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Stories From the Italian Squad

Gary Jenkins, a retired intelligence unit detective, brings you his unique perspective on organized crime. In this in-depth interview on Gangland Wire, the host welcomes Paul Moses, author of “The Italian Squad,” discussing the true story of immigrant cops fighting the Italian mafia in New York City in the early 1900s. Moses, a retired newspaper reporter and professor, sheds light on the immigrant experience, crime, and policing of the era. They explore the dangerous legacy of Joe Petrosino, assassinated in Sicily in 1909, and the immigrant detectives who followed in his footsteps.
The conversation delves into the challenges faced by Italian officers dealing with newly arrived immigrants, language barriers, and community distrust towards law enforcement. Moses recounts gripping cases of the Italian squad, including kidnappings, extortion, and the complexities of navigating the emerging organized crime landscape.
The interview highlights the political tensions within the police force, with Italian officers like Fiaschetti facing pushback and reassignments. As the mafia gains ground in New York, the significance of the Italian squad’s efforts in combating early criminal networks is underscored. The conversation also touches on the evolving cultural dynamics between Irish and Italian communities and the role of churches in fostering unity. ¬† Moses and the host emphasize the pre-prohibition origins of organized crime in America, setting the stage for the later prominence of figures like Lucky Luciano. The discussion concludes with insights into the historical context shaping the rise of the mafia and the ongoing relevance of immigrant experiences and crime dynamics in modern society. ¬† Overall, the interview thoroughly explores early law enforcement struggles, immigrant integration, and the complex interplay of cultural heritage and criminal activity in shaping New York City’s history. The engaging conversation offers a unique perspective on a lesser-known chapter in the American crime and ethnicity narrative.
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Introduction and Background
[0:00]Okay. Well, welcome all you wiretappers out there back here in the studio of Gangland Wire. I have a man that I just met named Paul Moses. Welcome, Paul. Good to be with you. Now, guys, Paul Moses wrote a book called The Italian Squad. There it is if you’re on YouTube, and there’ll be links in the show notes down below. The true story of the immigrant cops who fought the rise of the Italian mafia in New York City. And I know you may have known if you’ve been been following me for a long time that I’ve done the show about Joe Petrosino, who was the quintessential, the mob buster that all of us know out in New York City. You know, we had a guy like Joe in Kansas City who got killed. They signboarded him, Paul. They signboard somebody means that you wait behind a signboard that was along a sidewalk with a shotgun. And when you walk by, they step out from that signboard and take you out. And they signboarded our guy here in Kansas City, who was kind of our Joe Petrosino. So it was a dangerous time for Italian policemen back then, wasn’t it? To be the next Joseph Petrosino was a dangerous job. Yes, it was. And Paul, tell us a little bit about yourself. How’d you get into this and a little bit about your background? Well, I was a newspaper reporter in New York City.
[1:21]I worked for New York Newsday. I covered You know, federal court beat. I was a reporter in New Jersey, covered organized crime, connected things there, more close than in New York. And I then became professor of journalism at Brooklyn College. I’m retired from that now. I did this previous book that was about the story of the Irish and Italians in New York. I got it here. The unlikely union guys. It’s the story of the Irish and Italians. And so that describes what was basically a love-hate relationship, hate in the beginning and love and intermarriage later on. There was a chapter early on about Joseph Petrosino and others who were Italian
The Aftermath of Joseph Petrosino’s Assassination
[2:06]advancing into the NYPD and what that was like for them, which was dominated by the Irish. So I just found the story very compelling. And I saw that not much had been written about what happened after Joseph Petrosino was assassinated in Sicily in 1909. And there were other commanding officers of the squad who took over that very dangerous assignment.
[2:30]And their stories were also equally interesting. They were also in their time, like Petrosino, kind of nationally known detectives. So, you know, I like to tell a good story. And I thought that there was one there. And I think it also tells us a lot about immigration and immigrants and crime and lots of policing that people are still talking about. Yeah, it’s still topical today, as we can see. Just watch the headlines about immigrants and crime and how much crime do they bring and all that. So it’s and this story here is, you know, the story of the newly arrived immigrants. And when you, you know, we’d had nothing but Irish for a long time. Irish shared a common language with the English who were already over here. They’re both basically the same complexion. Complexion’s important. People don’t like to talk about that, but complexion’s pretty important. And then these Italians come over. They’re darker. They speak a whole different language, and so it’s harder to fit in. And, of course, the Irish have already got the jobs, the good jobs, the city jobs, and that’s kind of the immigrant way. And so Italians are shopkeepers, right? They have little push carts and have to go into business for themselves, restaurants, and they start moving into the city jobs, which are kind of the way out in a way, wouldn’t you agree? And so these were the early guys that went in to that next step.
