The Dallas crime family is an American Mafia crime family based in Dallas, Texas. It is one of the member families of The Commission, the network of American Mafia families organized by Charles "Lucky" Luciano in 1931.[1]

Early history[edit | edit source]

Carlo Pirano, a native of Sicily, emigrated to the U.S. circa 1901 with his brother Joseph. They first settled in Shreveport, Louisiana. Carlo began the Dallas faction of the American Mafia in 1921 with Joseph as his underboss. Carlo, later described as the “original head of the Mafia in Texas,” was born about 1876 in Corleone, Sicily, the same hometown as early New York Mafia boss Giuseppe Morello. Piranio’s marriage to an eighteen-year-old woman, recently arrived from Italy, occurred in 1903. In 1904, a son Angelo was born to Carlo and Clementia Piranio. The Piranio relocation to Dallas, Texas, occurred sometime between the Shreveport birth of Angelo in 1904. The April 1910 U.S. Census says the family lived temporarily at 774 Main Street in Dallas. The household included Carlo and Clementia, young Angelo, and Joseph Piranio and his new bride Lena. Carlo ran a real estate business from his home. Joseph worked as a grocery salesman. Joseph was not entirely settled in Texas. He moved back to Louisiana for a few years. He, his wife and two young daughters returned to Dallas by 1914. Carlo died of natural causes in 1930. Joseph took over the family after Carlo's death. He owned a number of bars, controlled numerous gambling operations, and ran some minor labor rackets through his construction business.[2]

Joseph Civello[edit | edit source]

Joseph Civello assumed control in 1956, when Joseph Piranio died at age 78. Civello attended the infamous Apalachin meeting of Mafia leaders, and was prosecuted on a conspiracy charge stemming from the meeting. He controlled narcotics, gambling, prostitution and night clubs in most of Texas. Civello was born February 3, 1903, in rural West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. He was the second child born to Philip and Catherine Civello. His father, a farm laborer, had been in the United States since 1900. The Civello family grew to include seven children. The family remained in West Baton Rouge until 1923, when Philip relocated the clan to Dallas’s north side and opened a grocery store. Law enforcement officers quickly became aware of Joseph Civello. He was convicted of Prohibition violations in 1926 and served forty days in jail. On July 12, 1928, Civello was again arrested on liquor charges. His arrest was part of a series of raids that nabbed a total of twenty-two suspected bootleggers around the city. Civello was arrested on St. Paul Street with two other men, Ernest Calchano and Joe DeCarlo. DeCarlo was an important bootlegger in the Dallas area and had recently begun refusing to send tribute payments to Carlo Piranio. Civello was selected to administer Mafia discipline. Just two days after their arrest together, Civello and DeCarlo met inside the St. Paul Drugstore at the intersection of St. Paul and Bryan Streets. Civello happened to be carrying a loaded shotgun at the time. As the men stood close to each other, the shotgun went off. DeCarlo was shot in the stomach. Rather than flee, Civello remained with the mortally wounded DeCarlo, protesting that his weapon had fired by accident. DeCarlo, with his dying breath, confirmed Civello’s story. Civello was arrested and charged with murder. He continued to insist that the killing was accidental. A Dallas grand jury gave considerable weight to DeCarlo’s dying statement. Within two days, Civello was released on his own recognizance. The grand jury continued its investigation into DeCarlo’s death and decided on July 27 not to indict Civello. Civello married in November, 1929. He and his wife Mary moved into Philip Civello’s home at 1902 Moser Avenue. Joseph worked as a salesman for his father’s grocery Store.[3]

After Apalachin the FBI began following Civello where ever he went. January 13, 1960, Civello was indicted for conspiracy and perjury offenses. Judge Irving R. Kaufman sentenced him and nineteen other mob leaders that were at Apalachin to five years in prison. Ten months later, a U.S. appeals court overturned the convictions of the twenty men. Prosecutors had proven conspiracy, the court decided, but had not proven that the conspiracy was designed to accomplish some unlawful act. In November 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited Dallas. Many suspected the involvement of the local underworld when the President was assassinated on November 22. Suspicions increased two days later when accused Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, then in the custody of the Dallas Police, was shot and mortally wounded in front of TV cameras by local nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Though suppressed for a time by federal investigators, Ruby’s underworld connections in Chicago and across the South were well known in Dallas. Informant Bobby Gene Moore told the FBI all he knew about Ruby’s many visits with Joseph Civello. A Ruby roommate recalled that Ruby and racketeer Joe Campisi, a Dallas mobster and associate of Marcello, were very close friends and that Ruby spent a lot of his free time at Campisi's Egyptian Lounge Restaurant. There were reports that Ruby visited Campisi at his restaurant on the eve of the President’s visit. Within a week of Ruby’s murder of Oswald, Campisi visited Ruby at the Dallas County Jail. During the Warren Commission probe into the Kennedy Assassination, further evidence surfaced of contacts between Ruby and Tampa Mob figures in Havana, Cuba. Ruby visited gambler Lewis J. McWillie in Havana in 1959, and one account suggested he and McWillie visited Tampa crime boss Santo Trafficante Jr., then held by Fidel Castro at Trescornia detention camp. The FBI called in Joseph Civello for a brief interview and noted that the Dallas crime boss admitted knowing Ruby for about ten years and seeing him four or five times. Civello told agents that he last recalled seeing Ruby in 1957. Civello died in 1970, and the role of family boss reportedly passed to his underboss Joseph Campisi.[4]

Joseph Campisi[edit | edit source]

After Civello's death in 1970, the FBI listed the Dallas Family as inactive. But there is some information that say Joseph Campisi took over with Warren Cranio(later changed to Crain) as his right hand and they brought the dallas family back to life bigger than its ever been[citation needed]. Campisi and his brother Sam started the famous Egyptian Lounge in 1949. He was close friends with Jack Ruby. Ruby had dinner there the night before the Kennedy assassination. He also visited Ruby in jail after Oswald was killed. In 1989, Campisi was awarded a certificate from the City of Dallas for outstanding community service. He died in 1990 after having a heart attack when chasing a busboy out of his restaurant for stealing money from him. The current status of the Dallas crime family is not known. However, it has been reported that D.T. Sherrod (aka "the Fatman," aka "Detroit"), a known associate of New York's Genovese crime family, has established a string of nightclubs which serve as the Genovese base of operations in Dallas.[5]

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Bosses of the Dallas crime family[edit | edit source]

  • 1921–1930 – Carlo Piranio [6]
  • 1930–1956 – Joseph Piranio – Carlo's brother [6]
  • 1956–1970 – Joseph Civello – died [6]
  • 1970–1990 – Joseph Campisi – died

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Template:American Mafia

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