John Nardi (January 21, 1916 − May 17, 1977) was an prominent and influential associate of the Cleveland crime family who was involved in labor racketeering, extortion, loan sharking, protection racketeering and a wide array of other illegal activities. At the end of his criminal career, Nardi turned against the Cleveland crime family in a bloody gang war, aligning himself with Irish mob boss Danny Greene in a bid to take over the Cleveland rackets.
Early years Edit
Born Giovanni Narcchione in Cleveland, Nardi began his mob work as an enforcer for the local vending machine workers union. He was the cousin of Anthony Delsanter, brother of Nicholas Nardi, a member of the Los Angeles crime family, and father of John Nardi, Jr. and Carol Nardi. Nardi would become a representative of his uncle Anthony Milano, a retired Consigliere from the Cleveland crime family. He earned his first police record entry in 1939 at the age of twenty three. He had been employed by vending workers union to sell the services of their repair technicians. Sometimes he was too enthusiastic. When Nardi threatened a bar owner with bodily harm, the then Safety Director Elliot Ness ordered him to be arrested. Eventually, the charges were dropped. Nardi soon became business partners with Ohio Teamsters official William Presser, a mob associate and father of future Teamsters president Jackie Presser in several Jukebox companies.
By the 1940s, Nardi had become a member of the Vending Machine Service Employees Local 410, part of the Teamsters Union. He soon became secretary-treasurer of the Local. Nardi also formed ties to Jimmy "the weasel" Fratianno a future boss of the Los Angeles crime family with whom he also ran a bookmaking operation in Cleveland's Little Italy. Nardi soon built numerous street rackets such as drug trafficking, extortion, labor racketeering, arms trafficking, illegal gambling, and loan sharking.
Alliance with Danny Greene Edit
Nardi could have enjoyed a bright future with the Cleveland family, but he was too independent and ambitious to accept its structure. Not content to wait years to become a made man, or full member, of the organization, Nardi eventually stopped paying tribute to the family. By the late 1960s, the Cleveland family was losing patience with Nardi due to his independence and his ties with Danny Greene, the boss of Cleveland's Irish mob. In 1976, Nardi returned from Florida where he successfully defended himself against federal narcotics and gun-running charges. His uncle, Anthony Milano, was hoping to have his son, Peter Milano, return from the West Coast to work with Nardi. Upon his return, he approached Danny Greene for an alliance. The Cleveland crime family had already made several murder attempts on Nardi's life with bombs and drive-by shootings, and Nardi needed to find allies. Greene saw that Nardi's street rackets would be a valuable addition to his organization.
Gang war Edit
In 1976, the smouldering dispute between the Cleveland family and the Greene-Nardi alliance broke into open warfare. Both sides started planting dozens of car bombs in mobsters' cars. The warfare escalated with the murder of Cleveland Underboss Leo Moceri. Each year the Cleveland family ran the Feast of the Assumption festival in the Little Italy section of Cleveland. At the end of the 1976 festival, Nardi claimed that the Cleveland family owed him a share of the illegal gambling profits from that event. Moceri publicly denied Nardi's claim and the two sides exchanged threats. In the summer of 1976, Moceri disappeared; in August his Mercedes-Benz sports car was found soaked in blood. Greene and Nardi then went after "the Animal" Eugene Ciasullo, the family's most feared and vicious enforcer. Ciasullo was seriously injured by a bomb placed on his front porch. The Cleveland crime family retaliated by killing dozens of Greene and Nardi's associates with bombs. The Cleveland crime family was at war with Danny Greene, Danny Greene's Irish Mob, and John Nardi for over one year, and both sides were engaging in tit for tat bombing's against each other, and as the war escalated between both sides.
In 1976, after the Moceri murder, James T. Licavoli and new Underboss Angelo Lonardo went to New York to talk to Anthony Salerno, the titular head of the New York Genovese crime family. The two Cleveland mobsters wanted Salerno's help in murdering Greene and Nardi. Nardi and Greene had previously taken a trip to New York to discuss a partnership with Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano about a meat business venture in Texas. Salerno agreed to speak to Castellano and to have Nardi and Greene murdered on their next trip to New York. However, neither Greene or Nardi travelled to New York again.
