Part I of the Leisure War: A Reason to Die

Oct 10, 2009 - by Ronald J. Lawrence - 0 Comments

spica car bombing

Spica car bombing

Sonny Spica, the rash protégé of St. Louis Outfit boss Tony Giordano, was a marked man. Nick Civella in Kansas City wanted him dead and so did Ray Flynn, the most violent labor racketeer in St. Louis. The car bomb that killed Spica in 1979 ignited St. Louis' infamous "Leisure Wars."

by Ronald J. Lawrence

"You got a man we want. Either you take care of him or send him to us."
- Nick Civella

John Paul "Sonny" Spica was walking on the edge. By late October, 1979, it was inevitable that his life would end violently. It just was a question of when, how and by whom.

Spica was wedged between two inexorable forces of death. On one side was the Kansas City Mafia, which demanded his execution for violating sacred mob protocol. On the other was the most dangerous, devious labor racketeer in St. Louis and a gang of cutthroat hoodlums who settled their disputes with bullets, bombs and mayhem. Spica stood in their way and he had made unpardonable threats.

The underworld waited and watched to see who would kill him first.

Spica was no stranger to murder. At the age of 25, he was charged in 1962 with arranging the contract killing of a husband whose wife wanted him dead. The victim, John J. Myszak, a real estate agent, was shot and killed in front of his home. It was one of the most sensational murders in St. Louis in decades. Myszak's wife, who said she had paid Spica $5,000, admitted plotting the killing, but said she had tried unsuccessfully to cancel the contract. She was acquitted, but Spica was convicted a year later and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Spica came to prominence again 10 years later. He had befriended James Earl Ray. The FBI said it had developed information indicating that Spica had brokered the contract to kill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Spica admitted knowing Ray, but denied any implication in King's assassination.

Spica's closest friend in prison was Carl Spero, a young, upstart Kansas City gangster. It was a relationship that would have tragic consequences.

After he was paroled in 1973, Spica appeared to live a quiet, repentant life. He opened a produce stand in south St. Louis where he worked every day during the summer. He became known as a soft-spoken gentleman and a shrewd businessman. He liked stylish clothes and expensive, flashy cars. Physical fitness was an obsession and he worked out regularly.

But Spica led a double life and the low profile he maintained concealed a different man. In reality Spica was a rising star in the underworld.

Anthony "Tony G." Giordano, the respected St. Louis Mafia boss, took a liking to him and was preparing him for bigger and better things. Spica had not yet been "made" – formally inducted into the Mafia – but it was considered only a matter of time. In the meantime, he would make his bones by being an aggressive moneymaker.

Some intelligence sources believed Giordano looked upon Spica as a surrogate son. He had one son, Bill, who had shunned the mob. Giordano and Spica often were seen together. The boss made him a part owner of a cigarette and amusement machine company he owned across the Mississippi River in Fairmont City, Ill. It was evidence of Giordano's trust in him and of Spica's increasing stature. No other young hood would have been given such an opportunity.

Spica had a streak of recklessness in him and at times he was arrogant and rebellious. During his early days in prison, he attempted to muscle in on the narcotics traffic. Other convicts quickly put him in Iine.

On The Wrong Side

"… if they tell you that you're in good hands, not

to worry, that's when they're gonna hit you in the

head." Jesse Stoneking

In 1979, Spica made a serious error of judgment, a sin of commission rather than omission. He placed loyalty to a friend above subservience to the mob.

His prison buddy, Carl Spero, and his brothers were locked in deadly combat with the Kansas City Mafia family of Nick Civella. Eight men were killed in two years. In May, 1978, Civella's men ambushed the Speros. One brother, Michael, a Teamsters' Union official, was killed; another, Joseph, was wounded; and Carl was partially paralyzed.

It was a challenge that could not go unanswered and Carl Spero escalated the internecine warfare. He contacted Spica in St. Louis, saying he needed heavier armaments like dynamite. Spica was happy to oblige and he transported a case of the explosives to Kansas City. One of first intended victims of Spero's bombs was Carl "Tuffy" DeLuna, a high-ranking member of the Civella family and a close friend of the boss. Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fireams foiled the plot.

