Mafia-Camorra War was a gangwar fought between the Manhattan based Morello Gang and Brooklyn based Camorra clans in the early 1900's. The violence would eventualy lead to the demise of the Camorra.
Pre Mafia-Camorra War
Amongst many other New York gangs the Morello's were seen as one of the most organized and notorious crews. They are also credited with being the first New York Mafia family and found it's existence somewhere in the late 1890's. They were involved in all sorts of crimes ranging from counterfeiting to murders and kidnapping. In 1910 both leaders, Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio Saietta, and others of their crew were arrested and jailed due to counterfeiting related charges. Morello's half-brothers took control of the organization. Ciro Terranova, one of the brothers had created relations with political figures and had made pacts with police officials. Therefore they had a large amount of freedom to do their criminal businesses. In the meanwhile Morello himself and Saietta were living their own life in Atlanta prison. In 1912 Morello's son Colagero was murdered during a shootout and in 1914 the Lamonti brothers, related to Morello and Terranova, were also killed during a feud. If this feud was related to them is not really known.
Relations between the Sicilians and Neapolitans
After Enrico Alfano, the main Camorra leader in New York, was arrested by Joseph Petrosino in 1907, leadership passed towards Pellegrino Morano. Morano, who used to make a living by selling stolen horses, had his main operations in Coney Island. There he ran a restaurant by the name of Santa Lucia. Later, in 1912 he met and befriended the young Anthony Paretti who was about to come his second in command. During this period the group of Morano was acquainted with the Navy Street Gang under Leopoldo Lauritano, but was not seen as one organization. Morano also frequently met with Nicholas Terranova and others of the Morello group. Terranova let Morano run his policy games in Harlem for the right price and so the peace remained between both sides. Later, when Andrea Ricci was also made a full Camorrista and became a leading figure inside the Navy Street gang he held annual smokers with Morano, the Morello's and others.
In 1916 the Morello's asked for their help to dispose a man in order to take over the lower Manhattan gambling. Next to that the target, Joe DeMarco, already had a fallback with the Morello's and even had tried to murder Nicholas Terranova. Morano also had a vendetta towards DeMarco because he had taken over his Mullberry Street card game in 1912. A couple of days prior to the murder the Morello's and Camorra had a sit down. The ones present were all 3 Terranova brothers and Stefano LaSale, representing the Morello gang, and the ones who took part on behalf of the Camorra were Morano, Umberto Valenti, Andrea Ricci, Leopoldo Lauritano and Joe Esposito. Hitman Mike Fetto was then sent out to murder DeMarco. Fetto however failed in the attempt and then set John Esposito on a path to kill him. The young Esposito wasn't able to track down the right man and killed Charles Lombardi instead, who's appearance was similar to DeMarco's. Sometime later however Esposito did track DeMarco with the help from Giuseppe Varrizano who pointed him out, and killed him. That evening Nick and Vincent Morello, Giuseppe Varrizano and Stefano LaSale all traveled to Navy Street. They told Lauritano the news that DeMarco had been shot and handed him $50 to pass on to the gunmen. A couple of days later DeMarco's brother Salvatore was also murdered as precaution to avoid any revenge actions.
Fallback with the Morello's
Whether or not the Morello's blamed Lauritano and his men for the amateurish killing is not known. What is known is that Morano felt he was not respected enough by the Morello's and also was angered because he felt he was being extorted by them. Navy Street leader Allessandro Vollero supported Morano because also he had unfinished business with the Morello's after they had killed his friend Nicholas DelGardio in 1914. Others however didn't share that same thought because for one they were outnumbered and needed to keep their contacts with the Sicilians. Vollero later told Joseph Valachi, with whom he was jailed during the 1920's, that he should never mix up with Sicilians because of their untrustworthy nature.
Morano and Vollero managed to get the support they needed, also by threatening to kill them if they did not get in line such as was the case with Andrea Ricci. Ricci however was then persuaded by Morano. Some of them voted for a swift and quick attack on the Morello's, to kill about 6 of them in one action. Main targets were Nicholas and Ciro Terranova, Charles Ubriaco and Stefano LaSale. On September 7, 1916, the time had come to take actions. Andrea Ricci had invited Nicholas Terranova and Charles Ubriaco to a meeting at his house. First they went to have a drink in a saloon owned by Raffaele Daniello, a Camorra member and then they would move on to Ricci. As they left the saloon they were suddenly attacked by three gunmen, amongst them Joe Esposito. Terranova was killed with 6 slugs and Ubriaco was shot through the head.
