Tag Archives: Hudson County

Hoboken’s Most Powerful Gangster

Inside a low-slung building surrounded by trees in southern Minnesota, there is an old man. Now ailing and in his 90’s, he was once one of the most powerful members of the American mafia. This building is Federal Medical Center Rochester. This man is Louis “Bobby” Manna.

Genovese family consigliere Louis “Bobby” Manna, right

Manna was born in Hoboken in 1929 and, by the 80’s, he had reached the pinnacle of the underworld: consigliere in the Genovese crime family. Of the family’s 14 capos, 4 operated in New Jersey and reported to Manna directly. His empire included a $20 million a year gambling ring, the largest port on the east coast, garbage contracts, and union corruption that netted millions more in ill-gotten gains.

Manna ran this empire from Casella’s Restaurant in Hoboken, a bunker-like structure with almost no legitimate clientele. There, he met with his capos and ruled on disputes. Even corrupt police officers came there to pay their respects.

But despite Manna’s power, all was not well for the Genovese family’s vast operations in the Garden State. John Gotti, leader of the larger Gambino family, wanted a piece. After the Bruno/Scarfo family of Philadelphia fell on hard times, Gotti insisted on taking their lucrative South Jersey rackets, leaving only the less profitable territory in the north to Manna and the Genovese.

Manna couldn’t accept this. He was also incensed by Gotti’s murder of the prior Gambino boss, Paul Castellano, in blatant violation of Cosa Nostra’s rules. As the summer of 1987 faded into fall, Manna began to plan Gotti’s murder.

With lookouts everywhere and his own soldier as the owner, Manna felt comfortable at Casella’s. Perhaps a little too comfortable. He spoke openly of killing Gotti, even using Gotti’s full name and instructing his lieutenants in detail how to murder the Gambino boss.

Perhaps so used to power, Manna destroyed himself by his brazeness. An FBI bug picked up the conversation, along with many others. Manna was convicted of multiple murder plots and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989 under the RICO Act.

Manna’s story has an intriguing postscript: in his 90’s and facing the coronavirus pandemic, he petitioned the court to release him to live out his last days with his stepson in Bayonne, NJ. A Change.org petition even circulated to spring the elderly convict from prison.

Federal Judge Peter Sheridan ruled against Manna in December 2020, likely consigning him to death behind bars.

Shortly therafter, his former headquarters was demolished to make way for a park.

More interesting spots in New Jersey:

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

The Mafia’s Hoboken Fortress

On a narrow street at the edge of town sits a squat brick building. There are no windows. On the street, lookouts watch for unfamiliar faces. The few who do enter are carefully watched.

Inside: the headquarters of the most powerful mafia family in this country.

This is Casella’s Restaurant in Hoboken, NJ. In the 1980’s, it functioned as home to the Genovese crime family. Law enforcement attention had made the Genovese family’s usual haunts in Little Italy uncomfortable, and much of the family decamped to New Jersey to meet.

Casella’s as it once was

Casella’s was owned by Genovese soldier Martin “Mots” Casella, but the real power belonged to Louis “Bobby” Manna, consigliere of the Genovese family. As one of the top leaders, Manna held numerous meetings at this bunker-like restaurant. Another fixture was Hoboken bookie Peter “Petey Cap” Caporino, whose own social club was a few blocks away.

Genovese family consigliere Louis “Bobby” Manna

In 1987, Manna began to plot the murder of Gambino family boss John Gotti. He made those plans where he felt most comfortable: at Casella’s. Gotti had broken mafia rules by killing prior Gambino boss Paul Castellano. The Gambino family was also the Genovese’s biggest rival.

Before the hit could be carried out, the FBI tipped Gotti to the danger, likely saving his life. But how did the FBI know about the plan in the first place?

Shortly before Manna hatched the plot to murder Gotti, the FBI had done what they previously thought impossible: placed a bug inside Casella’s. It gave them the planning of the Gotti hit, the murder of associate Irwin Schiff, and a lot more.

Manna and other top Genovese members were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in a trial that was a who’s who of future political stars: NJ Attorney General Samuel Alito went on to become a Supreme Court Justice, federal prosecutor Michael Chertoff became Secretary of Homeland Security, and the judge happened to be future president Donald Trump’s elder sister.

Casella’s today

After a sale, closures due to code violations, and a fire that destroyed the apartments above, Casella’s was finally demolished at the end of 2020. All that remains of this intriguing piece of history is a vacant lot.

I wish I could visit the old Casella’s and order a plate of pasta…if they’d let me in.

More interesting spots in New Jersey:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

One of the Hottest Tech Startups in the World Calls Hoboken Home

In the birthplace of baseball and Frank Sinatra, on a quiet street near the waterfront, lie the offices of one of the hottest tech companies in the world: Attentive.

