Joseph Iannuzzi

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Joseph Iannuzzi, also known as "Joe Dogs" and "Joe Diner" (born 1931 Port Chester, New York), was a Gambino crime family associate and turncoat whose co-operation influenced events surrounding the late 1985 assassination of Gambino boss Paul Castellano and played an indirect, but valuable role in the 1985 Mafia Commission Trial. He is the author of The Mafia Cookbook,[1] Cooking on the Lam,[2] and Autobiography: JOE DOGS THE LIFE & CRIMES OF A MOBSTER, Simon & Schuster, 1993. ISBN 0-671-79752-2 </ref>

Contents

Early years

Joseph Iannuzzi II is the son of a prominent Westchester County bookmaker and policy numbers racket. Sr. Joe, was born in this Country but his Parents were originally from Palermo Sicily. Joseph Iannuzzi is the first cousin of restaurateur, Oswaldo (Ozzie) Carpanzano who owned a fine Italian Restaurant called Alfredo's in Boynton Beach, Florida. At the young age of 4 or 5, Joe Jr's father, Joe Sr. would take him along to make his collections for the numbers game, horse & sports bets. Joe's father had many prominent bettors. Some of them included: Jack Benney, Eddie Anderson who co-starred on the Jack Benny show. Joe Jr. met the famous Cowboy star Tom Mix and posed on his horse for a photograph that was taken by a professional photographer in 1935. Tom Mix would give Joe Jr. a silver dollar on almost every visit. Joe would also visit the Indian Reservation in Harrison, New York on a weekly basis. The Indians on the reservation would give Joe Jr. Indian Head Pennies.

Joe Dogs first arrest came at the young age of 14. He belonged to a gang called the Night Raiders. His cohorts were: Perkie DiLeo, Bob Slater, George Vigolotti, and others (FNLNU) which means: first name, last name, unknown. Joe's mother "Molly Iannuzzi, divorced Joe Sr. in 1945. She married a man of Irish decent named, Edward Muller. Joe Jr. and Eddie did not get along. Joe Jr. left home at 14 and hitch hiked to Hollywood, California where he painted mailboxes for the wealthy. He slept in parked cars and on park benches until he was found by a Police officer and picked up and flown home to New York where he was greeted by his Mother. She filed a missing persons report on Joe Jr. Joe stayed home for almost a year and then forged both of his Parents signatures on the U.S. Army application.

Military career

Joseph enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 1948 and served in the Korean War. It was tough for him as he had to learn discipline. He was interested in boxing and joined the boxing team to get out of doing K.P. and guard duty. While being involved in boxing, he became an exceptional good fighter that got him promoted to Corporal. This was at Fort Benning, Georgia. Joe was busted down to recruit again shortly after being promoted because he was caught forging his name on a boxing license in Columbus Georgia. The Military Police arrested Joe while he was boxing his third fight in the beginning of the Korean War in the month of June. Joe served in the Korean war and was wounded twice and was decorated for bravery and received two Purple hearts, after being wounded twice.. Joe was discharged honorably in October, 1951 after serving over three years in the Army. Once discharged, Joe resumed his criminal activities again.

Back on the Streets

Joe was married several times. He had 7 children. Sandra, Sheryl, Debbie, Stephanie, Steve, Joseph and Sonja. In Joe Dogs 3rd marriage to Giovanna "Bunny" Esposito, his son Joseph Iannuzzi the 3rd, Godfather's name was, Michael "Midge" Belvedere, a former Columbo crime family member and bookmaker from West Babylon, (Long Island) New York. Joe moved from Long Island, New York to Florida in 1967 and found work as a drywall installer. Knowing his present employer well who was originally from Harrison, New York, gave Joe Jr. the position as "Shop Steward". Joe's wife Bunny was happy that he (Joe) was finally employed legitimately. His legitimate employment did not last long as Joe Jr. became friends with a Nicholas "Jiggs" Forlano a Columbo retired captain.

In 1975, Iannuzzi became a member of Tommy Agro's South Florida crew along with another Gambino associate Robert "Skinny Bobby" Desimone and became a top enforcer for Agro superior Gambino consigliere Joseph N. Gallo. This took place in West Palm Beach, Florida. By the mid 1970's, Joe Jr. was running the operations for the Gambino family in South Florida. Iannuzzi was involved in loansharking, rigging horse races, labor racketeering, drug dealing, extortion and robbery. He earned a living into deep eight figures for his mentor Tommy Agro, who went by "T.A." Iannuzzi suddenly had a heart attack that sent him to the Emergency room. His wife and daughter were called. During his hospital visit, he gained the attention of the FBI. Iannuzzi left Florida and fled to Chicago to hide from the FBI. He had one of many girlfriends named Nena who worked as a flight attendant for an airline that he frequently traveled on. When he returned to Florida, "T.A." (Tommy Agro) was furious because Iannuzzi was out of touch and had $22,000.00 of Agro's that was shylocked out on the streets and was trying to keep it for himself. Ianuzzi had also swindled many people who he knew, people outside of mob life.

Operation Home Run

After nearly being beaten to death with a baseball bat and a tire iron by Thomas Agro and two of his crew, over outstanding debts, and over his mocking them on several occasions over phone, Iannuzzi became an informant with the FBI. That agency put into play “Operation Home Run” and started a gambling night club in Riviera Beach Florida. Joe Dogs was welcomed back by his mafia friends.The FBI ok'd the money for the club as long as there was an undercover agent named John Bonino brought in to operate the club with Joe Dogs.

Joe Dogs convinced the Mafia that his partner John Bonino who went under the name of John Marino, who Joe described as a partner of his in the drug trade would furnish the money for the club. The Mobsters wound up putting their arm around John Marino and welcomed him into their organization. Mobsters were photographed videotaped and recorded in the club. Agent Bonino did a superb job.

Operation Home Run lasted approximately 15 months, Getting indictments and convictions to about a dozen players including a chief of police. Then Joe Dogs shipped to New York Trials where he went to trial on which was called the “Favors” case. He was responsible for six convictions there.

Operation Home Run closed down because there was an alleged leak in the FBI organization. This was told to Joe Dogs so for safety sake the Feds closed the operation down.

The last known or heard from Joe Dogs being of terrible healthcare was in 1994. He was coming out of a hospital in Mineola Long Island New York If still alive he would be almost 81 years old now.

References

  1. ^ Iannuzzi, Joseph. The Mafia Cookbook (revised and expanded). Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7432-2627-1
  2. ^ Iannuzzi, Joseph. Cooking on the Lam. Simon & Schuster, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7432-6980-3