Part II of the Leisure War: The Killing Fields

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

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri

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."

by Ronald J. Lawrence


St. Louis' underworld was unique. It had three distinct, but cohesive, organized crime families. The most influential was the Mafia, controlled by the respected Anthony "Tony G" Giordano. The Syrian-Lebanese faction in south St. Louis was headed by James A. "Jimmy" Michaels Sr. Across the Mississippi River in Illinois, Art Berne ruled the third outfit. Like Giordano, Berne spoke with the authority of the Chicago Syndicate.

All three shared authority in many of the construction unions, the most important of which were Laborers' Union Locals 42, 53 and 110 in St. Louis. Not only were they a source of lucre for the mob, but whoever controlled them inherited considerable influence and power. For some time Giordano had been the overlord.

Paul John "Paulie" Leisure, a Syrian who was a suspected contract killer, headed a small dissident, but deadly, group of gangsters. He once had been close to Giordano and Michaels, but he had come to despise them. He coveted control of the St. Louis underworld and saw the Laborers' locals as an expedient to it. He already had a piece of the action, but he wanted it all. However, Giordano and Michaels stood in his way and someone had to die.

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