[3:57]Right. And they badly needed Italian police officers because they spoke the language and the community. There was some chance the community would would cooperate with them also. So Petrosino was one of the earlier ones, not the earliest, but one of the earlier ones. Right. And that language thing and policing a newly arrived immigrant population, they have a different language. That’s huge. I know when I was still a policeman, that was quite a while ago. And we’re starting to get more and more Spanish-speaking people in the drug business. And they started sending guys down to Mexico for like a two-week full immersion because we didn’t have enough native speakers. Now, during that time, we started getting more and more. And so that was hugely important in order to be able to communicate. That was just something you don’t think about in policing. Right. It was really needed because the population of Italians was growing into the hundreds of thousands and growing very fast. And, you know, by and large, everybody came because they just wanted to work and they did help build the city. But there were some people who came over with criminal records.
[5:08]And those are the people who Joseph Petrosino and those who followed him were concerned about. Yeah. And so it seems like newly arrived immigrant population, they start out preying on themselves, on their fellow immigrants. What is up with that? That seems to be a general rule, isn’t it? Would you say in different ethnic groups that they start out shaking down their own people who are even a little bit successful? I think that has continued on, but that’s definitely what was going on in the Italian neighborhoods. neighborhoods and was not being well policed at the time. The merchants were calling for better policing. And finally, the answer to that, along with some newspaper pressure, was to set up the Italian squad in 1904.
[5:57]Interesting. So how did they recruit these guys? Where did they come from? Were they newly arrived immigrants or were they maybe second generation already? Yeah. No, the ones I wrote about were all foreign-born. There were others who were coming in a little bit later who were American-born. Now, Petrosino was actually recruited by a very famous police inspector named Alexander Williams, nicknamed Clubber, which indicates he was a very rough cop. If you’ve seen the gangs of New York, that scene where the cop hangs his watch on the lamppost and is able to walk around the block and come back without anybody stealing it, That’s actually something that Williams did. Oh, really? Yeah. I don’t know if it’s in the right time sequence in the movie, but that’s something that is true. And so he was a tough cop. He recognized some ability in Petrosino. At that time, the street cleaning department was a division of the police department.
[7:01]And Petrosino had worked his way up to be a foreman in an operation that put the garbage on scouts and sent it out to sea. And somehow he caught Williams’ eye and Williams got him into the police department. Petrosina was too short, but he managed to get that waived. And Petrosina was a regular patrol officer for quite a while, 1883, I think, to 1895, when he caught Teddy Roosevelt’s eye. Roosevelt was the police commissioner or head of the board of police commissioners at that time. And he promoted Petrosino to detective. And that’s when they realized, you know, what a star detective he was. Because every time they had an Italian case, they would turn to him. What he was saying, send for the Dago, right? He was, you know.
Petrosino’s Investigations and Legacy
[7:48]But Petrosino was building up. And there’s a photo of him that’s pretty well known. It’s in the Library of Congress. he’s making an arrest in a 1903 case called a barrel murder, which was at that time, like a body found in a barrel. And, but what I always liked about it is Petrosino was walking with two detectives who are the cream of the crop in New York, right? One is Arthur Carey, later becomes head of the Homicide Division. The other is a guy named McCafferty, who becomes a chief of detectives and an inspector. So he is right in there. And I always like the detail of Petrosino.
[8:24]When he was a boy, he was shining shoes outside police headquarters. waters. Harry was inside because his father was a detective and he was soaking it up as a kid from the inside, right? But here they are, you know, worked his way up into the company of these star, detectives. Yeah, interesting. You know, that the barrel murders, that those black handers, they were killing people and putting them in barrels, which was, you know, really, and the news, no different than they are today. They look for the shocking and they want to get those shocking pictures on there and those shocking headlines and and so these became quite quite a cause celeb if you will these barrel murders and and he had these black handers that were like lupo the wolf and the clutch and morello and people like that so it’s that’s what he went after that’s right and and lupo morello were serious gangsters with connections to uh mobs Big mobster in Sicily, Vito Caccio Ferro. But most of these black handers, they were isolated groups of thugs, some of them really amateurs.
