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Administrative Assassin

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:18 pm    Post subject: MACEO Reply with quote

    The Maceo Dynasty

A decade after the untimely demise of Sam Bongio, the Maceo brothers began making their mark south of Houston on Galveston Island. Led by Rosario and Salvatore Maceo, the Maceos would come to influence crime in Houston, Dallas and of course on Galveston Island. The Maceos engaged in prostitution, extortion, the corruption and compromise of public officials, liquor and narcotics smuggling, gambling and more. All this in addition to a wide array of legitimate business enterprises which made the family a fortune.

    Vincent S. "Big Vince"
    The oldest and least known of the three Maceo brothers. Vince was suspected in the death of his first wife Madge whose battered body was found on Galveston beach. The incident is often mistakenly attributed to Mr and Mrs. Rose Maceo. Vincent died at the age of 50 in 1943.

    Rosario Maceo "Papa Rose"
    The quiet unseen force behind the Maceo operation, Papa rose enforced the Maceo rule of law in Houston and Galveston Island. He paired with younger brother Sam in a contrast perfectly suited for their line of work which required the ability to employ muscle at times when diplomacy failed.

    Salvatore Maceo "Big Sam"
    Smiling and personable, Sam was the face of the Maceo operation. His ties to politicians, hoodlums, entertainers and gamblers stretched far beyond the borders of Texas.

The Maceo brothers were born in Palermo, Italy. The family arrived in the United States in 1901 settling in Leesville, Louisiana. Sam then 7 and Rose 13, grew up in the town bordering Texas. Rose moved into the neighboring state in 1910 opening a barbershop "first on Murdoch's Pier and later," in the newly opened Hotel Galvez. Sam joined the U.S., Army rising to the rank of sergeant before joining his brother in Galveston following his discharge. The brothers continued barbering before entering the liquor trade working for "Dutch" O.E. Voight and Ollie J. Quinn leaders of The Beach gang with the advent of prohibition.

A sizeable portion of the estimated 20,000 cases of booze making its way onto the Island via Cuba and Jamaica belonged to the Beach Gang and thus the importance of the Maceos. Galveston Island "as was the case with other areas engaged in illicit activity," had its fair share of gangs and independents who engaged in hijacking. The Maceos were dependable in securing the Beach gang loads from the likes of Johnny Jack Nounes head of the Downtown Gang.

1926 proved to be a big year for the Maceos as they opened a small speakeasy on a pier off the seawall at 21st Street. The place had operated previously as the Chop Suey but would open under Maceo control first as Maceo's Grotto and later as the Sui Jen.
The association between the Beach gang and the Maceos proved so profitable that Voight and Quinn offered the Maceos a chance to move into the bigtime when gambler Jake Friedman decided to sell his interest in a Galveston nightclub venture then under construction in favor of a Houston proposition. The brothers purchased Friendman's interest and joined Voight and Quinn as the principal owners of the Hollywood Dinner Club "Galveston's first big-time nightclub," which also opened in 1926.

    The Hollywood Dinner Club
    Location 61st and Aveneue S, on the Western edge of the city beyond the seawall.

    The Hollywood Dinner Club was the subject of Forfeiture proceedings in 1927 which named.
      Sam Maceo - Galveston
      George McQueen - Galveston
      J. Mills - Galveston
      Frank Battaglia - Galveston
    as incorporators of the charter issued to operate golf links, tennis courts and other sporting events.

During there time spent toiling for and later in conjunction with Quinn and Voight, the Maceo brothers "most notably Sam," learned the art of public relations. Sam took note of the methods employed by Quinn. Described as "rotund and unfailingly pleasant," Ollie faithfully attended Sunday service at the First Baptist Church. Despite his unsavory professional ties which included ownership of the Deluxe Club a reknowned vice den and Modern Vending Company which he used to distribute slot machines and other games of chance. Quinn's presence was welcomed.

