Pete Panto

Peter Panto (1911 – July 14, 1939) was a longshoreman and union activist[1] who was murdered by the mob for attempting to revolt against union leadership.[2]

Pete Panto
Peter Panto

DiedJuly 14, 1939 (aged 27–28)
OccupationLongshoreman, union activist


Pete Panto was the leader of a revolt against Joseph P. Ryan and his colleagues, many of them allegedly mafia, who ran the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA). Corruption was rampant among ILA leaders and working conditions were deplorable. Panto attempted to expose this corruption via the Brooklyn Rank-and-File Committee, a group of "left wing" dockworkers. He and the Rank-And-File Committee held open air assemblies attracting over 1500 longshoreman at a time. This was a serious threat to Ryan, Anastasia, and other corrupt officials. Panto was lured from his home on July 14, 1939, following a phone call from an unknown individual and was never seen again. His body was later found during January 1941,[3] in a lime pit in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.[4] Albert Anastasia was suspected of ordering the execution but Abe Reles, the chief witness, died in 1941 while supposedly trying to escape from custody. He either "jumped or fell" from a room where he was held under guard by six police officers.

Panto's murder was allegedly carried out by Mendy Weiss, Tony Romanello and James Feraco of Murder, Inc. Although Anastasia, Weiss, Romanello and Ferraco were never indicted, Weiss would receive the electric chair in 1944 for a separate murder, whereas Anastasia was murdered by rival mobsters in 1957. Romanello was arrested and questioned in 1942. A few months after his release from custody his dead body was found along the banks of the Brandywine Creek near Wilmington, Delaware. James Ferraco had vanished without a trace and was most likely killed in 1940 or 1941. Ryan resigned in 1953, following New York State Industrial Commissioner Edward Corsi and Governor Thomas E. Dewey's investigation into corruption charges.[5]

Cultural referencesEdit

  • The Hook, an unproduced screenplay by Arthur Miller, portrays Panto's "doomed attempt to overthrow the feudal gangsterism of the New York docks".

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ward, Nathan (September 24, 2010). "Dark Harbor - By Nathan Ward". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  2. ^ Sherman, Casey (April 9, 2013). Animal: The Bloody Rise and Fall of the Mob's Most Feared Assassin. UPNE. ISBN 978-1-55553-822-4.
  3. ^ "The Tragic, Violent History of the Brooklyn Waterfront". CrimeReads. July 17, 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  4. ^ Joey Skee (July 15, 2008). "Pete Panto (1911-1939): An Italian-American worker who fought the mob that you never heard of". i-Italy. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  5. ^ FrontPage Magazine. February 11, 2005. Retrieved August 31, 2007[dead link]

External linksEdit