Frankie Yale: Wikis


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Francesco Ioele

NYPD mugshot of Frankie Yale
Born January 22, 1893(1893-01-22)
Longobucco, Calabria, Italy
Died July 1, 1928 (aged 35)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.

Francesco Ioele (January 22, 1893 - July 1, 1928), better known as "Frankie Uale" or "Frankie Yale", was a Brooklyn gangster and original employer of Al Capone before the latter moved to Chicago.



Early life

Born in Italy, Frankie Yale and his family arrived in America ca 1901. As a teenager, Yale quickly fell into a life of crime. Despite his medium height and chubby build, Yale was a fearsome fistfighter and thief. In 1910, at age 17, Yale and a friend, a wrestler named Bobby Nelson, beat up some drunks in a Coney Island pool hall, cracking pool cues and hurling billiard balls. One of his early arrests, in October 1912, was on suspicion of homicide. Early in his career, Yale met John "The Fox" Torrio, who ushered him into the Five Points Gang and groomed him for bigger things.

Brooklyn crime boss

The Five Pointers and the Eastman Gang were the successors of the huge ghetto street gangs of the previous century. In 1908 increasingly violent conflict erupted between the Jewish Eastman gang and the Italian Five Points gang. This resulted in increased pressure from the authorities to try curb the violence, which in turn made it more difficult to run the rackets by which the gangsters made their living.

Johnny Torrio was one of a new breed of gangster, who believed in putting business ahead of ego, so he and his partner Frankie Uale decided to leave the Five Points gang and relocate across the East river to the burgeoning Brooklyn area, which was growing rapidly, fuelled by the huge influx of immigrants that was pouring into New York at this time. They set up their base of operations at the Harvard Inn and Uale became "Yale". They began engaging in Black Hand extortion activities and ran a string of brothels. Their gang would become the first new style Mafia "family" which would include Italians from all regions and could work in partnership with other ethnic groups if it was good for business.

In 1915 Johnny Torrio went to Chicago and left the Brooklyn rackets to his partner. By the end of World War I Yale dominated Italian organized crime in Brooklyn. His headquarters was a Coney Island dive known as the Harvard Inn. It was here that a teenager named Al Capone, working as a waiter, got his famous facial scars by Frank Gallucio when Capone insulted Gallucios' younger sister Lena. Gallucio tried to cut his throat with a knife and missed due to being drunk.

Known for generosity to his friends and brutality to his enemies, Yale was dubbed the "Prince of Pals". After a time, Frankie married and had two daughters. Known to appreciate funny stories, good food and drink, Yale was a very personable man. Yale's "services" to his customers included offering "protection" to local merchants, controlling food services for restaurants, as well as ice deliveries for Brooklyn residents. Yale's notorious sideline was his line of cigars, foul-smelling stogies packaged in boxes that bore his smiling face.

The White Hand Gang

Frankie Yale's gang was engaged in a battle for control of union activity on the Brooklyn docks. They were successors in a war that had been going on since the turn of the century between Italian Black Handers and the incumbent Irish, who had banded together to form a rival gang calling themselves the "White Hand". Frankie was believed to have arranged for the murder of White Hand leader Dinny Meehan, which took place on the afternoon of March 31, 1920.

Several weeks later, on May 11, 1920, longtime Chicago boss James "Big Jim" Colosimo was also murdered. Chicago police suspected Yale committed the hit at the behest of Chicago Outfit pals Torrio and Capone. Colosimo was allegedly murdered because he stood in the way of his gang making huge bootlegging profits in Chicago. Although never charged with the Colosimo murder, Frankie Yale was the prime suspect.

Attempted Assassination

After the Meehan murder, Bill "Wild Bill" Lovett took over the White Hand Gang. During World War I, Lovett had won the Distinguished Service Cross and was a formidable opponent. A relatively low-key, tit-for-tat war now ensued between Lovett's White Hand Gang and Yale's "Black Hand." While en route to a banquet in Lower Manhattan on February 6, 1921, Yale was shot and severely wounded. One man with Yale was killed and another wounded. Lovett was widely believed to have orchestrated the attempt. After recovering from his wounds, Yale went back after Lovett. For most of the early 1920s, the war between Yale and Lovett proceeded on a somewhat even keel. In August 1921, Yale gained a measure of revenge when one of his alleged attackers, Petey Behan, was beaten to death by a policeman named Daniel Culkin. Four months later, the second alleged shooter, Garry Barry, met a violent end as well.