    The Deluxe Club
    21st and Post Office

Sam Maceo's personality closely mirrored that of Quinn and outside of physical traits completly at odds, the two employed the same tactics in dealing with the public. The Hollywood Dinner Club is the place where Sam's sparkling personality became legend. It has been said that the Hollywood Dinner Club was the first air-conditioned night club in the country. Of course there is no way of knowing if this was indeed the case but surely helped to lure patrons into the 500 seat dining room.

As if the luxury of an air-conditioned reprieve from the notoriously muggy Galveston summer nights wasn't enticing enough, the Maceos offered gambling in the form of blackjack, craps and roulette. For a well rounded evening top notch live entertainment was the feature of the evenings festivities. Sam frequently travelled to the west coast to book entertainers for the Hollywood Dinner Club. Over the years Guy Lombardo, Ben Bernie, the Boswell sisters, Glen Gray, Phil Harris "one of Sam Maceo's dearest friends," Paul Whiteman, Joe Reichman, Shep Fields, Henry King, Jack Teagarten and Duke Ellington all would play the Hollywood Dinner Club. The Hollywood Dinner Club operated unmolested untill 1939 when a rare raid by lawmen resulted in the seizure of a small quantity of narcotics. The incident resulted in the padlocking of the operation.

Other Maceo Ventures.

One of the most impressive things about the Maceo operation was the diversity of their activities. Sam while engaged in running the aforementioned nightclubs, gambling spots and restaurants, entered the oil business in 1934. Maceo purchased a spread of acreage around the Crescent Oil Syndicate No.1 Shaw on Galveston Island for a $8,500 consideration. The investment led to the incorporation of Gulf Oil Properties. This concern was followed in short order by;
    Maceo and Company

    R. Maceo Trustee

    Dickinson Equipment

    Murdoch Bathouse Company Inc.,

    Gulf Properties Inc.,

    Gulf Entertainment places

    Galveston Novelty Company

    Galveston Pleasure Pier

Maceo Properties
    Balinese Room

    Murdoch Bingo

    Murdoch Sportsland

    Studio Lounge

    Western Room

    Turf Grill

    Turf Tap Room

    Oyster Bar

    Streamline Dinner Club

    The Fish Room

This list partial list shows just how far the Maceo empire expanded over a brief period.

As the Maceo empire grew, many of the top level jobs were handled by relatives. The key players in the Maceo expanse in addition to Rose and Sam were;

    Anthony J. Fertitta - "Nephew" Manager of the Balinese Room. The popular upscale Houston Restaurant Vic and Anthony's is named in honor of him and his brother Victor J.[The restaurant portion of the operation.]

    Victor J. Fertitta - "Nephew" Manager of the Club Room adjoining the Balinese Room. [The casino portion of the Balinese enterprise].

    Frank Maceo - "cousin" 3rd largest investor in Maceo & Company. The manager of the bookmaking operation run by the Maceos at the Turf Grill.

    Vincent A. Maceo - "cousin" Managed the Chilli bowl, one of the dining and gambling spots owned by the Maceos.

    Victor A. Maceo - "cousin" Replaced Frank Maceo as the manager of horse-race betting at the Turf Grill.

    Sam T. Maceo - "cousin" Managed the Streamliner. Another in the string of restaurants and gambling joints run by the Maceos.

    Victor C. Maceo - "cousin" Managed real-estate ventures in connection with Gulf Properties.

    Joe T. Maceo - "cousin" Held positions related to bookmaking and equipment rentals.

    Frank J. Fertitta - "cousin" held the position of assistant bookkeeper during the 40s and 50s, later spearheaded the families successful transition into the Las Vegas market. Brother of Vic and Anthony Feritta.

    John B. Arena - "in-law" Equipment manager for the Maceo brothers. Some of Arena's equipment included machines used in connection with Maceo gambling enterprises.

    R.L. Fabi - "in-law" Collector of debts incurred by customers dealing with John Arena.

    Lorenzo Grillette - Managed the Silver Moon.

    Joe Salvato - Held 1/4 interest in the Dickinson Equipment. Owner of record and operator of the Chilli Bowl.

    O.E. "Dutch" Voight - "In-law" Gave the Maceos there start in Galveston. Retained a 5 percent interest in the Maceo operation throughout the 40s.

