By The Other Guy | September 26, 2020
Giacomo (Jack) Scarpulla- aka “Giacomino” “Michele Giacomo Scarpulla” (TN) – was an original Palermo based mafioso born in 1899. He had a son Angelo born in 1916 who later also became a member under his father’s sponsorship.
After arriving to America from Sicily he settled in the Bronx, where he and his son would reside and operate their legitimate businesses and rackets from all their lives.
Jack was married to Frank Scalise’s wife’s sister Rose. Scarpulla’s sister Grace married soldier Giosue Meli, who’s two sons Angelo and Philip also later became soldiers in this borgata. They were a well-connected blood family.
The Scarpulla family was among a larger interlocking series of important mafia families that included the Gambino, Castellano, Masotto, and Guglielmini’s.
These surnames have become synonymous with “men of honor” stretching from Palermo, Sicily to Pelham Bay in the Bronx.
Appropriate adjectives used to describe the mentality of the men sporting these surnames would be quiet, careful, reserved, low key, shadowy, and powerful.
Many of these mafiosi would come to control pivotal segments of the underworld and upper-world economy in New York City’s metropolitan area. And with the exception of Carlo Gambino and Paul Castellano, most would remain in the shadows their entire lives.
FBI # 983998
Scarpulla and his son operated the New Prosperity Meat Market in the Bronx for years. They also operated several other meat and butcher shops in Brooklyn where they partnered with the Castellano’s and Guglielmini’s among other members of their borgata.
There is also speculation that at one point in time Scarpulla may have been elevated to serve as the capo over a Bronx based decina after the murder of his brother-in-law Guiseppe (Joe) Scalici in 1957.
I have not seen hard evidence of that, but he was certainly a well placed “soldato” and respected member of the borgata, who had the ear of the top hierarchy nonetheless.
Although he had several arrests dating to at least 1933 for grand larceny, and bootlegging in 1939 after police discovered he was operating an alcohol still in Upstate New York, and once again in 1943 for OPA violations during WWII for dealing in contraband, and counterfeit meat ration stamps, he maintained a very low profile and was not widely known to the public as a major racketeer.
It was not until 1963 that Scarpulla’s name first came to prominence when he was named by informer Joe Valachi as an inducted member of the Anastasia/Gambino Family.
Scarpulla was then listed on the charts made famous during the U.S. Senate Hearings open to the public on narcotics traffic and organized crime in this country. He was listed as being active in extortion, strong-arm work and murder, alcohol bootlegging, and as a suspected narcotics trafficker.
He was a very well placed mafioso. He numbered among his closest associates some of the biggest names in the Mafia of that era
- Salvatore D’Aquilla
- Vincent and Philip Mangano
- Frank Scalise and his four brothers
- Carlo and Paolo Gambino
- Frank Castellano and his son Paul
- Salvatore and son Gaetano Masotto
- Benedetto (Benny) Macri
- Pasquale (Patsy) Matranga
- Alfonso Attardi
- Antonino (Nino) Conte
- Giuseppe (The Peasant) Traina
- Diego (Papa Dave) Amodeo
- Frank (Butch) and Sal Guglielmini
- Giuseppe (Joe) LoPiccolo
Many of the aforementioned names were related to Scarpulla by blood or marriage. And although he knew many other mafia contemporaries, it was this Palermo based immigrant faction in his borgata that Scarpulla drew his base strength and influence from.
It was thought that he was allied with the Scalise brothers in operating illicit-alcohol stills that operated even after the repeal of Prohibition, doing a tidy business in tax-evaded liquor.
By the late 1950s and early 1960s the Scarpulla’s figured into several semi-related bankruptcy fraud cases by the FBI that investigated a series of suspicious business collapses of both wholesale distributors and retail meat stores in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
These probes later lead to a series of interlocking indictments for defrauding creditors of several million-dollars collectively.
The largest and most publicized of these being the $1.2-million “bust out” of the Murray Packing Company in the Bronx. Murray was a large wholesale cutting house and distributor of meats and poultry throughout the New York City metro area.
A young Genovese soldier named Joseph (Little Joey) Pagano infiltrated this company by lending a $10,000 shylock loan he provided to one of the owners. As a precursor to getting the loan, it was insisted and agreed upon that company executives would install Pagano as the company’s president in order to protect the mob’s money. Pagano also had access and control of the company’s checkbook.
Incorporating a series of fraudulent purchases, sales, and suspicious meat transfers between mobbed-up meat companies, over the next four to six weeks Pagano drained Murray Packing of over $1,000,000 in cold cash and product.
After a lengthy investigation, the FBI charged Pagano, Gambino soldiers Peter Castellana and Frank (Butchie) Guglielmini, Pete’s cousin Capo (Big Paulie) Castellano, and several Jewish associates as defendants.
In related indictments, Scarpulla was among those also named in the fraud, grand larceny and conspiracy as well. Although not brought to trial or subsequently jailed, Scarpulla was named as a principal of several companies that had pulled this series of frauds and bankruptcies.
The resulting Murray Packing trial became almost a model case study of the Mafia in action. The public got to witness how the mob infiltrates and then bankrupts legitimate businesses. For that time and era it became the most significant case of its type.
The defendants were all convicted. The lead target Joey Pagano received 5 years for bankruptcy fraud. Pete Castellana and the others received shorter sentences of a few years or less.
As he aged, Jack Scarpulla maintained the lowest of profiles as was always his style to begin with. It was reported that Michele Giacomo Scarpulla died quietly at the age of 72, in the year 1971.
His son Angelo would continue as a low keyed “Man of Honor” in the tradition his father and uncles had taught him for some years to come.
This article was originally posted “here“