Vito Cascioferro

Vito Cascioferro. 1902
Vito Cascioferro. 1902

Born: Jan­u­ary 22nd 1862, Palermo

Nation­al­i­ty: Sicilian

Died: 1942 – 45



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.