||New York| Franscesco Caruso
Birth: 1891 - Sicily
Death: 1968 - New York
Francesco 'cheech' Caruso was a gunman and enforcer for Salvatore D'Aquila in Brooklyn during the 1910's and 1920's. Caruso became a hot topic in the press after he murdered a young doctor named Casper Pendola in 1927.
A fathers grief
On February 13, 1927, Franscesco's first born son Joey died in his arms. The 6 year old boy had become seriously sick just the day before, starting with a sore throat. On February 12 Casper Pendola (1900-1927) visited Caruso's house to help and cure the child. Pendola injected antitoxin and promised to return the next morning. During that night however, the condition of the child started to get worser and worse. By 10 o'clock the next morning Caruso ran out to seek help and called for an ambulance. When he came back at his appartment however, his son had gone in convulsions and died in his arms.
It lasted till noon when Pendola also arrived at the appartment. According to Caruso Pendola laughed when he heared of the death of the child. The New York Court of Appeals would later characterize the doctor’s reaction as “some twitching of the facial muscles that might be mistaken for a smile.” Caruso became furious and immediatly attacked Pendola. He wrapped his hands around the doctor's neck and started to strangle him. When Pendola fell Caruso took a large butcher knife and stabbed the man twice in the throat. The event happened while Caruso's wife stood in the door hall. The press dubbed the murder "Physician Is Slain by Crazed Father as Boy Patient Dies". They also discribed Caruso as a "raging giant whose black eyes were afire with hate and revenge" and "dull-eyed and expressionless". They also saw Caruso as some dumb immegrant laborer because he barely spoke English and wasn't wealthy.
During Caruso's trial Pendola's widow stood up in court and yelled at Caruso: "This man murdered my husband, and it was a cruel, cold murder! He should be killed. Instead, he gets an adjournment!". Caruso was convicted of first-degree-murder and was sentenced to death. However, Caruso started to get support from the people who suddenly seem to give sympathy towards the Caruso's. Even New York congressman and future mayor Fiorello La Guardia visted the poor family. Shortly after a couple of new trials emerged and Caruso was eventually spared from the death house at Sing Sing prison. The judge who had first given him the death sentence now agreed upon Caruso to plea guilty. Caruso was given 20 years, but only serverd 6 of them. In 1952, a drunk Caruso surprised his 16 year old son Dom by telling a disturbing story. Caruso said he was a made guy in Salvatore D'Aquila's organisation during the 1920's and that Casper Pendola wasn't his first victim. He then claimed that D'Aquila was the man who saved him from the death penalty and helped him with top lawyers to work on his appeal. He also told that his other son Sal was named after Salvatore D'Aquila. Before the Pendola murder in 1927 police only had one other record of Caruso dating from 1918 for carrying a conscealed weapon. Franscesco afterwards worked as a painter and laborer and died peacefully in 1968. Pendola's widow died somewhere during the 1970's.
(Source: New York Times)
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