Antonio Salvatore Giuseppe Bentimova was born in New York City, the son of an Italian from Sicily, and a nice neighborhood girl from New York’s Little Italy. Years before Tony B’s birth, his father, Salvatore Giuseppe Antonio Bentimova was a Mob captain in Palermo, a tidy little hamlet in the north west end of Sicily, under the rule of the infamous Don Vito Cascio Ferro. Ferro, who perfected the shakedown as an art form, was arrested sixty-nine times for various crimes, was tried for all these crimes, but was always acquitted. For some strange reasons, all witnesses against Ferro suddenly got amnesia, or downright disappeared from the face of the earth. Hey, things happen.
In 1929, Don Vito Cascio Ferro finally met his match when he was arrested by Cesare Mori, Prefect and chief administrative official of the island. Mori had been appointed by Italian Dictator, and all around nice guy, Benito “Il Duce” Mussolini.
This was the beginning of very bad time for the good old Mafia in Sicily.
Mori made himself a constant pain in the balls to the Sicilian Mafia. He used torture, like children used toys. He laid siege to entire towns, even taking woman and children hostages, to get members of the Mafia to come clean as to their whereabouts. All in all, from 1924-29, Mori was responsible for over 11,000 arrests, just in the town of Palermo alone.
Hell of a guy.
When Mori arrested Don Vito Cascio Ferro’s ass, it was actually on a trumped-up charge, Ferro had absolutely nothing to do with. After a dubious trail, Ferro, then 69, was sentenced to 50 years in jail. He did not pass Go and did not collect $200.
Afraid of getting the same fate as his pal Don Vito Cascio Ferro, Salvatore Giuseppe Antonio Bentimova hopped a slow boat to New York City, to escape the wrath of Mussolini, Mori and any other Italian whose last name starred with the letter “M.”
There “Sally Boy” Bentimova, as he was called, established himself as a big shot in the Italian/American mob.
Because of the infamous and useless Volstead Act enacted in 1919, Prohibition was still in full force in 1930, when Sally Boy finally set his feet on American soil. Sally Boy made a mint transporting illegal hooch, from rum ships outside the 12 mile limit, to fast cabin cruisers, to trucks, which sped into the heart of New York City. Rumor had it that New York City alone had over 30,000 speakeasies, and Sally Boys boys supplied the booze to a good number of them.
In 1933, the Volstead Act was repealed, so Sally Boy, in the spirit of gold old American entrepreneurism, insinuated himself into such enterprising businesses such as gambling, shylocking, and a little harlotry, which is a fancy word for pimping women. Sometimes right on the streets. Sometimes in a whore house, located somewhere in the Lower East Side.
“Hey. I didn’t invent prostitution,” Sally Boy said. “So if somebody’s got to do it, why not me? And my girls are clean. I make them see a doctor four times a year, whether they need it or not.”
Sally Boy, now firmly ensconced in Little Italy, finally met himself a nice Italian-American girl, who happened not to be a hooker. Her name was Dria Paola Pescatore, named after a famous Italian actress, who wasn’t a hooker either.
Dria’s parents were from Naples, and they didn’t particularly care for the vulgar, and intellectually inferior Sicilians. But after a little arm-twisting, and Sally Boy greasing Dria’s father’s palms with a few thousand fazools, Mr. Pescatore finally saw the light, and that light was lit all around Little Italy, in the bright green lights of cold hard cash.
The marriage between Sally Boy Bentimova and Dria Paola Pescatore was made, and summarily consummated in 1935. The result was Antonio Salvatore Giuseppe Bentimova, a.k.a Tony B.
As we will see, the apple did not fall too far from the rotten tree.