Joseph Cerrito (born January 25, 1911- died September 8, 1978) was a mobster and boss of the San Jose crime family.
Giuseppe Xavier Cerrito was born in Palermo, Sicily and immigrated to San Jose in the 1920s where he became associated with the local mob and quickly rose up in the ranks of the San Jose family. He was married to Elizabeth Agnes Ardizzone (possibly related to early L.A. crime boss Joseph Ardizzone). Cerrito owned a Lincoln and Mercury car dealership in the San Jose area and one in Los Gatos. Cerrito was a very successful businessman. Cerrito often frequented New York and Detroit and by the 1960s was a multimillionaire. Cerrito was associated with mafia members throughout the nation and in Sicily. He was one of many mob leaders that was arrested after the raid of the 1957 Apalachin Mafia Conference. In 1959, San Jose mafia boss Onofrio Sciortino died of natural causes and Cerrito became the new boss of the crime family.
In 1964, Cerrito was identified as meeting in Palermo, Sicily with Bonanno crime family mobster Francesco Garafolo, of whom Cerrito was a close associate, it has been speculated that they were either discussing Heroin trafficking or the gang war that was taking place in Brooklyn.
Cerrito and his men were involved in the extortion plot of the owner of Harold's Casino in Reno, Nevada in 1966. The owner owed Cerrito $5,000 plus interest. Cerrito threatened to kill the man if he didn't pay him the money. The owner refused to pay. Some of Cerrito's soldiers were dispatched to Reno but didn't have any luck at getting the money. Cerrito finally called for help from the guys in New York. The mob in New York sent Profaci crime family soldier John "Big John" Misuraca, older brother of San Jose mobster Pete Misuraca. John arrived in San Jose on October 15, 1966. Cerrito and John both went to Reno to get the money but the owner was not there. John went back to New York and Cerrito never got his money. It was all too much for a tough old-school mobster like John "Big John" Misuraca.
In 1968 LIFE Magazine identified Joseph Cerrito as the crime boss of the San Jose mob. He sued for libel but the case was eventually dismissed.
Cerrito retired and died of natural causes in 1978, his younger brother Salvatore Cerrito was also a member of the San Jose family and passed away in December of the same year. Joseph's son Salvatore Anthony Cerrito became an associate of the San Jose family in the 1960s and was once arrested for money laundering. Angelo Marino succeeded him as boss of the San Jose mob.