Shondor Birns & Danny Green: Cleveland's Killer Celebrities
'The Animal' and 'The Weasel'
Greene had been growing his vending machine business. Like waste hauling, it was a rough business.
The body of one of Greene's competitors, John Conte, was found in a deserted area. He had been bound, gagged and shot. Police believed he had been killed in Greene's office, but a search of the office failed to turn up evidence.
Now Greene went to work on those who stood in Nardi's — and Greene's — way. And the Mob leaders went to work on Nardi and Greene.
At least, they tried to.
One of the most feared hit men in the Mob was Eugene "The Animal" Ciasullo. In July, he was walking up the steps to his front porch when a bomb hidden in a flowerpot exploded. He survived after a long hospitalization. That Greene and Nardi could do that to a brutal killer like Ciasullo shook up the Mob leaders.
In August, at the Feast of the Assumption celebration in Little Italy, Moceri and Nardi got into a bitter argument over splitting proceeds of gambling events. A week later, Moceri's Mercedes was found with a bloody trunk. Moceri was never found.
That an underboss had been killed — and without a "sit-down" of leaders — sent tremors through Mafia families around the nation. They put pressure on Licavoli:
Kill Greene and Nardi!
It was more easily said than done. Once, a detonator failed to explode a bomb in Greene's car. Another bomb was improperly wired. A bomb that would have gotten both Greene and Nardi failed to go off. Another bomb was set up correctly, but the hit men were too far away for their detonator to work.
Two killers went to Texas, where Greene was negotiating to buy a cattle ranch. They couldn't find him.
Licavoli tried hit man after hit man. He asked Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno, a former top official of the California Mafia, for advice.
"How about Ray Ferritto?" Fratianno suggested.
Ferritto was a gambler-burglar-murderer from Erie, Pa. Fratianno's suggestion would be fateful for both Ferritto and himself.
Next: Bomb City, U.S.A.