Joseph Vincent Moriarty

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Joseph Vincent Moriarty on September 29, 1960

Joseph Vincent Moriarty (June 1910 – February 26, 1979), also known as Newsboy Moriarty, was an Irish American mobster in Hudson County, New Jersey who controlled the numbers game.[1][2]


He was born in June 1910 in Jersey City, New Jersey to Ellen Hussion (1884–?) and Michael Moriarty (1883-c1919) of County Galway, Ireland who had married on April 15, 1906 in Somerville, Massachusetts.[3]

He got started in the numbers racket when he was 13 years old, around 1923.[1][4] He always wore the same set of inexpensive clothes. By the 1950s he lived with his two sisters in a small brownstone in the Horseshoe section of Jersey City that housed the poor Irish immigrants.

In the numbers game a player picks any three-digit number and bets anywhere from a few pennies to a few dollars. The bet is placed at a neighborhood candy store, newsstand, or tavern. Each day, the winning number is determined, and there may be none, one, or multiple winners. The number was usually the last three digits of attendance figures at a specified race track or the dollar figures of U.S. Treasury receipts, published in the next day's newspapers, or another tamper-proof number.[5] A player's chance of winning with any given bet is one in 1,000 for a three digit number, 10 x 10 x 10.

On September 15, 1958 a Jersey Central commuter train carrying 200 passengers plunged off the Newark Bay railroad drawbridge, which was open for marine traffic. The engineer had disregarded a stop signal. Both diesel locomotives and the first two coaches plunged into Newark Bay and sank immediately, killing 48 people ["Daily Chronology: September". United States Coast Guard]. A third coach, number 932, snagged by its rear truck, hung precariously off the lift bridge for two hours before it also toppled into the water. An Associated Press photo of the disaster made the front pages of the newspapers with the numbers 9-3-2 appearing on the side of the train [Wikipedia: Newark Bay rail accident]. That number received a large number of bets and was the winning number the following day. Moriarty was able to pay in full and that brought him to the attention of Mike Coppola, which may have led to Moriarty's arrest in Jersey City.

Joseph was arrested for possession of betting slips and was placed in New Jersey State Prison. While he was in prison on July 2, 1962, two day laborers, who were fixing a garage came across his 1947 Plymouth at 47 Oxford Avenue in Jersey City. In the trunk was $2.6 million in cash, and $13,000 in stocks and bonds. On July 3, 1962, FBI agents seized the assets. He originally denied ownership but then filed a tax form listing them as income.[2][4][6]

He was released from prison in 1965.[7] He was rearrested and sent to prison and ordered to pay $1.5 million in federal income taxes in 1972.[8][9] By the end of his career in crime, he had been arrested 47 times. Around 1975, while serving another prison term on betting charges, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In 1976, in his mid-60s, his sentence was commuted by New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne. Moriarty died three years later, on February 26, 1979 in Christ Hospital, Jersey City.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Joseph (Newsboy) Moriarty, 68, Longtime Jersey Gambler, Dies; Money Found in Garage.". New York Times. February 26, 1979. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Joseph Vincent (Newsboy) Moriarty, longtime gambling boss of Hudson County, New Jersey, died Saturday in Christ Hospital in Jersey City after a long illness. Mr. Moriarty was 68 years old and a lifelong resident of Jersey City. ... 
  2. ^ a b "The Honest Bookie Who Didn't Like Banks". Sports Illustrated. July 16, 1962. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  3. ^ The 1915 New Jersey census lists them as from Ireland and the 1930 US Census has the Moriartys from Massachusetts where they married in 1905.
  4. ^ a b "Moriarty's Millions". Time (magazine). July 13, 1962. Retrieved 2007-07-21. The myth about the slum brat who makes it big in the underworld is curlicued with familiar movie romance. Clearly, Joseph Vincent Moriarty, who grew up in a rundown section of Jersey City, N.J., never had romance in his soul—or never saw the right movies. Known as "Newsboy" because in his youth he sold tabloids in the bars and restaurants of his neighborhood, Moriarty got into the policy numbers racket when he was only 13, went on and upward to become Jersey City's No. 1 numbers boss. ... 
  5. ^ Shane White and Graham White and Stephen Robertson (2011). Playing the numbers: gambling in Harlem between the wars. Harvard University Press. 
  6. ^ "Moriarty's Cache Subject Of Suit. Hudson County Fight U.S. for Gambler's Millions". New York Times. January 8, 1969. Retrieved 2011-11-11. Six and a half years after carpenters rebuilding a row of decrepit Jersey City garages opened the trunk of an old car and found $2,438,110 belonging to numbers racketeer Joseph (Newsboy) Moriarty, a Federal court trial opened here today to determine who will keep the money. ... 
  7. ^ "Newsboy Moriarty Back in Jersey". New York Times. January 14, 1965. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Jersey City, New Jersey, January 13, 1965 (United Press International) Joseph (Newsboy) Moriarty, who amassed more than $2.5 million in numbers racket receipts before workmen stumbled across it in two dingy garages, was back home today after serving his latest prison term. 
  8. ^ "Moriarty Is Told To Pay $1.5-Million. U.S. Says Policy Operator Owes That Much in Taxes". New York Times. October 4, 1972. Retrieved 2011-11-12. The Federal Government today ordered Joseph Moriarty, a top Jersey City numbers game operator, to pay more than $1.5 million in unpaid Federal income taxes. ... 
  9. ^ "Moriarty Seized with Policy Slips. $20,000 Worth Found as He Is Arrested in Jersey City". Associated Press in the New York Times. April 19, 1972. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Joseph V. (Newsboy) Moriarty, a longtime numbers defendant, was arrested here tonight by state police, who said he had $20,000 in numbers slips in his possession.