from March 1907. A New York City resident until then, DiCarlo was noted crossing the U.S.-Canada border at Niagara Falls. DiCarlo and his family relocated from New York City to Buffalo the following year. There are solid reasons for believing that DiCarlo was an associate of Manhattan-based Mafia boss of bosses Giuseppe Morello before this move. As DiCarlo, who had family roots in the Vallelunga-Valledolmo area of Sicily, organized rackets in the Buffalo area, he cooperated closely with a growing faction of Mafiosi from the Castellammare del Golfo region of Sicily.

1911 - Bendetto Angelo "Buffalo Bill" Palmeri, originally of Castellammare del Golfo, moved from New York City to Buffalo and became an important lieutenant in the DiCarlo regime. Two years later, Palmeri married into the DiCarlo family and moved into the DiCarlo household. In 1917, Palmeri moved his family to Niagara Falls.

1920 - As a gateway between Canada and the United States, Buffalo was a key city for the early U.S. Mafia. It became even more important as a conduit for alcoholic beverages during Prohibition. (A Calabrian smuggling network was already in place - due to earlier Canadian Prohibition measures - and was fully prepared to exploit U.S. restrictions on the alcohol trade.) In this period, the Buffalo region was closely linked to Cleveland (where there also existed a sizeable population of Vallelunghesi). As the U.S. Prohibition Era opened, Castellammarese Mafioso Filippo Mazzara arrived in Buffalo. The following year, he was joined by his relative Giuseppe DiBenedetto.


Stefano Magaddino

1922 - Stefano Magaddino (Oct. 10, 1891, to July 19, 1974). At the time of Giuseppe DiCarlo's death, the Castellammarese Mafia faction in western New York was substantial and included a number of influential figures. Magaddino, recognized as a leader of the Castellammaresi in America, was called upon to relocate to the Buffalo area and become the regional Mafia boss. Magaddino, well known in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Chicago, had traveled through the western New York region previously and had a warm relationship with former boss DiCarlo. At first reluctant to accept the underworld post, Magaddino eventually was convinced. He purchased property in Niagara Falls and began construction on a home.

1930 - Magaddino sent money and men to aid Salvatore Maranzano in his New York City war against boss of bosses Giuseppe Masseria in 1930-31. Following the war, as Maranzano had himself installed as the new boss of bosses and demanded tribute payments from crime families across the country, Magaddino's feelings toward Maranzano soured.

1932 - Magaddino was appointed as one of just seven U.S. Mafia bosses on the new conflict-resolving Commission. It appears likely that he took the place of Cleveland boss Frank Milano, after Milano was disgraced by his apparent approval of the murders of several Pittsburgh underworld leaders.

1964 - John Montana, Magaddino underboss with great influence in the Buffalo area, died.


Salvatore Pieri

1969 - Salvatore Pieri (Jan. 29, 1911, to Aug. 24, 1981). Believing the aging Niagara Falls-based Magaddino was taking an unfair share of their profits while providing little to the organization, lieutenants in the city of Buffalo pulled away from Magaddino's leadership. Pieri, brother-in-law and longtime ally of Joseph DiCarlo (son of the late crime boss Giuseppe DiCarlo), was selected as acting boss of the breakaway faction. Joseph Fino was selected as acting underboss. Joseph DiCarlo served as acting consigliere. Much of Stefano Magaddino's organization defected to the Pieri camp.

1974 - During Pieri's imprisonment in the early 1970s, his leadership of the breakaway Buffalo faction was challenged by John Cammilleri. Cammilleri was murdered on May 8, 1974. On July 19, 1974, Magaddino died of natural causes at the age of 82.

1980-1981 - Pieri's hold on the Buffalo underworld was weakened considerably with the death of Joseph DiCarlo in October 1980. The Buffalo crime family fragmented after Pieri's death the following year.


Sam Frangiamore

1981 - Sam Frangiamore (Aug. 7, 1905, to Nov. 28, 1999). During Sam Pieri imprisonments, Frangiamore served as acting boss of the Buffalo Crime Family. He was identified as a leader of a Frangiamore-Todaro underworld faction. Some believe Frangiamore briefly held command of the Buffalo Mafia after Sam Pieri's death, as the old Pieri-DiCarlo faction diminished in importance.


Joseph Todaro Sr.

1984 - Joseph "Lead Pipe Joe" Todaro (Sept. 18, 1923, to Dec. 26, 2012). The nephew of Sam Frangiamore, Joseph Todaro Sr. is believed to have taken control of crime family operations in the Buffalo area following Frangiamore's retirement.