What neither Spica nor Spero knew was that Civella had an informant inside Spero's gang. It wasn't long before Civella learned of Spica's misdeed. He raged. It was a personal affront, a betrayal of the worst kind. In the fraternal brotherhood of the Mafia, one respected friendships and loyalties. Spica had violated this basic tenant of mob law. Civella vented his anger at his old friend, Giordano, with whom he had a working relationship for years. Giordano, as boss, was responsible for the errant Spica. Civella demanded that Spica be sacrificed on the altar of mob discipline. There could be no other justice.

Jesse Stoneking, lieutenant of East Side rackets boss Art Berne witnessed the reaction. Stoneking also had become close to Giordano, serving at times as his driver and bodyguard.

Nine years later, six years after he had become an FBI informant, Stoneking related to this reporter what had happened. Stoneking said he was present in late in October 1979 when Civella called Giordano. "Nick Civella told him, 'You got a man we want. Either you take care of him or send him to us'." But Giordano steadfastly refused. He would protect his protégé. "Tony told Nick that he liked this guy, he could use him and he was very aggressive, and he gave him his word that the guy won't do anything. They had a long argument. It got kind of hot at times. Then they made this mutual agreement that they would leave Spica alone. Civella told him, 'If he ever comes in my territory, we're gonna hit him'."

At the end of October, Spica made a trip to Kansas City. He was accompanied by three of Giordano's lieutenants, William "Jack Harris" Spinelli, Pasqualle "Pat" Lopiccolo and Vincenzo "Jimmy" Giammanco, his nephew. Spica told a friend that he was "going to do a favor for a friend." But Stoneking said he was told that Spica had been ordered by Giordano to meet personally with Civella and apologize for his transgression. The three others were Giordano's personal emissaries on the peace mission.

The meeting apparently did not go well and negotiations were broken off prematurely, with the St. Louisans quickly returning home. Giammanco went into hiding. According to an intelligence source, Giordano told an associate, "He's not around anymore. He's lying low for awhile. They're a lot of problems out there in Kansas City."

Spica, too, was visibly shaken and depressed. He began smoking and drinking, habits in which he had never indulged before. "He was worried he was gonna get cracked," Stoneking explained. "He didn't know where it was coming from. I mean, if they tell you that you're in good hands, not to worry, that's when they're gonna hit you in the head."

But on Nov. 7 Spica regained his composure. He had met that day with Giordano and intelligence sources said they believed Giordano might have assured him of his safety.

Spica may have unwittingly contributed to his friend's death on June 20, 1980. Carl Spero was killed when a bomb he was carrying accidentally detonated. His body was mutilated beyond recognition and could be identified only through his driver's license. Twenty-five of 40 rental storage units nearby were destroyed. It was believed the bomb might have been made from the same dynamite Spica had brought him.

Raiding the Unions

"Well, as far as I'm concerned, f--- the rank-and-file." Art Berne

Retaliation from Civella was only one of Spica's problems in the autumn of 1979. Other forces, no less deadly, were preparing to make a move against him. Only this time, Spica apparently was unaware of the conspiracy swirling around him. He should not have been because, driven by his unbridled passion to make it big, he had stepped on the wrong toes. One did not threaten Ray "The Fish" Flynn and expect to survive very long.

Flynn, then 49, was an associate of Berne's. Inside and outside the mob he was considered to be the most ruthless and violent labor racketeer in St. Louis. By underworld standards, his arrest record was unimpressive and did not reflect his propensity for violence. He had accumulated only seven arrests for burglary, robbery and arson in 25 years. He never went to trial on any of these charges, instead pleading guilty to two of them. In the first, in 1954, he was sentenced to 10 years. In the second, in April 1979, he was placed on five years' probation for burglary.

Collectivism in the union movement took on new meaning with the St. Louis mob. For the common good meant for its own profit. Construction industry unions were the outfit's principal power base. They provided the gangsters with facades of legitimacy and income in the form of salaries they could report. More than that, they offered opportunities for graft. Giordano shook down contractors in return for permitting them to use non-union workers at a tremendous saving. Welfare funds were raided through phony insurance claims. Kickbacks were common on property purchased by the unions at inflated prices. Jobs on construction projects became leverage with which to get members indebted to the mob and an inducement to vote favorably in elections of officers.

Berne, who inherited the East Side rackets from Frank "Buster" Wortman with the approval of Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo of Chicago, controlled Operating Engineers Local 513, known as the Steamfitters. The union was good to him and in recognition of his underworld status it hired him as a security consultant at $500 a week – almost $300,000 over the 10 years he served in that capacity – and gave him a credit card and gasoline for his car. But Berne was a phantom on the union's payroll. He did no work and only showed up at the office to collect his paycheck.

