Elections

Special Report: Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate Doug Ducey Hails From an Infamous Ohio Organized-Crime Family

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Ducey's great-grandfather, Dominic Scott, patriarch of the Scott clan, was born in Naples, and emigrated to the United States in 1905, while in his early 20s.

His 1950 obituary notice in the Toledo Blade states that he was a "wholesale fruit and vegetable dealer."

Dominic and his wife, Donnett, had nine children, according to census records. Tony Paul Scott (a.k.a. Neufio Scott), Ducey's great-uncle, was the eldest, born in 1902 in Naples.

William Scott, Ducey's maternal grandfather, was the youngest, born in 1919.

Both sons would make a career of organized crime, but it was Tony Paul who achieved legendary status.

Toledo crime historian Kenneth R. Dickson mentions Tony Paul as "a well-known Toledo bootlegger" in his book Nothing Personal, Just Business.

Dickson also calls Tony Paul an ally of Detroit mobster Thomas "Yonnie" Licavoli, later convicted of conspiring to murder rival Toledo bootleggers.

The link between Detroit and Toledo organized crime dates back at least to Michigan's enacting its own state prohibition in 1917, three years before the national prohibition imposed in 1920 by the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The website www.ohiohistorycentral.org, edited in part by history professors from Ohio State University, notes that during Prohibition, "bootleggers smuggled alcohol from Canada into Ohio across Lake Erie" and that during Prohibition years, "many Ohio cities gained a reputation for lawlessness."

Toledo, near the western tip of Lake Erie, became "a safe haven for mobsters and bootleggers" from Detroit, just an hour away by car, according to the site.

Gambling was part of what Harry Illman, author of the local Toledo crime history Unholy Toledo, called "the Detroit-Toledo connection," when he was interviewed by the Blade for a 1996 article.

In that piece, Blade staff writer Michael Sallah discussed Toledo's reputation as an "open gambling town" for the first half of the 20th century, observing that the city allowed gambling parlors to operate with relative impunity.

"By 1940," he writes, "Toledo was considered one of the gambling meccas of the Midwest."

When Detroit authorities cracked down on gambling there in 1941, gambling in Toledo flourished even more, according to Sallah.

From 1941 to 1952, the Toledo area was "covered in gambling clubs" with names like the Webster Inn, the Victory Club, the Chesterfield Club, the Dixie Inn, and the tony Club Devon, which Sallah says featured "a gaming parlor with 53 dice and blackjack tables and a restaurant that served prime rib."

The Detroit mob bused gamblers to Toledo, sometimes right up to the front doors of the various gaming establishments, and they took a percentage of the profits, according to Sallah and other sources.

Sallah writes that Ducey's great-uncle, Tony Paul, was one of the "main owners" of the Devon and several other such clubs, along with partner Joe Fretti, whom Sallah calls "the gambling kingpin of Toledo."

Both Fretti and Tony Paul were subpoenaed in 1951 to testify before the Kefauver Committee, the famous U.S. Senate inquiry into organized crime, which held televised hearings in 14 cities, drew 30 million viewers and made a household name of its chairman, U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee.

Officially known as the U.S. Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, the Kefauver Committee interviewed about 600 witnesses, including such legendary mob figures as Mickey Cohen, Frank Costello, and Meyer Lansky.

When the committee held hearings in Cleveland, it had a U.S. Marshal attempt service on Tony Paul. But he came down with a case of get-the-hell-out-of-town, so common at the time with those called to testify before the committee that wags referred to it as "Kefauveritis."

According to a Toledo Blade article reporting on the hearing, Tony Paul's wife told the marshal with a shrug that her husband "just got in a car with a friend and went to Florida."

Fretti did not invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and won kudos from Kefauver for his honest testimony, according to a transcript of the proceedings.

The mobster admitted to having been in the "illegal liquor business" during Prohibition and to having been "in and out" of the gambling business since Prohibition's repeal in 1933.

Asked his net worth, Fretti estimated it was $200,000 to $250,000 (equivalent to $1.8 million to $2.2 million in today's dollars) and said "practically all of it" was from illegal enterprises.

The cozy relationship between law enforcement and the mob was on full display as well.

Fretti would not admit to bribing Lucas County Sheriff George Timiney, but he admitted that he had known the sheriff "all my life" and had visited Timiney's home.

The sheriff also was called to testify and was cagey about the lack of enforcement of gambling laws in his county, telling Kefauver and other committee members that he and his deputies tried keeping the gambling clubs closed but that they kept "sneaking" back open.

He denied taking bribes, though he could not explain a mysterious $6,000 windfall he earned one year betting on horse racing at tracks in Detroit and Toledo.

Asked about Tony Paul Scott, Timiney admitted that he'd known Scott for 25 years and that Tony Paul was part of the county's gambling "clique."

Though he didn't make the hearing, Tony Paul's criminal history was entered into the record.

It showed that from 1917 to 1944, Ducey's great-uncle had been arrested numerous times on suspicion of auto theft, armed robbery, and homicide.

For example, according to the rap sheet, Tony Paul was arrested in 1917, along with several others, for the attempted holdup of a saloon, during which the owner was shot and killed. But Scott never was charged.

In 1921, Ducey's great-uncle pleaded guilty to highway robbery in Michigan and was sentenced to a year in state prison.

Scott again was arrested in 1924, according to the rap sheet, for allegedly running over a little boy and killing him, but he later was released.

In 1944, he was indicted, along with other Lucas County gambling bosses, for "keeping a room for gambling and exhibiting gambling devices."

Tony Paul pleaded guilty to the crime, spent 30 days in a "workhouse," paid a fine, and apparently went right back to running gambling clubs in Lucas County.

Fodor, the retired TPD detective, says Tony Paul and his brother, William, were "at the heart of Toledo gambling" during its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s.

But after dodging the Kefauver Committee, Tony Paul became the target of a years-long effort by the federal government to strip him of his citizenship. He was "de-naturalized" in 1955 but was allowed to stay in this country.

And he remained in the family business, judging from the words of a 1963 U.S. House investigative committee report, which referred to Tony Paul as "a ranking power among Toledo gamblers."

When he died 21 years ago at age 90, most of the millions of dollars he had made during his lifetime was invested in real estate in his wife's name, says a history of the time.

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Stephen Lemons and Lance Williams