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Word Count: 2,124
During the late eighteen hundreds the four Lonardo brothers and seven Porrello brothers were boyhood friends and fellow sulphur mine workers in their hometown of Licata Sicily They came to America in the early nineteen hundreds and eventually settled in Cleveland Big Joe Lonardo became a successful businessman and community leader During Prohibition he became wealthy as a dealer in corn sugar which was used by bootleggers to make corn liquor He was respected and feared as a padrone or godfather Big Joe became the leader of a powerful and vicious gang and was known as a corn sugar baron Joe Porrello was one of his corporals With the advent of Prohibition Cleveland like other big cities experienced a wave of bootleg-related murders The murders produced the same suspects but no indictments These suspects were members of the Lonardo gang Several of the murders occurred at the corner of E 25th and Woodland Ave This intersection became known as the bloody corner Many of Lonardos gang members had previous street battle experience in the newspaper circulation wars Around 1926 Joe Porrello left the employ of the Lonardos to start his own sugar wholesaling business Porrello and his six brothers pooled their money and eventually became successful corn sugar dealers headquartered in the upper Woodland Avenue area around E 110th Street With small competitors sugar dealers and bootleggers mysteriously dying violent deaths the Lonardos business flourished as they gained a near monopoly on the corn sugar business Their main competitors were their old friends the Porrellos Big Joe Lonardo in 1926 now at the height of his wealth and power left for Sicily to visit his mother and relatives He left his closest brother and business partner John in charge During Big Joes six-month absence he lost much of his 5000 a week profits to the Porrellos who took advantage
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