Giosue Gallucci

A powerful, Harlem based, criminal leader who held strong political connections.


Giosue Gallucci

Born in Naples in 1864, Giosue Gallucci first arrived in America in 1891, eventually settling in East Harlem.1 

He was arrested in New York City in 1898, along with two of his brothers, in connection with the murder of  Josephine Inselma on Mulberry Street. The following report was sent from the Naples Prefect of Police to the NYC Detective Bureau:

“I take pleasure in furnishing you the information you ask on the character of the individuals belonging to this city. “1. Galluccl Gallucci of Luca, 34 years. He is a dangerous criminal, belonging to the category of blackmailers, and for his very bad character was put under special police surveillance and confined to prison. He was charged several times with theft and association with delinquents, and was condemned nine times for theft, outrages, blackmail, and transgressions of the special police surveillance. Emigrated July 24, 1896. From information received, the wife of the said individual is of bad character.”2

Gallucci established several legitimate businesses along East 109th Street and a brothel at the junction with Second Avenue.3 Giuseppe Morello also had an interest in Gallucci’s district. In 1905, Morello’s company built and sold three six-story “New Law” tenements opposite Gallucci’s cigar store on East 109th Street.4 

One of Gallucci’s confidants was Jospeh Streppone who ran a contracting business in Harlem close to Gallucci’s home. Streppone ran a café in partnership with Paul (Vacccarelli) Kelly and also paid Kelly’s bail following an attack on a policeman in Harlem. Both Streppone and Kelly were thought to be supplying information to the police to help break up certain criminal bands to help protect prominent Italians. On July 4th, 1910, Streppone was shot and killed in his Harlem café at 2201 Second Ave. He was meeting with two detectives who were seeking information into a recent crime. One newspaper claims he died protecting Gallucci, but it is not known if this is accurate.5

Gambling in Harlem was so lucrative in the early 1910s that it was estimated that the police had collected $250,000 graft from the area in just twelve months.6 An investigation into the city’s police discovered “shocking evidence of a widespread corrupt alliance between the police and gamblers and disorderly house keepers.”7 The neighborhood’s corruption also spread into politics. In the summer of 1912, a new Harlem political organization was named after an Italian who controlled several disorderly houses. It was led by two district leaders from Tammany Hall (the New York County Democratic political organization) and ten Italian ex-convicts.8 

Tammany Hall’s long-time leader in East Harlem was Nicholas J. Hayes, who was accused of involvement with brothels in the area.9 A banquet once held in his honor was attended by many local businessmen, such as Camillo Ubriaco, city marshal and father of a Morello gang associate. Also listed was a mysterious “Mr. G. Gallucci.”10 Described in headlines as a “politician” and “millionaire and political leader,”11 Giosue Gallucci derived most of his income from brothels and control of the policy game (lottery) in the neighborhood.12   

Local business owners were compelled to purchase supplies and commodities from sellers connected to Gallucci, and smaller pushcart vendors had to pay for the privilege of operating in his neighborhood. In 1913, In July, Assistant D.A. Murphy decided the most successful way to break up New York City’s vice rings would be to arrest the leaders for gambling violations. After weeks of planning, twenty-five detectives raided policy shops in Harlem and Mulberry Street. Among the forty arrests were Gallucci and his nephew John Russomano, who were both held for carrying concealed weapons. Gallucci was released on $10,000 bail while Russomano was sentenced to three to six years at Sing Sing prison. The district attorney received two anonymous letters describing Gallucci as responsible for over a dozen murders and as “…the head of Italian lottery. He is the man who gives the order to his men to kill.”13

On last Saturday a big number of the worst men belong to the worst gang of the world were arrested. The head of this gang that was also arrested the name is Gesule Lugariello, alias Gallucci. He is the head of the Italian Lottery. He is the man who gives the order to his men to kill.

Last Saturday night or Sunday morning the Italian Squad succeeded in arresting one of the worst criminals of our day, and the charge against him is carrying concealed weapons. The name of this man is Gesue Gallucci, held in $5000 bail for the Grand Jury. He is an ex-convict in Italy and is responsible for over a dozen murders. He killed his own brother in his place of business at 318 East 109th Street’.

Gallucci features heavily in the history of the infamous Harlem Murder Stables on East 108th Street.

“King” Gallucci was eventually dethroned by the combined efforts of two gangs: The Sicilian Morellos and a Brooklyn Neapolitan group whose leaders were accused of being members of the Camorra (a criminal society from Naples and its surrounding areas). 

