By The Other Guy | May 3, 2020
The city of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, in Westmoreland County, was a relatively small town that today has a current population of approximately 12,500. But in its 1950s heyday, New Kensington boasted a populous of over 25,000, literally double the amount of people which it has now.
Known locally as New Ken, the town sat along the Allegheny River just 18 miles northeast of the City of Pittsburgh.
Early on as the area developed, the first large company to make its headquarters there was the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, which later changed its name becoming the giant known as Alcoa. They would remain as one of the largest employers in the area for decades to come.
Other smaller but key corporations such as Adams Drilling, Goldsmith and Lowerburg, New Kensington Brewing Co., Keystone Dairy, and many other firms soon adopted the area as their own as well. It buoyed up employment and revenue for New Kensington’s natives greatly helping to stabilize the area.
But with Alcoa’s departure in 1971, and the major recession that hit the entire country in 1972-73 adversely affecting other employers there, the overall economy would plummet and never make a solid return. It lead to a steady decline in the area’s population.
Today, there is a poverty rate of almost 1 in 4 Kensentonians, with much unemployment. But harkening back to those heady days of the 1930s, up through all of the 1960s and beyond, arguably there was no greater employer than the mob!
And although New Kensington always had a plethora of independent racketeers and hustlers of every size, shape, and ethnicity operating there, Italian racketeers and more specifically the Mafia became the dominant force in the town’s underworld and the main employer for many for decades to come.
And of all those Italian racketeers and the mafiosi active there, no one became more well-known and dominant to the area than the Mannarino brothers. Once they got their start and firmly planted their flag, Sam and his kid brother Gabriel, who everyone knew as “Kelly”, would eventually edge out all other comers until they alone ruled New Kensington, all of Westmoreland County and its outer environs with an iron fist.
Through official corruption and bribery, New Kensington would operate as a wide open area for the underworld, and eventually garnered the nickname “Little Las Vegas” because of it. And the Mannarino’s oversaw it all.
With the advent of the massive nationwide crackdown on all the mafia by the federal government starting in the wake of the infamous Apalachin Mob Meeting in 1957, the Mannarino brothers and their associates, as well as all of the townspeople of New Kensington would suffer.
Many of the gambling operations and related rackets that employed hundreds across the city were disrupted by repeated raids, arrests and a massive loss of income over a number of years. Inadvertently and unwittingly, the government singlehandedly did as much to knock New Kensington and it’s townspeople on its ass as any recession could ever do…it never came back.
THIS IS THEIR STORY!
Gabriel (Kelly) Mannarino – aka: “Gabe Mannarino”, “Gabrielo Ruggiero”, “George Mannarino”. (his father’s real surname was Ruggiero) – was born on October 31, 1915, at New Kensington, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, to Neapolitan born parents.
He was born and raised at 1129 Sixth Avenue, in New Kensington. By 1943, he was residing with his young family at 540 Charles Avenue in the same area. He also had a cottage that he owned on Road #3, in Allegheny Township at Leechburg.
Mannarino also owned a large ranch he named “Dunrovin Ranch” out in Westmoreland County, and other multiple large parcels of land he had acquired through the years in the surrounding areas. In fact, at one point in 1972, he made a deal with the Montgomery Ward company, giving them a long term lease for $100,000 so they could build a large retail store within a shopping center they were planning…Kelly was a sharp guy!
He also had a few guilty pleasures…one of which was a 24-foot cabin cruiser he owned that he docked at a Pittsburgh boat club.
In 1950, law enforcement authorities reported that Mannarino had purchased a small winter home at 8919 Dickens Avenue, in Surfside, Florida. This residence was bought from Dominick Anzalone, a friend, and well-known Pittsburgh mafioso who later migrated out to California where he joined another borgata. Police estimated the home’s value in 1958 at approximately $25-30,000, a tidy sum for that time period.
Kelly also liked to vacation down by the natural steam baths at Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he would usually stay for two and three weeks intervals each year.
Side Note: Kelly had two older brothers, both hoodlums, named Samuel – FBI # 115840, and Joseph (Jojo). Sam would later become a notorious inducted mafia member as well. Joseph?…well Jojo was a bit of a scatterbrain.
Kelly Mannarino stood 5-feet 5-inches tall and was heavyset at 190 pounds. He had black hair and dark brown eyes with a dark complexion. He talked with a slight lisp and typically stuttered when excited.
Side Note: Among his peculiarities was a fondness for smoking Cuban cigars smuggled in by an associate from Havana, and indulging his sweet tooth with “chocolate turtles”, a special candy made by his Catoris Candy company. When away from home, his partner Louie Catoris would often mail him boxes of this candy.
He would often also arrange for box shipments from his candy company to be sent to his good friend Joe Sonken down in Hollywood, Florida to be sold at Sonken’s Gold Coast Restaurant, a popular eatery frequented by mobsters from across the country while visiting the Sunshine State. Mannarino often instructed his associates to leave messages at this restaurant for him when they needed to reach out to him.
He was also said to have had a keen eye for the ladies. Never one to have a single, particular girlfriend per se, Kelly would often have sex with numerous women, but the quirk of it all was that more often than not these women and young girls would be considered homely and unkempt…a strange proclivity at best! LOL
Kelly also had a very bad stutter, constantly stammering with a habit of starting nearly every sentence with the word “Because.” Another tidbit law enforcement picked up was that although Kelly was not known as a particularly vicious guy, he kept at least one handgun (a .45 caliber automatic equipped with a silencer) available.
Not to get off track here, but his older brother Sam also had a few personal traits of note. Most importantly, Sam was well known to have been an avid cocaine user for years. He would often sniff cocaine daily, and as the years past had undoubtedly become an “addict”.
In 1955, a Dr. Pezzolano of Miami shipped Sam a 1 oz. vial of liquid cocaine charging him $500 for it. It was suspected that this doctor was a steady source of the drug for Sam. Another steady source of cocaine was crew associates Norm Rothman (also a known coke sniffer), and Nicky Jerome who smuggled it into the States from Cuba and then mailed it up to Sam in Pennsylvania.
This of course was a big “no-no” with the boys, and Sam’s very lucky that he never got hit in the head and dumped in a car truck through the years for this Cardinal mafia sin. Kelly’s influence no doubt played a part in Sam’s survival over the years.
By the early-1960s, there was word that Kelly had stated emphatically that he had no use for his older brother and did not want to have anything to do with him. Word was that Sam never helped or looked out for Kelly’s wife and kids while Kelly was on the lam, or in the jug. It was enough to turn Kelly off… but I wonder if Sam’s cocaine use didn’t also play a part in this decision.
Another pastime of Sam’s was a massive gun collection he acquired over time. He was said to have been a gun aficionado who had loads of assorted handguns, rifles, and shotguns.
And lastly, word got around that Sam was a real “nut,” who would fall for all sorts of “hair-brain” schemes. As he aged, his mob associates would comment on how he was a sucker for any deal that came along, most times blowing his and their investment.
Another little nugget that was divulged to the FBI was that Sam was madly in love with his wife, but that she was a complete sexual nymphomaniac.
The final word on Sam would be that by the early 60s, he had essentially become “persona non grata.” The FBI got word from their informers that Sam Mannarino had been put out to pasture and was no longer active in the rackets. Now, whether that was of his own doing or an “official” dictate by LaRocca essentially “shelving” Sam has never been determined. But for the rest of his life until his death in 1967, Sam Mannarino, by and large, was no longer an active player in the Pittsburgh underworld.
Important Side Note: Newly released FBI documents reveal that Sam may have been playing “footsie” with the government in his later years. Under the “Freedom of Information Act” (FOIA), several #302 reports (field agent reports) show that on more than one occasion Sam Mannarino was privately interviewed by agents and spoke freely about the mafia, its members and various activities. And although there is no smoking gun, he clearly blabbered about things he shouldn’t have…maybe it was from all that cocaine he was sniffing. Lol.
