Charles Cavallaro

Charles Cavallaro (born 1902- died 1962) known as "Cadillac Charlie", was a Youngstown, Ohio gambling boss and associate of the Cleveland crime family. His sensational murder led Youngstown, Ohio to be dubbed "Crimetown USA".


Cavallaro was an Italian immigrant who claimed to have entered the US as a stowaway in 1921. He claimed to be a salesman of grapes used to make wine. Cavallaro became a Youngstown mob leader and was heavily involved in illegal gambling activities including high stakes dice games, the numbers racket and reportedly shared in the areas cigarette vending machine business. Cavallaro was associated with the Cleveland crime family through "Tony Dope" Anthony Delsanter and was a onetime driver and bodyguard to Detroit Partnership mobster John Mirabella. "Cadillac Charlie" was among the more successful gambling bosses in Youngstown during his time.

On November 23, 1962, "Cadillac Charlie" and his 11 year old son Thomas Cavallaro made national headlines when they were killed in a car bombing the day after Thanksgiving. Cavallaro was driving, Tommy and his 12 year-old brother Charles, Jr. to football practice. As he began to back out of his garage a bomb exploded ripping Cavallaro in half, killing Tommy (most of the 11 year old's body was never found) and maiming young Charles for life. Helen Cavallaro came running out of the family home to see what had happened, only to run back inside the house and barricade herself against the police, whom she knew were soon to arrive. Mrs. Cavallaro remained silent, refusing to speak to the authorities about who might have murdered her husband and their son. It was after this incident that John Kobler wrote a famous article for the Saturday Evening Post that would forever mark Youngstown as "Crimetown" and "Murdertown USA".


At the time of his murder, Cavallaro was facing deportation (a proceeding he had been stalling since 1935) and was suffering from health issues. Despite this someone apparently still felt that his presence in the Mahoning Valley was a threat. This incident outraged the entire country and the FBI responded by flooding the city with 40 new agents. Freelance arsonist and bomber for hire Dominic Moyo, who was a suspect in the murders of Vince DeNiro, Sandy Naples and Cavallaro was clipped for the bad publicity and crackdown that resulted from blowing up the little Cavallaro kids.

Cavallaro was prominently featured in the book "Crimetown U.S.A.: The History of the Mahoning Valley Mafia: Organized Crime Activity in Ohio's Steel Valley 1933-1963", by Allan R. May.

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