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John Giannola

Giovanni "John" Giannola (died either 1938 or 1955) was a founding member of the Sicilian Green Ones gang in St. Louis, Missouri from 1919 until 1927.


Giannola along with his brother Vito and Alphonse Palizzola founded the Green Ones gang in St. Louis, a gang that would later merge with others to form the St. Louis crime family. The Green Ones reportedly received their name from the farming communities in Sicily they came from. Palizzola, came from the Stoppagleria faction of the Sicilian Mafia. The Giannola brothers were first cousins to powerful Detroit Mafioso Antonino Gianolla and his brothers. The three went their separate ways once they arrived in America – John Giannola to Chicago, Vito Giannola to St. Louis, and Palizzola to Springfield, Illinois. A few years, later at Vito's urging, they rejoined in St. Louis. Soon they imposed a tax in the city's Italian community on all goods sold. With little resistance, the trio went about establishing a foothold in the rackets.

In 1923, Vito moved to take control of the wholesale meat industry. One recalcitrant distributor objected and was brutally murdered as an example to others. His body was found under the Kingshighway viaduct on September 16, 1923. Finding bootlegging a more prosperous venture, the trio soon found that the liquor trade in St. Louis was dominated by the non-Italian gangs. Their first major rival in the St. Louis underworld was Egan's Rats. When members of that gang were sent to prison in 1925, the Green Ones found a new adversary in the Cuckoos Gang.

The Green Ones struck the first blow in this battle. On September 14, 1925, John and Catherine Gray were murdered after complaining about having to purchase liquor for their Eagle Park resort from the Green Ones. The couple was shot dead in their automobile, which was then set on fire. The Cuckoos retaliated by shooting up a farmhouse hideout of the Green Ones where the gang had an alky-cooking operation. No one was injured.

On January 29, 1926, law officers, Ohmer Hockett and John Balke, attempted to shake down one of the Green One’s still operations. After ignoring an opening offer of $200, the two men waited until “the boss” arrived. The two lawmen were greeted by four members of the gang who beat them unconscious. The following day they were taken into the woods and watched as their graves were dug. The two men were then shot and buried.

Downfall of the Green Ones

On September 9, 1927, four gunmen blasted away at Palizzola on Tenth Street. Vito Giannola was the next to die when he was shot 37 times while hiding in the house of Augustina Cusumano on December 28, 1927. Giannola had chased away Cusumano's husband and had been living with the woman. Two men, claiming to be police officers, came to the house and, after finding Giannola hiding in a secret compartment upstairs, murdered him.

John went into hiding after the death of his brother and was never again a factor in the St. Louis underworld. He moved to Detroit and joined the Detroit Partnership. He was said to have died peacefully in his sleep in 1955 others claim he died in 1938.