This page contains entries for two underworld figures named Lombardo: Antonio Lombardo was a friend of Al Capone and the president of Chicago's Unione Siciliana until his death in 1928. Phil Lombardo is believed to have served as Genovese Crime Family boss in New York during the 1970s.
? to Sept. 1928.
Lombardo, a trusted Capone adviser and perhaps his organization's consigliere, was one of the tools used by Capone in his effort to take over Chicago's Unione Siciliana.
In the chaos following Unione leader Mike Merlo's death in 1924, Samuel Amatuna briefly held the presidency of the Sicilian organization. Amatuna got in the way of some bullets just two days after the first anniversary of Merlo's death, and the Unione leadership was once again vacant.
According to legend, Capone, who had taken over Johnny Torrio's operations in January of that year, used his influence to shove Lombardo into the president's chair. Reportedly many objected to the move but were too fearful of Capone's wrath to oppose it.
The legend is probably inaccurate. Capone's authority within the Chicago underworld was limited at the time. However, it could be the case that Lombardo - a respected figure in the immigrant Sicilian community - took Capone under his wing.
Legend says that, by 1926, Lombardo was preparing the way for a direct takeover of the Unione by Capone. He opened the membership to non-Sicilian Italians, allowing the Neapolitan Capone to become a member. The organization changed its name locally to the Italo-American National Union.
But membership rules of the old Unione seem not to have excluded non-Sicilian Italians. And one account of the organization's name change indicated that it was to remove the false impression that only Sicilians were allowed in. The only membership prohibition seems to have been a rule against admitting those convicted of felonies.
Frankie Yale of Brooklyn, once a strong Capone friend, was apparently angered by the changes. (Some sources say Yale was national president of the Unione Siciliana. It is doubtful that he actually ran the social organization. However, he could have been a presiding officer of the Sicilian underworld network that used Unione as a front.). Yale's relationship with Capone deteriorated.
By 1927, Capone's meddling in the Unione and his aggressiveness in the Chicago rackets had forced the Aiello Brothers into an alliance with the North Side Gang against Capone. In January 1928, Yale reportedly demanded that Lombardo surrender the local Unione presidency to Joe Aiello. That did not happen.
What did happen was the murder of Yale in New York on July 1. Capone is suspected of masterminding the killing of his old friend.
The Sicilian underworld in Chicago took aim at Lombardo and blew him away in early September. Lombardo's funeral was elaborate, in the gangland tradition. Mourners lined the streets, and floral decorations filled his home and spilled out onto the lawn. An enormous floral heart containing the words, "My Pal," was provided by Capone.
After Lombardo, there followed a succession of short-lived presidents of the Chicago Unione, and the Unione itself began to diminish in importance.
c. 1908 to 1987.
One of the more shadowy figures in the New York City underworld, Phil Lombardo was reportedly the boss of the Genovese crime family from 1972 to about 1981.
Lombardo is said to have taken over as boss of the family after the July 16, 1972, assassination of Gambino-antagonist Thomas Eboli. Carlo Gambino selected Frank "Funzi" Tieri to be the next Genovese boss, but it seems the rank and file supported Lombardo instead.
Lombardo saw advantage to allowing Tieri to serve as a front man. It deflected law enforcement attention from Lombardo, and it kept the Gambino clan happy. Lombardo also used Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno to screen his underworld activities.
About 1981, Lombardo retired to Florida. It is believed that he quietly passed control of the Genovese crime family to Vincent "the Chin" Gigante.
© 2007 T.Hunt
The American "Mafia"