Ronnie Carabbia died Dec. 22 at the age of 92. To Northeast Ohio residents of a certain age, it was an end of an era.
Carabbia was a notorious organized crime figure, best known as one of the men who'd killed Danny Greene during Cleveland's last big mob war in the late 1970s. Carabbia, already well-known to investigators for his role in illegal gambling in the Mahoning Valley, was commissioned with Ray Ferritto, a gangster from Erie, Pa., by way of Los Angeles, to kill the Irish-American gangster.
It's worth noting that we have a role in this story, too. Ferritto was given a copy of Cleveland Magazine to help him identify his target. They parked a car containing a bomb next to Greene's Lincoln as he visited a Lyndhurst dentist, and Carabbia detonated the bomb by remote control.
Greene's murder led to the downfall of the Cleveland mafia. Ferritto became a cooperating witness, as did mob bosses Jimmy Fratianno and Big Ange Lonardo, weakening the organized crime scene in Cleveland, which in turn sparked a mob war in the Mahoning Valley between Cleveland and Pittsburgh families.
During his trial for Greene's murder — which took 79 days, surpassing even the murder trial for Sam Sheppard — Carabbia was defended by a Youngstown lawyer who went on to fame and success in another field: Future NFL executive Carmen Policy.
Carabbia, who was paroled in 2002 and returned to the Youngstown area, had two brothers also involved in organized crime. Charlie and Orly were both implicated in payoffs to Jim Traficant when he was running for sheriff (Traficant successfully defended himself and beat the rap in federal court.)
Charlie is missing and presumed murdered, a casualty of the Mahoning Valley mob war that followed Greene's bombing death and Ronnie's imprisonment. Orly, who himself was in and out of prison on a variety of charges, died earlier this year.