DIELAND: Mob: The Los Angeles Satellite


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John "Handsome Johnny" Roselli

Al Capone dispatched 19 year old Johnny Roselli to Los Angeles in1924. Almost immediately the young man began organizing what would become some of the outfits most profitable rackets. One of the things that appealed to Roselli about Los Angeles was the motion picture industry. Johnny wasted no time in finding his way around the back lots of the studios landing occasional work as an extra or bit player while striking up friendships and flings with a good number of actors, directors and actresses. Roselli was also assigned to monitor the Chicago interest in Continental Wire Services, at the time the dominate news wire in the West. Roselli served continental as an enforcer and distribution agent. This stint served to solidify Roselli's reputation as a dependable worker and a rough and fearless enforcer when needed . When there was money to be made Johnny didn't sit still long so he joined forces with Anthony (Cornero) Stralla. Cornero (or Tony the Hat) ran the premier bootlegging operation on the west coast. Roselli served as Cornero's bodyguard and constant companion protecting not only the boss but his precious cargo of rum which flowed in from the north out of Canada and bubbled up from the south thru Mexico. The time spent in the Cornero operation gave Johnny the funds needed to move up and be viewed as a mover and shaker in the Hollywood power sect. Just a few years after arriving in Los Angeles gaunt and sick from a bout with T.B. Roselli was running in the elite class of industry agents, studio heads and movie stars. Gone were the days of bit parts and extra work the Hollywood kid had arrived. Roselli used his new found status and wealth to set up yet another profitable racket. Johnny started loaning money to his industry friends who spent their earnings faster than they could make it. Roselli now was a loan shark to the stars, (as well as their bosses the studio owners) cleared labor disputes with the studios and provided some of the best company a gentleman could buy. By the close of the 20's Johnny Roselli was a man of unlimited power and respect. As Roselli's stature grew in both L.A. rackets and social circles,Johnny began to cultivate himself into a gentleman in the mode of his mentor Paul Ricca. Johnny began dressing in hand tailored suites and sported expensive jewlery and dropped the guteral dialect of the streets of Boston, New York and Chicago, where he had grown up and made his reputation. These ways would open the doors of high society to Roselli for the rest of his life. Mixing his gift of charm with the knowledge of when to throw in a well placed act of violence would forever provide a special place in the outfit leadership. In the early 30's the outfit leadership gave Johnny orders to forge a working relationship with Jack Dragna, the boss of the L.A. family. Dragna quickly came to value Roselli's knack for making money and respected his decision making so much that he often consulted John in important family crisises. By 1941 Roselli began spending less time in Los Angeles and more time in Las Vegas(partially do to the Hollywood extortion case) but his mark would forever shine on the sunset strip and in the hearts and of many Hollywood starlets and executives. Roselli had succeeded in bridging the roles of gangster, labor racketeer, studio executive and Hollywood socialite.His reign as the oufit supervisor came to an end with the Hollywood extortion case in which he received a sentence of 10 years.





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