#21: Illegal FBI Wiretaps, the Kennedy Brothers, and the Mafia


We cover instances of FBI wiretaps picking up mobster conversations related to both the FBI in the early 1960's and the Kennedy brothers pre-and-post JFK's assassination.

We share and help you interpret excerpts from the 1978-1979 Senate report entitled, "House Select Committee on Assassinations: Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy" which breaks down possible mob-involvement in the 1963 assassination of the 35th President John F. Kennedy, as well as other potential players and scenarios.

We briefly cover the mob's involvement in the election of the 35th president, and discuss his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, who was named Attorney General in the early 1960's, and who'd launched an all-out war on the American Mafia, spear-headed by advancements within the FBI focused on the outing Cosa Nostra in this country.

Robert F. Kennedy's efforts led to significant increases in legal action against the Mafia across the United States, and put immense pressure on many of the mob's key players.

We briefly touch on the findings of the 1964 Warren Commission, and then dive into the wiretaps, first sharing more well-known stories, but then sharing lesser-known conversations.

Mobsters mentioned in this episode include:

  • Carlos Marcello
  • Santo Trafficante, Jr.
  • Sam Giancana
  • Charles "Chuckie" English
  • Tony Accardo
  • Jackie Cerone
  • Dominic "Butch" Blasi
  • Stefano Magaddino
  • Peter Magaddino
  • Antonio Magaddino
  • Sam Rangatore
  • Fred Randaccio
  • Anthony DeStafano
  • Carlo Gambino
  • Carmine Lombardozzi
  • Mike Scandifia
  • Peter "Petey Pumps" Ferrara
  • Michelino "Big Mike" Clemente
  • Angelo Bruno
  • Charles "Pinky" Costello
  • Salvatore Maggio
  • Peter Maggio
  • Mario Maggio
  • Willie Weisburg
  • Morris Schlitten
  • Joe Magliocco
  • Sal Profaci
  • Joe Biondo
  • Joseph Riccobono
  • Joseph Valachi
  • Russell Bufalino

Others mentioned:

  • Ed Becker
  • Frank Ragano
  • James Riddle Hoffa
  • Jack Ruby
  • Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Michael Fiorito
  • John D'Arco
  • Anthony DeTolve
  • Madeline Costello
  • Selwyn Raab
  • Ben Golub
  • Harry Zimand

So it’s clear that they, the Mafia, had the means and the motive to commit the crime. But did they actually play a part in it? My personal opinion is that maybe they were the primary executioners, but we’d be naïve to believe that they played no part at all.

That being said, we may never actually know the truth until the government releases every single record, many of which are still classified to this day, about the plot.

Until then, I’ll let you decide.

Episode Transcript


“WEISBURG: See what Kennedy done. With Kennedy, a guy should take a knife, like one of them other guys, and stab and kill the [obscenity], where he is now. Somebody should kill the [obscenity]. I mean it. This is true. Honest to God. It’s about time to go. But I tell you something. I hope I get a week’s notice. I’ll kill. Right in the [obscenity] in the White House. Somebody’s got to get rid of this [obscenity].”


Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of The Member’s Only Podcast. I am your host Jacob Stoops, and I’m a mob enthusiast and historian.

In today’s episode, which will be a little different than my typical biographical content, I am going to wade into the controversial waters of one of the darkest days in American history—that being the Kennedy assassination.

We’re going to do our best to shy away from the more broad conspiracy theories, but dig deep into what many mobsters around the country were picked up saying about the Kennedy’s and the FBI both before and after the assassination, much of which is not commonly known because it’s been buried in old government documents since the late 1970’s.

For those familiar with the mob genre, some of the comments are well-known and we’ll certainly talk about those, but the bulk of the episode will focus on comments that even hardcore mob enthusiasts have probably never heard before.

This episode is also a little bit timely as there was an article just released on May 27, 2023 by the New York Post claiming the feds have long hidden film that could prove ‘grassy knoll’ conspiracy, the implication of course being that this would prove that there was indeed a second shooter.

So, even 60 years after the fact, this topic is still riveting to the public.

But before we get into the episode, I’d like to remind you to hit that subscribe button and turn on the bell to get notifications. If you’re already a subscriber, please share the show to help my small but mighty Mafia channel grow! If you’re listening to the audio only version, please leave a review and let me know what you think!

Alright, time to get our hands dirty with a little Kennedy-related Mafia talk!  

The Kennedy’s Crusade

So, I’ll admit. I had no grand plans to do a Kennedy episode. I was not looking for it. And just like a few of my other episodes, the background of where this episode came from was a result of doing research for something else.

That something else of course was the research for my recent episode on The Rise of Angelo Bruno. During the course of that research, I happened to stumble across an amazing government report that went very deep into the organized crime connections to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy among other things. 

While I won’t be getting too far into the assassination of Kennedy and various conspiracy theories which are sure to rile people up, I do plan to shed light on some wiretapped conversations that were happening between mobsters in the early 1960’s preceding JFK’s death, and in the immediate aftermath of his assassination.

Now, for those of you that were alive in 1979 and old enough to follow these hearings, entitled the, ‘House Select Committee on Assassinations: Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,’ you may remember that they were a more serious look at the assassination and the alleged ties between Organized Crime and the murder of the 35th President. 

For those like myself who weren’t born or were too young to remember, this Committee in 1978 and 1979 was the third major governmental effort to dig deeper into the assassination, and was geared towards fact-checking the conclusions of the Warren Commission, which was a highly criticized review and report from 1963-1964, as well as The Church Committee in 1975-1976 which immediately followed the Watergate Scandal and was the report that helped uncover the ties relating to the CIA’s recruitment of the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro.

So, by its very nature, there’s a lot of intrigue.

