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The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. was a Congressman for five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Marylands 3rd congressional district from 1938 to 1947, and Baltimore mayor for three terms from 1947 to 1959. He was allegedly a “constant companion” of notorious mobster Benjamin “Benny Trotta” Magliano and other underworld figures during his political years in Baltimore, MD. Magliano was identified by the FBI as one of Baltimore’s “top hoodlums,” and he widely was acknowledged as the representative for New York’s Frankie Carbo who made his bones with Murder, Inc. and later became a made guy in the Lucchese family.  The allegations are included in D’Alesandro’s recently-released FBI files.

At that time the FBI never investigated D’Alesandro concerning this or numerous other allegations involving hoodlum associations and public corruption.  Of course, while in Congress D’Alesandro sat on the appropriations committee and was a friend of Director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover sent warm congratulations to D’Alesandro upon his November 1946 re-election to the House and then again in his May 1947 election as Baltimore Mayor.

Meanwhile, the allegations against D’Alesandro continued to pile up.  Finally, in January 1961 President John F. Kennedy requested the FBI to address “allegations of D’Alesando’s involvement with Baltimore hoodlums; with favoritism in awarding city contracts; and protection for political contributors.

The FBI inquiry was a perfunctory exercise with little digging which vainly attempted to address two decades of allegations in less than two months, and of course some witnesses had lost their memories and others had died or otherwise disappeared. 

D’Alesandro also was accused by highly-credible police officers of providing protection to Baltimore hoodlums.  For example, “in 1945, Captain John Rollman of the Baltimore Police Department, furnished information to the Baltimore Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation concerning one Charles F. Cammarata, who until a short time previously had operated a tavern at 641 West Baltimore Street.”  According to Captain Rollman, “Cammarata had gotten away with all sorts of criminal activities in the Western District due to the protection of Maryland United States Representative Thomas D’Alesandro.

Another serious allegation against D’Alesandro was that he had received kickbacks from building developer Dominic Piracci on city contracts.  Piracci’s account ledger included several payments totaling $11,000 to D’Alesandro which he later erased to keep the information from investigators.

During the summer of 1953, Mayor D’Alesandro’s son, Franklin Roosevelt D’Alesandro, aged twenty, was one of fourteen youths charged with having committed rape or perverted practices on two girls, aged eleven and thirteen, during July of that year.  It was reported that Franklin Roosevelt D’Alesandro was the only one of twelve of those tried at that time who was successful in obtaining an acquittal. All this led to a nervous breakdown which landed Mayor D’Alesandro in the hospital for four months

The FBI’s Special inquiry into D’Alesandro involved brief interviews with his political cronies, personal friends, and family members who insisted the Mayor was a nice guy.  The allegations against D’Alesandro involving public graft and hoodlum associations were conveniently ignored or gratuitously explained away, and on March 28, 1961, he was sworn in as a member of the United States Renegotiation Board by President Kennedy.  D’Alesandro’s wife and their 21-year-old daughter Nancy were by his side. That would be Nancy Patricia Pelosi D’Alesandro. Present-day Speaker of the U.S. House Of Representatives.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Written by Walt Ryba March 9, 2021

References: Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. and the Mafia, Posted on State of the Nation 2019

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