Racco, Rocco (1868-1909)

b. Grotteria, Calabria, Italy, 1868
d. (hanging) New Castle, PA, Oct. 26, 1909

Rocco Racco served for a time as leader of a Calabrian criminal organization in the area of Hillsville, PA. The testimony of rival gangsters helped to convict Racco of killing a state law enforcement officer, and Racco was executed in 1909.

Racco, born to Giuseppe and Maria Camisi Racco in Grotteria, Italy, arrived in the United States in the summer of 1899. At the time, he had relatives and friends in New York City and upstate and western New York. He initially traveled to Albany and then moved on to western New York. Within a short time, he was settled in the mining community of Hillsville, PA. Italian immigrants in the area generally worked in limestone mines that served Pittsburgh's steel industry. Racco did some work as a miner, opened a store near what was known as the Peanut Quarry, invested in an insurance company and engaged in a variety of extortion.

The men of the region were victimized by a primitive criminal racket, closely resembling a pyramid scheme, in which they were compelled on penalty of death to become members of a Calabrian "Black Hand Society." Membership money flowed upward toward the leader, who retired after a time, turning the lucrative post over to his successor. The society in Hillsville was said to be linked with similar organizations in major U.S. cities. As leader of the local society, Racco set membership dues, targeted new victims and passed death sentences.

A rebellious faction in the Hillsville Black Hand Society rose up against Racco early in 1906. A quarry workers strike split the underworld organization, with Racco and his loyalists siding with employers and rebels siding with striking workers. Racco quickly found himself facing charges of violating the underworld code by sleeping with another society member's wife, an offense punishable by death. A panel of Black Hand leaders from New York City, Buffalo and elsewhere was assembled to sit in judgment on the Hillsville boss. Racco was saved from the death penalty but removed from his leadership post.

In the same period, State Game Warden Seely Houk became terribly unpopular with the men of Hillsville's Italian colony as he strictly enforced hunting and fishing laws. In the summer of 1905, Houk was himself arrested for mistreating an Italian boy who violated the law by fishing on Sunday. Houk was convicted of assault and battery but managed to postpone sentencing.

Luigi Ritorto, a clerk employed in Racco's store, went hunting for ground hogs in February 1906. Ritorto borrowed Racco's shotgun and "Paolo,"  a light-colored hunting dog that was the favorite of the several dogs owned by Racco. Game Warden Houk spotted Ritorto as he entered a wooded area near the Peanut Quarry. As he noticed Houk, Ritorto ran into the woods. The dog, Paolo, ran toward the game warden. Houk pulled the trigger on his shotgun, and the dog was killed. When Racco learned of the incident, he openly swore to kill Houk. While possibly overcome by emotion at the loss of his favorite dog, Racco also may have been hoping to improve his standing in the colony by squaring off with the hated Houk and perhaps return to leadership of the Black Hand Society.

Early in March, 1906, Houk disappeared. Shortly after that, Rocco Racco's brother-in-law Vincenzo Murdocca left Hillsville and sailed back to his Italian homeland. In April, when Houk failed to appear at his sentencing hearing for the assault and battery of the boy who dared to fish on a Sunday, authorities went looking for the game warden.

Houk's remains were discovered in the muddy banks of the Mahoning River where railroad tracks passed a wooded area of Hillsville. The man's chest had been hit with a load of shot. Another apparent close-range shotgun blast had struck Houk in the head, tearing away the lower portion of his face.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners set a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Houk's killers. Private citizens pooled resources to call in the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Several Pinkerton men, including the accomplished Francis P. Dimaio, went undercover in Hillsville to gain information on the Houk killing and the Black Hand Society.

In September 1906, Racco and his wife were convicted of stealing a sum of money. Though not yet named as a suspect in the Houk murder, Racco was known to be a former Black Hand Society leader and was widely believed to have taken part in the recent slaying of local resident William Duff. After convincing local friends to contribute $2,000 bail, Racco was released pending appeal and promptly disappeared. Detectives located him in mid-October in New York City, where he was preparing to board a steamship for Italy. His appeal was denied and, in January, he began serving a sentence of a year in prison.

Just one week later, much of the leadership of the Black Hand Society in the region was arrested. This seems due in large part to information obtained by Pinkerton agent Dimaio. The current boss of the society, Joe Bagnato managed to escape to Italy with an estimated $30,000 just as the arrests were made. Several other Black Hand leaders were convicted of blackmailing, assault, robbery and other offenses.

Racco's prison sentence had almost expired when a local judge had him brought to New Castle, Pennsylvania, to face additional Black Hand robbery charges. In May, 1908, Racco was charged with conspiring with Vincenzo Murdocca in the murder of Seely Houk. Agent Dimaio met repeated with Racco in an effort to have him confess to his involvement and implicate Murdocca. Racco refused to cooperate: "I will not speak. I will go to the gallows a brave man."

Racco adhered to the underworld code of silence even when other Black Hand Society members testified against him in court. On Sept. 19, 1908, Racco was convicted of first-degree murder. The local press reported that he was in good humor when he received the news. A legal appeal was defeated in March of 1909, and Racco was formally sentenced to die by hanging. Still, Dimaio attempted to obtain Racco's cooperation against the escaped Murdocca, but still Racco refused. A final appeal, financed by contributions from the Italian community, was brought to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. The governor granted a stay of execution until Oct. 26, so the appeal could be processed.

On the eve of his execution, Racco informed the press that he would make a statement the next morning as the noose was placed around his neck. The local press wondered if he would reveal the workings of the Black Hand Society or his accomplice in the Houk killing. At 10 o'clock on Oct. 26, Racco offered only a denial of any role in the killing: "Gentleman, I did not see Seely Houk killed. I did not see any one kill him, and I have no suspicion of any person. I pardon everybody and expect to go to Jesus right now. Goodbye."


  •   "Black Hand Society (Seeley Houk Murder) - Hillsville PA," Lawrence County Memoirs, lawrencecountymemoirs.com, May 2014, accessed May 4, 2015.
  •   Commonwealth vs. Rocco Racco, Court of Oyer & Terminer,  Lawrence County, PA, No. I, June Term, 1908. (Thanks to Margaret Janco.)
  •   Horan, James D., The Pinkertons: The Detective Dynasty that Made History, New York: Bonanza Books, 1967.
  •   Horan, James D., and Howard Swiggett, The Pinkerton Story, London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1952.
  •   Passenger manifest of S.S. Tartar Prince, departed Naples on June 23, 1899, arrived New York City on July 9, 1899.
  •   Roco Racco death certificate, no. 94896, filed Oct. 27, 1909, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  •   Seely Houk Murder and the Black Hand Investigation, Box 117, Folders 1, 3, 4, 5, Criminal Case Files, 1861-1962, Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, Library of Congress Manuscript Division.
  •   Warren, Louis S., "The Hunter's Game," New York Times: Books, nytimes.com, 1997, accessed May 4, 2015.

