Crime town, USA: The Youngstown FBI Agent Who Brought Down the Mob

Youngstown, Ohio has a very colorful history of crime and corruption, reaching back to its early days at the turn of the century. An economic boom brought teams of immigrants, and fat cat politicians loomed the land, turning an eye from the gambling and racketeering rings cropping up all over town. Consequently, this little Podunk city in the heart of the Midwest became the breeding ground for organized crime.

Over the year, mob presence solidified. The public began fearing their safety, bombings and sounds of gunshots were regular and frequent, till by the 1950’s, mob-led corruption had become a multi-million-dollar industry. For a decade crime continued to escalate, leading to one Saturday evening Post in 1963 to call it“Crime Town, USA”.

Two factions emerged: The Lenny Strollo Pittsburgh faction, and the Cleveland Mafia’s “Crab” bothers family. Turf wars ensued, and killing was rampant.This was the environment 29-year-oldFBI agent Bob Kroner walked into in 1976.

Kroner wasn’t immediately successful at wrangling the mob. In fact, it took him nearly 3decades before he saw the tide turn. During that time, there were many unfortunate deaths, so many sudden disappearances that they became known of as “The Ghosts of Youngstown”.

…such was the climate of corruption at the time. Many attempts at infiltrating the mob’s stronghold were made by Kroner, all to little avail, other than making him enemy number for Strollo. In 1985, the economy crumbled, leading to a complete mob takeover of the little town. But, in 1994, kroner switches tactics. He starts going after the little guy, the low-end crime dealers and runners connected to mob dealing. They hold sting operations and raids, attempting to work their way up the Mafia crime ring. Eventually, it worked. In 1997, 28 mob arrests were made in connection to a killing involving the Strollo family’s go-to guy: Bernie Harris the Jew, and the 28 arrested all started singing like canaries. This was the beginning of the end of an era of corruption long past it’s time to end.




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