Unione Siciliana – (Italo-American National Union)


For a few years, individuals have assumed that the Sicilian crime faction referred to as the Mafia and the Unione Siciliana had been one and the identical. Nevertheless, this assumption just isn’t fully true. No less than, not initially.

The Unione Siciliana, a fraternal group of Sicilian Individuals, was first created in 1893 in New York Metropolis, and virtually concurrently in Chicago, by official Sicilian businessmen. The unique idea of the Unione Siciliana was to supply life and medical health insurance to Sicilians, who had just lately emigrated from Sicily. This insurance coverage was wanted as a result of the working situations at the moment had been abominable for all staff, however particularly for the alien newcomers, who had been determined for work of any sort, regardless of how harmful.

For a small dues, members had been in a position to obtain this insurance coverage, in addition to different social advantages desired by strangers in a international land, who had been, by nature, extraordinarily clannish. These social advantages included dances, pleasant card video games, and a social community the place Sicilian males might meet Sicilian girls, with the intention of finally getting married. Quickly branches (lodges) of the Unione Siciliana sprung up throughout America, in anywhere that had a large Sicilian group. By the 1920, Chicago alone had 38 lodges, and over 40,000 members.

The Unione Siciliana additionally had a really sizable voting block, which made it enticing to politicians, particularly the corrupt political machines in Chicago, and the notoriously crooked Tammany Corridor hacks in New York Metropolis. The Unione Siciliana threw frequent fund-raising actions for politicians in each cities, making these politicians, when elected, deeply indebted to the leaders of the Unione Siciliana, who had been growing morphing from trustworthy businessmen into criminals of the very best order.

If there was a buck to be made, or a politician to be purchased, the Mafia, which additionally originated in Sicily, knew how one can reap the benefits of the chance. On the flip of the twentieth Century, the Mafia moved in, each in Chicago and in New York Metropolis, to take management of the Unione Siciliana.

Within the early 1900’s in New York Metropolis, the elected President of the Unione Siciliana was a beast-of-a-Mafioso named Ignazio Saietta, also called “Lupo the Wolf.” How a person like Saietta may very well be elected by trustworthy businessmen to a place of such nice affect can solely be attributed to Saietta and his followers exerting super stress on the voters to elect Saietta, or undergo grave penalties.

Saietta, initially from Corleone, Sicily, was additionally one of many leaders of a Sicilian extortion group generally known as the Black Hand, which operated solely in New York Metropolis. Saietta was so feared within the Sicilian communities, Sicilian immigrants had been identified to make the signal of the cross on the mere point out of his title. The management of the Black Hand consisted of the Morello Brothers, Joe and Nick, and Ciro Terranova, who was generally known as the “Artichoke King.” So on the time Saietta turned the president of the Unione Siciliana, the Black Hand and the Unione Siciliana turned mainly one and the identical.

By means of the membership rolls of the Unione Siciliana, the Black Hand gang members had been in a position to verify which Sicilian immigrants had been producing earnings, thereby making these members ripe for a shakedown. Earlier than any violence was perpetrated, the Black Hand despatched threatening notes to Sicilian businessmen. On the underside of the extortion notes, was the imprint of a “Black Hand,” which was made by a hand dipped in black ink. Nevertheless, because of the inroads legislation enforcement was making with fingerprinting on the time, the “Black Hand” was later drawn as an alternative. If the one that was being extorted didn’t pay the Black Hand’s calls for, they had been brutally tortured, and typically even murdered. In the event that they had been fortunate, solely their locations of enterprise was destroyed by explosives.

In 1905, a butcher named Gaetano Costa, received a Black Hand extortion letter, demanding $1,000. Costa was instructed to place the $1,000 right into a loaf of bread, and to provide it to a person who got here into his store to purchase meat, and pulled out a pink handkerchief. Costa refused, and the very subsequent day, two males got here into his butcher store and shot Costa to demise. Nobody was charged with the homicide, however the police had been certain the orders got by Saietta.

