Giuseppe Masseria

by Jon Black

Alias: Joe the Boss

Born: 1887

Nationality: Sicilian

Died: April 15, 1931

Where: Coney Island

Cause: Shot


Giuseppe Masseria was born in Marsala, Sicily. He would later become the ‘boss’ of what is now called the Genovese crime family, between 1922 to 1931.

The earliest known arrest of Masseria is 1st February, 1907. Francesca Delise, of 198 Elizabeth Street, returned to her second floor apartment and found that her front door had been smashed in. Inside she found Masseria and Giuseppe Lima stealing her valuables. Masseria, 20, gave his address as 217 Forsyth Street and claimed to have lived there for three years. He was held on $2000 bail and eventually received a suspended sentence.

Masseria was convicted of extortion in April 1907, but was released, again, on a suspended sentence.

On the night of April 13th, 1913, the police were tipped off about a robbery in progress at John Simpson’s Pawnshop, 164 Bowery. The robbers were startled by the police and managed to escape but left behind their tools. They had been trying to get to the shops inner vault, a 30ft x 18ft room made of solid masonry protected with an electric alarm.

The police surrounded the block and arrested four men, including Masseria, in an Italian tenement at 150 Elizabeth Street. Inside the tenement they found sophisticated and expensive tools, such as an electric drill and other items that they suspected were used in burglaries. Using fingerprints and studying the robbers methods, the police managed to link the men to twelve other burglaries in the area.

Much later, in 1931, Masseria was killed by men close to him. Since his killing, most writers have echoed the tale of him receiving a ‘last meal’, perhaps as some kind of tribute. However, simple check of his autopsy shows he died on an empty stomach.

Giuseppe Masseria AdmissionGiuseppe Masseria Autopsy