  •   "Hillsville Italians found insurance co.," New Castle PA Herald, Feb. 10, 1906, p. 1.
  •   "Charter notice," New Castle PA Herald, Feb. 19, 1906, p. 2. 
  •   "Charter notice," New Castle PA Herald, Feb. 26, 1906, p. 7.
  •   "Big reward out for murderers," Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, April 26, 1906, p. 4.
  •   "Corpse of game warden lies on river's bottom," Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, April 27, 1906, p. 1.
  •   "Finding of body explains a mystery," Pittsburgh Daily Post, April 27, 1906, p. 1.
  •   "True bills found against twenty-six by the grand jury," New Castle PA Herald, June 6, 1906, p. 8.
  •   "Duff murder trial begins," New Castle PA Herald, June 8, 1908, p. 1.
  •   "Assassin may be captured," New Castle Pa Herald, Aug. 29, 1906, p. 3.
  •   "Grand jury cases for coming term," New Castle PA Herald, Sept. 1, 1906, p. 12.
  •   "Law's heavy hand," New Castle PA Herald, Sept. 14, 1906, p. 1.
  •   "Rocco Racco in custody," New Castle PA Herald, Sept. 15, 1906, p. 1.
  •   "Friend of murderer of 'Squire Wm. Duff now behind the bars," New Castle PA News, Oct. 17, 1906, p. 1.
  •   "Rocco Racco wants trial," New Castle PA News, Nov. 28, 1906, p. 5.
  •   "Rocco Racco case is before court," New Castle PA News, Dec. 5, 1906, p. 16.
  •   "Rocco Racco refused new trial yesterday; opinions handed down," New Castle PA Herald, Feb. 26, 1907, p. 2.
  •   "Judge Porter has secrets of dreaded Black Hand society," New Castle PA Herald, March 5, 1907, p. 1.
  •   "Five leaders of 'Black Hand' are taken by police," New Castle PA Herald, March 11, 1907, p. 1.
  •   "Five Black Hand men jailed at New Castle," Pittsburgh Post, March 11, 1907, p. 5.
  •   "Black Hand suspects get hearing last night; will be tried in June," New Castle PA Herald, March 15, 1907, p. 16.
  •   "Five alleged leaders of Black Hand society," New Castle PA Herald, March 20, 1907, p. 1
  •   "Black Hand men indicted by grand bury," New Castle PA News, June 12, 1907, p. 7.
  •   "Father-in-law of Rocco Racco behind the bars," New Castle PA Herald, July 16, 1907, p. 1.
  •   "Blackmail charged vs. Black Hand men," New Castle PA Herald, June 17, 1907, p. 1.
  •   "Italians are found guilty by the jury," New Castle PA News, June 19, 1907, p. 2.
  •   "In gloom of state prison, Racca and pals of Black Hand Society may find time to repent of crimes," New Castle PA Herald, June 22, 1907, p. 1.
  •   "Wilkinson gets L. Luccisano his release," New Castle PA Herald, July 17, 1907, p. 1.
  •   "Houk's slayer may be caught," New Castle PA Herald, Oct. 15, 1907, p. 1.
  •   "Real king of Black Hand in this county is now in jail here," New Castle PA Herald, Dec. 30, 1907, p. 8.
  •   "Calaute confesses he was with those who killed Houk," New Castle PA Herald, Jan. 11, 1908, p. 1.
  •   "Jim Brown lands his man safe in jail," New Castle PA Herald, Jan. 23, 1908, p. 1.
  •   "Murderer Calute out," New Castle PA Herald, Jan. 27, 1908, p. 1.
  •   "News of nearby towns," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 28, 1908, p. 8.
  •   "Rocco Racco isn't guilty," New Castle PA Herald, May 29, 1908, p. 3.
  •   "Three pen prisoners are here to testify," New Castle PA Herald, June 3, 1908, p. 8.
  •   "24 true bills by grand jury," New Castle PA Herald, June 5, 1908, p. 3.
  •   "Duff murder trial begins," New Castle PA Herald, June 8, 1908, p. 1.
  •   "Rocco Racco's trial may be continued," New Castle PA Herald, June 8, 1908, p. 3.
  •   "Calaute proves a bad witness today," New Castle PA Herald, June 10, 1908, p. 1.
  •   "'Not on your life,' says Joe Calaute when asked if he were a married man," New Castle PA Herald, June 10, 1908, p. 1.
  •   "Two lawyers named as counsel for Racco," New Castle PA Herald, June 10, 1908, p. 8.
  •   "Sanati's letters to Racco are read," New Castle PA Herald, June 11, 1908, p. 1.
  •   "Racco in good humor," Pittsburgh Daily Post, Sept. 21, 1908, p. 8.
  •   "'It's just as I expected' is Rocco's comment," New Castle PA Herald, March 2, 1909, p. 1.
  •   "Rocco Racco to be hanged," New Castle PA Herald, March 9, 1909, p. 1.
  •   "Rocco Racco receiving aid of Black Hand?" New Castle PA Herald, March 18, 1909, p. 1.
  •   "Racco appeals from sentence," New Castle PA Herald, March 24, 1909, p. 10.
  •   Brown, James H., "James Brown tells facts about Mafia," New Castle PA Herald, April 17, 1909, p. 3.
  •   "Respite is granted," Harrisburg PA Telegraph, Sept. 17, 1909, p. 1.
  •   "Black Hand leader faces death calmly," Pittsburgh Daily Post, Oct. 26, 1909, p. 2.
  •   "Hanged at New Castle," Washington D.C. Evening Star, Oct. 27, 1909, p. 1.
  •   Obituary, Butler PA Citizen, Oct. 27, 1909, p. 1.
  •   "Denied guilt as he swung," Montour PA American, Oct. 28, 1909, p. 1.

Campagna, Louis (1900-1955)

b. Brooklyn, NY, June 27, 1900.
d. Miami, FL, May 30, 1955.

A close associate of Al Capone, Louis "Little New York" Campagna is believed to have briefly served as boss of the Chicago Outfit in the post-Capone era.

Like Capone, Campagna was born in Brooklyn, New York, and relocated to Chicago. He became a trusted aide and bodyguard to Capone.

Following Capone's imprisonment for tax evasion, Campagna became the top lieutenant for Frank Nitti. Nitti, Campagna and several other leaders of the Chicago Outfit were indicted in 1943 by a federal grand jury in New York for using their control of a screen and stage employees union to extort a million dollars from movie company executives. Just hours after the indictment, Nitti committed suicide. Campagna appears to have served as the Outfit's top man until the extortion case resulted in his conviction.

Anthony Accardo and Paul Ricca later emerged as the leading figures in the Outfit.

Campagna connections were credited with arranging for a more convenient prison term for Outfit leaders, having them moved from distant Atlanta Federal Prison, to more accessible Leavenworth, Kansas, and arranging for a quick parole in 1947.

Campagna maintained a home in Berwyn, Illinois, just west of Cicero, and also had a palatial estate in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

In spring of 1955, Campagna and his wife vacationed in the Bahamas. The returned to the U.S. by plane on May 16, landing in Miami. Two weeks later, Campagna went on a fishing trip in the waters off Miami. He reportedly suffered a heart attack on the fishing boat. He was pronounced dead at Miami.

Campagna's Benton Harbor estate was purchased several months later by the Seventh Day Adventist Church for use as a sanatorium.


  •   Cook County Illinois Birth Certificates Index.
  •   Florida Death Index.
  •   New York City Birth Records
  •   Passenger manifest of aircraft N1080M, Chalk's Airline, departed Bimini, Bahamas, arrived Miami, Fl., 5:25 p.m., May 16, 1955.
  •   Roberts, S.A. John W. Jr., "La Cosa Nostra, Chicago Division," FBI report, file no. 92-6054-677, NARA no. 124-10287-10243, July 16, 1964, p. 5.
  •   United States Census of 1930, Illinois, Cook County, City of Berwyn, Enumeration District 16-1988.
  •   United States Census of 1940, Illinois, Cook County, City of Berwyn, Ward 3, Enumeration District 16-15.
  •   Yost, Newton E., "La Cosa Nostra," FBI report, file no. 92-6054-683, NARA no. 124-10208-10406, July 22, 1964, p. 18.

  •   "Capone 'enforcer' shot by detective," New York Times, Dec. 20, 1932, p. 8.
  •   "Gang leader Nitti kills himself in Chicago after indictment here," New York Times, March 20, 1943, p. 30.
  •   "Louis Campagna, notorious Capone gangster, dies," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 31, 1955, p. 2.
  •   "Adventists buy estate of gangster," Dixon IL Evening Telegraph, Aug. 26, 1955, p. 6.

