Ralph "Shorty" Caleca (May 21, 1900 - 1988) was a prominent organized crime figure and high ranking member of the St. Louis crime family.
Caleca was born in Partinico, Sicily. In 1934, Caleca got married to a fellow Italian immigrant in St. Louis with whom he had two children. In 1944, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in St. Louis, Missouri. Caleca and notorious drug trafficker Frank Coppola were one-time members of a Prohibition Era gang known as the "Green Ones" before the formation of the St. Louis crime family of the American Mafia or La Cosa Nosta, which in the beginning operated as a satellite of the more powerful Chicago Outfit. Caleca was a member of the St. Louis crime syndicate during the height of its power and worked closely with legendary St. Louis mobsters such as Anthony Lopiparo, John Vitale and crime boss Anthony Giordano. Caleca's St. Louis PD record dated back to 1923 and included arrests for suspicion of murder (was tried for the murder of Alfonse Palazzolo, and early St. Louis gang boss) and was indicted for income tax evasion in 1956, for which he was convicted in 1958 and sentenced to 3 years in prison in relation to the Twin City distributing Co., which Caleca co-owned with Lopiparo and Giordano. Caleca also had interests in vending machine companies, including Anthony Novelty Co. During the late 1920s, Caleca was reportedly marked for the death by the reamining members of the Green Ones gang for his alleged participation in the murders of Palazzolo and Vito Giannola, but Caleca got wind of the plot and went on an extended vacation. Caleca was primarily involved in labor racketeering and gambling, amongst other criminal enterprises.
Around the time of the Apalachin Conference in 1957, Anthony Lopiparo, John "Johnny V." Vitale and Caleca were the leaders of the St. Louis crime family, although non attended the ill fated Mafia Conference. Caleca was said to have Mafia racket associates throughout the U.S. and along with Tony Lopiparo, became an older senior crime family member who helped control the St. Louis rackets. Caleca made headlines during the late 1960s, when it was alleged that he and Tony Giordano controlled labor unions that were in charge of converting an old establishment into a munitions factory. Through their influence in the St. Louis labor unions, Caleca and Giordano as well as many other St. Louis family members and associates, were put on ghost payrolls, collecting phony overtime pay and creating work slowdowns amongst many other schemes to keep the cash flowing for as long as possible.
Ralph Caleca reportedly died of natural causes in 1988.