William Ouseley, a retired FBI agent who has written about organized crime in Kansas City, says that recent indictments do not signal that La Cosa Nostra is making a comeback.
Ouseley, the author of Open City: True Story of the KC Crime Family 1900-1950, spoke to the Downtowners group on Wednesday. Ouseley sketched the history of organized crime in Kansas City, from Big Jim Pendergast's arrival through Nick Civella's affiliation with the Teamsters union.
During the Q&A portion, Ouseley was asked about the Mafia's current state. Ouseley, who spent 21 years investigating organized crime, downplayed the recent breakup of an illegal sports betting operation. "There are wannabes out there," he said.
The federal investigation summoned familiar names from Kansas City's outlaw past.
In February, brothers Michael and Anthony Sansone pleaded guilty in federal court to transmitting wagering information over the Internet. The Sansones are the grandsons of Anthony "Tony Ripe" Civella, the nephew of Nick Civella.
William D. Cammisano Jr., the son of reputed mob enforcer Willie "the Rat" Cammisano, also pleaded guilty in the gambling case.
The prosecutions did not excite Ouseley, who suggested that Kansas City's Sicilian criminal society is a shadow of its former self. He said that whatever iteration is making moves lacks the membership and political connections of the Mafia of yesteryear.