James Lanza was the boss of the San Francisco Crime Family who, despite the best efforts of federal law enforcement to make inroads against him, beat the FBI at their own game.
James Joseph Lanza – aka “Jimmy the Hat,” “Jimmy Lanza”, “Vincenzo Lanza,” and “Mariano Vincenzo Proetto” (TN) – was said to have been born in the little village of Castelbuono in Palermo Province, Sicily on October 25, 1902. He was one of four children, two sons, and two daughters, born to future Mafia boss Francesco (Frank) Proetto and Caterina (nee’ Albanese). Jimmy’s siblings were named Antonio (Tony), Grazia (Grace), and Rosina (Rose).
At the tender age of only two years old, in early 1905, the Proetto family immigrated to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island. Francesco and Caterina and their children resided for a number of years in New York City during which time Francesco allegedly joined up with a band of fellow Sicilian nationals to operate illicit rackets. This is also about the time that Francesco adopted a new name, Frank Lanza.