A Politician & Political Ally
New York, NY, October 24, 1937
Tonight I am going to talk about the alliance between crime and politics in the County of New York.
I am going to tell you about a politician, a political ally of thieves, pickpockets, thugs, dope peddlers and big-shot racketeers. Albert Marinelli, County Clerk of New York, powerful leader of half the second assembly district, dominates the whole. He attained power by staying in the dark and keeping his mouth shut. Tonight we turn on the spotlight.
The people in the second assembly district in downtown New York know what gorillas they have met at the polls, how they have been threatened, how their votes have been stolen; and I am going to tell them how it came about that gangsters roamed their neighborhood, immune from prosecution.
For years racketeers used the name of Marinelli to frighten victims--and not in vain. Back n 1932 there was a pair of rising gangsters known as James Plumeri, alias Jimmy Doyle, and Dominick Didato, alias Dick Terry. They had never driven a truck but they were handy with a knife or a gun. They decided to take over the downtown trucking industry. They started by forming a so-called Truckmen's Association at 225 Lafayette Street, which just happened to be the building where Marinelli had his office and his Albert Marinelli Association. They elected themselves President and Treasurer of this Five Borough Truckmen's Association, and were ready for the business of intimidating truckmen. For front men, and to help with the rough work, they took on Natale Evola and John Dio. They went to work on the truckmen. They set themselves up as dictators. They told decent truckmen whom they could truck for and whom they could not. They enforced their rules by beatings, stench-bombs, and the destruction of trucks. They boasted of their political connections.
William Brown was a typical victim. Together with his wife he ran a small trucking business on West Twenty-first Street. The Browns had three trucks. They were struggling along in 1933, making a fair go of it, until the racket got after them. As a result of their troubles, his wife had a nervous breakdown. Brown's brother was beaten black and blue, and their best truck was wrecked.
Brown and his wife were sitting in their trucking office one night working on the books. Terry and Doyle walked in. Brown had just got a new customer.
"What's the idea of your taking this account?" Doyle demanded. "We are from the Five Borough Truckmen's Association. You can't get away with taking any of these accounts around here."
Now, Brown had courage. He told them where to get off. Doyle threatened, "You know what happens to guys that don't play ball with us. They are pretty soon out of business."
Then they shoved Brown up against the wall, and told him that unless he gave up that account they would put emery in his truck motors and beat up his drivers. Then Doyle said, "We've had a lot of complaints against us in the last year and we've beat every rap. All we got to do is call up Al Marinelli, and the rap is killed. He's the man we got higher up that's protecting us."
Brown defied the gangsters, and within three weeks there was emery powder in the crankcase of his best truck. It wrecked the motor. Seven gorillas entered the office one night, threw monkey wrenches at Brown's brother and beat him with an ax handle. He was in bed for two weeks. A fellow worker was slugged at the same time.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown were terrified. They remembered what Doyle had said about protection from Marinelli. They were afraid to go to the District Attorney's office, and so they kept quiet. Then one night in May, 1933, Brown was listening to the radio and he heard a speech by the man who was then the Police Commissioner, who said racket victims should come in and he would see they were protected. The very next morning, Brown was at the Police Commissioner's office, and he was sent at once to tell his story to the grand jury. Indictments for coercion and conspiracy were voted against Dick Terry, Jimmy Doyle, and Johnny Dio. Brown and his wife went home believing they had found justice.
But the case dragged on for a year with no trial. Finally Brown got a subpoena calling him to the Court of General Sessions for the trial. He handed his subpoena to the clerk, and the clerk said, "Why that's a wrong date on that subpoena; your case was dismissed yesterday." And the record shows the dismissal on recommendation of the district attorney.
Last week, the district attorney of New York County tried to explain away one of the turnouts his office gave this gang. This is what he said--and I am quoting him--"The defendant Didato died, I understand, in August 1933." Let me inform the district attorney, Didato was murdered--by gunmen in the office of the Five Borough Truckmen's Association, in the building where Al Marinelli's Association is, six blocks from the district attorney's office. It was a double shooting. When the smoke had cleared away, Didato, alias Terry, lay dying on the floor, and Doyle was seriously wounded. But Doyle lived to go on with the racket, a racket immune from prosecution...
The murder of Dick Terry was just an incident in the growth of the racket. With him out of the way, Johnny Dio and Jimmy Doyle moved uptown. With the Brown indictment still open and hanging fire in the district attorney's office, they brazenly served notice on the Garment Center Truck Owners' Association. They said, "We are taking over your association. If you don't pay, we are coming uptown and there will be busted trucks and broken heads." The president of the Association consulted his directors. They were worried. Somebody suggested that they go to the district attorney of New York County. But everybody agreed that would be too dangerous. Nothing but turnouts had resulted from complaints to the district attorney. So the directors agreed that the only thing the association could do was pay up and shut up. And they did.
