Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Bufalino crime family

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Founded by  Stefano LaTorre
Founding location  Pittston, Pennsylvania
Named after  Russell Bufalino
Years active  c. 1900–2008
Territory  Northeastern Pennsylvania Counties of Lackawanna and Luzerne, in Northwestern New Jersey, Southwestern New York and Southern Florida.
Ethnicity  Italian, Italian-American made men and other ethnicities as "associates"

The Bufalino crime family, also known as the Pittston crime family, or the Scranton Wilkes-Barre family, was an American Mafia crime family active in the Northeastern Pennsylvania cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Pittston.


Barbara and the Apalachin meeting

In 1957, Joseph Barbara, an alleged member of the Buffalo crime family, held a Mafia Commission meeting at his Apalachin, New York home. The meeting was preceded a few weeks before by the assassination of Albert Anastasia and a smaller meeting at the New Jersey estate of Ruggiero Boiardo. The Apalachin meeting was attended by about 100 Mafia heads from the U.S., Canada, and Italy. A raid by New York State Police caught many heads of families or their deputies. Many other family heads and their deputies were suspected of being present by law enforcement but evaded detection and capture. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed many of the cases on legal technicalities. The initial appeal before the second circuit was brought by Russell Bufalino and was successful, therefore, vindicating him of the ensuing conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges and as a result all those other mobsters apprehended at the Appalachin debacle. The granting of Bufalino's appeal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit greatly increased Bufalino's stature among Mafiosi on the national stage.

The Bufalino era

After John Sciandra's death of natural causes circa 1949, Russell Bufalino took control of the family as acting boss with Santo Volpe in an advisory role. Upon the death of Santo Volpe on December 2, 1958, Russell Bufalino officially took over the family. Bufalino maintained a close alliance with the New York Genovese family. Imprisoned in the late 1970s on extortion charges related to the collection of a debt, Bufalino's underboss, Edward Sciandra, became the acting boss of the family. Sciandra was aided in running the family by captains Anthony Guarnieri, James David Osticco, and Phillip Medico, Consiglieri Remo Allio, as well as soldiers William D'Elia, Angelo Bufalino, John Rizzo, Angelo Son, and Joseph Sperrazza. Bufalino was released from prison in 1980 briefly after serving his sentence for extortion. Towards the end of 1981 Bufalino was again imprisoned after being found guilty of conspiring to kill Jack Napoli, a witness in his 1978 extortion trial. Bufalino learned the whereabouts of Napoli, then in the Witness Protection Program, and conspired with Los Angeles mobster Jimmy Fratianno and another man he met in prison to murder Napoli. Fratianno turned government informant and testified against Bufalino at trial. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and released in 1989. Russell Bufalino died on February 25, 1994 of natural causes near Pittston, Pennsylvania.

D'Elia's leadership

William "Big Billy" D'Elia, became the new boss of the Bufalino crime family after the death of boss Russell Bufalino in 1994 and later, the retirement of Acting Boss Edward Sciandra. D'Elia, started his criminal career in the Bufalino family in the late 1960s as Bufalino's driver after his late sister married the only son of capo James David Osticco. According to the Pennsylvania Crime Commission D'Elia was placed in the crew of Caporegime Phillip Medico. D'Elia advanced through the ranks of the organization rather quickly due to the natural attrittion of members and indictments in the 1980s and 1990s. He took over the crime family's solid waste rackets and oversaw the traditional Mafia rackets run by the members and associates of the family. D'Elia also attempted to replenish the aging ranks of the family with limited success. As boss D'Elia worked with other crime families in New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Florida, and Los Angeles. In the 1990s, D'Elia was linked to a money laundering scheme involving numerous Northeastern Pennsylvania Bookmakers, Escort Services, corrupt politicians, and associates of Russian Organized Crime. D'Elia was closely aligned with the Philadelphia crime family. When Philadelphia crime family boss John Stanfa was imprisoned D'Elia was one of Stanfa's choices as interim caretaker of the family.

