Bufalino crime family

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Bufalino crime family
Foundedc. 1900; 123 years ago (1900)
FounderStefano LaTorre
Named afterRussell Bufalino
Founding locationPittston, Pennsylvania, United States
Years activec. 1900-2010
TerritoryNortheastern Pennsylvania, especially the counties of Lackawanna and Luzerne, with additional territory in northwestern New Jersey, southwestern New York, Ohio and southern Florida
EthnicityItalians as "made men" and other ethnicities as associates
Membership (est.)30–40 made members (1960s)[1]
ActivitiesRacketeering, counterfeiting, loansharking, extortion, illegal gambling, cartage theft, fraud, bid rigging, narcotics, automobile theft and murder
AlliesBuffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Genovese, Patriarca, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh crime families
RivalsVarious local gangs

The Bufalino crime family,[2] also known as the Pittston crime family,[3] Scranton Wilkes-Barre crime family,[3] Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family,[4] Northeastern Pennsylvania Mafia,[5][6] or Scranton Mafia,[7] was an Italian-American Mafia crime family active in Northeastern Pennsylvania, primarily in the cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Pittston.[8][9]


Barbara and the Apalachin meeting[edit]

In November 1957, Joseph Barbara held a national Cosa Nostra meeting at his Apalachin, New York, estate. The meeting was preceded by the assassination of Albert Anastasia by a few weeks, as well as a smaller meeting at the New Jersey estate of Ruggiero Boiardo. The Apalachin meeting was attended by about 100 Mafia heads from the U.S., Italy and Cuba. A raid by New York State Police caught many heads of families or their deputies. Many other family heads and their deputies were suspected of being present by law enforcement but evaded detection and capture. All those apprehended were fined, up to $10,000 each, and given prison sentences ranging from three to five years, however, all the convictions were overturned on appeal in 1960.[10][11][12]

Bufalino era[edit]

Bufalino crime family chart in 1989

With Barbara's death in June 1959, the Mafia Commission recognized Russell Bufalino as the official family boss.[13] Bufalino maintained a close alliance with the New York Genovese family. After Bufalino was imprisoned in the late 1970s on extortion charges related to the collection of a debt, his underboss, Edward Sciandra, became the acting boss of the family. Sciandra was aided in running the family by captains Anthony Guarnieri, James David Osticco, and Phillip Medico, Consigliere Remo Allio, as well as soldiers William D'Elia, Angelo Bufalino, John Rizzo, Angelo Son, and Joseph Sperrazza.[14] Bufalino was released from prison in 1980 briefly after serving his sentence for extortion. Towards the end of 1981 Bufalino was again imprisoned after being found guilty of conspiring to kill Jack Napoli, a witness in his 1978 extortion trial. Bufalino learned the whereabouts of Napoli, then in the Witness Protection Program, and conspired with Los Angeles mobster Jimmy Fratianno and another man he met in prison to murder Napoli. Fratianno turned government informant and testified against Bufalino at trial.[15] He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and released in 1989. Russell Bufalino died on February 25, 1994, of natural causes near Pittston, Pennsylvania.

D'Elia's leadership[edit]

William "Big Billy" D'Elia became the new boss of the Bufalino crime family after the death of boss Russell Bufalino in 1994 and later, the retirement of Acting Boss Edward Sciandra. D'Elia started his criminal career in the Bufalino family in the late 1960s as Bufalino's driver, after his late sister married the only son of capo James David Osticco. According to the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, D'Elia was placed in the crew of Caporegime Phillip Medico. D'Elia advanced through the ranks of the organization rather quickly, due to the natural attrition of members and indictments in the 1980s and 1990s. He took over the crime family's solid waste rackets, and oversaw the traditional Mafia rackets run by the members and associates of the family. D'Elia also attempted to replenish the aging ranks of the family, with limited success. As boss, D'Elia worked with the other crime families in New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Southern Florida, and Los Angeles. In the 1990s, D'Elia was linked to a money laundering scheme involving numerous Northeastern Pennsylvania bookmakers, escort services, corrupt politicians, and associates of Russian organized crime. D'Elia was closely aligned with the Philadelphia crime family.[16] When Philadelphia crime family boss John Stanfa was imprisoned, D'Elia was one of Stanfa's choices as interim caretaker of the family.[17]

On May 31, 2001, agents from the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, US Postal Inspectors, and Pennsylvania State Police executed search warrants at the homes of D'Elia, his mistress Jeanie Stanton, Thomas Joseph, and Marranca, who has been identified as an informant working for the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police. Marranca also testified on behalf of authorities against Louis DeNaples in front of the Fourth Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, in regards to DeNaples' mob ties and his ownership of the Mount Airy Casino.[18] On February 26, 2003, D'Elia was banned from entering any Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement,[19] based on information shared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.[20]

On May 31, 2006, D'Elia was indicted on federal charges of laundering $600,000 in illegal drug proceeds obtained from a Florida-based associate of the Bufalino crime family among others, including Lucchese family associate Phillip "Fipper" Forgione. While D'Elia was free on bail, he solicited a U.S. Customs Agency informant to murder a witness in the case and was remanded to prison until his eventual guilty plea and sentencing.[21][22] In March 2008, D'Elia pleaded guilty to witness tampering and money laundering.[21] He was sentenced to nine years in prison.[21] D'Elia cooperated with the government and testified against Louis DeNaples, the owner of Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos. In 2010, D'Elia got two years dropped from his sentence for his assisting the government's investigation against DeNaples.[23]


In 2011, author Dave Janoski interviewed former Pennsylvania Crime Commission investigator James Kanavy who asserted that there is no longer a standalone family in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and that any remnants of the Mafia family would be aligned with the New York families.[24][25]

Historical leadership[edit]

Boss (official and acting)

Former members[edit]

