Vintage Photos of Cleveland's Most Notorious Mobsters

A peek at some of the most colorful mobsters in Cleveland history.

A peek at some of the most colorful mobsters in Cleveland history. Photos courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery.

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Vintage Photos of Cleveland's Most Notorious Mobsters
Michael Frato's police mug shot from the 1950s
Michael Frato's police mug shot from the 1950s
An elderly Shondor Birns leaves a Cleveland courtroom. He died in 1975.
An elderly Shondor Birns leaves a Cleveland courtroom. He died in 1975.
Alfred "Allie" Calabrese - Allie Calabrese was an associate and close pal to Bucthie Cisternino. A member of his burglary crew, Calabrese was another key figure and stake out man for a hit team determined to murder Irish mobster Danny Greene. Calabrese survived a car bombing in 1976. Prior to this he had been associated with the Cleveland syndicate since the late 1960s. He had served time in the past for burglary and bank robbery convictions. In 1995 he and gangland pal Joe Iacobacci were convicted of bank fraud and sentenced to three years in prison. It was believed he served most of the sentence and then was convicted of a probation violation.While in prison, Calabrese, suffering from diabates, became involved with a fight with another inmate. After a blow to the head he suffered a stroke and died in early August 1999.
Alfred "Allie" Calabrese - Allie Calabrese was an associate and close pal to Bucthie Cisternino. A member of his burglary crew, Calabrese was another key figure and stake out man for a hit team determined to murder Irish mobster Danny Greene. Calabrese survived a car bombing in 1976. Prior to this he had been associated with the Cleveland syndicate since the late 1960s. He had served time in the past for burglary and bank robbery convictions. In 1995 he and gangland pal Joe Iacobacci were convicted of bank fraud and sentenced to three years in prison. It was believed he served most of the sentence and then was convicted of a probation violation.While in prison, Calabrese, suffering from diabates, became involved with a fight with another inmate. After a blow to the head he suffered a stroke and died in early August 1999.
Alfred "The Owl" Polizzi - A shrewd and capable member of Milano's Mayfield Road gang, Alfred Polizzi would fill th seat of the exiled Milano. Between 1935 and 1936 the role as leader may or may not have been filled by local doctor and syndicate member Dr. Joseph Romano. However Polizzi was seen as a more than able leader and may have been the actual power behind the criminal organization. Romano was murdered in July 1936 at the behest of Angelo Lonardo the former boss's son and eventual member. Whatever the circumstances or outcome, the Cleveland syndicate seemed not to mind.
Polizzi forged alliances with Jewish crime czar Moe Dalitz and became his partner in the Las Vegas casino, The Dessert Inn. The Cleveland Syndicate had arrived. His time at the top would be limited. In October 1944 he plead guilty to failing to pay liquor taxes and was sentenced to one year in jail. The following year he moved to Coral Gables, FL. He became a successful owner of commercial real estate properties and construction developer.
Alfred "The Owl" Polizzi - A shrewd and capable member of Milano's Mayfield Road gang, Alfred Polizzi would fill th seat of the exiled Milano. Between 1935 and 1936 the role as leader may or may not have been filled by local doctor and syndicate member Dr. Joseph Romano. However Polizzi was seen as a more than able leader and may have been the actual power behind the criminal organization. Romano was murdered in July 1936 at the behest of Angelo Lonardo the former boss's son and eventual member. Whatever the circumstances or outcome, the Cleveland syndicate seemed not to mind. Polizzi forged alliances with Jewish crime czar Moe Dalitz and became his partner in the Las Vegas casino, The Dessert Inn. The Cleveland Syndicate had arrived. His time at the top would be limited. In October 1944 he plead guilty to failing to pay liquor taxes and was sentenced to one year in jail. The following year he moved to Coral Gables, FL. He became a successful owner of commercial real estate properties and construction developer.
Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo - Son of the slained Joseph, Angelo would avenge his murder and become a capable member. Brother in law to John Scalish, he was believed to have been the original selection to take over the Cleveland rackets in 1976 but was fooled by Milton Rockman and the promotion of Jack Licavolli occurred.