Death of Bill Lovett

On January 3, 1923, Lovett was wounded in an unsuccessful hit. Yale absorbed most of the blame for this attack; however, the real culprit was probably Eddie Hughes, a disgruntled White Hander. Hughes was killed in retaliation in the ensuing months. At the urging of his wife Lovett turned over control of the White Hand Gang to brother-in-law Richard "Pegleg" Lonergan. Lovett moved to New Jersey, got a job and bought a home.

However, on the night of October 31, 1923, Lovett returned to his former Brooklyn neighborhood to visit some old cronies. Celebrating at the Lotus Club on Bridge Street, Lovett got drunk and fell asleep on a bench inside the bar. Later that night, the porter from the Lotus Club ran into some members of Yale's gang on the street. The porter casually mentioned to Willie "Two-Knife" Altierri, Vincent Mangano, and Johnny "Silk Stocking" Giustra that their arch-rival was passed out cold in the Club a few blocks away. Without wasting any time, the three mobsters walked inside the deserted Lotus Club and started smirking over the snoring figure of Wild Bill Lovett. Despite his drunken state and two bullet wounds, Lovett quickly jumped up to face his adversaries. Altierri grabbed a meat cleaver and violently buried it deep into Lovett's skull, killing him instantly.

The White Hand Gang never totally recovered from Lovett's murder; Lonergan was nowhere near as competent as his predecessor. Yale now established dominance throughout Brooklyn.

O'Banion Murder

In November 1924, Frankie was asked to come to Chicago to help out his old pals, Al Capone and Johnny Torrio; they needed another rival murdered. On November 10, 1924, Yale, John Scalise, and Albert Anselmi reportedly entered the Schofield Flower Shop and killed North Side Gang leader Dion O'Banion. Eight days later, the Chicago Police arrested Yale and Sam Pollaccia at Chicago's Union Station. However, the two men had strong alibis and the cops had to release them.

After O'Banion's murder, Yale was supposedly appointed the national head of the Unione Siciliana, a Sicilian benevolent organization that served as a front for criminal activity. If Yale did indeed hold this post, it was quite ironic; Yale was Calabrese and not Sicilian.

Victory over White Hand Gang

Back in the Brooklyn, Yale's longtime war with the White Hand Gang was about to be decided once and for all. By 1925, the White Hand Gang had been reduced by Yale to a mere nuisance. Realizing that the once-powerful White Hand empire was crumbling, gang boss Pegleg Lonergan decided to gamble everything on one final bold move.

On December 26, 1925, the Yale gang was holding its Christmas party at the Adonis Club in Brooklyn. Richard Lonergan entered the bar with several of his men: Aaron Harms, James "Ragtime" Howard, Paddy Maloney, Cornielius "Needles" Ferry, and James Hart. The White Hand group sat at a table near a grand piano at the rear of the club. After downing a number of drinks to shore up their nerves, the White Handers finally whipped out their guns. However, the Yale Gang was ready for them. Someone immediately pulled the main power switch for the club; now the only light in the room was on the White Handers' table, making them easy targets. Sylvester Argolia, one of Yale's men, smashed Aaron Harms in the head with a meat cleaver (just like Altierri had done to Lovett years before). Gunshots then erupted from the darkness. Pegleg Lonergan and Needles Ferry were killed outright, while Harms died in the street outside the club. The remaining White Handers managed to escape with their lives.

It is believed that Al Capone headed the "firing squad" that night in the Adonis Club. He was in New York for his son's operation and was able to return the favor to Yale for the O'Banion murder in Chicago. Leaderless after the Adonis club shootout, The White Hand Gang quickly made peace with the Italians.

