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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Milwaukee Mob Attorney - A Tale of a Double Life?
Dominic Frinzi

He was Frank Balistrieri's personal lawyer for many years from the 1950's throughout the 70's. I first became aware of him as I was doing research for an earlier post titled The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek). The actress that played Lt. Uhura in the Star Trek series real name was Nichelle Nichols, and was a very talented singer and entertainer. Nichelle was hired to perform for two weeks as the main act at one of Balistrieri's newly refurbished nightclubs (former strip club) in Milwaukee during the 1950's. Nichols was a big hit and brought in a lot of business. Upon seeing this, Balistrieri tried to ensnare and take control of her career for his benefit.
Nichelle was from Illinois and her father was nearly executed by the brother of Al Capone. She was quick to realize that she was working for a mob controlled business and had to get out. After hearing of her father's experiences dealing with the Capone "Outfit" in Chicago, Nichelle knew she couldn't just walk away from the mob and started to devise a plan. After Frank "convinced" her to come back, extend her contract and keep her performing at the club, Balistrieri decided to turn on the charm and the following was published in her book:

"Enter Frankie’s lawyer, Dominic Frinzi or Mr. F. as everyone at the club called him. In his $1000 silk suits, he was slick, suave and cunning as a snake. He tried to buy her with a key to an apartment, fur coat and jewelry, which Nichelle had to continually refuse."

Frinzi grew up in the Milwaukee's Third Ward, and probably knew Balistrieri for most of his life. He had to have known about his mobbed up history and willingly defended him and nearly every Mafia member that got in trouble with the law throughout those years.

As Gavin C. Schmitt wrote in his piece, Milwaukee Mafia, the Balistrieri Years: "Frank Balistrieri held a party at his nightclub, The Scene, on March 20, 1968. Between 100 and 150 people were there, including almost all of the Milwaukee LCN. Two people were noticeably absent: Santo Marino and Al Albana. The party was a fundraiser for mob attorney Dominic Frinzi, who was running for Milwaukee County Judge." 
Also in the same piece: "Frank Balistrieri threw a Christmas party on December 21, 1969 at the Kings IV Tavern (722 North Water Street). Approximately 150 guests were there, including Walter Brocca, Sally Papia, Harry DeAngelo, Albert Albana, Frank Buccieri, Dominic Frinzi, Frank Stelloh, Steve DeSalvo, Benny DiSalvo, Jerry DiMaggio, John Rizzo, William Covelli, Dominic Gullo, Joseph Enea and the majority of the Milwaukee LCN (La Cosa Nostra)."

This guy was Frank's lawyer and had a nickname at Balistrieri's club of Mr. F? I guess the money talks and scumbags walk. At Frank's direction, this fine "upstanding" lawyer (future candidate for governor) tries to sleep with a woman to keep her under Balistrieri's control? Either that or Nichelle Nichols is a liar. The double lives that some of these people led have amazed me. Frinzi died in 2008. Contrast the above with the glowing account  of a "holy man" below!

Opera-loving lawyer ran twice for governor
Dominic H. Frinzi was a man who loved both opera and the law - and who thought nothing of bursting into song while waiting for a verdict at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
William Janz, a former columnist with the Journal Sentinel, told a piece of that story.
With the news that one jury had returned, Frinzi punched his client in the arm, Janz wrote.
"This is the last act of 'Lucia di Lammermoor,' " he declared. "Your fate is decided."
Frinzi was, by all accounts, something of a colorful character. Best known in recent decades as a leader in the local Italian community, he was also a man who twice ran for governor. He was part of a little cadre that legally appropriated the name Atlanta Braves, so the departing team could not use the name in Wisconsin. He loved the sport of harness horse racing. His legal clients included the infamous Ed Gein. 
Frinzi died of heart problems Monday. He was 86.
He grew up in Milwaukee's Third Ward, where his dad ran a butcher shop. He studied to become a priest but left before taking vows.
"My brother and I, we were the first generation in 400 years that didn't go into the meat business," Frinzi said in another story. "My father insisted we have school, and that's why none of us became butchers."
Nor did he become a doctor.
"My father taught me how to butcher, and I was pretty good with a knife. He thought I'd make a terrific doctor," Frinzi said. "But I couldn't afford medical school, so I became a lawyer."
He ended up representing both high-profile clients and countless unknown ones.
Frinzi was first appointed to represent accused serial killer Gein for a competency hearing. Ten years later, he represented him at trial, and Gein was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
In the 1960s, Frinzi represented Frank P. Balistrieri, years later convicted as a local organized crime boss, then facing tax evasion charges. The case continued to make headlines after Frinzi found illegal wiretaps in his law office.
"It was a break-in before Watergate," said son Joseph, explaining that the illegal wiretapping violated the attorney-client privilege in both the Balistrieri case and for other clients.
"My dad sued the FBI and the phone company - and won a settlement," said his son, now with the Milwaukee County family court commissioner's office.
Frinzi worked mainly as a criminal defense attorney, believing that doing so helped to uphold the highest principles of the U.S. Constitution, said friend and fellow attorney Henry Piano.
"He believed in pro bono work," Piano said.
"He represented a lot of people who could not afford an attorney," Joseph Frinzi said. "He always fought for the little guy."
Election bids included runs for governor in 1964 and 1966. A Democrat, he didn't get the nomination in either year.
Last year, Frinzi was elected to a record seventh term as president for the Italian Community Center, also serving as chairman of the Festa Italiana board. He was long the reigning star of the festival's "Golden Age of Opera" tent.
"I have three batons at home, and I conduct and sing at the same time," Frinzi said of opera. "It takes you to another world. It's a joy that never ends."
A board member with the Florentine Opera Company and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, he once appeared in a production of Verdi's "La Traviata" at the Marcus Center. Cast in the role of a servant, he delivered his single line with gusto.
"He told us he got a bigger ovation than some of the opera stars," his son said with a laugh.
For his roles in the Italian community here, the government of Italy awarded Frinzi the rare title of Cavaliere all'Ordine del Merito della Repubblica Italiana, or a Knight of the Order of Merit.
"He was a legitimate character," said Piano, who, with Frinzi's death, will again serve as ICC president. "He didn't beat to anybody else's drum. He spoke out on issues that were important. He wasn't afraid of controversy. And he always spoke from the bottom of his heart."
Other survivors include sons James and Dominic Jr., sister Norma Angeli, brother Romeo, his former wife, Jane, and grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Schmidt & Bartelt Guardalabene & Amato Funeral Home, 10121 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa. Visitation will continue from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesday at Gesu Church, 1145 W. Wisconsin Ave. The funeral service will follow at noon.
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