Dominic Longo (born March 22, 1920 - died Oct. 10, 1985) Longo built the largest Toyota dealership in the USA in El Monte, CA. There were allegations that he was tied to the Los Angeles crime family, charges he denied to his death. He was specifically linked to L.A. mafia don Dominic Brooklier.
In 1967, Longo opened El Monte Toyota in suburban Los Angeles with five employees. By the end of that year he was the top-selling Toyota dealer in the United States -- a title he never relinquished.
By 1984, Longo Toyota was selling more than 15,000 cars and trucks a year. That total was more than twice as high as his closest industry competitor, a neighboring Ford dealership and was Toyota's top-selling dealer for 18 straight years; responsible for various customer service innovations.
Around Los Angeles, Longo was best known for his wild radio commercials performed by comedians Al Lohman and Roger Barkley. The spots often played up Longo's Italian heritage.
Alleged organized crime ties Edit
There were unsubstantiated allegations that Longo was a made member of the Los Angeles crime family under Dominic Brooklier in the 1970s. Author Michael J. Rothmiller investigated plenty when it came to alleged Mafia figures. And one name thrown out in former Detective Michael J. Rothmiller's book about the Los Angeles Police Department has prompted some veteran mob watchers to question his account of one episode--involving the huge Longo Toyota dealership in El Monte.
In his book, "L.A. Secret Police: Inside the LAPD Elite Spy Network," portrayed rumors about the late owner of the franchise, Dominic Longo, as an example of how detectives sometimes went overboard in their jobs, seeing a Mafioso behind every tree--especially when it came to prominent Italian-Americans. There was an "immense" file on Longo, he said, and detectives followed him all the time--but no one ever sought Longo "to hear his side of the story."
As Rothmiller tells it, Longo welcomed the chance to rebut the rumors of Mafia ties, explaining that he "grew up with some of these guys. I give them jobs, but they're nothing jobs."
Specifically discussed was "Jimmy Regace," also known as Dominic Brooklier, whom Longo said he paid $200 a week "to transport cars. . . . That's it". Supervisors in the Organized Crime Intelligence Division insisted Brooklier was "a Mafia don craftily posing as a car runner" and sometimes hung out at the car dealership.
Longo denied charges of being a member of the mafia to his death of natural causes on October 10, 1985.
After Longo died, his family sold the dealership to Roger Penske, who moved the store and expanded its business even more. But Penske knew better than to change the Longo Toyota name.