Antonio Musso (born 1893- died May 1958) known as "Tony", was the first boss of the Rockford crime family which he led from 1933 until his death in 1958.
Born in 1893 in Partinico, Sicily by the time he was in his early 20s Musso had traveled across the Atlantic and settled in Madison, Wisconsin. While in Madison Musso operated a pool hall and was said to be involved in the murder of Madison racketeer Anton Navarra in April 1924. During the early days of Prohibition Musso made a name for himself as the bootlegging king operating out of the 'Bush' section of Madison. By the mid 1920s he had moved in on the territory of Rockford, Illinois.
Determined to control the most profitable racket-bootlegging, transportation and stills-Musso systematically set about eliminating or controlling the competition. It was said that by the late 1920s he along with Gaspare Calo, Anthony Riela, Joseph Zammuto and others he had fulfilled his goal. With the exception of Giovingo brothers all bootleggers, speakeasy operators and whiskey haulers answered to Musso and company. When the Giovingo refused to comply the first one, Joe, was murdered in 1930.
Zammuto's rise to the top was briefly stalled when he was convicted in a sweep against gangsters involved in bootlegging. Zammuto served a brief two year hitch from 1930-1932. This would be the only noticeable time he served behind bars.
Upon Zammuto's return from prison it was evident that Musso was being backed by the Milwaukee crime family and Chicago Outfit (Musso was said to be a good friend of Al Capone) along with the Zito brothers of Springfield, IL. and the St. Louis crime family making Musso the crown prince. Musso's final opponent in the bootlegging racket was the last Giovingo brother, Paul, who Musso had murdered in 1933.
Boss of Rockford
After eliminating the Giovingo brothers, Musso had only one more hurdle and that was local bookmaker Charles Kalb. It was said that Kalb was the top gambler and lay off bookie around Rockford. Every vice peddler within the Rockford area by now was paying the Musso crime family with the exception of Kalb. After failing to heed several warnings Kalb was murdered in December 1937. Following this Musso would have a twenty year run at the top and rarely came under the scrutiny of law enforcement.
An item of noteworthy regarding Musso was his ability to pave the way for relocating gangsters. One in particular was Sam Oliveri who was born in Palermo, Sicily in 1895. Oliveri had first relocated to Chicago and became involved with what was called the Calumet City Cheese War. On the lam and looking for a home Musso invited Oliveri to Rockford. When the gangster arrived he quickly decided he wanted to go into the funeral business and proceeded to pressure John Gasparini, a well known and established funeral parlor operator. When he refused Musso intervened and Gasparini had a new partner. Oliveri would remain an active soldier until his death in 1969. The funeral home would often be used for a meeting spot to iron out differences. The funeral home is still in operation today.
As the 1950s began the Rockford crime family continued to prosper. Now aging and in poor health Musso did not attend the mob summit held in Apalachin, NY in November 1957. The historic meeting that was raided by local police ended up being a disaster. It was noted that Musso's longtime underboss Gaspare Calo was not in attendance either. Musso had sent capo Joe Zammuto to represent the Rockford regime. Zammuto, along with others, were picked up during the raid. The following year in May, Antonio Musso died.