Gallucci, Giosue (1864-1915)

Born Naples, Italy, Dec. 10, 1864.

Killed New York, NY, May 21, 1915.

Gallucci reigned as the king of the Italian Harlem rackets from the turn of the Twentieth Century to his assassination in 1915.

Gallucci arrived in the United States about 1891. By 1898, American authorities already were complaining about his criminal activity and seeking to have him deported. They noted that he and his brothers, Genaro, Vincenzo and Francesco, had criminal records in Italy before they crossed the Atlantic. Giosue Gallucci's record in his native country included arrests for theft and blackmail.

With great influence over his fellow Italians in East Harlem, Gallucci established strong political and business connections. He employed Neapolitan and Sicilian street gangs as his enforcers and established successful local criminal enterprises, as well as legitimate businesses, including a coffeehouse, a bakery and a cigar factory.

Gallucci's base of operations was a building at 318 East 109th Street, which housed his living quarters in addition to his coffeehouse and bakery.

The more lucrative of Gallucci's underworld rackets included an Italian lottery and a protection fee his men extorted from sellers of produce.

Gallucci's brother Vincenzo was murdered Nov. 20, 1898, reportedly on orders from an Italian "secret society similar to the Mafia" (likely the Neapolitan Camorra). Two gunmen laid in wait for him at the corner of Canal and Mulberry Streets in Manhattan and shot him as he arrived there. Francesco D'Angelo and Luigi LaRosa were accused of the killing. They pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were given prison sentences of 20 years and 15 years, respectively.

Genaro Gallucci's activities as a collector of protection payments caught the attention of authorities, and he fled New York City for a time. When he returned in the late summer of 1909, New York Police captured him and immigration officials began efforts to deport him to Italy. On Nov. 14, 1909, Genaro Gallucci was shot to death while inside his brother's East 109th Street business.

Though Giosue Gallucci was called the "king" of the East Harlem rackets, he was also victimized by Black Hand extortionists. He was especially harassed by Neapolitan gang leader Aniello "Zopo the Gimp" Prisco, who was believed responsible for killing Genaro Gallucci.

To resolve matters, Gallucci set up a meeting with Prisco on the evening of Dec. 16, 1912. Prisco probably did not expect an ambush as the meeting was planned for a barbershop run by his allies, the DelGaudio brothers. But Gallucci took suddenly ill and could not leave the back room of his East 109th Street bake shop. He sent a messenger to find Prisco and bring him to the shop.

When "Zopo" arrived, he was promptly shot in the head by Gallucci bodyguard John Russomano. The king told the police the killing was in self-defense. He asserted that Prisco had come to rob him of $100. Russomano, he said, drew a pistol. Prisco turned to fire at Russomano, and Russomano got off the first shot. The police accepted the explanation - not surprising, considering Gallucci's political clout - but Russomano and Gallucci were marked for death by the survivors in Prisco's gang.

Gallucci's prestige began to wither in 1913, as a gang war with Prisco's old outfit stretched on, and he was scrambling to maintain control of the underworld in 1914 and 1915. Rival lotteries were springing up right under his nose. Gallucci and his son Lucca were gunned down at Lucca's coffeehouse business, 336 East 109th Street, on May 17, 1915.

The two victims were brought to Bellevue Hospital. Lucca died there the next day. Gallucci lingered until May 21 before succumbing to his injuries. His death left open the coveted position of East Harlem underworld/political boss and triggered gangland feuding. (Gallucci's story is similar to that of Chicago's "Big Jim" Colosimo, a criminal and political leader who was victimized by extortionists and apparently murdered by men he previously commanded.)

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