One of many Italians being extorted by the Black Hand was the well-known opera singer Enrico Caruso. Caruso was, at first, given an ultimatum to pay $2,000 for his security. Caruso, figuring out the murderous popularity of the Black Hand, agreed to pay that quantity. Nevertheless, earlier than he might pay, Caruso acquired one other letter now demanding $15,000.

The nemeses of the Black Hand was a brief, barrel-chested police lieutenant named Joseph Petrosino. Figuring out Petrosino was sizzling on the path of the Black Hand, Caruso instantly took the second letter to Petrosino. Petrosino instructed Caruso to make preparations to drop the cash off at a prearranged place. When two Italian males confirmed as much as decide up the cash, Petrosino arrested them on the spot.

The magnitude of the atrocities perpetrated by the Black Hand was uncovered, when in 1901, appearing on a tip from an informant, Petrosino found the notorious “Homicide Stables” positioned at 304, 108th Avenue in Harlem. Petrosino directed his males to dig up the grounds of the whole stables. He was horrified to find that 60 our bodies had been buried there. The owner of report of the stables was none aside from Ignazio Saietta, president of the supposedly respectable Unione Siciliana. When Petrosino questioned Saietta as to the slight drawback of so many useless our bodies being buried on his property, Saietta performed dumb, saying he was solely the owner, and never chargeable for the work of his tenants. Saietta offered Petrosino with a bogus checklist of the tenant’s names, all of Italian first rate, however Petrosino was not in a position to find any of those tenants, if certainly they existed in any respect.

Whereas investigating the Black Hand’s roots in Sicily, on March 12, 1909, Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino was shot to demise within the piazza of the Garibaldi Backyard in Palermo. Petrosino’s homicide was ordered by the Black Hand members in America, and orchestrated by the top of the Mafia in Sicily – Don Vito Cascio Ferro.

Nevertheless, Saietta was not so fortunate himself. Saietta owned operated, together with his associate Joe Morello, a bar/restaurant, at 8 Prince Avenue, in Manhattan’s Little Italy. The joint was truly a entrance for an in depth counterfeiting operation. Counterfeit two and five-dollar payments had been shipped to the restaurant from Sicily, in containers of olive oil, or in crates of spaghetti, cheese, and wine. These counterfeit payments had been offered all through the USA for as little as 30 cents on the greenback. Quickly, the U.S. Secret Service caught wind of their operation, and in 1909, each Morello and Saietta had been arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 30 years in jail.

After Saietta’s incarceration, the presidency of the New York Chapter of the Unione Siciliana modified palms from one thug to a different, when in 1918, the crown settled on the top of Brooklynite Frankie Yale, actual title Uale. Yale’s ascension to the throne put an finish to the misguided impression that the Unione Siciliana was an Sicilian-only group. Yale was born in Calabrian city of Longobucco, Italy, and had no Sicilian roots in anyway. Not solely was Yale president of the New York Chapter of the Unione Siciliana, however because of the affect of his good friend Johnny Torrio, a Brooklyn boy who was working Chicago with one other Brooklynite Al Capone, in 1925, Yale additionally turned Nationwide President of the Unione Siciliana.

However extra on Frankie Yale later.

Whereas Ignazio Saietta’s Unione Siciliana was prospering in New York Metropolis, the Chicago chapters of the Unione Siciliana had been additionally going to the wolves.

In 1902, the Chicago boss of the Mafia was Antonio D’Andrea, an ex-priest who in 1902 was additionally arrested for counterfeiting. After his launch from jail, D’Andrea determined to go straight; no less than considerably straight. D’Andrea received a job as knowledgeable translator, than later as a court docket translator. In 1919, utilizing his official place within the courts, D’Andrea ran for the presidency of the Unione Siciliana. D’Andrea was in some way elected, regardless of his felony report, which tells you all it’s worthwhile to know concerning the crooked path the Unione Siciliana had taken in Chicago.

