John Nardi
John Nardi
General Information:
Occupation: street vendor, teamster, mobster, enforcer, racketeer, mafia family associate
Date of birth: (1916-01-21)January 21, 1916[1]
Born in: Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died: May 17, 1977(1977-05-17) (aged 61)
Died in: Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Cause of
car bomb
Criminal record (If any):
Known for:
  • former associate of Irish-American Cleveland mobster Danny Greene
  • War with the Cleveland Mafia
  • Mafia Wiki Script.png

    }} John Nardi (January 21, 1916 − May 17, 1977) was an prominent and influential associate of the Cleveland crime family who was involved in labor racketeering and a wide array of other illegal activities. At the end of his criminal career, Nardi turned against the Cleveland family in a bloody gang war, aligning himself with Irish mob boss Danny Greene in a bid to take over the Cleveland rackets.


    Early years

    Born Giovanni Narcchione in Cleveland, Nardi began his mob work as an enforcer for the local vending machine workers union. He was the cousin of Anthony Delsanter, brother of Nicholas Nardi, a member of the Los Angeles crime family, and father of John Nardi, Jr. and Carol Nardi. Nardi would become a representative of his uncle Anthony Milano, a retired Consigliere from the Cleveland crime family. He earned his first police record entry in 1939 at the age of twenty three. He had been employed by vending workers union to sell the services of their repair technicians. Sometimes he was too enthusiastic. When Nardi threatened a bar owner with bodily harm, the then Safety Director Elliot Ness ordered him to be arrested. Eventually, the charges were dropped. Nardi soon became business partners with Ohio Teamsters official William Presser, a mob associate and father of future Teamsters president Jackie Presser in several Jukebox companies.

    By the 1940s, Nardi had become a member of the Vending Machine Service Employees Local 410, part of the Teamsters Union. He soon became secretary-treasurer of the Local. Nardi also formed ties to Jimmy "the weasel" Fratianno a future boss of the Los Angeles crime family with whom he also ran a bookmaking operation in Cleveland's Little Italy. Nardi soon built numerous street rackets such as drug trafficking, extortion, labor racketeering, arms trafficking, illegal gambling, and loan sharking.

    Alliance with Danny Greene

    Nardi could have enjoyed a bright future with the Cleveland family, but he was too independent and ambitious to accept its structure. Not content to wait years to become a made man, or full member, of the organization, Nardi eventually stopped paying tribute to the family. By the late 1960s, the Cleveland family was losing patience with Nardi due to his independence and his ties with Danny Greene, the boss of Cleveland's Irish mob. In 1976, Nardi returned from Florida where he successfully defended himself against federal narcotics and gun-running charges. His uncle, Anthony Milano, was hoping to have his son, Peter Milano, return from the West Coast to work with Nardi. Upon his return, he approached Danny Greene for an alliance. The Cleveland crime family had already made several attempts on Nardi's life and Nardi needed to find allies. Greene saw that Nardi's street rackets would be a valuable addition to his organization.

    Gang war

    John Nardi attending a funeral

    In 1976, the smouldering dispute between the Cleveland family and the Greene-Nardi alliance broke into open warfare. Both sides started planting car bombs in mobsters' cars. The warfare escalated with the murder of Cleveland Underboss Leo Moceri. Each year the Cleveland family ran the Feast of the Assumption festival in the Little Italy section of Cleveland. At the end of the 1976 festival, Nardi claimed that the Cleveland family owed him a share of the illegal gambling profits from that event. Moceri publicly denied Nardi's claim and the two sides exchanged threats. In the summer of 1976, Moceri disappeared; in August his Mercedes-Benz sports car was found soaked in blood. Greene and Nardi then went after "the Animal" Eugene Ciasullo, the family's most feared enforcer. Ciasullo was seriously injured by a bomb placed on his front porch.

    In 1976, after the Moceri murder, James T. Licavoli and new Underboss Angelo Lonardo went to New York to talk to Anthony Salerno, the titular head of the New York Genovese crime family. The two Cleveland mobsters wanted Salerno's help in murdering Greene and Nardi. Nardi and Greene had previously taken a trip to New York to discuss a partnership with Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano about a meat business venture in Texas. Salerno agreed to speak to Castellano and to have Nardi and Greene murdered on their next trip to New York. However, neither Greene or Nardi travelled to New York again.


    There were three murder attempts on Nardi's life by Cleveland crime family assassins Butchie Cisternino and Allie Calabrese prior to his eventual murder. They tried to murder Nardi in Little Italy with a high-powered sniper rifle and a uzi submachine gun. Another attempt was made a few days later by a mounted .50 caliber machine gun inside a black van, they fired at Nardi dozens of times while he was walking down the street going to a restaurant for lunch, while black van was slowly moving they fired at Nardi over 50 times, Nardi was able to escape thru an alley, but was shot once in the leg by one of the massive .50 caliber bullets which could of easily blown him to pieces because the bullets are so large, Nardi had a huge hole in his leg but survived, leaving him in a cast and with a crooked walk. The third attempt on Nardi was two months later, while he was driving, stopped at a red light, they opened fire on Nardi a pistol and shotgun, shooting thru his windows and windshield, but again Nardi escaped unscathed. In response to these murder attempts, Nardi threatened that everyone responsible for taking shots at him would be killed.

    Newspaper clip on Nardi's Death

    Just weeks before his death, Nardi granted an interview to a reporter inquiring about a rumor that Licavoli and he were feuding. During the interview, Nardi stated that he and Licavoli were lifelong friends and vehemently denied the allegations that there was a feud between them. He also denied that Danny Greene worked for him stating that they were just friends.

    On May 17, 1977, in Cleveland, a nail bomb was placed in a car next to Nardi's vehicle in the rear of the parking lot of the Teamsters Joint Council 41, across from the musicians union. When Nardi left his office and entered into his vehicle, the nail bomb was detonated by remote control. The impact from the explosion blew away both of Nardi's legs and his right hand and also impaled him with dozens of nails all over his body. According to the book To Kill the Irishman by Rick Porrello, as Nardi was being pulled away from the wreckage, Nardi whispered "It barely hurts" in a final act of defiance. He was pronounced dead within 30 seconds. His ally and associate Danny Greene was also murdered by the Cleveland crime family by a nail bomb just five months after Nardi's death, and all of Greene's and Nardi's allies and associates were also murdered by the Cleveland crime family days later, some 30 of Greene's and Nardi's allies and associates were killed by the Cleveland crime family.

    In popular culture

    In the 2011 film Kill the Irishman, John Nardi was portrayed onscreen by actor Vincent D'Onofrio. In the film, Nardi is portrayed as a high ranking Cleveland crime family member rather than an associate. Being passed over for promotion to boss of the family and James Licavoli taking over Nardi's rackets prompts Nardi to fully align himself with Greene.


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