On October 5, 1916, another target was removed. The victim was Giuseppe Verrazano, who had been involved in the murder of Joe DeMarco. In March 1917 Anthony Paretti targetted Generose Nazzaro to be the next in line. Amongst his killers were Paretti's brother Aniello and Alphonso Sgroia. Raffaele Daniello later revealed a couple of other murders such as Michael Averna in July 1916 and Giuseppe Chiarella in February 1917.
Destruction of the Camorra
Many assassinations and attempts would happen after this making neither side a safe place to be. Since the Camorra couldn't kill the new leaders they would have to do it indirectly. The Camorra would try to take over the artichoke business. Their threats didn't work not only against artichokes, but coal and ice too, just to name a couple. One man would play the biggest part in the victory of the mafia. That man would be Ralph Daniello who would testify against Navy St. after his requests to help him and his family when he went to jail. He told everything he knew from murders to the rackets. Convictions and indictments were pouring in from Navy St. from past crimes like the murder of DeMarco. The top was showing only the mafia now.
The violence was over and that meant changes were going to take place. The biggest change, not having the camorra around.
Rocco Valenti was arrested in January for relations in the DeMarco / Lombardi killing. He was jailed for ten months, before being discharged in November 1918. He appeared later in court to testify against Charles Giordano in March 1919. Allesandro Vollero, was tried for first degree murder in the case of Nicholas Morello and Charles Ubriaco. Ralph Daniello testified against Vollero, and stated the gang paid money to a Detective named Michael Mealli. Mealli was reduced in rank getting assigned to patrol duty. Following this, Judge Kapper was taken ill on February 18th, causing a mistrial to be declared. Vollero was retried on March 4th and was sentenced to life at Sing Sing. Pelligrino Morano, leader of the Coney Island faction, was convicted of murder in the second degree. He was sentenced 20 to life at Sing Sing. Alphonso Sgroia, a Navy Street gang member, was sentenced on June 17th 1918, he received twelve years in Dannemora for the Nick Terranova case. Sgroia would testify against his fellow assailants, he would receive a shorter prison sentence and deportation to Italy. Justice for Morello's and Ubriaco's death didnít stop there.
John Esposito and Antonio Notaro were sentenced in June 1918, from 6 to 10 years each for their participation in the murder.Ciro Terranova was tried for Complicity in June 1918, in connection with the DeMarco/Lombardi killing. Johnny Esposito, the killer of Lombardi tried to testify against Terranova, but once it was proved that they were in the same gang, Ciro was acquitted due to lack of corroboration. Ralph Daniello's sentence was suspended due to the testimony he had given. An assault which cost him 5 years in Coney Island cut short his freedom. After his release in 1925 he was found shot near Metuchen, New Jersey. Frank Fevrola was found guilty by Judge Tompkins for the murder of "Chuck" Nazzaro in 1917. Fevrola was sentenced to the death house at Sing Sing, the testimony was given by someone who may have been closer to him than anyone, his wife.
However on April 14th, 1922, a notice was served on DA Weeks, that a motion would be made to grant a retrial on the case of Fevrola. All previous statements were withdrawn by his wife, her explanation was that the police had threatened and bribed her to testify. The retrial was opposed by mocking the affidavit of Tessie Fevrola. Tompkins denied any form of retrial for Fevrola. A last minute attempt to save Fevrola was made by lawyer Thomas O'Neil on May 29, 1923. With seven hours till execution Tompkins was granted a retrial, sparing him until October 7th. His death sentence was commuted eventually, meaning his sentence became less severe. Aniellio Paretti was lucky because all charges, which was the death of Nazzaro, against him were dropped. He was released from Sing Sing in 1923, after he was retrialed. Nick Morello's death still wasn't done being avenged by the law. Anthony Paretti was sentenced to Sing Sing death house for his part in the slaying. Paretti originally fled to Italy to escape capture. He returned to New York in March, 1926, thinking that most of the witnesses against him would be gone. Anthony wouldn't be as lucky as his brother, Aniellio, he was convicted for first degree murder. Leading up to the execution security was enhanced from 16 hours a day to 24 hours a day. He was pressuring politicians to throw out the death penalty but, wasn't granted. He was electrocuted on February 17, 1927 at the age of 35. One of his last visitors was future mafia boss, Vito Genovese.