Florence Lassandro

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Filumena Costanzo Lassandro (1900 – May 2, 1923) was an Italian-Canadian bootlegger who was the only woman to be hanged in Alberta.

Biography[edit]

Born in Cosenza, Italy, Filumena immigrated with her family to southern Alberta and married Carlo Sanfidele (Charles Lassandro) on October 16, 1915 in Fernie, British Columbia. Her association with with Emilio Picariello led Lassandro into the world of bootlegging, when Prohibition was declared in Alberta in 1916 but not yet in British Columbia.

Picariello was an entrepreneur based in Blairmore, Alberta. He was engaged in many legal businesses including manufacturing ice cream and operating the Alberta Hotel in Blairmore, however this became a front for his bootlegging activity. Charlie Lassandro was one of Picariello’s employees, and permitted Filumena to work with Picariello to smuggle alcohol from British Columbia to Alberta and Montana. It is thought that Filumena was in love with Picariello’s son, Steve.

Steve became involved in a police chase in September 1922, during which he was shot in the hand by Constable Stephen O. Lawson of the Alberta Provincial Police before escaping to Michel/Natal B.C. In Coleman, Emilio Picariello and Filumena confronted Constable Lawson, who was fatally wounded in front of his home. The incident was witnessed by his 9-year-old daughter, Pearl.

Both Emilio and Filumena were convicted for Lawson’s murder; however, the trial was a questionable affair (who fired the fatal shot was never confirmed; the judge instructed the jury it didn't matter. The jury could find both suspects guilty if it chose). Both were sentenced to hanging; they unsuccessfully sought clemency from the courts, the Justice Minister, and the Prime Minister. Filumena and Emilio were hanged on the gallows of Fort Saskatchewan penitentiary on May 2, 1923.[1][2][3]

On February 1, 2003, Canadian composer John Estacio, and Canadian librettist John Murrell, premiered, in Calgary, Alberta, Filumena, an opera based on Lassandro's life and death. The opera was performed at the Banff Centre for the Arts in August 2003; was featured in Ottawa, Ontario in April 2005, during the Alberta Scene Festival, which celebrated Albertan culture during the centenary anniversary; and, in November 2005, was the opening work of the 2005/2006 season of the Edmonton Opera in Edmonton, Alberta. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcast a performance of this opera on March 9, 2006.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Who was Filumena?". Alberta Scene. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "The day Emilio Picariello and Florence Losandro gunned down Const. Stephen Lawson". calgarysun.com. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "The only woman hanged in Alberta". edmontonjournal.com. Retrieved 11 December 2016. 

External links[edit]