'Mr. Migs,' Ex-don, Dies At Age 100

Posted: March 04, 1993

Antonio Domenic Pollina accomplished what few godfathers of crime families ever expect to do: He lived to be 100 years old.

Pollina, known as "Mr. Migs," turned 100 last September. He died Feb. 27.

He was buried yesterday in Holy Cross Cemetery following a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Monica's Church in South Philadelphia.

Pollina was responsible for the late crime boss Angelo Bruno's nickname, the "Docile Don."

Frank Friel, an organized crime expert who tracked the Philadelphia crime family and delved into its history during the six-year mob war of the 1980's, said Pollina and Bruno were at one time competitors for boss.

Pollina had been named "don" by one of Philadelphia's first mob bosses, Guisseppe "Joe Ida" Idda, shortly before Idda fled to Italy to avoid being indicted by federal authorities.

Pollina considered Bruno a rival and ordered his underboss to kill him. But the underboss, Ignazio Denaro, a Sicilian like Bruno, warned Bruno instead, Friel said.

Bruno took his complaint to New York, to another Sicilian, Carlo Gambino, who promised to intercede for him with Lucky Luciano's recently formed National Commission, a board formed to arbitrate disputes among crime figures.

Gambino, then head of the commission, approved Bruno as the godfather in Philadelphia and Bruno was granted permission to kill Pollina, the sitting don.

"No, let him live," Bruno decided, figuring the fallout from a murder contract would only cause him more problems.

Thus, Friel said, Bruno was dubbed the "Docile Don."

Pollina was a suspect in a number of murders over the years, but was never convicted.

There was the case of Jacob Dupelnick, a farm owner in Salem County, N.J., who leased his land to Pollina so he could brew liquor during Prohibition.

Somehow federal agents found the still and arrested Dupelnick, who admitted renting the land for $10 a month to "tough-looking guys from Philadelphia," Friel said.

To prove his innocence, Dupelnick offered the agents the license tag number of one of the renters' cars. Agents traced the tag to Pollina.

"Everything is fine until the principal witness never shows up for trial," said Friel. "There's no answer at his door, police gain entrance and tables and chairs are knocked over, the place is a bloody mess. And guess who has not been seen from that day until this?"

Mr. Migs would never admit it, when Friel and another organized crime officer interviewed him a few years ago. Even though he was well into his 90s, Pollina, who had a round, stubborn face, would reply only with a smirk and a hint of recognition in his eyes.

Pollina claimed he was not responsible for his actions because of his advancing senility, Friel said.

Pollina also figured prominently in the first highly publicized episode of mob warfare in Philadelphia, Friel said.

On Memorial Day 1927, several mobsters went gunning for the Zanghi brothers in broad daylight at 8th and Christian streets. "Musky" Zanghi saw the guys coming and hid in a nearby barber shop, said Friel. His brother, Joseph Zanghi, and Vincent Cocuzzo died in a hail of gunfire.

Musky testified against the others. Five were acquitted including Pollina; John Avena, the father of mob lawyer Salvatore Avena, and Salvatore Sebella, the first mob boss of the La Cosa Nostra family in Philadelphia.

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