Showing posts with label Tresca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tresca. Show all posts

24 June 2019

Peers salute Genovese after murder acquittal

On this date in 1946...

Leaders of Mafia crime families based in the eastern U.S.  assembled at Midtown Manhattan's Hotel Diplomat, 108-116 West 43rd Street, on June 24, 1946, for a welcome home banquet in honor of Vito Genovese, according to Dom Frasca's book King of Crime (New York: Crown Publishers, 1959). Pittson, Pennsylvania, boss Santo Volpe was the first to greet the guest of honor, Frasca wrote. Reportedly the most senior of the crime bosses in attendance, Volpe led "Don Vitone" to a leather chair at the head of table. The remaining twenty-seven Mafiosi, standing around the table, offered their greetings and congratulations.

Genovese actually had been home in the United States for a few weeks by then. He returned from Italy June 1 in the custody of the U.S. Army Provost Marshal's Office and was turned over to New York prosecutors to stand trial for ordering "hits" on Ferdinand "the Shadow" Boccia and William Gallo in 1934. Boccia was murdered, but Gallo survived. (Genovese also was suspected of calling for the 1943 murder of anti-Fascist editor Carlo Tresca.)

As underboss to Salvatore "Charlie Luciano" Lucania in the summer of 1936, Genovese was poised to take control of a sprawling and highly profitable crime family when Lucania was convicted of compulsory prostitution and given a lengthy prison sentence.

Genovese was naturalized a U.S. citizen in November 1936, but almost immediately obtained a passport to leave the country, as he feared prosecution for the Boccia murder. He served the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini during World War II but then worked as an interpreter for the occupying American forces beginning in January 1944.

Murder suspects: Genovese, Mike Miranda, George Smurra, Gus Frasca.
(Brooklyn Eagle)

While he was away, Brooklyn prosecutors built the murder case against Genovese and other crime family leaders, largely through the confession of Ernest "the Hawk" Rupolo, who took part in the attacks on Boccia and Gallo, and corroborating testimony of witness Peter LaTempa. On August 7, 1944, a Kings County grand jury indicted Genovese for homicide. That news was transmitted to military officials, and Genovese was arrested in Italy by the end of the month.

It took months for the extradition process to begin. During that process, prosecutors' only corroborating witness, LaTempa, died in a prison holding cell of a mysterious drug overdose. Corroborating testimony was essential to the case, as state law would not permit conviction based solely on the testimony of an accomplice in the crime.

Prosecutors went ahead with the case following Genovese's return. Genovese was arraigned for the Boccia murder in Kings County Court on June 2, 1946. Trial began on June 6. Rupolo stepped to the witness stand the next day and testified that he was hired by Genovese to eliminate Boccia and Gallo. William Gallo also testified. The state rested its case that day, and the defense immediately moved that the charge against Genovese be dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Hotel Diplomat
(Museum of City of New York)
Judge Samuel Leibowitz (a former criminal defense attorney) dismissed the indictment and directed a verdict of not guilty. But he clearly wasn't happy about the situation. "I am constrained by law to dismiss the indictment and direct the jury to acquit you," the judge stated. "...You and your criminal henchmen thwarted justice time and again by devious means, among which were the terrorizing of witnesses, kidnaping them, yes, even murdering those who could give evidence against you. I cannot speak for the jury, but I believe that if there were even a shred of corroborating evidence, you would have been condemned to the chair."

Genovese was freed on June 10, two weeks before the Hotel Diplomat gathering reported by Dom Frasca.

Years of "government" work - first with Fascists and later with occupiers - apparently left Genovese with a large nest egg (or perhaps his colleagues gave him more than just greetings and food at the banquet). One month after the welcome home party, Genovese purchased a $40,000 seaside home at 130 Ocean Boulevard, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. The deal was reportedly made in cash.

Genovese once again became a key figure in the former Lucania Crime Family.

A decade later, following a 1957 botched murder attempt that left a lasting impression on boss Frank Costello's mind as well as his scalp, Genovese finally moved into the top spot of an organization that would from that time on be associated with his name.

Sources:

  • "'Hawk' tips off police to 4 slayings," Brooklyn Eagle, Aug. 9, 1944, p. 1.
  • "Arrest in Italy in Tresca slaying," New York Post, Nov. 24, 1944.
  • "Chronological history of La Cosa Nostra in the United States," Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi,Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Washington D.C, 1988.
  • "Court weighs motion to acquit Genovese," New York Times, June 8, 1946.
  • "Death of four is laid to gang," New York Sun, Aug. 9, 1944, p. 6.
  • "Genovese, cleared of murder, buys $40,000 manse in Jersey," New York Sun, Aug. 16, 1946, p. 5.
  • "Genovese denies guilt," New York Times, June 3, 1945.
  • "Genovese free in murder case," New York Sun, June 10, 1946, p. 1.
  • "Murder trade's jargon explained in court," New York Sun, June 7, 1946, p. 1.
  • "Warrants out for 6 in 1934 gang murder," New York Daily News, Aug. 8, 1944, p. 28.
  • Frasca, Dom, King of Crime, New York: Crown Publishers, 1959.
  • Manifest of S.S. James Lykes, departed Bari, Italy, on May 17, 1945, arrived NYC June 1, 1945.
  • People v. Vito Genovese, Ind. #921/44, Brooklyn District Attorney.
  • Vito Genovese naturalization record, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, petition mo. 256403, filed Dec. 19, 1935, certificate no. 4129975, Nov. 25, 1936, canceled Sept. 1, 1955.

