Marco "Small Man" Reginelli (1897 – May 26, 1956) was a New Jersey mobster who became underboss of the Bruno crime family and operated a famous nightclub in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Reginelli's nickname came from his short stature.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Born in Nepezzano in the Abruzzo region of Italy, Reginelli immigrated to the United States in 1914 at age 17. He first settled in an Italian-American community in Penns Grove, New Jersey, with many neighbors from Valle San Giovanni and Teramo. Many of these immigrants worked at the nearby DuPont chemical factory. In the 1930s, Marco moved to Camden, New Jersey, where he became a member of the Cosa Nostra.
Criminal career[edit | edit source]
Marco's specialty was gambling and the numbers racket, although he was also convicted of larceny and receiving stolen goods. A congressional committee once described Reginelli as "the top hoodlum in the Philadelphia-New Jersey area".
In 1942, while Reginelli was visiting Miami, Florida, he called up his girlfriend Louise in Camden and invited her to join him in Florida. Using an airline ticket purchased by Reginelli, Louise flew to Florida and stayed with him in his hotel room in Miami Beach for ten days. However, a US Attorney in Trenton, New Jersey heard about her trip and indicted Reginelli under the federal Mann Act. Designed to combat the transportation of women across state lines for prostitution, the law could also cover adult women in a consenting relationship who were transported by their partner. Reginelli was convicted and, as a result, was denied naturalization as a US citizen.
Reginelli eventually extended his influence to the resort area of Atlantic City. In the late 1940s, he built the 500 Club, a nightclub in Atlantic City. In the early 1950s, the 500 Club frequently presented singer Dean Martin, who first performed with comedian and future partner Jerry Lewis at the club.
The Federal Government unsuccessfully tried to deport Reginelli to Italy. They also failed to block his citizenship application; Reginelli was finally naturalized as a U.S. citizen in June 1955.