|James G. Balestrere (June 24, 1891 - Oct. 19, 1959)|
Born in Palermo, Sicily, Balestrere initially settled with his family in Milwaukee in 1903.
When he was a teenager, his family moved to the Kansas City area. Balestrere became a bigshot
in the Kansas City outfit during Prohibition. Though a stone mason by trade, he is believed to have
teamed with the DiGiovanni brothers - Joseph and Pietro ("Sugar House Pete") - in a bootlegging-
related venture, supplying sugar to moonshine operations.
After Prohibition, Balestrere put his mason skills to use constructing a local restaurant/casino. (He
previously worked operating a grocery store and a drug store.) The gambling establishment became
known as "the White House." In the late 1930s, Balestrere also managed a keno game for local politician
and crime boss Tom Pendergast.
Balestrere reportedly became a partner in the Kansas City mob's leadership group. Control of mob
looks to have been shared by Balestrere, Thomas "Tano" Lococo, Charles Carollo and Anthony Gizzo.
Some procliamed Gizzo was the boss, but the Kefauver Committee, after hearing Balestrere's
testimony in September 1950, decided that Balestrere was the big man.
James G. Balestrere is buried in Kansas City's Calvary Cemetery.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Monday, April 23, 1934
Walked to school and home today with Ruth Ray. Ruth Ray and Nadine and Pauline and I went out and played this evening.