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|Detroit|  Giovanni Vitale

Birth: June 24, 1876 - Cinisi, Sicily

Death: September 28, 1920 - Detroit












Giovanni Vitale was a former Organized Crime figure and once a boss of one of Detroit's first Mafia families. He was born in Cisini, Sicily on Saturday June the 24th 1876. In 1903 he emigrated to Detroit USA, then four years later he returned to Sicily and afterwards back to Detroit permanently in 1910. He was best recognized as the leader of one two factions which battled mercilessly for control of the criminal underworld of Detroit just after the introduction of Prohibition. His career actually started more than a decade before the outbreak of what would be known as the bloodiest chapter in the history of the Mafia in Detroit. He entered the liquor business during the first decade of the first century as a partner of Salvatore (Sam) Cipriano; Joseph Stefano and a three brothers by the name of Giannola.

The newly formed liquor combine soon found itself competing with the most powerful Italian organized crime faction in Detroit, under the control of Salvatore and Vito Adamo. Vitale and his partners were the prime competitors to the Adamos, who in an effort to maintain a distinct advantage over their liquor business started giving away free ice with all deliveries of their own beer and other alcoholic drinks, but were still unable at that time to compete with the deep pockets of the Adamos So Antonino and Salvatore Giannola devised a plan to do away with the Adamos as they were standing between them and total dominance of not only the liquor market but also other rackets in the Italian section of Detroit. Whilst the Giannolas and the Adamos fought a long feud, Giovanni Vitale, Salvatore Cipriano, and Giuseppe (Joseph) Stefano* continued to conduct their business from a store on Rivard and Congress Streets, Detroit. Eventually the Adamo brothers were eliminated and Vitale Cipriano and Stefano ascended to the apex of the Italian organized crime community. Giovanni concentrated all his efforts on building a vast fortune for his lucrative and fast expanding liquor business. After a certain time the Giannolas started to grow in power and Vitale was counted upon as one of their most important lieutenants. The partnership between them was to continue for a short time, but this was soon changed when a business dispute between the Giannolas and Pietro Bosco ended with Bosco's death, at the hand of Giannola gunmen. This murder sparked ill feelings between Vitale and the Giannola brothers and eventually triggered off the Giannola/Vitale Gang War.

Giovanni Vitale had now taken place from Bosco as the Giannola's arch enemy when he took control of the feudalistic organization his friend had started which was independent of the house of Giannola. During the feud there were many exchanges of gunfire and bombing between the Vitale Gang and the Giannolas but in the end Vitale emerged victory when Antonino and Salvatore Giannola were killed in January and October of 1919.

Giovanni Vitale enjoyed a short reign but this was marred when his eldest son Joe was murdered on Wednesday August 18th, 1920. Joe was murdered when an attempt on Giovanni was made by remnants of the old Giannoli Gang in retaliation for the murder of Giuseppe Manzello a week earlier. Giovanni's nephew, Tony Badalamenti had also been gunned down shortly before the attack on Manzello. Giovanni Vitale was eventually gunned down himself when 18 bullets were fired from two passing cars whilst he was walking down 14th Avenue and Marentette on Tuesday September 28, 1920. Vitale's death marked the end of a long conflict which pitted the forces of the powerful Giannolas and the many gangsters who at one time had paid allegiance to them and the influence they had in the Italian section of Detroit. John Vitale was survived by a wife and the one surviving son who also bore the name Giovanni. The murder is believed to have been committed by a Sicilian crew of assissins which went by the name 'the Good Killers'. The band of murderers was largely active in Detroit and New York and was headed, amongst others, by Stefano Magaddino and Vito Bonventre. The Good Killers however vanished a couple of years later.


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