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.