[9:32]What they realized from reading in the newspaper about these black hand letters was that if you sent a shakedown letter to somebody and you put this black hand message on it, they thought this was an international conspiracy. Now, like I said, most of the black handers, it could be the person who lived across the street who was watching you and thought you had made some money. And so the black hand was, at that time, was not this big thing. But Petrosino and the guys who followed him on the squad knew that we do have to keep out these people who have connections back to the real mafia, right? Mafia still hasn’t really formed in America yet, at least not in New York. So that’s why Petrosino did have an in for Lupo and Morello, and they’re probably the people who had him murdered. That gets us to…
[10:19]Joe getting murdered, getting murdered. They set him up and he went to Sicily to try to find out real criminal records, if my memory serves me right, of these guys, who they really were. That’s exactly it.
[10:32]They were having trouble getting these records over the transom from the from the head of go through the State Department. State Department had to go Italian foreign ministry and the law in the United States, a new law from 1907, created a three year window. Though somebody came in with a criminal record like lupo and morello did lupo you know was fleeing from a murder conviction um they could be sent back and face justice in their own country it’s very important because they were having a lot of trouble getting people to testify against people like them right and endably i think in some ways but here to get rid of them all they needed was this piece of paper right proof that was proof enough uh to deport them and you know It wasn’t making them do time for the things they did, but at least it was getting them out of the way from the city. And so he went there, and I think there’s ample evidence to show that Lupo, in particular, had a grudge against Petrosino because Petrosino beat him up in public because Lupo was passing around death threats against Petrosino, right? Ample evidence to show that they were behind it. Vito Cascioferro, who was a genuine mafia don, he would have been part of that group of counterfeiters who were behind the barrel murder also. He later claimed, while he was in jail near the end of his life, that he fired the shot himself, which probably, I don’t believe him either. He’s just qualifying. But I think that he was involved.
[12:00]With Lupo Amorello and some intermediary who had never been fully, you know, convincingly identified. But anyway, yeah, I think that’s that leads to it. And what was interesting to me in one book, I talk about his funeral, Petrosino’s funeral, which for one way at least, the whole city comes together. Irish, Italians, everybody is behind him. And after that, the police commissioner, even before the funerals, as soon as Petrosino was murdered, the police commissioner decided to send another detective, two detectives this time, to Italy to complete the mission. And that becomes the story of Anthony Vakris, who commanded the squad eventually after Petrosino. They were able to get the records without leaving Rome because the head of Italian police nationally cooperated with them. He didn’t want another New York cop to be murdered. The politics changed. And this is a thing.
[12:58]In March and April 1909, Petrosino and the Italian squad are these huge heroes. By July, they’re calling, the police department commissioner’s calling off, a new police commissioner calls off Fakris’s mission, orders him not to tell anybody about what he was doing and puts him on desk duty for months. And eventually a new commissioner starts to limit the italian squad and finally does away with it so it’s it’s such a turnaround in the book i explain the politics of why so the the people who follow petrosino first of all they were they wanted to solve the murder secondly they were picking up a job to be the new petrosino when it was obviously extremely dangerous to do it and they were very good detectives, Vakris, another guy named Charles Correo, and finally at the end, Michael Fiaschetti. And so I wanted to tell their stories, but I always flashback to Petrosino because they learned, you know, and you know, he was, he was on their mind a lot. So, and often they were picking up cases that maybe Petrosino had started or investigated or, you know, or so he’s, he’s constantly in the book, but always in my case, and more and more in flashback.
[14:13]Interesting. So these these new guys, they they’ve been brought in probably after Petrosino. He maybe even helped choose them because you’ve got to you’ve got to be able to vet people. Like when I went to the intelligence unit, my friend from grade school really already was working down there because a guy that had known him and his family for a long time. You kind of like those are the kind of people you get into those squads. Is that how they were chosen? There was actually an Italian a little higher up in the police department named Formosa, who was kind of quietly reaching out and recruiting Italians in the department. So Charles Correo came in from the Brooklyn Police Department. At that time, it had been a separate city. Then 1898 emerges. So did Vakris. And Vakris was already a lieutenant by the time Petrosina was murdered. He was in charge of the Brooklyn unit of the Italian squad. Because in those days, they still kind of, even though the city merged, Brooklyn was still sort of like the separate, you know, I’m a Brooklynite, so I’m pro-Brooklyn. Half Italian, I should say.
