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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Married to the Daughter of a Milwaukee Mob Boss - Our Pediatrician!

composite photo by pat migliaccio
I sometimes wonder how many good and decent Italian Americans were affected by the vast criminal mafia network in this country. The history of the American Mafia is fascinating to me, as I have tried to learn about it over the past couple of decades. After finding out many years later that some of the people I dealt with back in Milwaukee were connected (see “Related Posts” links below), I have been doing a lot of research.
Having been a franchised gas station operator back in 1970’s Milwaukee, I decided to start up a side business making and selling ice wholesale, installing freezers at various businesses and selling the owners ice to retail to the public. The name of it was Polar Ice Co and thank God, it wasn't a vending business, as I had no idea at that time, it was tightly controlled by Frank P. Balistrieri. And Frank just happened to be the leader of the Milwaukee Mob! In 1978, the FBI sent in an undercover agent by the name of Gail T. Cobb to set up a fake vending business, was being tailed and very nearly killed by a couple of Balistrieri's thugs. He was a ruthless and disgusting man and I have no sympathy for mobsters in the least. But we all have family, and if some of your family is connected, it can’t help but affect you in many negative ways, whether you participated, tried to ignore, or were just aware of.

After getting Gavin Schmitt’s new book a few weeks agoMilwaukee Mafia (Images of America), I sat down to read it. I had been eagerly awaiting the release of the book for months and had pre-ordered it. The book contains about 125 pages of fascinating photos from back in the mob days that really bring out the rich history of Milwaukee. I highly recommend it.
As I was reading through and looking at the photos, I came across a familiar name that caught my eye. That name was “Dr. Joseph E. Vaccaro” as I looked at a caption of a photo from the early 50’s. Looking more closely at the picture, I couldn't believe my eyes. The man looked so familiar and I realized I was looking at a photo of our old pediatrician from back in Milwaukee! I remembered his very dark black hair and his shorter, stocky build. I was born in 1952 and this was the doctor who made house calls to our home when my younger brother and I were sick! I thought  “this guy was a doctor and what the heck is he doing in a book about the Milwaukee Mafia?”.

Dr. Vaccaro was the pediatrician for all of my brothers and sisters and my parents used him all the through the 50’s and into the 70’s! Of course after the first few years, it became impractical for a Doctor to make house calls and my parents would take the kids to his office. What follows is what I have been able to piece together from more research the last few weeks:

After getting his medical degree in 1940, Joseph started his practice as a pediatrician. In 1947, it was announced in the Milwaukee Journal that he was engaged to a Carmen Migliaccio. Carmen just happened to be the daughter of a high ranking Milwaukee mob member by the name of Pasquale Migliaccio. Migliaccio and Joseph Vallone were immigrants from the same small village of Prizzi, Sicily.

milwaukee mafia 'images of america"
  • Together, they formed a business, Migliaccio & Vallone Wholesale Grocers on N. Broadway in Milwaukee. Migliaccio (back row, far left in the picture) was Dr. Vaccaro’s father-in-law.
  • Migliaccio's business partner, Vallone, ran the Milwaukee mob from 1927 to 1949.
  • Notorious mobster Nick Fucarino, who had a lengthy arrest record, was employed by Migliaccio & Vallone.
  • Salvatore Ferrara (front row, far left in the picture) was the Milwaukee mafia boss from 1949 to 1952. The Chicago “Outfit” forced him to step down in ‘52 and John Alioto then replaced him as the Milwaukee "godfather".
  • Dr. Vito Guardalabene (back row, far right in the picture) was the grandson of Vito Guardalabene, who was the mob boss in Milwaukee from 1918 to 1921.
  • “Chico’s Bar-B-Q" (the restaurant they are at) was owned by Frank La Galbo, well known by police and the FBI as an active mobster, once having beaten a murder rap, the reason being "lack of evidence".
  • The dinner was in celebration of Rocky Graziano’s boxing victory (that is Graziano sitting front row, third from left in the picture)!
  • Dr. Joseph E. Vaccaro (back row, second from left in the picture) our family's pediatrician, standing next to Pasquale Migliaccio, his father-in-law!