In 1921, D’Andrea determined to additionally run for Alderman within the nineteenth Ward towards entrenched incumbent, John “Johnny de Pow Pow” Powers. That turned out to be not such a terrific concept.

Powers was an incorrigible saloonkeeper, who was identified for his attachments to Chicago’s extra notorious Irish criminals. The Chicago hoods beloved “Johnny de Pow Pow,” however these not so-in- love with Powers referred to as him “The Prince of Boodlers.” Powers had been the highly effective Alderman within the nineteenth Ward of Chicago since 1888, when virtually all his constituents had been Irish.

Based on the Chicago Instances, “The one approach Powers can get votes is by hypocritical posing as a benefactor by filling the position of a good friend in want when demise comes. He has bowed with aldermanic grief at thousand of biers. He’s cold; personally unattractive. His demeanor is one in all timid alertness and anxiousness to please, however he’s truly autocratic, smug, and insolent.”

One detractor stated, “Johnnie Powers distributed turkeys on Christmas Day, however he has robbed the individuals 364 days within the 12 months and he can afford to provide them just a little again on the 365th”.

The Chicago Herald additionally wrote, “Powers is as match to be an Alderman as an elephant is to participate in a roller-skating match.”

By 1921, Italian immigrants had steamrolled into Chicago, a lot so, Powers’ nineteenth Ward was now 80% Italian, all with equal voting rights with the Irish. Powers nonetheless was profitable in getting out the Irish vote, however till this time he had additionally been very profitable with the Italian group.

“I should purchase the Italian vote with a glass of beer and a praise,” Powers instructed his buddies.

Nevertheless, working towards the Italian powerhouse D’Andrea, president of the highly effective Unione Siciliana, modified the equation significantly for Powers. He determined it was time for extra drastic actions.

The campaigning by each males was thrilling, to say the least. As each pleaded to their constituents for votes, bombs began exploding at an alarming charge; one on Energy’s entrance porch, one other at a D’Andrea rally (critically injuring 5 individuals), two extra on D’Andrea’s entrance porch, and a ultimate one at D’Andrea’s election headquarters.

Councilman James Bowler, a quick pal of Powers, instructed the press, “Gunmen are patrolling the streets. Alderman Powers’ home is guarded day and night time. Our males have been met, threatened and slugged. Gunmen and cutthroats have been imported from New York Metropolis and Buffalo. It is worse than the Center Ages.”

The election was extraordinarily shut, however ultimately Powers prevailed by a tiny margin of 435 votes.

Nevertheless, D’Andrea turned out to be a sore loser, and because of this, the physique depend started to pile up within the Chicago streets.

Paul Labriola was one of many Italians who had backed Powers. On March 9, 1921, Angelo Genna, of the horrible Genna brothers and an ally of D’Andrea, shot Labriola full on holes on the nook of Halstead and Congress streets. On that very same day, cigar retailer proprietor Harry Raimondi, who had switched sides from D’Andrea to Powers, was shot 5 occasions within the again, behind the counter of his cigar retailer.

In fast succession, D’Andrea had his males remove Powers’ loyalists, Gaetano Esposito, Nicolo Adamo, and Paul Notte. Powers’ faction countered again by killing Joe Marino and Johnny Guardino, two of D’Andrea’s most succesful males.

On Could 11, 1921, whereas D’Andrea was enjoying playing cards at a neighborhood restaurant, three males drove previous the doorway to the condominium constructing the place D’Andrea lived together with his spouse and two daughters – 902 South Ashland Avenue. After the motive force parked the automobile in a slim alley on the aspect of the constructing, the 2 different males quietly exited the automobile. They pried open an alley window with a chisel, then crept by means of a coal bin to the basement stairs. Up the steps they went, till they stopped at a vacant floor flooring condominium proper throughout the corridor from D’Andrea’s condominium; an condominium they knew was vacant, as a result of that they had instructed the occupant, Abraham Wolfson, to maneuver out, or die.