[15:16]Fiaschetti was actually a very interesting character because Petrosino did recruit him. He was friends with Fiaschetti’s father, who was a musician. Petrosino played the violin. They would get together Sunday afternoons and play music and stuff. And Fiaschetti had married fairly young. And then his wife suddenly died from a minor infection or something like that. And Fiaschetti started drinking. And his life was a mess. And Petrosino straightened him out and got him to be on the police department. And he was a big guy, like six feet, which is pretty big for the time. And he was a really gung-ho investigator. and he was making huge cases on his own in Brooklyn. And eventually, he did work with Petrosino a bit in the beginning. Eventually, he comes back to the Italian squad, and the last few years, he’s the chief of it. So what would be one of the cases that you remember, one of the more important cases, more interesting cases that you talk about? Well, let’s see. The kidnappings are really heart-wrenching cases.
[16:30]Those are really, I go into quite a bit. And so you see, you know, this like little boy, five-year-old boy is kidnapped.
Undercover Operation with the Policewoman
[16:38]And then, you know, there’s a, you know, ransom notes and all that stuff. And in some cases they were able to catch the people who did it and recover the child with without without the ransom other cases they’re always trying to keep the people from paying the ransom but sometimes they did one case they made arrests they caught the people picking up the money but didn’t get the higher-ups and the boy was actually killed uh so there’s there’s all these heart-wrenching kidnapping cases the one that i really like was towards later in the the squad where Fioschetti got a woman cop to come in first Italian policewoman in the police department placed her with the family she lives with the family does cooking takes care of their kids really things Neapolitan songs to them and she’s presented as a as a cousin of the family she notices across the street there’s this funny looking guy who keeps looking out the window at them oh that’s our friend across the street and he kept looking at out the window into their apartment and she’ll invite him over you know so he comes over and he plays that role that’s by now familiar to the cops which is i’m a friend of the family i i know some of these gangsters i i can be the intermediary so yeah right away like yourself he’s he’s in with them right and sure enough he.
[18:06]Was through this woman uh her name is ray nicoletti they make these arrests she’s a huge star, they bring them back to headquarters and they really beat them up very badly but they couldn’t they you know uh it wasn’t legal then either you know it wasn’t people say it was winked at but you know there was actually pushback against that in those days too in this case though So where you see them trying to just save this kid, this five-year-old kid. And in that one, unfortunately, the victim did not survive. And Schettie always called it his biggest mistake because he said when he came out, sometimes you always remember the mistakes, right? Yeah. Same that way as a reporter. When he came out, they had arrested these people. But there was a young guy, better dressed on the street, who was talking to them. And he said, oh, no, I don’t know these people, or I’m his nephew. And they released him. And Fiaschetti realized later on, aha, that was the guy.
[19:11]Because these yokels, they couldn’t do something like this on their own. They had gone to some sophisticated criminals. You know, the guy across the street couldn’t do this on his own. Yeah. The tragedy there was people thought this family had money because they had a son who was hit by a truck, was taken to the hospital, and the social workers of the hospital helped the families and eventually connected them to a lawyer, and they filed a lawsuit. What in the street thought they were going to make big money? Bought himself a car, which was very unusual, but it was an old used car. But the mother told another lady across the street or someplace, we could have afforded a much better car.
[19:49]It wasn’t true. But the word got around, they got their settlement. So everybody thought they had many thousands of dollars and could be extorted. It’s just terrible, you know. But this was the world that the Italian squad cops worked in. And what you see here is that they were able to get these people to cooperate with them in ways that probably other cops in the force really couldn’t, because the Italians were reluctant to deal with law enforcement i know there’s a whole idea of omerta i think, you know your standard bowery you know sleazeball right they practiced omerta too they just didn’t call it that they didn’t talk to the cops they just didn’t talk to the cops yeah and but i i think partly in italy there was um the police southern italy was really in my view kind of oppressed by the Northern part of the country.
