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Salvatore "Black Sam" Todaro (died June 11, 1929) was a Cleveland, Ohio, mobster who briefly acted as the head of the Cleveland crime family during the late 1920s, while the crime family's boss was absent from Cleveland, away in Italy overseeing personal matters. While his boss was away, the ambitious Todaro would use this opportunity to align himself with a new rising power within the Cleveland Mafia, and eventually betray his former benefactor. Todaro's birth name was Agosto Archangelo, but he later changed it to Salvatore Todaro.
During Prohibition, Todaro managed sugar refineries used for creating alcohol. He oversaw the refineries for his boss, Joseph "Big Joe" Lonardo, recognized as Cleveland's first Mafia Godfather. When Lonardo traveled to Sicily in the summer of 1927, he designated Todaro as acting boss of the crime family. However, Todaro was secretly angry with Lonardo about a dispute and decided to move against him. Todaro allegedly conspired with rival mobster Joseph Porello to kill Joe Lonardo and his brother, John, when the boss returned to Cleveland from Sicily. After the return of boss Joe Lonardo a meeting was set up between Lonardo and Porello family representatives in October 1927, but the peace meeting was just a ruse used to lure the Lonardos to their death. In later years it was believed that he was actually one of the gunmen. In a five-year period, the ensuing violence left another of the Lonardo brothers, and four Porello brothers dead.
After Lonardo's murder, Joe Porello, also known as "Big Joe" became the new Cleveland crime boss and Todaro became his second-in-command or underboss as a reward for his betrayal of Joe Lonardo, and to cement his loyalty to the new Mafia order in Cleveland led by the Porello family. However, Todaro's reign as the #2 man in the Cleveland Mafia would not last long as Lonardo's family correctly suspected that Todaro had a hand in the boss' death and soon sought revenge. Angelo Lonardo, the 18-year-old son of boss Big Joe sought revenge for his father's murder, but he and his cousins were having difficulties luring Todaro to a place where they could kill him. Finally, they settled on a plan.
On June 11, 1929, Todaro was in Porello's headquarters in Cleveland when he was lured outside to supposedly speak with Lonardo's widow. The supposed conversation was, in fact, a ruse innovated by Lonardo to ambush and kill Todaro, unguarded. Once outside, Todaro approached the car unconcerned. As he got close, Todaro was shot and killed by Angelo Lonardo and his cousin Dominick Sospirato. Todaro's execution set up another wave of violence. In retaliation, Lonardo's uncle, Frank Lonardo, was shot to death four months later in a downtown barbershop.
After Todaro's murder, his 8 year old son, Joseph, was sent to Italy for fear that he would be killed to prevent a vendetta when he grew older. To hide his identity, the boy's last name was legally changed to Agosto which bore similarity to the father's first name. He eventually died an untimely death in Italy at the age of 30.
Angelo Lonardo was eventually tried, convicted and sentenced to life for the murder of Todaro. However, the rare success of law enforcement was short lived. In 18 months, Lonardo's attorneys won him a second trial. Eyewitnesses responsible for the first conviction ignored subpoenas to return from Italy where they had fled in fear. Angelo was subsequently discharged and released. His successful vendetta against Todaro and the Porrellos brought him great respect from the powerful Cleveland mafioso, Frank Milano who was also his godfather, and helped accelerate his ascent into the Cleveland family hierarchy.
Notes[edit | edit source]
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Capeci, Jerry. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 0-02-864225-2
- Porrello, Rick. To Kill the Irishman: The War that Crippled the Mafia. Novelty, Ohio: Next Hat Press, 2004. ISBN 0-9662508-9-3
- United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi : Hearings Before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs. 1988. 
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- Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo, One-time Highest-Ranking Mobster to Become a Federal Witness, Dead at age 95 by Rick Porrello