The Italians reigned over Teamsters Local 682, representing construction drivers. Anthony "Nino" Parino, a Giordano lieutenant, was installed as vice-president and essentially ran the union.

But it was St. Louis' three Laborers' Union locals that were most lucrative for the mob and it was Giordano who oversaw them. They were divided equally among the three underworld factions. Berne, representing the East Side, controlled Local 42. Local 53 was under the Mafia's jurisdiction and was ruled by Joe Tocco, a cousin of Giordano's. Local 110 was the realm of the Syrian gang of the venerable Jimmy Michaels Sr.

By the autumn of 1979, the Syrians' control of Local 110 was eroding apparently with the approval of Michaels. Giordano appointed his nephew, Matthew "Mike" Trupiano, a bungling Mafioso, as president and another nephew, Vincent Giordano, as an organizer. Through his connections, Giordano also had Trupiano made an international representative of the Laborers' Union.

Neither Trupiano nor Berne had the working man's interests at heart. Stoneking later recorded a conversation in which Berne expounded on their approach to unionism. "'It's like Mike said. 'Well, as far as I'm concerned, f--- the rank and file'. I feel the same way'."

Tony Giordano, suffering from incurable cancer, was grooming Trupiano to take over as outfit boss. The nephew was an improbable mob leader who would add little criminal dignity to the high office of Mafia don. Unlike his uncle, he commanded little respect. Strict discipline was not a part of his style of governing. Nor did he fit the decisive, tough guy image of a crime lord. He was prone to whimpering when things did not go his way. He became the joke of the underworld when it was learned he had lost money with his $1 million-a-year bookmaking ring.

What Trupiano lacked in criminal acumen, he made up with bravado. In 1982, he met with Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa, head of the Chicago Syndicate, and was ordained boss of the St. Louis Mafia. Berne as well as Giordano were answerable to Aiuppa and made no important decisions without his approval. A few days after Trupiano was made boss, this reporter announced the promotion on the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Aiuppa was convinced that Trupiano – a braggart – had leaked the story. He recalled Trupiano to Chicago for a meeting and admonished him for breaking the mob's code about talking to the media about underworld activities.

Stoneking secretly recorded a conversation he had with Trupiano after he had been made boss. In it, Trupiano complained about the lack of respect he was receiving and bemoaned the rigors of mob leadership: "Well, it's just … to be honest with you, it's a lot of responsibility, a lot of headaches that goes with it. I don't think there's too many people who can handle it."

A Bold Move

"I'll just wait about six months and then hit him and we'll take over." Sonny Spica

All seemed tranquil and everybody was making money until September 1979 when T. J. "Stormy" Harvell, business manager of Local 42 and a crony of Berne's, died of natural causes. It was the position of ultimate power in the union. The pudgy Flynn, then a business agent, and Berne lobbied Aiuppa for the lucrative job. On Oct. 4, Flynn was appointed to the position with the acquiescence of Giordano.

In a poorly disguised attempt to gain more power for the Italians, Giordano planned to realign the mob's presence in the Laborers' locals. Spica was to play a key part and have a position of influence. It would be a big boost for his criminal career and his self-esteem, but it also would be the catalyst for his second dilemma. Nine years later, Stoneking told this reporter how Giordano did it.

Giordano was going to install Stoneking as a business agent in Local 53, a relatively poor local, and Spica as a business agent in Local 42 with a larger treasury. Giordano announced his decision at a mob conclave at Bill Giordano's banana distributorship a few days after Flynn's appointment. Stoneking was there with Berne and Flynn. The Italians were represented by Trupiano, Joseph Cammarata, Mafia underboss, and John Vitale, an elder statesman of the Mafia.

"So, Tony G. says 'I'm gonna put Jesse (Stoneking) in Local 53 as a business agent'. And he made Spica business agent of 42," Stoneking recalled. "Ray Flynn said he didn't like that. And Tony G. says, 'Whatta you mean, you don't like that'? Flynn says to Tony, 'Well, Jesse's not going to get the money that this Spica gets because his union doesn't have any money. You gonna give Jesse $714 a week like Spica? Plus a new Cadillac every year'?

"Tony says, 'Well, no we can't do that'. Flynn says, 'Why don't you put your man in 53 with the Italians and let me bring Jesse with us'? Tony said they were gonna do as he says and that was it. They had a big argument. That's when Flynn really got hot, brother. So, I got in 53 and Spica got in 42 a week later."

