Michael “Trigger Mike” Coppola (1904 in New York – October 1, 1966) was a New York City mobster who became a caporegime of the 116th Street Crew, with the Genovese crime family. Coppola headed many Genovese family criminal operations from the late 1930s until the early 1960s. He should not be confused with the Michael “Mikey Cigars” Coppola, a current mobster of the Genovese crime family.
Michael was born to Giuseppe and Angelina. He was the brother of Ralph, John, Vincent, Louis, Helen, Amelia, Josephine and Mary. He stood at 5’5 and weighed 155 pounds. He was first arrested in 1941 for burglary, then later assault, murder and drug dealing. Coppola entered the ranks of the New York mafiosi with a reputation as a sadistic and violent gunman during Prohibition. Following the end of theCastellammarese War gang war in New York, Coppola became a high-ranking member of Charles “Lucky” Luciano’s family. In 1936, following the conviction of Luciano on prostitution charges and later underbossVito Genovese’s fleeing the country on a murder charge, Coppola was left in charge of the Luciano crime family criminal operations including a monopoly on New York’s artichoke supply and Harlem’s numbers racket, worth over $1,000,000 a year. He controlled Mason Tenders Locals 47 and 13 of the Laborers Union. Local 13 secretary-treasurer George Cervone was murdered in 1961 during a bitter struggle for control of the local. Shortly thereafter, his brother, Basil Cervone, assumed control, and eventually Basil’s sons, Joseph and Basil, Jr.
Despite the former Luciano gunman’s rise to power, Coppola’s trouble in his personal life would be a source of ongoing problems throughout his life. After his marriage to his first wife Doris Lehman in 1943, according to Coppola’s second wife Ann Coppola, her death was claimed to have been the result of overhearing Coppola’s plans to assassinate New York Republican Party political activist Joseph Scottoriggio in response to his opposition to Marcantonio. Reportedly murdered by her husband a day after giving birth to prevent her from testifying against him (her scheduled testimony was postponed due to her pregnancy); Scottoriggio would later be murdered in 1946.
In 1960, Coppola was one of eleven men officially listed in the Black Book by Nevada state officials, barring his entry into Nevada casinos. That same year, Ann Coppola filed for divorce, supposedly due to Coppola supplying drugs to her daughter, and later agreed to testify against Coppola in an income tax investigation. As a result, Coppola ordered several gunmen to kidnap and assault her. Found severely beaten on an isolated beach, Ann Coppola continued with the investigation. In April 1961, Coppola was indicted on four counts of income tax evasion. Following a mistrial, Coppola pled guilty and was fined $40,000 and sentenced to four years in prison.
Ann Coppola herself, who claimed she also suffered mental and physical abuse from Coppola, fled to Europe with $250,000 of the crime families’ money following Coppola’s imprisonment for tax evasion in 1962. While staying in Rome, Italy, she sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (with certain portions addressed to then-U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy) detailing the criminal activities of the Luciano crime family as well as a letter to the incarcerated Coppola before committing suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Following his release from Atlanta Federal Prison in 1963, Coppola was unable to regain his previous power and lived in obscurity until his death at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts three years later.
A Gangster Guns Down A Little Boy In Harlem, 1931