John "Handsome Johnny" Roselli (July 4, 1905 – August 9, 1976) also known as "John F. Stewart" and "The Silver Fox", was a powerful and influential Captain (Capo or Caporegime) in the Chicago Outfit who helped tho Outfit control Hollywood and Las Vegas where he worked closely with the Los Angeles crime family. Roselli was also involved with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in several plots to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the early 1960s. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other conspiracy theorists believe Roselli was involved in United States President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. It is strongly believed by many conspiracy theorists, including the FBI that Roselli personally assassinated JFK on the orders from mob bosses Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante Jr, and Sam Giancana, it has been suggested that they used Roselli as one of the assassin's due to his military background as a sniper expert. It is also believed by the FBI that Roselli played a major role in the disappearance and murder of Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa. Rosselli was longtime allies and close friends with mafia godfathers Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante Jr., Russell Bufalino, and Sam Giancana.
For over 30 years, Roselli was one of the most powerful and influential mobsters in the United States. During the 1950s and 60's, Roselli was a billionaire, he was one of the richest and most powerful people in the world for over two decades. His highest net worth was a jaw dropping $10 billion. He owned hundreds of planes, cargo planes, jets, helicopters, yachts, ships, boats, and submarines all over North America. He also owned hundreds of houses, apartments, five-star restaurants, stores, bars, strip clubs, night clubs, casino's, hotels, and Mansions all over the world. He owned more than 500 homes all over the world, and he owned over 80 luxury mega mansions in the United States. He owned a lot of vehicles, limos, and exotic cars. He lived in a 40,000 square foot luxury mega mansions in Los Angeles, with over 50 bedrooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, movie theater, aquarium, massive golf course, marble fireplaces, jacuzzi rooms, sana rooms, tanning beds, libraries, weapon rooms, huge wardrobes, bars stocked with the most exquisite and expensive champagne, wine, whiskey, and cigars, luxury chandelier's, wine cellars, spa's, and he had a sophisticated security system, bomb-proof garage, and bulletproof windows. He had several maids, housekeepers, and gardner's. His mega mansions was guarded by a massive, razor-sharp barbed wire, and six German Shepherds. For decades, Roselli was an extremely powerful figure in the American underworld, and had tremendous influence on other powerful mobsters all over North America. Roselli had enormous political power, international influence and reach into the government, he had dozens of politicians and government officials in his pocket, and had a lot of police, judges, district attorneys, federal prosecutors, and mayor's on his payroll. He even had governor's and federal agents working for him.
Roselli was an became an extremely powerful international criminal during the 1940s to the early 1970s, he flew on his private planes to Cuba on a regular basis during Fulgencio Batista's regime, which he flew there for business purposes with Batista, and so he could operate his many businesses that he had there, such as his hotels, bars, strip clubs, horse-race tracks, and casino's, as well as his extortion, gambling, money laundering, drug trafficking, and prostitution rackets, which he made an incredible fortune on. Roselli was a highly respected mobster because he brought the American Mafia so much money, and made many bosses billionaire's. Roselli was so respected and powerful, he was granted he had an unofficial seat on the Commission. Roselli was making billions of dollars a year for the Chicago Outfit, which granted him so much power within the Outfit. He also spread the wealth and power to other mafia organization's, and he made fortunes for other bosses around the country. Roselli had strong ties to the Five Families, Philadelphia crime family, Bufalino crime family, Buffalo crime family, Los Angeles crime family, New Orleans crime family, Trafficante crime family, DeCavalcante crime family, Cleveland crime family, Patriarca crime family, Milwaukee crime family. He also had a strong alliance with a lot of Italian criminal organization's in Canada, Sicily and Italy, Rizzuto crime family, Camorra, 'Ndrangheta, and the Sicilian Mafia. Rosselli had alot of powerful friends within the government and law enforcement, he had strong ties to U.S. President Richard Nixon, Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista, Joseph Kennedy (JFK's Father), FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Making him one of the most powerful and dangerous people in the world. During the 1950 to 60s, Roselli was the most powerful and influential made man in La Cosa Nostra.