He would serve as underboss and acting boss until he was given 25 years for his role in a narcotics ring. Having seen very little of a jail cell and the FBI's persistant efforts, Lonardo shocked the underworld when he became a cooperating witness. He would go on to testify in front of the US Senate and before the jury of the 1986 Commission Trial.
Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo - Son of the slained Joseph, Angelo would avenge his murder and become a capable member. Brother in law to John Scalish, he was believed to have been the original selection to take over the Cleveland rackets in 1976 but was fooled by Milton Rockman and the promotion of Jack Licavolli occurred. He would serve as underboss and acting boss until he was given 25 years for his role in a narcotics ring. Having seen very little of a jail cell and the FBI's persistant efforts, Lonardo shocked the underworld when he became a cooperating witness. He would go on to testify in front of the US Senate and before the jury of the 1986 Commission Trial.
Anthony "Tony Dope" Delsanter - Anthony "Tony Dope" Delsanter served under Licavolli regime as the commander of Warren, OH rackets in the 1970s. Back in the 1940s-1950s Delsanter was working the Jungle Inn with Licavoli and crew in Akron, OH. Delsanter would plant the seeds for the murder of local Irish hoodlum and arch Licavolli enemy Danny Greene. His prompting would start a gangland war that would dismantle the Cleveland LCN Family. "Tony Dope" would die of natural causes in August 1977, serving as consigliere for a brief time.
Anthony "Tony Dope" Delsanter - Anthony "Tony Dope" Delsanter served under Licavolli regime as the commander of Warren, OH rackets in the 1970s. Back in the 1940s-1950s Delsanter was working the Jungle Inn with Licavoli and crew in Akron, OH. Delsanter would plant the seeds for the murder of local Irish hoodlum and arch Licavolli enemy Danny Greene. His prompting would start a gangland war that would dismantle the Cleveland LCN Family. "Tony Dope" would die of natural causes in August 1977, serving as consigliere for a brief time.
Anthony "Tony Lib" Liberatore - Tony Liberatore was a favorite mobster in the Cleveland crew. Highly respected and well thought of, qualification for such recognition was the fact that he served twenty years for a 1938 murder conviction. Upon his release he was active with Laborers Local 860 and in 1972 was given a full pardon by the state of Ohio. In 1975 then Cleveland mayor Ralph Perk appointed "Lib" to a regional governing municipality. He would eventually become the business manager for the same Local.
While proving himself a noble resident he also was cultivating strong ties with the local Cleveland crime family. Jack Licavolli thought so much of him that he "made" him to his crime family and he was quickly elevated to capo status. Liberatore was a part of crew that supplied the backup hit team in the 1976 murder of Danny Greene. In many ways he was seen as a possible future boss for the crime family.
From 1982 to 1990 Liberatore served time for a racketeering conviction. It wasn't long when in 1993 he was convicted of money laundering and handed an eight year sentence. The "last great hope" would die of complications stemming from Alzheimer Disease in 1998 while in prison after having his conviction upheld by the US Supreme Court.
Anthony "Tony Lib" Liberatore - Tony Liberatore was a favorite mobster in the Cleveland crew. Highly respected and well thought of, qualification for such recognition was the fact that he served twenty years for a 1938 murder conviction. Upon his release he was active with Laborers Local 860 and in 1972 was given a full pardon by the state of Ohio. In 1975 then Cleveland mayor Ralph Perk appointed "Lib" to a regional governing municipality. He would eventually become the business manager for the same Local. While proving himself a noble resident he also was cultivating strong ties with the local Cleveland crime family. Jack Licavolli thought so much of him that he "made" him to his crime family and he was quickly elevated to capo status. Liberatore was a part of crew that supplied the backup hit team in the 1976 murder of Danny Greene. In many ways he was seen as a possible future boss for the crime family. From 1982 to 1990 Liberatore served time for a racketeering conviction. It wasn't long when in 1993 he was convicted of money laundering and handed an eight year sentence. The "last great hope" would die of complications stemming from Alzheimer Disease in 1998 while in prison after having his conviction upheld by the US Supreme Court.