    Sam Serio - Macoe and Company General accountant. Serio appeared before the grand jury which investigated the Maceo operation in 1951.

    Felix J. DeMary - Texas horse breeder and bookmaker who operated the Border Cafe just across the state line in Orange Louisiana. DeMary provided the race wire information used in the Maceo bookmaking operation.

One seemingly sentimental purchase made by the Maceo business enterprise was the deal which saw Rose Maceo buy the Crystal Palace for $140,000 cash in the late 30s. This was a considerable sum to pay for any property but the Crystal Palace purchase marked the return of Papa Rose to his Galveston roots. Located along Murdoch Pier, Maceo had cut hair for 15 cents per customer when he first arrived from Leesville. It was the place where the Maceo enterprise was born. It was also a good business decision as it solidified the family hold over concessions along the beach. Murdoch's bathhouse and the Sui Jen Pier were other holdings which contributed to the Maceo ledger.

The Nevada Expansion.

The future would hold successes but the golden age of open operation in Galveston was gone forever. Sam and Rosario Maceo seemingly understood this and by 1950 had taken steps to move the operation out of Texas and into the rapidly expanding gambling Mecca located in the Nevada Desert.

The Maceo's Nevada power was demonstrated when Sam interceeded on behalf of former Cleveland bootlegger Mo Dalitz with the Nevada Tax Commission. The tax commision was threatening to stop Dalitz from opening the newly constructed Desert Inn Hotel, Casino and Golf resort. A gala event had been planned for opening night and Dalitz having exhausted his options called upon Maceo who saved the day after a last minute meeting with Senator Pat McCarran at the Riverside Hotel in Reno.

When the Desert Inn opened on April 24, 1950. Sam Maceo was among a group of 150 honored guests holding Gold cards. This elite corp was allowed $10,000 casino credit and counted amongst their measure Governor Vail Pittman, Lieutenant Governor Clifford A. Jones, Las Vegas Mayor Ernie Cragin and crime figures such as Black Bill Tocco, Pete Licavoli and Frank Milano.

[size=18]Binion and Maceo

The ties between Binion and Maceo were extensive and dated back to Binion's pre-Nevada days. The Binion connection will is covered in a seperate section. Please refer to it.

Death and Change

Within a year of the Desert Inn opening 57 year old Sam Maceo died at St. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Maceo had undergone surgery for cancer which had developed in his digestive tract on March 28. His death on April 15 was marked in newspapers and weekly periodicals across the country. When Maceo's body was flown back to Galveston his nephew and heir apparent Anthony Fertitta and New Orleans hotel owner Seymour Weiss oversaw the arrangements.

The state crime committee opened an investigation into the Maceo empire within months of his burial. It was clear times were changing. Rose Maceo was given a subpoena at the Turf Grill but never appeared before the committee. He chose to visit Italy until the hearings closed. By 1953 he to would pass on effectively ending the Maceo dominance. Or did it really?[/size]

Fertitta Era Begins

During the state investigation which exposed the inner-workings of the Maceo operation, Rose Maceo arranged a huge transfer of interests from the senior or founding members of the Maceo empire to a junior or new era group. The senior members which was comprised of;

Rosario Maceo, Vic C. Maceo, Sam Maceo trust, O.E. Voight and A.J. Adams.

sold a portion of their controlling interest to the "junior Maceos." These junior Maceos were;

Anthony J. Fertitta, Frank J. Fertitta Sr, Victor J. Fertitta, Sam T. Maceo, Vic A. Maceo and Loranzy Grilliette.

The sale price was $ 480,000 of which $ 240,000 was loaned to the juniors by Maceo & Company. Gulf Oil Properties established in the early 30s as the vehicle which the Maceos entered the oil business loaned the junior group an additional $90,000. The United States National Bank, the First National Bank and the Moody National Bank of Galveston all contributed loans totalling $50,000 each to the title transfer. Shortly thereafter the investigation closed and business continued as before only in a slightly muted fashion. Galveston continued to enjoy its hard earned reputation as one of America's last open cities and the Maceo now Fertitta operation was the driving force behind its success.

