Frankie, Mary Ann’s son, was almost four. Mary Ann and Frankie’s father were divorced. Mary Ann and Frankie were living with her parents. Mary Ann said that perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that she and Frankie were back home during this time. Her parents were edgy. Thelma Bompensiero’s blood pressure had been high since she was pregnant with Mary Ann. Her blood pressure now zoomed higher. Terrific headaches practically knocked her mother over. Her father threw himself down on the couch and watched whatever came on television. In the old days, when the news came on, her father, in the midst of some political commentary, “talked” to the reporter, said something like, “What a pain in the fisterus you are!!” During the early months of 1955, however, he silently watched. “The only time you’d see my dad happy,” said Mary Ann, “was when he was playing with Frankie.”
About this time Mary Ann met the man who would become her second husband — Gino. I talked one day with Gino. His family was from Naples. He had grown up in Massachusetts. Early in the 1950s, at the urging of an older brother already settled in San Diego, Gino came to town. “My brother was out here, and he says, ‘Come west, they’re making money out here.’ I went fishing. I was on a tuna boat. I’d never fished before. It is very hard work, very hard work. That’s when I met Mary Ann, when I was fishing. I was living down in Little Italy on Columbia. My sister was living there too.”
Did Gino know who Frank Bompensiero was?
“Well, people you hang around with, they talk and you pick up conversation and read between the lines. And then when I really met him, I knew. And then I knew from hanging around downtown. I knew who he was, what he was; I said ‘Hi’ to him and so forth. I was hanging out downtown. Downtown was wide open then. Third Avenue there, where all those guys owned the bars, from there, baboom, baboom, baboom, I got to know them all. These guys were older than I was. I was the young punk around the neighborhood. The Gold Rail, it was just like the rest of those bars downtown, but the Spot did a lot of business, most of the business. They depended on the Navy. They didn’t have many locals. Sam, Frank’s brother, I used to go talk to Sam all the time at his bar. And we used to go down to the racetrack together. And play the horses. I met Mary Ann’s dad through Sam, his brother. And then when I started going out with Mary Ann, I met Mary Ann’s mother. She was very nice. She was real friendly, the nicest lady in the world.”
Gino met Marie and Momo Adamo, who had moved from Los Angeles to San Diego during the mid-1950s and lived at 4134 Lymer Drive in Kensington. Momo Adamo, for many years had been “in business” with Jack Dragna. “I knew the Adamos real well. Marie drove Momo crazy back in those days. She was an attractive woman. She liked to drink. She liked to party. She liked nice clothes. Very elegant, she was, and she used to pay $200 just for a little nightgown. We used to go over to Momo’s house and have dinner. Momo would have people come in from Chicago, and after dinner we’d play cards and so forth. Stupid games, you know, that women like to play.”
I asked Gino what Momo did for money.
“Well, those guys, they’re broke today and they got $5000, $10,000 tomorrow. That’s how they operated. Frank Desimone, I remember a funny episode with him in it. This was sometime before Frank Bompensiero went to prison. It was at Momo and Marie’s house. Frank Bompensiero was there and Mary Ann and Desimone and the guys. Marie was barbecuing steaks, porterhouse steaks. Frank Desimone, he comes out on the patio and he says, ‘What, I gotta eat this crap? Get some good steaks.’ And then Momo started in telling him, ‘You go to hell.’ Marie is carrying on the way Marie carried on. So Momo goes up to Marie and says, ‘Marie, why don’t you shut up.’ ”
District Attorney Don Keller assigned Bart Sheela as prosecutor for Bompensiero’s case. “In the DA’s office,” said Sheela, “we’d all heard the stories about Bompensiero and the meetings that the mob guys had in their glory years, a year or so before the liquor license investigation, when they’d have these huge blowouts down at Le Gloria, the hotel-rancho between Tijuana and Rosarito. We’d hear stories about rubouts. And there was no doubt that Bompensiero was a tough, tough man. If you had to have somebody killed, I would have looked to Bompensiero. I would’ve trusted him to get it done. No question. Then there was that Ed Reid book — it was just a little pocket paperback — about the Mafia that was out at that time. Reid listed Bompensiero as number 26 in importance in the U.S. Mafia.
“Before the trial was set to start, I went to LA and pulled the file on the Phil Galuzo case, in which Bompensiero was suspected as Galuzo’s killer, because obviously if Bompensiero took the stand I wanted to wangle that in. In my judgment, the Los Angeles police had a perfect case against Bompensiero in the Galuzo thing, because they had witnesses. Bompensiero didn’t do a good job of killing the guy, he lived for seven days, and in a classic dying declaration, which made it admissible, he named the two people who killed him. The declaration named his killers as Frank and a guy from the union hall, but then when it came back, a homicide detective in the LA police department said they couldn’t make a case. I thought it was a bunch of baloney on their part. I thought somebody got paid off.”