Monday, April 20, 2015

End of the Agnello clan

April 20, 1872 (details from Chapter 3 of Deep Water): 

New Orleans Mafia leader Joseph "Peppino" Agnello was shot to death during a gunfight at the Picayune Tier, a preferred docking spot for Sicilian lugger vessels and ships involved in the fruit trade.

Successor to the leadership of his murdered brother Raffaele's underworld organization, Joseph Agnello was wounded in several assassination attempts from 1870 to 1872. More than once, he was reported to be near death but miraculously recovered. 

He finally met his end after gunmen cornered him on the dock. Agnello tried to escape by jumping aboard the moored schooner Mischief, but after some exchange of gunfire a large-caliber horse-pistol slug fired by Joseph Maressa struck him in the midsection. 

The slug passed through Agnello's body and ripped a gaping hole in his back.

The murder of Joseph Agnello apparently concluded a four-year New Orleans underworld civil war between the Agnello-dominated Palermo-born Mafiosi and a rival group composed of crime figures from Messina and Trapani. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

124 years ago: Eleven prisoners killed

March 14, 1891: One day after a jury refused to convict the accused assassins of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy, an angry mob assembles on Canal Street. Under the direction of political leaders, the mob marches to Orleans Parish Prison, where the Hennessy assassination defendants remain incarcerated. A carefully selected and well armed execution squad enters the prison and murders eleven men, including Joseph P. Macheca. 

(Two men are taken outside the prison walls and hanged. The hangings are performed sloppily, and several attempts are made before the victims lives are extinguished.) 

The execution squad and its political leaders describe their eleven victims as members of the New Orleans Mafia. However, recognized Mafia leader Charles Matranga and his chief lieutenant - both held within the prison - are spared. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

124 years ago: None convicted

Court Clerk Richard Screven reads the jury verdict
in Judge Joshua Baker's courtroom.
124 years ago today (March 13, 1891): The trial of nine men accused of the assassination of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy concludes without a conviction. Much of the city is enraged as the jury acquits six defendants and announces a deadlock on the remaining three. 

Joseph P. Macheca, Charlie Matranga, Bastiano Incardona, Antonio Bagnetto, Antonio Marchesi and Asperi Marchesi are acquitted. A mistrial is declared for Manuel Polizzi, Antonio Scaffidi and Pietro Monastero.

The defendants, all widely suspected of membership in the Mafia criminal society, continue to be held at Orleans Parish Prison overnight on a legal technicality. Their release is expected the following day.

City political leaders hastily arrange for a morning gathering of New Orleans residents on Canal Street.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tampa Mafia magazine

An article written by Deep Water coauthors Thomas Hunt and Martha Macheca Sheldon appeared in a recent issue of Tampa Mafia magazine. The article deals with a confession of sorts written years after the 1891 Crescent City lynchings by one of the men involved.