Angelo "The Gentle Don" Bruno (born Angelo Annaloro; May 21, 1910 – March 21, 1980) was a Sicilian-American mobster who ran the Philadelphia Crime Family for two decades. Bruno gained his nickname and reputation due to his preference for conciliation over violence. During his long-time peaceful and prosperous regime of the Philadelphia crime family, Angelo Bruno was one of the most powerful and successful mafia bosses in America.
Early years Edit
Born in Villalba, Sicily, Bruno emigrated to the United States in his teens and settled in Philadelphia. The son of a grocer, Bruno was a close associate of New York Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino. Bruno was a cousin of mobster John Simone. Bruno dropped the name Annaloro and replaced it with his paternal grandmother's maiden name, Bruno.
Bruno was married to Sue Maranca and had two children. Bruno owned an extermination company in Trenton, New Jersey, an aluminum products company in Hialeah, Florida, and a share in the Plaza Hotel in Havana, Cuba. Bruno's first arrest was in 1928 for reckless driving. Subsequent arrests included firearms violations, operating an illicit alcohol still, illegal gambling, and receiving stolen property.
Family leader Edit
He earned his nickname "The Gentle Don" after refusing to kill a rival mobster by the name of Antonio Pollina "Mr. Miggs", during the 1950's, both were front runners to become the new official Boss of the Philadelphia mob after the deportation of Joe Ida, Bruno gained the approval and backing of the New York mafia Comission to become the new boss with the help of his old friend and ally Carlo Gambino. In 1959, Bruno succeeded Joseph Ida as boss of the Philadelphia family. Over the next 20 years, Bruno successfully avoided the intense media and law enforcement scrutiny and outbursts of violence that plagued other crime families. Bruno himself avoided lengthy prison terms despite several arrests; his longest term was two years for refusing to testify to a grand jury. Bruno did not allow family involvement in narcotics trafficking, preferring more traditional Cosa Nostra operations such as bookmaking and loansharking. However, Bruno did allow other gangs to distribute heroin in Philadelphia for a share of the proceeds. This arrangement angered some family members who wanted a share of the drug dealing profits.
Bruno preferred to operate through bribery rather than intimidation, extreme violence, brutality, and murder. For instance, he banished an extremely violent soldier, Nicodemo Scarfo, to the then-backwater of Atlantic City for being too violent and ruthless.
Later in his tenure, Bruno had to deal with the New York crime families desire to operate in the increasingly lucrative Atlantic City gambling industry. The Five Families thought Atlantic City was far too lucrative for the Philadelphia family to get all of the action, even though Atlantic City had long been regarded as Philadelphia's turf. While under Mafia rules, they couldn't set up shop in Atlantic City without Bruno's consent, Bruno knew better than to try to challenge the New York families. Each family was a lot stronger than his and any attempt to challenge them, could have led to Bruno's death. Instead, he allowed them to operate in Atlantic City in exchange for a cut of their profits. This decision didn't go over well with his underlings.
Rebellion and death Edit
Several factions within the Philadelphia family began conspiring to betray the aging Bruno. On March 21, 1980, the 69 year-old Bruno was killed by a shotgun blast in the back of the head as he sat in his Cadillac Seville, with him at the time of his murder was future Boss of the Philly mob John Stanfa, who at the time was Bruno's driver. It is believed that the killing was ordered by Antonio Caponigro (aka Tony Bananas), Bruno's consigliere. A few weeks later, Caponigro's body was found stuffed in a body bag in the trunk of a car in New York City. About $300 in bills were jammed in his mouth and anus (to be interpreted as signs of greed). The Commission had reportedly ordered Caponigro's murder because he assassinated Bruno without their sanction. Other Philadelphia family members involved in Bruno's murder were tortured and killed.
After Caponigro's murder, Philip Testa led the family for one year until he was killed by a nail bomb at his home. Testa's death resulted from an attempt by Peter Casella, Testa's underboss, and Frank "Chickie" Narducci, a capo, to become the Philadelphia boss and underboss. After Testa's death, Nicodemo Scarfo took over the Philadelphia family. In the ensuing years, the Philadelphia family would be decimated by government informants, more infighting, and the prosecutions of Scarfo and other mobsters.