The Brooklyn Camorra gang was a loose combination of two Neapolitan groups based in Navy Street and in Coney Island’s Santa Lucia Restaurant at Surf Avenue and the Oceanic Walk. Their assassination of Gallucci, planned with the assistance of the Morello gang, was born of a desire to take control of his criminal empire.14 

Gallucci was assassinated in May 1915 in his son’s East 109th Street cafe, after which the gunmen escaped over the Harlem rooftops.15 News of the killing quickly spread through the neighborhood, forcing police to establish lines half a block away to contain the crowds.16 Mafiosi Joe Valachi, who grew up in the district, later recalled Gallucci’s funeral, describing it as “one of the biggest of all the ones I saw around this time.” The procession was comprised of 150 carriages, and the roofs, fire escapes and doorways along its route were teeming with curious onlookers.17  

Following Gallucci’s death, control of his Harlem policy game passed to Thomas Lo Monte, brother of the murdered Morello boss Fortunato Lo Monte.18 The game later passed to Pellegrino Morano, leader of the Coney Island group, under the agreement that he would pay the Morellos $25 a week for the privilege. Morano soon stopped payment after running the game at a sizable loss.19 

  1. 1900 United States Federal Census. Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 18; Enumeration District: 0920; FHL microfilm: 1241122
    New York, Passenger and Crew Lists, Year: 1899; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 0077; Line: 1; Page Number: 219.
    Giosue Gallucci – Dec 6, 1899 Naturalization.[]
  2. The Sun. New York. June 21, 1898.[]
  3. The New York Times. Nov 15, 1909. 5 
    New York Tribune (May 18, 1915) 1 
    Report of The Committee of Fourteen. 1913-1914. 12
    U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (hereafter referred to as NARA), RG 87, Daily Reports of Agents, (hereafter referred to as DRA). William J. Flynn. Vol.29. Mar 8, 1910[]
  4. The Sun. New York. Jul 8, 1905. 7
    Office for Metropolitan History, “Manhattan NB Database 1900-1986,” 109th st, Nos 311-315 East. www.MetroHistory.com[]
  5. New York Herald. July 5, 1910. 7
    The Sun. New York. July 5, 1910
    New York Press. May 18, 1915
    New York Herald. May 18, 1915[]
  6. Pittston Gazette. Mar 13, 1913. 1[]
  7. New York (N.Y.). Board of Aldermen. Special Committee to Investigate the Police Dept. 1912-1913. Preliminary legislative report. New York, N.Y.: M.B. Brown Print and Binding Co. 6[]
  8. The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer. Jun 22, 1916. 3[]
  9. The New York Times. Dec 20, 1912.[]
  10. The New York Times. Apr 18, 1920. 22 
    The Tammany Times. New York. V.22 #24. Apr 16, 1904. 12[]
  11. Reading Times. May 18, 1915. 2 
    The Post Star. May 18, 1915. 1 []
  12. NARA, RG 87, DRA. New York. Vol.29. Mar 8, 1910
    The People of the State of New York against Angelo Giordano. 633 Part 1. People’s exhibit #1. (Statement of Leopoldo Lauritano) 
    New York Tribune. May 23, 1915
    NYMA, DA Record of Cases #95249, The People vs. John Russomanno[]
  13. Fiaschetti, Michael. The King Gets His. Liberty Magazine. July 20, 1929
    NYMA, DA Record of Cases #95249, The People vs. John Russomanno
    Court of General Sessions for NY County. The People of the State of New York vs John Russomanno.
    The Times Democrat. Aug 2, 1913. p.3
    The Evening World. Jul 26, 1913
    New York Herald. May 18, 1915. p.7
    New York, Sing Sing Prison Admission Registers, 1865-1939. #64408
    Court of General Sessions for New York County, The People of the State of New York against John Russomanno. Mar 20, 1914[]
  14. The People of the State of New York against Angelo Giordano, 231 New York 633 pt. 1. exhibit #1. 178, 197
    Critchley, David (2009) The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia, 1891–1931. New York: Routledge. 112[]
  15. People vs Angelo Giordano. exhibit #1 
    Critchley. The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia. 111 []
  16. The Barre Daily Times. May 18, 1915[]
  17. NARA. RG 60. Joseph Valachi. The Real Thing. MLR Entry no. 306H 60.10.3
    The New York Times. May 25, 1915. 10 []
  18. Giordano transcript. exhibit #1. 186-187 
    Warner, Santino, Van`t Riet. Early New York Mafia An Alternative Theory. The Informer. May 2014. Thomas Hunt. 60[]
  19. People vs Angelo Giordano. exhibit #1. 186-187 []