The following are transcripts of daily reports written by the New York Secret Service office. The service occasionally received anonymous tip-offs or confiscated letters that revealed important information regarding the early US Mafia.1
The reports are summaries of activities of the agents in charge as well as of assistant and special “operatives” or agents assigned to assist the agents in charge. They show travel undertaken, names of persons under surveillance, arrests, convictions, sentences, expenses incurred, and, with the exception of a few volumes, property and correspondence received. The early reports were handwritten and those for later years were typewritten. Daily reports were discontinued after 1936.
Richard H. Taylor
Mail consisted of two letters. First, signed “Honest Man”, reporting that Nene Terranova, Ciro Terranova, and Vincenzo Terranova, 229 East 107 Street, are making counterfeit money: that Gichino Lima, Gaetano Gragiano, Mariano Di Miceli, alias Sisirana, and Antonio Di Miceli, 339 East 109 Street, are also in the counterfeit business; that Paolo Orlando, banker, and Angelo Gagliano, plasterer, are bosses of these gangs; that they meet at Orlando’s bank, 241 East 108 Street, and Squatrito’s saloon, at 227 East 107 Street.
The arrest of Lupo and Company has been the fortune of all the honest working men, because they not only dedicated themselves to counterfeit notes but also to “Camorra and black hand. The present is to let you know that the association “Lupo” has not yet terminated, but unfortunately for we good Italians it exists yet and are dedicating themselves in putting out counterfeit notes of $5.00 and $2.00 denomination and sending threatening letters for big sums to the Italians who reside in the Italian quarter.
A branch of these dogs with out conscience is found at 13th Street composed of Messrs Catalano (noted by the police), Severio Virgi, who has a grocery store at 432 E. 13th Street, and is a partner of the beer saloon at 436 E. 13th Street with a certain Don Basile – another master work of brigands. There is also a Don Foti who has a crooked eye and others. The principal seat of reunion is in the saloon and in the grocery store. They do nothing but write threatening letters left and right seeking to suck money from the poor devils who sweat for it by blood sweat. A search of the grocery In the rear and in the basement will bring to the discovery of a maccarroni box almost full of the Farm notes of $2 and $5.00.
First keep them under eye – watched, watch all the motions that they make and do it so when you give the blow, you will have a good result. If, in the search you accomplish nothing, do not lose sight of them–if you employ the time it will not be lost.
Virgi Saverio is the papa of all–is a godfather of Pietro Inzerillo, who a month ago went to Italy and before going, he burned a box of the farm notes in his own bakery oven, at 226 Elizabeth Street. Virgi is an intimate friend of Ignazio Lupo and is the head of those of the black hand who send letters to 11th, 12th and 13th Streets. If you got to destroy Virgi you will quiet enough people. I beg of you to get him in the wrong and in that way cry for what he has done to others. Sometimes they meet in the rear of the saloon at 436 E. 13th Street.
With the hope, through your ability, of seeing this bad grass picked, greetings from the heart.
An Honest Italian, enemy absolute of the Black Hand.”
At 10.00 A.M. Mr. Smith, Asst. U.S. Attorney telephoned that he had an anonymous Italian communication and would like to have Agent Rubano look it over. Agent Rubano was instructed to call on Mr. Baith and get this letter, and on his return he handed me the following letter with translation of the same.
“Mr. Smith I advise you that Don Gasparo, the druggist of 21 New Bowery, has written to the General Postoffice for the forwarding address of the Italian Detective Rubano, for the purpose of getting the letters of Comito. The said Don Gasparo is a friend of Morello and has been promised the payment of the mortgage that he has on a house of his at 215th Street. Now, knowing that Comito does not talk English, they know that he writes the letters in Italian and addresses them to Rubano. Don Gasparo when he had a drugstore at 149th Street, met Morello every night ( late ) and wrote “black hand” letters. The truth of what I have said is in the fact that the postal card has been written by the same Don Gasparo. You know why this is without signature and recommend that you do not show it, because he would know my writing.”
The seventh letter is from New York City, mailed at Station U., signed Vittorio Busardo, in Italian, and is a congratulatory letter distinguishing between Federal and municipal police. It mentions the name of Morrello, and Lupo that Morrello with a man named Coniglio, who now figures under the name of Locurto, have murdered a forest warden, in or nearby Palermo. I will have Agent Rubano translate this letter and will incorporate it in full.
The following is a translation of the letter mentioned in report of Feb 24th, as being a congratulatory letter signed Vittorio Busardo, which mentions the names of Morrello, Lupo, Coniglia, and Locurto.
