Paramount among the many Calabrian criminals operating in the area was Vincenzo Tripodi. Arguably the most notorious racketeer in the Steubenville area. With his “compare” Cosmo Quattrone, Tripodi came to control and was widely recognized as the dominant underworld power in the area.
The small city of Steubenville, Ohio, with a current population of 17,800 (its 1940 high was 37,000), has always been recognized as having a “mafia” presence. Since as early as 1915, numerous Calabrian factions operated what amounted to “Black Hand” gangs who ran extortion and shakedown rings. They were also into kidnapping for ransom.
As the years passed and they became better established, these early Calabrese racketeers were well poised to capitalize on the advent of Prohibition, enacted in 1920. As their brethren across the country did as well, Steubenville’s hoodlums ran illicit alcohol stills, smuggled liquor, and ran speakeasies to liquefy the town’s populous and keep them “wet.”
Another major racket operated was the “Italian” lottery, which received its winning “number” from Italy weekly.
These two primary rackets sustained the regime until the repeal of Prohibition in 1932, at which time they made a major shift into all forms of big-time gambling; policy, dice, cards, slot machines, and horse and sports bookmaking.
Fun Fact: Before Las Vegas, and the Islands became major gambling mecca’s, little ole’ Steubenville, Ohio, was considered one of the premier casino locations in the country. Although technically illegal, with a wink of their eye, crooked politicians allowed much of the gambling to go on unimpeded. Commonly known as “Little Chicago”, it was a largely lawless little city for decades. Indeed most of the croupiers and card dealers that staffed those first Las Vegas casinos had been transplanted from Steubenville.
Another interesting fact was that the Cellini brothers, Dino and Eddie, hailed from Steubenville. The Cellini’s were mob associates and gambling experts who were very closely affiliated with Meyer Lansky and his crew. They managed and oversaw various gambling casinos in Las Vegas, the Bahamas, and London, England for Lansky and the mob for years.
Utilizing their prior control over the illicit-liquor market, they also expanded or converted previous speakeasy, backdoor-watering holes into legitimate businesses. By the late 1940’s they owned and operated numerous fully-licensed restaurants, nightclubs, bars, and taverns. They listed many of these locations as their “legit” employment for the taxman.
Paramount among the many Calabrian criminals operating the area was Vincenzo Tripodi. Arguably the most notorious racketeer in the Steubenville area. With his “compare” Cosmo Quattrone, Tripodi came to control and was widely recognized as the dominant underworld power in the area.
What follows is Tripodi’s in-depth biography and a storyline of their Steubenville regime or “outfit.”