Seems to me that Dr. Vaccaro married a troubled woman and they were separated at least three times before going through a very nasty and public divorce in 1956. Dr. Vaccaro claimed that his wife was bad tempered, abusive and was always accusing him of affairs. In a complex situation, there were three lawsuits going on at the same time. Vaccaro counter-sued his wife, mobster father-in-law and his nurse for $100,000 claiming that they were trying to extort money from him. Eventually, Carmen was granted a divorce,  getting the house, a car and alimony from Vaccaro.
During the trial a woman was accused of trying to tamper with the jury. One witness claimed that she had been seen at Como’s, a restaurant that Migliaccio owned at the time! The judge demanded that she step up to the bench for questioning and she fled the courtroom, getting away.
Also, during a break in the settlement hearing, Dr. Vaccaro walked up to Migliaccio in the hallway, extending his hand to shake. Pasquale yelled something to him and punched him in the face. Vaccaro declined to press charges. (Don’t think I would either!)
There are court records from the mid 70’s indicating that Dr. Vaccaro and Carmen were still fighting over the divorce settlement.
Born in 1916, Dr. Joseph E. Vaccaro died in 2001 at the age of 85 at his home in Fountain Hills, Az. (presumably of natural causes!)
More interesting bits and facts: 
  • Migliaccio kept a low profile and I can find no record of any arrest, but he was certainly connected to the mob. The FBI believed he was a high ranking member. In his 2015 book titled "The Milwaukee Mafia", author Gavin Schmitt described Migliaccio as right-hand man to boss Joseph Vallone.
  • In 1944, Migliaccio & Vallone Wholesale Grocers were sued by the Office of Price Administration for overcharging on sugar and processed foods.
  • Frank La Galbo, owner of Chico's Bar-B-Q, lived in constant fear for his life. He would never enter his restaurant from the street, always going in and out through a back door. He had a cottage in Peshitgo, Wi that was described as a fortress, with dogs patrolling the property, surrounded by an electrified fence. La Galbo died in 1976 at the age of 68 of a gunshot to the head, "as he was getting into his car in the driveway!". The DA ruled it a suicide.
  • Dr.Vito Guardalabene's (seen in the picture) father and grandfather both ruled the Milwaukee mob at different times.
  • Pasquale Migliaccio died in 1961 at the age of 74.
  • At some point after the divorce, Carmen remarried and took the last name of Sehulster.

Credit and thanks to:
Gavin Schmitt, his new book, Milwaukee Mafia "Images of America", available at Amazon.
The Framing Business - Rise of the Milwaukee Mafia, 1892-1961
Archives of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

You can read more of my mob related posts by clicking the links below:
"Mr. Fancy Pants" Balistrieri - Tracking Milwaulee's most dangerous mobster
Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggerio-The real story of the "wise guy"
The Beef That Didn't Moo - Wisconsin Ties to the Mob
Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men!
Married to the Daughter of a Milwaukee Mob Boss-Our Pediatrician!
The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime
Tale of a Failed Milwaukee Mob Hit!
Lieutenant Uhura (of the Starship "Enterprise") - close encounters with the Chicago and Milwaukee Mob!
Part Two: The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek)
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef - Part 1
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef Processors - Part II
Sally Papia - A life lived on the edge
The Milwakee Mob Hit on Anthony Biernat
The Milwaukee Mob Hit on August Palimisano
New York's "Joe Bananas" meets Milwaukee's Frank "Mad Bomber" Balistrieri

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6 comments:

