Carlos Marcello Biography

Organized Crime (1910–1993)
Carlos Marcello was best known as the mob boss of New Orleans, and for the FBI's investigation into his possible involvement in JFK's assassination.

Who Was Carlos Marcello?

Carlos Marcello was born on February 6, 1910, in North Africa. He immigrated to the U.S. and eventually joined Sylvestro Carolla's crime organization. He became the New Orleans' Mafia boss. The FBI investigated him in connection with John F. Kennedy's murder but could not ultimately link him to the crime. He was arrested in 1966 for another charge but served less than six months. In 1981, however, he was convicted of bribery and served more than six years in prison. He died in his home on March 3, 1993.

Involvement with the Mafia

Born Calogero Minacore on February 6, 1910, in Tunis, North Africa, Carlos Marcello immigrated to the United States with his family and settled in New Orleans. At a young age, Marcello began a life of crime, and in 1929 he was arrested for armed robbery. The charges were dropped, but he was convicted a year later on yet another assault and robbery charge and served several years in prison.

Sylvestro "Silver Dollar Sam" Carolla

After marrying the sister of underboss Frank Todaro, Marcello moved up the ranks of Sylvestro "Silver Dollar Sam" Carolla's New Orleans crime organization. In 1938, Marcello was arrested and charged with drug trafficking after evidence pointed to the sale of more than 23 pounds of marijuana. Thanks to Carolla's influence, however, Marcello served less than 10 months in prison.

Working under Todaro during the 1940s, Marcello became a major player in illegal rackets. In 1947, after Carolla was deported to Palermo, Sicily, Marcello became the undisputed leader of the Mafia in New Orleans. He held the position for the next 30 years. His reign included Louisiana's gambling network, including some of New Orleans' biggest casinos. Authorities claim he also extended his criminal activities to Dallas, Texas, during the 1950s.

JFK Investigation

During the late 1950s, a Senate committee was established to investigate the illegal activities of organized crime throughout the country. On March 24, 1959, Carlos Marcello was one of many associates subpoenaed by its chief counsel, Robert F. Kennedy, to appear and give testimony. True to his oath as a mafioso, however, Marcello didn't breathe a word, invoking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to answer any incriminating questions.

But Marcello could not avoid the authorities for long. When Senator John F. Kennedy became President in 1961, Robert F. Kennedy was named U.S. Attorney General and the crackdown on organized crime became even more intense. On April 4th of that year, Marcello was arrested and deported to Guatemala, from which he had falsely claimed to have been born.

With a powerful network of associates and the wealth accumulated through decades in the Mafia, Marcello soon found his way back into the United States shortly thereafter. Outraged by his deportation, he was reported to have made numerous threats against the president. His plan, according to informants, was to hire a hitman to take the fall for the assassination. The FBI investigated Marcello after Kennedy's assassination, however, and found no evidence linking him to the crime.

In 1966 Marcello was arrested in New York City and charged with consorting with known felons. He was sentenced to two years in prison, but served less than six months. However, in 1981 he returned to prison after being convicted of attempting to bribe a federal judge. The following year he was also convicted of racketeering. 


After serving more than six years of his sentence, during which time he suffered several strokes, Carlos Marcello's conviction was overturned on appeal and he was released. He died at home in Metairie, Louisiana, on March 3, 1993.

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