Paul John Carbo (born Paolo Giovanni Carbo; August 10, 1904 – November 9, 1976) better known as "Frankie Carbo" was a New York City Mafia soldier in the Lucchese crime family, who operated as a boxing promoter and a gunman with Murder, Inc.
Early years Edit
Born Paolo Giovanni Carbo on New York's Lower East Side, some sources claim his parents were from Agrigento, Sicily. Frankie Carbo was sent to the New York State Reformatory for juvenile delinquents at age eleven. Over the next ten years, Carbo would be in and out of prison on charges including assault and grand larceny. During this period, Carbo was arrested for the murder of a taxi driver who refused to pay protection money. Pleading not guilty, Carbo claimed self-defense. He eventually agreed to a plea bargain of manslaughter in exchange for a reduced sentence of two to four years. After serving 20 months in prison, Carbo was released.
With the passage of Prohibition, he began working as a hired gunman for several bootlegger gangs. In 1931, Carbo was charged with the murder of Philadelphia mobster Michael "Mickey" Duffy in Atlantic City, New Jersey; however, Carbo was eventually released. During the early 1930s, Carbo began working for Murder, Inc. under boss Louis "Lepke" Buchalter. He was later charged with the murders of bootleggers Max Greenberg and Max Haskell. Although held by authorities for over six months, Carbo was eventually released when witnesses refused to testify.
Murder record Edit
By the end of the 1930s, Carbo had been arrested 17 times and had been charged with five more murders. In 1939, Carbo was a prime suspect in the murder of informant Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg in California. This time, former Murder Inc. members Abe "Kid Twist" Reles and Allie "Tick Tock" Tannenbaum agreed to testify against Carbo. However, before the trial began, Reles, who was under police protection, fell to his death from a window of the Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island. His death was ruled a suicide, and the case against Carbo was eventually dismissed.
In 1947, it was rumored that Carbo had engineered the Bugsy Siegel murder in Beverly Hills, California.
Boxing Promoter Edit
During the 1940s, Carbo became a boxing promoter and changed his name to Frankie, working along with his Capo Ettore Coco, James "Jimmy Doyle" Plumeri, Frank "Blinky" Palermo, Harry "Champ" Segal and Felix Bocchicchio. The group was known as the "The Combination", together they were highly successful in fixing high-profile boxing matches. Carbo eventually became known as the "Czar of Boxing".
In a 2002 interview with The Observer, Budd Schulberg talked about Carbo and his partner Palermo and their involvement in a 1954 welterweight championship fight. "...Frankie Carbo, the mob's unofficial commissioner for boxing, controlled a lot of the welters and middles.... Not every fight was fixed, of course, but from time to time Carbo and his lieutenants, like Blinky Palermo in Philadelphia, would put the fix in. When the Kid Gavilan-Johnny Saxton fight was won by Saxton on a decision in Philadelphia in 1954, I was covering it for Sports Illustrated and wrote a piece at that time saying boxing was a dirty business and must be cleaned up now. It was an open secret. All the press knew that one - and other fights - were fixed. Gavilan was a mob-controlled fighter, too, and when he fought Billy Graham it was clear Graham had been robbed of the title. The decision would be bought. If it was close, the judges would shade it the way they had been told." Saxton was managed by Blinky Palermo. After losing his title to Tony DeMarco in 1955, he would regain it in a 1955 title match against welterweight champ Carmen Basilio, another fight considered to be fixed.
Sonny Liston Edit
By 1959, Carbo and his partner Blinky Palermo owned a majority interest in the contract of heavyweight boxer Sonny Liston, who went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship in 1962. From the start of his pro career in 1953, Liston had been "owned" by St. Louis mobster John Vitale, who continued to own a stake in the boxer. At the time Palermo and Carbo acquired their interest in Liston, the notorious Carbo was imprisoned on Riker's Island, having been convicted of the undercover management of prize-fighters and unlicensed matchmaking. According to both FBI and newspaper reports, Vitale and other mobsters "reportedly controlled Liston's contract", with Vitale owning approximately twelve percent. Liston fought 12 fights under the control of Carbo and Palermo.
Legal troubles Edit
In the late 1950s, Carbo started running into legal troubles. First, he was convicted of managing boxers without a license and was sentenced to two years in the New York City jail on Riker's Island. Following his release in 1960, Carbo was subpoenaed to appear before a Senate investigation committee to testify on his involvement in professional boxing. Carbo took the Fifth Amendment 25 times, answering "I cannot be compelled to be a witness against myself."
In 1961, Carbo and boxing promoter Frank "Blinky" Palermo were charged with conspiracy and extortion against the National Boxing Association Welterweight Champion Don Jordan. After a three month trial, in which U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy served as prosecutor, Carbo was sentenced to 25 years in Alcatraz Island Penitentiary in the State of California, and subsequently transferred to McNeil Island Correction Institution in the State of Washington. He was later transferred to United States Penitentiary, Marion in Marion, Illinois.
Granted early parole due to ill health, Carbo was released from prison. He died in Miami Beach, Florida on November 9, 1976.
Popular Culture Edit
In the 1990 film Goodfellas the Character Frankie Carbone (based on Lucchese crime family Associate Angelo Sepe) may have been named after Carbo.