Connecticut’s history with the Mafia

The Gambino crime family

The Gambino crime family

Meagan Ash and Melia Peragine

Many have heard of the infamous mafia, but little know the history of its role in our own state and even in our very own town. Connecticut has a strong connection to the American Mafia, specifically in Fairfield County. Some of the most prominent crime families such as the Gambino family (based in New York), the Genovese family, and the Colombo family (based in New Haven) reside here.

The Genovese family, originally the Luciano crime family after Charles “Lucky” Luciano, operates several illegal gambling operations in the east region of New York. The mob group was renamed Genovese after Vito Genovese took control and became one of the most powerful crime bosses in America from the 1930s to the 1950s. Vito was known for taking down other crime families that were causing wars around the New England area and running multiple gay nightclubs. But his reign of terror in New York and New Haven did not come without its consequences. Indicted for narcotics trafficking, Genovese was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in 1959. On Valentine’s Day, 10 years later, Genovese died of a heart attack.

Another one of New Haven’s most notorious alleged mobsters was Salvatore “Midge Renault” Anunziato who arrived in the city around the 1950s. Annunziato controlled the city alongside an alliance with Ralph “Whitey” Tropiano, both from the Colombo family. He made those around him bend to his will. Anunziato repeatedly beat up men, shot them, started riots, destroyed property, and corrupted cops, politicians, and union officials. Annunziato was arrested for crimes ranging from disturbing the peace to attempted murder. In the 1970s, the FBI placed an unnamed agent undercover in the New Haven underworld. According to their files, the agent learned the exact extent of the mob’s inner workings in the city. However, the FBI inexplicably removed the agent and no arrests were made. Six decades later, the mafia in Connecticut was untouchable.

Another crime family in Connecticut was the Gambinos. They were known for their crimes in loan sharking, labor and construction racketeering, money laundering, hijacking, fraud, prostitution, and especially extortion. The Gambinos ran the largest crime family in Fairfield County; one of their underbosses, Anthony “Tony” Megale, was actually a resident of Stamford. In Connecticut alone, Megale was indicted on 28 extortion charges, receiving 86 months in prison. Later, Megale was also sentenced to 11 additional years by New York courts. Despite his terrifying demeanor, Megale was kind to those close to him. An anonymous source who had internal ties with Megale (who is now deceased), said that even when he went to prison, he made sure that she was taken care of. After being released from prison, Megale reportedly had a guilty conscience and struggled through redemption. Megale later died in 2015 at Stamford Hospital due to a heart attack.