Saturday, October 14, 2006

Who did Crime Pay and a path to the Thrilla in Manila


I have spent the last few weeks studying details of the 1974 Purolator Vault Robbery for clues of Dante's involvement. I blogged briefly about this back in March. I know a lot more now.

None of the books about the robbery every mention a John Keehan or Count Dante. I have read Chicago Heist, and many other accounts of the crime. No Dante. I do have two newspaper articles regarding his "possible involvement" including a small item regarding his Grand Jury appearence. Bob Cooley's When Corruption was King is the only place I have seen where Dante's involvement is absolutely confirmed. I have Cooley on film confirming the same.

There is newspaper documentation, a sealed Grand Jury testimony and a captured participant, Luigi DiFonzo, whose trail does lead to Fall River, MA. DiFonzo is known to have been an acquaintance of Keehan.

I am also reading a fictional novel titles BUCKS, a horrible read by Luigi DiFonzo ghost written by a Peter Chandler. He seems to over exaggerate his role in the planning of the heist based on other reports I have read. But we never know, do we?

Almost exactly 32 years ago on Oct. 20, 1974, firefighters answered an alarm triggered by a fire in the vault at the Purolator Armored Car Company. An audit showed $4.3 million of the vault's $25 million was missing. The perps captured and connected to the heist were Chicago Outfit members, Pasquale Charles Marzano, William Marzano, Peter Gushi, crooked commodites broker Luigi DiFonzo, James Maniatis and Ralph Marrera.

What is it? $4.3 million dollars U.S stolen from under the nose of the Purolator Armored Car depot with the help of an inside man. Said inside man goes mentally incompetent during the course of his detainment due to the administering of multiple sedatives and cannot testify. Oddly, Joe Woods, the brother of Rose Mary Woods, Richard Nixon's secretary during the Watergate Scandal was one of the heads of the company at the time. $1.1 million was recovered from banks in the Cayman Islands, supposedly, 1.4 was found in the now mentally incompetent Marrera's Grandmothers basement. This robbery was throughly bungled and a prime example of what DiFonzo Lawyer Joe Oteri calls "disorganized crime."

The basement discovery is really odd I am finding. More about that and how it may or may not relate to Keehan and DiFonzo another time.

$1.2 mil was never recovered.

Between the time of the robbery, the case being solved going to trial and concluding, Dante was back and forth to Fall River quite a bit. There were lots of Dante sightings all along the East Coast during that time. Quite a few people have a Dante story in New York.

On Sunday, March 17, 1975, Dante, along with William Aguiar, presented the Taunton Death Matches at the Roseland Ballroom. The event was highly successful and proved the audience for full contact matches was definitely there. Taunton, even more than the Chicago matches in 1968, foretell the the coming of UFC.

During this period there were lots of attempts at creating a professional full contact martial art league and business. The times were catching up to the ideas of Count Dante and he now seemed close to making a comeback and cashing in at last.

According to reports from the Taunton matches, they were way more spirited, than professional. It was a slug-out blood-spraying spectacle for sure. There was hairpulling and groin snatching, the crowd was loving it. Hundreds more were stuck ouside angered by being turned away.

By October 1, 1975, the referee of the Taunton event, Karriem Allah, would fight full contact against Jeff Smith as the undercard to the Ali-Frazier fight, The Thrilla in Manila, on closed circuit TV. This first professional martial arts card was seem by an estimated 50 million people. The future was looking good for full contact events but Dante would not be around to benefit from it. After the death of Jim Konsevic in 1970 Dante was marginalized and definitelty, distraught. The move to full contact Karate has started in 1970, ironically, while Dante was on trial for the Green Dragon fiasco.

Something was definitely in the wind. But what lead Dante back to Chicago. What caused him to shut himself up in his apartment reported holding a shotgun during the trail of the Purolator Vault robbers? He had already been summoned to the Illinois Grand Jury and got a pass after a lie detector test. Shortly before the trial was ended and all involved either convicted, except for Luigi DiFonzo, who was acquitted, Dante was dead on May 25, 1975.

DiFonzo was found not guilty and walked. He gave his lawyer, Oteri, a Rolls Royce as a gift and even stayed around Chicago for several years, still scamming. Later he move out west and was head of something called DFJ Italia, and claimed to be "Count Luigi DiFonzo" . He died, reportedly, of a prescription drug overdose while fighting a securites fraud indictment in 2001.

My research is wrapping up in one sense. Now I am structuring and planning for more interviews and archival footage. I just may be able to stay on schedule and finish up by Spring, 2007 as planned.

Gotta stay away from bad company for sure kids....

1 comment:

Michalis said...

DiFonzo wrote "Bucks" himself, the name on the cover is an alias. He also wrote under his own name a book titled "St Peter's Banker" about an Italian banker with organized crime connections. He was quite a character, I have done a lot of research on him, and he even got himself a teaching job at Harvard's Summer School, as a screenwriting instructor.