Joseph "JS" Sica (August 20, 1911 – November 21, 1992) was a longtime Los Angeles Mafia figure from Newark, New Jersey, that was involved in armed robbery, murder for hire, extortion, and narcotics distribution. His arrest record spanned from the 1930s through 1970s, with involvements in bookmaking, boxing match rigging, pension fund loan frauds, assaults, and more. Sica mentored many West Coast mobsters, including Mike Rizzitello and "the Animal" Anthony Fiato. He initially worked for Mickey Cohen upon his arrival in California before becoming a member of the Los Angeles crime family. Mobster Chris Petti was Sica's longtime partner in the Los Angeles and San Diego rackets. Sica's brothers Alfred, Angelo, and Frank were amongst his closest criminal associates.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Sica was first arrested in 1926 at age 15. Sica first became associated with organized crime in New Jersey and was part of a crew run by Lucchese crime family capo Settimo Accardi along with legendary mobsters Willie Moretti, Joe Adonis and Abner "Longy" Zwillman. Sica later moved to the west coast where in 1950 he was indicted with 15 other mobsters for conspiracy to distribute narcotics in California. However, the case was dismissed after Abraham Davidian, the prosecution's star witness, was shot to death while sleeping at his mother's home in Fresno, California.
During the 1950s, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations identified Sica as a prominent member of the Los Angeles crime family and an associate of mobsters Mickey Cohen, Salvatore Iannone, and Thomas DeMaio. Sica was a constant companion of L.A. mob boss Mickey Cohen and was always there when trouble broke out. He was one of the first organized crime figures to be banned from Las Vegas casinos when he was listed in the first "Black Book" in 1960.
Sica once refused an order by L.A. Boss Jack Dragna to kill friend Mickey Cohen. Defying Dragna made Sica a well-respected man amongst Cohen and his bookmakers, but it alienated the L.A. family against him. Cohen's bookies sided with Sica and in an attempt to avoid another gambling war, Sica gave up a piece of his lucrative bookmaking business to Dragna. Sica worked in Los Angeles so long that he eventually became a close associate of the L.A. family.
In 1959, Sica was arrested with mobsters Louis Tom Dragna, Frankie Carbo, Frank "Blinky" Palermo, and Truman Gibson for extorting Jackie Leonard the manager of boxing champion Don Jordan in 1958. They were accused of trying to muscle in on the fight earnings of Jordan. On May 30, 1961, they were all found guilty in Los Angeles Federal District Court of conspiring to extort money and of transmitting by interstate commerce threats of harm to Jackie Leonard and sentenced to prison times of various lengths. The defendants appealed their ruling and on February 13, 1963 the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of four of the defendants, with only Dragna's sentence being overturned.
Sica and his brothers would continue their gambling business and narcotics sales in LA and Northern California. Sica became a gambling kingpin who would meet his men from Northern California at the Pine Lake Lodge in Fresno. He proved he was an artist at extortion when he came up with the Idea of shaking down parking lot attendants on the classy club-filled Sunset Strip. Sica always had a crew of cutthroats to enforce for him.
Joe and his brothers Alfred Sica, Angelo and Frank Sica also had a new racket that was pretty lucrative. They took over a company called ActiveAire in Los Angeles that provided air hand dryers for bathrooms in restaurants and other places. They would go around and lease these to businesses for their locations at a premium. This would become a large source of revenue for the Sica Brothers. In 1960, Joseph was placed in Nevada's Black book, banning him every casino in Las Vegas.
The Sica's continued to be part of LA's Underworld from the 1940s until the 1990s when Joseph passed away. The Sica Brothers had long worked out of the Formosa Cafe. They were still running their empire from their ranch in the Valley all the way to Northern California in the shadows. The Sica's were never short of money making rackets, they Shylocked, Booked sports, ran dope and anything else that made them cash.
Joseph Sica died peacefully at his horse ranch in La Tuna Canyon, Sun Valley, at the age of 81, on November 21, 1992 of natural causes.