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Charlie "Batts" Battaglia

Charles Joseph Battaglia (born November 12, 1917- died 1983) known as "Charlie" or "Charlie Batts" was a soldier in the Los Angeles crime family who later switched allegiance to the Bonanno crime family's Tucson, Arizona faction led by exiled mob boss Joseph "Bananas" Bonanno.

Biography

Born in Buffalo, New York, "Charlie Batts" was a soldier of the L.A. crime family and brother of fellow family soldier John Louis Battaglia. He eventually became a reputed capo of the L.A. mob. Battaglia had longstanding ties to the Brooklyn-based Bonanno crime family and to the sporadic violence of the "Bananas War" in New York. He was reportedly made a member of the Los Angeles family in 1953 by Jack Dragna.

The Two Tony's

On August 6, 1951, Battaglia along with Jimmy "the weasel" Fratianno, Angelo Polizzi, Leo "Lips" Moceri and Nick Licata participated in the murder of Anthony Brancato and Anthony Trombino, who were found shot to death in the front seat of a car near Hollywood Boulevard. Battaglia and the others were arrested for the crime but Licata had set up a phony alibi for everyone involved, and no one was charged with the murder and it remained unsolved until Fratianno entered the federal Witness Protection Program over 25 years later and admitted to murdering the duo.

In his book, The Last Mafioso, Jimmy Fratianno recalled that he and Battaglia were the two designated "hitmen" and Fratianno could see that Battaglia was nervous. It was his first "piece of work." He told Charley:

"Relax. It'll be over in five seconds. Remember, when they pull up, you slide into the back seat and wait until I'm in and the door's closed. Then cut loose. Hit the guy in front of you. Empty your gun. Then get out fast, walk across the street and Angelo (Polizzi) will be there to pick us up."

Jimmy smiled and asked him about the gun, "Is the safety off? Just don't shoot yourself in the balls."

The automobile containing Brancato and Trombino pulled up and stopped. When Battaglia fumbled with the door handle, Fratianno reached over and opened it. Charley climbed in with Jimmy right after him. Trombino was behind the wheel and Brancato was in the passenger seat in front of Fratianno. Jimmy pulled a .38 from his waistband, pushed it against the back of Brancato's head and fired twice. He then aimed at Trombino and emptied his gun. All the while, Battaglia sat frozen seemingly unable to draw his weapon, as Fratianno screamed at him. He finally pulled the gun and fired once. Bounding out of the automobile he raced towards Polizzi in the getaway car.

If Fratianno had told Jack Dragna, who had ordered the murder, about Battaglia's performance, he was sure that Charley would be "clipped." He decided not to say anything. The two were whisked away to Licata's son-in-law's house where they took showers, changed clothes and headed to the Five O'clock Club.

Life in Arizona

Battaglia on his way to court (Sarasota Herald-Tribune Nov. 14, 1970)

Battaglia allegedly switched allegiance from the L.A. mob to the Bonanno crew, whose members operated primarily in Tucson, Arizona and reputedly became a loyal lieutenant to Joe Bonanno. In the 1960s, in Tucson, there were at least 10 bombings in a span of 12 months that damaged homes and businesses that had some known or suspected links to the Mafia, especially to Pete Licavoli and the Bonanno's. Extortion, mob warfare and simple revenge all may have figured into the motives behind the blast. Some even accused the FBI of being responsible for the bombings. Police caught two men who admitted carrying out two of the bombings, but their contention that a mastermind put them up to it was never proved and remains a mystery to this day.

Confidential informants told law enforcement that Charlie "Batts" Battaglia ordered some of the bombings that came in the wake of the Bonanno and Licavoli attacks. In the late 1960s Battaglia was imprisoned in Leavenworth for extortion. During his time in prison authorities reportedly intercepted messages from Battaglia to Bonanno suggesting they divide Arizona; with Battaglia taking Phoenix and the north and Bonanno taking Tucson and the southern area of Arizona. Both mobsters were charged with conspiracy based on these messages but were acquitted after one witness disappeared and the other was discredited.

Battaglia reportedly died of natural causes on March 1, 1983 in Phoenix, AZ.

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