In January 1953 the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control revoked the liquor license of the Sportsman Bar and Grill on the ground floor of a three-story 15-room hotel at 212 River Street in Hoboken according to recently-released agency records. The license was held since 1949 by Margaret Garaventi who also apparently owned the building out of which the tavern and hotel operated; however, the ABC found that “she had very little to do with the operation of the establishment,” and her husband Lawrence Garaventi had an active hand in running the colorful joint. Among the reasons the Sportsman…


During the 1950s husband-and-wife Albert and Marion Manzo operated a bar in Paterson, NJ which had its liquor license suspended multiple times for serving gays and lesbians.

The Manzo couple are the parents of Albert “Tiny” Manzo Jr. who was the victim of a suspected Mafia hit in August 1983 although the murder remains unsolved, and grandparents of Albert Manzo III who owns banquet hall The Brownstone. Albert III perhaps is best known in popular culture as the husband of Caroline Manzo from past seasons of Real Housewives of New Jersey.

The gay and lesbian bar run by Albert and…


1972 photo of Bebe Rebozo, Director Hoover and President Nixon

M. Wesley Swearingen, an FBI agent from 1951 to 1977, writes in his memoir FBI Secrets: An Agent’s Expose about the long-standing rumors within the Bureau concerning the relationship between FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Associate Director Clyde Tolson which include allegations that Hoover ignored the Mafia for decades because the wise guys had incriminating goods on the supposed lovers:

One year after arriving in Memphis, Hoover transferred me to Chicago, Illinois. I was thrilled — my mind was full of gangsters, Tommy guns, and the FBI’s famous machine gun battles of the 1930s. It was clear to me…


In October 2005 nineteen-year-old Brandon Dale Woodruff was charged with murdering his parents in a rural northeast Texas town in the heart of the Bible belt. Dennis and Norma Woodruff had been sitting together on a sofa before the television set on a Sunday evening in their double wide manufactured home in Royse City, and both were shot and stabbed multiple times in their faces. It was a bloodbath.

There was no direct evidence tying the couple’s son to the gruesome crime to warrant his arrest — no eyewitnesses, no murder weapons, no bloody prints — but investigators were convinced…


For decades the FBI largely ignored Carlo Gambino but after local cops busted a meeting among the nation’s Mafia leaders on November 14, 1957 in upstate Apalachin, NY, the G-men finally decided to take a closer look at the hook-nosed gangster according to Bureau files.

Carlo Gambino Mug Shot

By early 1962 the FBI had understood the importance of Gambino on the nine-member Mafia Commission which governed the 26 crime families throughout the United States, and a May 29, 1962 memo reflects the investigative priority he was given by the New York Field Office:

It is imperative that every effort be made to establish…


Throughout the 1960s the G-men eavesdropped on the private conversations of Meyer Lansky by bugging his personal residence where he lived with his wife in Hallandale, FL and the hotel rooms in which he stayed when in New York City according to FBI files. Although Lansky may have had a mind for numbers in handling the casino skimming and money laundering rackets of the Genovese mobsters for whom he worked, his own words reveal a small-minded man who was both embittered by and self-deluded about his station in life. Perhaps the most shocking revelations from the recorded confessions involved jealous…


In 1962 the State Liquor Authority cancelled the licenses of three gay bars in Rochester, NY — Patsy’s Grill licensed to Pasquale and Katherine Lippa at 278 Allen Street, Dick’s Tavern licensed to Dominic Gruttadauria at 63 State Street and Martin’s Restaurant licensed to Harry Martin at 12 Front Street — according to articles from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The charges against the three bars were announced in January 1962 following a year-long investigation in which “the SLA sent its agents in inconspicuous dress into the bars as a result of public complaints,” and “after observing conditions, the investigators…


On August 22, 1972 John Wojtowicz and his 18-year-old partner-in-crime Sal Naturale — a “slender, fair-haired youth” with a long history of juvenile delinqency and barbituate abuse — robbed a Brooklyn branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank which became the basis for Dog Day Afternoon starring Al Pacino as Wojtowicz and John Cazale as Naturale.

The principal motivation for the robbery was so Wojtowicz could afford the gender reassignment surgery for his transgender wife Liz Eden whom he had married a year earlier after meeting at the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. …


In The Mafia and the Gays author Phillip Crawford Jr. meticulously documents how the mob once had a near-monopoly on gay bars for decades in New York and Chicago, and relies upon an extensive collection of primary sources including FBI files many of which were not publicly available until acquired by the author through the Freedom of Information Act.

The Mafia and the Gays by Phillip Crawford Jr.

Mr. Crawford illustrates how the gay bars historically were integrated into the Mafia rackets. For example, the establishments often were financed through mob-tied coin-op vendors and their related loan companies. Jukebox king Alfred Miniaci funded dozens of gay bars and other…

Phillip Crawford Jr.

Author of “The Mafia and the Gays,” “Railroaded: The Homophobic Prosecution of Brandon Woodruff for His Parents’ Murders,” & “Queer Joints, Wiseguys and G-Men”

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