The Kansas City Mafia, also known as Civella crime family, is a Mafia family based in Kansas City, Missouri.
Italian-American organized crime began when two Sicilian mafiosi known as the DiGiovanni brothers fled Sicily and arrived in Kansas City in 1912. Joseph DiGiovanni and "Sugarhouse Pete" Pietro DiGiovanni, began making money from a variety of criminal operations or "rackets" shortly after they arrived.
Their fortunes improved greatly with the introduction of the Prohibition, when they became the only group bootlegging alcohol in Kansas City. Their rackets at this time were controlled by Johnny Lazia who later became the leading figure when the organization expanded. The gang was given virtually a free hand to operate by their "Boss" Tom Pendergast, head of the "Pendergast Machine" that controlled Kansas City's government at the time. Under Pendergast, Kansas City became a "wide-open" town, with absolutely no alcohol-related arrests being made within city limits during the entirety of the Prohibition. The DiGiovanni family directly benefited from this absent law enforcement.
When the Prohibition ended in 1933, the family, although already involved in various rackets, began extorting bars. On July 10th 1934, Lazia was assassinated, probably on the orders of his Underboss, Charles Carollo who ruled as Boss until his arrest in 1939 for tax evasion. His Underboss Charles Binaggio now became the new boss and expanded the family's areas of labor: racketeering. With the help of Binaggio, Forrest Smith was elected in the Missouri Gubernatorial race of 1948, and he took office January 10, 1949. Binaggio was seen as liability to the Mafia's nationwide Commission and it was decided that Binaggio should be killed. He was assassinated on April 6, 1950 and his successor Anthony Gizzo died of a heart attack in 1953.
The new boss was now Nicholas Civella who expanded the family's rackets greatly and forged alliances with families from other cities, making the organisation very powerful. Civella also used the Teamsters to fund casinos in Las Vegas. In 1975 Civella was imprisoned on gambling charges for betting on the 1970 Super Bowl played between the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs. Around this time there was a war in the family over control of the River Quay entertainment district in which three buildings were bombed and several gangsters were killed. In 1980 Civella was convicted of bribery. Released in 1983, he died shortly after. His brother became the new boss but was imprisoned a year later.
The Kansas City FBI, suspecting mob involvement at the Tropicana, set up a broad investigation, known as Operation Strawman, which involved wiretapping phones of reputed mobsters and their associates in Kansas City. From the evidence collected by taps and other eavesdropping in the late 1970s, the FBI discovered a conspiracy to skim money from the Tropicana's casino.
Operation Strawman learned that Joseph Agosto, head of the Tropicana's Folies Bergere show controlled the skimming in the Tropicana. Agosto was secretly sending cash from the casino to Kansas City organized crime chief Nick Civella and Joseph Aiuppa of Chicago as well as Cleveland and Milwaukee mobsters.
In 1981, a grand jury in Kansas City indicted Agosto, Kansas City mob boss Nick Civella, Civella's brother Carl Civella, mob member Carl DeLuna, and Carl Thomas, who had directed the illegal skimming of cash at the Tropicana with two others. The defendants were convicted in 1983.
William Cammisano Sr. became the family's next boss until his death in 1995. Anthony Civella then became the new boss. He died in 2006. The Kansas City family has an estimated 25 made members as of the late 1990s according to the FBI.
The current boss of the family is believed to be John Joseph Sciortino, also known as "Johnny Joe", godson of Anthony Civella. The current underboss is believed to be Peter "Las Vegas Pete" Simone. On July 21, 2008 Carl "Tuffy" DeLuna, former underboss to Nick Civella and brother-in-law to the Anthony Civella, died.
In August, 2008, Retired F.B.I. Agent William Ouseley publishes his history of the KC Crime Family from 1900–1950 in a book titled "Open City". On March 20, 2009, Blackhand Strawman, a documentary of Kansas City's organized crime history was released in theaters in Kansas City.
On March 11, 2010, the FBI indicted Gerlarmo Cammisano, James Moretina, Michael Lombardo and James DiCapo for allegedly operating a "multi-million-dollar internet gambling scheme".
Gerlarmo Cammisano, son of "Willie the Rat" William Cammisano, served as the "master agent" of the sports bookmaking operation which was based in the Kansas City area. Gerlarmo Cammisano's brother, William Cammisano, Jr., pled guilty for his role in the sports bookmaking operation. As for Moretina, in January 1992, he pled guilty to a federal money laundering charge and was sentenced to 37 months. Moretina served as president of a firm that distributed illegal video gambling machines. He and his business partner, purported mob underboss Peter Simone, operated the Be Amused Vending and Amusement Co. Moretina is the son of Charles Moretina, who was convicted in the 1980s for skimming Las Vegas casino gambling receipts.
Prior to the indictment six individuals pleaded guilty in connection with the investigation including four Patrick Armato — Vincent Civella and brothers Michael and Anthony Sansone — who are the son and grandsons of former Kansas City boss Anthony 'Tony Ripe' Civella.
John Lazia (1931–1934) Charles "Charlie the Wop" Carrollo (1934–1939) Charles Binaggio (1939–1950) Anthony Gizzo (1950–1953) Nicholas Civella (1953–1983) Carl "Corky" Civella (1983–1984) William "Willie the Rat" Cammisano (1984–1995) Anthony "Tony Ripe" Civella (1995–2006) John "Johnny Joe" Sciortino (2006–present)