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The Lanzetta Brothers

Lanzetta Brothers
Foundedearly 1920s
Founded byLeo Lanzetta
Founding locationSouth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Years activeearly 1920s–1940
TerritorySouth Philadelphia and Atlantic City
Leader(s)Pius, Leo and Ignatius Lanzetta
Criminal activitiesDrug trafficking, prostitution, bootlegging, numbers writing
AlliesMichael Falcone, Louis Delrossi
RivalsMickey Duffy, Joseph Bruno, Salvatore Sabella, and other various street and bootlegging gangs in South Philadelphia

The Lanzetta Brothers, also known as the Lanzetti Brothers (due to incorrect documentation), was a group of six brothers that ran bootlegging operations in Philadelphia and possibly Atlantic City.[1]

Early lives

There were six brothers in the gang: Leo (the leader), Pius "the Brain", Ignatius (who was a good dresser), Lucien (who had an explosive temper), Willie (the quiet one), and Teo "the Baby" Lanzetta (who was the youngest and made women swoon because of his good looks).[2] It is not known when the brothers were born, but what is known is that they were born to Italian parents, that Leo Lanzetta was the oldest, and that Teo Lanzetta was the youngest of the six.

Prohibition and bootlegging

When Prohibition went into effect in January 1920, the Lanzettas organized an "Alky Cooking" supply network by providing a contingent of row house dwellers with home stills and paying them to produce sale-able liquor.[3] The brothers then sold the liquor at higher prices. Their most trusted associates included Louis "Fats" Delrossi and Mike Falcone. The brothers' criminal careers were marked by frequent arrests and brutal violence.

At various times, the brothers feuded with several different groups of racketeers in South Philadelphia, as well as Mickey Duffy and some of his partners. Between 1924 and 1939, at least one brother was involved as a suspect or a material witness in no less than fifteen murder cases, including Pius' imprisonment and dismissal during the early stages of the investigation into the murder of Mickey Duffy. The brothers were also rivals of Max Hoff's criminal organization.[4]

Leo and Ignatius killed rival dope peddler and bootlegger Joe Bruno on August 18, 1925, at 8th and Catherine Streets. Bruno was also a made man in the Philadelphia crime family.[3]

Deaths and conviction

Leo was killed on August 22, 1925, as he left a barber shop at 7th and Bainbridge Streets, in retaliation for the murder of Joe Bruno.[2] Sicilian Philadelphia family boss Salvatore Sabella was Leo's suspected killer.[3][5] Pius was killed in a luncheonette on December 31, 1936 at 726 South Eighth Street.[1] Willie was found with his head in a burlap bag and a bullet in his brain on July 2, 1939.[1][3]

Teo was convicted on drug trafficking charges and sent to Levenworth Prison in 1940. Along with Delrossi and Falcone, Ignatius was sent to prison in 1936 for breaking New Jersey's "Gangster Law" and released in 1940; even though their sentences (according to C. Ronald Huff in "Gangs in America III") were, "not more than 10 years and not less than 5 years of imprisonment".[1]

When Ignatius was released, he fled to Detroit, Michigan with Lucien and their mother.


In the first season of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, the Lanzetta brothers are the basis for Nucky Thompson's main rivals, the D'Alessio brothers. The D'Alessio brothers try to take over Atlantic City, New Jersey's bootlegging operations along with Mickey Doyle, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Arnold Rothstein.[1] In the show, the brothers' names are Leo, Ignatius, Matteo, Lucien, Sixtus, and Pius. In the show, Ignatius and Pius are killed by freelance assassin Richard Harrow, Matteo is killed by Atlantic City North Side leader Albert "Chalky" White, Lucien and Leo are killed by James "Jimmy" Darmody, and Sixtus is killed by South Side Gang bouncer Alphonse "Scarface" Capone in Chicago, Illinois.

Members of the Lanzetta Gang


  • Leo Lanzetta: Early 1920s–1925 – Killed after leaving a barbershop for the murder of Giuseppe "Joe Bruno" Dovi in 1925.
  • Pius Lanzetta: Early 1920s–1936 – Killed by enemy bullets in 1936.
  • Ignatius "Frank Pius" Lanzetta: Early 1920s–1940 – Convicted and imprisoned for four years, later fleeing with Lucien to Detroit.

Other members

  • Willie Lanzetta: Early 1920s–1939 – Shot in the head and beheaded in 1939.
  • Teo Lanzetta: Early 1920s–1940 – Imprisoned on drug trafficking charges in 1940.
  • Lucien Lanzetta: Early 1920s–1940 – Fled to Detroit with Ignatius and their mother in 1940.
  • Michael Falcone: Early 1920s–1940 – Convicted and imprisoned for four years from 1936–1940.
  • Louis "Fats"[3] Delrossi: Early 1920s–1940 – Convicted and imprisoned for four years from 1936–1940.



  1. ^ a b c d e "Mickey Duffy and the Lanzettta Brothers". November 2010. Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  2. ^ a b "The Real People of Boardwalk Empire: Part 3". September 2014. Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "The Lanzettis - Philly's first drug dealers". March 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  4. ^ "Urban archives Holdings on Prominent People, Places and Companies Associated with Prohibition in the Delaware Valley" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  5. ^ a b "Philly's first Godfather Salvatore Sabella Born in Sicily 1891". March 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2016-12-21.

External links