Stoneking quit the position after only about six months. Giordano had assured him no work was expected of him, but Tocco wanted him to help in organizing. Besides, the job only paid $300 a week with no expense account and no Cadillac. "Hell, I was making thousands of dollars a week and I didn't need that," he explained.

A few days after the meeting, Stoneking, Berne, Giordano and Giammanco were in the vending machine company in Fairmont City. Stoneking described what happened. "Spica comes in. He says, 'You know, that Flynn, he ain't no mover. I'm a mover. We're gonna make some money in that union. I'll just wait about six months and then hit him and we'll take over'." Stoneking assumed that Giordano had approved such a move. "Tony didn't say anything. He kind of shrugged his shoulders.

"Art (Berne) went back and told Ray (Flynn) and Ray hit the ceiling. Art told me later that Ray said he was going to crack Spica first and Art said go on, to let him know if he needed any help." Spica didn't believe in a conspiracy of silence. He told others of his plan to take out Flynn.

The Leisure Factor

"You gotta keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Paulie Leisure

Lurking in the background ready to take advantage of the volatile situation was Paul John "Paulie" Leisure. He headed a renegade splinter group of cutthroat gangsters, including his brother, Anthony, assistant business manager of Local 110, and a cousin, David, who was not known for his intelligence. Leisure had designs on the entire St. Louis underworld and was ready to move to consolidate control of the Laborers' Union locals as a power base. Intelligence experts speculated at the time that if he succeeded, his outfit would be reminiscent of the Capone gang in Chicago, well organized, omnipotent and cold-blooded. Organized crime in St. Louis would take on a new, dangerous character.

Although he once had been a bodyguard for Giordano, Paulie Leisure despised the Italians, especially Trupiano, whom he considered weak. Leisure coveted the power they wielded. He was Syrian, but he also had little use for Jimmy Michaels, the long-time boss of the Syrian faction of the mob in St. Louis, to whom he once had been close. Several times he had appealed to Aiuppa in Chicago for recognition of his gang as a legitimate underworld faction. Each time he was turned down when Aiuppa deferred to Michaels.

Leisure was no less ruthless and deadly than Flynn. A knowledgeable intelligence source told this reporter it was believed that Leisure had taken as many as 14 murder contracts throughout the country. The source said Leisure probably received many of them through Giordano, who was well connected with other Mafia families.

This reporter in the mid-1970s was on the same flight from Chicago to St. Louis with Leisure. Leisure carried one piece of luggage and a briefcase, both empty and bearing identification tags with the fictitious name, address and telephone number of a man in Youngstown, Ohio. It was speculated he had been returning from a hit.

Leisure was one of those to whom Spica bragged about his intent to kill Flynn. Leisure immediately recognized some interesting possibilities. He was concerned, and justly so, that the Italians were making a concerted move to take over all three Laborers' locals. It was in direct conflict with his own plans. Leisure offered Flynn his assistance in thwarting Spica.

Stoneking eventually would give FBI agents the background of the Spica-Flynn confrontation, but it was one of Leisure's close allies who provided agents with deep insight into how the scheme to eliminate the threat presented by Spica materialized. Fred Prater, who eventually would be relocated in the federal Witness Protection Program, had been a business associate of Leisure's in operating a towing and salvage business. He would become involved in the effort to set up Spica for the kill.

"Paulie explained that if they (the Leisures) were to form an alliance with Flynn, the Italians would not have the power to push them around," Prater told agents. "Paul felt that … they would be able to pretty well do whatever they wanted."

The plot conceived by Leisure was the epitome of treachery. He needed to know as much as he could about the victim and he was meticulous in planning details, the mark of a professional. He developed a relationship with the intended victim. Leisure and his wife spent considerable time socially with Spica and his girlfriend. Not only did he want to become familiar with Spica's habits and thoughts, he needed to gain his trust. On numerous occasions, he called Spica to arrange meetings. It was intended to prepare him to be possibly lured to his death without suspicion.

Leisure had another, more pragmatic, reason. "You gotta keep your friends close and your enemies closer," Prater said he told him.

Spica became a frequent visitor to Leisure's office and a confidant. Prater said that during one visit, Spica confirmed Leisure's suspicion about the Italians' intent. "Paul said Spica told him that he went to Tony Giordano and informed him of his plans to take over leadership of Local 42. Giordano gave him his blessing on the plan and guaranteed the backing of the Italians."