[20:45]After they united as one country. That’s why there was such a big migration, right? And they distrusted their institutions. They distrusted the police. They distrusted the church in a lot of ways too.
[20:56]And and so that that carries over into New York. So it’s difficult. And Petrosino and the others who followed him, really, that was their biggest problem. And they would talk about that a lot. On the other hand, I want to I would like to say note that Petrosino and Vakris, Correo and Fiaschetti also use their popularity with the press, which was considerable, to try to tell the public that, no, Italians are not all bad people. They want to come here and work. They’ll be good citizens someday if it gives them a chance. So they were defending their people in a lot of ways. And I think that’s part of the story that kind of got buried at the time, but was important to them. So to me, that’s part of the thing I enjoyed about the book. And, you know, my grandparents who died before I was born, they lived there on Mott Street in the middle of all this. So folks kind of give me an appreciation for the world that they came from. My mother, you know, was born into also.
[21:53]Yeah, really. It was such a small world that guys, you know, newly arrived immigrants live in, that they live in those communities, almost ghettos, if you will, and they don’t know much outside and what they’re experiencing. The same way today, people coming from Central and South America and even Mexico where the government and the police Police are also corrupt that, you know, they going to try to solve their own problems and they don’t they don’t want any Peckerwood. We call not not Italian’s Peckerwoods, any white police coming in and telling them what to do. And they don’t trust them. You know, it’s you know, everything old is new again, it seems like.
[22:33]I have to tell you, in general, the justice system was somewhat stacked against them. And that was being seen by Irish judges, too. They have served themselves. At one time, an Irish judge asked the police officers, how come when there’s a brawl between the Irish and Italian gangs, it’s only the Italians you bring in? And the defendant just looked at him and said, you know, shrug the shirt.
[22:54]That’s going on, too. Yeah. I’ll tell you a little story about that. We had a white judge in city court and vice unit would go hit crap games back in the 50s and 60s and bring them in and write them up and they get a $5 fine and have to go to court and get a $5 fine. They come in like 10 or 12 at the same court date. So this one judge, he just stopped one day and he said, look, these vice officers said, guys, he said, you go down to the Kansas City Country Club and bring me about 10 of those guys in one time. And then I’ll find these guys. You’re all dismissed. That’s great.
[23:35]So some things never change, really, maybe slowly, but surely. So this is really a fascinating story. They ended up kind of on the bad end, the wrong end of some higher ranking officers who didn’t like these Italian policemen probably getting all this glory and all this publicity. Is that what happened? I think that’s part of it. But Fiaschetti, he was a bit of a publicity hound and was disliked, I think, probably even by the other Italian cops for taking all the credit. There’s a famous case he helped solve, a murder of four police officers in Akron, Ohio.
[24:14]Yeah, there’s a book on that case, nice book on that case. But two of the suspects fled to Brooklyn. And all I knew was that one of them had a gunshot wound in his hand. So it’s called The Case of the Man with the Hole in His Hand. And the detective chief in Akron wrote to New York.
[24:30]All they had to go on was that, you know, somebody with a wounded hand. end. Fiaschetti found the guy and his confederate, got them both to talk on the train back to Akron. The Akron cops had already arrested the leader of the gang and maybe one other suspect. Fiaschetti did an amazing job in this case, but it wasn’t good enough for him. He made it sound in public statements. A memoir he wrote later published that he did it all by himself, which wasn’t quite true. He was the kind of guy who did amazing work, but he always took it a step further to write about him. But yeah, Sophia Schede. In the mid-teens, like around 19, they folded the unit into the bomb squad. But none of their veteran Italian detectives were in there. They had maybe more than 30 cops in the squad, but only two or three, maybe two of them spoke Italian, but they were rookies. It wasn’t an Italian squad. It was a bomb squad, and it was targeting radicals, anarchists. But eventually in 1918 or 1919, they formed the Italian squad, again, headed by Fiaschetti, who had made all these amazing cases, including the Akron, Ohio one. He was very well known nationally. It didn’t really go that well. His problem was he really knew how to put crime on the front page. And there was a big case. You may know it’s called the Good Killers Gang.
[25:53]I don’t know. know well it implicated what i would say are the beginnings of what we will later call the banano crime family uh sefo in buffalo maglia show maglia mag magladino magadino.
