Allan R. May’s latest book, “Crimetown U.S.A.: The History of the Mahoning Valley Mafia,” provides an exhaustive look at organized crime in the Youngstown area over a 30-year span beginning in 1933.
The book (629 pages, $27.99) can be purchased at allanrmay.com.
“Crimetown, U.S.A.” begins with the Mahoning Valley’s participation in the Midwest crime wave of 1933-34, describing the demise of legendary bank robber “Pretty Boy” Floyd. This is followed by the demise of one of the Valley’s own in the brutal slaying of “Happy” Marino.
The mid-to-late 1930s is chronicled, showing the dominance of the lottery houses that operated in Youngstown. The late 1940s saw the height of popularity of the infamous Jungle Inn gambling den in Trumbull County. The history of this establishment is chronicled in “Welcome to the Jungle Inn,” also by May.
The 1950s brought the “bug” craze, which was the Valley’s nickname for the numbers game. The battle for dominance resulted in a bombing war waged by racketeers Sandy Naples and Vince DeNiro.
In the early 1960s, the bombs that were used to scare the competition were used to eliminate it, when a wave of vicious killings took place, none more notorious than the November 1962 car-bombing that took the lives of “Cadillac Charlie” Cavallaro and his 11-year-old son. The killing shocked the country and brought national attention to Youngstown, as well as the nickname, “Crimetown, U.S.A.”
May, an organized-crime historian from Cleveland, began his writing career after a brief stint with Jerry Capeci, an expert in the field, at Capeci’s gangland news website. He moved on to write for Rick Porello’s AmericanMafia.com, Court TV’s “CrimeLibrary” and CrimeMagazine.com.
He was also a key contributor to the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.
May has taught classes on the history of organized crime at Cuyahoga Community College and gives lectures throughout Northeast Ohio.
In his introductory remarks in “Crimetown,” May writes, “Taking on Youngstown was not as easy as it sounded. Soon, I was spending weeks at a time in the city, meeting and interviewing people and camping out at the Youngstown Public Library.”
May plans to write two more books to complete the history of the mob in Youngstown. The first will cover the early part of the 20th century, including Prohibition. The next will begin where “Crimetown U.S.A.” leaves off and go through the corruption trials of the mid-1990s.