Frank John "Skinny" Velotta (died 2005) was a professional burglar and associate of the Los Angeles crime family. Some believe that Velotta was the boss of the San Francisco crime family during the late 1990s until his death.
Velotta was a native of Cleveland, Ohio and moved to California after completing a 1957 burglary term in prison. Velotta was once described as a tall, skinny man with brown eyes and thinning hair. He was reportedly highly skilled in bypassing hi-tech alarm systems. In early 1966, an FBI agent allegedly roused Velotta out of bed and warned him that J. Edgar Hoover himself had sent word that if one more bank got burglarized in northeastern Ohio, Frank and his crew would go down for it, whether they did it or not. The federal agent's threat of recrimination did not fall on deaf ears. In California, Velotta continued to lead a gang of burglars and became a close friend and confidant of Jimmy "the weasel" Fratianno who put Velotta's skills to good use. Fratianno would give Velotta's crew information on potential "scores" and take a percentage of the earnings. His crew of burglars consisted of fellow Cleveland area transplants to California such as Ray Ferritto, Julio Petro and also Bob Walsh, an ex-cop from Los Angeles turned burglar and con man. In both 1968 and 1971, Velotta spent time in prison for burglary after failed attempts at securing a "big score". He was released from prison in 1976. Upon his release, Velotta continued to do business with Fratianno and became an associate of Fratianno's Los Angeles crew. During the late 1970s and early 80s, Velotta ventured into the trucks-parts business with a man by the name of Sam Giarusso and was connected to San Francisco businessman, Joseph "Joe" Solomon, who owned a Trucking company in Seattle and produced the 1967 film 'Hells Angels on Wheels', starring Jack Nicholson. Velotta was once identified as an associate of the Los Angeles crime family in a mid 1970s organized crime chart, during which time the Los Angeles family was led by Nick Licata.
Velotta became Fratianno's constant companion, roommate and bodyguard when his mentor Fratianno's life came under threat by the Los Angeles crime family, then led by Dominic Brooklier, for allegedly trying to organize a take over bid of the Los Angeles family.
Velotta remained loyal to Fratianno until hearing that Fratianno was an informant. Before Fratianno entered the Witness Protection Program, Fratianno entrusted Velotta to deliver his Cadillac to his wife, Fratianno had recently purchased new tires for the car and Velotta switched the new tires from Fratianno's car with four badly worn tires from his own car before delivering it to the wife. Velotta would pay for this abuse of Fratianno's trust, which he perceived as an act of treachery. Fratianno appeared as a witness in two trials against Velotta, ultimately leading him to be sent away for 16 years in 1983 on drug charges.
Release from Prison
When Velotta was released from prison in 1995, he was one of the few mob members remaining in the San Francisco area out on the streets or not dead, along with prominent mobster Angelo Commito. Law enforcement articles from investigations alleged that Frank "Skinny" Velotta may have been the underboss or possible crime boss of the San Francisco crime family since 1996, but could not prove anything against him or bring him up on charges. They later found out Velotta was never a made member of the mob. During this time, there was never any conclusive reports on whether or not Velotta and Commito were either active together functioning as a "crew" or if the two men were active with another family or inactive. It was widely believed that Velotta was never officially inducted into the American Mafia, also known as La Cosa Nostra. His son Frank J. Velotta, Jr. is currently a reputed associate of the Cleveland crime family. Velotta reportedly died in 2005 of natural causes.
In Popular Culture
He was featured in the book "Superthief: A Master Burglar, the Mafia and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History" based on fellow burglar, Philip Christopher's life story.
He was also featured in the book "The Last Mafioso" by Jimmy Fratianno and Ovid Demaris.
He was also featured in the true crime book "Nobody Walks, Bringing My Brother's Killers to Justice" by Dennis M. Walsh