Battaglia, Salvatore (1908-1973)

b. Illinois, Nov. 4, 1908.
d. Chicago, IL, Sept. 7, 1973.

Known as "Sam" or "Teets," Battaglia was an important figure in the post-Capone Chicago Outfit and appears to have served as a short-term acting boss of the organization.

Battaglia first earned notice in October 1930, when he was involved in holding up the wife of Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson. Mrs. Thompson was driven home by a police officer. As she reached her apartment building and stepped from the automobile, gunmen relieved her of an estimated $15,500 in jewelry.

In the late 1950s, Battaglia was again in the news for refusing to answer questions put to him by the U.S. Senate's McClellan Committee. In August, 1958, he was one of thirteen men cited by a unanimous Senate for contempt of Congress.

Battaglia was a top lieutenant in the regime of Sam Giancana in the early 1960s. When Giancana was imprisoned for contempt of court in 1965 and departed the U.S. for Mexico the following year, Battaglia served as acting boss of the Chicago Outfit.

By 1966, Battaglia faced his own problems with law enforcement. He was convicted in spring 1967 of extorting money from a construction company. "Teets" claimed he was framed. He was sentenced to 15 years.

In prison, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was paroled in late August 1973 from the medical center for federal prisoners at Springfield, Missouri. Eleven days later, he died.

Morelli, Frank (1896-1965)

b. Providence, RI, Feb. 21, 1896.
d. Providence, RI, Aug. 10, 1965.

Butsey, c. 1920.
Frank "Butsey" Morelli was an early leader of Italian organized crime in Rhode Island, mentoring a number of later Mafiosi, including Raymond Patriarca and Henry Tameleo. Morelli and some of his brothers long have been suspected of involvement in the April 1920 South Braintree, Massachusetts, robbery-murders for which Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in August 1927.

Historians attempting to pinpoint Morelli's birth and death dates have been misled by statements made by former New England mobster Vincent Teresa in his autobiographical book, My Life in the Mafia. Teresa indicated that Morelli was born in Brooklyn and moved with his family to Rhode Island around the time of World War I. Teresa stated that Morelli was nearing a death from cancer a few years after the conclusion of the Kefauver Committee hearings in 1951. Efforts to correct these errors have been hindered by the fact that Frank Morelli had a different name at the time of his birth.

Morelli was born Adolfo Molarelli to parents Gennaro "John" and Filomena "Fanny" Caruolo Molarelli in Providence in 1896. He was the last of five boys born to the couple.

The Molarelli family had spent about five years in New York, and one of Frank's brothers (Ferdinand "Fred") was born there before the clan relocated to Rhode Island. The Molarelli family, originally from Italy (probably the area of Foggia), moved to southern France following the birth of their first son in February 1881. This son was called "Stazio," generally a nickname for Anastasio, Eustacio and similar names, but became "Joe" when the family reached the U.S. Two more boys - Nicolo "Mike" and Pasquale "Patsy" - were born in France.

The family name gradually changed in Rhode Island from Molarelli to Morelli. Frank appears to have discarded his given name of Adolfo in the 1930s, as Adolf Hitler gained power in Germany.

The Morelli boys grew up in a congested North End Italian neighborhood along Ledge Street, Charles Street and Marietta Street (much of the area population is of Italian descent today). Joe Morelli became leader of a burglary gang that included his brothers and a number of other young men from the neighborhood, including Joseph "Gyp the Blood" Imondi, Anthony Mancini and Albert "Bibba" Barone.

Gennaro's death in 1918 coincided with the start of his sons' trouble with the law. Joe, Fred and Patsy were arrested for stealing shipments of shoes from freight trains in 1919. The reported holdup of a payroll truck resulted in additional arrests the same year. Mike Morelli left Providence about this time to become a resident of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Filomena Morelli appears to have been placed in the city-run Dexter Asylum by 1920. The asylum cared for elderly, poor and mentally ill residents.

Fred Morelli and Bibba Barone reportedly were behind bars in April of 1920, but other members of the gang were free on bail pending trial, when shoe factory paymaster Frederick Parmenter and guard Alessandro Berardelli were shot to death in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Some authorities believed the Morelli gang to be responsible, but law enforcement eventually focused its attention on two other men - Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti - linked with a violent gang of political radicals responsible for a series of bombings.

Joe Morelli
Because the Morelli gang was charged with robbing railroad cars, they faced trial in federal court. Joe, Frank, Fred and Patsy Morelli and Bibba Barone were convicted in June 1920. All were sent to Atlanta Federal Prison. Gang leader Joe Morelli received the longest sentence, 12 years. Much of the rest of his life was spent in federal prisons due to several other convictions. He died of cancer in August 1950, after penning his memoirs.

Prison correspondence revealed that Frank Morelli had connections in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Troy, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Jersey City, New Jersey; Montreal, Canada; and Havana, Cuba. Morelli was released from Atlanta in February of 1924, as Prohibition Era bootleggers were organizing into cartels.

While establishing himself as leader of the Providence underworld, Morelli was involved in some violent incidents. Just months after his release, he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. In the following year, he was the victim of a stabbing. In 1931, authorities suspected but could not prove that Morelli was involved in the house-bombing of a Providence gambling racketeer. Morelli soon became known as leader of gambling rackets in the region and moved himself and his wife into a new home at 315 Mount Pleasant Avenue in western Providence.

As Frank immersed himself in the rackets, brother Patsy appears to have taken over control of the robbery gang.

The post-Castellammarese War Mafia reorganization recognized Rhode Island as a territory of the New England crime family. At the time, the organization was dominated by bosses from the Boston area, but Morelli remained the recognized leader in Providence.

At the conclusion of Prohibition, Mafiosi invested in gambling rackets and sought to expand their territories to tourist areas in Florida. Morelli participated in these endeavors. He was arrested on suspicion in Miami Beach, Florida, in the fall of 1936.

Butsey, c.1947
A decade later, as Raymond Patriarca returned to Providence after a term in Massachusetts' Charlestown State Prison, Morelli began turning control of the rackets over to Patriarca. Patriarca soon would rise to command the regional crime family. Around 1947, Morelli is believed to have retired from the day-to-day racket operations, but that year saw him involved twice with big-name mobsters.

In early February 1947, he traveled to Havana, Cuba, with New York-based Mafiosi Philip Lombardo and Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno. The trip was made during Charles "Lucky" Luciano's brief stay in Havana. In early November, authorities suspected Morelli of providing a hideout for the wife and father-in-law of New York Mafioso "Trigger Mike" Coppola. The two were wanted as material witnesses to the 1946 murder of East Harlem politician Joseph Scottoriggio.

Law enforcement investigations of gambling in the Providence area in the 1950s continued to turn up evidence of Morelli involvement, though Morelli was by then under treatment for cancer of his jaw and throat. Mobster Vincent Teresa later recalled that Morelli had surgery to remove a portion of his jaw.

Through the early 1960s, the FBI considered Morelli to be one of the decision-makers in the New England regional Mafia.

