Americans have always been fascinated by the underworld operating in this country. And Queens is well-known as home to many in the Italian Mafia.
One of the mob’s most powerful leaders in the 20th century was Tommy Lucchese, who lived quietly at 106 Parsons Blvd. in the exclusive Malba section of Whitestone for many years.
Lucchese emigrated to the United States in 1910 at age 10 from Palermo, Sicily. He worked as a laborer in 1915 and one day lost his thumb and forefinger on the job. That’s when he entered a life of crime. Because of his deformed hand he was compared by a cop to the popular major league pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown. The nickname stuck.
Lucchese moved up quickly in the mob and survived its wars. With the imprisonment of Frank Costello in 1952, he was believed to have inherited the role of underworld czar, capo of capos — the don.
U.S. Marshals harassed Lucchese relentlessly without any meaningful results, and the government tried to revoke his naturalization as a citizen. But he never associated publicly with known criminals and seemed to lead a respectable life. His son went to the U.S. Military Academy and became an officer. His daughter graduated from Vassar College.
Eventually Lucchese sold the big house in Malba and moved to a ranch-style home in Lido Beach, Long Island. He passed away quietly at home on July 13, 1967.
The Malba house last sold for $1.3 million in Sept. 2009, records show, demonstrating that Lucchese was a wise investor in legal assets too.