The American Mafia

Crime Bosses
of Buffalo / Niagara Falls


Niagara Falls
("The Arm")

Buffalo territory

Map approximates the territory of the Buffalo crime family.

1910 - Angelo Palmeri (1878 to 1932). At least one source claims that Palmeri, immigrant from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, organized a Mafia family in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls region about 1910. Palmeri was reportedly a respected old-school Mafioso, who settled into an advisory role from Niagara Falls as others rose to lead the Buffalo family.

Joseph DiCarlo Jr.

1916 - Giuseppe DiCarlo (1873 to July 9, 1922). Born in Vallelunga, Sicily, DiCarlo arrived in Buffalo in 1908. By the start of the Prohibition Era, DiCarlo was established boss of the Sicilian underworld in the Buffalo area. He reportedly had a significant number of immigrants from Castellammare, Sicily, in his organization. DiCarlo's son, Joseph Jr. (right), followed him into the "family business."

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 quality alcoholic beverages during Prohibition. The Buffalo region was closely linked to Cleveland (where there also existed a sizeable population of Vallelunghesi) during the 1920s.

1921 - Stefano Magaddino (Oct. 10, 1891, to July 19, 1974). Magaddino likely had relatives (or fellow Castellammarese countrymen) in Buffalo when he fled to that area from Brooklyn in the early 1920s. He immediately became a major player in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls underworld and might have become boss as early as 1922, when Giuseppe DiCarlo died of a heart attack. Magaddino retained a level of control over his former Brooklyn organization for a decade. He continued to have interests in New York City after that, as he had family ties with the Bonanno clan.

Stefano Magaddino

1930 - Magaddino had sufficient resources to dedicate money and men to the Maranzano-Masseria Castellammarese War in New York City.

1931 - Magaddino's importance to the budding national Syndicate was revealed as he was given a seat at the underworld's ruling commission.

1940s - Magaddino's Buffalo family and Bonanno's New York family extended their rackets to the Canadian side of the border. (The family had some Canadian resources dating back through Prohibition.) Magaddino also moved into some Ohio territory. The Buffalo family generated income through gambling and labor rackets. John Montana, born in Montedore, was a key figure in Magaddino's operations.

1950s - Fred G. "the Wolf" Randaccio (July 1, 1907 to Oct. 4, 2004). Palermo-born Randaccio (known as Fred Lupo) assumed control of some day-to-day operations in the mid-1950s. Some believe Randaccio participated in a conspiracy against U.S. President John Kennedy.

1964 - John Montana, key figure in Magaddino's organization, died.

1967 - Fred Randaccio was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Buffalo region began to come under the influence of Scranton, PA, boss Russell Bufalino. Bufalino had interests in northern Pennsylvania, western New York State and Canada.

1969 - Believing the aging Niagara Falls-based Magaddino was taking an unfair share of their profits while providing little to the organization, capos in the city of Buffalo pull away from Magaddino's leadership. Salvatore Pieri and Joe Fino are leaders of the rebel Buffalo regimes.

Salvatore Pieri

1970 - Salvatore Pieri (Jan. 29, 1911, to Aug. 24, 1981). Buffalo-born Salvatore Pieri and his brother Joseph appear to have headed a faction of a fractured Buffalo-Niagara crime family until at least 1981, when Salvatore died. Salvatore Pieri's influence was limited due to legal problems (especially after 1978, when he pleaded guilty to gambling charges) and the reluctance of the underworld Commission to acknowledge him as leader while Magaddino lived. The Pieris appear to have been aligned with Sam Frangiamore.

1972 - Sam "the Farmer" Frangiamore (Aug. 7, 1905, to Nov. 28, 1999). As the Buffalo region mob broke into factions, Frangiamore was regarded as an acting boss. His leadership in the region would not be recognized by the underworld Commission until after Stefano Magaddino's death in 1974. By then, the boss designation carried little weight.

1974 - Stefano Magaddino, survivor of numerous assassination attempts, died of natural causes on July 19, 1974. He was 82 years old. Frangiamore was recognized by the commission as boss, but his local authority was limited.

1975 - Joe Fino (March 13, 1915, to March 13, 1984). Fino appears to have briefly served in a nominal boss role until forced into retirement by his rivals.

1981 - Joseph "Lead Pipe Joe" Todaro (1923 to ?). Pieri's 1981 death allowed Joseph Todaro to take over as boss in Buffalo. Some sources indicate that Joseph Pieri served as boss for a half dozen years before giving way to Todaro. Authorities believe Todaro's son, Joseph Jr., has aided him in administering the Buffalo underworld in recent years, though neither has been convicted of a crime.