Pappano recalls life of great-great uncle
CHARLES “Pretty Boy” Floyd, who became known as Public Enemy No. 1 in 1934, was arrested in Akron in 1930 after he was found to be hiding under a bed and then was handcuffed by a great-great uncle of Bellaire resident Joe Pappano.
And Pasquale “Patsy” Pappano didn’t brag about his actions, according to a United Press story reported in the Lodi News-Sentinel.
Under a headline, “When ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Got Cuffs, Police Celebrated,” the 1953 news story began: “Lots of law officers tried to put their handcuffs on ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd during the gangster’s violent career 20 years ago, and some were killed for their efforts.
“A few succeeded, among them Pasquale (“Patsy”) Pappano, former Akron detective.”
When the story was written, Patsy was retired and had clippings “but doesn’t talk about them unless he is with friends or unless someone rags him into it.
“One of most breath-taking stories in the scrapbook involves a minor traffic accident one spring day in suburban Cuyahoga Falls.”
Akron Patrolman Harland F. Manes stopped a car for a traffic violation and was shot down during that incident. Manes later died in a hospital but not before identifying the shooter when two suspects were taken to his hospital room.
Manes had been assisting vice squad officers in a 1:30 a.m. raid when “officers saw two tipsy women leave a house of ill repute” and get into the car which was involved in a car crash within minutes. This was reported on Ohio.com, Akron Beacon Journal Online, and was published in 2010 and then updated in 2011, and the news story was by Mark J. Price.
Police located the gangsters after finding a telephone number scribbled on a wall in a house near the accident scene and traced the number. Then, according to Ohio.com, “Eight detectives armed with sawed-off shotguns sped to the two-story, yellow house – later dubbed Canary Cottage – at 447 Lodi St. in Goodyear Heights.”
A woman identified as a passenger in the car crash answered the door and motioned to authorities that the gangsters were on the second floor after Chief Detective Edward J. McDonnell whispered to her: “Make one move or let out one squawk, and I’ll blow out your brains.” (It was an emotional time for McDonnell who had seen the dying policeman in the hospital.)
Ohio. com reported after the detectives crept upstairs, they saw a baby-faced man wrapping bandages around the arms of another man.
“When Detectives Patsy Pappano and Sherman Gandee stormed the room with McDonnell, the bandaged man froze,” Ohio.com noted.
Police found an arsenal of weapons including a machine gun, shotguns, rifles and pistols.
A sidekick for Bert Walker, the wounded gangster, was identified as Frankie Mitchell, 26, also known as Frank Schultz and George Sanders, and he was a St. Louis bank robber.
Ohio.com reported when Walker was questioned about Mitchell, he chuckled and said, “You think I’m tough, but you haven’t heard the last of that Mitchell boy yet.” Authorities later learned Mitchell was really “Pretty Boy” Floyd.
“The suave bandit didn’t seem so tough when he was cowering under an Akron bed,” according to Ohio.com.
Patsy snapped the cuffs on him, and Floyd and another gangster involved in the accident were transferred to a Toledo jail in May and later were sentenced to the Ohio Penitentiary for armed robbery. Floyd escaped from a train and “led a four-year reign of terror” before being shot near East Liverpool.
That was only one of Patsy’s many cases. The Akron Beacon Journal in April 1928 had a feature with the headline, “We Congratulate … P.F. Pappano,” noting in part that the Italian immigrant “has worked in hundreds of other cases and has often been called to other cities to assist in solving mysteries … (and) has had several close calls on his life.”
Information related to Patsy is in the Akron Police Department’s museum, according to his great-great nephew, who is the former Belmont County auditor.
Pappano never met his great-great uncle but has heard stories about him from family members.
“The story is he went to New York to infiltrate the Black Hand (which involved Italians extorting money from other Italians),” said Pappano.
Black Hand members in New York were familiar with that city’s police. “They were looking for someone to infiltrate the Black Hand. They came to Cleveland and the Black Hand knew every cop in Cleveland, and they went to Akron, and there’s Uncle Patsy,” explained Pappano.
The former county auditor said because of his infiltration work, family stories associate Patsy with the movie, “Black Hand,” starring Gene Kelly in a dramatic role rather than his song-and-dance movies.
Patsy became an Akron patrolman in 1917 and went up through the ranks, eventually being named as detective in 1937. He retired in 1944 and died in 1960. His efforts were recalled in 1954 when Pappano was working with the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Securities, and his duties involved a visit to the Akron Police Department.
After the Bellaire man identified himself, a captain came out of his office and asked if he was a relative of Patsy. Receiving an affirmative answer, the captain grabbed Pappano and said, “He was the greatest cop that ever lived.”
Pappano agrees as he noted, “Uncle Patsy was something special as a cop.”