“Mr. Capitan Flynn, Federal Building, New York City
In the past many Italians of the honest kind said the real ‘Black Hand‘ is justice who absolves the accused for different crimes proven, as was Michele Amato, fruit man, a time at 90th Street and who kidnapped a child, who identified him, yet he was absolved, for the doctrine of LeBarbier is none other than to threaten by voice the accusing agents and know how to use intrigue. Today, though, that was given the exemplary sentences, all laud you for the command given to the agents who have been honest in their duties while much money they could have gained, betraying the District Attorney, or Court all together, Judges, District Attorney and Jury. It happened that way because they were federal agents and it belongs to them to give further battle to such criminals who have been helped even by good people by fear, they are a lost people who do more damage to a friend or relative.
Today Morello’s wife together with her son is going around seeking help from Italians, so as to show her poverty, while Morello was nothing of the kind, an imposter, he made much money settling the frightened of letters, and robbed the Florio Society of $60,000.00 and burned the books not to give an accounting. He also made the Society of Francesco Bentivegna fail, and the money was divided by a few, the value of a house, the share holders remained creditors.
Morello killed at Corleone together with Michelli Coniglio the Commandant of Forest Wardens, and because a lady saw them and wanted to testify, Morello killed her, therefore Coniglio is solid with Morello in all, and more than his brothers-in-law. His brother-in-law, Giacchimo Lima, who appears to be a gentleman with diamonds on his fingers fearing he would be arrested, has gone away, in a village saying he is working while he is not working at all. In his town he is a bad subject – that’s why, he won out in marrying a sister of Morello, as Lupo won it also. God makes men, and by themselves doubles up.
Coniglio under the name of Locurto and Orlando has the same saloon. Coniglio and the others must vindicate Morello. Madonia was killed in the saloon of Antonio Rizzo. Years ago wanted to return to his native country and as Doctor Orlando a relative of the condemned innocents, mentioned his name. They sent to Corleone a certain Ignazio Milone, to organize the assassination of Orlando as it happened and killed him, goes and comes from New York.
The saloonkeeper of 75th Street is a Sicilian sentenced to thirty years and is of the same type. Sometimes feigns in giving information to the police so that he can to his affair, give attention. Lupo and Lopresti that is Ignazio Lupo, has now a store in Hoboken, 421 Jefferson Street, that it would be well to seize for the expenses of the court. Domenico Milone and Brothers have also written letters, anonymous, that is how they put a store up and their cft. money. Milone is a son-in-law of D. Pasquale Mafrosi and brother-in-law of Giuseppe Armata and Uncle of Vasi where the cft. money was found. Luciano Maddi, made his relative, Ignazio Maddi, baker of 106th St. cry bitterly for black hand and who knows how many other treated that way, once he treated the relatives.
The goods Maddi and Milone had in the store are at Astoria near the new Bridge at 59th Street and there often goes a marble worker, Valenti, who was at 97th Street, was together with Sylvester when the plumed of Salvatore Maida at 108th Street and 1st Avenue were stolen.
The Agents know more than I do, and that it is good that the society is purged of such beings. It would be well to prosecute for perjury, Romano, Brancato, and Perilli and other false witnesses after the sentences have been passed so that they will cease false testimony. It would be well to read the letters, that come and go from the prison at Atlanta, there will be enigmatic words for vengeance – they are assassins – that is enough. To your integrity and sagacity, the rest.
Dev. Vittorio Busardo.
P.S. I do not send my address as it would be known and I am against the Sicilians even though I have found the good ones. It is said that Inzerillo was not on good terms with Morello, but he was of the same ‘Button.’ A certain Fandi killed at Yonkers, two years ago, was of their doings, because he spoke against them.”
Mr. Orterelo called. He said that the Societa Bentivegna of which Morello was president, owned three or four apartment houses. A certain clique lead by Morello, caused a foreclosure to be bought on the said property, causing great loss to various members of the Society who were interested in the said houses. At the foreclosure sale, an agent of Morello, named Giovanni Rumore, undertaker of 2089 Second Averie, (known as a bad one) appeared and bought the property for a song. Mr. Orterelo said he believed the money was furnished by Morello and friends.
Morello was president of another society, or organization, called the “Banca Florio“. They induced many poor people to buy shares in it, and deposit money. Finally, then the bank was well-off, it was caused to fall, the depositors losing practically every cent. Some were loud in their complaints and threatened a suit, however were frightened into silence. One of the depositors was a poor widow with two daughters, who had worked hard for many years and managed to save some $200. or so and deposited it in the Banca Florio. By the failure she lost all and was complaining bitterly when one night she was approached by Morello or some of his gang and told if she did not shut up, she would not see the light of another day. She has been quiet ever since. Her name in Turida Ajosa, known as “Calcaterra” and lives at at No. 335 E. 106th Street, if not found at that address, her correct address can be ascertained from one Rosina Cascio 337 E. 106th Street.