Morelli died in 1965 at the age of 69, following a return of his cancer. No notice of his death was published in the press. He was quickly and quietly buried at St. Ann's Cemetery in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Documents and books:
  •  Air Passenger Manifest of Pan American NC-88893, trip no. 424, departed Havana, Cuba, arrived Miami, Florida, on Feb. 9, 1947.
  •  Certificate of Death, Rhode Island State Archives, Town or City no. 2146, State File no. 6127, Aug. 10, 1965.
  •  Ehrmann, Herbert B., The Untried Case: The Sacco-Vanzetti Case and the Morelli Gang, New York: The Vanguard Press, 1933.
  •  Frank Morelli prisoner file, no. 11332, Atlanta Federal Prison, National Archives and Records Administration.
  •  Joseph Morelli prisoner file, no. 11330, Atlanta Federal Prison, National Archives and Records Administration.
  •  Kehoe, S.A. John F. Jr., "The criminal commission, et al, Boston Field Division," FBI report BS 92-6054-136, Dec. 21, 1962, p. 3.
  •  Morelli, Joseph, "Introduceing the Most Famous Case in the World: The Sacco-Vanzetti Case and the Morelli Gang," Small Manuscript Collection, Harvard Law School Library.
  •  New York City birth records, certificate no. 10569, March 1, 1894.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Suevia, arrived New York City on June 1, 1891.
  •  Polk's Providence City Directory, Vol. 1934, Providence: R.L. Polk & Co., 1934, p. 664.
  •  Polk's Providence City Directory, Vol. 1937, Providence: R.L. Polk & Co., 1937, p. 798.
  •  Polk's Providence City Directory, Vol. 1938, Providence: R.L. Polk & Co., 1938, p. 798.
  •  Polk's Providence City Directory, Vol. 1941, Providence: R.L. Polk & Co., 1941, p. 530.
  •  Polk's Providence City Directory, Vol. 1942, Providence: R.L. Polk & Co., 1942, p. 566.
  •  Polk's Providence City Directory, Vol. 1943, Providence: R.L. Polk & Co., 1943, p. 562.
  •  Polk's Providence City Directory, Vol. 1945, Providence: R.L. Polk & Co., 1945, p. 480.
  •  Rhode Island Birth Records, Feb. 21, 1896.
  •  Rhode Island death records, Feb. 7, 1918.
  •  Rhode Island State Census of 1915, Providence County, Providence City, Ward 3, Congressional District 3, Representative District 5, Enumeration District 267.
  •  Rhode Island State Census of 1935, Providence, no. 351191.
  •  Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 035-24-4165, Sep. 7, 1965.
  •  Teresa, Vincent, with Thomas C. Renner, My Life in the Mafia, Garden City NY: Doubleday & Company, 1973.
  •  The Providence Directory, Providence: Sampson & Murdock Company, 1905, p. 507.
  •  The Providence Directory, Providence: Sampson & Murdock Company, 1918, p. 548.
  •  The Providence House Directory, Providence: Sampson, Murdock & Co., 1896, p. 471.
  •  The Providence House Directory and Family Address Book, No. 8, 1899, Providence RI: Sampson, Murdock, & Co., 1899, p. 330, 571.
  •  United States Census of 1900, Rhode Island, Providence County, Ward 3, Enumeration District 30.
  •  United States Census of 1910, Rhode Island, Providence County, Ward 3, Enumeration District 180.
  •  United States Census of 1920, Rhode Island, Providence County, Ward 2, Enumeration District 188.
  •  United States Census of 1940, Rhode Island, Providence County, Ward 5, Enumeration District 80.
  •  World War I draft registration card, No. 429, Ward 3, Precinct 6, Providence RI.
  •  World War I draft registration card, No. 432, Ward 3, Precinct 6, Providence RI.
  •  World War I draft registration card, No. 2983, No. 563, Boston MA, June 4, 1917.
  •  World War II draft registration card, serial no. U-1116.
Periodicals (by date):
  •  "Joseph Morelli takes stand in own defense," Boston Globe, May 21, 1920, p. 12.
  •  "Sacco-Vanzetti motion heard," Boston Globe, Sept. 13, 1926, p. 1.
  •  "Madeiros' confession read in court today," Boston Globe, Sept. 14, 1926, p. 1.
  •  "Morelli denies he did So. Braintree shooting," Boston Globe, Sept. 15, 1926, p. 32.
  •  "Says make of murder car has significance," Boston Daily Globe, Sept. 16, 1926, p. 1.
  •  "Concludes argument against new Sacco trial," Boston Daily Globe, Sept. 17, 1926, p. 16.
  •  "Sacco, Vanzetti denied new trial," Boston Globe, Oct. 24, 1926, p. B1.
  •  "New trial denied to Sacco, Vanzetti; appeal to be made," New York Times, Oct. 24, 1926, p. 1.
  •  Frankfurter, Felix, "The portentous case of Sacco and Vanzetti," St. Louis MO Post-Dispatch (originally published in Atlantic Monthly), April 13, 1927, p. 23.
  •  "Report of Governor's Advisory Committee in Sacco-Vanzetti Case," North Adams MA Transcript, Aug. 8, 1927, p. 16.
  •  "Morelli gang under arrest," Boston Globe, April 25, 1928, p. 11.
  •  "Joseph Morelli takes poor debtor's oath," Boston Daily Globe, Sept. 26, 1928, p. 12.
  •  "War on gang in Providence," Boston Globe, Dec. 10, 1931, p. 12.
  •  Keegan, William J., and Jay Nelson Tuck, "Scottoriggio perjury indictments awaited as one jury ends probe," New York Post, Nov. 6, 1947, p. 5.
  •  "Nationally backed three-city gambling ring thrives in New England," Detroit Free Press (originally published in Providence Journal-Bulletin), May 4, 1950, p. 4.
  •  "Phones removed after 'booking' charged by paper," Berkshire (Pittsfield MA) Eagle, May 4, 1950, p. 2.
  •  "Sacco case figure dies," New York Times, Aug. 28, 1950, p. 11.
  •  Murphy, Jeremiah V., "Underworld chief? 'Prove it,' he says," Boston Globe, Feb. 26, 1967, p. 13.
  •  "Patriarca is released in $25,000 bail; arrested for first time in 20 years," Nashua NH Telegraph, June 22, 1967, p. 20.
  •  Krupa, Gregg, "Patriarca," Providence Journal, Sept. 6, 1987, p. Mag-6.

Messina, Gaspare (1879-1957)

Born Salemi, Sicily, Aug. 7, 1879.
Died June 15, 1957.

Gaspare Messina was one of just two men known to have served as temporary boss of bosses of the American Mafia. He is also distinguished among Mafia leaders by his lack of arrests and apparent competence as a legitimate businessman.

Messina was born August 7, 1879, to Salvatore and Gasparina Clemente Messina in the inland western Sicilian town of Salemi, province of Trapani. He moved to the United States when he was twenty-six, shortly after his marriage to Francesca Riggio, twenty-five. The couple sailed from Palermo on Nov. 10, 1905, aboard the S.S. Citta di Napoli and arrived in New York City on Nov. 25. They went to meet Messina's cousin, Francesco Accardi, at 715 Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn.

The Messinas settled in Brooklyn for a time, where Gaspare ran a bakery. They resided at 143 Throop Street, near Flushing Avenue, with two of Francesca's siblings at the time of the 1910 U.S. Census. They remained in the borough through the births of two sons, Salvatore Joseph on Jan. 1, 1911, and Luciano on Jan. 31, 1913. In 1915, the family relocated to Boston. Son Vito Anthony was born in that city on April 27, 1915. Daughter Gasparina Francesca was born there about two years later, on May 4, 1917. The family home was located at 330 North Street, in an Italian immigrant community close to the North End Boston wharves. Almost immediately upon his arrival, Messina was recognized as an underworld authority in his new city, suggesting he was backed by important people.

Mafioso Nick Gentile noted in his memoirs that reigning boss of bosses Salvatore D'Aquila inserted loyal men into Mafia organizations around the country as spies. It is possible that Messina's move to Boston was initiated by D'Aquila. Law enforcement learned by 1919 that Messina was regarded as "rappresentante" of the Boston Mafia. The term "rappresentante" has become synonymous with "boss," but it may have held a different meaning at the time. The Italian word translates to "representative," which does not suggest "boss." The position may have been related to regional and national councils of Mafiosi, as discussed by Gentile. If so, we are left to wonder whether Messina was a representative from the Boston area to a greater council or a representative from a council seeking to impose order on the Boston-area underworld.