[26:10]Yes that implicated him and the montventry people they were all and banano they were all they were involved in a um a war or this is something where really what happened in sicily was transferring to the United States between Clance and Castellammare. There was a murder carried out, you know, here. And eventually, Fiaschetti does get the murderer to confess because he’s afraid the gang is going to kill him. They recruited him to kill a guy he knew because he knew the guy better than they did. And he spills information on about 16 or 17 murders. Remember in Detroit, and I don’t know, apparently the Detroit police were putting out, were We’re closing a lot of other cases based on. Yeah. We’ve got to put in the newspapers like 125, 200. 16 or 17 is pretty important as it was, right? Yeah. You know, they moved to make arrests way too soon. You know, I think there were certain methods of investigation that they needed to fine tune at that point that they would now do. They, you know, they moved in to make arrests.
[27:18]The gangster you mentioned himself, they put him in the same room with the informant. So he tried to, you know, and allegedly the cops then had to beat him up. So he shows up at his arraignment with this big bandage on his head. They used the informant to testify against sort of a guy down in Jersey where the one murder occurred as kind of an aiding and abetting case.
Rise of Organized Crime and the Castellammarese War
[27:45]He owned a hotel down there and supposedly he aided in the murder. And the case fell apart. And that was the last time they used that guy. The whole thing went nowhere, you know, 16, 17, 100. But in the meantime, this is on the front page all the time. Murders in New York, murders in New York. And the term crime wave was just sort of invented in the newspapers. Oh, really? This commissioner was denying there was a crime wave. And if you think police commissioners have it out with the press now, you should have seen this one. Because he actually was looking to get DAs to investigate publications of false information, stuff like that. And so I think that had a cut against Fiaschetti. So they merged it back into the bomb squad, and the bomb squad was headed by a guy who was A, Irish, his name was Gigan.
[28:39]B, he had been the former head of the sergeant’s union. Union. So he was really very involved in politics, city and state. And the police commissioner was actually the former head of the lieutenant’s union.
[28:55]Actually, he’d been on duty as a lieutenant when the mayor called him up and told him to come in, you’re being sworn in as commissioner. And Richard Enright, he served for about eight years. He was a significant commissioner in the in the NYPD’s history.
[29:11]And so anyway, they, he had a bond. There was a lot, and also Enright, because of his own politics, Enright was a brilliant guy, but because of his own politics, he was always passed up for promotion. He was a captain, always. So he had a lot of anger in him, and, Anyway, he was the one who merged them, and so now Fiaschetti is the underling, and he’s not used to that, okay? And there was one case where a guy came in, said his wife, he was a butcher, his wife had gone off with some blackhand guy, and they’ve been trying to steal all my assets, you know, steal all my money and my accounts and stuff like that. And so Fiaschetti approached the case in that way, arrested the woman. The woman had a good lawyer, Italian-American lawyer, Carlino, who was politically connected. The lawyer thought he had arranged a turnover of his client so she wouldn’t have to sit in jail overnight. Anyway, he came up there screaming.
[30:29]Fiaschetti had taken the woman away from taking the case away from gigan the boss and brought the woman into his office he’s questioning her the lawyer barges into his office fiaschetti gives him the bums rush right takes him pulls him out into you know well this guy was politically connected he he was able to uh meantime fiaschetti takes the woman over to jail she’s interviewed on the street by reporters including a woman reporter who um and she says what’s this case about you know her husband uh was no good he she he was beating her or i forget that he was mistreating her in lots of different ways and what does he mean his money i worked for all that money she did she worked in the butcher store with him and uh she says he once threw his meat cleaver at me and all this stuff. Anyway, she had a lot of sympathy. The case went, that went nowhere. And Fiaschetti was busted down to patrol.
[31:29]Newspapers are shocked he’s a really famous detective the use of the pushing the lawyer in the newspapers isn’t even mentioned which is the reason but that it was probably too they probably considered at the time too insignificant to even mention right yeah probably he’s back on patrol they assigned him to his old precinct in the williamsburg section of brooklyn but he he had contacts with the da in manhattan who needed him to investigate murders and he spent Spent another year or two on the force. He never actually went back on patrol. But that was really the end of his police career. He later emerges as a deputy commissioner in charge of a La Guardia division that investigated the markets, right? Tried to keep the mob out of the markets.