Early in November, Prater was instructed to borrow a 1977 Cadillac identical to Spica's from a friendly car salesman who kept no written records of such transactions and bring it to the salvage yard. That afternoon Flynn and Anthony Leisure practiced wiring a bomb to the brake lights and the taillights before Prater returned it.

The night of Nov. 6, Anthony Leisure and Flynn went to Spica's apartment building in a suburban community, but there was too much activity in the neighborhood to install the bomb. The next night they were successful. They knew Spica was a light sleeper. Paul Leisure had learned that. While Flynn attached the bomb containing 12 sticks of dynamite, Leisure stood guard with a shotgun in case Spica awoke and came outside to investigate.

Day of Reckoning

"The guys got it done. The kid's dead." Paulie Leisure

At 8 a. m., the next day, Nov. 8, Spica paid the ultimate price for his duplicity when he stepped on the brake pedal. It was a tremendous blast. Part of his body was found inside the car, part outside, and his legs were severed. He was alive when the first neighbors arrived. One of his shoes was a distance away. The passenger door was blown 30 yards and pieces of debris were hurled 75 to 100 yards. Windows rattled and dishes shook in buildings two blocks away. Passersby on foot or in cars would have been injured, if not killed, but there had not been any. Spica was killed the day after Giordano had assured him of his safety.

Prater was at work that morning when Leisure received a telephone call from Giordano reporting Spica's murder. Prater recalled, "Paulie says to Tony Giordano, 'Oh, my God, I wonder who could have done that.' When he hung up, he said to me, 'The guys got it done. The kid's dead'."

For the first few hours after he heard about the bombing, Giordano believed Civella had done it. But it didn't take him long to learn that Flynn was responsible. He summoned Berne and Stoneking to a meeting in a restaurant in Fairmont City. Stoneking remembers it well. They went outside.

Stoneking recalled the confrontation. Giordano accused Flynn of the hit, but Berne denied any knowledge. Giordano glared at him through the thick lenses of his glasses that distorted his eyes. "Tony says, 'Don't f--- with me, Art! We've been around too long. It was Flynn who did it. I got the word'." Berne continued his feeble denial. "'He's your man, Art. You're responsible for him. Let me tell you something about that Flynn. He don't show no respect to nobody, especially us. He forgets who we are and that ain't right. He's getting ready to take over everything. Including your outfit'."

Berne continued to defend Flynn, explaining, "He's just a hot-headed Irishman, that's all." But Giordano was adamant. Never before had Stoneking seen him so angry. "Can't you see what's happening? Flynn's over there with them crazy Leisures. They're out to take over everything. They'll start a war that nobody's gonna be able to stop. And you and Jesse are gonna get caught in the middle. They're not gonna give you a pass because you'll be in their way."

Then Giordano gave Berne an unmistakable warning. "I gotta tell you, Art, Flynn's gonna get hit. He's gotta go. I just hope he did it on his own because anyone else who was with him will get hit, too."

Berne conveyed the threat to Flynn, who shrugged it off. Berne told Stoneking that he was considering disassociating himself from Flynn because of his belligerence. "'I'm gonna be like that guy, what's his name? Pilate. I'll just say, Okay, where's the soap, I want to wash my hands of him. Ray ain't got me with my arm around him. Once he's on his own, he ain't got no protection. When that's taken away he's got nothing. He's dead'."

From then on, Flynn went nowhere without at least two armed bodyguards. He managed to stay alive. The alliance with the Leisures was sealed.

Paranoia ran deep in the underworld after Spica's murder. Mob leaders had no idea what else the unpredictable Flynn had in mind, but they knew of what he was capable. And the threat from Kansas City remained a reality. Stoneking said Giordano and several associates had installed remote starters in their cars. Berne didn't go to that expense and trouble. He had his wife start his car each morning. Even the imperturbable Stoneking checked his car before starting it.

The Spica bombing eventually became a "cold case," written off as an unsolved gang murder. It would take several years before investigators would know the truth about who had killed Spica. Until Stoneking became an informant and Prater put the bomb in Flynn's hands, they would continue to believe the Kansas City Outfit had ordered the hit. Prater later reported that Paul Leisure was confident Civella would be blamed for it and that there would be no retaliation against him and his gang from the Italians. The conflict with the Kansas City outfit couldn't have been more opportune.