Now, among the many conclusions of the 1964 Warren Commission's were:

  1. The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired from the sixth-floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository.
  2. President Kennedy was first struck by a bullet which entered at the back of his neck and exited through the lower front portion of his neck, causing a wound which would not necessarily have been lethal. The President was struck by a second bullet, which entered the right-rear portion of his head, causing a massive and fatal wound.
  3. The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald. Governor Connally was struck by a bullet which entered on the right side of his back and traveled downward through the right side of his chest, exiting below his right nipple. This bullet then passed through his right wrist and entered his left thigh where it caused a superficial wound.
  4. There is no credible evidence that the shots were fired from the Triple Underpass, ahead of the motorcade, or from any other location.
  5. The weight of the evidence indicates that there were three shots fired.
  6. The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.
  7. Jack Ruby, a known associate of both the Chicago and Dallas Mafia families, entered the basement of the Dallas Police Department and killed Lee Harvey Oswald. However, the report stated they believed there was no evidence to support the rumor that Ruby may have been assisted by any members of the Dallas Police Department.
  8. The Commission has found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy.
  9. The Commission has found no evidence of conspiracy, subversion, or disloyalty to the U.S. Government by any Federal, State, or local official.
  10. The Commission could not make any definitive determination of Oswald's motives.

Now, like I said, I am NOT going to get into all of the conspiracy theories related to the assassination, but I will generally say that I 100% agree with the House Select Committee’s findings in 1978-1979 that Oswald and an unknown assassin killed Kennedy and that the killing was probably as a result of a conspiracy. I believe that there is a fair amount of evidence that supports this including audio and video. But again, that’s just me.

And in the 1978-1979 report, you will see several prominent mobsters not really being shy about their various thoughts and feelings with respect to the Kennedy’s who they largely viewed as having betrayed the very organization that helped to get them elected in the first place after agreeing to help swing votes at the request of the father, Joe Kennedy (who was quite a scumbag).

And of course for those that aren’t aware of how things got there let me give a quick overview. Iin the run up to the 1960 election, Joe Kennedy had swung a backroom deal with the mob (most prominently the Chicago Outfit) in return for helping to get John F. Kennedy elected whereby Joe Kennedy allegedly promised to curb the activities of his son, Bobby, who in the late 1950’s had been a thorn in the side of the mob. In addition to this, he supposedly promised other favorable concessions to make life easier for the Mafia, and many now believe that he made promises that he never really intended to keep. 

However, once in office JFK appointed his brother to the post of Attorney General and Bobby Kennedy essentially went after the mob, with arrests increasing something like 800 or 900%, thus breaking the promises of his father, Joe Kennedy and incurring the enmity of many powerful mobsters around the country.

Here was what I thought was a very good synopsis on where the government and specifically the Kennedy brothers stood publicly in around 1960 with respect to organized crime:


“By 1960, the FBI had accumulated substantial knowledge about Italian organized criminal groups. For example, it obtained the first evidence that these groups were nationally directed as one organization. This information came from electronic surveillance of Sam Giancana, head of the Chicago family. Giancana was heard to say that the Apalachin meeting had been a gathering of something called, ‘The Commission.’ He indicated that he himself was a member, and he named others, identifiable as crime leaders from New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New England, who had also been at Apalachin. The FBI file noted:

CH-T-1* advised in September 1959 of the existence of a small group of persons representing criminal groups in various sections of the United States and referred to as ‘The Commission.’

* ‘T’ numbers are assigned to confidential sources; CH-T-1, then, is a principal source for the Chicago Field Division of the FBI

Other early information gathered as part of the top hoodlum program was:

N.Y. T-12 advised in December 1959, of a rite of membership in said criminal organization.

Nevertheless, the FBI did not make organized crime a top priority until the Kennedy administration arrived in Washington.

A. La Cosa Nostra and the Kennedy administration

President Kennedy’s direct involvement in the effort to combat organized crime dated back, as noted earlier, to his participation in the McClellan Committee labor racketeering investigation. With the advent of his administration, organized crime investigations were assigned a high priority. Kennedy had named his brother as Attorney General, and Robert Kennedy was equally interested in breaking up organized crime. His concern, too, dated back to the McClellan Committee.

As a first step, Robert Kennedy dramatically expanded the number of attorneys in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and made clear to the FBI that organized crime was to be a high priority. The category within which these investigations were carried at Justice was shown in FBI files to be A.R., or antiracketeering. He also put together a list of 40 organized crime figures who were to be targeted for investigation. This was soon followed by a second list of 40. The Attorney General quickly requested new legislation to improve the Department’s ability to attack organized crime.

B. Intelligence operations

A major focus of the new effort at Justice was intelligence gathering. The top hoodlum program was expanded and became the criminal intelligence program. Records indicated the creation of file No. 92-6054 at FBI headquarters, evidence of the increased attention being paid the Mafia. Originally called ‘The Criminal Commission et al.,’ it was renamed ‘La Causa Nostra.’ Special agents were directed to obtain intelligence concerning the existence of a national crime organization. The FBI soon began to employ widely the intelligence-gathering techniques that had long been used in domestic security and counterintelligence operations, to wit, physical surveillance, electronic surveillance and confidential informants.

The FBI also began to develop a strategy that would correspond to the nature of the criminal organization it was facing. An agent was assigned at all times to each targeted crime figure, a one-on-one coverage that was a luxury beyond the resources of local police departments, even those concerned about organized crime. Special agents were to work under a coordinator who would supervise activities directed at criminals known to be associated with each other. As a national agency, the FBI was also able to coordinate intelligence gathered throughout the United States and incorporate it into a complete national picture.”

*End Quote*

The report would go on to notate the successes of RFK’s strategy, which is going to provide the impetus for this episode:


C. A successful operation

The FBI’s intelligence operation against organized crime must be characterized as a success. In a comparatively short time, ‘live’ sources were being noted in field office reports, some identified as ‘members’ of the criminal organization under investigation. Important crime figures in leadership positions had also become unwitting informants—as their conversations about the associations and activities of their peers were monitored by electronic surveillance ‘bugs’ in many parts of the United States.* This information was supplemented by the results of more traditional investigations. The FBI established liaison with reliable local law enforcement officials, with whom joint operations, exchanges of information, and other cooperative efforts were effected.”