We’re used to thinking of the tech startup scene as confined to the Bay Area. Maybe a few in New York City proper, maybe. But one of the most significant new tech companies of today is right here in the Garden State.

A tech startup is a big deal when it becomes a “unicorn,” or reaches a valuation of $1 billion. Of all US companies that have reached that holy grail in 2020 and 2021, Attentive is the 4th largest. Its current valuation is $6.97 billion, a staggering sum for a company that’s only existed for 5 years.

Attentive is a messaging platform that helps companies communicate with their customers. It allows businesses to send personalized text messages that help drive sales. E-mail inboxes are overflowing and promotional e-mails tend to get lost in the shuffle, but customers are a lot more likely to notice a text message. After all, that’s how they communicate with family and friends every day.

Attentive is not the first unicorn this single square mile has produced. Hoboken-based e-commerce site Jet.com was sold to Walmart for $3.3 billion in 2016.

Why has this tiny town of only 50,000 people produced two giant software companies in just a few years? I think the reason is that over 80% of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. Indeed, Hoboken is the 35th most educated city in the country. If you look at the other cities on that list, you see quite a few tech hubs, such as Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Cupertino in California.

The more we can promote higher education, particularly in STEM fields, the more of this type of success we will see. It makes me prouder than ever to be a New Jerseyan. I only wish I had been an investor in this one!

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Dig into these posts for more on startups:

Photo: “New Jersey – Hoboken: Washington Street Brownstones” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

This is Satriale’s From The Sopranos

They sit around tables covered in checkered cloths, sipping espresso. The conversations are hushed. As you approach, they fall silent.

This is Satriale’s, the butcher shop that served as headquarters for Tony and his crew in The Sopranos. These scenes were shot at a storefront in Kearny, New Jersey, a working class, mostly Spanish town near Newark. Yesterday, I went there to see what was left of this iconic spot.

Unfortunately, the storefront was demolished shortly after the end of the series. There were plans to turn it into condos, but as of today it’s a township parking lot. I can’t believe they didn’t preserve the building and sell tickets!

Here’s how it looked in the series:

And how it looked yesterday:

Even with the iconic building no longer there, it was still a thrill to stand on that sidewalk where my favorite characters had so many memorable moments. The building to the left remains the same, and I could also look across the street to the same streetscape Tony and his crew saw so often. It looks almost the same as it did in the series.

Here’s how it looked then:

And now:

Just a couple blocks away is another Sopranos filming location, and this one looks exactly the way it did in the show.

Richie Aprile’s office sits just two blocks south of Satriale’s on the same street. You can see this storefront when Richie chases Matthew Bevilacqua away after he tries to kill Chris.

Here’s how it looked then:

And now:

The building appears to be a private home now. If you zoom in, you’ll see the same yellow sign for China Star restaurant that was in this scene over 20 years ago.

It was a lot of fun to see the Soprano family’s home turf! Even though Satriale’s is no more, I’d still recommend checking out the neighborhood!

Dig into these posts for more on The Sopranos:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

The Real Groundhogs of New Jersey

You look out onto a small grassy area in a nearby park. Surrounding you are tall brick buildings and in the distance, the New York City skyline. Wait…is that something moving?

A few days ago in West New York

This is how I discovered the adorable groundhogs of Auf der Heide Park in West New York, NJ two years ago. I’ve seen as few as one and as many as five or six, and they can be found reliably spring through fall every year. In winter, they hibernate deep in their holes, the way we sometimes wish we could!

Last summer

My favorite groundhog was an older gentleman I met last spring. It was early April, during the worst part of the COVID crisis. There wasn’t much to do really, besides walk. One day, I figured I’d bring up a few snacks for the little guys. They love fruits and veggies but don’t care for carbs. Perhaps they’re on the Atkins?

That’s when I came across an adorable Grandpa Groundhog. I fed him a few veggie snacks, and as he ate, I noticed his back right foot was severely injured and barely attached. I later spoke with staff from the Animal Medical Center in New York as well as animal control, but they recommended against trying to trap a wild animal for treatment. So I just kept visiting him.

He soon became so tame he would sit on my foot and eat like a dog. Then, after a week or so, I stopped seeing him. The other groundhogs weren’t very nice to him and tried to steal his food, probably knowing he was weak. But not too weak to give them a penetrating stare that had them backing off in a hurry.

Here’s a video of him:

I don’t know what happened to him, but I assume he may have passed away. I’m happy he had at least one friend in his last days, and I’m honored I got to be that friend. At that time, I needed a friend too.

Dig into these posts for more on the outdoors:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.