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Joseph Canepi Jr.


Yonkers Contractor, Gambler and Extortionist


Published by Robert Grey Reynolds Jr. at Smashwords


Copyright 2017 by Robert Grey Reynolds Jr.


Joseph Canepi Jr. (1873-1936) was the son of the first Italian building contractor in Yonkers, New York. When his mother Mary Canepi (1847-1933) died on Saturday, November 25, 1933, Joseph was living at 12 Overcliff Street. She would have been 94 had she lived until December 13th.

Canepi was well established in Yonkers and Westchester County building circles. A member of the Yonkers Elks Lodge he had continued the business since his father, Joseph Sr’s death in 1908. Mary Canepi lived with her son. She had been confined to the home since breaking a hip several years earlier. The daughter of a prominent family she immigrated from Italy in 1868. Mary was one of the earliest Italian residents of Yonkers. Her father was Joseph Gardella. The Italian community in the New York City borough began to flourish around the time the Canepi’s arrived.

As late as 1920 Mary was living on South Broadway. The 1910 United States Census records her living with Joseph Jr., 37, at 94 School Street. Joseph Canepi Sr. (1839-1908) was a contracting engineer in Italy. He continued this work in Yonkers where he maintained extensive property holdings.

Joseph Canepi Jr. was the only one of ten children who survived his mother. Mary Canepi left behind two brothers. One of them, Andrew Gardella (1861-1954), lived in Bayonne, New Jersey. The other, John Gardella, was in Genoa, Italy. Mary’s sister, Victoria Gardella, lived in Yonkers.

Mary was survived by six grandchildren, i.e. John, Joseph, Dolph, Edward, Harold and Bonnie Canepi. She also left four great grandchildren, i.e. Muriel, Joseph, Claire and Marilyn Canepi.

In September 1927 the New York Supreme Court exercised a judgment against the family of Joseph Canepi Sr. Brought by plaintiff the Yonkers National Bank and Trust Company, the adjudication comprised foreclosure and sale. Specifically, it concerned a $12,000 mortgage made by Mary Canepi to Ulrich Wiesendanger (1872-), of 44 Locust Hill Ave, Mayor, Robert Dykes Ferguson (1863-1945), Comptroller, of 45 Victor Street, and Alfred H. Isles (1878-), Commissioner of Public Safety. The three officials served as trustees of the Police Pension Fund of the City of Yonkers.

Dated September 22, 1927 the judgment was published in The Yonkers Statesman on September 29th. Aside from Mary Canepi her husband and son are mentioned in the judgment. The legal document also makes reference to Florence Canepi (1898-1969), wife of Joseph Jr., and Adolph Canepi.

In May 1903 Joseph Canepi Jr. was one of six men indicted for running multiple poolrooms in Yonkers. Canepi’s May 23rd conviction for operating a poolroom at 12 Palisade Avenue was disturbing. Poolroom men throughout Westchester County were shocked.

William Shannon, John T. Rolf (died 1951), a clerk of 714 Bathgate Avenue, George Fredericks, Frederick William Fred Johnson (1900-1975), of Quaker Road, Pleasantville, and F.C. Cunningham were also indicted. Shannon was convicted and sentenced by Judge William Popham Platt (1858-1926) to a year in prison at Sing Sing. He was subsequently released after Judge Martin Jerome Keogh (1852-1928) of White Plains issued a certificate of reasonable doubt.

Former Ossining alderman Jeremiah A. Jerry McCue (1843-1917) was convicted, fined $1,000 and sentenced to a year at Sing Sing by Judge Platt. McCue appealed the verdict. The Shannon and McCue appeals were scheduled for a Brooklyn hearing on the evening of May 26th.

Yonkers Police Captain Frederick Henry Woodruff (1874-), of Prospect Street, and his detectives went to all lengths to gather evidence against the poolroom consortium. Canepi and his accomplices had put together a virtual monopoly of the Westchester County pool business.

When previous poolroom operators were forced out by Woodruff and company, they had relocated their rackets to Woodlands, Ardsley, Tuckahoe, Dunwoodie and Mount Kisco. Eventually deputy sheriffs in these towns stopped these illicit activities.

Joseph Canepi Jr. was a young man with a wife and several children when he was convicted on May 23rd. Having inherited money he was wealthy in his own right. Canepi Jr. operated several saloons in Yonkers.

His trial in Judge Platt’s courtroom lasted two days. The young scion nearly collapsed when the guilty verdict was read. The jury had deliberated for almost two hours. Joseph Canepi Sr. had offered as much as $50,000 bail to keep his son from serving time in jail.

Platt released Joseph Canepi Jr. on $2,500 bail. The judicial decision pended a June 1st argument by defense lawyer David H. Hunt (1865-1931), 48. The attorney, of Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, objected on grounds that the court had admitted inaccurate evidence.


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