*End Quote*

It should be pointed out that these wiretaps at the time were very, very illegal, but it still gave the FBI a way to quickly get up to speed after years of having the Mafia languishing as a lower priority behind Communism and other priorities under the leadership of one, J. Edgar Hoover. 

It should also be noted that Hoover and the Kennedy’s were alleged to have hated each other, but at this point in time he really had no choice but to get on board or else.

According to the report, the results of the Kennedy program were clear, and mobsters were not happy. Between 1960 (prior to the Kennedy administration) and 1963, there was:

  • A 250% increase in the number of attorneys—from 17 to 60
  • More than a 900% increase in days in the field—from 660 to 6,172
  • A 1,250% increase in days in grand jury—from 100 to 1,353
  • A 1,700% increase in days in court—from 61 to 1,081

And from 1961 to 1963, there was:

  • A 500% increase in defendants indicted—from 121 to 615
  • A 400% increase in defendants convicted—from 73 to 288

Now, on one hand, if you’re looking objectively you really do have to commend Bobby Kennedy’s law enforcement strategies, which when you consider that fact that he was not really qualified to be in the position he was in, somewhat revolutionized the standard operating procedures on how to combat an organization as deeply rooted as the American Mafia was at that time. 

Though a lot of RFK’s work would cease after the assassination of his brother, and the Mafia would receive a stay of execution in which it would extend its Golden Age well into the 1980’s, it did set the stage for future law enforcement ventures and seriously challenged the Mafia’s national dominance for really the first time since Thomas Dewey in the 1930’s.

The flip side of that equation is that JFK and RFK had broken the promise made by their father, and in doing so created mortal enemies not just within the Mafia but inside their own government. The full-court press that they launched would step on many toes and would (in my opinion) ultimately lead to the plot that would end the life of John F. Kennedy in 1963, and probably the life of Robert Kennedy in 1968 (though that is also another conspiracy for another day).

By the way, if you’re looking for a highly detailed background on just who the Kennedy’s were, I highly recommend you go over to Jeff Canarsie’s paid platform (Mob Talk Radio) and listen to his recent series on the Kennedy Crime Family as he calls them. Jeff takes you all the way through the roots of the family going all the way back to Joe’s father P.J. Kennedy and brings you through all the dastardly deeds all the way up to the circumstances of the assassination. It’s one of the most detailed podcasts that I have personally heard so I recommend you go over there and try it out.

Now, what I think you’re going to see pretty clearly is that the Mafia had the means and the motive at that time to play a part in the assassination. Again, I’m not going to go so far as to say they were the ones who did it. I think there’s a lot of people on many sides of the fence and a lot of potential players in the game so to speak as I believe the Kennedy’s by that point had many enemies and I’ve heard rumors of involvement from other governmental agencies like the CIA. 

However, when I share some of these stories with you, many of which are among the lesser known comments and not the more famous “We killed the wrong Kennedy” comments, I think you’ll agree that at minimum they weren’t happy, but more likely than not they had murder on their mind whether they played a part or not.

And ultimately we’ll never know who did it, but it’s fun to take a look back into history and play armchair quarterback so to speak.

The Mob Is Wiretapped: What Were They Saying About the Kennedys (and the FBI)?

I’m about to share excerpts from the report, and I can promise you it’s a treasure trove of colorful commentary, plots and intrigue and I highly recommend it if you have the time to read it yourself and are a glutton for what others might consider to be somewhat boring ready material (I’ll be sure to link it in the sources on my website).

Of course for those in the mob genre, the comments coming from the likes of Santo Trafficante and Carlos Marcello, who had actually been kidnapped and dropped in Guatemala by Federal Agents, are more well-known.

For those that aren’t familiar, I’ll share probably the most commonly known story which pertains to Carlos Marcello, the Boss of New Orleans. According to a man named Ed Becker, in 1963 Marcello allegedly issued a very serious threat regarding the Kennedy brothers. The 1978-1979 Senate report contained the following with respect to Becker and Marcello, much of which is a more well-known story:


“Becker stated that he and Roppolo met with Marcello on three or four occasions in connection with the proposed business deal and that Marcello made his comments about President Kennedy during the first or second meeting. The meetings transpired between sometime in September 1962 and roughly January 1963. Only the three of them had been present during two or three of the meetings, but a Marcello aide named ‘Liverde,’ a barber, had also been present once.

Becker stated that Marcello had made his remarks about the Kennedy brothers after Becker said something to the effect that ‘Bobby Kennedy is really giving you a rough time.’ He could not recall the exact words Marcello used in threatening President Kennedy, but believed the account in Reid’s book ‘is basically correct.’

Marcello was very angry and had ‘clearly stated that he was going to arrange to have President Kennedy murdered in some way.’ Marcello’s statement had been made in a serious tone and sounded as if he had discussed it previously to some extent. Becker commented that Marcello had made some kind of reference to President Kennedy’s being a dog and Attorney General Robert Kennedy the dog’s tail, and had said ‘the dog will keep biting you if you only cut off its tail,’ but that if the dog’s head were cut off, the dog would die.

Becker stated that Marcello also made some kind of reference to the way in which he allegedly wanted to arrange the President’s murder. Marcello ‘clearly indicated’ that his own lieutenants must not be identified as the assassins, and that there would thus be a necessity to have them use or manipulate someone else to carry out the actual crime.

Becker said that Marcello’s alleged remarks about assassinating the President lasted only a few minutes during the course of the meeting, which went 1 to 2 hours. Marcello had spoken in Sicilian phrases during parts of the meeting and had grown angry at one point in the discussion of their proposed business deal.

