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Sam Cagnina


Tim Gratz
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In 1960 Sam Cagnina was a crooked cop in Key West and that story is told in a book called "True Crime" by Terry Schmida, a reporter for the Key West Citizen.

The book does not cover Cagnina's possible connection to the JFK case.

In the biography of Rosselli, Rappleye and Becker state that Cagnina was a suspect in the murder of Johnny Rosselli, and was (as I recall) fingered by two separate informants.

I recently ran across a memorandum from HSCA staffer Andy Purdy to Robert Tannenbaum. In it, Purdy cites a newspaper article as stating that Cagnina was a nephew of Santo Trafficante, Jr.

Of course many suspect that Trafficante was behind the Rosselli murder and that the murder may have been related to the JFK case.

It is my understanding that Cagnina is still alive and is incarcerated. If he indeed was Trafficante's nephew he probably has some interesting tales to tell but never will, of course.

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In 1954, the Internal Revenue Department filed tax liens against Santo Trafficante and Sam Cagnina. Cagnina gave his address as the bar that Trafficante was running at the time.

The Cagnina family were somehow related to Red Italiano.

This image below shows Cagnina being arrested in 1980.

James

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Great photo, James!

Sorry to show my ignorance, but who is Red Italiano? A Commie member of an Italian mob family (combining my two favorite suspects!)?

Not quite, Tim. Although I guess that would be handy.

Salvatore 'Red' Italiano was the first leader of the Florida based Mafia. It was the late 1940's when 'Red' retired and returned to Sicily. James Lumina, his under boss took over but in 1950, he was shotgunned to death.

The new boss was Santo Trafficante Sr. At about the time of Santo Jr. and Cagnina's problems with the IRD, Santo Sr. died and Jr. took over.

I'm sure if Scott Deitche reads this he can straighten out anything I may have wrong here.

And yes, I think Cagnina, if sufficiently motivated, may be able to shed some light on the Roselli murder.

James

Edited by James Richards
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Well he's not a suspected terrorist so I guess no one would waterboard him.

Considering what the informants against him said, it surprised me that Cagnina was not brought to trial on the Rosselli murder.

Sam is indeed alive and writes me from time to time, but doesn't talk about much other than the case he was sent away on.

He is not Santo's nephew by blood.

If memory serves me correctly Cagnina was not brought in for questioning on the Roselli murder, I'd have to check back through my sources. Sam was also in legal trouble around the time of Roselli's dissapperance.

Sam Cagnina Sr. was a bolita runner in Tampa, and tied in with the Trafficantes back in the 50s.

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In 1954, the Internal Revenue Department filed tax liens against Santo Trafficante and Sam Cagnina. Cagnina gave his address as the bar that Trafficante was running at the time.

The Cagnina family were somehow related to Red Italiano.

This image below shows Cagnina being arrested in 1980.

James

That Cagnina in the bar lien was Sam "The Fat Man's" father, Sam Sr.

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It was the late 1940's when 'Red' retired and returned to Sicily. James Lumina, his under boss took over but in 1950, he was shotgunned to death.

James

Red didn't retire by choice!

He went to Sicily in 1950, a few weeks later Lumia was killed. Red ended up in Mexico city where he died in 1968.

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To Scott:

Sam Jr. may not have been brought in for questioning in the Rosselli murder but per "All American Mafioso" two independent informants had linked him to the murder. If that report is true, why he was never questioned about it is baffling.

I am glad you cleared up that Sam Jr. was not a blood relative of Santo.

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  • 2 weeks later...
To Scott:

Sam Jr. may not have been brought in for questioning in the Rosselli murder but per "All American Mafioso" two independent informants had linked him to the murder. If that report is true, why he was never questioned about it is baffling.

I am glad you cleared up that Sam Jr. was not a blood relative of Santo.

By the mid 70s many of Santo's capable guys were getting on in years, so Sam would have been a logical go-to guy. But that's purely speculation.

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