The name of other people who lost by the said bank failure scheme, are Girolamo Blonda, Third Avenue, bet. 204th and 105th Streets, who has a feather establishment, upstairs at this address. Giovanni Mangiaracina, whose address can be learned from Rosina Bonaccoreo, a midwife, living at No 235 E.107th St.
The secretary of the said Banca Florio was a certain Dimicele. His address can be ascertained by asking Comato Locurto, of 137 East 108th Street, who has a bank or agency. He is also supposed to be a “bad one”.
Third letter is postmarked Boston, Mass., Hanover Street, Station, inclosing a postal card as follows:
“I wrote you take all the precautions in your investigations against Gregorio Conti living in Pittsburgh, Pa., corner of Wylie Avenue a Chatham Street. Now I will tell you the reason why he enjoys the protection of prominent Italians as Dr. Conti, Joe Natali, and others and these are in the best confidence with police officers and other authorities, which are purposely deviate of the right path as to protect the counterfeiters. Gregorio, chief of criminals protect his protectors. You ought to know better: All criminals associations are protected by high-located people: The bost thing for you is, to be sure: Get your information from Italy about Gregorio Conti. V. Cusumano. Carlo Castiglione, Salvatore Cenere of S. Stefano Quisquina(1)
(1) the formers from Comitini, all from Province of Girgenti. I think they receive the money counterfeited on packages containing medicines from Sicily.
Beware: Under such circumstances you ought to go by and by, slow and beware of all who may distract your job. Most of the riches of Dr. Conti doesn’t come of Professional work. Counterfeited money Protector and associator forged certificates from the Italian Consulate through Vice Consul Natali and Protection from G.O. Mara, ex.chief of Police, and Chas McGovern, Ex-special detective, who are relatives of Dr. Conti.”
William Flynn 1903 (Vol.#9)
“I know the man who was found in the barrel, he comes from Buffalo for the purpose of getting money that his companions were living from, he was condemned for false papers, four years and two months ago, he was made to remove the business, and if he survived the death of his father-in-law Di Priemo. The police have made the proper arrests, bring the condemned Di Priemo to see the assassins or his brother-in-law, promise his liberty and he will tell you many things, do as I write and you will discover all, the false papers are brought from Italy, try and see the the letters that come for Lupo, Lamia and the ‘Bull‘ from Talevinu and Partinnuca, see if you can make him tell you about Giallambardo who was sentenced to five years in Sing Sing, try and see the letters that come to Giovannia Pecoraro, Christie St. and her companion that came from Italy eight days ago, and bought plenty of false money, where she is, this Giovannia knows. If you get next to Dominico Pecoraro and Fanario and show them the electric chair, you will know all.
Your friends S.T”
William P. Hazen 1900 (Vol. #9)
I sent for Francoline, the interperter who called and had him set to work going over a mass of Italian letters found on Guiseppi Morrello in addressed in names of Gaetano Liggi, Guisseppi Morrello, and Mrs. Angelina Golotta.
Interperter Francoline called to finish going over the Italian correspondence found on Morrello. The correspondence mailed and addressed to Gaetano Liggio, 2070 Second Avenue, and Guisseppi Morrello, 2170 Second Avenue are surely for one person – Morrello, as Calogero Trombatore wrote from New Orleans, April 16th, 1900, to Liggio and Kansas City, Mo., April 28th, 1900 to Morrello.
Calogero Trombatore gives address in New Orleans, March 20th, as 523 St. Phillips St., and December 6th, 1899, 6242 Laurel St. Trombatore wrote five letters, December 6th, 1899, April 16th, 1900, April 28th, 1900, March 20th, 1900, and March 21st, 1900.
Joe Coinglio wrote from Seattle, Wash., January 27th, 1900, and March 31st, 1900, and I have the honor to send copies of same to the Chief, as translated by Francolini. Will send others Monday when finished translations.
I have the honor to send with this report a translation of a letter in Italian Postmarked Belle Rose, La., May 29th, 1900, and signed Gullotta Cologero, received by Guisseppi Morrello, 2070 Second Avenue, and found on him when arrested; it will be noticed the writer gives Tony Navarra as the one to send the shipment to.
- U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 87: Records of the U.S. Secret Service. Daily Reports of Agents, 1875–1937.