Russell Alfredo “McGhee” Bufalino

Advertisement

Russell Alfredo “McGhee” Bufalino

Birth
Montedoro, Provincia di Caltanissetta, Sicilia, Italy
Death
25 Feb 1994 (aged 90)
Kingston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial
Swoyersville, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA GPS-Latitude: 41.3049188, Longitude: -75.8650591
Memorial ID
View Source
Organized Crime Leader. Russell Bufalino was born Rosario Alberto Bufalino in Monteforo, Sicily, but he grew up in Buffalo, New York where he became involved the Cosa Nostra criminal organization. He was allegedly involved in labor-racketeering in the coal and garment industries, illegal gambling, loan-sharking and drug trafficking. In 1940, he become underboss to Joseph Barbera's Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family. Although the organization was small, it was influential due to its central location and its ties to the Bonanno and Buffalo crime families. Bufalino helped organize the Alpalachin mob meeting that took place in Alpalchin, New York on Nov 14, 1957. He took over the organization when Barbera died in 1959. In the 1960s, he was named among the top Mafia bosses by Joseph Valachi during his testimony to the U.S. Senate. It was rumored that Bufalino had contacts in the CIA and took part in the Cuban Project (Operation Mongoose) plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. In 1978, he was convicted of extortion and sentenced to four years. In the early 1980s, he was sentenced to 10 years for conspiring to kill the witness from his earlier conviction. He was released in 1989 after serving 7 1/2 years. While he was in prison his position in the Northeastern family was given to Bill D'Elia, but he continued to be a significant influence in the Cosa Nostra organization. Bufalino denied that he was a crime boss, and claimed he worked in the garment business in Pennsylvania and a Florida computer business. He died of natural causes at the age of 90.

Russell Bufalino, 'don Of Dons,' Dies The Kingston Resident Was The Reputed Head Of One Of The Country's Most Powerful Crime Families. He Was 91
By DAWN SHURMAITIS and ROBERT SITTEN; Times Leader Staff
Writers Saturday, February 26, 1994

KINGSTON — Russell Bufalino, the last of Pennsylvania's old-school
Mafiosi, is dead. Bufalino died at 2:10 p.m. Friday at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital. The Kingston resident was 91. The "don of dons" headed one of the most influential crime families in America, according to law enforcement officials who knew Bufalino. Bufalino's death is expected to trigger a power struggle between Young Turks dictionary says this is cq! jockeying to gain control of this area, considered prime because of its proximity to New York City and the deep woods of the Poconos. Crime bosses in New York City, Buffalo, N.Y., and New Jersey will be clamoring to claim their piece of the action, law enforcement officials said. "I don't know if there'll be an out and out war, but there will be interest in acquiring control of this area," said Joseph C. Peters, director of the drug and organized crime unit of the state Office of Attorney General. "It's something we'll be monitoring."

According to the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, the Bufalino family built its power and influence on widespread labor-racketeering activities in the area's coal and garment industries. During the years, the organization expanded to illegal gambling, loan-sharking and drug trafficking, the commission said. The power of the aging crime boss apparently remained strong, even from a nursing home. About a year and a half ago, reputed mob boss Vincent Amuso was captured in Scranton by the FBI. He was surmised to be under Bufalino's
protection at the time, according to Alan A. Block, a professor of
administration of justice at Penn State. "A guy of that stature couldn't have hidden out in a place like Scranton unless he was being protected by Bufalino," Block said. Bufalino was released from federal prison in 1989, after serving six years and eight months of a 10-year sentence for conspiring to kill a government witness set to testify against him. In the book "The Last Mafioso," Bufalino is mentioned along with Frank
Sinatra and Sam Giancana. "I've got a case coming up and this fink's trying to nail me," he's quoted on law enforcement surveillance tapes according to the book, written by Ovid Demaris. "Ain't that great?" In 1982, Bufalino testified before the Pennsylvania Crime Commission that he worked all his life as a mechanic and a businessman in the garment industry. "Are you familiar with the Mafia?" the state's crime commissioner asked. "No, sir," Bufalino replied. During the questioning at the Lackawanna County Courthouse, Bufalino was
accompanied by attorney Michael Casale and Wilkes-Barre lawyer Charles Gelso. Gelso was evicted from the courtroom after the Crime Commission chairman said he was disrupting the proceedings by criticizing the tenor of some of the questions. When reached Friday, Gelso declined comment. Law enforcement agents said Bufalino arranged the notorious 1957 Apalachin, N.Y., "convention" of leading mobsters, which determined the Bufalino family's future direction.
Bufalino's name also was linked to the 1975 disappearance of former
Teamsters' Union president Jimmy Hoffa, investigators said.
Vital region
Bufalino made Northeastern Pennsylvania a vital region for the New York crime bosses, Block said. Mobsters on the run from New York used to hide out under Bufalino's care in Pittston and Scranton. The mob in Northeastern Pennsylvania provided a safe haven for infamous
mobsters like Jack Parisi, who fled a murder indictment in New York in the 1940s and moved to Easton. "When there was a little bit of heat he went to Pennsylvania and nobody bothered him," Block said. "That gives you some indication of Bufalino's power."