In 1941, at the age of 25, Kelly married Jean (nee’ Amato), the daughter of Frank Amato, who at the time was the boss of the entire Pittsburgh Family. Two years later they gave birth to a daughter named Giorgienne.
By 1951, they gave birth to another daughter named Dolores, while they were vacationing down in Coral Gables, Florida.
Interesting Side Note: It was said that Kelly’s wife Jean had no choice as to her selection of a lifemate. The marriage was arranged beforehand between her father Frank Amato and Kelly Mannarino…not to suggest that she didn’t love him very much, which I’m sure she did.
This “old world” style arranged marriage or “maschiato” as we say in Italian (I know I slaughtered that spelling lol), was quite common years back not only for the Italian people but many other ethnicities as well
Side Note: Francesco (Frank) Amato – FBI # 1689858. Born in 1893 at Raccarainola, (Naples) Italy, Amato was reportedly a close friend and ally of NY boss Vito Genovese, who came from same village in Italy.
It helped to give Amato extra influence within the national Cosa Nostra orbit. And in turn surely helped Mannarino’s career as well. Mannarino was close to his father-in-law until Amato’s death in February of 1973.
FBI # 854850, Pttsbg PD # 30307, Grnbg PD # A-5137, NK PD # 1678
Both Kelly and his older brother Sam were said to have started out in the rackets as bootleggers back during Prohibition times. During those early years, it’s said that they also dabbled in a few burglaries and robberies until tying up with John LaRocca who helped them expand their gambling rackets.
Starting with his first arrest at the age of 18, Mannarino’s police record included nine entries:
1933 – gaming
1934 – violating liquor laws
1936 – robbery
1943 – possessing a firearm (.38 revolver)
1945 – lottery
1956 – obstruction of justice
1957 – voter fraud and bribery
1963 – income-tax fraud
1969 – conspiracy, racketeering, wire fraud, loan kickbacks
…between simple fines, dismissals, cases being Nolle Prossed, or straight out acquitted after trial, Gabriel Mannarino was never believed to have served a day in jail except maybe a holdover until making bail…a charmed existence for sure!
Kelly was a tremendous mover and shaker for La Rocca, and was both well-loved and envied by many because of his abilities and money-making capabilities. He was intelligent and savvy, and most who knew him made money with him.
These abilities enabled Kelly to eventually rise from a soldier status to a top position as “capo di decina” over a large crew controlling the New Kensington area and its outer environs. He was very active in Floridian and off-shore activities on behalf of himself and his borgata as well.
At one time gambling was so pervasive and operated with such immunity from law enforcement that New Kensington was known as “Little Las Vegas”…and the Mannarino brothers ran it all!
Legal Cuban Casinos
Kelly Mannarino was integral to infiltrating and investing in legal casino gambling operations in Cuba back in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was widely reported and well confirmed that he held a controlling interest in the San Souci Hotel & Casino in Havana, during the years of 1949 to approximately 1952 or so.
He was point man for the Pittsburgh Family in these endeavors, utilizing a versatile Florida-based hood named Norman Rothman as a shill and frontman. Additional Miami based associates included “Slim” Silverhart and “Sheikie” Levine.
Side Note: In 1958, a major scandal took place involving Sam Mannarino and dictator Fidel Castro in Cuba. Sam was accused with several of their minions (including Speedo Hanna and Rothman) of secretly running a large cache of guns and rifles to Castro for his revolution.
A private plane chartered from Allegheny Valley Airport was intercepted and seized by federal agents. It contained 121 carbine rifles stolen from a U.S. Armory in route to Havana, Cuba and Castro’s rebels who were fighting Cuban dictator Fulgencio Battista at the time. Sam’s son-in-law Vic Carlucci was one of two men later convicted in this gun-running scheme.
Although the mobsters came under intense investigation by the federal government for it, they were unable to prove the allegations. But there is no question that the Mannarino’s were involved and guilty of it.
