Fiaschetti, Michael (1881-1960) - New York PD

Born Morolo, Italy, Feb. 8, 1882.

Died Brooklyn, NY, July 29, 1960.

Detective Michael Fiaschetti might be forgotten but for a boastful 1928 autobiography entitled, "The Man They Couldn't Escape." (After a printing in England, it was published in the U.S. with the title "You Gotta Be Rough.") In the book, Fiaschetti describes his adventures as a member of and a commander of New York's Italian Squad.

A native of central Italy (about 50 miles east of Rome), Fiaschetti arrived in the U.S. about 1895. He and his family spent some time in the Boston area before moving to New York. Fiaschetti was naturalized an American citizen. He joined the New York Police Department in 1908 and was initially assigned to a beat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Fiaschetti quickly won appointment to serve under Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino on the NYPD Italian Squad. He worked with Petrosino for just half a year. The young detective clearly idolized the tough Petrosino, who was known for somewhat brutal tactics. In his autobiography, he noted that he acquired a preference for physical force and a collection of knowledgeable stool pigeons over the subtler deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes. He also scoffed at the code of omerta. Criminals on their deathbeds may not inform on the guy who shot them, Fiaschetti argued, but that's only because there's no way that could benefit them (and it could be dangerous for the loved ones they leave behind). But, if given a choice between being sent up the river and ratting on a criminal confederate, Fiaschetti said nearly every underworld character would sing.

Fiaschetti battled kidnappers, black handers and lottery racketeers during his career. While he was not directly involved, the death of the powerful Giosue Gallucci, racket king of Italian East Harlem, occurred during Fiaschetti's tenure.

The Italian Squad was gradually dismantled after Petrosino's 1909 assassination in Sicily. The squad was briefly resurrected under Fiaschetti's leadership years later. In 1920, the new squad chief traveled to Italy in disguise, duplicating the assignment that cost Petrosino his life. Fiaschetti's "old school" methods and tactlessness with political leaders resulted in the end of the Italian Squad in 1922.

Fiaschetti ran a private detective agency for some time and toured the country giving lectures on law enforcement. He returned briefly to public service when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York appointed him third deputy police commissioner in charge of city markets. That position was eliminated in 1938.

He died in the summer of 1960 at the Veterans' Administration Hospital in Brooklyn.

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