Born in May 1886 in Corleone Italy, Vincenzo “Vincent” Terranova’s legacy is somewhat overshadowed by his stepbrother Giuseppe Morello who was a successful Italian American mafia boss. Nonetheless Terranova had his own successful run in the mob as the underboss to the Morello family, today known as the Genovese family; the family his stepbrother controlled.
Terranova was the first son of Bernardo Terranova, a member of the mafia in Corleone, Italy. Bernardo married Angelina Piazza who had a son from a previous marriage, Guiseppe Morello. She would later give birth to Vincent’s two brothers Ciro Terranova and Nicolo Terranova. The family immigrated to the United States arriving on March 8, 1893. A year earlier Guiseppe arrived in the U.S. and founded the 107th Street Mob, which would later become the Morello gang.
After arriving in the New York, Vincent and his other two brother’s joined Giuseppe in his gang. The first year in New York was tough for Terranova and his family. There was little work, so they were forced to move Louisiana where his stepbrother Guiseppe and his father worked in sugar cain fields, before moving again to Bryan, Texas where the entire family worked picking cotton.They stayed in Bryan for two years until the family came down with Maleria and were forced to move back to New York.
Upon arriving in New York Terranova and his brother Ciro enrolled in a New York school while they helped out with their father’s new plastering business. The brother’s were also involved in their brother’s 107th Street Mob, which was now called the Morello gang. In early 1903 the murder of man who was stuffed into a barrel started a highly publizied case that put the Morello gang in law enforcement sight. Terranova was arrested mulitple times for minor crimes over the next several years as law enforcement kept up pressure on the gang.
In 1908 Terranova was arrested for the murder of another gangster named Diamond Sam Sicca. He was eventually released and not charged with the crime but it’s widely thought he committed the murder.
In 1910 Terranova was indicted with Guiseppe on counterfeiting charges. Guiseppe was sentenced to prison while Terranova went free. Over the next decade Terranova served several small sentences for assault, and other minor crimes. By this time Terranova had climbed through the ranks and was the underboss of the Morello family. During this time there was a large gang influence in New York and several top gangsters were manuerving for control of the city Terranova included. However he had built up several enemies and was often a target for hits.
On May 8, 1922 Terranvoa was walking down East 116th Street dressed in his usual pin striped suit and silk shirt wearing diamond rings when a vehicle pulled along side him. Realizing another attempt on his life Terranova pulled a pistol and dropped to one knee. A gunman from the vehicle fired on Terranova at close range. He returned fire but was hit several times and died. His murderer is attributed to Rocco Valenti, a hitman for the Morello crime family who was trying to gain control. Below is a newspaper clipping describing the shootout.