Epilogue

"Kill that f------ Flynn!"

Tony Giordano's dying words.

In the middle of August 1980, nine months after the Spica bombing, Berne and Stoneking met with Giordano in his house. The Mafia don still was obsessed with Flynn. He insisted that Flynn had to be hit. Stoneking remembered the conversation. "Tony said to Art, 'Why don't you have Jesse crack Flynn'? Art said he would think about it, but he had no intention of doing it. He said Tony was a sick man and wouldn't last long anyhow." A short time later, Giordano propositioned Stoneking personally to kill Flynn. "You take care of it and you'll be set up for life," he promised. Stoneking ignored him.

Giordano died a few days later on Aug. 29. Stoneking said an FBI agent later told him that the mob boss's dying words were, "Kill that f------ Flynn."

What Giordano couldn't get done, Stoneking did several years later. Flynn's arrest record became more impressive. During Stoneking's undercover work for the FBI from 1982 to 1984, he induced Flynn to admit that he had helped dispose of $1 million in loot from a 1982 downtown jewelry store robbery. In April 1986, he pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In 1983, Stoneking also sold Flynn stolen jewelry valued at $14,000 for $6,500 and had given him a stolen washing machine. The FBI had supplied the jewelry, which had been stolen in another case. Flynn was prosecuted in St. Louis County Circuit Court for receiving stolen property and was sentenced to 10 years to run concurrently with the federal term.

By then the truth about the Spica bombing became known. Flynn was indicted for violation of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Statute. Stoneking and Prater were the key witnesses. Flynn in 1987 was convicted and sentenced to 45 years in prison. The sentence later was reduced to 30 years. He remains confined.

Trupiano did not escape unscathed; it was Stoneking who helped bring him down. The hapless Mafia boss was convicted for operating the bookmaking ring, sentenced to four years in prison and fined $30,000. Stoneking had placed bets with him, ostensibly from East Side gamblers, but which in fact were random wagers made by FBI agents who rarely lost. He served one year of the sentence.

Trupiano was also indicted with Berne for conspiring to extort money from the owners of several East Side topless nightclubs and massage parlors. Again, it was Stoneking who made the case. Conversations secretly recorded by him clearly implicating Trupiano and Berne were key evidence.

In July 1986, Berne, then 74, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison. He could have received 25 years and fined $20,000. He was paroled in 1989 and died on Oct. 5, 1996. Trupiano went to trial a few weeks later and was acquitted. He died Oct. 22, 1997.

The Spica bombing offered an opportunity for Stoneking and the FBI. Halfway through his two-year stint undercover, Stoneking convinced Tom Fox and Terry Bohnemeier, his FBI control agents, and U. S. Attorney Thomas E. Dittmeier to seek a perfunctory grand jury investigation of the Spica murder. Stoneking and Berne were to be subpoenaed. He would take the Fifth Amendment, as he knew Berne would. His reputation in the underworld as a stand-up guy would be enhanced greatly. He would be trusted even more and there was a chance other hoods, including Flynn, would be more inclined to confide their deepest secrets to him.

Berne panicked when word was leaked that he might be granted immunity if he refused to testify. That, he knew, would lead to his being cited for contempt of court for still declining to cooperate and jailed for the duration of the grand jury's term which could last for two years. He made a quick trip to Chicago to consult with Aiuppa. When he returned, he told Stoneking that Aiuppa agreed with him that if he were jailed Stoneking would be boss.

Stoneking was in the grand jury room for 20 minutes and, as planned, refused to answer any questions. Berne was there for 30 minutes, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights 22 times in answer to questions about the Spica murder. He was even more convinced he would be granted immunity. But government prosecutors had no such intentions. To do so would have left them open to charges of frivolous prosecution and entrapment and might have jeopardized impending prosecution of Flynn. Still, it would have been a brilliant coup having the East Side boss as an informant who would be close to Aiuppa.

The Leisures were not charged in the Spica bombing. It wasn't necessary. More serious charges awaited them.


 

Next: Part II of the Leisure War: The Killing Fields. Paulie Leisure wanted to control St. Louis' underworld and he was prepared to kill anyone who stood in his way. In using car bombs to take out Tony Giordano protégé Sonny Spica and then Jimmy Michaels, the venerable head of the Syrian-Lebanese faction, he touched off a bloodbath known as the "Leisure War."

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