Born 'Filippo Sacco' in Esperia, Italy (in the Province of Frosinone) on July 4, 1905, Roselli had been best known by his mob nickname of "Handsome Johnny." He immigrated with his mother, Mariantonia Pascale Sacco and one Caterina Palazzo, from Italy to the USA in 1911, settling in Somerville, Massachusetts near Boston. At the time, his father, Vincenzo Sacco, was already residing in the United States. Fleeing to Chicago in 1922 after committing a murder, Sacco changed his name to "John Roselli" (in honor of Italian Renaissance sculptor Cosimo Rosselli) and became a member of the Chicago Outfit.
The exact date and reason for Roselli moving to Los Angeles is unknown. Some sources say that Al Capone or Frank Nitti sent him west to oversee the Outfit's business interests such as the racing wire and movie extortion scheme. However, Roselli moved to Los Angeles in 1924, before either Capone or Nitti became boss of the Chicago Outfit. He pleaded guilty to bootlegging beer in 1924 (then going by the name "James Roselli"). Roselli began his California criminal career working with Los Angeles mobster Jack Dragna. Roselli became close friends with film producer Bryan Foy, who brought Roselli into the movie business as a producer with Foy's small production company, Eagle Lion Studios, where Roselli is credited on a number of early gangster movies as a producer. In the 1940s Roselli was involved in the Outfit's multi-billion dollar extortion campaign against the motion picture industry.
In 1942, Roselli was indicted on federal labor racketeering charges along with George Brown, former president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union, and Willie Bioff, labor racketeer and former pimp. On December 4, 1942 Roselli, a professed U.S. patriot, enlisted into the United States Army. He served as a private until he was arrested March 19, 1943.
In 1943, after a year long trial on the racketeering charges, Roselli and several Chicago mobsters were convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, in 1947 they were paroled after serving only about three-and-a-half years. It was widely assumed that the Outfit's political fixer, Murray Humphreys, used his influence with President Harry Truman's Attorney General, Tom C. Clark, to spring Roselli and the other Outfit bosses from prison. After his release, Roselli returned to Hollywood in hopes of becoming a movie producer with Bryan Foy.
The astonishing power and influence The Outfit had over Hollywood is best illustrated in 1948 when Outfit boss Tony Accardo told Roselli to force powerful Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn into signing then-unknown actress Marilyn Monroe to a lucrative multi-year contract. The usually combative Cohn quickly complied without opposition, mainly because Cohn had obtained control of Columbia through mob funds and influence provided by both Accardo and Roselli.
In the early 1950s, Roselli gradually shifted his focus away from Hollywood and toward the fast-growing and highly profitable gambling mecca, Las Vegas, Nevada. By 1954, Roselli had become the Chicago and Los Angeles mob's chief representative in Las Vegas. His job was to ensure that the Chicago and Los Angeles mob bosses each received their fair share of the burgeoning casino revenues through, "skimming." However, according to the Los Angeles office of the FBI, Roselli was employed as a movie producer at Monogram Studios.
After the Cuban Revolution in January 1959, Cuban dictator Castro closed down all the mob casinos in Cuba and drove out the mobsters. Given that experience, Roselli, Chicago Outfit boss Sam Giancana, and Tampa boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. would be receptive to overtures on killing Castro.