Life's Troubles

All went swimmingly until Anthony J. Fertittagot into a scrap with Henry Suydam and Joe Scherschel a writer and photographer for Life Magazine. The pair had reportedly entered the Turf Athletic Club and secretly snapped photos of the gambling operation for a story on "America's last surviving sin city." The 3 a.m. confrontation which Fertitta said he "barely tapped," Suydam, after confronting the pair outside the club. Fertitta said he received reports of two men acting suspiciously and went to investigate. No charges were filed in the confrontation but the ensuing fire storm led to a crackdown which forced the Fertitta's to close their open gambling operations.

"This is the end we're through"

The heat proved to much and after several reform efforts, Vic and Anthony Fertitta announced they were closing the Balinese Room. The reason was without question the crackdown initiated by Atty. General Will Wilson who relentless assault led to injunctions and raids the likes of which the Maceo and Fertittas had never experienced before. Immediately following the announcement, Anthony Feritta detailed plans for his relocation to Las Vegas where he was already associated with Belden Kattleman at the El Rancho.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:01 pm    Post subject: From Beemoe Reply with quote

How in the hell could I`ve not noticed this? It`s funny how diversified The Maceos were. It seems like they understood the need for legitimate cover almost from the beginning. I wonder if they were so criminally minded in Palermo? There`s the Moody`s again.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:39 pm    Post subject: Early Maceo family history Reply with quote


Vincenzo Maceo - was 48 years old and listed his occupation as landowner in Palermo in November 1852.

Gioachino Santo Tomasso Maceo - was 26 years old and listed his occupation as a gardener in Palermo when he married Oliva Ferrera age 16 in Palermo on November 8th, 1852.

    Oliva Ferrera - 16 year old daughter of Salvatore and Rosalia (Genova) Ferrara married Gioachino Maceo.

    Antonina (Maceo) Zizza - daughter of Giochino and Oliva (Ferrera) married Michele Zizza in Palermo on November 15th, 1895.

Salvatore Maceo - son of Vito and Oliva (Ferrera) was born in 1860, married 16 year old Stefana Torregrossa on December 22nd, 1882 in Palermo. Salvatore listed occupation was Ebony worker.

    Stefana Torregrossa - daughter of Giuseppe and Rosa (Cardella) Torregrossa residents of Palermo.

Vincenzo Maceo - son of Gioachino Tommaso Santo and Oliva (Ferrera) Maceo 'born in 1865' marries 20 year old Concetta Sansone in Palermo.

    Concetta Sansone - 20 year old daughter of Rosario and Maria (Serio) Sansone marries Vincenzo Maceo on November 10th, 1887 in Palermo. Concetta was born in Cefalu.

    Gaetano Maceo - son of Vincenzo and Concetta (Sansone) Maceo is born July 18th, 1897 in Palermo.

    Rosario Maceo - son of Vincenzo and Concetta (Sansone) Maceo is born November 2nd, 1898 in Palermo.

    Gaetano Maceo - son of Vincenzo and Concetta (Sansone) Maceo is born August 5th, 1900 in Palermo.

    Oliva Maceo - daughter born to Vito and Oliva (Ferrera) Maceo in 1882.

Vito Maceo - the son of Gioachino and Oliva (Ferrera) Maceo was born June 9th, 1854 in Malfitano. The pair failed to sign their sons birth record as the notation states they were said to be illiterate. Vito later married Angela Sansone age 16,.

    Angela Sansone - married Vito Maceo on May 9th, 1881 in Palermo. Angela was the daughter of Rosario (a shoemaker) and Marianna (Serio) Sansone. Angela was born in Cefalu but listed Palermo as his place of residence at the time of her marriage.

    Tommaso Maceo - oldest son of Vito and Angela (Sansone) Maceo born on December 26th, 1884 in Palermo.

    Rosario Maceo - son of Vito and Angela (Sansone) Maceo born on September 8th, 1887 in Palermo.