Death EditThe Cleveland crime family was hell bent on killing John Nardi and Danny Greene and all of Danny Greene's gang and associates, so Cleveland crime family Boss James Licavoli ordered around 100 of his soldiers and around 30 mafia hitmen to kill John Nardi, Danny Greene and Greene's entire gang. There were four murder attempts on Nardi's life by the Cleveland crime family, and 2 attempts by Cleveland crime family hitmen Butchie Cisternino and Allie Calabrese prior to his eventual murder. Cleveland crime family hitmen, Butchie Cisternino and Allie Calabrese tried to assassinate John Nardi in Little Italy with a high-powered rifle, Nardi got shot in the left shoulder, but quickly recovered. The second murder attempt on John Nardi was made ten days later, which they tried murdering him with an M60 Machine Gun from a moving black van, Nardi got shot by the M60 Machine Gun 11 times, in the arms, legs, shoulder, upper back, and one bullet grazed Nardi in the back of the head as he was running away from his attackers, Nardi barely escaped with his life, but he was able to run into a nearby store where he passed out on the floor from loss of blood, the employees in the store called an ambulance immediately. Nardi died twice on the way to the hospital, but he was able to stay alive and recuperate, it took him three months to recover, while he was recovering in his home, Butchie Cisternino, Allie Calabrese and 13 other Cleveland crime family hitmen, attempted and planned to kill Nardi by discreetly breaking inside his house and throwing dozens of hand grenades in the upstairs room where Nardi was laying down in his bed, However, the plan did not go as planned, and they decided to leave because they all spotted FBI Agents parked outside of John Nardi's house, the FBI Agents was there for Nardi's protection. Another attempt was made around six months after Nardi recovered, where a 10 man Cleveland crime family hit-squad spotted Nardi and attempted to shoot at Nardi with shotguns and pistols from a moving white van, while Nardi was driving in his car, Nardi spotted the hit-squad before they had the chance to kill him, and Nardi was able to drive away and lose them, and Nardi did not get wounded. John Nardi's fourth assassination attempt was made just one month after his third murder attempt, another Cleveland crime family hit-squad planted 30 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives underneath Nardi's car, when Nardi got in his car, he immediately sensed that something wasn't right, and he stepped out of his car, and looked underneath his car and found the bomb. According to some sources Nardi kept the bomb to place it underneath the persons car that put it under his car. In response to these four murder attempts, Nardi threatened that everyone responsible for taking shots at him, and trying to bomb him would be killed.
Just weeks before his death, Nardi granted an interview to a reporter inquiring about a rumor that Licavoli and he were feuding. During the interview, Nardi stated that he and Licavoli were lifelong friends and vehemently denied the allegations that there was a feud between them. He also denied that Danny Greene worked for him stating that they were just friends.
On May 17, 1977, in Cleveland, a bomb was placed in a car next to Nardi's vehicle in the rear of the parking lot of the Teamsters Joint Council 41, across from the musicians union. When Nardi left his office and entered into his vehicle, the bomb was detonated by remote control. The impact from the explosion blew away both of Nardi's legs. According to the book To Kill the Irishman by Rick Porrello, as Nardi was being pulled away from the wreckage, Nardi whispered "It didn't hurt" in a final act of defiance. He was pronounced dead within minutes. Danny Greene was killed by a powerful car bomb just six months after John Nardi. The remaining 40 members of Danny Greenes irish Mob was all murdered by the Cleveland crime family, with bombs, and some of them was also gunned down. The Cleveland crime family reigned supreme in Cleveland, Ohio, Despite dozens of members being incarcerated after the death of Danny Greene, John Nardi, and Danny Greene's entire Irish-American gang.
In popular culture Edit
In the 2011 film Kill the Irishman, John Nardi was portrayed onscreen by actor Vincent D'Onofrio. In the film, Nardi is portrayed as a high ranking Cleveland crime family member rather than an associate. Being passed over for promotion to boss of the family and James Licavoli taking over Nardi's rackets prompts Nardi to fully align himself with Greene.