Category: Morello

Joe Masseria – The Morello mafia family’s boss

Joe Masseria was nicknamed ‘The Boss’. He is regarded to be an uncouth man and enjoyed eating and killing immensely. He was New York City’s undisputed Italian boss, starting off in 1916, working his way to the top throughout the roaring 20s. He had left Sicily and migrated to New York in 1903, because of his murdering someone. On reaching New York City, he joined the Morello Gang, which is the initial organized Mafia family.

His life as a mafia boss

It was Nick Morello as well as Joe and Antonio Morello, his brothers who had headed the Morello gang. Masseira was treacherous, ambitious and greedy and did not prefer taking the back seat. After the imprisonment of Joe Morello, Maseeria had made plans for snatching reins of the mafia family.

In order to become its boss, he killed numerous loyalists of Morello. With the killing of Joe in 1916 and Nick killed by a rival faction, Masseria became the local rackets in charge. There were several attempts made on the life of Masseria, which he somehow escaped.

Masseria met Valenti for making peace, where the latter had come with two bodyguards. However, three members of Masseria ambushed and shot Valenti dead. He had hired youngsters like Vito Genovese, Luciano, Thomas Lucchese and Joe Bonano to work for him. It was Luciano, who impressed Masseria a lot, compelling him to make him his second-in-command.

Issues faced by Masseria

It was when Luciano began business with two Jewish mobsters that problems started, with Busy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Massieria is known to follow a stringent rule. He instructed his men to conduct business only with fellow Sicilians, which did not find favor with Luciano. The latter was eager to grab control of the mob and that of the rackets of Masseria.

Salvatore Maranzano was regarded to be another threat to Masseria’s supremacy in 1927, who hailed from Sicily and became Don Vito Cascio Ferro’s underboss, the powerful Sicilian Mafia boss. This led to Castellammarese War that started between Maranzano and Masseria. Luciano was loyal to Masseria in the first four years of the war, but later on sided with Maranzano to end the fight.

On 15th April, 1931, he had lured Masseria to come down to a Coney Island based restaurant, where he got killed by Bugsy Siegel, Joe Adonis, Albert Anastasia and Vito Genovese.

Giuseppe Morello – New York’s first Boss of Bosses

Giuseppe was also called ‘The Clutch Hand’ among the Mafia members. It was on 2nd May 1867 that he was born in Corleone, Sicily. Calogero Morello, his father had died, when he was just 5 years of age, after which Angelina, his mother got remarried to a Corlonesi mafia member named Bernado Terranova. This marriage culminated in another 2 daughters and sons. It was Terranova who had introduced Sicilian mafia partially to young Morello. Like other Mafia members, Morello was forced to leave Sicily in 1892 and went to the U.S. Another reason cited for his immigrating was being a suspect for murdering and running a counterfeiting ring. Even though, he reached the U.S., back in Sicily, the Italian government had found him guilty of counterfeiting case. In absentia, he was found to be guilty in September 1894 and got sentenced to imprisonment for 6 years and 45 days. Hence, he never came back to Italy.

His life in the States

He along with his family had settled in New York and worked for a year, before shifting base to Louisiana to seek opportunities. However, Morello had established the 107th Street mob before leaving. It was a gang that was engaged in small time racketeering as well as minor loansharking. As he had to shift base to Louisiana, he gave up the control of the gang to another person. The family in the new place had worked planting sugarcane for a short period of time and again moved to Texas for being employed as cotton pickers for about 4 years. But, being affected by malaria, they had to come back to the city of New York.

His life as a mafia

On his return, Morella again became the 107th street mob’s leader and expanded his territory. But on 11th June 1900, he got arrested for being involved in counterfeiting money, but was released due to lack of proper evidence.

He purchased a saloon in 1902 that became the gang’s official meeting place and by 1905, he had created within the United States, the biggest Mafia gang of Italian-American origin. Other gangs had recognized him as capo di-tutti capi, or boss of bosses. But on 15th November 1909, he along with Ignazio Lupio was arrested and sentenced for 24 years of hard labor.  His step brother Nicola had become the gang’s boss. After his release, Morello tried to gain back the position, but without much success. On 15th August 1930, he along with Joseph Perriano, a Masseria gang associate was killed.

Morello crime family – The earliest mafia family in the US

United States’ earliest mafia family is the Morello family, who were said to be based in the Italian Harlem of Manhattan. This family by defeating Brooklyn’s rival Neapolitan Camorra became the dominant Italian underworld gang.

Some aspects to understand

The Morello family was founded by Giuseppe Morello during the 1890’s and had Sicilian ethnicity. This mafia family was into different types of criminal activities such as murder, conspiracy, extortion, counterfeiting and racketeering.

Its mafia history

This family has its roots in Corleone, Sicily. It was in 1892 that Guiseppe had emigrated to the U.S. He along with his family had lived for a while in the city of New York, before moving to Louisiana and again in 1986 moved back to New York City.

The 107th Street Mob

After returning to New York, the brothers became popular as 107th street mob and at times known as the Morello Gang, which dominated Manhattan, East Harlem and parts of Bronx. A mobster named Ignazio Lup was the strongest ally of Giuseppe Morello, who controlled Manhattan’s Little Italy. Their alliance prospered in 1903, when a significant counterfeiting ring had began with Vito Cascio Ferro, the Sicilian Mafioso Don printing bills of $5 in Sicily to have it smuggled to the U.S. Morello is said to have employed several members belonging to the  counterfeiting operation. ‘Barrel murders’ which took place later, especially of Sr. Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Catania were assumed to have been done at the instance of the Morellos.

Rising power

The hold over Upper Manhattan was further consolidated by the Morello family. On 15th November 1909, the building that was being used by the Morellos in New York’s Highland place was raided by the city police as it was being used as a front to carry out counterfeiting operation. Huge amounts of Canadian and American counterfeit bills were recovered during this raid. About mafia members from the Morello family was arrested after letters were discovered by victims of Black Had from New Orleans. The arrested included Ignazio Lupo and Giuseppe Morello sentenced to imprisonment for 25 and 35 years respectively and sent to Atlanta Federal Prison.