Bufalino's influence stretched into Binghamton and possibly Rochester, N.Y. He was a powerful figure in New York City because of his association with the Genovese family. In the 1960s and 1970s, Bufalino was temporarily head of the family, according to John Philip Jenkins, a criminal justice professor at Penn State. His notoriety went beyond the Eastern Seaboard; nationally, he was one of the most important Mafia bosses. "There's a theory that the Mafia in the United States is run by a 'National Commission,' made up of New York's five families and five or six members from other cities. Bufalino was one of the most important on that commission for 30 or 40 years," Jenkins said.
Kept quiet.
Bufalino was known in the mob as a businessman, well-respected in the community and well-connected politically. Unlike the flamboyant Nicky Scarfo, Bufalino maintained a low profile. "Scarfo was known for his penchant for violence," Peters said. "Bufalino kept his family traditional. He was quiet." Bufalino was first imprisoned in 1978 at age 74 after a federal jury found him guilty of extorting money from Jack Napoli, a mob associate turned informant. Bufalino served three years. Soon after his release, he was found guilty of conspiring to kill Napoli and sentenced to 10 years. He had been in poor health since 1987, when he was transferred from the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan., to a federal prison hospital in Springfield, Mo. Recent Pennsylvania Crime Commission reports said Bufalino's crime family
faltered in recent years because of his deteriorating health and criminal convictions of its key members. Bufalino was born Oct. 3, 1903, in Sicily and grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., where he married Catherine Sciandra. They lived most of their lives on Dorrance Street in Kingston.
Contributor: Eric Martin Larson (47172920)
Organized Crime Leader. Russell Bufalino was born Rosario Alberto Bufalino in Monteforo, Sicily, but he grew up in Buffalo, New York where he became involved the Cosa Nostra criminal organization. He was allegedly involved in labor-racketeering in the coal and garment industries, illegal gambling, loan-sharking and drug trafficking. In 1940, he become underboss to Joseph Barbera's Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family. Although the organization was small, it was influential due to its central location and its ties to the Bonanno and Buffalo crime families. Bufalino helped organize the Alpalachin mob meeting that took place in Alpalchin, New York on Nov 14, 1957. He took over the organization when Barbera died in 1959. In the 1960s, he was named among the top Mafia bosses by Joseph Valachi during his testimony to the U.S. Senate. It was rumored that Bufalino had contacts in the CIA and took part in the Cuban Project (Operation Mongoose) plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. In 1978, he was convicted of extortion and sentenced to four years. In the early 1980s, he was sentenced to 10 years for conspiring to kill the witness from his earlier conviction. He was released in 1989 after serving 7 1/2 years. While he was in prison his position in the Northeastern family was given to Bill D'Elia, but he continued to be a significant influence in the Cosa Nostra organization. Bufalino denied that he was a crime boss, and claimed he worked in the garment business in Pennsylvania and a Florida computer business. He died of natural causes at the age of 90.

Russell Bufalino, 'don Of Dons,' Dies The Kingston Resident Was The Reputed Head Of One Of The Country's Most Powerful Crime Families. He Was 91
By DAWN SHURMAITIS and ROBERT SITTEN; Times Leader Staff
Writers Saturday, February 26, 1994

KINGSTON — Russell Bufalino, the last of Pennsylvania's old-school
Mafiosi, is dead. Bufalino died at 2:10 p.m. Friday at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital. The Kingston resident was 91. The "don of dons" headed one of the most influential crime families in America, according to law enforcement officials who knew Bufalino. Bufalino's death is expected to trigger a power struggle between Young Turks dictionary says this is cq! jockeying to gain control of this area, considered prime because of its proximity to New York City and the deep woods of the Poconos. Crime bosses in New York City, Buffalo, N.Y., and New Jersey will be clamoring to claim their piece of the action, law enforcement officials said. "I don't know if there'll be an out and out war, but there will be interest in acquiring control of this area," said Joseph C. Peters, director of the drug and organized crime unit of the state Office of Attorney General. "It's something we'll be monitoring."