Another legitimate business venture Kelly involved himself in was the Family Drive-In Movie Theatre, located at Leechburg Road, back on his home turf of New Kensington. On the incorporation papers, a Nathan Farber was listed as President, with Mannarino listed as vice-president. In 1958, the property alone where the drive-in was located was valued at $150,000…big money for the 1950s.
Kelly was always a live-wire and big earner, and more of a money guy than a push-nose hoodlum. And although he didn’t have a reputation as a gunsel or strong-arm per se, all inducted mafiosi must be capable of doing “work” if called upon.
This became clearly evident in 1957 when a West Virginia gambler named Nick Miller was found dead in the truck of his car which had been left on a deserted street. Miller had been requested to come to Sam Mannarino’s home for a meeting.
Upon arriving there, he was led into the basement den where he and Sam joined Kelly, Al Ross, and John Fontana for a conversation. Within a few minutes time, Ross and Fontana had subdued Miller while the Mannarino brothers had thrown a makeshift garrote around Miller’s neck (either his own necktie or the cord off an electric iron), strangling him to death…his killing was thought to have been ordered out of Detroit, with the Pittsburgh crew handling it as a courtesy to boss Joe Zerilli.
The Mannarino’s were also suspects in another gangland killing said to have taken place in Kensington during the 1930s.
Informants related to law enforcement that another killing was that of a man named Arabia, who was found shot in the head around 1942 in New Kensington. Word was that the Mannarino mob was behind it.
Even earlier in 1937, Kelly was alleged to have machine-gunned a two-block section of storefronts along Fifth Avenue as an intimidation tactic.
Gabriel Mannarino was well known nationally within Cosa Nostra. He had many good friendships among important mafiosi and top bosses throughout the underworld not the least of which included:
• LaRocca, Amato, and all top members of his Pittsburgh crew.
• Pittston-Scranton, PA. boss Rosario (Russ) Bufalino, his underboss Dave Osticco, and capo Angelo (Sandy) Sciandra. Mannarino was actually caught at Apalachin in 1957 attempting to escape a NYS Police dragnet in a car with some of these men.
• James (Westfield Jimmy) Salamone – a “made” guy under Steve Magaddino in Buffalo and boss of the Erie, PA area in his own right. Salamone was said to have been a good friend and sometime gambling partner of Kelly.
• Tampa, Florida boss Santo Trafficante Jr.
• Top Florida-based gamblers and Gambino soldiers Joseph (Joe Rivers) Silesi and Joseph (Joe Scootch) Indelicato.
• Capo Michael (Trigger Mike) Coppola and his top Miami based aide, soldier Patsy Erra.
• Max (Big Maxie) Stern of Detroit – He was a top hoodlum active in vending machines, gambling and other rackets in that city for decades. He and Kelly were such close friends that Mannarino flew out to Detroit in order to attend Maxie’s funeral after Stern dropped dead of a sudden heart attack in 1972.
• Lucchese capo James (Jimmy Doyle) Plumeri, whom he was indicted with in a criminal case back in 1969.
…and many more.
Vending Machine Rackets
S & S Distributing Company, 1263 Third Avenue, New Kensington. This was a cigarette machine vending firm that supplied machines to bars and grills, restaurants, diners, gas stations, etc. Opened in 1953, it was owned outright by Mannarino and became a main source of quasi-legitimate income for him for years.
Located at the same address on Third Avenue, the Nu-Ken Novelty Company, was started by Kelly, who partnered with his brother Sam, racket brothers Albert and Willy Sams, Tommy Tannas (who was also trainer-manager of several top prize fighters including champ Ezzard Charles), and F.W. (Red) Zogg, in the operation of another coin-machine firm. This company offered jukeboxes and pinball game machines as well.
During a federal probe by the FBI in 1951 for an “interstate transportation of gambling devices” investigation, Kelly Mannarino admitted he had console-type slot machines on the premises. Agents soon secured a seizure warrant, raided the warehouse and confiscated 20 one-armed bandits found there. Since they were not in operation at the time of the raid, nobody was arrested in the probe.
