Niagara Gazette

Opinion

December 8, 2013

GLYNN: Reporter taps into phone line to get scoop

Niagara Gazette — Cliff Spieler, a former Niagara Gazette reporter and editor, had an uncanny skill for getting a news story, despite the obstacles.

 In pre-computer days, under deadline pressure, it was common practice for a reporter to jot down the facts and call the story into the newsroom where a rewrite staffer would handle the copy. Spieler was fast and accurate. He was a pro at covering all bases in a breaking story.

I was reminded of his unique talents when I read a chapter in the new book, “DiCarlo: Buffalo’s First Family of Crime,” by Thomas Hunt and Michael A. Tona (Volume 11-From 1938). As you might expect, there are countless references to Stefano Magaddino who is the 1960s was considered the “irrefutable lord paramount” of an organized crime territory that stretched from the Buffalo-Niagara area to Toronto. The Magaddinos were well represented at the infamous 1957 crime convention that drew more than 50 underworld figures to the tiny town of Apalachin, N.Y., about 15 miles from Binghamton.

Magaddino’s case, like those of his mob friends, was in and out of the federal court for years, Nothing much came out of the crime convention except the harsh reality that the Mafia was still alive and healthy. In the end, the government ‘s case was reduced federal gambling charges.

Magaddino’s lawyers consistently made excuses for their client. Finally, U.S. Commissioner Maxwell Edmund Maxwell decided that if Magaddino was too ill to appear in the Buffalo federal court, he would simply travel to Dana Drive, Lewiston, to perform his role: to arraign the bed-ridden Magaddino, 77. Since it was impossible to allow all the media to invade the home, the group elected Spieler as the “pool reporter.” An excellent choice; he knew all the players (having covered the crime beat for years) and was bound to capture every detail in the makeshift courtroom.

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