Nicholas Sylvester

Nicholas Sylvester 1910
Nicholas Sylvester 1910

Alias: Nick Sylvester

Born: 1889

Nation­al­i­ty: Sicilian





Nick Sylvester was a friend of the young Ter­ra­no­va broth­ers, he had been arrest­ed with them in 1903 when the Morel­lo fam­i­ly was being hound­ed after the Bar­rel trial.

In 1907, Sylvester worked as a dri­ver for Ignazio Lupo’s Mott Street store before it went bank­rupt, after the store failed he worked as a plas­ter­er for Ange­lo Gagliano at 231 E107th.

Sylvester was invloved with the Morel­lo gang dur­ing their 1910 coun­ter­feit­ing case. He drove the wag­ons for the gang, and some­times kept guard around the farms.

When the gang was round­ed up by the Secret Ser­vice in 1909/1910 Sylvester was already under arrest in con­nec­tion with a bur­glary. At the end of the coun­ter­feit­ing trial Sylvester was sen­tenced to 15 years hard labour and a $500 fine.

Sylvester would later pass infor­ma­tion to the Secret Ser­vice dur­ing his time in Atlanta Pen­i­ten­tairy. He told them about the pro­duc­tion and loca­tion of the print­ing plates, and passed them other infor­ma­tion about Morel­lo gang mem­bers. His sen­tence was later com­mut­ed to five years and he was paroled on 21st Feb­ru­ary, 1915.

Dur­ing Comi­to’s con­fes­sion in 1910 he told the fol­low­ing tale of Sylvester:

Sylvester boast­ed that his first sen­tence was for five years in the refor­ma­to­ry as a minor. He ran away from the refor­ma­to­ry in com­pa­ny with sev­er­al other boys and got into the horse-stealing busi­ness. He was sen­tenced sev­er­al times for small offens­es and he once was arrest­ed for car­ry­ing con­cealed weapons. Dur­ing his impris­on­ment he came to know a cer­tain Ter­ra­no­va, who was a half-brother of Morel­lo, and they became fast friends. They stole hors­es in New York and sold them in other cities at reduced prices ; or they would bring the hors­es to friends in the coun­try (High­land) and receive pay­ment. He told of being arrest­ed once when with Morel­lo’s son and broth­er; they had thrown a bomb into a store in Mott Street. They were let go because there were no wit­ness­es to the crime.

Comi­to also claimed that Sylvester told him the fol­low­ing story:

One night I went with the Morel­lo broth­ers and other friends into a hall where a Jew­ish wed­ding was being cel­e­brat­ed. As we entered the hall we rec­og­nized two police­men who had helped us before in our jobs. Our idea was to steal watch­es. We suc­ceed­ed in steal­ing about fif­teen watch­es when a Jew I was rob­bing got onto me. He grabbed me by the coat and called the police. The police­man knew me and took my part. He pushed the Jew aside and told him to go away. The police­man said he knew me to be a fine young man for more than ten years. The police­man told the Jew he was lying and that if he said any more about the mat­ter he would be put under arrest. The Jew was crest-fallen, but went on danc­ing all the same. As we came out­side, I gave three watch­es to the police­man, two of sil­ver and one of gold. I dis­posed of the oth­ers in New Jer­sey. We divid­ed the pro­ceeds equal­ly among us.