  • James Osticco: served as underboss to Russell Bufalino.[2] Died in 1990.
  • Anthony “the bone” Cozzone: served as bookmaker and accountant during 1950’s. Died in 2002.
  • Edward "Eddie the Conductor" Sciandra: served as consigliere to Russell Bufalino.[2] Died in 2003.
  • Angelo Polizzi: served as consigliere to Giovanni Sciandra.[3] He moved to Detroit and started the Polizzi line of L.C.N. figures in the Detroit area.
  • Anthony F. Guarnieri: former caporegime,[2] died in 1992
  • Frank Cannone: former soldier, deceased, he ran a bookmaking operation in Binghamton, New York.[2]
  • Anthony J. Mosco: former soldier, he was active in Binghamton, New York[2] Mosco served 17 years in federal prison for racketeering along with capo Anthony "Guv" Guarnieri and other family members and associates. He currently resides in Arizona and Florida and has been seen visiting with family members and associates in the Pittston area in recent years.
  • Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran: former associate and right-hand man to Russell Bufalino. He was indicted in July 1980 with six others on labor racketeering charges, and on October 31, 1980, he was convicted and sentenced to a 32 year prison term, he served 13 years and was released in 1993. He died at age 83 on December 14, 2003. [32]


  1. ^ The Irishman: Real Life Gangsters From Philly and New York Tony Sokol, Den of Geek (November 29, 2019)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Organized Crime in Pennsylvania: Traditional and Non-Traditional. Pennsylvania Crime Concession. April 15, 1988. (The Nevada Observer. August 16, 2006) Archived November 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Devico, Peter J. The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra pp. 188–189
  4. ^ Abadinsky, Howard (2016). Organized Crime. Cengage Learning. ISBN 9781305633711.
  5. ^ Birkbeck, Matt (2013). The Quiet Don: The Untold Story of Mafia Kingpin Russell Bufalino. Penguin. ISBN 9781101618264.
  6. ^ Ecenbarger, William (2012). Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback Scheme. New Press. ISBN 9781595587978.
  7. ^ Martinelli, Patricia A. (2008). True Crime: Pennsylvania: The State's Most Notorious Criminal Cases. Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811741699.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The American Mafia.com "Scranton crime Bosses"". Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g 26 Family Cities "Northeast PA" Archived December 14, 2004, at the Wayback Machine by Mario Machi Rick Porrello's AmericanMafia.com
  10. ^ "20 Apalachin Convictions Ruled Invalid On Appeal". Toledo Blade. November 29, 1960. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  11. ^ United States of America, Appellee v. Russell Bufalino et..
  12. ^ Tully, Andrew (September 2, 1958). "Mafia Raid Confirms 20-year Undercover Findings by T-Men". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  13. ^ a b Investigations, United States Congress Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on (November 30, 1983). "Profile of Organized Crime, Mid-Atlantic Region: Hearings Before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, Ninety-eighth Congress, First Session, February 15, 23, and 24, 1983". U.S. Government Printing Office – via Google Books.
  14. ^ 1980 Report: A Decade of Organized Crime. Pennsylvania Crime Commission
  15. ^ "Laborers local 1058 (Pittsburgh) Order and Memorandum imposing supervision in lieu of trusteeship". Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  16. ^ Mafia kingpin William D'Elia gets nine years by Michael Rubinkam (November 25, 2008) Pocono Record
  17. ^ Taking Care Of Family Business. With Stanfa Behind Bars, Who Will Take Over The Mob?
  18. ^ "1985 Report" Pennsylvania Crime Commission
  19. ^ William D'Elia – N.J. Excluded Person "William D'Elia" Archived October 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine New Jersey Excluded Person
  20. ^ William D'Elia pleads guilty in Scranton (March 28, 2008) Pennlive.com
  21. ^ a b c d "Reputed mobster gets 9 years in prison" Archived 2013-01-28 at archive.today (November 24, 2008) MafiaToday.com
  22. ^ "Reputed mobster gets 9 years in prison" The Daily Item November 24, 2008
  23. ^ Reputed Pa. mobster wins sentence reduction of nearly 2 years for cooperating with government (June 30, 2010) Fox News and Associated Press
  24. ^ Janoski, Dave (July 17, 2011). "The rise and fall of a mob power". Citizenvoice.com. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  25. ^ McBride, Jessica (11 October 2022). "Bufalino Crime Family Now & Then: Does it Exist Today?". Heavy. News. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  26. ^ "The Pittston Murder," Wilkes-Barre Record, October 25, 1905.
  27. ^ "showDoc.html". www.maryferrell.org. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  28. ^ Birkbeck, Matthew (July 11, 2023). The Life We Chose: William “Big Billy” D'Elia and the Last Secrets of America's Most Powerful Mafia Family. William Morrow. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-06-323469-7.
  29. ^ Hunt, Tom (2011-03-13). "Reassigning Joseph Barbara". News and notes about our website | American Mafia History. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  30. ^ Reputed mob boss gets prison term shortened by Matt Birkbeck. The Morning Call. June 30, 2010
  31. ^ Reputed Bufalino family boss D’Elia sentence reduced Archived 2012-07-22 at archive.today Mafia News Report.com
  32. ^ Lin Devecchio and Charles Brandt We're Going to Win This Thing: The Shocking Frame-Up of a Mafia Crime Buster see

Further reading[edit]

  • George Anastasia. The Goodfella Tapes (Avon, 1998). ISBN 0-380-79637-6.
  • Charles Brandt .I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride of Jimmy Hoffa (Steerforth, 2004). ISBN 1-58642-077-1.
  • Matt Birkbeck. The Quiet Don: The Untold Story of Mafia Kingpin Russell Bufalino (Berkley/Penguin, 2013). ISBN 978-0-425-26685-4