    Gaetano Maceo - son of Vito and Angela (Sansone) Maceo born on February 23rd, 1890 in Palermo.

    Gaetano Maceo - son of Vito and Angela (Sansone) Maceo born on February 22nd, 1892 in Palermo. Gaetano died at the age of 5 years on September 7th, 1897 on Dalia Street in Palermo. His father's occupation is listed as wine merchant.

    Salvatore Maceo - son of Vito and Angela (Sansone) Maceo born on March 2nd, 1894 in Palermo.

    Vincenzo Maceo - son of Vito and Angela (Sansone) Maceo born on June 7th, 1896 in Palermo.


    Francesco Fertitta - a 52 year old sailor and his wife 38 year old Giuseppa (Serio) celebrate the birth of their son Giuseppe on May 3rd, 1882.

      Giuseppa (Serio) - wife of Francesco, mother of Salvatore 'Sam' and Giuseppe 'Joseph'.

      Salvatore Fertitta - 24 year old stoker and Salvatora Sansone a 23 year old civil worker are married on January 5th, 1895 in Palermo. Salvatora is the daughter of Rosario and Marianna (Serio) Sansone of Palermo.

      Salvatora (Sansone) - wife of Salvatore, mother of Rosario and Giuseppa.

      Rosario Fertitta - son of Salvatore and Salvatora (Sansone) is born on July 19th, 1898 in Palermo. Vito Maceo stood by as a witness to the information given on the child and his birth.

      Giuseppa Fertitta - daughter of Salvatore and Salvatora (Sansone) was born on February 22nd, 1900 in Palermo.

    Last edited by FINCEN on Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:38 pm    Post subject: From Beemoe Reply with quote

    So you really did your DD on this family. What stood out to you about this group?

    Based on the info. they The Maceo family was maybe not this creative in the "old country". They obviously grasped that America was "the land of opportunity" for them.
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    PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:39 pm    Post subject: Beemoe Reply with quote

    It seems like they surrounded themselves with the right people.
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    PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:41 pm    Post subject: From Beemoe Reply with quote

    Were you able to find your Fertitta article?
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    PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:58 pm    Post subject: Interest in the Maceo Family sparked by coincidence... Reply with quote

    I initially stumbled across Sam Maceo's name while searching for information on a live radio broadcast from the Arrowhead Springs Hotel in San Bernardino in 1928. I had been told that the Arrowhead Springs broadcast was the first live radio broadcast to be carried nationally but this was not so. Maceo had accomplished the feat two year prior when he entered into a contract with Thomas Goggan & Bro., to use their station KFUL to air the grand opening of the Hollywood Dinner Club on June 9, 1926. It marked the emergence of Maceo as a power figure in entertainment circles as word of the extravagance of the Hollywood Dinner Club spread beyond the Gulf region. It would prove a stroke of genius as audiences were drawn to the broadcast to hear Harry Samuels and his orchestra entertain people drawn from the elite social circles of Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston and of course Galveston. It was estimated that 5,000 people filed through the $50,000 establishment during its first two days of operation and right in the center of it all was the smiling visage of Sam Maceo. The rise of the family as a force was due to their positioning in Galveston and family ties in New Orleans and Leesville, Louisiana during prohibition.

    Galveston was a city controlled then as it is now by the Moody and Kempner families. By and large both were extremely pious in their personal comportment but neither side ever missed an opportunity to earn a dollar. Prohibition was simply to large a score to pass up and therefore many of the early ventures opened by Sam such as the Hollywood Dinner Club, enjoyed the political support and protection of the Moody family while drawing upon the considerable financial knowledge of both to invest and grow their fortune. It is nearly impossible to understand the Maceo families emergence without knowing something about the Moody and Kempner families. That is something we should discuss in a separate post because that in an of itself will take you into some areas that you will be amazed to find linked.
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    PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:38 pm    Post subject: From Beemoe Reply with quote

    So the Maceos didn`t grow in a vacuum. I figured as such that Sam was maybe frontin' for the Moody`s.....the bankers and investors.
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