Childhood & Early Life
Carlos Marcello was born as Calogero Minacori/ Minacorein French Tunisia on February 6, 1910. In 1911, the family shifted to the Unites States of America and settled down in an old plantation in the suburbs of New Orleans. The names of his parent are not known. He had at least one brother named Joseph.
As Carlos grew up, he began to indulge in petty crimes. He formed a gang of teenage robbers, who carried out armed robberies in nearby towns. In 1929, he was arrested for masterminding and using teenagers for burglaries. The charges were later dropped and he was released.
In 1930, he was again convicted of assault and robbery. This time he was found guilty and sentenced for nine years. After he had served five years of his term in Louisiana State Penitentiary, he was pardoned by the Governor of Louisiana and was released. He went back to his life of crime immediately after his release.
Continue Reading Below
As Crime Boss
Carlos married into the family of Frank Todaro. Frank was, at that time, the underboss of New Orleans Mafia and an associate of Sylvestro "Silver Dollar Sam" Carolla, the head of the New Orleans Crime Family. The marriage elevated Carlos’ position. He became one of Sylvestro’s lieutenants.
In 1938, Carlos was arrested once again. This time he was charged with selling more than 23 pounds of marijuana and was sentenced with a lengthy prison term and a fine of $76,830. However, Todaro managed to get him out within ten months.
After his release, Carlos became associated with Frank Costello, the leader of the Genovese Crime family of New York. At that time, Costello was transporting slot machines to New Orleans. These machines did not have any legal permit. Hence, he needed help both in transportation and proper placements.
Carlos, at the instruction of Carolla, not only provided the muscle power, but also had them successfully placed in different business houses in New Orleans. This also improved his position in the Family.
In 1947, "Silver Dollar Sam" Carolla was deported to Sicily. Carlos Marcello occupied his spot and became the undisputed leader of New Orleans Crime Family. Very soon, he began to be known as Godfather of crime world.
Like his predecessor, Marcello was fiercely independent. He did not tolerate any kind of interference in his areas and members of other mafia families needed his permission to visit Louisiana.
Marcello next joined hands with Meyer Lasky and began to receive cut money from important casinos in and around New Orleans. Very soon, the illegal gambling network in the state of Louisiana came under his control.
After establishing his authority in Louisiana he started looking beyond its boundary. He now began to provide muscle power to the real estate business in Florida, in exchange for which, he got a share of the cut money from Las Vegas Casinos. By 1950s, he also began to have sway over the Texas gambling rackets.
In 1959, a United States Senate committee was formed to investigate into organized crime. Both Robert F Kennedy and John F Kennedy were its members. Marcello was asked to appear before it on March 24. However, he refused to answer any question and evoked Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in his defense.
Continue Reading Below
Next year, during presidential election, Marcello donated $500,000 to the Republican campaign of Richard M. Nixon through Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa. However, it did not pay off. Nixon lost to Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy.
Once J. F. Kennedy became the President of United States in January 1961, crackdown on the organized crime became more intense. He made his brother Robert F. Kennedy the Attorney General, who was equally serious about such things. By 1962, his team had top mafia bosses on the run. Many left the country to avoid prosecution.
In 1961, while on a routine visit to the immigration authority in New Orleans, Marcello was arrested and forcibly deported to Guatemala. However, by using his influence he came back to the USA within few months. Further attempt to deport him also failed.
Once he came back to the USA, Marcello realized that along with his other activities he must have some legal business ventures as a front. He then began to invest in legitimate business like transportation, finance, housing, and service industries.
When John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963 it was believed that Marcello had a hand in it. That is because Oswald could not have any possible reason behind the killing while Marcello had strong motivation and also the means required for eliminating a president.
Warren Commission, set up to investigate the assassination, reported that Oswald was indeed alone and there was no conspiracy involved in it. Yet, independent investigators have all along claimed that Marcello was indeed the mastermind behind the incident.
It had been reported that Marcello was so angry by his deportation that he made numerous threats to John F. Kennedy. He had also told private investigator Edward Becker that ‘a dog will continue to bite you if you cut off its tail; but if you cut off its head, it would not be able cause further trouble’; meaning his problems would be solved only if he could have J.F. Kennedy killed.
Frank Ragano, another criminal lawyer who had represented many crime bosses including Marcello, had also corroborated such claims in his memoir. According to another source, Marcello had also said that he would ‘set up a nut to take the blame’. In short, even if he had J.F. Kennedy killed, he successfully saved himself.
In 1966, Marcello’s leadership was challenged by Trafficante Jr. and Anthony Carolla, the son of Sylvestro Carolla. However, Marcello was able to retain his hold. As he was coming out from the meeting, he was arrested but was not convicted
In 1968, Marcello was convicted of assaulting an FBI agent. He was sentenced to two years in prison. As usual, he came out within six month. Next, Marcello was charged with consorting with known felons and was again sentenced. This time, he came out by beginning of 1971.
In 1981, Marcello, along with three others, was indicted in a scheme to bribe state officials. He was also charged with conspiracy, racketeering and fraud. After a protracted battle, he was finally sentenced in 1983 to a long prison term.
After he had served six years, Marcello suffered a series of strokes. In July 1989, his conviction was set aside and he was released in October. He went back home and retired. Anthony Carrolla took charge of the New Orleans Crime Family in 1990.
Not much is known about the personal life of Carlos Marcello. It is only known that he married into the family of Frank Todaro, an underboss in the New Orleans Crime Family. Many are the opinion that Carlos married his daughter. However, others believe that he was married to Todaro's niece Giacomina (Jackie), the daughter of his brother Joseph.
After retiring from organized crime he spent his last days in his two-story mansion made out of white marble in Metairie. There he died on March 2, 1993.