Frank "Bomp" Bompensiero (September 29, 1905 – February 10, 1977) was a Mafia hitman and longtime Capo in the Los Angeles crime family. In 1956, with the death of boss Jack Dragna, Bompensiero was reduced to the rank of soldier by the new boss, Frank DeSimone. He was the older brother of associate Salvatore "Sam" Bompensiero. Bompensiero made a name for himself for the many killings he committed on the orders of his superiors. Jimmy "the weasel" Fratianno, a close associate, once said that Bompensiero "had buried more bones than could be found in the brontosaurus room of the Museum of Natural History". A book on Bompensiero's life entitled 'A Bad, Bad Boy' by Judith Moore was released in July, 2009.
Early life and family
Bompensiero's family was from Porticello in Sicily. His family immigrated to the United States in 1904 along with the Balistieri family (Frank Balistrieri would eventually lead the Milwaukee crime family). His family were Mafioso themselves in Sicily before leaving. After the family settled in Milwaukee Bompensiero was born on October 29, 1905. As a child he attended Andrew Jackson Elementary School in Milwaukee, but dropped out after the third grade. While in Milwaukee, he worked at an automobile parts manufacturer. He moved to San Diego as a young man in the mid 1920s and also served in the United States Army for a year. It was during his time in San Diego that he worked in organized crime. He eventually married Thelma Jan San-Felippe and had one child, a daughter Mary Ann. He also had a grandson named Frank. His first address in San Diego was at 5878 Estelle St. before moving to the Pacific Beach neighborhood later on in his life.
Bompensiero's early career in San Diego dates to the 1920s. Here he met Jack Dragna, who was working for the Los Angeles crime family and became his mentor. During this time he was active in bootlegging in San Diego during the prohibition era. He was convicted of a liquor violation in San Diego and his other early arrests were for possession of firearms, illegal gambling, kidnapping and murder. He eventually served a year in McNeil Island Corrections Center for the liquor conviction and was released in 1933. Impressed with the young criminal, Dragna eventually made him a caporegime (captain), placing him in charge of all of the L.A. family's interests in San Diego. He was later wanted for murder and was forced to leave the city to avoid law enforcement scrutiny, but returned in 1941. During the 1940s and 1950s, Bompensiero owned a San Diego music store with Gaspare Matranga and a wire service company. He also owned the Gold Rail cafe in downtown that he owned with Dragna's son Frank and nephew Louis. Bompensiero and his men owned and operated several bars in the downtown area where they often conducted loan sharking operations. During this time he was also used by Dragna as a hitman in San Diego and Los Angeles. He was involved in one of the botched attempts on Mickey Cohen's life. His San Diego crew consisted of men like Anthony Mirabile, Paul Mirabile, Gaspare Matranga, Joseph Adamo, Biaggio Bonventre, and Joseph Li Mandri. His close associates in Los Angeles included Jimmy Fratianno and Leo Moceri, both of whom he teamed up with on multiple occasions to commit murder. In 1955, Bompensiero was convicted of bribery, and conspiracy in an illegal liquor license transaction and was sentenced to 3–42 years in prison. He began his sentence at Chino State Prison in Chino, Calif.. While in prison, his wife Thelma died of a stroke. Bompensiero was escorted from prison by the police so he could attend her funeral. He was later transferred to San Quentin State Prison in Northern California, the same prison where Jimmy Fratianno was serving a prison sentence.
During his time in prison, boss Jack Dragna died of a heart attack and Frank DeSimone took over the crime family. He demoted Bompensiero to soldier and placed Tony Mirabile as boss of San Diego. Outraged, Bompensiero attempted to transfer to the Chicago Outfit, but was unsuccessful. While on parole, Bompensiero worked several jobs for close associates. However, these were just front jobs to satisfy his parole requirements. Bompensiero had dealings in Las Vegas with Cleveland mobster Moe Dalitz and Chicago Outfit mobster Anthony Spilotro. He also counted retired Bonanno crime family boss Joe Bonanno in Arizona, and Johnny Roselli as his allies (although he'd have a falling out with the latter). In 1967, Bompensiero was arrested with Fratianno over a freeway dirt hauling bribery scheme involving Fratianno's large trucking company. In the El Centro jail, Bompensiero agreed to become an undercover FBI informant, and the charges against him were dropped.
In the early 1970s, Bompensiero and Spilotro started a loan sharking operation in Las Vegas. In November 1975, Bompensiero helped Spilotro murder Tamara Rand, a millionaire real estate broker and investor from San Diego. At the time, Rand was suing Allen Glick, a mob front man in Las Vegas, to pay back a $2 million loan that she had made to him. Spilotro sneaked into Rand's house and fatally shot Rand.
Falling out with Roselli
Although Bompensiero and Fratianno were close friends and shared many of their thoughts and feelings, Bompensiero despised another intimate friend of the Weasel's, Johnny Roselli. During the mid-1960s, Bompensiero told Fratianno about his reasons for disliking Roselli:
"These two guys (from Detroit) were having a feud and they went to see Joe Zerilli, each wanting the other guy clipped. So Mike Polizzi came to see me and this was strictly between us, nothing to do with the L.A. family. They tell me who they want clipped but I’ve got to do the job alone."
