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History[edit | edit source]
From Corleone to America[edit | edit source]
The Morello family traces back to Corleone, Sicily. In 1865, Calogero Morello married Angelina Piazza who gave birth to two children: Giuseppe Morello (born May 2, 1867) and Maria Morello-Lima (born about 1869). Calogero Morello died in 1872 and one year later Piazza remarried to Bernardo Terranova. The new marriage produced five children: three sons Vincenzo (born 1886), Ciro (born 1888) and Nicolo (born 1890) and two daughters Lucia (born 1877) and Salvatrice (born 1880). Critchley mentions a possible third sister of the Terranovas, Rosalia Lomonte (born 1892 - died October 14, 1915).
In 1892, Giuseppe Morello emigrated to the United States. On March 8, 1893, Giuseppe's family arrived in New York: his wife Maria Rosa Marvalisi, his mother Angelina Piazza, his stepfather Bernardo Terranova, his stepbrothers Ciro, Nicolo, Vincenzo and stepsister Rosalia. The Morello-Terranova family lived in New York for a while before moving to Louisiana then Texas and by 1896 the family was back in New York City.
107th Street Mob[edit | edit source]
The brothers returned to New York and became known as the 107th Street Mob (sometimes called the Morello Gang) dominating East Harlem, Manhattan and parts of the Bronx. Giuseppe Morello's strongest ally was Ignazio Lupo, a mobster who controlled Little Italy, Manhattan. On December 23, 1903, Lupo married Salvatrice Terranova who was Giuseppe Morello's half sister.
The Morello-Lupo alliance continued to prosper in 1903 the group began a major counterfeiting ring with powerful Sicilian mafioso Don Vito Cascio Ferro, printing $5 dollar bills in Sicily and smuggling them into the United States. Many of the later "barrel murders", particularly that of Giuseppe "Joe" Catania Sr. (whose body was found in July 1902), were thought to have been committed by the Morellos, who employed a large number of members of the counterfeiting operation.
On April 13, 1903 the body of Benedetto Madonia, brother-in-law to police informant Giuseppe DiPrimo (de Priemo), was found in a barrel after being brutally tortured. A United States Secret Service detective, who had been investigating the counterfeiting ring, traced the man to a restaurant where he was seen with Morello crime family Boss, Ignazio Lupo along with associate and hitman, Tommaso "The Ox" Petto. New York detective Joseph Petrosino later confirmed Madonia's identity after visiting DiPrimo at Sing Sing Prison. A letter by Madonia seeking to leave the organization was found in a search of Madonia's house. With this evidence several mafiosi were arrested including Morello, Lupo, Petto, and restaurant owner Pietro Inzarillo as well as several other members. However the charges are later dropped after witnesses changed their statements.
The Morello family had consolidated their hold on Upper Manhattan however on November 15, 1909 New York police raided a building in Highland, New York the Morellos were using as a front for their counterfeiting operation. After letters were found by Black Hand victims from New Orleans, fifteen members of the Morellos, including Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio Lupo, were arrested. Recovering a large amount of both American and Canadian counterfeit bills, including Morello member Pasquale Vasi in possession of $1,200 worth of counterfeit money.
Beginning on January 26, 1910 the trial ended on February 19 with all members involved convicted, including Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio Lupo, who were sentenced to thirty and twenty-five years respectively at Atlanta Federal Prison.
Mafia–Camorra War[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Mafia–Camorra War
With Giuseppe Morello's and Lupo's conviction, Nicholas "Nick" Terranova, with Vincenzo and Ciro Terranova, took control of the Morello crime family. At this time the Morellos' power was at its height, controlling Manhattan's criminal activities from East Harlem to Greenwich Village. Soon after opening the Venezia Restaurant, the club became a popular hangout for the city's underworld.
Nick's efforts to unify the Italian criminal organizations of New York, particularly the Sicilian Mafiosi and the Neapolitan Camorristi, during the early 1910s were unsuccessful despite his best efforts.
During this time the Morellos had allied with Giosue Gallucci, a prominent East Harlem businessman and Camorrista with local political connections and the Lamonti Brothers who were also powerful East Harlem businessmen and Camorristi. Gaetano "Thomas" Lamonti and brother Fortunato "Charles" Lamonti were known as friends of the Morellos who owned a feed store down the street from the famous Murder Stable owned by Ignazio Lupo. After the 1914 murder of Lamonti brother Charles and the 1915 murder of Gallucci, the alliance between the Morellos and the East Harlem Camorristi ended as the Brooklyn Camorristi planned to eliminate the Mafiosi from Manhattan.