Becker said that although he and Roppollo met with Marcello on two or three more occasions following this meeting, they never again discussed President Kennedy. (Becker added that the oil additive business deal never came to fruition)

Becker told the committee that while he believed Marcello had been serious when he spoke of wanting to have the President assassinated, he did not believe the Mafia leader was capable of carrying it out or had the opportunity to do so. He emphasized that while he was disturbed by Marcello’s comments at the time, he had grown accustomed to hearing criminal figures make threats against adversaries.”

*End Quote*

In fact, according to a 2013 New York Post article, on Dec. 15, 1985, Marcello allegedly confessed to a fellow inmate — who happened to be an informant for the FBI — while serving time on federal charges at Texarkana. 

According to an FBI memo released in 2006, he said this about JFK: 


“Yeah, I had the son of a bitch killed. I’m glad I did. I’m sorry I couldn’t have done it myself.”

*End Quote*

And of course there is also Santo Trafficante, the Don of Tampa, Florida, who has also been long-rumored to have played a part in the planning of the Kennedy assassination. 

According to reports, Trafficante told a close friend, a man named Jose Aleman the following:


"Mark my word, this man Kennedy is in trouble, and he will get what is coming to him. Kennedy's not going to make it to the election. He is going to be hit."


And of course there are the well-known ties to one James Riddle Hoffa, who’d had a very personal ongoing feud with Bobby Kennedy for years. 

On 14th January, 1992, the New York Post article (which has since been removed) claimed that Trafficante, Jimmy Hoffa and Carlos Marcello had all been involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

Frank Ragano, who had been a long-time lawyer to Trafficante, Hoffa, and others, was quoted as saying that at the beginning of 1963 Hoffa had told him to take a message to Trafficante and Marcello concerning a plan to kill Kennedy. When the meeting took place at the Royal Orleans Hotel, Ragano told the men the following: 


"You won't believe what Hoffa wants me to tell you. Jimmy wants you to kill the president." 

*End Quote*

He reported that both men gave the impression that they intended to carry out this order.

In his autobiography, Mob Lawyer, released in 1994 and co-written with famed Mafia author Selwyn Raab, Frank Ragano added that in July of 1963, he was once again sent to New Orleans by Hoffa to meet Trafficante and Carlos Marcello concerning plans to kill President John F. Kennedy. When Kennedy was killed Hoffa apparently said the following to Ragano: 


"I told you that they could do it. I'll never forget what Carlos and Santos did for me…This means Bobby is out as Attorney General."

*End Quote* 

Marcello later told Ragano: 


"When you see Jimmy [Hoffa], you tell him he owes me and he owes me big."

*End Quote*

Also, according to Ragano, Trafficante shortly before his death in 1987 admitted his involvement in the conspiracy, allegedly while Ragano had been driving the mob boss around Tampa.

According to Ragano, Trafficante said the following (which I’ve translated from Sicilian to English):


"Carlos e futtutu. Non duvevamu ammazzar a Giovanni. Duvevamu ammazzari a Bobby." 

"Carlos messed up. We shouldn't have killed Giovanni [John]. We should have killed Bobby."

*End Quote*

And as you might expect, Ragano claimed to have been shocked by the admission. That said, there have been many over the years who’ve claimed this story was all made up, and I’m not necessarily here to pick one side or the other. I’m more or less relaying these more common stories so that listeners who maybe aren’t as familiar can have somewhat of a picture painted of what’s been said before in the genre.

And you have to admit that goddamn it’s explosive for sure! But whether the stories are true has always been very hard to say as Becker, Ragano, and others have had many who questioned their motives and claimed their information was self-serving and unreliable. Ragano was trying to sell a book so of course every book sells more when the stories are more salacious.

Personally, these stories and the wording used seems like it would be hard to just make up, but like I said, I’m not going to attempt to discern any of that here and now.

Now, for the rest of the episode, my focus is going to be on some of the lesser known comments that were picked up by the FBi and subsequently reported in the 1978-1979 Hearings.

Now, there are quite a few obscenities scattered throughout that we simply marked as an obscenity without actually saying what the words were, so I’m just letting you know that I’m going to try to guess the right curse word for the quote. So if you have kids, earmuffs.

So we’ll start with none other than Sam Giancana, front-boss in Chicago. 

In February of 1963, a decision was made to replace First Ward City Alderman John D’Arco who at some point had displeased one, Tony Accardo. Not someone you want mad at you. The first choice to replace him was a man named Anthony DeTolve, but Giancana ultimately decided to instead back a man named Michael Fiorito. 

This decision involved a minor difficulty as DeTolve had already been officially designated as his party’s choice, and it was too late to change that selection on the official ballot. As a result Giancana decided to run Fiorito as an independent write-in candidate for City Alderman. So…a long-shot, unless you’re the mob.

Giancana was strongly committed to getting Fiorito elected, and the Outfit turned out the vote, resulting in Fiorito, a late write-in candidate for City Alderman, somehow winning by a large majority. On February 28, 1963, Sam Giancana, pleased with the outcome, was heard to say the following regarding his nemesis, Bobby Kennedy:


“That will teach that little [obscene] Kennedy, who runs Chicago!”

*End Quote*

Ultimately the media would be highly critical of the election, leading to Fiorito’s resignation just 3 months later in May 1963. And Giancana would be left looking somewhat foolish as the First Ward City Alderman position would remain vacant until the next regular election the following year.

Now, our next example doesn’t mention the Kennedy’s directly, but really goes to show how effective the efforts by RFK to amp up the intelligence gathering were. In June of 1963, Stefano Magaddino, leader of the mob in Buffalo, New York and member of the Commission, was heard to say the following:


“They know everybody’s name. They know who’s boss. They know who is on the commission. They know Amico Nostro (the password, Our Friend). They said to me, ‘What was your Caporegime doing here? What did he come to tell you?’ They knew that 11-12-13 was massaged [beaten up].

