|Chicago|  Joe Aiello

Birth: September 27, 1890 - Bagheria, Sicily

Death: October 23, 1930 - Chicago

Giuseppe "Joe" Aiello was a strong opponent of Al Capone during the late 1920's and was leader of the Unione Siciliane from 1929 until 1930. He had strong ties to the New York Castellammarese, namely Stefano Magaddino and Salvatore Maranzano.

Little Sicily
Aiello was born as one of nine children in Bagheria, Sicily. He moved away to America in 1907 and by this followed many of his brothers and cousins. When he arrived in New York he was welcomed by his brother Andrea Aiello. He eventually settled down in Chicago by 1920 and together with a couple of his brothers (believed to be Salvatore, Peter and Dominick Aiello) opened a grocery importing company with olive oil and cheeses amongst others. When prohibition came law the Aiello's started to suply sugar to be used in alcohol distilleries. During the early years of Prohibition the Aiello's were associated with the Genna brothers who controlled Little Sicily. In 1924 however most of the Genna leadership was killed by the rival North Siders. Due to this the Aiello's became the new dominators of Little Sicily.

Unione Siciliane
One of Aiello's closest friends was Antonio Lombardo who was part of the Unione Siciliane, an organization which helped Sicilians with their arrival in America. However, the Unione Siciliane soon turned violent against it's own etnical groupe and started to extort new immigrants. Together with Lombardo he became the owner of Lombardo&Co, which was an importing company and which was actually started with a loan from Al Capone. Capone by that time was also an associate of Lombardo and supported his rise to the top of the Unione Siciliane. However, Aiello was an ambitious man who wanted more profits of the Lombardo&Co company and by most wanted to become the next Unione Siciliane leader. In order to follow his ambitious path he had to get rid of Lombardo and by most Al Capone. This led to a couple of failed murder attempts on both Lombardo and Capone.

By 1927 Aiello officially was an enemy of Al Capone and the Outfit. Backed by Brooklyn bosses Frankie Yale, a former partner of Capone, and Salvatore Maranzano he led a Castellammarese branch in Chicago and was determined to kill his rivals. In November 1927 Aiello was arrested and taken in custody. Capone heared about it and send a couple of men, including Louie Campagna, to the police station to draw some attention. The police soon noticed the gangsters outside, reputidly waving their guns, and immediatly arrested them. This however was part of the plan. They were placed in a prisoncell right next to Aiello where they challenged him and made threats towards him and his family. A police officer present during the conversation understood what the Sicilians where saying to eachother: "You started this you dirty rat! We're going to finish it. Your as good as dead!" (although according to Rose Keefe this was a conversation between Jack McGurn and Frank Zuta). Later on Aiello left prison under police protection, but this event hadn't scared him.

Warfare with Capone and Lombardo
Once back he made an alliance with Capone's biggest rivals, the North Siders. Bugs Moran and his North Siders had been struck hard by Capone one year before with the murder of leader Hymie Weiss and wanted to get even. Also Aiello's brothers were active in the warfare against Capone, for instance, his brother Tony was identified as one of the killers of Antonio “The Cavalier” Spano, a Capone associate. In 1927 two of his brothers were murdered while being sent to St. Louis to organize a rival organization against Capone. Later that year Capone sent a couple of gunmen to Aiello's bakery where they opened fire, almost destroying everything inside and wounding his brother Tony. Aiello believed that Lombardo had organized the hit and therefore he wanted to react, sending a gunnersnest to Lombardo's house, but they were discovered by the police.

In the summer of 1928 two Capone associates were found murdered near Aiello's company and one month later Aiello's bodyguard Anthony “Tough Tony” Califura was murdered in retaliation. Aiello and the North Siders eventually succeeded in murdering Antonio Lombardo. In broad daylight Lombardo and his 2 bodyguards Joseph Ferraro and Joe Lolordo were ambushed and shot. Only Lolordo survived and would also become a suspect in the murders because of his relation to Pasqualino Lolordo, a friend of Aiello. The gunmen were believed to be Peter and Frank Gusenberg, both notorious North Side members. With Lombardo out of the way Aiello saw his chance to claim the throne of the Unione Siciliane, but Capone's influence however stood in the way and Pasqualino Lolordo was chosen as next head. In January 1929 three men were invited inside Lolordo's house. All three of them were not of Italian descent and by this the Gusenberg brothers again come in mind. Suddenly shots were fired and Lolordo was left dead on the floor. His wife came in screaming while the 3 men quietly left the house. Once again Aiello was responsible for the death of a Unione Siciliane leader who as sidenote where also his former friends.

Outcome of the Castellammarese war
During that same period Al Capone was jailed in Philadelphia on weapons violations charges, but most likely he did this to escape the growing violence in Chicago. Aiello had now became the president of the Unione Siciliane, but stayed hidden for police who wanted to question him about the Lolordo murder. Capone however had enough of the North Siders and the Aiello's
The bulletpierced
vest of Aiello
and arranged a hit by which most of the North Siders would be killed, this hit would become infamous as the St. Valentines Massacre. On February 14, 1929, 6 North Siders were lured to a garage for a meeting concerning bootlegging operations. They were however set up and all 6 of them, together with 1 innocent man who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, were murdered. Amongst the victims were Frank and Peter Gusenberg. The massacre led to the eventual downfall of the North Siders.

In New York another battle was raging on as Mafia's main leaders, Salvatore Maranzano and Giuseppe Masseria, headed for war. Aiello was supportive to Maranzano while Capone backed his allie Masseria, this again caused frictions between them. Aiello was also said to have stayed a while under the protection of Maranzano and Magaddino in Buffalo during the violence in Chicago. Masseria and Capone eventually agreed upon the murder of Aiello in 1930. Al Mineo, Masseria's second in command, was send over to Chicago to oversee the assassination.

On October 23, 1930, Aiello was staying with one of his henchmen, "Presto" Prestogiacomo, while waiting for a cab to drive him home. When the cab arrived and Aiello went outside he was suddenly ambushed by a gunnersnet hidden in the building in front of him. Aiello managed to flee and ran away to the rear of the building where another gunnersnet was waiting for him. Up to 50 bullets riddled his body and he was killed instantly. Joe Aiello was buried at Mt. Carmel cemetary on the 29th of October. Many of his brothers and cousins failed to show up at the funeral. His body was later transfered to New York where he was placed in the family mausoleum. Al Mineo, the man who orchestrated the hit, was killed himself in November 1930. Bugs Moran, his former partner in crime, was later stated that Aiello was a fine man who did allot for orphans and that he was proud he knew him.

Picture from

(Source:,, "The man who got away: the Bugs Moran story" by Rose Keefe, "The true and complete story of 'machine gun' Jack McGurn" by Amanda Jayne Parr, "Syndicate City" by Alson Jesse Smith)

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