In early 1916 Camorra Boss Pellegrino Morano, with lieutenant Vincenzo Paragallo, began moving into the Morello crime family's territory. After six months of fighting, however, Morano offered a truce to end the stalemate. Mafia Boss, Nick Morello agreed as a meeting was arranged at a Navy Street café owned by Camorrista, Alessandro Vollero. However upon arriving, Morello was ambushed by five members of the Brooklyn Camorra group and killed along with bodyguard, Charles Ubriaco on September 7, 1916. While the loss of the Morello crime family's senior leader was a blow to the Mafia, Camorra Boss, Pellegrino Morano was quickly charged with Nick Morello's murder after two members of the Camorra group, Tony Notoro and Ralph Daniello, contacted New York police implicating Pellegrino Morano and Alessandro Vollero, revealing the war between the Sicilian and Neapolitan gangs. Both Morano and Vollero, after being denied help from New York detective Michael Mealli, were convicted of murder and imprisoned, as were the remaining leaders of the Camorristi, effectively ending the Mafia-Camorra War.
Morello family war[edit | edit source]
The Mafia-Camorra war ended in 1917, and Terranova brothers Vincenzo and Ciro kept control of family. Many former Brooklyn Camorra members joined the Morello family, Umberto Valenti was one of new members. One year early in 1916, Joseph Masseria was released from prison after serving 3 years for burglary of a Bowery pawnshop and became a top members in the family. In 1918, Ciro Terranova was tried for the murders of gambling bosses, Charles Lombardi and Joe DiMarco, the case was later dismissed. In 1920, both Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio Lupo were released from prison and Brooklyn Mafia Boss Salvatore D'Aquila ordered their murders.
This is when Joseph Masseria and Rocco Valenti began to fight for control of the Morello family. On December 29, 1920 Masseria's men murderd Valenti's ally, Salvatore Muaro on Christie Street. Then Valenti had Vincent Terranova murdered on May 8, 1922, while Terranova was in front of his home at 116th Street and 2nd Avenue he was shot by a gunmen from a moving car. Masseria ordered his men to murder Valenti and his bodyguard Silva Tagliagamba, they ambushed Valenti and Tagliabamba at Grande and Mulberry Streets in Manhattan shooting Tagliabamba but Valenti escaped. On August 11, 1922, Masseria's men murdered Valenti ending the conflict. Masseria became the boss of the Morello family, and Giuseppe Morello became his underboss.
Historical leadership[edit | edit source]
Boss[edit | edit source]
- 1890s–1909 — Giuseppe "the Clutch Hand" Morello — founded the 107th Street Mob; imprisoned 1909
- 1909–1916 — Nicholas "Nick Morello" Terranova — killed in Mafia-Camorra war on September 7, 1916
- 1916–1920 — Vincenzo "Vincent" Terranova — stepped down becoming underboss
- 1920–1922 — Giuseppe "the Clutch Hand" Morello — stepped down becoming underboss
- 1922–1931 — Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria — paroled in 1920, became boss in 1922
Underboss[edit | edit source]
- 1903–1909 — Ignazio "Lupo the Wolf" Lupo — imprisoned 1910
- 1909–1916 — Vincenzo "Vincent" Terranova — became boss
- 1916–1920 — Ciro "The Artichoke King" Terranova — stepped down
- 1920–1922 — Vincenzo "Vincent" Terranova — murdered on May 8, 1922
- 1922–1930 — Giuseppe "the Clutch Hand" Morello — murdered on August 15, 1930
Former members[edit | edit source]
- Giuseppe Fanaro - was a member of the Morello family, who was involved in the Barrel murder of 1903. In November 1913, Fanaro was murdered by members of the Lomonte and Alfred Mineo's gangs.
- Eugene "Charles" Ubriaco - was a member of the Morello family, he lived on East 114th Street. Ubriaco was arrested in June 1915 for carrying a revolver and was released on bail. On September 7, 1916 Ubriaco along with Nicholas Morello meet with the Navy Street gang in Brooklyn and they both were shot to death on Johson Street in Brooklyn.
References[edit | edit source]
- Critchley, David. The Origin of Organized Crime in America:the New York City Mafia, 1891-1931 London: Routledge, 2008. ISBN 978-0-415-99030-1
- Dash, Mike. The First Family: Terror, Extortion and the Birth of the American Mafia. London, Simon & Schuster, 2009.
- Asbury, Herbert. The Gangs of New York. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928. ISBN 1-56025-275-8
- Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3