In 1960, the CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Robert Maheu, who later would become a top aide to billionaire Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, to approach Roselli. Maheu passed himself off as the representative of international corporations that wanted Castro killed because of their lost gambling operations. Roselli introduced Maheu to two men he referred to as "Sam Gold" and "Joe." "Sam Gold" was Giancana and "Joe" was Santo Trafficante, Jr., the Tampa, Florida boss and one of the most powerful mobsters in pre-revolution Cuba. The agency gave the mobsters six poison pills to murder Castro. For several months, anti-Castro Cubans tied to the Mafia tried unsuccessfully to put the pills in Castro's food. In 1961, after the failed CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba, these assassination attempts, which included hit teams of snipers, trained on Roselli's secret CIA base in the Florida Keys, continued with a vengeance, now with CIA legend William "Wild Bill" King Harvey, taking charge of Roselli's efforts. Many researchers claim that because of the Kennedy's obsession with getting Castro, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, though angry about the CIA's use of one of his prime Mafia targets, chose to continue these efforts until the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962.
The assassination attempts by Roselli were publicized in 1971 by Jack Anderson, a Washington Post reporter, and acknowledged by the CIA in 2007 when it declassified the Family jewels documents.
In 1963, singer Frank Sinatra sponsored Roselli for membership in the exclusive Los Angeles Friar's Club. Soon after his acceptance, Roselli discovered an elaborate card-cheating operation run by one of his Las Vegas friends, Maury Friedman, and asked for his cut. The cheating was finally discovered in July 1967 by FBI agents tailing Roselli Scores of wealthy men (including millionaire Harry Karl, the husband of actress Debbie Reynolds, and actor Zeppo Marx) were bilked out of millions of dollars. Grant B. Cooper represented some of the defendants in the case, including Roselli. Roselli was eventually convicted and fined $55,000. During the trial, secret grand jury transcripts were discovered on the defense attorney's table. Cooper eventually plead guilty to contempt for possessing the documents.
In 1968, Roselli was tried and convicted of maintaining an illegal residence in the United States (he'd never acquired lawful US residence or citizenship) and was ordered deported to Italy by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. However, Italy refused to accept Roselli, so he remained in the United States.
On June 24 and September 22 1975 Roselli testified before the 1975 U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCIA) led by Idaho Senator Frank Church about the CIA plan to kill Castro, Operation Mongoose. Shortly before Roselli testified, an unknown gunman shot and killed the disgraced Giancana in the basement of his Oak Park, Illinois home. This happened just days before Giancana was to testify before the committee. Giancana's murder supposedly prompted Roselli (whose own power base disappeared with Giancana's death) to permanently leave Los Angeles and Las Vegas for Miami, Florida.
On April 23, 1976, Roselli was called before the committee to testify about a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Three months after his first round of testimony on the Kennedy assassination, the Committee wanted to recall Roselli. However, at this point, he had been missing since July 28. On August 3, Senator Howard Baker, a member of the new SSCIA, requested the FBI investigate Roselli's disappearance. Roselli had been living in Miami and left his home one day to go play golf and from then on went missing. His car was recovered at Miami International Airport with his golf clubs in the trunk. In the time leading up to his disappearance, many friends and family members had pleaded with Roselli to leave Miami to which he reportedly had quipped "stopped worrying about me, I'm not afraid to die".
On August 9, Roselli's decomposing body was found in a 55-gallon steel fuel drum floating in Dumfounding Bay near Miami, Florida. Roselli had been strangled and shot, and his legs were sawn off. Some believed that Santo Trafficante, Jr. ordered Roselli's death. According to this theory, Trafficante believed that Roselli had revealed too much about the Kennedy assassination and Castro murder plots during his Senate testimony, violating the strict Mafia code of omertà (silence).
Former hit man James Files has claimed that he, Roselli and "Chuckie" Charles Nicoletti fired the fatal shots killing Kennedy at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. However, there is no proof to support this claim.
New York mob boss Salvatore Bonanno claimed in his autobiography that while he was imprisoned with Roselli, he spoke to him about the Kennedy assassination. Roselli allegedly told Bonanno that he had fired a shot from a storm drain located on Elm Street in Dallas.
Former CIA pilot "Tosh" Plumlee claims to have flown Roselli from Tampa to Dallas, arriving on the morning of November 22, 1963, on a mission to abort the assassination of President Kennedy.