San Jose Mafia boss Angelo Marino was linked to many Mafia Families. He worked closely with Los Angeles crime family rat Frank “Frankie Bomps” Bompensiero, and San Francisco organized crime Family boss James “Jimmy” Lanza. Marino’s father was a member of the Pittsburg LA Cosa Nostra and a Bonanno family ally.
Angelo Marino was charged with his son, Sal Marino, for the murder of another father and son, Orlando and Peter Catelli. Read Scott Herhold, for Mercurynews.com.
By Scott Herold
A month before I arrived at the Mercury News in 1977, our fair city was convulsed with a killing that shined klieg lights on what had been an open secret: the existence of the Mafia in San Jose. It went down in history as the “cheese case.”
For the next decade and a half, in a fight fueled by deep pockets, the courts wrestled with what happened on the night of Oct. 11 at the California Cheese Co. offices, a 10-acre industrial plant near Highway 101 and Interstate 280.
At bottom, the tale turned on the fiery emotions of two fathers and two sons, each son more volatile than his older-line Italian father. Because of its strange sequence, the slaying never deserved the name of organized crime: It was anything but organized.
As you read accusations of errant, coldblooded killings by modern gangs — a trial involving San Jose’s El Hoyo Palmas crew has just opened in Superior Court — it’s worth recalling a time when a mob-related murder was deeply personal.
What made the cheese case so striking — and, ultimately, so embarrassing for the mobsters — was that the father of the dead man lived to tell the story, having survived a bullet to his head as he muttered a prayer over his slain son.
The story, drawn from court records, began with a madman’s idea: Peter Catelli, 24, an unemployed wannabe-informant for the FBI, thought he could extort cheese company owner Angelo Marino, 53, a man identified by state prosecutors as a high-level member of the Mafia in San Jose