Side Note: Some say that this harassment by federal authorities is what encouraged the Mannarino’s to ship many of their slot machines down to Cuba. Informants told the FBI that the Mannarino brothers had a complete monopoly on the distribution of pinball machines in both Arnold and New Kensington, PA., through Nu-Ken Novelty Company.
Sources estimated that the Mannarino’s had approximately 300 to 400 pinball machines operating in practically every restaurant, bar and hotel in the Kensington-Arnold area with each machine bringing in an estimated $35 to $50 a week.
The IRS was also later called in to check for improprieties into how much of the cash revenue collected was actually being reported for tax purposes. It was suspected but never proven that the Mannarino’s and their partners were “skimming” gross receipts in a well-orchestrated sales and income tax-evasion scheme.
It was always suspected that tens of thousands of dollars in coins were “going south” on a regular monthly basis and finding their way into underworld pockets.
On that note, neither Kelly nor Sam were known to ever utilize a check book, preferring to always deal in cold cash.
The brothers had been very friendly for many years with Daniel Shiarella who was a top official of the First National Bank of New Kensington. They also were in tight with BertramWilson, an official of the Mellon National Bank and Trust Company.
Using the above connections, they were suspected of having washed untold millions through these local financial institutions over the years.
As if these massive (and very lucrative) businesses and racket schemes described above were not enough, Kelly and Sam Mannarino operated some of the largest and most lucrative illegal casinos in all of Pennsylvania. Certainly the largest in all of New Kensington and its outer environs.
An excellent example of this was the Triangle Billiards Gambling Casino, located for years at 938 Barnes Street in New Kensington.
It operated with such impunity from law enforcement scrutiny, raids and arrests that you’d think they had a license…and they did! In the form of a steady bribery, or “Pad”, as it’s called in the business.
Side Note: It was reported that 1950s Mayor Raymond Gardlock and the majority of his City Council was “owned” lock-stock-and barrel by the Mannarino’s.
It was an arrangement that lasted for at least a decade or better. In fact, the Chief of Police for the New Kensington Police Department, John Bordonaro, had been personally selected by Kelly. They felt so comfortable in their absolute control of the police department that they didn’t even bother to operate the game as a hidden “floating” game or casino, so as to keep “under law enforcement’s radar” so to speak. Open to the public between the hours of 10 pm to 6 am nightly, seven days a week for years, without any interference whatsoever from local police.
As their main attraction, the Triangle Casino offered a popular high-stakes Greek dice game called Barbut, plus the standard crap game nightly. It brought a regular and steady stream of gamblers, with weekend crowds packing the casino with as many as 300 people from destinations as far away as Steubenville and Warren, Ohio and Wheeling, West Virginia.
It was said by reliable underworld sources that the Triangle Casino brought in as much as $2,000,000 a year, with as much as $100,000 changing hands during a given evening.
Like I said, you would have thought they had a license. Even places like mobbed up New York City and Chicago never operated so openly like the Pittsburgh mob did in New Kensington under the Mannarino brothers, especially with the volume and huge clientele they had.
Down the road, Kelly later switched out from Barbut in order to stimulate business and started running “skin”, or card games. The Red Rock Club, operated in the basement of the Garibaldi Building a few blocks away was another notorious casino-style gambling operation run by the Mannarino crew.
Helping the Mannerino’s oversee their massive illegal gaming rackets was a small army of gamblers and hoodlums who were directly under the auspices of Kelly in his crew.
Additionally, many regular townfolks filled in with full-time or part-time jobs as; luggers, doormen, lookouts, runners, gofers, maintenance men, repairman, vending machine route men and mechanics, all of whom were used as a supporting cast to help these vast gambling operations run smoothly.
The Mannarino’s were most often looked upon by New Kensington’s residents as “local boys done good”. And the townspeople looked out for their own, which meant that most of them did their best to protect their “mafiosi” from outside dangers and federal investigations…in truth, they were also protecting themselves because many of them derived income off the areas gambling rackets as well.