04 July 2017

Anarchist bomb destroys NYC building

On this date in 1914 - An Independence Day explosion demolished the upper stories of an apartment building in East Harlem, killing leftist radical Arthur Caron and several colleagues. Caron had been among those who protested the involvement of the Rockefeller family in April's "Ludlow Massacre." It appeared that Caron and his associates were building the bomb when it exploded.


The Ludlow Massacre occurred April 20, 1914, when Colorado state troops and a private force hired by a Rockefeller-owned coal mining company attacked and destroyed a tent camp of striking miners and their families. The attackers fired machine guns and repeating rifles into the camp and then poured oil on occupied tents and set them on fire.

The camp had been home to about nine hundred people, including two hundred and seventy-one children, ejected from company-owned housing in October 1913 due to the strike. Strikers, most of them Greek and Italian immigrants, spent the winter in their tent community with limited supplies.

An official report stated that at least twenty-five people - including fourteen children and two women - perished in the massacre. Earlier reporting put the death toll at a minimum of forty-five people, with women and children accounting for thirty of those deaths. Because bodies were completely destroyed in an oil-fueled blaze and government agencies restricted access to the campsite, the precise number of the dead continues to be debated.

In New York City, unionists and anarchist-communist radicals demonstrated against Rockefeller. Author Upton Sinclair joined the protests by organizing a "mourning picket" on Broadway. Arthur Caron and a number of anarchists decided to bring their protests to the Tarrytown, New York, region, where the Rockefeller estate was located. (John D. Rockefeller, Jr., insisted that his company-hired forces acted in a disciplined manner. He attributed the violence to the poorly led Colorado militia.)

A Caron-led group was arrested at the end of May after assembling in a Tarrytown public park and denouncing John D. Rockefeller, Jr., as a murderer. Caron, ten other men and one woman (Rebecca Edelson, who stated that the only thing Rockefeller ever gave away for free was the oil used to burn women and children in their Ludlow tents) were charged with blocking traffic and holding a street meeting without a permit. They were scheduled for trial in July.

On Friday, July 3, political radicals (including anarchist editor Alexander Berkman) met at the anarchist Ferrer Center in New York City to plan demonstrations in support of Caron. A plot to bomb the Rockefeller estate may have been set in motion at the meeting.

At about 9:15 the next morning, July 4, the three upper stories of the seven-story building at 1626 Lexington Avenue, between 102nd and 103rd Streets, were turned to rubble in an explosion that witnesses compared to a "broadside from a battleship."

Windows along both sides of the street were shattered. Building debris and bits of human remains rained down on the neighborhood. Body parts were discovered on the roof of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at 103rd Street and Lexington.

Authorities, likely benefiting from some inside information, quickly identified Caron as one of those who died in the explosion. Also killed were Charles Berg (he was listed as a fatality even before his remains were discovered), Carl Hanson and Mrs. Marie Chavez. Reports indicated that seven people were seriously injured.

Editors Alexander Berkman and Carlo Tresca, Elizabeth Flynn of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and Rebecca Edelson spoke to a crowd of 5,000 people assembled at Union Square on July 11 for a memorial to the bomb victims. Berkman did not deny that Caron and his associates were building a bomb to attack the Rockefeller estate, but he suggested that Rockefeller's "many murders" justified their action. "I say that death in such a cause, which is a cause directed against oppression and tyranny, makes of those who so die martyrs," Berkman said.

The Independence Day explosion on Lexington Avenue led to a series of violent exchanges between anarchist groups and law enforcement agencies that comprised America's first "War on Terror."

Sources:

  • "45 dead, 20 hurt, score missing, in strike war," New York Times, April 22, 1914, p. 7.
  • "The Ludlow camp horror," New York Times, April 23, 1914, p. 12.
  • "Saw militia fire tents," New York Times, April 20, 1914, p. 5.
  • "Swear militia fired tents," New York Times, May 2, 1914, p. 3.
  • "Sinclair mourners split by discord," New York Times, May 3, 1914, p. 3.
  • "Hear Colorado women," New York Times, May 24, 1914, p. 25.
  • "I.W.W. invades Tarrytown," New York Times, May 31, 1914, p. 12.
  • "I.W.W. bomb meant for Rockefeller kills four of its makers, wrecks tenement and injures many tenants," New York Times, July 5, 1914, p. 1.
  • "Find Berg's body in bomb wreckage," New York Times, July 6, 1914, p. 1.
  • "Plan big meeting for dead bomb men," New York Times, July 10, 1914, p. 18.
  • "5,000 at memorial to anarchist dead," New York Times, July 12, 1914, p. 3.
  • "Berkman interview arouses the police," New York Times, Feb. 17, 1915, p. 20.

Read more about America's first "War on Terror" in: