Vito Cascioferro

by Jon Black

Born: January 22nd 1862, Palermo

Nationality: Sicilian

Died: 194245



Killer: n/a

Son of Accursio Cascioferro and Santa Ippolito, born on January 22nd 1862, in Palermo. Cascioferro’s crim­i­nal record began with assault in 1884, with lat­er charges of arson, extor­tion and even­tu­al­ly to the kid­nap­ping of the 19-year old Baroness di Valpetrosa in 1898, for which he received a three-year sentence.

Cascioferro trav­elled to America in September 1901. He lived with a sis­ter, Francesca, and broth­er in law, Salvatore Armato in an apart­ment on 103rd Street, before find­ing his own place on Morgan Street. Later, among his papers, a let­ter was found that he had received short­ly after arriv­ing in New york:

New York, 12th September 1901

My very dear Don Vito,
I wel­come you and allow myself the plea­sure and the lib­er­ty of invit­ing you to my home. I have also tak­en the lib­er­ty of invit­ing friends, Giuseppe Morello, Francesco Megna, Giuseppe Fontana, Carlo Costantino, and Gioacchino di Martino to eat a plate of mac­a­roni togeth­er. We thought that next Monday would be good and that the best time might be three o’clock in the after­noon. I hope that you will not fail to come, and, if the day and the time are not con­ve­nient for you, let me know by messenger.
I kiss your hand.
Salvatore Brancaccio

On May 21st 1902, Cascioferro was arrest­ed on coun­ter­feit­ing charges along with the Frauto/Clemente gang, he was found to the car­ry­ing a loaded gun and eighty dol­lars in real mon­ey. They had been man­u­fac­tur­ing coins at a plant in Hackensack, NJ. He man­aged to escape con­vic­tion after none of the wit­ness­es at the tri­al man­aged to iden­ti­fy him, and he pre­sent­ed an ali­bi that he worked at a local paper mill.

Cascioferro had been observed by Secret Service agents around this time in the com­pa­ny of many oth­er Italian coun­ter­feit­ers, includ­ing Giuseppe Morello. He was also seen embrac­ing Angelo La Manno after his release from prison. La Manno had been part of a large gang of Italian coun­ter­feit­ers who were con­vict­ed in 1899, how­ev­er, Cascioferro was unaware that La Manno had turned informer to the Secret Service since his release. 

The agents also not­ed that Cascioferro was involved with import­ing goods to New York as he had some Italian wine in bond, and was seen col­lect­ing over­paid duties from cus­toms house. 

Before the famous ‘Barrel Murder’, Cascioferro was seen with Giuseppe Morello at sev­er­al steamship agents try­ing to locate the arrival of some­one trav­el­ling to New York. He was also mak­ing enquiries about ‘work­ing his pas­sage back to Italy’ on one of the boats. He returned to Sicily in ear­ly 1903 via New Orleans. 

Cascioferro is thought to be the mas­ter­mind behind the killing of New York police­man Giuseppe Petrosino on March 12th 1909. Petrosino was in Sicily to gath­er infor­ma­tion from local police files to help deport Italian gang­sters from New York. 

On 3rd April 1909, Cascioferro was arrest­ed in con­nec­tion with the Petrosino mur­der. Among Cascioferro’s pos­ses­sions were: a vis­it­ing card from “Vito LoBaido, Brooklyn”, hand writ­ten notes of defence pre­pared for two friends, both of whom had pre­vi­ous charges of coun­ter­feit­ing, a pho­to show­ing Costantino, Morello, Cascioferro, Frank Aiello, Fontana and oth­ers. Cascioferro plead­ed his inno­cence and pro­vid­ed a strong ali­bi for his where­abouts on the night of the killing. Nobody was nev­er charged with the murder.

In 1926, Prefect Mori, under orders from Mussolini to destroy the Mafia, arrest­ed Cascioferro. Tried in court for numer­ous crimes he was said to have stood and said:

Gentlemen, as you have been unable to obtain proof of any of the numer­ous crimes I have com­mit­ted, you have been reduced to con­demn­ing me for the only one I nev­er committed.

Cascioferro was sen­tenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Cascioferro arrest sheetVito CascioferroCascioferro boat enquiry.