Among the more significant members and associates of his core crew were as follows:
• Albert (Al Ross) Seid – FBI #584183 – A well-known strong-arm and mob affiliated gambler. Seid, a Russian Jew, was said to have handled much of any “heavy work” required.
• Regime soldier John Fontana was another close associate who was later formally inducted into the Family with Mannarino’s “proposal.” He originally served as Kelly’s driver-bodyguard and aide. He helped handle varied gambling operations (mostly the dice games). He had been convicted in a voter fraud investigation. Fontana would eventually fall from favor with Kelly after he complained to LaRocca that he wasn’t making enough money under Mannarino.
• A young up and coming gambler named Thomas (Sonny) Ciancutti. As he came of age, Ciancutti would eventually become one of Kelly Mannarino’s key minions. It was also said that Sonny was formally inducted as a soldier in later years. He had a brother Louis Ciancutti who also operated as a bookmaker within this network. At one point Sonny was installed to run a florist business, Jean’s Flower Shop in the Squirrel Hill area, that was used as a numbers drop to better control that neighborhood’s daily policy volume.
• Andrew (Andy) Mangini – As a young man, he worked as a card dealer in their casinos. He also handled part of the crew’s shylock business. Andy took on more responsibilities as he came of age.
• Joseph Merola – A well-known jewel thief who operated down in Miami under the protection of Kelly for a time.
• Michael (Mike the Greek) Hajadakos – Kept the financial books for some of the Barbut and dice games. Also suspected of investing mob money in real estate and properties in his native Greece.
• It was also noted by the FBI at the time of investigation that Mannarino ultilzed the following musclemen for any strong arm work or threats required; Sonny Ciancutti, Andy Mangini, “Speedo” Hanna and Al Seid.
• Other associates included Lou Cavaliere, who was basically a legitimate businessman who used to hold racket cash and other valuables for Mannarino.
• And Nicholas (Nicky Jerome) Giorano. The FBI suspected Giorano of shylocking Mannarino’s money in the Miami area and was also thought to be the probable source of cocaine for Sam Mannarino, shipping it up to New Kensington. Giorano was also known to transport stolen jewelry into Cuba to fence off to people in that country.
• William (Willie) Sams was another close associate. Regarded at one point as overall boss and overseer of the crew’s numbers policy business which was a large operation that encompassed all of New Kensington and its outer neighborhoods. The business was said to have grossed approximately $15,000 a day in numbers volume, and utilized Attilio “Atty” DeFelice for their lottery network. He was said to be the one actually managing the day to day activity and handling any “lay off” betting required to help balance the books with supervision from Sam.
At one point the Mannarino crew also took over the running of a large numbers business in Claireton, PA. It had been previously run by an independent operator named Hassan Tahir until his death in 1971. The political bosses of the area actually reached out to Kelly and his crew asking them to come in so as to maintain the “graft” they were receiving.
An agreement was soon made, and Mayor Jack Matz started getting $1,500 monthly to allow Kelly’s guys to operate unimpeded. Mannarino and fellow capo Tony Ripepi were said to split the numbers volume from there.
Crew associate Hyman (Pittsburgh Hymie) Martin ran a large distribution ring for the “Empire Treasury” lottery tickets that he printed and was allowed to sell through the various Mannarino numbers outlets under their control. At one point Hymie relocated down to Florida but left the operation in the hands of his brother Nate Martin. They later expanded into handling the “Pan American” tickets as well.
Kelly was said to have shared in the profits of this profitable lottery operation.
John (Shriggs) Cirigliano was another top numbers operator allied with Kelly. Shriggs was known as being very successful handling numbers and Treasury Balance lottery tickets through the years for Mannarino and himself, so much so that he built a beautiful $60,000 home off Freeport Road and a second home on Valley Street in New Kensington from his profits.
Another reputed operative was Earl (Early) Fields, a black numbers “controller” in the Mannarino operation who oversaw a group of black numbers runners in the “colored” section of town. Early owned the Fields Hotel located at 12th and Fourth Avenues in New Kensington, and was said to control the “colored” vote in town for the mob.
There were many others in the crew as well. These included guys like Davey Lawrence and a Syrian named Spiro Hanna who were supervisors of Barbut games. Mannarino ran a large regime consisting of several LaRocca Family soldiers and numerous associates.
Horse Betting Parlors
In 1960, federal authorities said that the Mannarino mob also operated several horse “parlors” around town over the years which would typically feature a tote board, about fifteen to twenty telephones, ticker-tape, and a direct wire to several race tracks that were running at the time. It was not untypical to see forty to fifty persons in the parlors with many of them being local, bored housewives.
Numbers Lottery Racket
The Pittsburgh Family was always known to be heavily engaged in the numbers policy business and the Mannarino crew was no exception.Kelly operated a bank which moved periodically so as to keep one step ahead of the federal tax men or daring independent robbery crews, or “cowboys” as we call em.
A typical Mannarino bank was usually well insulated with at least one steel-reinforced door, adding machines and calculators, account ribbons, and other tabulating paraphernalia used in their daily operation. A lookout was also usually on duty for added protection.
The bank normally had a separate “drop” location that was a vacant storefront where runners and collectors would drop their envelopes or paper bags stuffed with numbers slips through the mail slot in the door for later retrieval promptly between 2:00 and 2:15 pm daily.
It was alleged that Mannarino controlled upwards of ten such numbers stores around New Kensington where his collection men would go each day religiously between Noon and 1:15 pm to pick up their daily numbers slips for deposit to that vacant storefront for eventual redelivery to the bank itself.
On July 17, 1958, a squad of 25 agents from the Intelligence Division of the IRS raided a numbers collection bank and arrested four gamblers for gambling conspiracy, possession of policy slips, and failure to obtain Federal Gambling Tax Stamps.
In a follow-up raid related to the same investigation, IRS agents raided three more numbers writing parlors arresting several men and confiscating piles of numbers bet slips and $1,300 in cash. All those nabbed were charged with failure to obtain wagering tax stamps.
Continuing their probe, on December 18, 1958, Intelligence agents staged another surprise raid on several additional numbers locations situated directly across the street from the huge Alumimum Steel Company of America plant in New Kensington which catered to employees of the large plant.
Five of Mannarino’s numbers operators and henchmen were arrested on varied policy gaming charges and released on bond.
After gathering and examining all the information and evidence provided by federal authorities, Gabriel Mannarino was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury on March 19, 1959, where he was grilled for an hour and a half…nothing would come of his appearance or the probe that led to it.
Side Note: Remember that this was almost immediately after Kelly was nabbed at the infamous Apalachin Mafia Summit Meeting as one of 62 top mafiosi from across the United States who had gathered on November 14, 1957.
Side Note: When nabbed by New York State Troopers, Mannarino was riding in a car with underboss Michael Genovese, and Pittston PA, Bufalino Family capo’s Angelo Sciandra and James Osticco.
Then, back to back several months later on June 10, 1959, both he and Pittsburgh boss Sebastian John LaRocca were hauled before Senator Bobby Kennedy’s “Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field”, where they each refused to answer all questions on the advice of counsel…pleading their constitutional rights under Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination.
The government had conveniently indicted 27 Apalachin attendees (of 62 nabbed) just weeks earlier on “conspiracy to obstruct justice” charges. The 35 other attendees were named as unindicted co-conspirators. Mannarino was among this latter group.
Side Note: After being legally tortured by authorities for several years, all defendants in the Apalachin case would be vindicated. The federal appeals court threw out any and all subsequent convictions stemming from that fateful fall barbecue up at Binghamton Boss Joseph Barbara’s palatial estate in Apalachin, New York.
But the massive unwanted publicity it caused would follow the Mannarino’s for the rest of their days.
For a time during the late 50s Kelly and Sam each hid from federal investigators and subpoenas with their names on them. It was said that various hideouts included Sarge Botti’s house in Wilmerding, and Kelly’s brother-in-law Sonny Amato’s home in East McKeesport.
In 1958, in order to duck a subpoena Sam and Kelly hid for a time at the Roman Catholic Church parish house of Mount Saint Peters R.C. Church in New Kensington.
Side Note: The Monsignor Nicola Fusco, head of the parish was an extremely close and good friend of Kelly’s. It was said that although Mannarino wasn’t a “Holy Roller”, he contributed to the church regularly and would fund any needs Monsignor Fusco had, including trips to Italy and the Vatican as needed or desired. I am sure Fusco is the one who willingly hid Sam and Kelly from the federal investigators.
Fast-forwarding to the early and mid-1960s. Despite all the adverse exposure from Apalachin, Kelly and Sam continued to profit from an almost interrupted flow of gambling income. New minions for their crew in the form of gamblers, hoods and street guys seemed to gravitate around them even more now that the Mannarino name was more popular than ever.
In 1963, it was reported to the FBI that a New Kensington gambler named Michael (Mike the Greek) Zappas ran a profitable Barbut game called the 120 Club across from a movie theatre on Federal Street. Kelly was partnered in this game, and Zappas pushed to further expand their share of the numbers business on the Northside as well. While in operation he reportedly paid Kelly $250 a week and John Fontana $150 a week as their shares of the game.
Kelly had many such arrangements and partnerships with varied gamblers across the city. All was going smoothly and then it happened…
On May 10, 1963, he was indicted by the feds for filing false tax returns for the years 1957 and 1958. It was a large 17 count indictment naming six people including his brother Sam; mob associate William (Willy) Sams, Anthony Wardoclip and Raymond Calcagno. Kelly was named in 9 of those 17 counts including; two counts of false information on his personal returns for 57’-58’, six counts on their corporate returns for Nu-Ken Novelty Company, and a conspiracy count.
On May 13, Mannarino surrendered himself to U.S. Marshall’s and wasbrought for arraignment before United States Commissioner Alexander L. McNaugher. He was released on $2500 bail.
He fought the case and the final disposition was a washout. Kelly skated again!
By 1969 Mannarino would figure into another high profile case…his most publicized ever. He was one of a gaggle of top Pittsburgh, New York and Detroit mob figures indicted in a complex multimillion-dollar Teamsters Pension Fund loan fraud case.
In an interlocking series of five indictments, Pittsburgh boss John LaRocca, capos and soldiers Lou Volpe, Joe Sica, Mannarino and Frank Rosa, were among those nabbed along with NYC mafiosi Salvatore Celembrino, Peter DeFeo, James Plumeri, Ernest Lanzieri and Salvatore Granello.
Several lawyers, a Teamster Pension Fund accountant, a mortgage broker, as well as a top figure in Detroit’s Zerilli mob, Pete Corrado, were arrested as well. In a weird and very unique twist on the usual, after a lengthy trial before a jury, all mafia connected defendants were acquitted, but all the others convicted…the wiseguys walked again!
Throughout the 1970’s Kelly did his best to fade into the background. He did his thing, whatever that was, in a quiet and inconspicuous way.
Gabriel (Kelly) Mannarino died a relatively young man on July 11, 1980, at the age of 64, after reportedly suffering from cancer. He had also suffered from Diabetes and a host of other ailments in his later years.
1980 – The end of the line! (Part 1- click to enlarge)
1980 – The end of the line! (Part 2- click to enlarge)
Kelly outlived his older brother Sam by 2 years, who had died at age 62 in 1967. It was the end of an era…and New Kensington was never the same. During their lifetimes the Mannarino brothers had literally put that small town on the map.
A Funny Postscript: A Catholic Mass was offered for Kelly at Mount Saint Peter’s Church…the very same church he and Sam were said to have hidden out in back during the late 1950s, while ducking federal investigators and subpoenas for their testimony during Bobby Kennedy’s Senate Hearings following the Apalachin Convention in 1957…. New Kensington had truly protected and sheltered their “hometown boys done good” from cradle to grave!