Messina initially ran a bakery business across the street from his Boston home. With the arrival of the Prohibition Era, he launched a wholesale grocery at the North End's 28 1/2 Prince Street, across from the massive St. Leonard's Roman Catholic Church. His partners in that business were Paolo Pagnotta and Frank Cucchiara.

Pagnotta quickly disappeared from the partnership following an unfortunate arrest-related appearance in the local newspapers. On Feb. 17, 1925, Boston Police investigated a report of a gunshot-damaged automobile at the Court Garage on Arlington Street. Two officers waited at the garage for the vehicle owner to show up. After a short time, they encountered and arrested Pagnotta, 50, of 462 Saratoga Street; Filippo Arrigo, 47, of 119 Hemenway Street;  Jerry Longobardi, 35, of Fleet Street; and Frank Ferra, 28, of Fleet Street. None of the men could adequately explain the damage to the car. Pagnotta and Arrigo said they were not even present when the damage occurred. Longobardi claimed that occupants of a passing vehicle shot at them without provocation. Longobardi and Ferra were found to have handguns. They were charged with carrying concealed weapons. (Pagnotta may have been related to Rocco Pagnotta of East Boston. Rocco was a suspect in the murder of Francesco Mondello in the summer of 1908. Rocco died in October of 1926.)

Cucchiara, who like Messina was originally from Salemi, continued on in the wholesale business for some time. He later became owner of a cheese company in the North End. Police suspected Cucchiara of involvement in gangland murders late in 1931, and Cucchiara would later be identified as the only New England Mafioso known to have been in attendance at the 1957 convention in Apalachin, New York. (In January of 1976, Cucchiara, then seventy-nine, and his sixty-nine-year-old wife were found dead of gunshot wounds in their Belmont, MA, apartment. Cucchiara's wound appeared to be self-inflicted.)

The wholesale food business apparently paid well. In August 1924, Gaspare Messina took a trip to Italy. He returned Dec. 2 aboard the S.S. Patria with four hundred dollars in his pockets. (With him on this return voyage was Antonino Passannanti, who years earlier had been suspected of involvement in the assassination of New York Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino.) The following year, the Messinas moved across the Charles River to a home at 49 Pennsylvania Avenue in Somerville. By the summer of 1927, Messina also had another address. He had a New York City home at 346 East 21st Street. It was while living at that address that he filed his petition for citizenship with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 4, 1930.

The move out of Boston to Somerville coincided with a move by boss of bosses D'Aquila from Brooklyn, New York, to the Bronx. D'Aquila had been waging a losing war against Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and his Morello-Terranova allies since the early 1920s, and his Bronx move had the look of a retreat. In Boston, Messina had shown some independence from D'Aquila during the period, as he treated warmly visiting anti-D'Aquila Mafioso Nick Gentile. Messina's independence may have won him admiration and a measure of security. Shortly after Messina's return to New York, on Oct. 10, 1928, D'Aquila was shot to death on a Manhattan street less than half a mile from the Messina residence.

War again erupted for the Sicilian underworld society in 1930, as Castellammarese Mafiosi across the country joined with former D'Aquila followers to oppose the rule of new boss of bosses Giuseppe Masseria. As Mafia leaders struggled to find a diplomatic solution to the trouble, Masseria stepped down from his post and Gaspare Messina was selected temporary boss of bosses - apparently in recognition of his even-handedness. Messina organized a large convention at Boston in December 1930 but was unable to resolve the difficulties. The Castellammarese War concluded with Masseria's assassination on April 15, 1931.

As Prohibition drew to a close, Messina set aside his apparently lucrative food wholesaling business and became president of Neptune Oil Corporation, based at T Wharf in Boston. The Messina family returned to its Somerville home.

Messina's wife Francesca died in the middle of the 1940s (records differ on whether it was 1946 or 1947). Years later, the seventy-three-year-old former Mafia boss traveled back to Sicily for a visit of several months. He sailed from New York on Aug. 9, 1952, aboard the S.S. Conte Biancamino. He returned on the S.S. Saturnia on Dec. 10.

Messina died in Somerville five months before the ill-fated Apalachin convention.

  •  Boston City Directory, 1919, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1938, 1941, 1942.
  •  Certificate of Arrival, 2-39510, March 7, 1930, Bureau of Naturalization.
  •  Declaration of Intention, filed U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Sept. 15, 1916.
  •  Flynn, James P., "La Cosa Nostra," FBI report no. 92-914-58, NARA no. 124-10337-10014, July 1, 1963.
  •  List of In-Bound Passengers, S.S. Saturnia, departed Palermo on Nov. 29, 1952, arrived New York City on Dec. 10, 1952.
  •  List of Outward-Bound Passengers, S.S. Conte Bianamano, departed New York City on Aug. 9, 1952, bound for Palermo, Sicily.
  •  Massachusetts Vital Records, Index to Deaths 1946-1950 Kettles-Mulvehill, Volume 109, Boston: Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  •  Massachusetts Vital Records, Index to Deaths 1956-1960 Kimel-Morandis, Volume 121, Boston: Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Citta di Napoli arrived New York City Nov. 25, 1905.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Patria departed Palermo on Nov. 20, 1924, arrived New York City on Dec. 2, 1924.
  •  Petition for Citizenship, no. 167233, filed U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York on April 4, 1930.
  •  SAC Boston, "La Cosa Nostra AR-Conspiracy," FBI Memorandum, file no. 92-6054-2516, NARA no. 124-10302-10009, Feb. 19, 1969.
  •  Somerville MA City Directory, 1927, 1939.
  •  Somerville City Directory, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929-1930, 1934, 1940.
  •  United States Census of 1910, New York State, Kings County, Ward 21, Enumeration District 504.
  •  United States Census of 1920, Massachusetts, Suffolk County, City of Boston, Precinct 1, Ward 5.
  •  United States Census of 1930, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, City of Somerville, Ward 1, Enumeration District 9-410.
  •  World War I Draft Registration, Sept. 12, 1918, Boston, MA.
  •  World War II Draft Registration, serial no. U-728.
  •  "Seize four in garage on Arlington St," Boston Daily Globe, Feb. 17, 1925, p. 14.
  •  "Three slay man in street and flee," New York Times, Oct. 11, 1928.
  •  "Racket chief slain by gangster gunfire," New York Times, April 16, 1931, p. 1.
  •  "Police mystified in slaying of 'Boss,'" New York Times, April 17, 1931, p. 17.
  •  Bonanno, Joseph, with Sergio Lalli, A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983
  •  Gentile, Nick, Vita di Capomafia, Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1963.
  •  Valachi, Joseph, The Real Thing - Second Government: The Expose and Inside Doings of Cosa Nostra, unpublished manuscript, Joseph Valachi Personal Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 1964.

LePore, Vincenzo (1899-1931)

Born Abruzzo region, Italy, 1899.
Killed Bronx NY, Sept. 10, 1931.

Vincenzo "Jimmy Marino" LePore was one of a small number of Salvatore Maranzano loyalists murdered following Maranzano's Sept. 10, 1931, assassination. His killing helped to give life to the "Night of Sicilian Vespers" legend in the U.S. Mafia.

Vincenzo LePore was the third child (second son) born to Alphonse and Crescenza D'Altri LePore, residents of the Abruzzo region of Italy. In the early 1900s, the family emigrated from Italy to the U.S. Six-year-old Vincenzo crossed the Atlantic in October of 1905 with his mother, his grandmother Filomena Fadrianni D'Altri, his brothers Raffaele and Ettore, and his sisters Filomena, Carmela and Giovanna. The family settled initially on Carmine Street in Manhattan, but soon moved to Washington Avenue in the Bronx.

New York Times
The Great Depression appears not to have severely impacted Vincenzo LePore's finances. The 1930 U.S. Census found the 31-year-old living with his wife, three children and his wife's uncle in a $6,000 home he owned on Barker Avenue in the Bronx. At the time, LePore is believed to have been a Mafioso associated with the organization run by Salvatore Maranzano. He soon moved his family into a large apartment at 1518 St. Peter's Avenue in the Bronx.

