Mafia Wiki
Mafia Wiki


Giuseppe "Iron Man" Ardizzone (November 19, 1884 – October 15, 1931) known as "Joseph", was an early Los Angeles mobster, who became the first Boss of the Los Angeles crime family. He was involved in a long-standing feud with the Matranga family, and became the only Los Angeles boss to be murdered by his own men. He once claimed to have killed 100 men.


Born Giuseppe Ernesto Ardizzone in Piana dei Greci in the province of Palermo, Sicily to Antonino Ardizzone on November 19, 1884. Some of his maternal ancestors were descended from Albanians who fought Muslims during the 16th century invasions in eastern Europe. The Albanians were given land grants in what later became Italy, and with Piana di Greci being one of the larger Albanian communities. The Ardizzones were related to several other families and they would maintain contact in America. Those families included the Cuccias and the Matrangas.

Early years in America

The Ardizzone family came to America at different times. Antonino came in the later 19th century, landing in Louisiana then taking the train to southern California. He became a wealthy farmer and wine maker. His other children, including Stefano and Francesco also moved to the Los Angeles area. Giuseppe was one of the last to arrive.

For reasons uncertain Giuseppe, who Americanized his name to Joseph, became involved in a dispute with the Matrangas who lived in Los Angeles. They were distant cousins from Piana dei Greci. In what he later called an act of self-defense, Joseph shot and killed a Matranga ally named George Maisano July 2, 1908. He then fled to California and hid in different states. He eventually returned and was arrested in 1915, but the charges against him were dropped. He then married a young girl named Elsa who was the daughter of a German neighbor in the city of Sunland, where they lived at that time. Shortly after that their home was burned down by arsonists.

Later life

While it is uncertain when Ardizzone became a member of the Mafia, or even if his immediate family were members, he was in a leadership position in the early 1920s. Upon the resignation of Rosario DeSimone for unknown reasons, he became the next chief of the Los Angeles crime family.

During his time as boss Prohibition was active and many, if not most, Mafiosi were involved in bootlegging. The Los Angeles family was certainly active during this time period.

In 1931, when the Castellammarese War between Giuseppe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano was taking place in New York City, the Los Angeles crime family may have supported Maranzano. Nicola Gentile notes in his memoirs that during a conference Maranzano was backed by two men from California.

It was also during this time that a faction developed that opposed Ardizzone. In early 1931, he was driving with his friend Jimmy Basile when gunmen drove by and shot at them. Basile was killed and Ardizzone wounded. Ardizzone managed to be taken to the house of Leon DeSimone, the physician son of former L.A. don Rosario DeSimone. He was treated and sent to a hospital. A second attempt was made on his life in the hospital, so his family came to act as bodyguards. Underworld sources indicated that he agreed to retire after these incidents.

The opposing faction apparently did not believe Ardizzone, and on October 15, 1931, while on his way to a cousin's house in Etiwanda, driving a 1930 Ford Coupe SRW7653 and carrying a .41 caliber Colt revolver No.323 he "disappeared" and hasn't been seen since. An intense search followed, but his body was never found. After seven years Ardizzone's wife had him declared legally dead.

Some of the main suspects in Ardizzone's disappearance were Frank & Nick Borgia. Frank Borgia would himself later be killed by the Los Angeles family on the orders of Jack Dragna.

Alleged victims of Ardizzone

- 2 July 1906 Matranga crime member George Maisano killed by Ardizzone gunman Mike Marino

- 17 November 1917 Matranga Crime boss Sam Matranga shot and killed, allegedly by Ardizzone gunman Mike Marino aka Mike Rizzo.

- 20 December 1917, Matranga Crime Boss Peitro "Peter" Matranga shot and killed allegedly by Ardizzone gunman Mike Marino. {Marino was killed by Tony Buccola in 1919}.

- 16 May 1929 Boyle Heights bootlegger Joe Porrazzo "Disappears". His wrecked car was found in Venice California {A prior run in with the law was in January 1915 when with three others he was arrested as a juvenille to conspiring to rob a woman]

- 25 November 1929 Los Angeles vinter Frank Baumgarteker "disappears". Frank Baumgartker World War I Veteran [Austria]Millionaire Owner of Cucamonga Vineyard Owner; Los Angles and Cucamonga Wineries’ a Los Angles Trucking company and half owner of three San Bernardino County ranches A day or so before his death he cashed tow checks for a total of $1,500 After leaving his home on a trip to Tijuana he was last seen in Los Angeles; at the time of his ‘vanishement” he was engaged in transfering a large amount of wine from Cucamonga to Los Angeles for medical wine tonic; reportably he was under pressire from “Liquer barons” in engage illegal liquer business Physcial Characaistics:Age 43 Height 5 feet 8 inches 162 poiunds Brown Hair’ Gray eyes Prominebt fore head Close cropped mustache. Wearing a black cheviot suit. Soft beige felt hat with telescope top. Tan oxford shoes. Gold strands/Silver plate in his shoulder. Dental work His wife received aletter postmarked San Diego supposedly from missing man postmarked Nov 25,1929. Telling her not to worry, that he would write or call her and Business was bad His car a purple Cadillac 4M-46-31 with his rifled Wallet was found in San Diego garage 2 days after his dissaperence-placed there by a man who wore a leather vest; kahki trousers and leather puttes who did not fit his description; also found in car were cigerettes; a cigar band; strands of Reddish hair; handful of hairpins and other articles which did not belong to the missing man. The only clue of his disappearance was that his car had traces of red clay similar to that found in Borego Valley{There is a question if Baumgarteker "Disappearence" was caused by Ardizzonce or by disgruntled employees. Reportably in 1941 a search was made for a hidden grave of Baumgarteker which was alleged to have been seen years before; however the site was that of a Native american. In the late 1960's a former employee of Baumgarteker claimed to police to have known of the location of Baumgartekers remains}

- 6 May 1930 Matranga Crime Boss Tony Buccola "disappears". His car was found two days after his dissappearnce in Los Angeles.

-10 September 1930 San Bernadino resident and partner of Baumgarteker Joseph Neuman "disappears". A bottling Company owner he had laughinghly dared to "race" his wife home while each of them was in their own car; she arrived 10 minuites after he did to find the car in their driveway; keyes in it and doors open. There is speculation he was taken "for a ride" because liquer operators thought he had tipped the police to a illegal liquer still; likewise it was thought he had a grudge against them for a large sugar Bill

{Ref: California Newspaper archvies; google books}