[32:19]But that’s really the end of the Italian squad then. It was merged. But then once Fiaschetti is pushed out, that’s the end of it. And the shame is that this 1922 is when the real mafia in New York does start. There was a gang there headed by Joe Masseria, right? The police headquarters was about a block from this spot, kind of a moving spot, where the bootleg bosses would all come to do liquor sales. It was like a stock market where you’re trading liquor. Yeah look there and this was in joe massery’s territory morello gets out of jail and becomes his right-hand man right so you can see where that early mob that petrosino was worried about, even after that case morello’s family survives if you know his his relatives included some terror terra novas who you made on the zero no yeah so they’re they’re still a mob family is uh In fact, they’re a family that’s, you know, in the mob.
[33:24]And so some of those early, at the very end of the book, you see some of those very early figures in organized crime start to circulate through this story, like Luciano and Joe Valachi makes an appearance because he was the one who was able to testify about who eventually murdered Morello, right? Right. And and so, you know, but I guess you would know this history better than I do. In the early 1930s, you have the Castellammarese War and that’s when, you know, a so-called mafia, I think, really with connections to the system and national starts to happen. When Petrosino was watching for the beginnings of it, trying to prevent that level of organization that would eventually form. But certainly, you know, Prohibition gave it a boost, and they could have used someone like Fiaschetti, properly managed and with proper resources to investigate the formation of the gangs.
Impact of Immigrants on Crime Evolution
[34:24]Yeah, interesting. That’s like the bridging the gap between the immigrants and the crime they brought with them, just their individual criminals and then the black hand letters and bridge that gap on into the modern mafia, if you will, and Lucky Luciano organizing the five families and that kind of thing. So this is a really interesting book. And to tell that story that mostly we don’t know. Most people start with Prohibition, basically, when the money came and when Lucky Luciano appeared. He’s got such a cool name that everybody remembers him. Yes, yes, yes. And so, yeah, it’s kind of a prequel to what most people know
Church as a Unifying Force
[35:12]about the mafia in America. All right great guys paul moses the italian squad and the unlikely union the love hate story of new york’s irish and italians i’ve noticed among my friends in modern times uh among they all meet at church there’d be somebody’s italian be married to a german or to an irish girl or an irish man will be married to an italian girl and a german will be married to an irish it’s all and they all I finally figured out that they all meet at church, don’t they? Actually, that’s what the book says.
[35:52]Church in the beginning was a scene of great confrontation between them. In the end, it was years later, something that helped bring them together. All right. Well, guys, you need to get this book, both these books, really.
The Struggle Against the Mafia
[36:05]Learn something about how this got going. The thing we pay so much attention to today, how the John Gottis of the world, the shoulders that they stand on and the early policemen that tried to prevent this and really couldn’t get it done. It’s like history was against them. Wouldn’t you say, Paul, history was against Joe Petrosino and the Italian squad? I think that’s it. People often ask, if you kept the squad, could they have stopped it? No, I don’t think so. I think the tide was too strong, but I think they could have helped. Yeah, really. All right. Paul Moses, thank you very much for coming on the show.
Announcement of Bonus Episode
[36:41]It’s a great pleasure, Gary. Thank you. Well, guys, that was really interesting. And we’re going to do another one, a bonus with him, a little known story about Al Capone that’s going to be coming up in the next few days. So don’t forget, I like to ride motorcycles. So watch out for motorcycles when you’re out there on the streets. And you know, if you have a problem with PTSD and you’ve been in the service, get to that VA website and get that hotline number. And if you have a problem with PTSD, you might have a problem with drugs and alcohol.
Resources for PTSD and Substance Abuse
[37:10]And Anthony Ruggiano has a hotline number on his website. And he’s a drug and alcohol counselor down in Florida.
[37:18]Don’t forget to like and subscribe. Don’t forget to give me a review if you think about it on that Apple Podcast app. It’s kind of hard to figure out. Tell your friends about us and give me any questions or ideas for stories. I’m always looking for ideas for stories, especially little short stories like we’re going to talk next time when I have this bonus episode come out, a little teaser. It’s about Al Capone killing the leader of an Irish gang in New York City. I had not known that before you real Al Capone fans probably know that so thanks a lot guys.

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