Salvatore Amarena

Salvatore Amarena (July 14, 1920 - June 1, 1986) also known as "Sammy Paxton", was one of the last remaining associates of the San Francisco crime family. He was a well known operator of bars and restaurants in Louisiana, Alabama and later the San Francisco Bay Area. He was featured in the book 'Mafia: The Governments Secret File on Organized Crime'.


Amarena was born in New York City in 1920. In 1946, he moved to Tampa and became an associate of the Tampa Mob. In 1951, he was arrested for illegal gambling in a bar he owned in Alabama. He was arrested for the same charge in another bar he owned in Louisiana four years later. Amarena also reportedly owned a restaurant in Cuba located across the street from the Havana Hilton hotel, to which he also reportedly provided security. His restaurant in Cuba was frequented by Santo Trafficante, Jr. and Fidel Castro. In 1959, Amarena sponsored the wedding and reception of Trafficante's daughter. He reportedly operated as a gambling club manager for the Trafficante crime family and was also an associate of Meyer Lansky and Frank Diecidue. During his time associated with the Trafficante family, Amarena allegedly supervised a heroin route from South East Asia. Amarena's rap sheet included arrests for fighting with a police officer and for threatening a cab driver with a gun at Tampa airport.

Amarena moved to San Francisco and opened a coffee shop called Sal's Espresso Cafe in 1972. He also opened Sal's Pizza Palace which became a hang out spot for Los Angeles mobster Jimmy "the weasel" Fratianno and his small crew of hoods during the 1970's and also served as a "message center". It was also frequented by Los Angeles capo Mike Rizzitello. Amarena reportedly dealt in stolen weapons, bookmaking and narcotics. Amarena was a very well connected gangster with ties to many mafia members in the Tampa, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Francisco crime family, but he was said to have never been made or inducted into any crime family of La Cosa Nostra. Amarena once allegedly admitted to belonging to the Trafficante family in Florida.

He died of a heart attack on June 1, 1986 at the age of 65.

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