SINITO, THOMAS J. (18 Sep. 1938-21 Dec. 1997) was a Cleveland mobster who once was accused of plotting to kill Mayor Dennis J. Kucinich. He was born in Cleveland to Lena (Longo) and Frank Sinito, who ran Sinito Brothers fruit market on Woodland Ave. Sinito gained his entrance into the mob as a result of the local power struggle that followed the death of John Scalish, who ran the Cleveland Mafia from 1944 until his death in 1976. The struggle emerged between Scalish's supposed hand picked successor, Jack Licavoli, and John Nardi and Danny Greene. In the midst of the struggle, Licavoli gained permission from Tony Salerno, head of the Genovese family in New York, to initiate ten new official members, including Tommy Sinito in 1977. Following his induction, wiretapped conversations demonstrated that Sinito was one of the main figures behind the Cleveland Mafia's move into narcotics.
This move exacerbated the existing tensions between the local rivals. The wave of violence that followed, taking the lives of DANNY GREENE and John Nardi among several others, prompted Mayor Dennis Kucinich to initiate action against the Cleveland Mafia in 1978, a move that infuriated local mob bosses. According to newspaper and magazine reports at the time, Mr. Sinito allegedly approached a man he thought was a contract killer, but who actually was an undercover police officer from Maryland. The initial plan was to kill Kucinich during a parade. Later the plan changed to kill him as he ate breakfast at Tony's Diner on W. 117th St. and Lorain. Sinito, however, never followed through with the order (see MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF DENNIS J. KUCINICH).
In the wake of the investigations that followed, Sinito denied taking part in the plot and no charges were ever filed. But Sinito did spend the last fifteen years of his life behind bars. Sinito was convicted in the early 1980s of federal drug charges, conspiracy, tax-evasion and loan sharking. In 1986, he plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in connection to the 1981 execution murder of his former bodyguard, David Perrier, in Trumbull County. Prior to his conviction, Sinito also operated a gift basket business, which federal prosecutors argued was a cover for his underworld activities.
Sinito married Irene B. Mitroff in 1960. Irene died in a Lake Erie boating accident. Sinito had a second wife, Kristine. He was seeking early release from the state parole board when he died of a heart attack at the Belmont Correctional Institution near St. Clairsville, OH. Sinito is buried in Knollwood Cemetery, MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, OH.