Shortly after, they watched from an open window dealing with the road, as D’Andrea’s automobile, pushed by his bodyguard Joe Laspisa pulled as much as the doorway. D’Andrea received out and walked into the constructing as Laspisa drove away. As quickly as D’Andrea reached the entrance door of his condominium, the 2 males opened fireplace with two shotguns. D’Andrea took the 2 blasts full within the chest, however he wouldn’t go down with out a combat. As his two killers exited the constructing the way in which that they had entered, D’Andrea, mendacity in a pool of his personal blood, fired 5 occasions on the fleeing males. However to no avail.

D’Andrea died a number of hours later in Jefferson Park Hospital, after telling his spouse and daughters, “God bless you.”

D’Andrea’s demise left a emptiness on the high of the Chicago chapter of the Unione Siciliana, which was shortly stuffed by Mike Merlo, who was on trip in Italy when he heard his good good friend D’Andrea had run into some dangerous luck. Merlo was thought of a conciliator; somebody who felt peaceable negotiations was higher than blasting somebody with holes. Nonetheless, that didn’t cease Merlo from instantly ordering the homicide of the boys concerned in D’Andrea’s killing.

Irishman Dion O’Banion was the top of the infamous North Aspect Gang, which was in fixed battle with the Italian mob led by Johnny Torrio and Al Capone, over who had the appropriate to promote their unlawful booze wherein bars in Chicago, and within the surrounding rural areas. Nevertheless, Merlo, for some unknown cause, preferred O’Banion and so long as Merlo, who as president of the Unione Siciliana was as highly effective in Chicago as Capone and Torrio, saved O’Banion underneath his wing, O’Banion life was safe.

Nonetheless, O’Banion, who owned and operated a Chicago flower store on the aspect, could not wait to stay to his supposed Italian mates.

With a broad smile on his good-looking Irish face, O’Banion approached Torrio and Capone, and supplied to promote them his Sieben Brewery, on the North aspect of Chicago. The Sieben Brewery, which was underneath the safety of the North Aspect cops, had the popularity of manufacturing the very best quality beer in the whole state. O’Banion instructed the 2 Italian mob bosses that he had made sufficient cash within the unlawful hootch enterprise, and that he was quiting utterly, and settling together with his beautiful spouse on a obscure ranch in Colorado. Capone and Torrio had been delighted on the prospect of shopping for the brewery, they usually did not even flinch when O’Banion instructed them the value was half one million {dollars}. As a gesture of excellent will, O’Banion supplied to help within the supply of 1 final cargo. Then he stated he was out and gone for good.

On Could 18, 1924, 13 vans stood contained in the Sieben Brewery, manned by twenty two males. Every truck was loading as much as their full capability with instances of beer, which because of the reality the half one million {dollars} had already modified palms, now belonged to Torrio and Capone. Two policemen on O’Banion’s pad, stood guard to verify every thing went hunky dory. Additionally on the premises supervising the operation had been Torrio, O’Banion, and O’Banion’s proper hand man Hymie Weiss. Capone was absent as a result of he was on the lam for killing a thug named Joe Howard.

All of a immediately, earlier than the primary truck had left the brewery, an avalanche of cops descended upon the brewery like roaches swarming a loaf of bread. The cop in command of the raid was a Chief Collins, and in minutes, the beer vans had been seized, and Torrio, O’Banion, and Weiss had been arrested.

The three males had been quickly launched on bail, however Torrio, who was generally known as “The Fox,” smelled a rat. He had cops on his payroll too, and one in all them knowledgeable Torrio that O’Banion was in on the raid, and solely agreed to be arrested to solid suspicion away from himself.

Torrio was additional incensed when he was knowledgeable that O’Banion was bragging about how he arrange the Sieben Brewery raid, saying, “I assume I rubbed that pimp’s nostril within the mud alright.”