  1. Nice story but your talk of my shirt tail relatives only brings more mystery and imputed fear of nothing. Organized crime has been replaced by White Collar Crime namely banks, insurance companies, credit card companies and a host of conglomerates that have been effectively charged with strong-arm tactics, fraud, and prohibited practices over the last 10 years that amounts to 2 trillion dollars in losses to common people at a disadvantage to understand the ilk that has filtered into our business community like a festering pus filled infection. Their acts even include insurance companies who deny or delay coverage on operations and medical procedures knowing the person would die before they could appeal a ruling in court much less have the money to fight a conglomerate. When I read your story I have to chuckle that the misdeeds of a few gumbas should tarnish Carmen and Joes' good name. For your interest, Joe is the "tunnel king" one of the only people to have worked on both sides of the English Chunnel to France and engineered a lot of the equipment needed to build what is considered the 8th Wonder of the World. Just because a woman had difficulty with her marriage from an abusive relationship where the husband was most likely hiding or understating his assets as most wealthy men and their slimy attorneys do for them in divorce actions until the rules were changed doesn't mean she was bad.....if she was all mobbed up as you imply....then there would not have been any arguments under your theory....he would have never lived long enough to testify. I remember when I worked for Sally Papia who was also claimed to be a Mob Boss in Milwaukee, I had to laugh again. The Mob rules never allowed any woman to ever be in control of anything but the children. It was all a façade to divert the attention of the FBI who was constantly following her and wasting their time...no differently than how our government has been found to be profiling and illegally investigating people who are members of the Tea Party exercising their constitutional rights. The biggest present day crooks and killers are the politicians and bureaucrats who sold us into slavery with the bubble bursting in the real estate markets and the bailouts of those crooks that followed....that's the New Mob.

    When you talk of Frank and the stronghold he had on the vending business it is a pale joke to the monopoly that Microsoft, the local power utility, or your local water utility has over your life and pocket book when they have charged Milwaukee area residents over 2 billion for sewers since 1969 and we are still flooding the same homes today as we did 50 years ago. It's all a ruse by a bunch of bandits who have arranged for new laws to be enacted to take every last nickel of it before we die....that's the New Mob you fail to point out that thrives today...!

    A long time ago a business associate bought Frank Balistreri's Cabin Cruiser and found a brief case loaded with money...most likely his getaway stash. He freaked out not knowing what to do.....so I called one of Frank's sons and made inquiries....they told my friend to donate the money to Children's Hospital and he did. For everything bad said about my relatives or implied there are ten thousand events by crooked politicians and power brokers that have killed more than a million people in the last ten years....and then you have the temerity to say my family was "the Mob." Mexican drug dealers and their drug war killed 38,000 people last year alone and Obama provided them with the guns....now who is the "New Mob"? You should know that the "Old Mob" no longer exists, it was just replaced by a bunch of educated thugs who actually portend to call themselves respectable even when the courts fine them billions for bilking the everyday public.

    Gwedo

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    Replies
    1. First of all Gwedo, I'd like to thank you for your comments and perspective. I appreciate your input and would like to respond as soon as I have some time to think about it and write it down. I welcome all opinions and viewpoints and appreciate yours, thanks, Dan

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    2. Gwedo, thank you for your input.
      Your comments seem to be directed at three of my mob posts.
      Married to the daughter of a Milwaukee mob boss - Our pediatrician!
      The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime
      and Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men

      Referring to Married to the daughter of a mob boss You wrote:
      When I read your story I have to chuckle that the misdeeds of a few gumbas should tarnish Carmen and Joes' good name. For your interest, Joe is the "tunnel king" one of the only people to have worked on both sides of the English Chunnel to France and engineered a lot of the equipment needed to build what is considered the 8th Wonder of the World. Just because a woman had difficulty with her marriage from an abusive relationship where the husband was most likely hiding or understating his assets as most wealthy men and their slimy attorneys do for them in divorce actions until the rules were changed doesn't mean she was bad.....if she was all mobbed up as you imply....then there would not have been any arguments under your theory....he would have never lived long enough to testify.

