Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pittsburgh's Bazzano Jr. dies at 81

John Bazzano Jr., longtime racketeer in western Pennsylvania, died last Friday at the age of 81, according to a story by Torsten Ove of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The son of an early Pittsburgh Mafia boss executed by the mob in Brooklyn in 1932 and the son-in-law of the late crime family lieutenant Antonio Ripepi, the junior Bazzano became a top-ranking member of the regional crime family. He is widely believed to have served as underboss to the late Michael Genovese between 1987 (When Jo Jo Pecora died) and Genovese's 2006 death.

Like his father, John Jr. was a war veteran, serving in the Army just after World War II. He enlisted as a private on Aug. 31, 1945, two months after his 18th birthday and two weeks after the Japanese surrender.

In 1974, federal agents uncovered evidence that he was running a massive numbers gambling operation. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He began his term in March 1978. He was paroled in 1981 and returned home to Peters Township, southwest of Pittsburgh.

Born on June 28, 1927 (a 1930 census curiously shows him just over a year old, living with his parents, two siblings and grandfather at 1287 Washington Road, Mount Lebanon, PA), John Jr. was five years old at the time his famous father was murdered.

John Bazzano Jr.'s death occurred two weeks after the On the Spot Journal published an in-depth report of his father's assassination, written by Thomas Hunt and Michael A. Tona.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.