Joe Bruno on the Mob — Frankie Yale

Frankie Yale, real name Uale, was the number one mobster in Brooklyn for most of the Roaring Twenties. Yale was born in Calabrian town of Longobucco, in Italy, in 1893. In 1901, he immigrated to the United States and soon he became immersed in a life of crime. Although his stomping grounds were in Brooklyn, Yale met fellow Brooklynite Johnny Torrio and he became partners with Torrio in the Five Points Gang in Lower Manhattan, under the tutelage of mob boss Paul Kelly.

Torrio and Yale were involved in several illegal endeavors, but their big money-maker was a version of the Black Hand extortion shakedown, where they threatened to kill Italian immigrants unless they paid protection money. Most paid, but some didn’t, and it was reported that Yale had killed a dozen times before he reached the age of twenty one.

Yale and Torrio decided to split with the Five Points Gang and they relocated to Brooklyn, where their base of operations was the Harvard Inn, a bar and brothel near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1919, Torrio moved to Chicago to work for his uncle-through-marriage, mob boss Big Jim Colosimo. Yale filled Torrio’s absence by hiring a friend of Torrio’s, the 19-year old Al Capone, as his main bouncer at the Harvard Inn. Soon afterwards, Torrio summoned Capone to work for him in Chicago, with the eventual intention of killing Colosimo and taking over his rackets.

In 1920, Torrio decided the time was ripe for Colosimo’s death, so he asked his friend Frankie Yale if he could make the trip to Chicago to do the dirty deed. Torrio set Colosimo up by telling him to go to his cafe to receive an illegal shipment of booze. When he got to the cafe, instead of liquor, Colosimo was greeted by several rounds of hot lead, supplied by the reliable Yale.

Torrio’s Chicago empire was being threatened by Irish mob boss Dion O’Banion, who ran a flower shop on North State Street. Torrio decided O’Banion had to go too, and figuring his local shooters couldn’t get close enough to O’Banion to kill him, he called on Yale again, because O’Banion never met Yale, and wouldn’t recognize him. In November, 1924, Yale entered O’Banion’s flower shop and greeted O’Banion with a firm handshake. O’Banion tried to pull his hand free, but before he could extricate himself from Yale’s death grip, two of Torrio’s men, John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, busted into the shop and shot O’Banion to death. O’Banion had the biggest funeral in the history of Chicago up to that point, costing over $30,000, including a $10,000 coffin.

In 1925, Torrio was ambushed and shot several times in front of his apartment building. After he recovered from his wounds, he decided to retire from the rackets and he handed over his illegal empire to the 26-year old Capone.

Capone worked a deal with Yale to import his illegal booze from Chicago to New York City, under Yale’s protection. Soon, Capone’s trucks were being hijacked before they got to New York City and Capone suspected Yale was the culprit. He sent of one his best men, James DeAmato, to survey the truck-hijacking situation in New York City. Soon, DeAmato sent word back to Capone that Yale was indeed hijacking Capone’s trucks, then selling the liquor back to Capone. Six days later, DeAmato was gunned down on a Brooklyn Street.

With Capone safely in Miami, Florida, he sent six of his shooters to New York City by car. Yale was summoned from his home by a ruse, and while he was driving down 44th Street in Brooklyn, he was met by a deadly deluge of bullets fired from the new weapon of choice, a Thompson machine gun.

Yale had always admired the grandeur of O’Banion’s funeral, so he did O’Banion one better. Yale’s funeral procession attracted 10,000 mourners, and his funeral cost $50,000, including a $15,000 nickel and silver coffin.


3 Responses to “Joe Bruno on the Mob — Frankie Yale”

  1. paragraph 3, line 5 misspelled “filed” should be filled. Great reading and looking forward to link to your book.

  2. Frank, the book is on the way. Feel free to comment.


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