Eligio Magnafichi became the proud father to his second son, Lee, on January 10th, 1927. The name Lee is the Americanized version of Eligio. Eligio’s son, Lee, grew up in the Galewood/Montclare area of Chicago near Harlem Avenue and Grand Avenue. Lee was the third child of four children, which included Evelyn (who I know personally and respect), Joe and Gloria. Lee’s mother, Josephine, passed away when Lee was a young boy.
Lee was a tough kid with a strong sense of respect and loyalty. These two key ingredients of his psyche would one day grant him access to Chicago’s most powerful crime syndicate, the Outfit. While he would eventually rise to the upper echelons of this criminal organization, his start in the Outfit would not occur in his early adulthood. As a young man Lee became best pals with Eco Coli. Lee and Eco, not having an adequate education, quickly turned to the streets to make their living. They were thieves who dabbled in other various schemes to churn a quick buck.
As a side note, Coli eventually went on to hold a prominent position with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He was also a dear friend of my late father.
In the 1950s, one of Lee’s friends – a man named Jasper “Skeezix” Coconate, who had legitimate business ties regarding auto sales – was the person who introduced Lee to his business partner, future Outfit Boss John DiFronzo. This gave Lee his entrance into the Outfit. Impressed with the young man, DiFronzo arranged for Lee to meet Outfit leader Joe “Gags” Gagliano. Gags, with some assistance from Willie Messino, was the chief recruiter for the Jack Cerone crime faction.
From the late 1950s through the mid-1980s, Lee was a solider under Cerone. To give you an idea of what a typical day was like for Lee Magnafichi while working for the old, drunken crazy Jack Cerone, I will share an Elmer Conti story with you. For those who do not know the name, Elmer Conti was a longtime Village President of Elmwood Park, Illinois. One evening old man Cerone was walking out of an Elmwood Park establishment with Lee , Elmer and Joe Andriacchi. Apparently, Elmer did or said something inadvertently that aggravated the easily angered Cerone, when all of a sudden Cerone belted out, “Elmer, I’ll have these guys,” indicating Lee and Joe, “shoot you in your f***ing head!” Lee and Joe, never knowing what Cerone was going to do next, got ready to shoot. Obviously Cerone failed to execute the order and Elmer escaped Cerone’s wrath long enough to die of natural causes.