The Castellammarese War was under way in New York City at that time, and the Sicilian-Italian underworld was in a state of chaos. LePore was reputed to be a "muscle man" and racketeer in the Bronx, where the murders of several important Mafia leaders left organization hierarchies in shambles.

LePore may have been connected with a bootlegging scheme to create palatable whiskey by steeping shavings from the inside of old liquor barrels in alcohol. Newspaper accounts from June 1930 name a "John Lepore" as one of the 136 individuals and businesses accused of participating in that racket. Vincenzo LePore was known to be engaged in bootlegging, and the local press called him "the boss of the grape racket around the Webster Avenue yards of the New York Central Railroad." This was a reference to the sale of grape concentrate - known as "wine bricks" - used in winemaking.

Just two hours after Salvatore Maranzano was murdered in his Manhattan offices, Vincenzo LePore was gunned down in the Bronx. (Other Maranzano supporters were murdered in New Jersey and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additional Mafiosi were targeted in the Bronx. Years later, the deaths - greatly magnified in number - became the basis for a legendary "Purge" orchestrated by Charlie Luciano. There is no evidence to link Luciano to the killings and every reason to believe that individual Mafiosi took advantage of the elimination of Maranzano to act against rivals who had been supported by Maranzano.)

LePore had taken his two young daughters - ages 4 and 6 - to have their hair cut. He picked them up at his mother-in-law's home, 540 East 187th Street, and drove them to an Arthur Avenue barbershop. LePore was standing in the shop's doorway, complaining about the late summer heat, when he was struck in the head and chest by six bullets. He died at the scene. Some witnesses stated that LePore was shot by gunmen passing by in an automobile. Others said an auto stopped nearby, a gunmen emerged, walked up to LePore and shot him, and then returned to the auto.

When police went to LePore's home, they discovered a revolver, a rifle and a single-barreled shotgun, all loaded, in the apartment.

LePore was buried at St. Raymond's Old Cemetery in the Bronx. His surviving family moved from St. Peter's Avenue. By 1935, they resided in a Bathgate Avenue apartment.


  •  Molloy, James T., "Crime conditions in the New York Division," FBI report, file no. 62-9-34-811, NARA record no. 124-10348-10069, Nov. 27, 1963, p. 4.
  •  Organized Crime and Illicit Traffic in Narcotics, Hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, U.S. Senate, 88th Congress, 1st Session, Part 1, Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1968, p. 232-233.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Citta di Napoli, departed Naples on Sept. 21, 1905, arrived New York on Oct. 6, 1905.
  •  United States Census of 1910, New York State, New York County, Ward 9, Enumeration District 134.
  •  United States Census of 1920, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 7, Enumeration District 407.
  •  United States Census of 1930, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 6, Enumeration District 3-506.
  •  United States Census of 1940, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 7, Enumeration District 3-1126.
  •  "La Cosa Nostra," FBI report no. 92-6054-740, NARA record no. 124-10205-10471, Aug. 21, 1964, p. 75.

  •  Maas, Peter, The Valachi Papers, New York: Putnam, 1968, p. 116.
  •  Perlmutter, Emanuel, "Informer tells more," New York Times, Oct. 3, 1963, p. 1.
  •  Valachi, Joseph, The Real Thing, Second Government: The Expose and Inside Doings of Cosa Nostra, unpublished manuscript, 1964, Joseph Valachi Personal Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, p. 365-366.
  •  "Rum shavings ring pays $14,800 fines," New York Times, June 5, 1930, p. 12.
  •  "Baccus bottle case last in rum chip drive," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 5, 1930, p. 3.
  •  "Silent on killing, 6 witnesses seized," New York Times, Sept. 11, 1931, p. 2.
  •  "Four witnesses indicted," New York Times, Sept. 12, 1931, p. 4.
  •  "James Le Pore," Find A Grave, findagrave.com (accessed March 25, 2016).

Alo, Vincent (1904-2001)

Born New York City, May 26, 1904.
Died Florida, March 9, 2001.

Vincent Alo
Vincent "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo was a key figure in the post-Prohibition Genovese Crime Family and a liaison between the Sicilian-Italian Mafia and the organization of Meyer Lansky. His career was the inspiration for a number of fictional underworld characters, most notably "Johnny Ola" of The Godfather Part II movie.

Alo was born in 1904 in East Harlem to Salvatore and Giulia (or Julia) Scalzo Alo, immigrants from Cosenza, Italy. Salvatore worked as a tailor in a clothing factory. Vincent Alo had an older sister, Elizabeth, and two younger brothers, Frank and Joseph. (Two other sisters show up in census records for 1905 and 1910, but they are missing from later censuses, suggesting they did not live long into childhood.) In the early 1910s, the Alo family moved to Hoffman Street near Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Alo left school and went to work as a clerk for a Wall Street company after just a single year of high school. Reportedly frustrated by the clerical work, in the early 1920s Alo began participating in robberies.

In October of 1923, he was caught by police following a jewelry store robbery. He was charged with second degree robbery and possession of a firearm. A conviction the following month resulted in a sentence of five to twelve years in prison. Inside Great Meadow State Prison in Washington County, New York, Alo did further work as a clerk.

Following his release, "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo became connected with Mafiosi engaged in rackets in the Bronx. This apparently provided him a measure of protection from prosecution. Alo was arrested in March 1932, once again for robbery and firearm possession, but managed to be discharged the following day. During the 1930s, he and his underworld colleagues were affiliated with the organization run by Charlie Luciano. Alo was believed to be among the leaders of a policy (lottery) ring operating in Bronx and Westchester Counties of New York in the mid-1930s.

In this period, Alo and his associates established gambling operations in eastern Florida. The FBI noted that Alo was one of the partners in the Plantation Casino in Broward County, Florida, in 1936. Other partners included Julian "Potatoes" Kaufman, Giuseppe "Joe Adonis" Doto and Jake Lansky, brother of Meyer Lansky. Alo rented a home on Dewey Street in Hollywood, Florida, which became his winter racket headquarters.

Meyer Lansky
Alo took a bride in August 1936. His wife, Florence Rose Gelinas Miller, was previously married and was the mother of two sons. Alo, his new wife and two stepsons, lived together on Holland Avenue in the Bronx and Dewey Street in Hollywood, Florida. While in Florida, Alo developed a love of the sport of golf.

The FBI learned that Alo became a partner in The Farm casino in Broward County by late 1939 and that in that winter he hosted a gathering at his Florida home attended by organizers from the International Longshoremen's Association in New York.

In the next decade, the FBI was told that "Jimmy Blue Eyes" had become a top Harlem lieutenant in the crime family then commanded by Frank Costello. Alo's home addresses changed. In New York, he moved into an apartment building at 315 Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In Florida, he moved to 1228 Monroe Avenue near Hollywood Lakes and Hollywood Beach.

His Florida business interests expanded to include a partnership with Meyer and Jake Lansky in the Club Greenacres casino in Hollywood; a seven-and-a-half percent interest in the Colonial Inn casino in Hollywood; and a share of the Ha-Ha Club in Hallandale. Alo was believed to be a stand-in for Joe Adonis in Florida. The Colonial Inn was a substantial underworld endeavor, involving Meyer and Jake Lansky, Frank Costello friend Frank Erickson, Joe Adonis and Richard Melvin. Alo was also alleged to be a partner with Frank Erickson in a horse race bookmaking racket operated out of the Hollywood Beach Hotel. Alo was one of a number of underworld figures who frequently visited the Wofford Hotel in Miami Beach. Other regular guests were Adonis, Costello, the Lanskys, Clevelanders George "King" Angersola and Alfred "Big Al" Polizzi, New Jersey racketeers Abner "Longie" Zwillman and Guarino "Willie Moore" Moretti, Youngstown Ohio gambling boss Joseph DiCarlo, and Detroit gambler William "Lefty Clark" Bischoff.

