Giuseppe Masseria

by Jon Black

Alias: Joe the Boss

Born: 1887

Nationality: Sicilian

Died: April 151931

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