Rocco Perri: The Story of Canada's Most Notorious

Rocco Perri: The Story of Canada's Most Notorious Bootlegger Rocco Perri came to Canada almost a century ago from Calabria, Italy Even today his name is well known to historians, police and organized crime and especially to the people of the city he called home Hamilton, Ontario A poor immigrant, Perri along with his commonlaw wife, Bessie Starkman, built an unequalled crime empire for the time During the Prohibition years, Perri provided alcohol to a thirsty clientele in Canada and the United States a business that was very illegal and highly lucrative Al Capone and Joseph Kennedy were among Perri's customers The Perris also ran gambling, loansharking, extortion and prostitution rackets ROCCO PERRI: King of the Bootleggers is than the biography of a man and his empire; it is a riveting portrait of a time when corruption was rampant, murder a business necessity, and discrimination against newcomers forced many to turn to crime as a means of survival This book also solves a halfcenturylong mystery about the fate of Rocco Perri When you live in the area around the Great Lakes, a hushhush part of the local history (that is not so hushhush any) concerns rumrunners and bootleggers of the 1920's and 1930's, as well as the rise and growth of organized crime We read about Al Capone and Bugs Moran of Chicago, the Purple Gang of Detroit, Lucky Luciano of New York City and other outfits (Jewish, Italian, Irish; but usually Italian gangs).Meet Rocco Perri, his commonlaw wife Bessie Starkman, and their gang of bootleggers, rumrunners, gamblers, extortionists, etc of Hamilton They helped provide Capone, Luciano, the Purples and others with whatever else Southern Ontario distilled, brewed, or crushed from the grape for the discriminating palate They also provided Southern Ontario with those liquids too, using a rather complicated route around the Ontario Temperance Act These were pretty bad boys, and Bessie was their treasurer as well as into prostitution and drugs Murder and good relations was the way they kept control The lawabiding Italians and others got very bad press because of them from the English press in Canada Racism and bigotry is always a shame, and Rocco shamed them Still, he was very much like Capone: a smart dresser, generous with his money to the poor and to his guys who went to jail for him (Bessie was the tightwad.) I could not help but be fascinated, especially since to me, it's hometown stuff.


About the Author: Antonio Nicaso

Antonio Nicaso is an internationally recognized expert on organized crime He is the author of than a dozen books, including Bloodlines: The Rise and Fall of the Mafia's Royal Family; Global Mafia; and Deadly Silence Nicaso is a regular consultant and lecturer to universities, governments and law enforcement agencies in the United States, Canada, and Europe.


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