Torrio instantly arrange a gathering with O’Banion nemeses Angelo Genna and his brothers Mike and Tony, Capone, and himself, to debate what to do about O’Banion. The group unanimously voted to whack O’Banion. Nevertheless, Torrio did warning the group that Mike Merlo, the highly effective president of the Unione Siciliana, was nonetheless in O’Banion’s nook. Angelo Genna instructed Torrio to not fear. Merlo was deathly sick with most cancers, and, in actual fact, would die on Saturday, November 8, 1924, lower than per week after the assembly. Frankie Yale, nonetheless the top of the Nationwide Unione Siciliana, flew in from New York Metropolis, and he appointed Angela Genna the brand new head of the Chicago chapter of the Unione Siciliana. Yale additionally renamed the group the “Italo-American Nationwide Union,” thereby justifying the truth that he, a Calabrese, might rightfully be the president of the previous Sicilian-only group.

With Merlo out of the way in which, the Chicago mob, with the blessing of the Italo-American Nationwide Union, deliberate O’Banion’s demise.

Merlo’s funeral was, up till that point, the most important funeral in Chicago historical past. Greater than $100,000 price of flowers had been ordered, and because of this, O’Banion’s flower store was bombarded with requests for quite a few flower arrangements. On Sunday, November 9, O’Banion and his associate William Schofield spent the whole day of their flower store weaving lilies, roses, orchids, and carnations into wreaths of varied sizes. Capone had ordered $8,000 price of pink roses, and Torrio positioned an order for $10,000 price of varied kinds of flowers and floral shows

Close to closing time on Sunday, Angelo Genna phoned the flower store and instructed Schofield that he wanted to order one other wreath, and that he would come to choose it up the next day. The huge quantity of orders necessitated Schofield and a number of other of his staff to remain up virtually the whole night time fulfilling their floral obligations.

At round midday on Monday, O’Banion was alone within the again room of the flower shot clipping the stems off chrysanthemums. The one different particular person within the flower store was a black porter named William Crutchfield, who was busy sweeping up the mess from the day earlier than. Immediately, three males entered the store. Two of Torrio’s males, John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, had been acquainted to O’Banion, however the third man was a complete stranger.

O’Banion got here out of the again room and stated, “You boys right here for Merlo’s flowers?”

The stranger was none aside from Frankie Yale, who had been imported to Chicago as soon as earlier than, to remove Torrio’s uncle-through-marriage and Chicago mob boos “Large Jim” Colosimo. Colosimo’s sudden demise paved the way in which for Torrio and Capone to take over the city.

Yale prolonged his hand to O’Banion, “Sure, we’re right here for the flowers.”

O’Banion took Yale’s hand, when immediately, Yale yanked O’Banion’s hand towards him, and pinned each of O’Banion arms to O’Banion’s sides. Earlier than O’Banion might extricate himself, Scalise and Anselmi fired six bullets into O’Banion. Two blasted into O’Banion’s chest, one other hit him within the cheek, and two extra buried themselves into O’Banion’s larynx. The ultimate shot, which was the capper, embedded itself in O’Banion’s mind. The weapons had been fired at such shut vary, there have been scorch marks on O’Banion’s face.

O’Banion’s funeral was even larger than Merlo’s funeral. O’Banion’s coffin, which was product of stable silver with bronze double partitions, price $10,000 alone; 4 occasions greater than the typical yearly pay of a Chicago wage-earner.

After Merlo’s demise, being the top of the Chicago chapter of the Italo-American Nationwide Union (previously the Unione Siciliana), was the kiss of demise. Inside a 12 months, Angelo Genna was murdered by members of O’Banion’s North Aspect mob. Genna’s place was taken by Samuzzo “Samoots” Amatuna, who was killed inside a number of months after he took Genna’s place, by one other North Aspect mobster, Vincent “The Schemer” Drucci.

