Joseph "Scotty" Spinuzzi
An excerpt from the book: Mountain Mafia: Organized Crime in the Rockies, detailing the 1960 murder trial of “Scotty” Spinuzzi. The book covers some of the more colorful leaders in the West's organized crime operations, including Joe “Little Caesar” Roma, “Black Jack” Colletti, and the Smaldone brothers. In addition to the "Scotty" Spinuzzi, trial, the book details the connection these Colorado mobsters had with notorious crime members in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Mountain Mafia: Organized Crime in the Rockies is available on-line, at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and can be ordered through any local book store.
by Betty Alt and Sandra Wells
Like characters in The Godfather film or “The Sopranos” television series, Colorado has had its share of Mafia personalities. One of the most colorful was Joseph “Scotty” Spinuzzi, who was first mentioned by the Kefauver Committee as a mob member and link between the criminal empires of Al Capone in Chicago and Frank Costello in New York. In 1971, a Colorado Task Force of “The National Council on Crime and Delinquency” listed Spinuzzi as the head of organized crime in the state.
Born on March 26, 1910 in Pueblo (known during the prohibition era as “Little Chicago”), Spinuzzi was considered a handsome man, approximately five-foot-eight-inches tall with dark, curly hair, dark brown eyes and often a short temper. Some indicated that former Colorado bosses Charles Blanda and James “Black Jim” Colletti found it difficult to keep Scotty under control and felt he brought unwanted publicity to the Colorado organization. Blanda frequently lamented that “Spinuzzi was often a problem as his subordinate tended to be a “very volatile, loose cannon.”
Spinuzzi, who apparently was involved in a vending-machine business and at one time owned a bar with his brother Tony “Turk” Spinuzzi, would have a long history of problems with law enforcement, being charged for bootlegging, extortion in Las Vegas, burglary, theft, counterfeiting, income tax evasion, as well as numerous counts of gambling and bookmaking. His name continually appeared in Colorado newspapers, and he became the head of the Pueblo “family” of La Cosa Nostra in 1969. He would continue as its boss until his death (after a brief illness) in 1975.