Vincenzo Terranova

Coney Island cabaret pro­pri­etor and half-brother of boss-of-bosses Giuseppe Morello.

Vin­cen­zo Ter­ra­no­va was born 19 May 1885 in Cor­leone, Paler­mo, Sici­ly.1 In 1893, he arrived in New York from Cor­leone with his fam­i­ly includ­ing his moth­er, father, four sis­ters, and his broth­ers Ciro and Nico­la. They were join­ing their half-brother Giuseppe Morel­lo, who had arrived a year ear­li­er.2

The fam­i­ly stayed in New York for around a year but suf­fered from the lack of avail­able work. They trav­elled to Louisiana to stay with a cousin, plant­i­ng sugar cane before mov­ing on to Bryan, Texas. The fam­i­ly worked in Texas as cot­ton pick­ers but left after two years when the fam­i­ly was hit with Malar­ia. In 1896, they arrived back in New York.3

Ter­ra­no­va, and his broth­er, Ciro, went to a New York school and helped at the fam­i­ly plas­ter­ing busi­ness. After the “Bar­rel Mur­der” trial fin­ished in 1903, the whole Morel­lo fam­i­ly were searched and hound­ed on a reg­u­lar basis. One night, Ter­ra­no­va was trav­el­ling home from work with his broth­er Ciro, nephew Colagero, and Nick Sylvester when they were all arrest­ed and kept overnight.4

Ter­ra­no­va was arrest­ed in May 1906. The moth­er of Ellen Krooman, who lived in Bath Beach, com­plained he had lured her daugh­ter from the fam­i­ly home.5 He was arrest­ed again in Sep­tem­ber 1908, in con­nec­tion with the mur­der of “Dia­mond” Sam Sicca but was never charged. 6

Marriage to Bernarda Reina
Marriage to Bernarda Reina on 23 July 1913

Ter­ra­no­va appeared at the Coney Island court in 1915, after being caught speed­ing on Ocean Park­way with Louis Lone.7

In 1917, Ralph Daniel­lo tes­ti­fied against his for­mer Navy Street gang mem­bers. His rev­e­la­tions about mur­ders com­mit­ted by the gang led to the arrest of Ter­ra­no­va and his broth­er Ciro. They were both con­nect­ed to the 1916 killing of Giuseppe Demar­co, a gam­bler who had pre­vi­ous­ly been an ally their ally.8 Ter­ra­no­va was acquit­ted in June 1918.9

In 1919, Ter­ra­no­va man­aged the Pol­lac­cia Broth­ers Restau­rant, Surf Avenue in Coney Island. The restau­rant was like­ly owned by Save­rio Pol­lac­cia, later con­sigliere to Giuseppe Masse­ria. The venue host­ed a Labor Day ban­quet orga­nized by Brook­lyn gang­ster Frankie Yale.10 Ter­ra­no­va later ran Frankie Yale’s Har­vard Inn, a pop­u­lar Coney Island dance hall.11 Artists booked to play at the Har­vard Inn includ­ed a then-unknown Jimmy Durante. Anoth­er per­former later recalled how he had lost money gam­bling with a young Al Capone, who worked as the club’s bounc­er.12

Ter­ra­no­va, and his broth­er Ciro were arrest­ed in Novem­ber 1919. Two con­victs held in Dan­nemo­ra prison impli­cat­ed them in the mur­der of two Harlem busi­ness­men. Oth­ers arrest­ed includ­ed Vin­cen­zo Gal­liano (21) 225 East 107th, Charles “Whitey Lewis” Leg­gio (26) 217 East 107th, Patsy “Bones” Con­gro (23) 115 East 107th, and Ange­lo Gagliano (30) 227 East 107th.13 

The first case relat­ed to the August 1918 killing of gro­cer Fer­di­nand LaRazeno of East 108th Street, who was killed as three masked men attempt­ed to rob his store.14 The sec­ond case was the killing of Nathan Fine, who was killed in Octo­ber 1918, when he was robbed of his company’s $1,700 pay­roll on East 107th Street.15

Ter­ra­no­va was assas­si­nat­ed in May 1922. He was gunned down in East 116th Street.16

Photo-diagram of Vincenzo Terranova's murder
Photo-diagram of Vincenzo Terranova's murder

Vincenzo Terranova death certificate
Vincenzo Terranova death certificate


1 (Man­aged by Justin Cas­cio) Accessed 06 – 07-22
2Ship: Alsa­tia. New York, U.S., Arriv­ing Pas­sen­ger and Crew Lists (includ­ing Cas­tle Gar­den and Ellis Island), 1820 – 1957 (Mar 8, 1893)
Ship: SS La Bour­gogne. New York, U.S., Arriv­ing Pas­sen­ger and Crew Lists (includ­ing Cas­tle Gar­den and Ellis Island), 1820 – 1957 (May 91892 ) 
3Trial tran­scripts of the US Cir­cuit Court for the Dis­trict of New York, 1790 – 1912. USA vs. Giuseppe Cal­ic­chio et al.  (Ciro Ter­ra­no­va testimony) 
5New York Times. May 29, 1906. p.5. New York Her­ald. May 29, 1906. p.7.
6Cal­ic­chio et al.  (Ciro Ter­ra­no­va tes­ti­mo­ny)
The Morn­ing Tele­graph. May 9, 1922. p.5
7The Stan­dard Union (Brook­lyn) Aug 30, 1915. p.3
The Stan­dard Union (Brook­lyn) Sep 8, 1915. p.7
8The Sun. New York. Dec 1, 1917. p.22
9The Evening World. Jun 8, 1918. p. 10
10The Stan­dard Union (Aug 29, 1919
Critch­ley, David (2009) The Ori­gin of Orga­nized Crime in Amer­i­ca: The New York City Mafia, 1891 – 1931. New York: Rout­ledge. 211 
U.S. Nation­al Archives and Records Admin­is­tra­tion (here­after referred to as NARA), RG 87, Daily Reports of Agents, (here­after referred to as DRA). New York. Vol. 66. (Dec 61919
11The Bill­board (Jul 3, 1920) 56 
The Brook­lyn Stan­dard Union (Sep 7, 1920) p.9
12Olean Times-Herald (Mar 24, 1942) p.9 
New York Evening Post (Oct 15, 1941) Movies Section
13The Sun. New York. Nov 20, 1919. p.9
14New York Tri­bune. Aug 8, 1918 p.5
15New York Tri­bune. Oct 8, 1918. p.6
16Brook­lyn NY Daily Eagle (May 81922