Final days

With the White Hand Gang broken and Brooklyn completely under his control, Yale was on top of the world. However, his rule was be short-lived. In spring of 1927, Yale's long friendship with Capone began to fray. The conflict started over Yale's refusal to back Capone's friend Antonio "The Scourge" Lombardo, for the leadership of the Unione Siciliana in Chicago. Soon many of Capone's Chicago-bound trucks carrying liquor were hijacked before they cleared New York. Capone and Yale had a standing agreement that Yale would protect Al's shipments in New York.

Suspecting a double cross, Capone asked an old pal James "Filesy" DeAmato to keep an eye on his trucks. DeAmato reported back that Frankie was indeed hijacking his booze. Six days later, on July 7, 1927, DeAmato was gunned down on a Brooklyn street corner. The two men's relationship continued to worsen.

On Sunday morning, July 1, 1928, Yale was in the Sunrise Club, his Brooklyn speakeasy, when he received a cryptic phone call. The caller said something was wrong with Yale's wife Lucy, who was at home looking after their year-old daughter. Yale dashed out to his brand new, coffee-colored Lincoln coupe and took off up New Utrecht Avenue. At a red light, Yale saw four hard-eyed men in a Buick sedan staring at him. Sensing trouble, Yale hit the gas and took off. Yale's car was overtaken by the Buick and gunmen riddled the Lincoln with buckshot and submachine gun bullets. The Lincoln crashed into the stoop of a brownstone at 923 44th St, violently disrupting a Bar Mitzvah. Inside the Lincoln, Frankie Yale was dead.

The abandoned Buick was later discovered a few blocks away from the murder site. Some of the weapons left inside were traced to Miami, the car itself was traced to Knoxville, Tennessee, and a Thompson submachine gun traced to a Chicago sporting goods dealer. Police repeatedly questioned Al Capone about the Yale murder, but nothing came of the inquiries. Yale's murder represented the first time that the Tommy Gun was used in New York gangland warfare. Recent research has indicated that Yale's killers were Fred “Killer” Burke, Gus Winkler, George "Shotgun" Ziegler, and Louis "Little New York" Campagna. Most of these hitmen participated in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre seven months later. One of the Tommy Guns used in the massacre was later linked ballistically to Yale's murder.

Frankie Yale received one of the most impressive gangland funerals in American history. Thousands of Brooklynites lined the streets to watch the procession. Twenty-three cars were required to bear all the floral arrangements while 110 Cadillac limousines carried the mourners. Yale's $15,000 silver casket rested on an open hearse with a podium. As the cortege moved through the streets, a woman darted out from the crowd and spit on Frankie's casket. She turned out to be Peggy Meehan, who was in bed with her husband Denny when he was killed by Yale's men back in 1920. At the cemetery, there was additional drama when two different women showed up and claimed to be Mrs. Frankie Yale. Yale's funeral set a standard of opulence for American gangsters that has been seldom matched over the years.


While Yale is somewhat overlooked in crime histories (he's recalled chiefly as a murder victim of Al Capone), he was one of New York's leading gangsters in the 1920s.

Ultimately, Yale was succeeded as head of the gang by Frankie Marlow. However, the Morello gang killed Marlow a year later when Masseria moved to take control of Mafia activity citywide. This same campaign resulted in the death of mobster Salvatore D'Aquilla just four months after Yale was killed.

Under Masseria's influence the old Yale gang's activities were split; the bootlegging and gambling went to Anthony "Little Augie" Carfano and the waterfront racket to Alfred Mineo, who now led the old D'Aquilla gang. Carfano remained in charge of the gang until 1932, when Charles "Lucky" Luciano asked Joe Adonis to take control. Carfano was "advised" to retire to Florida.

At the end of the Castellammarese War, Vince Mangano took control of what had been Mineo's operations, including the waterfront racket. Mangano remained in charge until the 1950s, when he was killed and replaced by Albert Anastasia. At about the same time Joe Adonis began serving a jail term and when he got out he found that his Brooklyn operations had been absorbed by Anastasia, who had no plans to return them. So the operations of the old Yale gang had been reunited in what has become known as the Gambino crime family.

In popular culture

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