Aug 25, 2010

Milwaukee Mafia Boss- Frank Balistrieri

"He called me a name - to my face - and now they can't find his skin!" -Frank Balistrieri

From 1961 to the time of his death in 1993, Frank Balistrieri ran the Milwaukee Mafia, though as a young man, he started working for the Milwaukee crime family after attending law school for six months. He was the most feared Mafia boss of the Midwest and refereed to himself as “..the most powerful man in Milwaukee.” Within the Mafia family he was known as "Mr. Big", "Frankie Bal", "Mr. Slick", and "Mad Bomber," a nickname given to him because he frequently used Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) attached to cars as weapons against his enemies. There is reference to him and his trademark technique in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film, Casino. He is referenced again in the 1997 film, Donnie Brasco. After research I have learned that Donnie Brasco, an undercover cop by the name of Joseph D. Pistone, actually did fly to Milwaukee with Benjamin 'Lefty' Ruggiero to meet with Balistrieri at his restaurant, Snug's, and discuss a vending machine operation that was brought to his attention by another undercover cop working with the Milwaukee Mafia, Clark B. Hall.

Balistrieri soon built a reputation for arrogance, cruelty and ruthlessness long before his father-in-law and Milwaukee boss, John Alioto retired in 1961 and passed the duties of being boss onto him. Balistrieri conducted his business at a table at Snug's restaurant in Milwaukee's Shorecrest Hotel which he owned. Now called, Savoy, it maintains it's atmosphere of rich and sophisticated dinning even after renovation in 1999. The original stained glass sign for Snugs that was above the entrance was taken out, but used as the backdrop for the bar. The Shorecrest Hotel now stands as an apartment building and historical landmark. After research, I have come to learn that Frank Balistrieri's 2 sons, Joseph P. "Joey Bal" Balistrieri- who is now underboss to Joseph P. "Joe Camel" Caminiti- and John "Johnny Bal" Balistrieri- who is Acting Consigliere within the Milwaukee Mafia family- both have taken ownership of the restaurant and hotel after the death of there father. They live on the 8th floor of The Shorecrest Hotel.

After many years of being Milwaukee's Mafia boss and running many operations with other Mafia leaders such as Las Vegas's legendary mob boss Allen Glick, in a casino skimming scheme at The Stardust Hotel, his leadership became compromised in December 1985. Balistrieri was sentenced to 13 years in prison after federal authorities had successfully connected mobsters from four different states including him and his 2 sons on the operation. Close to achieving a seat on the ruling Mafia Commission in New York, Balistrieri was thwarted by this prison sentence. According to the Bureau of Prisons, Balistrieri was released from prison in 1991.

Frank Balistrieri died of heart-related natural causes in early 1993.

Here are the photo's I took on the "Mafia Tour" I put together for my fiance and I in anticipation of the release of Mafia 2.
...Yes, I am that BIG of a nerd with an unhealthy obsession with the Mafia.
If I were Italian, I would "take a stab" at becoming part of the family. ;)

Frank Balistrieri's Grave:

Photo's from our dinner at Savoy, formally known as "Snugs" when Balistrieri owned and operated his business there:

Photo's I took inside The Shorecrest Hotel, that Balistrieri owned and lived in. Now it is owned by his 2 sons whom also live on the 8th floor and are apart of the Milwaukee LCN family.
My fiance and I are hoping to move there spring of next year...

*For more information on Frank Balistrieri and the Milwaukee Mafia, please visit the links on the sidebar of this blog under "Local Mobsters & Locations."

~Crystal "The Pistol"


  1. 1. You're awesome for posting these photos.

    2. Your fiance is insanely hot.

    3. I think you mean "formerly" Snug's rather than "formally".

    I'm working on a history I'm piecing together from news clips, FBI files and more... it is an ongoing project. Let me know if I missed anything:

    1. I actually worked at and lived at the Shorecrest during these times (c. 1981-1995). I was deep into the "social scene" and Boy the stories I could tell you... I love the pics they really bring back some memories. I do believe it is in my best interest to remain annonymous, but enjoy the fantasy it was as real as you can imagine if not more!

    2. i was born in milwaukee and am italian. i want to get more info. individuals, associates, alleged events for a thing im working on. anyone with info...
      email me

  2. Update: John J. Balistreri sold the Shorecrest Hotel in December, 2011. His brother Joe died in Oct., 2010.

    1. so are the Balistreris done or is Sendik's a front?

    2. Sendik's is a different family- Balistreri, not Balistrieri.

    3. so what are some of the things that happen at the Shorecrest?

  3. Here's a link to a piece I did on my blog about the Aliotos and Balestrieris in the 1970's and posted on 5/26/2012.

  4. what is the difference between the balistrieri's, balistreri, balestrieri or the balestreri. how ever it's spelled, it's the same family.

  5. As a kid... I was actually there with my family a couple of times. My father was a Teamsters steward in the area and was being groomed for bigger and better things. I still remember one of the passwords to get in the restaurant. Actually it was a phrase. This was around 1970 or earlier.

  6. my grandfather grew upin the old 3rd ward..Major bootlegger in the 30's..Had a "meet" with Mr. Capone in northern Illinois to "discuss" territories and was ambushed and left for dead..survived and lived to be 92 years old...DiPasquale is the name...

  7. Does your douchebag fiance smile? Cheer up, emo kid, you're not 15 any more...

  8. Hi there, I'm looking for a brief synopsis on the Shorecrest hotel and the history of it... tying in the story of why it's haunted and exactly what you have above. If anyone could help me out that would be great. Looking to include it on a piece about Milwaukee I'm doing.

  9. Lauren,
    I live there. It's creepy, and old, but certianly not hauted. Plenty of my neighbors have lived there for 15+ years and would agree with me.

    Good luck on your piece.

    -The Lucky Italian

  10. First off man. If u are such a mafia nerd then u would know allen glick was no boss of anything he was a front man. Second he was NEVER mentioned in donnie brasco(the film) and third he was never mentioned in casino the only thing from that movie that could be tied to him was the car bomb. If your going to do a blog then atleast pretend u know a little bit of what u are talking about becuase anyone who knows even the least bit about the mafia knows u dont know crap. Last thing i have to say is that even tho the mafia is fascinating it is wrong for u to say u would try and join becuase the mafia u have in your fantasies is long long gone the Mafia that is today is nothing but a bunch of drug dealing psychopaths