To Carlo Gambino they said, ‘This is your underboss; this is your Caporegime; this is your Consiglieri.’”

*End Quote*

To continue with Magaddino, he was captured yet again in June of 1963 talking to Anthony DeStefano, an underling from Syracuse:


“You See, the Cosa Nostra. The other day they made me become frightened. They know our business better than us. They know the heads of the families, the Capodecina, the FBI does.

Therefore, that’s why, the other day, I say, Be careful before you open your mouth.

Because sometime somebody could be a spy [law officer] and you might think he is an amico nostro [a friend of ours and a member].”

*End Quote*

Of course it’s ironic that he’s saying don’t open your mouth as he’d being recorded, but this was at a time when the Mafia, despite being a secret society, wasn’t used to having to be so secretive, or didn’t realize truly how far law enforcement had truly come with respect to catching up with the organization—which again is ironic as they’re discussing how far law enforcement has indeed come. 

To continue along those same lines, the report goes on to cite two unnamed Brooklyn hoods discussing the improvements in police intelligence work and the increase in coordination from all law enforcement entities:


“They know a lot…they know everything. They put everything together, lots of things. Where we take it for granted it don’t mean nothing.

These people [the police] have been gathering and gathering. They go here! They go there! See, before it was a different story. If you had the locals, they knew the information, but they kept it for themselves. Today, they are all working together. We got a big problem.

These people are united. Everything they collect, they concentrate. And now everything goes into one office. Before, every squad kept the information for themselves. You take this cop on the corner, you’ve been paying him for 20 years, maybe. They get the information. Someone comes in from New York and asks if he knows so and so. ‘Oh, he’s a bookmaker.’ And you’ve been paying him for 20 years!!! That’s the condition you got today.”

*End Quote*

From the late 1950’s to the early 1960’s, federal and state law enforcement had made light years worth of progress and now firmly understood much about Cosa Nostra’s structure, membership, and its methods of operation. As the two hoodlums said, they had a big problem.

Also around April and May of 1963, there were signs that the increased pressure was beginning to take a toll on some members of the organization. 

In April 1963, the father of Gambino capo Carmine Lombardozzi passed away. During the wake and funeral, the FBI conducted surveillance and as the funeral procession entered the church several young men assaulted an FBI agent, took his service revolver, and then fled. 

Now of course, due to the edict against harming members of law enforcement, this incident was fairly singular in nature, but in a relatively short period of time it was being discussed by members of the Gambino family, Philadelphia, and even in western New York.

Next you have the following (and somewhat winding) discussion between wiseguys named Mike and Pete, which took place in May of 1963. The chat shows the growing concern about the FBI’s actions in response to the attack on their agent. Now, the Mike and Pete in this story were Mike Scandifia, an acting Capo in the Gambino family, and Peter “Pumps” Ferrara, a capo also in the Gambino family (whose daughter is a Catholic nun which is also pertinent to the story).


“MIKE: He was told specifically…

PETE: To come and see me?

MIKE: You’re a captain. No, they [the FBI] don’t want to come to you to embarrass you and your daughter.

PETE: Who did they tell that to?

MIKE: They told that to Freddy.

PETE: Yeah.

MIKE: They don’t want to embarrass you. Three of them called. To him. They said, ‘We don’t want to go to Petey Pumps, we don’t want to embarrass him with his daughter.’

PETE: They already did.

MIKE: They already went to you…er…this week…this is the bullshit.

PETE: Yeah.

MIKE: They don’t want to give you no…in other words, they are telling you they don’t want to embarrass you. In other words, they won’t go to the convent. Well, I would say, right now they are giving you the zing. You want us to go to the convent? You want us to embarrass you? Well then, see that the right thing is done.

PETE: Yeah.

MIKE: Actually, what it boils down to, they’re looking to use a stick. ‘But now we’ll go on midnight raids. We’ll do this, we’ll do that, we’ll do the other thing. You’re a captain. You belong to Carl’s family.’

PETE: Well, previous to that he hands me Carlo’s picture. ‘You know him?’ I said, ‘Sure, I know him.’ ‘How long you know him?’ ‘I know him 20, 30 years.’

MIKE: They didn’t expect you to say nothing.

PETE: ‘Can you tell us anything about him?’ ‘The only thing I could tell you about him is that he is a businessman, been in business all his life. Brought up four kids. They had a good education. They’re all in business. They all went to college and married a profession. I said, what else could you ask for? He’s got a nice family.’ See what they do…they want to get a message through. I mean get a message through someplace. There’s no question about it.

MIKE: They want to put the heat on you, me.

PETE: Yeah.

MIKE: Because here’s the proof of it. They’ve gone to every captain.

PETE: And they call them ‘captains.’ One guy said, ‘foreman.’ And the other guy said, ‘Capo Regina.’ I mean they’re going right to each head. To the head of everybody they’re going to. But for them to say this, when he told me this, I said, ‘Jimmy, I think he already saw them.’

PETE: Yeah.

MIKE: ‘I think he already saw them,’ I said. Now to put the heat on him to go to his daughter, I said, this don’t make sense to me. I said, ‘Where the [obscenity] does this come into the picture?’ Now they don’t want to embarrass you.

PETE: What are they going to embarrass me for? What can they do? Go up there?

MIKE: Well, God forbid! They can’t…they can’t throw her out.


MIKE: They couldn’t throw Albert’s brother out. How are they going to throw her out?

PETE: Nah. They can’t throw her out.

MIKE: Embarrassment, that your daughter is a nun. I mean, Jesus Christ! It’s supposed to be an honor.

PETE: They can’t do nothing. They won’t do nothing.

MIKE: Dirty [obscenity]. Now that they bring out everything, Pete, the Cosa Nostra is a wide open thing.

PETE: Yeah.

MIKE: It’s an open book.

PETE: It’s an open book.