      I believe you are referring to Joseph and Carmen Vaccaro. Joe was our Milwaukee pediatrician in the 1950’s until well into the 1970’s, a doctor! What would he have been doing working on the English Chunnel? I only stated that Carmen’s father was a high ranking member of the Milwaukee mob. If you look at the picture of the dinner with Rocky Graziano, Pasquale and Joseph were shoulder to shoulder with mob connected people. Even the owner of the restaurant was connected. That wasn’t my assertion, but the FBI’s and many others. Seems to me that Pasquale was smart enough to keep a very low profile and I could find no record of any arrest. I’m quite certain that if Pasquale wanted Dr. Vaccaro whacked, he could have easily arranged it. He punched him in the face in a court hallway! Who knows what Carmen (or Joseph for that matter) knew about her dad’s activities, I wasn’t trying to trash her or Joe, but the very contentious divorce was all over the Milwaukee newspapers. Maybe, I should have stated, I was way too young to know Dr. Vaccaro and what kind of husband he may have been. What I was trying to do was tell an interesting story of my seeing a photo in a book of mob history and recognizing a familiar face that I hadn’t seen in about 50 years!


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    3. Referring to The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime You wrote:
      I remember when I worked for Sally Papia who was also claimed to be a Mob Boss in Milwaukee, I had to laugh again. The Mob rules never allowed any woman to ever be in control of anything but the children. It was all a façade to divert the attention of the FBI who was constantly following her and wasting their time...

      Nowhere was it stated in my post that Sally Papia was a mob boss in Milwaukee, however I do concede that the title of my post could lead to that assumption. I should have given the title more thought. There are numerous accounts that Sally liked to portray herself as mob connected. She dated a Chicago Outfit mobster (“Big Frank” Buccieri) for many years and Frank Balistrieri himself was quoted saying he thought she was a “mobster wannabe in a friggen skirt”! She had two federal convictions and served time. A facade to divert attention? I would like to pose that question to the chef who almost had his hands crushed with baseball bats by a couple of Sally’s wannabe gangster employees! Sally and five of her employees went to prison for it!
      You stated that you worked for Sally, I would be interested to know what your job was and the side of her that you saw.

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    4. Referring to Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men You wrote:
      When you talk of Frank and the stronghold he had on the vending business it is a pale joke to the monopoly that Microsoft..........Power Utility.........
      A long time ago a business associate bought Frank Balistreri's Cabin Cruiser and found a briefcase loaded with money...most likely his getaway stash. He freaked out not knowing what to do.....so I called one of Frank's sons and made inquiries....they told my friend to donate the money to Children's Hospital and he did.
      ....and then you have the temerity to say my family was "the Mob."

      This last one caused me some consternation, as you seem to imply that the mob’s history of murder, brutality and preying upon people (many who were) of their own ethnicity should not be known? How about the mob buying rancid meat, treating it with formaldehyde and grinding it up into sausage and hamburgers, selling it to schools and hospitals? See The beef that didn't moo - Wisconsin ties to the New York mob! Microsoft and the utilities, insurance & credit card companies are worse, is that what you are saying? You can’t justify bad behaviour by pointing out other bad behavior.
      Frank’s stronghold on the vending business was a “pale joke”? I would like to ask that of the wife and kids of the murdered Anthony Beinhart, a Kenosha vending business owner found dead in a shallow grave! A small business owner that went to work every day to support his family and refused to “share” with Frankie. His murder was never solved, but the FBI believed that Steve DiSalvo, Frankie’s right hand man was the one that did the hit and that Frankie ordered it.
      I’ve read a lot of transcripts of the FBI recorded tapes of Frank Balistrieri, he was a disgusting and vile man. FBI undercover agent Joe Pistone noted in his book that he was surprised at how arrogantly Frankie treated his sons and brother, talking down to them as if the was the great “don” and they were his slaves.

      And I certainly did not mean to impugn that your entire family was in the mob. There are so many great Italian Americans that abhorred that kind of behavior, worked hard and had productive lives. There were some very good comments by a nephew of Joe Alioto in the Frank Balistrieri post. I had the pleasure of working for one of them, Leo Frigo of Green Bay, WI.
      Frigo Cheese Corp and the story of the great man that ran it

      I do appreciate your comments and will allow all thoughtful points of view to be seen here. Thank you for your contribution and I’d be happy to hear from you anytime.
      Dan

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    5. Gwedo, if you get this, I'm looking for info on a 1949 Cadillac Limo once owned by the Balistrieris and sold by John in 1990. The restored car isin a museum in Michigan. Remember anything?

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