The FBI was told that the Ha-Ha Club in Hallandale was "a night club which catered to sex perverts." Later in the 1940s, perhaps after Alo ended his financial relationship with it, the club was targeted by local law enforcement. County officials shut the business down in 1947, stating that "its cast is composed of men who impersonate women and that its performances are conducted in a suggestive, indecent and obscene manner." The ownership of the Ha-Ha Club at that time was said to be Federal Amusement Company and Charles "Babe" Baker. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the closing of the club for conducting "lewd, indecent or nasty" performances and noted "the lawful evidence presents a dirty picture."

In the post-World War II years, Alo worked alongside Meyer Lansky in setting up gambling operations in Havana, Cuba. Alo was noted in immigration records returning with his wife from a brief trip to Cuba in April of 1946.

Alo was arrested for vagrancy by New York Police in August 1947. The vagrancy charge was baseless but it allowed the police to question Alo about his underworld relationships and about the Jan. 8 murder of waterfront labor leader Anthony Hintz. Alo admitted knowing Frank Costello, Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky. When presented with a list of names of suspects in the Hintz murder, Alo admitted not only knowing them but also seeing them in Florida shortly before the murder was committed. He claimed not to have any awareness of the murder plot, telling investigators, "If they wanted to kill someone, that's their business."

Federal agents determined that Alo was part of an "Eastern Criminal Syndicate," including Costello, Erickson, Adonis and the Lanskys, that in 1949 operated the plush Hallandale Beach casino known as Club Boheme. The same group was said to have run the Club Greenacres and the recently closed Colonial Inn. In May of 1950, records seized from the New York City offices of Frank Erickson defined his business relationships with alleged Syndicate members, as well as Mert Wertheimer and others in Broward County, Florida.

The discovery was made just in advance of hearings before the U.S. Senate's Kefauver Committee. In July, Daniel P. Sullivan, operating director of the Crime Commission of Greater Miami, testified before the Kefauver panel. He detailed the underworld gambling operations in Broward, Palm Beach and Dade Counties. According to Sullivan, the Colonial Inn gambling partnership included the Lanskys, Alo, Adonis, Erickson, Bert Briggs, Claude Litteral and Samuel L. Bratt. Originally, the group included Detroit gamblers led by Mert Wertheimer, Reubin Mathews and Danny Sullivan, but the Detroit interest was bought out by New Yorkers after 1946.

Following Kefauver hearings into Florida gambling rackets, Florida Governor Fuller Warren became involved in the fight against the rackets. Warren removed a local sheriff for accepting bribes and ordered an investigation of law enforcement corruption at Daytona Beach. Grand juries were formed to investigate the Florida rackets. These issued indictments against Alo, the Lanskys, Bischoff, Litteral, Bratt, George Sadlow, Frank Shireman and others for their roles in the running of Colonial Inn, Club Greenacres and Club Boheme.

On Sept. 16, 1950, Alo and nine other accused gambling racketeers appeared in criminal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They all entered guilty pleas to the gambling charges. They were sentenced to pay cash fines. Alo, Bischoff, Louis Oliver and T.E. Alexander were fined $1,000 each. Jake and Meyer Lansky, Bratt and Sadlow were fined $2,000 each. Litteral and Shireman were fined $3,000 each.

New York Police began a harassment campaign against known hoodlums in 1957. Alo was rounded up with more than 150 other reputed racketeers. Most were charged with vagrancy. Alo was held for questioning for several days. It probably was not a coincidence that Alo afterward began spending much more of his time in Florida. He gave up his Riverside Drive apartment, but maintained a presence in Manhattan by renting rooms at 19 West 55th Street.

FBI reports in 1958 suggested that Jake Lansky represented the financial interests of "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo and Meyer Lansky in the operation of the gambling casino at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba.  Those interests, along with other investments by American racketeers in Cuban gambling enterprises, were lost following the Castro  revolution. The hotel-casinos of the Havana area were nationalized by Castro in 1960.

A police raid in September 1963 turned up records of a Bronx loan shark racket apparently financed by Vincent Alo. Bronx District Attorney Isidore Dollinger brought evidence to a grand jury that Alo, a top lieutenant of crime boss Vito Genovese, backed the enterprise. According to Dollinger, the racketeers lent an estimated $4 million a year, preying on indebted gamblers and charging interest rates as high as 156 percent. Alo's brother Frank, a Bronx resident, was called to testify before the grand jury. Frank Alo refused to make any statement, citing Fifth Amendment protections.

Sixty-one-year-old Vincent Alo was himself called before a federal grand jury in December of 1965. Officials identified Alo as a top figure in Harlem and Bronx gambling rackets and said he also had influence in waterfront and garment center rackets.

A year later, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, California, investigated a fall 1965 gathering of mobsters in southern California. The meeting coincided with the Major League Baseball World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins. Attendees included Vincent Alo and Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno of the Genovese Crime Family, Miami Beach bookmaker Ruby Lazarus, and Jerome Zarowitz and Elliott Paul Price, gambling operators for Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Alo was believed to be part of another meeting of racketeers in 1969. That meeting reportedly occurred in Miami Beach, Florida. The meeting was said to have included Anthony "Big Tuna" Accardo, Paul "the Waiter" Ricca, John "Jackie the Lackey" Cerone and Dominic "the Angel" Angelini of Chicago; Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, Vincent Alo and Anthony "Tony Goebels" Ricci of New York. Officials surmised that fourteen Kansas City mobsters, arrested as they arrived in Miami a month earlier, were also to be part of the meeting. There was some speculation that Chicago racketeer Sam "Momo" Giancana, in self-imposed exile after serving a year in prison for contempt, was also to be present.

Though Alo was constantly under law enforcement scrutiny, he had avoided prison time since the jewelry store robbery sentence of his youth. The authorities began to catch up with Alo as he moved toward retirement. In October 1969, a federal grand jury in New York indicted "Jimmy Blue Eyes" for obstructing justice by giving false and evasive answers in a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. SEC previously questioned him about Mafia influence in the Tel-A-Sign advertising company.

'Johnny Ola'
Alo was convicted in September 1970 of two counts of giving false and evasive answers to the SEC. On Oct. 27, the sixty-six-year-old was sentenced to serve five years in Atlanta Federal Prison. He served three years of that sentence before being released. A year after he got out of federal prison, The Godfather Part II appeared in theaters. The character of "Johnny Ola" (played by Dominic Chianese), Italian aide to Havana's Jewish gambling czar Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg), paralleled Alo's earlier career.

"Jimmy Blue Eyes" was in his seventies when he next came to the attention of law enforcement. He was described in 1978 as a capodecina under Frank "Funzi" Tieri in the Genovese Crime Family. The Pennsylvania Crime Commission noted Alo's connection with Miami Beach attorney Alvin I. Malnik, who happened to own two resort hotels in the Pocono Mountains and who also happened to be a close friend of Meyer Lansky. According to the crime commission, Malnik once sent Alo to represent him in business negotiations. The commission stated that the Pocono resorts were home to money laundering, gambling, prostitution and other rackets.

Alo's old friend Meyer Lansky died at Miami Beach, Florida, early in 1983. Alo's wife Florence died in Las Vegas in April 1990. "Jimmy Blue Eyes" lived quietly another eleven years, dying in Florida in March 2001.