All of these charges, fumbled by the district attorney, together with others, were brought to trial in the spring of this year by my office. After a year of investigation, we procured an indictment exposing the entire brazen history of the trucking racket. Finally, Jimmy Doyle and Johnny Dio pleaded guilty on every count, after my assistants, Murray I. Gurfein and Jacob Grumet, had presented the people's evidence. The men the district attorney turned loose are now in state's prison.
Before that case came to trial, Evola was sought as a material witness by my office. The police went looking for Evola. But he couldn't be found. We did find that after his acquittal, Evola had become a member of the County Committee in Al Marinelli's district, and while a member of that Committee, he became a fugitive and never was found. Perhaps that is why he was not designated as County Committeeman again this year.
Who is this Albert Marinelli? Officially, he's your county clerk. You elected him four years ago. He survived the LaGuardia landslide because the people did not take the trouble to know who was running for county clerk, just as the machine controlled district attorney survived, with the help of Marinelli and his boys.
It was Marinelli's office which affixed his signature to the extradition papers for his friend, Lucky Luciano, which my office used to bring that worthy soul back from Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Al Marinelli today is one of the most powerful politicians in New York. This shadowy figure gives no interviews to the press. His history is shrouded in mystery. No one even knows just how he rose to power. In 1931 he took over the leadership of the second assembly district of Manhattan. Rapidly, his power spread to other districts.
Mysterious as he may be in New York, Marinelli's supporters may be interested to know that he has a luxurious estate, surrounded by an iron fence, on Lake Ronkonkoma, way out on Long Island. From his several motor cars, he chooses to drive back and forth in a Lincoln limousine; and his Japanese butler, Togo, serves him well.
Regularly, you will find Al standing in the basement of the Criminal Courts Building in Manhattan, quietly chatting with bondsmen, lawyers, and hangers-on. Your county clerk has many, diversified interests.
In 1932, when Marinelli set out to attend a function in Chicago, there was with him a well-dressed, pasty-faced, sinister man with a drooping right eye. He had an air of quiet authority. Together, they turned up in Chicago, playing host in a suite at the Drake Hotel, and were constant companions at the race track in the afternoons. Marinelli's companion was Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, then almost as unknown as Marinelli, later revealed as the number one man of New York's underworld, master of many rackets. Luciano is now in Dannemora Prison, serving a sentence of thirty to fifty years...
Some of the facts about Al Marinelli and his organization are matters of record, and you are entitled to know the kind of man who helps to pick your public officials-who helps select those who are in charge of criminal justice.
Back in 1933, while I was a chief assistant United States attorney, the United States Government conducted an investigation of election frauds under the Federal law. Election inspectors in various districts of the city were indicted and convicted, but nowhere were conditions worse than in Al Marinelli's second assembly district. In that district alone, the records indicate, they had added 4,534 votes to their own set of candidates and stolen 3,535 from the others. You know, in some districts the dominant party will bribe or intimidate the officials appointed by the other party. And both become parties to the corruption of the ballot. Democrats and Republicans alike were indicted.
Let us take just two election districts in Marinelli's district. We'll see who was running the election for Al. In the 28th election district, the chairman of the election board was George Cingola. He was the man directly charged with preserving the peace at the polls and seeing that there was an honest count. He was imported into the district for the election, and registered from the home of his sister. Back in 1927, he had once before been arrested for an election offense and beat the rap. But less than a year before he was appointed to his 1932 election day job, he was arrested no less than three times- twice for assault and once for bootlegging, and he served a term for one of the assault raps in the county jail in Mineola. And just a few months before that, three detectives of the Police Department Narcotic Squad, upon arresting him in his home, found him sleeping with two loaded revolvers under his pillow. He was convicted in the Court of Special Sessions for his double violation of the Sullivan Law. He was let off with a $25 fine. And so he became qualified to serve as an election inspector.
Marinelli made him the public official in charge of the polling place and graced him with the title of Chairman of the Local Board of Elections. He was indicted by the Federal Attorney's office, but he has not been heard from since, and the indictment has now been dismissed.
Another expert election official in that assembly district that year was Charles Falci. He, too, was brought in specially for the occasion from Brooklyn. Marinelli made him an election inspector in the 23rd election district. Falci was indicted, but he also ran away.
