Colorado has had it's share of Mafia personalities and one of the most colorful was Joseph "Scotty" Spinuzzi who was a member of the mob and was a link between the crime families of Al Capone in Chicago and Frank Costello in New York. In 1971 the task force "The National Council on Crime and Delinquency" listed Mr. Spinuzzi as the head of organized crime in the state.

Joseph Spinuzzi, was born on March 26, 1910 in Pueblo (it was known as "Little Chicago"), Spinuzzi was known as a handsome man with a short temper. It has been said that the former Colorado bosses Charles Blanda and James "Black Jim" Colletti found it difficult to keep Spinuzzi control, they felt that he brought unwanted attention to the Colorado organization. Charles Blanda frequently said that "Spinuzzi was often a problem" and he tended to be a "loose cannon".

Spinuzzi, who was said to be involved in the vending-machine business and also owned a bar with his brother Tony "Turk" Spinuzzi, he would have a long history of problems with the law. He was charged with everything from bootlegging, burglary, counterfeiting, income tax evasion, theft, extortion in Las Vegas, and numerous counts of gambling and bookmaking, his name seemed to always be in the newspapers.

On September 15,1960, Spinuzzi was at Pueblo's Five Queens Club with Harry J. Ricci and Joseph Parlato the manager of the club and three friends of 29 year old black piano player James D. Scott, when tempers flared over an argument with the bartender over 25 cents that was put into an unplugged juke box. When James Scott joined the argument the men were thrown out of the club by Parlato and Ricci, soon a crowd gathered to watch as the men shouted threats and began throwing punches.

The fight came to an end when Spinuzzi came from inside of the club and ordered Scott's friends to leave the area while threating to "blow their brains out" if they didn't. Scott's friends took the threat seriously and left as the three men left Spinuzzi, approached James Scott and argued with him, he held a gun close to Scotts head while hitting him and kicking him. The two men began to wrestle and Scott fell backward with his hand in front of his face and Spinuzzi on top of him. Witnesses say they heard a gunshot and Spinuzzi got off of Scott and fled the scene with the gun still in his hand.
The police could not immediately locate Spinuzzi, following the incident Spinuzzi accompanied by well-known Pueblo attorney Vasco G. Seavy. Spinuzzi, turned himself in. His jail time was brief, he was released from jail by Judge S. Phillip Cabibi on a $50,000 bond.

Officers investigating the crime hinted that the reason for the murder might have stemmed from the racial differences because the men were black, who were accompanied by a white girl. This would later become an issue in the trial, which began six months later in March 1961.
At the close of the people vs Spinuzzi, his defense attorney Vasco Seavy moved to strike the murder charges and requested a verdict of acquittal. The Judge Blickhahn granted his motion related to the first and second-degree murder charges which left only the charges of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter to be considered. The next day Seavy rested his case and based on the second motion the judge dismissed both the other charges and he instructed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty on all counts. In accordance with the judge's ruling that is just what the jury did, and Spinuzzi walked out a free man. Judge Blickhahn would go on to explain to local newspapers that no one had seen who fired the shot that killed Scott.

Prosecutor Kikel, immediately filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court and a year after the trial, the court handed down a unanimous decision that criticized Judge Blickhahn's rulings in the case. They indicated there were a number of errors made in the Spinuzzi case. First, it indicated that Judge Cabibi should not have released the defendant on bail. Even though the Colorado Constitution stated that individuals were bailable, this rule did not apply to capital offenses “when (as in this case) the proof is evident or the presumption great.”

Since it had not been asked to in District Attorney Kikel’s original appeal, the court did not rule on the issue of double jeopardy, therefore, on March 12, 1962, Kikel obtained a new warrant from Judge Cabibi and again had Spinuzzi arrested. After 15 days of incarceration, during a judicial hearing, Spinuzzi was released on an order from Judge Max C. Wilson of Canon City who stated that “any attempt again to try Spinuzzi for murder would constitute double jeopardy.” Once again Scotty walked the streets of Pueblo, Colorado, a free man.

In 1969 James "Black Jim" Colletti stepped down as head of the Pueblo "family" and Joseph "Scotty" Spinuzzi took over the family until his death on September 6, 1975.