  •  Arrest record of Vincent Alo, New York City Police Department, Feb. 24, 1951.
  •  Daniel P. Sullivan testimony, Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce - Part 1, Florida, Hearings Before a Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, p. 152-174.
  •  Federal Amusement Company, a Florida corporation, and Charles (Babe) Baker, v. State of Florida, upon the relation of Frank Tuppen, appeal from the Circuit Court for Broward County, Supreme Court of Florida Division A, Oct. 3, 1947.
  •  Nevada Death index, April 8, 1990.
  •  New York City Birth Index, Certificate no. 23392, May 26, 1904.
  •  New York City Marriage Index, certificate no. 1907, June 6, 1902.
  •  New York City Marriage Index, Certificate no. 24281, Aug. 26, 1936.
  •  New York State Census of 1905, County of New York, Assembly District 33, Election District 10.
  •  New York State Census of 1915, Bronx County, Assembly District 34, Election District 68, Block 4.
  •  New York State Census of 1925, Washington County, Town of Fort Ann, Assembly District 1, Election District 1.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S. Britannia, arrived New York City on June 25, 1894.
  •  Passenger manifest of S.S Monarch, departed Hamilton, Bermuda, on Aug. 9, 1939, arrived Miami, Florida, on Aug. 11, 1939.
  •  SAC Miami, "Criminal Intelligence Program," FBI memorandum, MM 92-515, Sept. 5, 1963, p. 1
  •  Salvatore Alo Declaration of Intention, Supreme Court of New York at Bronx, No. 106279, April 21, 1931.
  •  Social Security Death Index.
  •  U.S. Census of 1910, New York State, New York County, Ward 12, Enumeration District 295.
  •  U.S. Census of 1920, New York State, Bronx County, Assembly District 7, Enumeration District 395.
  •  U.S. Census of 1930, State of New York, Nassau County, Hempstead Town, Seaford Village, Enumeration District 30-132.
  •  U.S. Census of 1940, State of Florida, Broward County, Hollywood City, Enumeration District 6-41.
  •  Vincent Alo fingerprint record, Federal Bureau of Investigation, May 28, 1971.
  •  "Vincent Alo," FBI memo, March 28, 1952, p. 1- 6.

  •  Carr, Charlie, New York Police Files on the Mafia, Hosehead Productions, 2012, p. 388.
  •  Janson, Donald, "Crime figures found involved in Poconos," New York Times, April 17, 1978, p. 1.
  •  Lansky, Meyer II, "The Real Johnny Ola: Vincent 'Jimmy Blue Eyes' Alo," The Blog, huffingtonpost.com, Dec. 15, 2014, updated Feb. 13, 2015, accessed March 1, 2016.
  •  Whitney, Craig R., "Realty man denies he knew of employe's alleged link to Mafia," New York Times, Jan. 24, 1970, p. 14.
  •  "3 balk at inquiry on loan-shark case," New York Times, Oct. 24, 1963, p. 18.
  •  "Alo, reputed Mafia figure, faces jail in S.E.C. case," New York Times, Sept. 29, 1970, p. 48.
  •  "Fem impersonators irk Florida court," The Billboard, Oct. 18, 1947, p. 38.
  •  "Florida crime drive is suddenly speeded," New York Times, Aug. 25, 1950, p. 40.
  •  "Miami Beach secret Mafia meet probed," Cumberland MD Evening Times, April 8, 1969, p. 1.
  •  "Police jail 155 hoodlums in New York," Troy NY Times, June 15, 1957, p. 8.
  •  "Reputed Mafia man indicted after an S.E.C. investigation," New York Times, Oct. 28, 1969, p. 16.
  •  "Senate group hearings on crime open here tomorrow," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 11, 1951, p. 2.
  •  "U.S. jury on coast said to investigate gamblers' meeting," New York Times, Dec. 18, 1966, p. 71.
  •  "U.S. jury hears Mafia figure," New York Times, Dec. 4, 1965, p. 28.
  •  "Vincent 'Jimmy Blue Eyes' Alo," Find A Grave, findagrave.com, accessed March 2, 2015.

Carey, Arthur (1866-1952) - New York PD

Born New York City, July 1866.
Died New York City, Dec. 13, 1952.

Arthur A. Carey was a second-generation police officer who served for almost forty years on the New York Police Department and led the department's Homicide Bureau for eighteen years.

He reportedly was born on Staten Island in July 1866 (a birth year of 1865 is sometimes seen) into the already large family of Henry and Elizabeth Carey. Henry, born about 1824, was an immigrant from Ireland; Elizabeth, born about 1830, was a native New Yorker. Arthur was raised in an Irish neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan.

Henry had died by the time of the 1880 federal census. With several children already off on their own, Elizabeth then was raising Arthur and three other siblings in an apartment on Christopher Street in Manhattan.

Arthur joined the police force on March 1, 1889. He learned his craft under Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes and Captain George W. McClusky. He was made a detective in 1892.

He took a bride, Lucy, in 1895. They eventually had seven children together. The family lived at first at 124 West 115th Street in Manhattan, but subsequently moved north to the Bronx. They lived in a number of locations in that borough, including an apartment on Nelson Avenue near Boscobel, within the Highbridge neighborhood, and a private home at 2792 Bainbridge Avenue, just northwest of Fordham University and the New York Botanical Garden.

Around the turn-of-the-century, Arthur's police work focused almost exclusively on homicide cases. He participated in the investigation of the 1903 barrel murder case and in the related arrest of the dangerous Tomasso "the Ox" Petto.

Carey was promoted to lieutenant in 1906 and captain the following year. He assumed temporary leadership of homicide detectives in 1908. Carey was moved out to command a Brooklyn precinct between 1910 and 1914 but then returned to the Homicide Bureau.

As a "murder man," Carey was regularly called upon to investigate the most horrific of crimes. He was a leader in the investigation of the 1920 Wall Street terrorist bombing that claimed dozens of lives. In 1921, he worked on a case in which the upper half of a woman, who had been beaten and strangled to death, turned up in a sewer excavation at Long Island City. He also worked on a number of gangland murders, including the Barrel Murder, the 1921 killing of Joseph "Joe Pep" Viserti and the 1928 killing of Arnold Rothstein.

He reached the rank of deputy inspector in 1926. Late in 1928, Police Commissioner Grover A. Whalen forced him into retirement, as the centralized detective system was dismantled.

He briefly continued his work as a sleuth for the Westchester County district attorney. In this period, Arthur, his wife and three of their children, lived on Seminary Avenue in Yonkers.

Carey's autobiographical Memoirs of a Murder Man was released in 1930. The book focuses on Carey's detective work in homicide cases and features a chapter on the Morello Mafia's infamous 1903 Barrel Murder. (Read this chapter on our website.)

By 1935, Arthur and Lucy were in retirement, living a 321 Bedford Park Boulevard in the Bronx, quite close to their former Bainbridge Avenue home.

Carey died Dec. 13, 1952, at his Bronx residence. He was 86 years old. His two oldest sons, Donald and Arthur Jr., had followed him into the New York Police Department. They were serving as detectives at the time of his death.


  •  New York State Census of 1915.
  •  New York State Census of 1925.
  •  United States Census of 1870.
  •  United States Census of 1880.
  •  United States Census of 1900. 
  •  United States Census of 1930.
  •  United States Census of 1940.
  •  Anderson, Isaac, "A murder man blows the gaff on crime," New York Times, July 6, 1930, p. Book Review 13.
  •  Carey, Arthur A., with Howard McLellan, Memoirs of a Murder Man, Garden City NY: Doubelday, Doran and Company, 1930.
  •  "Arthur Carey, 87, ex-inspector, dies," New York Times, Dec. 14, 1952, p. 90.
  •  "Detectives say they hope to find driver of horse," New York Evening World, Sept. 27, 1920, p. 8.
  •  "Half of slain woman's body found in pool," New York Tribune, Oct. 23, 1921, p. 8.
  •  "'Joe Pep,' ruler of Little Italy in Harlem, slain," New York Tribune, Oct. 14, 1921, p. 1.