Matranga was born in Sicily and was the leader of the Matranga clan of San Diego. He was the son-in-law of Detroit mob figure Giovanni Priziola as was his brother Frank Matranga who was married to Priziola's other daughter. Joseph and his brothers Gaspar, Frank and Leo made up the nucleus of the San Diego crew of the L.A. family. Joe wielded tremendous influence in the area in which he operated along with members of the Los Angeles crime family and Chicago Outfit mainly through their representative Chris Petti. Much of Joe's influence was garnered from his family ties not only to Priziola but also to Salvatore Vitale another member of the Detroit mob with strong ties to the Sicilian mafia and an international drug smuggling ring.
Boss of San Diego Edit
Joe and the rest of the Matranga clan had operated in San Diego for years under the wing of Anthony Mirabile, who had succeeded Frank Bompensiero as the boss of San Diego. So close were the two that Mirabile agreed to set up Frank Borgia, a man who many thought was Tony's closest friend. Borgia had been at odds with Matranga and went to Detroit leader Joseph Zerilli for permission to hit Joe but instead returned to San Diego with a price tag on his head. Borgia was disposed of by an efficient hit team consisting of Mirabile, Frank Bompensiero, Jimmy "the weasel" Fratianno and Carlo Licata. Fratianno later related that the body had been disposed of by Joseph Adamo and Biaggio Bonventre.
Matranga inherited most of the rackets empire left by Mirabile upon his death in 1958. Matranga would continue to buy, sell and operate bars and nightspots much like his mentor throughout his career.
Joseph and his brother Frank purchased the La Mesa Bowl club with $1.1 million in funds from a teamsters pension fund loan. The Matranga brothers under the name of Show Bar Inc., applied on December 19, 1962 for a liquor license for the La Mesa Bowl located at 7380 Parkway Drive in La Mesa. The application for the liquor license was quickly withdrawn when objections were made by the La Mesa City Council and Police Department on February 25th of 1963. Joseph arranged for Vincent Provenzano to obatain the license under the name of Recreation Center Inc., in a petition filed on the same day the Matranga's withdrew their original request for a license. Joe waited another year before buying a majority interest in Recreation Center Inc., gaining control of the liquor license he had been denied the year before. The seemingly flawless plan came to a disappointing end when the license was once again recommended for revocation in December of 1964. In the end the Matranga's lost the liquor license of the La Mesa Bowl. This incident hardly served as little more than a nuisance to Matranga who continued to operate a variety of nightspots and clubs right up until the time of his death.
Another silent investor in many Matranga business ventures was cousin Frank A. Matranga of San Bernardino.
Conviction and later years Edit
Matranga's final brush with the law occurred in March of 1985 when he and brother-in-law Michael Polizzi were convicted of extortion, racketeering and loansharking. Matranga convicted on 10 of 14 counts but escaped with a relatively light 5 years in federal prison and 5 years of probation. The conviction stemmed from an operation which saw Matranga and Polizzi loan out more than $1 million dollars at a 10% monthly interest between 1976 and 1979. The majority of the loans were made to schemers and swindlers and a government informant by the name of Harry Hall.
During the trial tapes were played in which Joe threatened to kill hall if he failed to meet his obligations on the loan repayment. Matranga's defense claimed that he had never loaned Hall money and that Hall had obtained the funds through his elaborate schemes.
Matranga died of natural causes on October 7, 1999.