The Cerrito crime family is an Italian-American organized crime syndicate who was one of the two families that controlled San Jose, California, from the 1930s-1990s within the United States phenomenon known as the Italian-American Mafia (or La Cosa Nostra). The other family that ran organized crime in San Jose was the Bonanno crime family of New York.
The first probable organized crime outfit in San Jose, California was founded by Onofrio Sciortino. The family was formed in 1942, during the Second World War. Sciortino would amass a majority of his profits from his numerous loansharking, gambling, shylocking and prostitution rackets. He was speculated to have been the first official La Cosa Nostra crime boss of San Jose from 1942 until the time of his death on September 10, 1959.
Mobster Joseph Cerrito was Sciortino's underboss and took over the crime family. In 1968 LIFE Magazine identified Joseph Cerrito as the crime boss of the San Jose Mob. He sued for libel but the case was eventually dismissed. Cerrito retired and died of natural causes in 1978. His younger brother Salvatore Cerrito was also a member of the San Jose crime family and died in December of the same year.
A loyal caporegime named Angelo Marino was selected the new don over the San Jose rackets in 1978. Marino had close connections with San Francisco mayor, from 1968-1974, Joseph Alioto. Marino was close with San Francisco crime family boss James Lanza and consigliere of the Los Angeles Crime Family and FBI informant Frank Bompensiero. He owned and operated the California Cheese Company. His father, Salvatore "Sam" Marino, a long time member of the Pittsburgh crime family, handed the company to Marino. His company controlled eighty-five percent of the cheese distribution in California and fifty percent west of the Mississippi River. Marino brought over many Sicilian immigrants to work in his cheese factory, one of them was Carlo America.
Marino was indicted in October 1977 with his son, for the murder of Peter Catelli. The reason for the murder was due to Peter Catelli attempting to obtain a job with Marino’s company. When Marino refused him a positioning spot, Peter attempted to extort $100,000 from Marino. The father, Orlando, also was shot in the same attack which occurred at a trailer on the north side of the California Cheese Co. factory. Marino decided to order Orlando to kill Peter. Orlando refused and both were shot at. Orlando survived and agreed to testify against Marino for the prosecution. He told the prosecution that Marino's son Salvatore killed Peter and then shot Orlando in the head. Marino used his bad health to avoid going to trial for the next three years, but he continued to operate the crime family from a hospital. Joseph Piazza and Thomas Napolitano were also arrested for participating in the attack. On October 12, 1980 Angelo Marino was convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder. His conviction was overturned on appeals and he was released. Angelo Marino died of a congestive heart failure due to diabetes in February of 1983.
Emmanuel "Manny" Figlia was the boss over the Cerrito crime family from 1983-1995. Salvatore "Sal" Marino was released from San Quentin Prison in 1998 and is said to have taken over the crime family, but many believe that the crime family went defunct in 1995. Figlia passed away on September 25, 2009. He was 91 years old. They also lost Vito Frank Adragna a year earlier. Adragna was a soldier in the crime family. There has been an increase of Asian and Mexican gangs located where the former position of the Cerrito crime family, now believed to be defunct, once was.
- Jay C. Ambler. San Jose crime family. AmericanMafia.com
- San Jose, CA - "San Jose Crime Family". AmericanMafia.com. Retrieved on March 21, 2020.