Book on Sicilian Palmeri Brothers Now on Kindle

Today marks the Kindle debut of Louis P. DiVita's A Wiser Guy -- so readers can purchase it in whatever format they prefer: ebook, hardcover or paperback. (Be sure to check out Louis's website, where the above trailer is posted, along with additional information.)

In A Wiser Guy, DiVita -- whose grandfather was Paul Palmeri and great uncle Benedetto Angelo, aka "Buffalo Bill," Joseph DiCarlo's partner -- shares personal and colorful anecdotes about life among high-profile members of the American Mafia from around the 1920s to the present.

DiVita's forebears, originally from Sicily's Castellammare Del Golfo, first played a decades-long role in upstate New York where they were closely allied with mob bosses Stefano Magaddino and Joseph DiCarlo. The Palmeri brothers initially planted their flags in Buffalo and Niagara Falls; they had associations with major Canadian mobsters of the day, such as Rocco Perri. These relationships had ramifications that rippled upward, into both the Ndrangheta and the Cosa Nostra, both of which were established in Canada. "Buffalo Bill" had died quite young of natural causes, while Paul eventually wound up in New Jersey, where he sparked up an old partnership with a guy named Willie Moretti.

When the Castellammarese War flared up, both Palmeris sided with their Castellammarese associates and supported Salvatore Maranzano's war against Joe "The Boss" Masseria.

They'd meet with Joseph Bonanno in Brooklyn and plot war strategy, who to kill to take them incrementally closer to the larger goal of assuming control of all Masseria's sizable territory in New York City. In A Man of Honor, Joe Bonanno discussed his close relationship with Angelo Palmeri, who Bonanno and his bride visited during his 1931 Niagara Falls honeymoon, a blog on Joe DiCarlo, written by legendary mob historian/writer Thomas Hunt (with Mike Tona) noted.

Paul Palmeri, Louis DiVita's grandfather, was partners with
Willie Moretti, among others.

After the Castellammarese War, Angelo Palmeri suffered from severe ongoing health problems. On Dec. 21, 1932, at 54 years old, he suffered a stroke and died in the driver's seat while parked in his driveway. Paul Palmeri relocated to Passaic, New Jersey, in 1941 with his family where he got together with a former partner, Willie Moretti, a close ally to Frank Costello.

The following initially appeared in the most recent Cosa Nostra Newsletter, which was emailed last weekend.

Many rising mob-stars brushed up against the Palmeri brothers, who were experienced in all the major mob mainstays, including gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, narcotics, and kidnapping.

You will read all about it in Louis's new book.

Louis himself wasn't sure which direction he would head.

He was personally tutored by Ernest Palmeri -- his "Uncle Ernie" -- who also was Paul Palmeri's oldest son.

Says Louis of his uncle:

"Most people liked Ernie. He had a gift: he could take your last buck, but you never felt he robbed you. Growing up, I always was conflicted about The Life. It’s a hard decision which path to take when the people around you are, shall we say, animated and colorful. In my adult life, I met numerous people who had dealings with Uncle Ernie. Some loved him, some accepted or tolerated him, but all agreed he was a character. Wild is probably an underrated adjective to describe him. He had a serious side, a comic side and a dark side."
Click image to see available versions.

Uncle Ernie introduced Louis to many things, including how to earn in the street but he also taught certain survival skills that Louis says later came in quite handy, more than a few times.....

In the book you will read about mob big shots like Paul Palmeri, Joe Adonis, Willie Moretti, Albert Anastasia, Frank Costello, Casandra Bonosera, Joe DiCarlo, Sam DiCarlo, Steve/Stephano Magaddino, Peter Magaddino, Al Capone, Charles "Lucky" Luciano and many more....

When Dad was working for Willie Moretti in the wire room, Uncle Ernie would call Dad from the track and place a bet on the winner of a race just before it hit the wire.

One of Willie’s guys caught on to what they were doing and told Willie, “Ernie’s calling Joe and Joe’s taking the bet before the results hit the wire.”

“Pay ‘em,” Willie replied, nonchalantly.

When Ernie came in to collect, the guy said to Ernie, “I told Willie what you and Joe are doing.”

“What are you talking about?”

Ernie took his payout and walked away, smiling. Ernie was in his glory. He was in his late 20s, playing in the Organized Crime capital of the world, hanging with the who’s who of OC, unlike Papa who stayed low key and presented himself as a retired undertaker.

One day, Joe Adonis walked into wire room. Dad was working and Ernie was hanging out. Joe A said to Ernie, “Let’s take a ride.”

Joe Adonis

They walked outside and Joe A tossed his car keys to Ernie. “You drive.”

Joe Adonis, who was on the Board of Directors of The Commission, was known for his impeccable grooming.

