Organized Crime

Gangster Era Reborn: Unearthed Crime Scenes from New York’s Prohibition Underworld

Nearly 100 years later, there's still new information to discover.

The Bel Tiza Restaurant shortly after Joe Parrino’s murder
Scene and body of Giuseppe Parrino, NYPD 13634D, Courtesy of The New York Municipal Archives

LAST MEAL: THE GIUSEPPE “JOE” PARRINO MURDER (JANUARY 19, 1931)

Being a Joe Masseria loyalist was hazardous to your health in 1930. At the beginning of 1931, that still held true. The Castellammarese War would be over by April but a few Masseria men wouldn’t survive long enough to make peace. Parrino’s brother, Sam, had been murdered in Detroit in May 1930, allegedly on orders from Giuseppe Morello in partnership with Detroit’s Cesare “Chester” LaMare. For reasons lost to history, Parrino still chose to align himself with Masseria and the men who likely had a hand in his brother’s death. His loyalty was rewarded with taking over the family formerly headed by Nicolo Schiro (known today as the Bonanno crime family). Schiro had fled back to Sicily once the war heated up.

And much like the Joseph Pinzolo and the Reina family, the remaining Schiro family members did not take kindly to Parrino’s leadership appointment and plotted his permanent ouster.

On January 19, 1931, Parrino was dining at the Bel Tiza restaurant located at 100 W. 40th St. with two unidentified men. A lone assassin walked in and shot Parrino, delivering at least one headshot and a bullet that pierced the victim’s heart. Parrino crumpled to the floor while his dinner guests hid under the table. The other patrons, too frozen to move, would later state the assassin tossed his weapon to the floor and coolly left without pursuit.

Wide angle view of the murder scene with Joe Parrino’s body in center.
Scene and body of Giuseppe Parrino, NYPD 13634A, Courtesy of The New York Municipal Archives
Scene and body of Giuseppe Parrino, NYPD 13634B, Courtesy of The New York Municipal Archives
Scene and body of Giuseppe Parrino, NYPD 13634C, Courtesy of The New York Municipal Archives

24 comments

  1. Are there anymore gangsters pictures from the archives? They were incredible. The Vincent Coll pictures were insane. I’d love to see some of Maseria and Marrazano. That would be incredible. Please let everyone know if there’s anymore being released. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for checking it out, Jonathan! So Masseria and Maranzano photos remain big targets for me. My take is they have to be somewhere, just a matter of if the Archives have it or the NYPD themselves. Believe it or not, even all these decades later there’s still records the NYPD haven’t transferred over to the Archives. There’s definitely more gangster photos. The tricky thing with the searches is that a lot of times the names are completely misspelled due the officers who arrived on scene (you’ll notice this on some of the pictures as that’s how they’re listed in the Archives records). So, it’s really a grind to go through the records but so worth it when you find gems like these. Rest assured, once the pandemic slows down and the Archives are open to the public, I’ll be right back in there searching.

      1. Couldn’t email you directly but try this – At the bottom of the first page on the site, you should should see a list of numbers going horizontally across the page in little boxes. Each of these represents a different page with the pictures. If you’re on a mobile device, it’ll be right before title of the next article.

    1. Appreciate the support James and I absolutely loved your Youtube video! You put a big smile on my face and I’ll proudly carry that new favorite person title haha Once the pandemic slows down and the Archives reopen, I plan to get right back in there digging for more gems.

  2. Amazing pictures. Nice research Ismael. I enjoyed it including the stories that go with it. I hope you find more (Greetings from the Netherlands)

  3. Wow, those pics are amazingly clear and smooth for their age!

    Thats some great research and digging, Ismael… Coincidentally Im currently reading ‘First Family’ which centres on The Morello family so I skipped that section to avoid too many spoilers! haha

    1. That’s awesome brother, I really enjoyed that book and it gave me confidence to do my own research. Yes, definitely avoid that Morello section until you finish the book haha Let me know what you think, I’d love a TV series on the Morellos.

      1. Yeah its a great book man… i just got to the part (demise) of the Camorra and the Navy Street Gang etc amazing how the Camorra could have give the Mafia a real run for their money and essentially changed organised crime in the US…

        Ahh, I never thought about a Morellos TV series, that would be insaaaane! That definitely needs the full HBO/Showtime, big budget, period costumes and set treatment!

  4. I’m also very interested in the Amberg and Shapiro brothers. Have you come across any new pics or info about them?

    1. Glad to hear it on your Amberg and Shapiro interest! I did find leads on some potential pictures from the Amberg 1926 Tombs prison breakout and potentially some of Meyer Shapiro’s murder, but alas I’ll have to wait until the Archives open back up to follow-up.

  5. Ismael,

    These are truly incredible. The amount of work, and research that went into this is deserves recognition. I truly appreciate it, as the 1920s have always been fascinating to me so it was no problem for me to read every word and study every photo.

    I was wondering if you would have access to more? Arnold Rothstein, and Legs Diamond to name a few, would be interesting crime scenes. Both went out in gangland style hits.

    Anyways,

    Thank you

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Nucky! There is still plenty to go through regarding more potential findings. Before the pandemic shut everything down, I do remember seeing notes that indicate crime photos may exist of the hotel room where Rothstein was shot. Since he was rushed to the hospital and lingered a few days, anything that’s found would likely just be of the room and maybe the murder weapon that was tossed onto the street. Once we’re allowed back on site, I’ll be sure to look into what Rothstein photos have survived . The NYC records I used didn’t include Legs Diamond’s murder since it happened in Albany. If they still exist, they’d likely be at the New York State Archives which I haven’t had the pleasure of researching yet (in due time). I really appreciate your encouraging words and thanks again for reading.

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