According to the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, the Bufalino family built its power and influence on widespread labor-racketeering activities in the area's coal and garment industries. During the years, the organization expanded to illegal gambling, loan-sharking and drug trafficking, the commission said. The power of the aging crime boss apparently remained strong, even from a nursing home. About a year and a half ago, reputed mob boss Vincent Amuso was captured in Scranton by the FBI. He was surmised to be under Bufalino's
protection at the time, according to Alan A. Block, a professor of
administration of justice at Penn State. "A guy of that stature couldn't have hidden out in a place like Scranton unless he was being protected by Bufalino," Block said. Bufalino was released from federal prison in 1989, after serving six years and eight months of a 10-year sentence for conspiring to kill a government witness set to testify against him. In the book "The Last Mafioso," Bufalino is mentioned along with Frank
Sinatra and Sam Giancana. "I've got a case coming up and this fink's trying to nail me," he's quoted on law enforcement surveillance tapes according to the book, written by Ovid Demaris. "Ain't that great?" In 1982, Bufalino testified before the Pennsylvania Crime Commission that he worked all his life as a mechanic and a businessman in the garment industry. "Are you familiar with the Mafia?" the state's crime commissioner asked. "No, sir," Bufalino replied. During the questioning at the Lackawanna County Courthouse, Bufalino was
accompanied by attorney Michael Casale and Wilkes-Barre lawyer Charles Gelso. Gelso was evicted from the courtroom after the Crime Commission chairman said he was disrupting the proceedings by criticizing the tenor of some of the questions. When reached Friday, Gelso declined comment. Law enforcement agents said Bufalino arranged the notorious 1957 Apalachin, N.Y., "convention" of leading mobsters, which determined the Bufalino family's future direction.
Bufalino's name also was linked to the 1975 disappearance of former
Teamsters' Union president Jimmy Hoffa, investigators said.
Vital region
Bufalino made Northeastern Pennsylvania a vital region for the New York crime bosses, Block said. Mobsters on the run from New York used to hide out under Bufalino's care in Pittston and Scranton. The mob in Northeastern Pennsylvania provided a safe haven for infamous
mobsters like Jack Parisi, who fled a murder indictment in New York in the 1940s and moved to Easton. "When there was a little bit of heat he went to Pennsylvania and nobody bothered him," Block said. "That gives you some indication of Bufalino's power."

Bufalino's influence stretched into Binghamton and possibly Rochester, N.Y. He was a powerful figure in New York City because of his association with the Genovese family. In the 1960s and 1970s, Bufalino was temporarily head of the family, according to John Philip Jenkins, a criminal justice professor at Penn State. His notoriety went beyond the Eastern Seaboard; nationally, he was one of the most important Mafia bosses. "There's a theory that the Mafia in the United States is run by a 'National Commission,' made up of New York's five families and five or six members from other cities. Bufalino was one of the most important on that commission for 30 or 40 years," Jenkins said.
Kept quiet.
Bufalino was known in the mob as a businessman, well-respected in the community and well-connected politically. Unlike the flamboyant Nicky Scarfo, Bufalino maintained a low profile. "Scarfo was known for his penchant for violence," Peters said. "Bufalino kept his family traditional. He was quiet." Bufalino was first imprisoned in 1978 at age 74 after a federal jury found him guilty of extorting money from Jack Napoli, a mob associate turned informant. Bufalino served three years. Soon after his release, he was found guilty of conspiring to kill Napoli and sentenced to 10 years. He had been in poor health since 1987, when he was transferred from the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan., to a federal prison hospital in Springfield, Mo. Recent Pennsylvania Crime Commission reports said Bufalino's crime family
faltered in recent years because of his deteriorating health and criminal convictions of its key members. Bufalino was born Oct. 3, 1903, in Sicily and grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., where he married Catherine Sciandra. They lived most of their lives on Dorrance Street in Kingston.
Contributor: Eric Martin Larson (47172920)