Michael "Mike Rizzi" Rizzitello

Michael Anthony Rizzitello (March 15, 1929 - October 26, 2005) also known as "Mike Rizzi", was an Italian American mobster in the Los Angeles crime family. Rizzitello's criminal record stretched back to 1947. He was also featured in several biography novels by mobsters-turned-informants, including Jimmy "the weasel" Fratianno's (The Last Mafioso and Vengeance Is Mine), Anthony Fiato (The Animal in Hollywood), and Kenny Gallo (Breakshot).

Early life

Rizzitello was born in Montreal, Canada on March 15, 1929. He later moved to New York City and became associated with organized crime. He worked for Joey Gallo in the 1950s who was a member of the Profaci crime family (later named the Colombo crime family). When Gallo attempted to take over the crime family Rizzitello was one of his gunmen. Rizzitello allegedly participated in the murder of mobster John Guariglia and Paul Ricci at the HiFi Lounge in Brooklyn on November 11, 1961, along with future LA mob soldier Tommy Ricciardi. Soon after, Rizzitello relocated to California.

Los Angeles

In California Rizzitello first became affiliated with the Los Angeles crime family working as a debt collector and extortionist for Salvatore "Dago Louie" Piscopo along with a friend of his named Louie "Lefty" Castiglione.

In 1962, he was arrested for a string of armed robberies of restaurants and businesses in the Hollywood area and served nine years in prison. In 1970 he met William Carroll at Chino prison. The two became quick friends. In prison he also allegedly became affiliated with Joseph "Pegleg" Morgan and Rudy Cadena, two of the founders of the Mexcian Mafia.

After his release from prison he became involved in illegal gambling, loan sharking, fraud, and extortion. On June 6, 1976 Rizzitello became a made man, he was allegedly sponsored into the L.A. mob by Dago Louie Piscopo. Instead of the traditional ceremony of induction, Rizzitello became a made man in the back of a car with 3 other people present. These men were consigliere Frank Bompensiero, acting boss Aladena (Jimmy The Weasel) Fratianno and co-acting boss Louis Tom Dragna. Rizzitello quickly moved up in the family and was promoted to caporegime by acting boss Fratianno a year later in 1977.

In 1976, Mike Rizzitello was arrested, and convicted of insurance fraud and was subsequently arrested and acquitted of strong-arming an acquaintance over a gambling debt. In 1977, he was arrested in a mail-billing fake scheme and convicted. He was sentenced to three years total for the two convictions.

In 1977 Rizzitello was charged with extortion, and filing a false insurance claim. Rizzitello pled no contest on May 2, 1977 to one count of insurance fraud. His second grand theft charge was dismissed. On May 22, 1977 he was sentenced to serve 2 to 3 years in state prison, but was allowed to remain free after a $20,000 bond was secured. Mike Rizzitello had quickly became well respected and a huge earner for the family. In the 1970s, the Chicago Outfit sent Rizzitello to pressure a casino owner, Moe Dalitz, into giving the Outfit $1,000,000. However, the FBI was tipped off by their new witness, Jimmy Fratianno, and intervened in the incident. When Dominic Brooklier had Rizzitello setup to attempt to kill Jimmy Fratianno, Fratianno had became a FBI flipped prosecution witness. Fratianno turned state's evidence and later testified against his fellow mobsters. Rizzitello was put on trial for conspiring with Fratianno to kill a government witness for Pennsylvania crime boss Russell Bufalino, but was acquitted.

In 1978 Rizzitello was convicted of racketeering and extortion. He was sentenced to five years in prison and was paroled in 1986. When was released he went on trial again for charges that he tried to defraud a Montana firm in a fraudulent transfer of stock. Again Rizzitello was acquitted. In 1987, was put on trial again; this time charged with trying to market $1 million in stolen bonds. For the third straight time he was acquitted.

By the time Rizzitello was released in 1986, Peter Milano became the new boss of the Los Angeles crime family. While the two men worked together in the 1970s, they had a distant relationship. A frustrated Rizzitello went to the Gambino crime family in New York City to seek permission to start his own crime family in California, but that never came to be. However, Rizzitello was able to run an independent crew under Milano's family. Rizzitello worked closely with and schooled Anthony Fiato in the 1980s, before Fiato decided to cooperate with the FBI. In 1988 Rizzitello was blacklisted from every casino in Las Vegas due to his involvement in crime, extortion and specifically illegal gambling in the city. Rizzitello collected markers for Las Vegas casinos, from his base of operation in Beverly Hills.

Murder conviction

Michael Rizzitello

Because he felt theater investor William Carroll was not paying him enough extortion money weekly for managing the Mustang Club in Santa Ana, on May 1, 1987, Rizzitello shot his old friend William Carroll at a parking structure in Costa Mesa, California. Despite being shot three times in the head, Carroll miraculously survived, although he was permanently blinded from the shooting. After pointing the gun at the back of Carroll's head, Rizzitello said "This is for not letting us eat" and then shot Carroll three times. Rizzitello had attempted to kill Carroll for not sharing more in on the huge profits of The Mustang Club, a Santa Ana exotic dance nightclub. A month after the shooting, Mike Rizzitello was back in prison for violating his parole by associating with known criminals. He remained in Los Angeles Terminal Island prison for nine months. Initially, Carroll refused to tell police authorities who shot him. When the FBI offered to dismiss federal charges against Carroll in October 1988, he named Rizzitello and another man, Joseph Grosso, as his attackers. Rizzitello was found guilty of attempted murder, and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. During his stay in prison, he repeatedly refused to cooperate with the authorities to receive a reduced sentence, upholding the code of Omertà.

Mike Rizzitello died of complications of cancer at the age of 78 on October 26, 2005, in Palm Springs, California. He was still in custody at the time of his death. Rizzitello was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California. He was survived by his six children, fifteen grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

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