After Amatuna’s demise, Capone, who was now the Chicago boss resulting from Torrio’s retirement, inserted one in all his buddies, Antonio Lombardo, as boss of the Chicago chapter of the Italo-American Nationwide Union. This was finished with out the blessing of Frankie Yale, who wouldn’t be Capone’s good friend for much longer. It appeared that Yale had needed to nominate Joe Aiello as the brand new boss of the Italo-American Nationwide Union in Chicago. Aiello was not too pleasant with Capone, and in Yale’s opinion, was extra prone to pay the right tribute to Yale in NY city reasonably than Lombardo, who was intently aligned with Capone.

Yale and Capone had been now at cross-purposes, and if Capone wanted one other excuse to whack Yale it was offered to him within the spring of 1928. Capone and Yale had been companions within the distribution of unlawful whiskey, which was offered within the Chicago speakeasies, and speakeasies within the rural suburbs. The booze would arrive from Canada, and was transported by means of New York in vans, on it is method to Capone in Chicago. It was Yale’s obligation to make sure the protection of these shipments. Nevertheless, Capone was dismayed to find that a few of his vans had been being hijacked on route from New York Metropolis to Chicago by none aside from Yale himself.

On Sunday afternoon, July 1, 1928, Frankie Yale was sitting comfortably in his Dawn Membership, positioned on 14th Avenue and sixty fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. Immediately the telephone rang and Yale was knowledgeable that his new spouse Lucy was in some type of predicament regarding their year-old daughter. Yale affiliate Joe Piraino supplied to drive Yale residence, however Yale refuse the provide. As an alternative he jumped into his new light-brown Lincoln and headed down New Utrecht Avenue. The Lincoln had been bullet-proofed, however not the home windows, which turned out to be a deadly mistake.

At forty fourth Avenue, Yale stopped at a pink gentle, and he observed {that a} black Buick occupied by 4 males had been following him. Yale jumped on the fuel, turned down forty fourth Avenue, and a wild chase ensued. The Buick managed to drag alongside Yale’s automobile and the 4 males opened fireplace. Yale was hit by a barrage of bullets fired by means of the window of his automobile. The weapons used had been two.45 caliber revolvers, two sawed-off shotguns, and a brand new invention referred to as the Tommy Gun, or Thompson Submachine Gun, which fired bullets from a.45 caliber, 20-round journal. Yale’s automobile swerved uncontrolled and crashed into the stoop of a home positioned at 923 forty fourth Avenue. When the police arrived minutes later, Yale was certainly very useless.

The demise of Frankie Yale tremendously decreased the necessity for and the affect of the Italo-American Nationwide Union. In Chicago, Capone ran the city, and he quickly eradicated each Lombardo and Aiello with bullets. In 1930, Capone put in Agostino Loverdo as the brand new president of the Italo-American Nationwide Union. Loverdo lasted till 1934, which by this time, Capone had already been despatched to jail in 1932 on an earnings tax evasion cost. In 1934, former Capone bodyguard Phil D’Andrea was appointed boss of the Chicago Italo-American Nationwide Union by Frank Nitti, who was now working Capone’s previous crew.

In New York Metropolis, after the demise of Yale, there was no actual boss of the Italo-American Nationwide Union. After the Castellamarese Struggle eradicated each Joe “The Boss” Masseria and his successor Salvatore Maranzano, Fortunate Luciano turned the top of the Italian Mafia and his used the idea of the Italo-American Nationwide Union to begin a Nationwide Crime Syndicate, which included Jewish mobsters, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, and Louis Lepke. Irishman Owney Madden was additionally a part of the Syndicate. So in impact, in New York Metropolis the Italo-American Nationwide Union, previously the Unione Siciliana, ceased to exist.

In Chicago, Phil D’Andrea saved the Italo-American Nationwide Union loosely in place till he dissolved it in 1941, because of the lack of curiosity from it is members. Nevertheless, after the dissolution of the Italo-American Nationwide Union, the Mafia continued to stay robust in New York Metropolis and in Chicago, in addition to in different main cities all through America. The Mafia continues to thrive at the moment because it did within the Roaring Twenties heyday of the Unione Siciliana.

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