||Palermo| Giuseppe Esposito
Born: 1843 - Palermo
Giuseppe 'Radazza' Esposito was a notorious Sicilian bandit and one of the very first Sicilian crime bosses in America. He was described as a small and muscheled man with a beard and a scar between his eyebrows. He was born around 1843 and operated as the lieutenant of a notorious Sicilian gang headed by a bandit called Antonino Leone for about 15 years. In 1876 they kidnapped an 22 year old English businessman called John Forester Rose and asked a ransom of £5000. They held him insdide a cave near Lercara Friddi, a city known for it's sulpher mining. Forester's parents were very wealthy bank owners but they didn't want to pay the ransom directly because then they would seem as an easy target. The gang threatened the parents by sending them warnings in the form of letters. When Foresters parents still didn't react after 2 letters, Leone attached one ear of their son with the third letter. The Fourth letter contained the other ear of the young man. Leone then threatened to cut of his nose and other bodyparts if they didn't pay the money. The mother eventually convinced her family to pay and set her son free. All of it became known to the general public and it was regarded as a disgrace for the Italian community. The angered people hunted down the bandits and lynched everybody suspected of the crime untill one of Leone's men broke Omèrta and ratted out his boss. After some of Esposito's closest men were captured, he turned himself in to friendly authorities. When they were transporting Esposito to Palermo to set trial he escaped, probably with the help from Palermo gangsters. Esposito fled the country and first went to France, then New York and finaly New Orleans. Antonino Leone moved to the South and went to live in Algeria, Africa, never to be heard of again. However, it has been declared that Leone was killed during a brawl somewhere before the year 1881.
Esposito entered New Orleans in 1880 and his name and fame made him to associate with Sicilian big shots such as Joseph Macheca and Carlo Matranga. He changed his name to Vincenzo Rebello, bought a boat and acted as a fisherman. In July 1881 however, he was arrested for murder, attempted murder and robbery by officer James Mooney (Who died in 1892 of paralysis) and David Hennesey (who was murdered in 1891 by former gangmembers of Esposito). He claimed he didn't know a man named Giuseppe Esposito and that he was a fruit dealer, born in Messina Sicily. He also denied that he had a wife in New Orleans. While in jail a couple of Sicilians gathered around the prison and city hall to state that Vincenzo Rebello was not a criminal and was an honest man. On September 22, 1881 he was placed on a steamship back towards Italy after he was identified by 2 Italian gendarmes. Esposito's wife and child (which was born in 1881) also returned to Italy. Whatever happened with him afterwards is not known.
(Source: NY Times articles from 1881)
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