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Encyclopedia > Samuzzo Amatuna

Samuel Samuzzo "Samoots" Amatuna (1899-November 13, 1925) was a Italian-American Prohibition gangster and member of the Genna Brothers, who served as president of the Unione Siciliane. 1899 (MDCCCXCIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... November 13 is the 317th day of the year (318th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 48 days remaining. ... 1925 (MCMXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ... Logo of Sons of Italy, which is the largest Italian American fraternal organization in the United States. ...


Early life

Born in Pogallo, Sicily in 1899, Amatuna immigrated to the United States in the mid-1900s and eventually arrived in Chicago's Little Italy. Acting as a messenger for the Genna Brothers as a teenager, Amatuna would earn official membership into the organization during the Alderman's War of 1916 when, at the age of 17, Amatuna allegedly murdered Frank Lombardi, a known supporter of incumbent Alderman John Powers, as he entered a Taylor Street saloon on February 21, 1916. Chicago (officially named the City of Chicago) is the third largest city in the United States (after New York City and Los Angeles), with an official population of 2,896,016, as of the 2000 census. ... Little Italy is a general name for an ethnic enclave populated (or formerly populated) primarily by Italians. ... John Holbrook Powers (1831-1918), who was known as Honest John, was a Nebraska pioneer who ran for governor as a populist in 1892. ... February 21 is the 52nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1916 (MCMXVI) is a leap year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar) // Events January-February January 1 - The Royal Army Medical Corps first successful blood transfusion using blood that had been stored and cooled. ...

Prohibition & the Bloody Nineteenth Ward

As Prohibition began in 1920, Amatuna had become one of the Gennas leading members as the continued to battle the Powers faction for political control of the Nineteenth Ward committing election fraud. As the Gennas began bootlegging operations, becoming one of the Torrio-Capone gang's main suppliers of homemade liquor, Amatuna was the Gennas main enforcers who oversaw production of the gangs numerous "alky cookers" and would later become the personal bodyguard of "Bloody" Angelo Genna by the end of the year.

On September 28, a bomb exploded on the front porch of the home of Alderman John Powers, and despite causing a great deal of damage there were no injuries. Suspected to have been set by Amatuna on orders from the Gennas, Powers arranged for his house to be guarded by numerous armed guards and private detectives and guarded Powers as he again campaigned against Anthony D'Andrea in the upcoming 1921 elections. Although frequent bombings of supporters occurred between both factions, no one was killed as Powers would eventually would go on to win the election by a narrow 435 lead. September 28 is the 271st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (272nd in leap years). ... John Holbrook Powers (1831-1918), who was known as Honest John, was a Nebraska pioneer who ran for governor as a populist in 1892. ...

Enraged by his defeat, Angelo Genna blamed Paul Labriola, a municipal court bailiff and a Powers supporter. Convinced Labriola was responsible for convincing Sicilian and other Italian immigrants to support Powers, Amatuna would accompany Genna (along with lieutenant Frank "Don Chick" Gambino who would shoot Labriola to death on March 9, 1921. Although identified by witnesses, only Genna and Gambino would be charged with the murder however they would eventually be released due to lack of evidence. March 9 is the 68th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (69th in Leap years). ... 1921 (MCMXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ...

Later years

After the murder of Angelo Genna in May 1925, Amatuna struggled to keep the disintergrating Gennas intact. With Goldstein and Zion, Amatuna soon walked into the headquarters of the Unione Sicilane and declared himself the successor of former president Angelo Genna. This brash move however would upset many of Chicago's underworld, particularly long time rival Al Capone.

On the evening of November 23, Amatuna was preparing to attend the opera Aidia at the Auditorium Theater with his girlfriend Rose Picorara (herself a relative of former Unione Siciliane president Mike Merlo). Leaving the house for a few minutes, Amatuna left visit a local barbershop on Roosevelt Road for a shave and manicure, as was his usual habit before going out for the evening. Upon arriving at the shop, the owner Isadore Paul noticed the gang leader was without his bodyguards (who replied he hadn't been able to reach them that day). As the owner applied a hot towel on Amatuna's face, two unidentified men rushed into the barbershop and drew their guns. The barber's screams alerted Amatuna who quickly ducked behind hte barberchair however he was shot in the chest twice during the gunfight as the gunman escaped. Taken to a local hospital, Amatuna requested to a priest that he be married to Rosa before his death, however, he died before the cerimony was completed. Mike Merlo was born Michele Umberto Merlo in Vizzini, Sicily on August 1, 1888. ...

Amatuna's elaborate funeral was one of the many which would be seen between rival mobsters and, although many on Little Italy praised his generosity to the local residents, Amatuna was feared for his brutal treatment towards the many Sicilian immigrants, many of them elderly, who worked the Gennas alky boilers (often beating workers unconcious as a result in missing production quotas).

His body was soon dug up and taken back to Sicily, where he was reinterred in his native village of Pogallo by his family. His death was greatly morned in Sicily as much of his income was given to his family and was used to repair a local church, which had long been in ruins.

The identities of the men who killed Amatuna were eventually revealed as North Side Gang members Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci and Jim Doherty (along with Frank Gusenberg as the driver), however no charges were ever brought against them. The noted absence of Goldstein and Zion has also been questioned, however, the question of weither they were paid off to stay away that night or if they had instead defected to the Northsiders, setting Amatuna's murder themselves is still a metter for debate as they were both killed shortly after his death (Zion, returning from Amatuna's funeral, on November 17 and Goldstein, who was killed with a shotgun in a drugstore by two unidentified gunmen on November 25). The remaining Genna Brothers would later comment that Amatuna's death was inevitable after he began hiring non-Sicilian bodyguards disregarding tradition (Mike Merlo was said to have stated "Them Jew boys only work for themselves and they will always side with the Irish in the end."). Vincent The Schemer Drucci (1898–April 4, 1927), was a prominent organized crime figure from Chicagos Prohibition era, a lieutenant under Dion OBanions North Side Gang. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

It has been claimed that, as a result of Amatuna's death, it has been the practice of barber's to never put a hot towel over the face of a customer and have it always facing the front door so as to easily identify others entering the barbershop.


  • Nash, Jay Robert. Encyclopedia of World Crime (A-C) Vol. I, CrimeBooks Inc., Wilmette, 1990. ISBN 0-923582-00-2
  • Nash, Jay Robert. World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime, Da Capo Press: New York, 1992. ISBN 0-306-80535-9

  Results from FactBites:
Samuzzo Amatuna - Encyclopedia, History, Geography and Biography (1011 words)
Samuel Samuzzo "Samoots" Amatuna (1899-November 13, 1925) was a Italian-American Prohibition gangster and member of the Genna Brothers, who served as president of the Unione Siciliane.
Erning the reputation of a "dandy", Amatuna was seen attending attending operas with Angelo Genna and other gunman of the Nineteenth Ward (often wearing jewelry such as diamond studs and cufflinks valued at $40,000).
The barber's screams alerted Amatuna who quickly ducked behind the barberchair however he was shot in the chest twice during the gunfight as the gunman escaped.
  More results at FactBites »



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