Anthony "The Old Man" Milano
(1930-1976) - Tony Milano, brother to Frank, was the original operator and overseer of the Italian-American Brotherhood. This organization may have been a disguise for the fraternal organization known as Unione Siciliane. The organization was really a front for the Mafia and the later the La Cosa Nostra syndicate. The organization, which held charters in many large cities, was thought to have acted as a communicator for Mafia syndicates based throughout the country.
Upon his brother's departure, Milano was thought to have scaled back although he remained in contact with the exiled boss. He did conspire with the murder of Dr. Joseph Romano. The surgeon and syndicate member had performed an operation on Licatese faction leader Dominic DeMarco in which he died. DeMarco's brother John thought he had purposely botched the attempts. In addition, DeMarco cousin Angelo Lonardo was also subject to Romano's testimony regarding the murder trial of Sam Todaro. Milano and Pollizzi would later defend their actions at Commission meeting held in Miami the following year.
Milano's underground portfolio, which was a combined effort of Moe Dalitz and Al Pollizzi, consisted of the Cincinnati's Coney Island Race Track. In addition there was the gambling racket referred to as the Continental Supper Club of Chesapeake, OH. In Covington, KY the trio opened up the Beverly Hills Supper Club with the up and coming Jackie Licavolli.
Upon the rise of John Scalish in 1946, Milano began to spend more time in Los Angeles. Currently his sons, Peter and Carmen, are recognized by law enforcement as the boss and underboss of West Coast LCN Syndicate. Milano would fill the role as retired advisor for years to come before stepping down upon the ascention of Jack Licavolli. He died in 1978 at the age of 90. "The Old Man" had maintained a low profile and had seen very little prison bars.
Anthony "The Old Man" Milano (1930-1976) - Tony Milano, brother to Frank, was the original operator and overseer of the Italian-American Brotherhood. This organization may have been a disguise for the fraternal organization known as Unione Siciliane. The organization was really a front for the Mafia and the later the La Cosa Nostra syndicate. The organization, which held charters in many large cities, was thought to have acted as a communicator for Mafia syndicates based throughout the country. Upon his brother's departure, Milano was thought to have scaled back although he remained in contact with the exiled boss. He did conspire with the murder of Dr. Joseph Romano. The surgeon and syndicate member had performed an operation on Licatese faction leader Dominic DeMarco in which he died. DeMarco's brother John thought he had purposely botched the attempts. In addition, DeMarco cousin Angelo Lonardo was also subject to Romano's testimony regarding the murder trial of Sam Todaro. Milano and Pollizzi would later defend their actions at Commission meeting held in Miami the following year. Milano's underground portfolio, which was a combined effort of Moe Dalitz and Al Pollizzi, consisted of the Cincinnati's Coney Island Race Track. In addition there was the gambling racket referred to as the Continental Supper Club of Chesapeake, OH. In Covington, KY the trio opened up the Beverly Hills Supper Club with the up and coming Jackie Licavolli. Upon the rise of John Scalish in 1946, Milano began to spend more time in Los Angeles. Currently his sons, Peter and Carmen, are recognized by law enforcement as the boss and underboss of West Coast LCN Syndicate. Milano would fill the role as retired advisor for years to come before stepping down upon the ascention of Jack Licavolli. He died in 1978 at the age of 90. "The Old Man" had maintained a low profile and had seen very little prison bars.
Arthur T. Sneperger - Arthur T. Sneperger died when a bomb he was carrying exploded in the parking lot of Swan's Auto Service on the southwest corner of Coventry and Mayfield Roads. Sneperger, acting under the orders of Danny Greene, intended to place the bomb underneath the car of Michael Frato, who owned Swan's and was playing cards across the street. It is not known whether the premature explosion was an accident or the act of Greene.
Arthur T. Sneperger - Arthur T. Sneperger died when a bomb he was carrying exploded in the parking lot of Swan's Auto Service on the southwest corner of Coventry and Mayfield Roads. Sneperger, acting under the orders of Danny Greene, intended to place the bomb underneath the car of Michael Frato, who owned Swan's and was playing cards across the street. It is not known whether the premature explosion was an accident or the act of Greene.