Mob Museum: 28 yo female prosecutor takes down Cleveland Mafia boss

Angelo Lonardo
Angelo Lonardo

Donna Congeni Fitzsimmons spoke last night at The Mob Museum Wiseguy Series. At 28, in 1980, she was appointed special prosecutor for a mob case with seven murders and no bodies. No one thought she had a chance. She put many of them in prison, including Cleveland Mafia boss Angelo Lonardo. The break came when the daughter of a cop saw suspicious cars leaving a car bombing and noted the license plate numbers. This allowed them to start moving up the food chain. Mobsters informed. They eventually found all the bodies.

Special prosecutors were started by Robert Kennedy when he was Attorney General as a way to route around corrupt city law enforcement. They were appointed by the feds, not local officials. That and RICO are their most powerful tools. Sam Giancana delivered Chicago and thus Illinois to JFK in the election. Robert Kennedy went after the mob with a vengeance. More than a few think the mob was involved in JFK’s assassination. Just saying…

Lonardo was at the Appalachia meeting and knew everyone and everything. He turned informer after being sentenced to life plus 100 years at age 72. He lived under witness protection and died when he was 95. She was asked if he was penitent or felt guilt over his crimes. She said, not even slightly.

At one point, they asked a Vegas mobster what he knew about Cleveland and he told them he wouldn’t tell them anything because there was a mole in the FBI with access to informer’s names. He was right. (The mole was discovered and went to prison.)

Her takeaways:

Food is more important than conjugal visits to wise guys. Seriously!

Importance of family. Keep it in the family. We were a family not a gang

When the guys in the movies said don’t go into drugs, they were right. Dealers will roll over on anyone.

RICO works. As does the Continuing Criminal Enterprise, which says financiers with no direct participation can be prosecuted too.

A turning point came when judges became willing to hold mafiosi before trial with no bail. This was done because in this trial, there were contracts out for FBI agents and Fitzsimmons received death threats.

What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas with organized crime. There is worldwide interest in what the mob did.

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