Pellegrino Morano

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Pellegrino Morano (born 1877) was the head of a group of Neapolitans criminals with roots in the Camorra based in Coney Island, where he owned the Santa Lucia restaurant, which was often used as the headquarters for their gang, known as the Coney Island gang. He is also known as Marano.[1]

Coney Island gang[edit]

Morano was born in 1877 in Prata[disambiguation needed] in the Italian region of Campania. According to immigration documents he entered the U.S. two times. Once in 1892 and permanently in 1912.[2] He settled in Italian Harlem and started to sell stolen horses to make a living.[3] In August 1904, he was arrested for the shooting of an Italian ‘well known to the police’ at Mulberry and Grand Streets.[4] At the time he gave his address as 327 E 115th Street. The police believed his claim of innocence, but he was confined and charged for carrying a concealed weapon.[5][6]

Years later, Morano moved to Coney Island where his associates Alessandro Vollero and Leopoldo Lauritano owned a coffee house at 133 Navy Street in Brooklyn. The coffee house was used as the headquarters for their gang, which mainly consisted of Neapolitans, and was often referred to as 'The Camorra'.[5] Morano opened the Santa Lucia restaurant close to the Coney Island amusements parks including his right-hand men Tony Parretti,[2] from where his gang made money in gambling and cocaine dealing.[7][8] The gang was not a tightly led organization, but a rather loose association where everybody worked for himself, although Morano was one of the leaders that initiated recruits as camorristi.[2][9]

Mafia Camorra war[edit]

Morano wanted to expand his business to the lucrative numbers rackets in Italian Harlem under control of Giosuè Gallucci, the ‘King of Little Italy’. Gallucci was killed in May 1915. The money for the hit was provided by Morano.[10] The lucrative numbers rackets left behind by Gallucci were now free for the taking, and they soon became the subject of a bloody fight, known as the Mafia-Camorra War, between Camorra gangs from Brooklyn and the Sicilian Morello gang.[11]

On June 24, 1916 a meeting took place at Coney Island between the Sicilian Morello gang, the Neapolitan Navy Street gang and the Neapolitan Coney Island gang. The idea of the meeting was to discuss the expansion of gambling in lower Manhattan. After eliminating their common ennemies, the Neapolitans went after the Sicilians. Morano ran a numbers game in Harlem, the territory of the Morello gang, but the returns were not sufficient to cover the tribute that the Morellos demanded.[12] The Neopolitans believed they also could take over other Harlem rackets, such as the artichoke monopoly, the coal and ice business and the lucrative zicchinetta card games, if they could eliminate the Morellos.[7]

Murder and conviction[edit]

On September 7, 1916, Morello gang member Nicholas Terranova and Eugene Ubriaco were lured in a trap while being invited to a chat with Morano and Navy Street gang boss Lauritano. Terranova and Ubriaco were shot and killed. Subsequently, they went after other East Harlem gang leaders, killing Giuseppe Verrazano, but were unable to reach the Morellos who stayed close to their house in East 116th Street.[7][12]

The Neapolitans did not fear police investigations because they paid off police officers and omertà prevented witnesses to step forward.[7] However, in May 1917, Ralph Daniello, aka ‘The Barber’, a member of the Navy Street gang who had been present at the meetings to decide on the murders, began to tell the police everything he knew about Marano, the Neapolitan gangs, and the recent murders.[7][12]

On May 15, 1918, Marano was convicted of murder in the second degree in the case of Terranova and Ubriaco and sentenced to spend twenty years to life at Sing Sing prison.[13][14] His associate Vollero received a death sentence, which was later reduced to a minimum of 20 years.[15][16]

The last time Morano came in the limelights was during the trial against his former right-hand man Antonio Paretti in July 1926. Despite the fact that he had been in jail for the past seven years, he flatly refused to provide evidence against his associate. “I won’t talk, I don’t know anybody,” he told the court before he was returned to his prison cell.[17]


  1. ^ Dash, The First Family, p. xxvi
  2. ^ a b c Critchley, The Origin of Organized Crime in America, p. 118
  3. ^ Critchley, The Origin of Organized Crime in America, p. 120
  4. ^ Crowd Sees Murder, The New York Times, August 4, 1904
  5. ^ a b Pelligrino Morano,
  6. ^ Man Murdered As Thousands Stare, New York Evening Telegram, August 4, 1904
  7. ^ a b c d e Nelli, The Business of Crime, pp. 131-33
  8. ^ Dash, The First Family, p. 252
  9. ^ Relates Camorra Degree in Court The Daily Standard Union (Brooklyn), May 8, 1918
  10. ^ Critchley, The Origin of Organized Crime in America, pp. 109-11
  11. ^ Giosue Gallucci,
  12. ^ a b c The Struggle for Control,
  13. ^ Camorra Secrets Revealed at Trial, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 15, 1918
  14. ^ Gunman Gets 20 Years; Pellegrino Morano Sentenced for Killing 2 Brooklyn Men, New York Tribune, May 21, 1918
  15. ^ Dash, The First Family, p. 262
  16. ^ Critchley, The Origin of Organized Crime in America, p. 128
  17. ^ Dash, The First Family, p. 301