"As it happens I know the guy. So one night I see him at a party and I pull him aside. I says, 'Look here, you've been having this problem and the old man's given me the contract. I'm going to clip this guy but I'm going to need your help. Now this guy's all happy, see, and I tell him I’ve got a bad back and I need him to dig the hole. We go out to this fucking place I’ve picked out ahead of time and this guy starts digging the fucking hole. Works like a sonovabitch, this guy, sweating bullets. So finally he says, 'How's that? Deep enough.' I’m sitting down, resting, so I get up and I says, 'It's perfect.' He starts climbing out of the hole and I shoot the cocksucker in the back of the fucking head. Back down he goes in the hole and I fill it in.”
Bompensiero then told Fratianno that he was supposed to receive a percentage of the profits from the Frontier Casino gift shop in Las Vegas as compensation for the hit. When the Detroit mobsters reneged, Bompensiero went to see Johnny Roselli, the so-called "man in Las Vegas" to settle the beef. Instead, of it being settled in Bompensiero’s favor, Roselli ended up with a percentage of the gift shop there. Although Roselli later claimed to Fratianno that one had nothing to do with the other, Bompensiero would always hold this against Roselli and would freely badmouth him to Fratianno and others.
Murder of Les Brunemann
In 1937, Bompensiero was given the contract to murder mob associate George "Les" Brunemann for defying the mafia. Bompensiero and another gunman walked up behind him and put three slugs in his back, but Brunemann survived. During his recovery Bompensiero found out that Brunemann was having his dinners at a Redondo Beach restaurant, with one of his attractive nurses. On October 25, Bompensiero showed up with gunman Leo "Lips" Moceri. Moceri, who didn't trust Bompensiero, told Fratianno about the murder of Brunemann:
"I've got a forty-five automatic and the place's packed with people. I walk right up to his table and start pumping lead. Believe me, that sonovabitch’s going to be dead for sure this time."
“Bomp’s supposed to be by the door, watching my back to make sure nobody jumps me. I turn around and I see this large football player coming at me. Bomp’s nowhere in sight. Now I’m either going to clip this (guy) or he’s going to knock me on my ass. So I blast him and run out, and there’s Bomp already in the fucking car waiting for me. That guy showed me his color..." - Moceri then warned Fratianno, "If you ever work with Bomp, get him out in front of you instead of behind you".
Attempted murder of Mickey Cohen
After the murder of Bugsy Siegel in 1947, Jack Dragna attempted to take over the local gambling operations, and a feud erupted between him and Siegel lieutenant, Mickey Cohen. Cohen did not see Fratianno as his enemy yet.
On August 18, 1948, Fratianno, and his wife and daughter visited Cohen’s haberdashery shop under the guise of picking up tickets to see the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Outside was a hit squad waiting for the Weasel’s signal. Fratianno thanked Cohen for the tickets and, before leaving, shook the pint-sized mobster’s hand. What Fratianno wasn’t aware of was that Cohen had a strange fetish for cleanliness. As soon as Fratianno left, Cohen immediately retreated to a bathroom to wash his hands.
Once outside, Fratianno signaled Frank DeSimone and a car containing four men pulled up and three jumped out. At the same time, Cohen bodyguard, Harold "Hooky" Rothman walked out. Bompensiero, wearing sunglasses and a white Panama hat pulled low over his forehead, stuck a sawed-off shotgun in Rothman’s face and ordered him back in. As the other two gunmen ran past him, Rothman swung at the shotgun causing it to go off obliterating his face and killing him instantly. Two other Cohen associates, Al Snyder and Jimmy Rist, were slightly wounded, but the gunmen never got to Cohen who throughout his life had a miraculous record of avoiding murder attempts. After this failed attempt, Moceri would once more question Bompensiero's ability:
“It was Bomp's contract, and he blew it. Listen, (the others) didn’t know Mickey from a lamp post, but Bomp did. They go in there and blast away at Al Snyder thinking he’s Mickey. Then they shoot him in the arm, for Christ’s sake, While this's going on, Mickey’s in the shitcan, standing on top of the sink. They didn’t pump one slug through that door. Like a bunch of cowboys, they panicked and ran out instead of finishing the job.”
Forex sting and murder
Since the death of Los Angeles boss Jack Dragna, Bompensiero had been highly critical of the new Los Angeles family leadership. Boss Dominic Brooklier, who never trusted Bompensiero, finally lost patience and decided to have him killed. Bompensiero was an extremely cautious gangster and proved difficult to kill. To make Bompensiero less cautious, Brooklier promoted him from soldier to consigliere. Six months later, the Los Angeles family was still trying to get to Bompensiero. In 1977, the FBI set up a pornography business called "Forex" and used Bompensiero to convince the Los Angeles family to make an attempt to extort it. The sting operation worked, and Michael Rizzitello was given a subpoena. After the Forex indictments in February 1977, Fratianno questioned Bompensiero about the company. Unsatisfied with Bompensiero's responses, Fratianno became convinced that he was informant. A week later, on February 10, 1977, Frank Bompensiero was shot to death at close range with a silenced .22 caliber handgun while standing in a phone booth in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego. In 1978, Fratianno told law enforcement that mob associate Tommy Ricciardi killed Bompensiero in return for membership in the Los Angeles family. When Ricciardi shot Bompensiero, Brooklier was on the other end of the phone line and Jack LoCicero was waiting with the getaway car. The government later charged Ricciardi with Bompensiero's murder, but he died of heart disease before the trial could start. The rest of the defendants were acquitted at trial.