Ernie drove him to a haberdashery, and the staff was falling all over themselves to help Joe A, with Ernie watching and drooling. Joe A told the shopkeeper to fit him for new shirts. Then he said to measure Ernie too, and give him a dozen “white on whites” (white shirt with white embroidery.)

“Go ahead, Ernie, pick out what you like, on me,” said Joe A.

Ernie beamed. “Thank you, Joe."


According to the so-called experts, when Frank Costello abdicated the throne, he was a soldier. This I will dispute and mount a solid case to support what I know. In a well-run enterprise, this would not have been. In(Joseph) Valachi’s words, and what is still believed, the workers could not possibly make more than the bosses, hence too much has been emphasized on structure.

While there was definitely a chain of command, I believe it was more structured within each small faction, crew, etc. than this whole tree structure.

If it’s true Costello was demoted to a lowly soldier, my claim about structure gains validity. A soldier would never be consulted by high ranking members and bosses such as Albert Anastasia, Carlo Gambino, Joe Bonanno, etc.

Joe Adonis was never identified as a member of any family, yet wielded huge power. The historians claim he was close to Albert Anastasia, yet he was partners with Willie Moretti in New Jersey, Meyer Lansky in Florida and very tight with Lucky Luciano. Go figure.

In the beginning, whatever your stature, there was not a major difference between your lifestyle and the so-called boss. Houses were similar, cars were similar, money in the pocket, food on the table, clothes on your back, and there was loyalty to each other....

By the way, tell Rudy Giuliani et al they did not destroy organized crime as they claim. They disrupted the Italian faction, expanding the playing field for Russians, Asians and a host of other groups. The 2000s have produced a new level of racketeers. They wear better suits, ride in limos, own numerous houses and have substantial assets. Oh yeah, their names end in vowels: Chase, Bank of America, Citi, and Wells Fargo.


There has been a lot written about all the old time guys, but they never write about their generosity, like Buffalo Bill. Everybody around them in any capacity was taken care of.

In Niagara Falls, part of Papa’s popularity in the Italian community came from his good deeds. Like his brother Angelo, he helped the less fortunate, organizing busloads of people to picnics and trips to Canadian beaches. For many, it was their only recreation. Papa shared his good fortune, as did many of his peers.

Willie Moretti fed a lot of people. He ensured all of the people around him were financially OK — waiters, shoe shine boys, newsstand operators, etc. He was responsible for hundreds of people’s welfare. Willie, as with most of his contemporaries was charming, gentlemanly and had a great sense of humor. He loved practical jokes and pushing the envelope.

Willie Moretti, having shuffled off this mortal coil.
On an extremely hot summer day, while he was having a discussion with a few of his guys, he turned to two of his enforcers and told them to make themselves useful and “go get some ice cream cones”. They immediately hopped to and shortly returned with several cones. Willie purposely continued his discussion while the ice cream dripped all over their hands knowing nobody would talk or act until he was done.

He finally couldn’t keep a straight face and burst into his hearty laugh, breaking the ice.

Everybody joined in the laugh and grabbed a cone, a little soft and runny, but everybody had a good laugh.

I don’t know the year but Willie had been banned from Monmouth Park raceway. He sent scouts to find the best vantage point to watch a race from outside the track and would go and sit outside to be close to the action. He would give Dad his sheets to tally and when Dad reported if the results were favorable Willie would hand him $100. Talk about supplemental income!

I’ve mentioned everybody’s generosity, but Willie’s was most notable. If anything good or bad happened to someone close to him he responded with a $100 bill and his congratulations or condolences. It’s not that he was by any means shy or at a loss for words. He believed the gift would help celebrate or ease the pain.

Santo Volpe became the president of Volpe Coal Company and was active in the coal industry nationally and Pennsylvania politics. Santo Volpe personally saw to it that all the miners and their families had groceries when they were on strike. Naturally, He shared his success with his family first and his friends second, but the general population was always included.

Volpe’s daughters, Tina and Angela, were married on the same day. In addition to the lavish double reception in the US, he also served the same meal to everybody in his hometown of Montedoro in Sicily. Then, he had a train car with two bedrooms and a parlor outfitted, and told the two couples to travel to their hearts’ content on their honeymoons.

When my parents married, Mr. Volpe sent sterling flatware for 12 as a gift.

At the reception, he handed Dad an envelope with a key to a hotel suite at the Waldorf Astoria and a note. They could stay as long as they wanted. They stayed a week. Dad said he could not pay for a newspaper, a pack of cigarettes, shoe shine, or tip anybody. It was all on Mr. Volpe.

Not bad for a man who came to America in steerage, with 3 cents in his pocket. But generosity does not make you immune from harm....