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I have been doing genealogy for 30 years. My Great Aunt Ella introduced me to this fascinating adventure when I was a teenager and boy did I get hooked. She inspired me and taught me the importance of my roots and where I came from.

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Antone "Black Tony" Parmagini: Gangster

Antone Parmagini was born 3 Mar 1886 in California to Robert Parmagini (1857-) Mary.

Antone had the following siblings

Anna Mary Parmagini 1883-
Emma Parmagini 1887-1932
Ernest Parmagini 1891-1920
Ida Parmagini 1894-
Edith Gertrude Parmagini 1896-1967

I am hoping my research above is fairly accurate 

Antone was financed by Al Capone to run a drug trade on the west coast. But first Antone had gotten a name of a bootlegger in the 1920's.

Here's a newspaper clipping


 As time went by and his name grew he then became "Black Tony" and was making a obscene amount of money selling morphine on the streets of California.

He soon got caught by the Feds and was arrested in Dec 1929.

He was sentenced to 17 years and was sent to McNeil Island, he was received there 13 Mar 1931 as Inmate #8881


He is listed as the second inmate on these records.


He was then transferred to Leavenworth as Inmate #41063 11 Mar 1932.





I did not find a mugshot, but here are a few newspaper clippings.







I have found lots of newspaper clippings on him and not one photograph, no mugshot, I even googled him and found very little.  I have never come across a gangster I couldn't find a photo for. Where are they??? 
I am now on the hunt.

Antone's brother Ernest was arrested in California for Grand Larceny in 1910.





Inmate #24586 San Quentin Prison
Rec: 21 Oct 1910
Crime: Grand Larceny
Term: 8 years
Discharged: 20 Jun 1915
He violated his parole and was transferred to Folsom to finish his term.




I never found a newspaper clipping on what his Grand Larceny charges were all about, He was a saloon keeper in San Francisco. Ernest died 21 Jun 1920 no obituary found.

Antone's sister Emma married Charles Silva Costa a fisherman, I found this article.





Some notes on Antone:

Months after authorities broke up the Parmagini ring, an unforeseen situation arose. The scarcity of readily accessible dope led to sharp price increases that forced many addicts to quit cold turkey. As a result California state narcotic enforcement chief H.S. Seager noted in a report that “record numbers of addicts were applying to state hospital to take the cure.” Seager noted the price range for an ounce of morphine ‘heroin’ with Pamagini on the street had been $40 to $60. Without him the supply dwindled forcing prices to double. His report listed the November 1930 street price of morphine was $110 to $125 per ounce. 

Another dangerous result of Parmagini’s removal was the penchant of low level dealers to substitute ‘dangerous substances’ in place of hard to obtain supplies of cocaine and morphine. 

A witness against Black Tony was later convicted in a $35 robbery in Los Angeles and sentenced to serve a 7 to life term in Folsom. Danny Farrell had served as the chief government witness in the case against Black Tony and charged that in retribution, “friends” of the convicted smuggler had “framed” him. He also stated he feared he’d never survive in prison as he’d heard fellow convicts discussing his demise once he began his term. 


It is very possible that Farrell was telling the truth as one of those later linked with Parmagini was Lita Summers the wife of convict Lloyd Sampsell. Sampsell played prominently in the dismissal of a former LAPD detective turned prison Warden for bestowing favors. What those favors were was never disclosed yet Sampsell languished behind bars for decades before he was finally put to death on a murder charged in the early 50s. ‘Jew Willie’ Levin aka ‘Willie the Weeper’ was later charged in connection with the Waxey Gordon drug syndicate and re-sentenced to prison. 

William Levin was McNeil #8879 sent to prison with Antone and was also transferred to Leavenworth as inmate #39312.



Antone died 1 May 1937 in Springfield, MO his wife Anita had his body shipped to California for burial.




He is buried at the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, CA. His funeral cost was $824.43.

I do not know if he had any children or what Anita's maiden was. Not finding a photo or even a mugshot of Antone is really a mystery, there has to be one. I will have to email the National Archives and see if they have one.




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