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  • Writer's pictureJ. Sutton

Giuseppe Masseria aka Joe the Boss

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Giuseppe Masseria, or Joe Masseria by name, who later became known as Joe 'The boss', was an American Organized Crime Boss, who was born in Menfi, Agrigento Province, Sicily, in 1886. He spent his early life in Sicily where he became involved in crime gaining his first experiences of a life of crime.

At the age of about 16 Joe illegally emigrated from Sicily to New York, in 1903, where he associated with the Black Hand gangs (early groups of extortionists who had immigrated from Sicily & Italy) and other Italian criminals, and was involved in a range of criminal activities.

Leading up to the 1920's Joe had begun to establish himself in the crime world. He was fast making a name for himself. However in 1913 he had a small set back after getting convicted of third degree burglary. He was sentenced to 4 - 6 years. It wouldn't be long before Joe was back at his hustle.

By the 1920's, he had an established criminal career, and began creating a power play whereby he would earn a large profit percentage from various families and have control over the majority of Italian-run rackets in New York.

By profiting from organised mafia families he had gained control over the majority of Italian-run rackets in New York. Joe had gained significant influence in the mafia underworld and began working closely with the Morello gang.

This plan would set him up to become the boss of what is now know as the Genovese family. He was head of the Genovese crime family from 1922 until his assassination in 1931.

Joe had begun to recruit some now infamous mafia members. Touting Charles 'Lucky' Luciano as his gunman, Giuseppe 'The Clutch Hand' Morello as an underboss, and soldiers such as the likes of Frank Castello and Vito Genovese. He was known not to tolerate foolishness and to always have a strategy. Making him a challenging enemy for anyone.

Joe "The Boss" was known for his violence and brutality, after earning his place at the top of the family he had to maintain his authority. However, he had competition boss Salvatore D'Aquila from the now Gambino family (at this time it was known as the D'Aquila family) who also wanted power over the crime families.

Image above: Salvatore D'Aquila Boss of the D'Aquila crime family

In 1930, they fought for power in what became know as The Castellammarese War in an attempt to take over the criminal activities in New York City and become the main boss.

However, this brought too much media and police attention to the gangs, violence and bloodshed began to affect the business of the gangs, and all was ended when he was assassinated on April 15, 1931.

The assassination was set up, approved and ordered by Charles "Lucky" Luciano, whom was Joe 'The Boss' Lieutenant in a joint agreement with rival faction head, Salvatore Maranzano.

Image above: Charles 'Lucky' Luciano

On April 15th 1931, Joe 'The Boss', Lucky Luciano, and his body guards all met at the Nuova Willa Tammaro sea food restaurant, on Coney Island, at 3pm. Lucky had his assassination planned, and, during a card game, excused himself to go to the bathroom. This was the signal to the assassins to have Joe killed.

It is still unclear on how many assassins were in on this, but it is speculated that Joe Adonis, Bugsy Siegel, Vito Genovese and Albert Anastasia were involved, as was the owner of the restaurant where he was assassinated.

Reports state that Joe 'The Boss' was shot over 20 times, including once in the head, ensuring that he had been taken care of. Now he is known as one of the most famous mafia bosses in history.

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