For years Falci was a fugitive from justice. Last year, Falci was caught, and the fact is that during the time he was a fugitive from justice he had been Al Marinelli's private chauffeur! He had been driving Marinelli's Lincoln limousine! He had been working around Al Marinelli's estate at Lake Ronkonkoma, sharing the work with Togo, the Japanese butler. On Christmas Eve of 1935, Marinelli had made a touching gift to his faithful servant of a chauffeur's livery and a pair of shoes, bought at Wanamaker's for $38.50.
The members of Al Marinelli's county committee faithfully elect him year-after-year and faithfully work for his candidates. They ratify the party choices and work desperately for them, this year most of all. You are entitled to know what kind of people some of them have been.
I have the official criminal records in front of me. Here is the first one. He has eight arrests to his credit, but the only charge which stuck was one in the Federal Court for selling dope. They sent him to prison for that one, but on the other seven arrests, going way back to 1918 when he was locked up for robbery, he has "beaten the rap." These include two charges of robbery and one each of felonious assault, disorderly conduct, malicious mischief, and grand larceny.
Here is another who has a great personal interest in law enforcement and municipal government in New York. He began in 1924 with a sentence to Atlanta for counterfeiting. Some years later he was picked up for extortion and carrying a gun, but it took him only two weeks to get out. Only a month later, he was again in the hands of the police, charged with homicide with a gun. But he beat that rap too. Last month he was named as a member of Al Marinelli's County Committee.
[And the list goes on]...but these men are probably not particularly important in the councils of the second-assembly district. They've never been convicted of crime. But perhaps I'm wrong -- it may be that their achievement in avoiding conviction entitles them to special honor in the Marinelli councils.
One of these was just selected County Committeeman last month. He has to his credit discharges on complaints of stealing an automobile; robbery with a gun; and vagrancy. Another of his fellows who was just chosen has a vagrancy discharge. A colleague of his, likewise selected last month, beat an attempted robbery charge. Another of his fellows was turned out on a grand larceny charge. Here is a precious pair who each beat two raps: The first one on a felony assault charge and for stealing an automobile; another for toting a gun and for coercion. Here's another charged with being a fence for receiving stolen goods. Then we have one who ran up against the liquor law a couple of times, and another who was in conflict with a policy charge.
All of these, as members of the official county committee of the second assembly district! Aside from those who always beat the rap, the ex-convicts alone include a counterfeiter, a stickup man, and others convicted of assault, injuring property, gun toting, impersonation of a public officer and larceny, both grand and petty. Worst of all are the six convicted of dope charges. What an intense interest these men must have in electing the public officials who administer criminal justice! What an interest these men must have in decent municipal government!
But that is not all. These criminal records on more than a score of Al Marinelli's county committeemen tell only part of the story. There are also the election inspectors. Inspectors of election are public officials certified to by the county chairman from a list provided by the leader. Let's look at Al Marinelli's election officials. Perhaps we will find out the reason for some of the things that have been going on in New York. Here are some of the men officially designated to keep the peace, certify to the honesty of the election, and count the votes in the second assembly district: This faithful worker who counts your votes started as a pickpocket in 1908. He wasn't out long before he was convicted of grand larceny, and later of assault. But he won't serve as an election inspector this year. On June 1st he ran up against the Federal Government and a United States judge sent him to Lewisberg Penitentiary for a year and a half.
Well, these are some more of the county committeemen and inspectors of election in the 2nd assembly district: I have police records for thirty-two of them. Twenty of this fine assortment, who have been selected to serve on the county committee or to count votes, have been convicted at least once. The other dozen have thus far succeeded in beating the raps. Their attainments include seventy-six arrests on a varied assortment of charges ranging from robbery to sex crimes, with dope peddlers heading the list. No wonder they are desperately fighting to keep the office of the district attorney in the same hands it has been for twenty years. No wonder Marinelli is joining with his pals, running the fight of his life.
The people of the second assembly district are entitled to know the facts about those who have been misrepresenting them in the political councils of New York. For years they have been terrorized at the polls and forced to submit throughout the year to the domination of the gunmen who paraded their streets. And don't for one moment believe these are the only cases.
On Wednesday night at 10:30, over WABC, you will learn more about what we are fighting in this campaign. You will learn more of the reasons why the office of district attorney is the most cherished prize of the political leaders who want to continue their control of criminal justice. These are the sinister forces who are fighting to keep the night to select assistants for the office of district attorney of New York County. These are the living obstacles to everything that's decent and clean in the conduct of our city.
This is not a political issue. There can be no difference of opinion on the questions involved. Gorillas, thieves, pickpockets, and dope peddlers in the political structure are not the subject of argument. There is nothing political about human decency.
The issue is defined. The decision is in your hands on election day.