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Tommy Lucchese is best known as one of New York City's mob bosses during the 1950s and 1960s.
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Tommy Lucchese was born on December 1, 1899, in Palermo, Sicily. He moved to the United States with his family at the age of 11. Lucchese soon started running with a gang in New York's East Harlem neighborhood. There he befriended Lucky Luciano. In 1921, Lucchese was convicted of auto theft. He served his sentence at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. He helped Luciano in his bid for control of the New York criminal underworld in the 1930s. For his assistance,
Luciano rewarded Lucchese with the number-two spot in the Gagliano crime family. In 1953, after 22 years as an underboss, Tommy became the boss of the Lucchese crime family, which he led until his death in 1967.
Organized crime figure Tommy Lucchese was born Gaetano Lucchese on December 1, 1899, in Palermo, Sicily. He was one of the most notorious New York crime bosses of 20th century. When he was 11 years old, Lucchese immigrated the United States with his family. They settled East Harlem. There his father found work hauling concrete.
Lucchese quickly became affiliated with street gangs. He ran with the 107th Street Gang, which was led by Lucky Luciano. Lucchese's parents pressured him to find honest work. For a short time, Lucchese worked in a machine shop. He was involved in a terrible accident there, in which he lost the thumb and index finger on his right hand.
After the accident, Lucchese returned to his gang and a life of crime. He started a window washing company, which actually became a lucrative extortion racket. Lucchese had a natural talent for criminal enterprises, making up more ways for his gang to bring in cash. In 1921, Lucchese was arrested for stealing a car. He was nicknamed "Three Finger Brown" by one of the police officers because of his damaged right hand and the baseball player Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown.
Lucchese was found guilty of auto theft—it was his first and only conviction. He was sent to Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York state for the crime. Reports vary as to how long he spent behind bars, ranging from a little over a year to three years.
By the early 1920s, both Lucchese and Luciano had attracted the attention of mob boss Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria. The short, skinny Lucchese soon showed his more vicious side, brutalizing and killing those who got on the wrong side of the mob. According to some reports, Luciano thought of Lucchese as his favorite hit man. The pair were able to convince Masseria to get into bootlegging during Prohibition.
Lucchese and Luciano proved to be master strategists during the Castellammarese War between rival crime bosses Giuseppe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, which erupted in the late 1920s. Masseria and Maranzano were battling each other for total control of New York. Roughly 100 mobsters died in this lethal power struggle.
On April 13, 1931, Masseria was killed in a restaurant in Coney Island. The Castellemmarese War was over, and Salvatore Maranzano set up a new network of crime families in New York City with himself as top boss.
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