I’ve always been fascinated about the real corridors of power. The underpinnings, not just that which is presented for public consumption. That’s probably one reason I became a private investigator and liked hanging out in the Old Phoenix downtown area. Back when half the men in suits were in Western-style suits and cowboy boots. And many carried guns. There were no permits, then.
It’s been said the mob never really controlled Arizona. But, this was a free-fire area for folks from Detroit, New York and Chicago. Connected folks.
The names Gus Greenbaum, Willie Bioff and Louis Bombacino are historic in the lore of mob killing in Phoenix. And let’s not forget the Don Bolles murder. Bolles was an investigative reporter who incessantly dug up dirt on mob toeholds in the State, and was blown-up for doing so.
I knew a bartender who worked at the I****** and the U**** T**** bars, known hangouts and meeting places for the Bolles bomber and his confederates. He confided in me he was harassed by local PD while he was giving prosecution testimony in the case!
These were not the usual known mob watering holes, like Rocky’s Hideaway or the Scotch Mist.
During the trial, my PI friend Harry (previously described in these pages) asked me if I wanted a piece of doing backgrounds on all the witnesses/participants/persons-of-interest. The list he showed me had many local dignitaries, including a prominent Senator, listed. At that time, I had a young family and confided in him that I’d just as soon not. Harry, always low-key, told me he understood, after all he’d known J***** N**** aka Louis Bombacino, before he was dispatched by the mob.
Guess the excitement of rubbing elbows with connected folks was a bit too real. Joe Bonanno still died peacefully in Tucson at age 97. Who knew?