MIKE: Pete, you know as well as I do, familiarity with anything whatsoever breeds contempt. We’ve had nothing but familiarity with Cosa Nostra…if it bring up sides, what the hell are we supposed to do! I only know one thing, Pete. The Cosa Nostra is the Cosa Nostra. You just do what the [obscenity] bosses tell you!”

*End Quote*

It’s worth noting, because the wheel always turns in the Mafia, that Mike Scandifia would go missing on Thursday, December 4th, 1968. His body was never found though in 2017 authorities exhumed a body buried at a small upstate cemetery believed to be that of Scandifia. They dug it up because they believe the remains may have contained evidence and there were hopes to match the DNA with that of a relative. Now, I followed the trail and couldn’t confirm if the authorities were able to match that DNA, but it just goes to show that the wheel is always turning.

To put the final point of emphasis on how the advancements in law enforcement were being felt up and down every organization, there was another conversation in May of 1963 that involved Angelo Bruno (the Boss of Philadelphia), Peter and Salvatore Maggio (lieutenants to Bruno), Joe Magliocco (long-time Underboss to Joe Profaci), and Sal Profaci (son of Joe Profaci). So the Mafia hive was buzzing at this time.

At the meeting of these five men, it was discussed that Magliocco was having a difficult time obtaining the Commission's approval for him to succeed Profaci—who had just died in 1962—as his successor. He was attempting to gain Bruno’s vote on the Commission.

During the meeting, Bruno described FBI tactics used on Carlo Gambino. He noted that the agents had named all Gambino’s capos, named Joe Biondo as underboss, Joseph Riccobono as the family counselor, and said, “These are your amici nostri, you are the representante, you are the Boss.” The agent was reported to have then asked:


“Did you change the laws in your family, that you could hit FBI men, punch and kick them? Well, this is the test, that if you change the laws and now you are going to hit FBI men, every time we pick up one of your people we are going to break their heads for them.”

*End Quote*

Bruno then related that they had in fact picked up and badly assaulted at least one associate:


“They almost killed him, the FBI. They don’t do that, you know. But they picked up one of his fellows and they crippled him.

They said, ‘This is an example. Now, the next time anybody lays a hand on an FBI man, that’s just a warning. There is nothing else we got to tell you.”

*End Quote*

So it was clear. The battle lines were being drawn, and it was a fight to the death in my opinion. The Kennedy’s and the Mafia were essentially at war with one another.

Now, for an organization that had largely spent the past 30 years well-insulated, this increase in law enforcement pressure and the amount of detail and accuracy was a shock to the system that worried the entire Cosa Nostra. 

Going back to Sam Giancana who was of course a mortal enemy by this point of the Kennedy brothers. By the Spring of 1963, he had become the subject of intense coverage to the point where agents were literally on him 24-hours a day, “bumper to bumper,” while he was on the golf course, in a restaurant, or as legend has it even when he was in the men’s room taking a leak.

During the first week of July 1963, the FBI interviewed a man named Charles “Chuckie” English, a close Giancana associate and racketeer in his own right, at his request. The interview took place at the Armoury Lounge, and supposedly Giancana was present, but in another part of the establishment. As the story goes, toward the end English tried to get Giancana (for whatever reason) to speak to the agents, but he refused. Finally, as the agents were preparing to depart in their car, English came out with the following message from Giancana:


“If Bobby Kennedy wants to talk to me, I’ll be glad to talk to him and he knows who to go through.”

*End Quote*

And of course that is a reference to none other than Frank Sinatra, who had a relationship with both Giancana and the Kennedy family, and who often served as the liaison for communications and even stumped for Kennedy in the 1960 election. 

As you might expect the fact that English submitted to the interview and indirectly mentioned the Sinatra relationship greatly upset Chicago’s leadership and with the combination of Giancana’s absenteeism and bad publicity they were seriously considering replacing him with some speculation of Accardo’s protégé Jackie Cerone taking over day-to-day activities.

English would be killed on February 14th, 1985 when he was shot between the eyes as he walked to his Cadillac after dining alone at a suburban Chicago restaurant frequented by senior crime figures. His assailants, two men wearing ski masks, escaped.

Jumping ahead in the timeline (we’ll be doing that a bit), on October 24, 1963, in Miami, Florida, mere weeks before the assassination of JFK, a woman named Madeline Costello, wife of Charles “Pinky” Costello, a mob figure out of Philadelphia, was overheard speaking to an unidentified man about her husband’s boss, Angelo Bruno:


“MADELINE: I’ll tell you the things they are doing to that man [Angelo Bruno] are awful, just terrible***.

UNKNOWN MALE: They are crucifying him!

MADELINE: And for what? It’s all a political thing, you know.

*End Quote*

The conversation then turned to the 1963 Senate Hearings on organized crime, more commonly referred to as the Valachi hearings. They could be heard laughing at how ridiculous they believed the Senate hearings to be, imitating the senators and making fun of Valachi’s “kiss of death,” going on to claim that Valachi had never laid eyes on Bruno:


“UNKNOWN MALE: The hearing is all political, instigated by Robert Kennedy. They’re murdering the Italian name.”

*End Quote*

Bruno at the time of this conversation was awaiting indictment for IRS violations and thus under so much pressure that he was allegedly considering following his predecessor, Joe Ida, to Italy permanently.

Speaking of Bruno, and jumping backwards in our timeline, on February 9, 1962, Angelo Bruno and a man named Willie Weisburg, a business associate of Bruno’s and a reputed leader within Philly’s Jewish mob who was indeed listed among RFK’s 40 “top echelon” American racketeers, were caught openly complaining about the FBI and the Kennedys. The conversation turned dark very quickly:


“WEISBURG: See what Kennedy done. With Kennedy, a guy should take a knife, like one of them other guys, and stab and kill the [obscenity], where he is now. Somebody should kill the [obscenity]. I mean it. This is true. Honest to God. It’s about time to go. But I tell you something. I hope I get a week’s notice. I’ll kill. Right in the [obscenity] in the White House. Somebody’s got to get rid of this [obscenity].”

