Stefano Magaddino (October 10, 1891 – July 19, 1974) was an Sicilian mafioso who became the boss of the Buffalo crime family in Buffalo, Upstate New York in the 1920's. His underworld influence stretched from Ohio and Southern Ontario as far north as Montreal, Quebec. Known as Don Stefano to his friends and 'The Undertaker' to others, he was also a charter member of the American Mafia's ruling council, otherwise known as The Commission.
Born in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Magaddino emigrated to the United States in 1909 and settled in Brooklyn, New York. In 1915 Magaddino became boss of one new york crime family that would later be called the Bonanno crime family. One of Magadinno's cousins from Sicily was Joe Bonanno, the future boss of the Bonanno crime family in New York City, the family Magaddino would leave behind. his tenure as Bonnano Boss ended in 1921, in Avon, New Jersey, Magaddino was arrested for his involvement in the murder of Pietro "Don Petrino" Caiozzo, a member of the rival Buccellato clan from Castellammare del Golfo. Magaddino left new york city to escape prosecution he also gave up his position as boss of the Bonanno crime family.
Buffalo crime family
Magaddino eventually moved to Niagara Falls, New York, then in later years further north to Lewiston, another town on the Niagara River facing the Canadian border. Although he was a successful mortician operating his legitimate Magaddino Memorial Chapel funeral home business in Niagara Falls, with Prohibition in effect in the United States, Maggadino made his real money running a profitable bootlegging business by smuggling wine and spirits across the Niagara River into New York State, thereby supplying the needs of speakeasies located in Buffalo and the very "Honky-tonk" destination Niagara Falls was for tourists and visitors. After Prohibition ended, Magaddino and his crime family made their money by means of loan sharking, illegal gambling, extortion, carjacking and labor racketeering as well as other legitimate lucrative businesses such as linen service businesses that served the needs of most of the hotels located throughout the region as well as taxicab companies and other service oriented businesses.
Magaddino's crime family held power in the underworld territories of Upstate and Western New York, namely, Buffalo, New York, bordering Canada and situated on Lake Erie, Rochester and Utica, along the Mohawk River as far east as Amsterdam, New York; from Eastern Pennsylvania as far west as Youngstown, Ohio, and in Canada from Fort Erie (opposite Buffalo, NY) to Toronto, Ontario as far north as Montreal, Quebec. Magaddino led his Buffalo family through its glory years and its most powerful and profitable era in La Cosa Nostra. He was an old-style boss who preferred to stay in the background and not draw any attention to himself or his criminal activities if possible. Due to his territory's remoteness yet the vast amount of it he controlled and being geographically insulated from the inter-family squabbles of the New York City-based families, he was held in high regard and was at times called upon to be an arbiter involving territorial disputes between crime families based there.
National crime figure
For fifty years, Magaddino was a dominant presence in the Buffalo underworld. He was the longest tenured boss in the history of the American Mafia. Magaddino was also very involved in national La Cosa Nostra affairs. Magaddino was a charter member of Lucky Luciano's Mafia Commission and attended important underworld summits such as the 1946 Havana Conference and the 1957 Apalachin Conference.
Although fairly popular, Magaddino had his share of enemies and survived several assassination attempts. In 1936, rival gangsters attempted to kill Magaddino with a bomb, killing his sister instead. In 1958, an assassin tossed a hand grenade through his kitchen window, which failed to explode. This second attempt on his life was said to be directed by mobsters who blamed Magaddino for the failed Appalachian Meeting, which was raided by New York State Police.
Arrest and fall
Magaddino had never spent any significant time in prison, but in 1968, he and his son Peter were arrested and charged with interstate bookmaking. A raid on his son's mansion in Niagara Falls led to the discovery of approximately $500,000 in several cash vaults. This created great animosity between the Buffalo family members and the Magaddinos, and led to a breakdown of their cooperation concerning criminal activities. The Buffalo family split into dissident factions; the leaders met in Rochester at the end of 1968, and by early 1969 ousted Magaddino as boss, leaving him to lead a faction made up of his once powerful in-laws and older crime family members, from 1969 until he died several years later.
Stefano Magaddino died of a heart attack on July 19, 1974 at age 82. His funeral mass was celebrated at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic church and he was buried in St. Joseph's cemetery on Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls.
Mob Boss, written by Mike Hudson, is a book about Magaddino's life as a mob boss. Magaddino is also mentioned in Niagara Falls Confidential, also written by Mike Hudson.