Everyone knows about Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and the family from “The Godfather”–but did you know that Colorado was also home to its fair share of notorious mobsters? These infamous men who’d “make you an offer you couldn’t refuse” include:
1. Joe Roma
Joe "Little Caesar" Roma (left) founded the Denver Crime Family, which was known for having the largest bootlegging operation in the state. After police unintentionally ignited a gang war between the Denver Crime Family and rival bootleggers, Roma gained control over the Pueblo area, but lost everything nearly two years later when Roma was found dead in his home from gunshot wounds.
2. Charlie Blanda
After Roma's murder in 1933, Charlie Blanda took over the Denver Crime Family's activities and began expanding the operation to both Wyoming and Idaho, which led him to becoming involved in a nationally known "lay off" pool for bookmakers. After serving three years in prison for federal income tax evasion, Blanda served as an advisor to the Denver Crime Family before dying of a stroke in 1969.
3. James Colletti
Colletti, also known as "Black Jim", was an Italian immigrant who became the boss of the Denver Crime Family after Charlie Blanda's arrest. In 1967, Colletti was named the "Boss of Colorado" by Life Magazine because of his operations in illegal gambling and narcotics trafficking.
4. Joseph "Scotty" Spinuzzi
Spinuzzi, whom former bosses Charlie Blanda and James "Black Jim" Colletti found difficult to keep quiet, helped control gambling and other vices in the Pueblo area. After serving an 18-month prison sentence for burglary and income tax evasion, he became boss of the Denver Crime Family and continued to run his large-scale bookmaking operation.
5. Eugene "Checkers" Smaldone
Smaldone, who co-ran the Denver Crime Family with his brother, Clyde, got his start in the underground scene when he ran booze during Prohibition for his dad to speakeasies in Lower Downtown. Though Smaldone was thought to be behind several murders around the Denver area, he was never convicted, but did serve jail time for auto theft, bootlegging, operating a loan shark business, and income tax evasion. He died of a heart attack in 1992.
6. Clyde "Flip Flop" Smaldone
Smaldone, Eugene's older brother, began his life of crime at the age of 16 with burglary, bootlegging, and attempting to blow up a rival gang member in his car. Though Eugene was the "face" of the Denver Crime Family, Clyde was known to be the brains behind their operation.
7. Clarence "Chauncey" Smaldone
The youngest of the Smaldone brothers, Chauncey was well-known by local law enforcement for his part in bootlegging, car theft, gambling, bookmaking, income-tax evasion, assault, and jury tampering. After his older brother's deaths, Chauncey was named the final boss of the Denver Crime Family, which died with him in 2006.