Anthony C. Strollo (June 18, 1899 – April 8, 1962), aka "Tony Bender", was a New York mobster who served as a high ranking capo of the Genovese crime family for several decades.
Anthony Strollo was born in New York City, the son of Calabrian immigrants Leone and Giovannina Nigro. Strollo grew up in Manhattan near the Manhattan Bridge. Strollo had two brothers, Emilio and Dominick. He married a woman named Edna Goldenberg who bore him several children. Strollo was a cousin of Pittsburgh crime family mobsters Dante and Lenny Strollo, both members of the Youngstown, Ohio faction.
Strollo was of medium height and weight with sandy brown hair. Associates described him as usually having a doleful look. Strollo's legitimate job was that of a real estate salesman.
During Prohibition, Strollo gained a formidable reputation as a bootlegger and hitman. In the early-to-mid 1920s, Strollo worked for gang boss Giuseppe Masseria. However, after the Castellammarese War began in 1931, Strollo defected to Masseria's rival, Salvatore Maranzano, and become a trusted lieutenant and gunman.
Following the death of Maranzano, Strollo joined the Luciano crime family, headed by boss Charles Luciano. Strollo became a capo (lieutenant) for Luciano and underboss Vito Genovese. Strollo assumed control of the Greenwich Village Crew, operating illegal gambling in New York's Greenwich Village and Lower Manhattan districts.
On June 18, 1936, boss Charles Luciano was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison on a pandering charge, making underboss Vito Genovese the acting boss. Genovese designated Strollo as his right hand man.
In 1937, facing a probable murder indictment, Vito Genovese fled to Italy. Genovese wanted Strollo to keep control of the family for him, but Genovese's rival Frank Costello took over as acting boss and designated Willie Moretti as underboss.
In 1946, after being extradited from Italy to the United States and escaping indictment, Genovese returned to the family as a capo with Strollo as his assistant. Strollo supervised Genovese's rackets in Greenwich Village and the New Jersey waterfront for the next ten years. Strollo successfully operated a string of Greenwich Village nightclubs, including the popular Black Cat, the Hollywood, the 19th Hole (some say Christopher Furnari of the Lucchese crime family ran the 19th Hole), and the Village Inn.
On December 17, 1952, Strollo was summoned to testify at the New York State Crime Commission hearings. He was an uncooperative witness, claiming either a bad memory or refusing to testify based on his Fifth Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution against self-incrimination.
In 1957, Strollo assisted Vito Genovese in planning an assassination attempt on Frank Costello. On the day of the murder attempt, Strollo met with Costello in the late afternoon and learned his itinerary for the evening. Strollo then passed that information on to Genovese's hitman. Although Costello was only slightly wounded in the attack, he immediately retired from the family and passed the leadership to Genovese. Genovese now ran what we call today the Genovese crime family.
In 1959, Strollo changed loyalties again and joined in a conspiracy against Vito Genovese. After a secret meeting with Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino, Strollo allegedly participated in a plot to set up Genovese on a drug trafficking conviction. In 1959, Genovese was sent to prison for 15 years on narcotics trafficking charges.
The imprisoned Genovese now allegedly decided to kill Stollo. One theory is that Genovese learned that Strollo had betrayed him. However, a second theory states that Strollo had cheated Genovese of tribute from a drug operation.
On the morning of April 8, 1962, Strollo disappeared after leaving his residence in Fort Lee, New Jersey. His remains were never recovered and no one was ever charged in his disappearance.
When government witness Joseph Valachi later visited Genovese in prison, Genovese hinted at responsibility for Strollo's murder. There were rumors in late 1960s that Strollo was still alive, and had faked his death to avoid arrest. However, there is no substantiation to this story.
Strollo was portrayed by Guido Leontini in the 1972 film The Valachi Papers.