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New Orleans Trivia

Where is Carlos Marcello buried, and did the Mafia in New Orleans die with him?

Blake Pontchartrain: N.O. Know It All

Carlos Marcello is buried in Metairie Cemetery with his wife Jacqueline.
  • Carlos Marcello is buried in Metairie Cemetery with his wife Jacqueline.

Hey Blake,

Where is Carlos Marcello buried, and did the Mafia in New Orleans die with him?

Alexis S.

Dear Alexis,

  Many hard-working Sicilians immigrated to America between 1860 and 1890 to escape poverty in their homeland. They were enticed by the climate of New Orleans, which was similar to that of Sicily. Those with alleged "Black Hand," or Mafia, ties appreciated the accepting culture and tolerance for gambling and alcohol.

  Carlos Marcello was born Calogero Minacori (or Minacore) to Sicilian parents in Tunisia on Feb. 6, 1910, while his parents were in Tunisia temporarily for work. When Marcello was an infant, his father Joseph moved his family to a small farm in Algiers, on the West Bank. The Mafia existed in New Orleans before the Marcellos arrived.

  While a young man, Marcello sold his family's produce in the French Market and became involved with the criminal element in that part of the city. He was arrested for burglary and after being released, saved his money and bought a bar in the French Quarter, reportedly to use as a front for selling marijuana. At age 26, Marcello became involved with then-Mafia boss Sylvestro "Silver Dollar Sam" Carolla. When Carolla was deported in the mid-1940s, Marcello was named his successor.

  Marcello rented pinball and slot machines to local businesses. In the 1940s and '50s, his wealth and power grew and so did pressures from the federal government. He had scrapes with the law and spent time in jail three times, but Marcello just as often beat the charges against him. He was subpoenaed to testify before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management (sometimes called the "Rackets Committee" or McClellan Committee) in 1959 about gambling in Jefferson Parish. In the late 1970s, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 was a conspiracy. The report speculated that Marcello (who was twice deported by President Kennedy and his brother, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy) and some of his mob associates were involved, but it could not find enough evidence to prove that claim.

  It was electronic surveillance that ultimately led to the then-73-year-old Marcello's arrest and conviction in 1981 on racketeering and bribery charges. He reported to prison in 1983.

  While incarcerated, Marcello's health deteriorated. In 1989, his conviction was overturned on a technicality and he was released. He died of natural causes at his Metairie home on March 3, 1993, and was buried in his family's mausoleum in Westlawn Cemetery in Gretna. In 2003, his body was moved to Metairie Cemetery. His wife Jacqueline Todaro Marcello died earlier this year and was buried with her husband.

  There is speculation that Marcello's brother, Joseph Jr., succeeded him for a short period and that later Sam Carolla's son Anthony ran the local mob family, with Frank Gagliano as his underboss. After a number of indictments and successful convictions in the 1990s, the Mafia presence in New Orleans dwindled substantially, though hints of its activities remain.

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