*End Quote*

In probably what was my favorite except from this entire episode, rather than responding directly to Weisburg’s more blatant threats, Bruno instead waxed philosophical and told a story. The story was supposedly an old Italian wise tale. And honestly, it’s actually a little chilling.


“BRUNO: Look, Willie, do you see there was a king, do you understand. And he found out that everybody was saying that he was a bad king. This is an old Italian story. So, there was an old wise woman about 140 years old. So, he figured. Let me go talk to the old wise woman. She knows everything. So he went to the old wise woman. So he says to her. I came here because I want your opinion. He says, do you think I’m a bad king. She says no, I think you are a good king. He says, well how come everybody says I’m a bad king? She says because they are stupid. They don’t know. He says, well how come, why do you say I’m a good king. Well, she said, I knew your great grandfather. He was a bad king. I knew your grandfather. He was worse. I knew your father. He was worse than them. You, you are worse than all of them, but your son, if you die, your son is going to be worse than you. So it’s better to be with you. (All laugh) So Brownwell [former Attorney General] was bad. He was no [obscenity] good. He was this and that.

WEISBURG: Do you know what this man is going to do? He ain’t going to leave nobody alone.

BRUNO: I know he ain’t. But you see, everybody in there was bad. The other guy was good because the other guy was worse. Do you understand? Brownwell came. He was no good. He was worse than the guy before.

WEISBURG: Not like this one.

BRUNO: Not like this one. This one is worse. Right? If something happens to this guy. [Laughs]

WEISBURG: Let me tell you something. The FBI always hated the IRS. Always. The IRS never checked with the Treasury men. They went separate ways. They wouldn’t give each other information. They wanted the credit themselves. He made it with local authorities. He made it ringaround the rosy, pal.

BRUNO: Oh, yeah. The guy is an accountant, see. So, now, he had to do something worse. So what? He started to think, what can I do more than the other guy. The other guy made the antiracketeering law, gambling laws, he did this and he did that. What can I do. He says, I know what I can do. Anybody that has a record that is police property, when he gets pinched, no bail. [Bruno then compares the Italian process of not allowing bail and incarcerating individuals until proven innocent.]

WEISBURG: It’s still America, though.

BRUNO: So, it’s still America. They are trying to pass a Federal law that you can’t take the fifth [amendment]. When they grant you immunity you can’t take the fifth.

WEISBURG: They are not going to pass that law.

BRUNO: But they might.”

*End Quote*

And of course in 1972, in a case entitled Kastigar v. United States, they did indeed rule that the government can overcome a claim of Fifth Amendment privilege by granting a witness "use and derivative use" immunity in exchange for his or her testimony.

And alas, the complaints from members of Cosa Nostra would go on.

Again, playing with the timeline, on February 17, 1962, Bruno had a conversation with Mario and Peter Maggio, in which one of the Maggio’s was reputed to have said:


“MAGGIO: ***Kennedy is going to leave, they are going to make him a special assistant (to the President) out of him. They want him out of the way, he is too much, he is starting to hurt too many people, like unions. He is not only hurting the racket guys, but others, antitrust…I think that he is going to leave. But the only reason he won’t leave, which I heard before, you see he wants Edgar Hoover out of that.”

*End Quote*

So it’s clear as we’ve said, Bobby was not making friends and it wasn’t just the Mafia that was upset with him, but also the unions (which were at that time largely controlled by Jimmy Hoffa), and even his counterpart in the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover.

On May 2, 1962, New York Cosa Nostra members, Salvatore “Sal” Profaci (as we mentioned the son of Joe Profaci) of the Profaci-Colombo borgata, and Michelino Clemente, also known as Michael or “Big Mike” Clemente of the Genovese family, and a third man were discussing Bobby Kennedy. At one point, Clemente commented:


“CLEMENTE: Bob Kennedy won’t stop today until he puts us all in jail all over the country. Until the commission meets and puts its foot down, things will be at a standstill. When we meet, we all got to shake hands, and sit down and talk, and, if there is any trouble with a particular regime, it’s got to be kept secret, and only the heads are to know about it, otherwise some broad finds out, and finally the newspapers.”

*End Quote*

Later in the conversation, Clemente would state that things were not like they were years ago, when the commission would meet once a month and there were no cops around to spy on them. Today, he said, in order to have a meeting, you have to tell each one individually about the meeting, without letting them know who else would be present or what the meeting was going to be about, so that there would be no chance of any information leaking out.

Honestly, this sounds less like the Mafia in its Golden Age and more like the Mafia is forced to operate today, which is largely underground. That is the effect that the Kennedy’s and their crusade against the mob was indeed having. So, very, very effective even though they were making tons of enemies.

Going back to Chicago, though it’s not a direct quote I was able to find an anecdotal story about a conversation in October 1963, the month before the assassination, between Sam Giancana, Tony Accardo, and Butch Blasi. They discussed Roberty Kennedy’s not being available for a Columbus Day parade, but coming to Chicago on October 13 for a B’Nai B’rith affair. According to the trio, the “Jews” downtown were beaming as they said. 

Later in the discussion, the subject changed to whether or not Bobby Kennedy played golf. Apparently they knew that John Kennedy indeed did play golf, and one of the men then suggested that they put a bomb in his golf bag to which they all laughed.

Along those same veins, and even closer to the assassination, on October 31, 1963 Stefano Magaddino and Peter Magaddino were recorded having a discussion about President Kennedy.


“PETER: He should drop dead. They should kill the whole family, the mother and father too! When he talks he talks like a mad dog. He says, ‘My brother the Attorney General.’ Why, he never won a case. He never tried a case.”

*End Quote*

Now as is well known, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November, 22, 1963. 

What was clear was that the brutal murder of the 35th President, which shocked the entire country, did little to change the feelings of members of the underworld around the country.

