N.J.’s most notorious mob slayings

N.J.'s most notorious mob slayings

18 Temmuz 2018 - 02:00

After the Soprano crime family made its debut on HBO 19 years ago, Tony and company’s malicious streak drew rebukes from some critics who argued the show was too violent.

In the Garden State, however, the reality of organized crime has often been just as gruesome as fiction.

While recent organized crime prosecutions in New Jersey have largely focused on offenses like loansharkingfraud and drug dealing, killings linked by authorities to mob activity have long captured headlines throughout the state.

As recently as 2015, FBI wiretaps and recordings by an undercover agent captured members of the Elizabeth-grown DeCavalcante crime family discussing a plot to kill a rival.

Here are some of the most notorious instances where organized crime has been blamed for bloodshed in the Garden State: 


The killing of mobster Dutch Schultz in Newark captured headlines across the country in 1935. (Star-Ledger archive photos)

Dutch Schultz

An early Jewish organized crime figure, Schultz ran afoul of his criminal associates in 1935 when he asked the mob for permission to kill Thomas Dewey, a famed prosecutor who later would be elected governor of New York.

Schultz had taken up residence at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark in an attempt to avoid Dewey's scrutiny, and wanted the prosecutor out of his way. Mob leaders feared Dewey's killing would make them all targets and decided to remove Schultz from the picture instead.

In a brazen attack at the Palace Chop House that October, which made headlines nationwide, gunmen fatally wounded Schultz and three other men. Pictures of a fallen Schultz in a Newark hospital were widely circulated in the national press.

Charlie "Bug" Workman was convicted of the fatal shooting in 1941 on what the Trenton Evening Times reported was largely the testimony of two former mob enforcers. He was released from prison in 1964 after serving 23 years.


The Jersey Journal prominently displayed Associated Press coverage of Willie Moretti's slaying in its Oct. 4, 1951 edition. (The Jersey Journal)

Willie Moretti

In the early 1950s, Morretti was a top member of the Genovese crime family well known for his rumored affiliation with Hoboken-born crooner Frank Sinatra.

His fatal fall from power came in 1951, after Moretti’s criminal associates became worried about his chattiness during an appearance before a U.S. Senate committee investigating organized crime.

While Moretti told the Senate he made his living legally, he admitted being acquainted with other organized crime figures whom he said were not “bad people.”

Fearing his declining mental state would lead him to say too much, Moretti’s associates ultimately silenced him with gunfire on Oct. 4, 1951, as he dined at Joe’s Elbow Room in Cliffside Park.


John "Johnny Coca-Cola" Lardiere, shown at left in this newspaper clipping, was gunned down on Easter morning in 1977 in the parking lot of a motel in Bridgewater. (Times of Trenton)

John Lardiere

A longtime mob associate with reputed ties to both the Genovese family in New Jersey and the Patriarcha family in New England, Lardiere — known as "Johnny Coca-Cola" — was gunned down in the parking lot of a motel in Bridgewater early Easter morning in 1977 by a killer who sped off in a waiting car, authorities said at the time.

Lardiere, a Maplewood resident, had been sent to prison in 1971 along with several other alleged organized crime figures after refusing to testify before the State Commission of Investigation about mob union racketeering.

An alleged Genovese family boss, Michael Coppola, was arrested in Lardiere's murder more than 30 years later. Coppola had fled his Spring Lake home in 1996 when investigators sought to take a DNA sample from him after an informant reported Coppola bragging of Lardiere's killing.

Comparisons of DNA samples collected from Coppola after his arrest and evidence from the scene proved inconclusive, and a Superior Court judge in 2009 dismissed the murder complaint against him after state prosecutors took too long to obtain an indictment.

Coppola was sentenced later that year to 16 years in federal prison after a jury convicted him of racketeering charges.



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