On May 31, 2001, agents from the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, US Postal Inspectors, and Pennsylvania State Police executed search warrants at the homes of D'Elia, his mistress Jeanie Stanton, Thomas Joseph, and former Pennsylvania Crime Commission informant Samuel "Cooch" Marranca, seizing records in an ongoing investigation. Marranca has been identified as an informant working for the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police. Marranca also testified on behalf of authorities against Louis DeNaples in front of the Fourth Statewide Investigating Grand Jury in regards to Mr. DeNaple's mob ties and his ownership of the Mount Airy Casino. Samuel " Cooch" Marranca also aided the Crime Commission in its investigation of Bufalino family member Joseph "Detroit" Sciandra and his involvement in the distribution of counterfeit designer clothing and sports wagering. On February 26, 2003, D'Elia was banned from entering any Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, based on information shared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.

On May 31, 2006, D'Elia was indicted on federal charges of laundering $600,000 in illegal drug proceeds obtained from a Florida-based associate of the Bufalino crime family among others including Luchese family associate Phillip " Fipper " Forgione. While D'Elia was free on bail, he solicited a U.S. Customs Agency informant to murder a witness in the case and was remanded to prison until his eventual guilty plea and sentencing. In March 2008, D'Elia pleaded guilty to witness tampering and money laundering. He was sentenced to nine years in prison. D'Elia cooperated with the government and testified against Louis DeNaples, the owner of Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos. In 2010, D'Elia got two years dropped from his sentence for his assisting the government's investigation against DeNaples.

Current status

According to James Kanavy, a former Pennsylvania Crime Commission investigator, there is no longer a Bufalino crime family.

Historical leadership

Boss (official and acting)

  • 1900-1903: Tommaso Petto—killed
  • 1903–1908: Stefano LaTorre—stepped down
  • 1908–1933: Santo Volpe—retired in 1933
  • 1933–1940: Giacomo "John" Sciandra—murdered
  • 1940–1959: Giuseppe "Joe the Barber" Barbara, Sr.—had a heart attack in 1956 and died in 1959.
  • Acting 1956–1959: Rosario Alberto "Russell" Bufalino—became boss
  • 1959–1994: Rosario Alberto "Russell" Bufalino—imprisoned from 1978–1989; retired, he died on February 25, 1994
  • Acting 1975-1989: Edward "Eddie The Conductor" Sciandra—imprisoned 1981-1982; he received help from Anthony Guarnieri and William D'Elia
  • Acting 1990–1994: William "Big Billy" D'Elia—became boss
  • 1994–2008: William "Big Billy" D'Elia—in 2006 he was indicted on money laundering, in 2008 he pleaded guilty and testified in front of a grand jury for leniency.
  • Former members

  • James Osticco: served as Underboss to Russell Bufalino. Died in 1990.
  • Charles P. Zaffuto: served as Consigliere to Russell Bufalino. Died in 1992.
  • Edward "Eddie the Conductor" Sciandra: served as consigliere to Russell Bufalino. Died in 2003.
  • Angelo Polizzi: served as consigliere to Giacomo Sciandra. He moved to Detroit and started the Polizzi line of L.C.N. figures in the Detroit area.
  • Anthony F. Guarnieri: former caporegime, died in 1992
  • Frank Cannone: former soldier, deceased, he ran a bookmaking operation in Binghamton, New York.
  • Anthony J. Mosco: former soldier, he was active in Binghamton, New York Musco served 17 years in Federal prison for racketeering along with Capo Anthony "Guv" Guarnieri and other family members and associates. He currently resides in Arizona and Florida and has been seen visiting with family members and associates in the Pittston area in recent years.
  • Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran: former associate Sheeran is a suspect in the disappearance of James R. Hoffa. He died in 2003.
  • References

    Bufalino crime family Wikipedia