We’ll begin with a comment picked up from a man named Morris Schlitten, who was in fact a major numbers guy in New York City after he learned about the President’s death:


“Good!! Too bad they didn’t kill his brother Bobby, too!”

*End Quote*

In Chicago on November 22nd, the day of the assassination, Sam Giancana and Chuckie English met and as you’d expect their discussion turned to the assassination. Giancana would comment somewhat prophetically, mere hours after the assassination, that Bobby Kennedy would not have the power he previously had, and that he would now be answerable to a person not his brother—which turned out to be very true. 

Just three days later, the conversations among the Outfit’s members would again turn to the assassination, with Chuckie English saying the following:


“I am not a hypocrite. I didn’t like him before he died. And I still feel the same way. If he wanted to put me in jail then [obscenity] him!!!”

*End Quote*

The conversation would soon turn to Kennedy’s alleged shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, with English and Giancana saying the following:


“ENGLISH: This 24-year-old kid was an anarchist. He was a Marxist Communist. 

GIANCANA: He was a marksman who knew how to shoot!”

*End Quote*

In upstate New York, just two days after the assassination, a conversation (again) was picked up between Stefano Magaddino, Peter Magaddino, Antonio Magaddino, and Sam Rangatore, in which they actually seemed to wax patriotic while also warning about potential spies in their ranks. Stefano Magaddino was recorded to have said the following:


“It’s a shame we’ve been embarrassed before the whole world by allowing the President to be killed in our own territory. You can be sure that the police spies will be watching carefully to see what we think and say about this.”

*End Quote*

On November 26th, just four days after the assassination, Stefano Magaddino, Peter Magaddino, and Sam Rangatore were again speculating about Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald. Fred Randaccio, another Buffalo family member, entered and congratulated Rangatore on the death of the President. There was laughing all around, and then Stefano Magaddino cautioned the group. He said that the public would be watching their reaction and they must not joke. All agreed.

Magaddino then went on to say that President Kennedy was one of the Nation’s greatest presidents and blamed the assassination on his brother, Bobby Kennedy. According to Magaddino, RFK had pressed too many issues behind the scenes. Neither the President, nor Hoover, nor the FBI wished to bring up discussions that had been brought out by the Valachi hearings. The Attorney General had “accomplished something” and so had pressed too many issues and too many people’s buttons. He stepped on a lot of toes.

Again, ironic that he was being recorded as he was warning about spies, but very surprising that anyone in the mob would express any level of what I’d deem as patriotism. Not that these guys weren’t patriotic, but given the hatred of the Kennedy’s it’s kind of a weird juxtaposition that there was patriotism immediately after the assassination. 

And of course, the juxtaposition is that just a month earlier Stefano and Peter Magaddino were wishing the whole family dead. But there was an admission there that Kennedy’s strategy had actually been effective both in terms of the law enforcement results and in ruffling the feathers of important people, which ultimately resulted in the death of RFK’s brother, John.

Months after the assassination, important Cosa Nostra figures were still talking about it.

On February 2, 1964, Angelo Bruno, Charles Costello, Ben Golub, Harry Zimand, and a man named Tony were discussing the assassination when one of them let loose what was as we’ve seen a very common sentiment:


“It is too bad his brother Bobby was not in that car too.”

*End Quote*

And along those same lines, I’ll leave you with this comment on August 13, 1964, from the man known as “The Quiet Don,” Russell Bufalino of Pennsylvania, who was complaining that someone was unable to do him a favor but somehow made the connection to the Kennedy brothers:


“The Kennedys are responsible for all my troubles. They killed the good one [John Kennedy]. They should have killed the other little guy [Robert Kennedy].”

*End Quote*

So it’s clear that they, the Mafia, had the means and the motive to commit the crime. But did they actually play a part in it? My personal opinion is that maybe they were the primary executioners, but we’d be naive to believe that they played no part at all.

That being said, we may never actually know the truth until the government releases every single record, many of which are still classified to this day, about the plot. 

Until then, I’ll let you decide.

Final Thoughts & Closing

Okay, that’s it for this episode! It will probably incite some controversy for sure as I know there are a lot of strong opinions and curiosity when it comes to what really happened that day in Dallas and who was ultimately behind it.

Whether you liked the episode or not, let’s have a discussion in the comments on YouTube!

Also, I just wanted to say again that I appreciate the amazing amount of support you’ve given me as we are coming up on 7,000 subscribers on YouTube and also getting a lot of good traction on the various audio platforms!

Coming up next, I’ll be going back to the Angelo Bruno story and finishing up Part Two of the Cerrito Crime Family. 

After those episodes, I’ll be diving head first into the Castellammarese War which is likely to be a pretty epic series and somewhat of a huge undertaking on my part.

And as I’ve said recently, I’m still looking to do more interviews to sprinkle in between my more documentary-style content. But not just any interviews. I’m specifically looking for people who have stories of running up against the mob either as a result of being in that life, but more likely from people that have no affiliation with the life whatsoever. Like I said last episode, it won’t be your typical talking heads. So if you think you’re one of those people, email me at ganglandhistorypodcast@gmail.com.

Also, before you go, please don’t forget to Subscribe so that you can continue to enjoy my content as it's released and if you have any thoughts please leave them in the comments on YouTube or write us a review on Apple. Lastly, feel free to check out our website at www.membersonlypodcast.com where I post all content from the episode.

I’m still a relatively small channel and could use all the help I can get to grow.

But until next time, gratzie!

Online Sources:

Books & Other Sources:

Ragano, Frank and Raab, Selwyn. Mob Lawyer: Including the Inside Account of Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa and JFK. Scribner. April 11, 1994.

Jacob Stoops, the host of The Gangland History Podcast

Jacob Stoops

Host of the Gangland History Podcast

This podcast sits at the intersection of my life-long love for history, my love of mob movies, my now decades-long fascination with the Mafia, as well as my passion for content creation.