Once named “Crimetown USA” by The Saturday Evening Post, Youngstown, OH was overrun by the mob. With illegal gambling and other crimes spurring mob wars, bodies were stacking up. Youngstown was near other mob-fueled cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh that contributed to the town’s unrest.
“Crooked City: Youngstown, OH” shares former representative Jim Traficant’s story, run for sheriff, and taking the city by storm as the steel industry was crashing. Traficant, a former football hero, warred with newspapers, the FBI, the IRS, and his personal demons during his 8 terms and two indictments as a congressman. He was also remembered for his signature catchphrase, “Beam me up,” used during House speeches.
The podcast first brings listeners to 2014 when Traficant died in a tractor accident. The town had spilt opinions on this flawed man, but for the most part, residents mourned his loss. We learn more about the town’s criminal network, dicey dealings, and widespread corruption.
Stream all episodes in chronological order to hear the complete story, with new, weekly episodes running less than 40 minutes on average. The Binge’s subscribers get early and ad-free access to episodes.
The podcast features candid interviews with folks who knew Traficant and others who participated in crimes. They share some tricks of the trade they learned and stories from operations like robberies. By episode 2, the Cleveland mob receives info on Youngstown’s bank burglar, Amil Dinsio, involving a California vault loaded with President Richard Nixon’s “dirty money.”
Traficant believed he could clean up Youngstown’s mob rule at the same time the steel industry was collapsing. An FBI agent was tracking Traficant, and he defended himself in a court case against the federal government that he ultimately won. But this was not the end of his legal issues or Youngstown’s rampant crimes.
In episode 6, we learn about Frank Susany, a thief earning ranks with a mob boss, Joey Naples, and what happened when he encounters a violent drug addict, Mark Batcho. Later on, we learn about mob feuds and the fight for who was really boss. Susany took revenge on Batcho, and we hear Lenny Strollo’s story – the head of Youngstown’s rackets.
By episode 11, Congressman Traficant hopes to free a man facing convictions of being a Nazi war criminal. After a new county prosecutor arrived in town, the mob felt threatened. In episode 14, federal agents rounded up corrupt officials, and in 2002, Traficant was expelled from Congress when he was convicted of federal corruption charges.