On March 2, 1953, Anna Genovese took the stand in her “separate maintenance” case and testified before the judge in Superior Court in Freehold County Courthouse. Anna’s attorney was Osie M. Silber, a deputy attorney general. She asked the judge for $350 per week from her estranged husband. For the wife of an organized crime leader to testify in open court was unheard of at that time, and her court appearance was a national sensation. The Asbury Park Press described Anna as “Fashionably attired and sporting an upsweep hairdo, Mrs. Genovese presented an appearance belying her admitted 48 years.”
During four hours of testimony, Anna alleged that Vito was “a key figure in lottery, racing, narcotics, pier and prostitution rackets.” Anna testified that Vito “makes $20,000 per week from the Italian Lottery and that he owns nightclubs, race tracks, and dog tracks.” Anna said she had handled $20,000-30,000 per week in racket money, keeping it in safe deposit boxes in Red Bank, New York and Europe. She described her many trips to Italy, delivering large sums of money to Vito while he remained in exile. Anna claimed Vito invested $175,000 in the Atlantic Highlands company that was “supposed to be a gambling boat and a gambling pier, but it never went through.”
Of their marriage, Anna stated that “money was no object,” and that the couple lived “lavishly both at home and abroad.” Anna testified that “…outside of this parade of women at their Atlantic Highlands home, she had a very good life and was given $20 to $1,000 for shopping trips whenever she wanted it.” She said her wardrobe included “six fur coats, including the $4,500 mink she wore to court – tho she wore no stockings.” Anna claimed that “…under an assumed name, she purchased 30 evening gowns at $300 to $1,200 each, many cocktail and ‘street dresses’ at $150 to $300 and never paid less than $35 for a pair of shoes.”
Anna and Vito were “entertained by very big people throughout Europe,” e.g., Count Cianco, Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law. Anna testified that she and Vito were the only American guests of Nazi Luftwaffe leader Hermann Goering. Mrs. Genovese said the couple “entertained extensively” in Atlantic Highlands, and guests included mob leaders such as Albert Anastasia, Frank Costello, the Morettis, Abner (Longy) Zwillman, and other syndicate members.
Anna said Vito had wanted a divorce since 1947 because he was in love with Anna Calandriello, wife of Thomas Calandriello of Shrewsbury, an associate of Vito’s who allegedly provided a front for his operations at the Navy Pier, including “shylocking, gambling, liquor and salary kickbacks.”
Anna says she was “compelled to leave” their luxurious Atlantic Highlands home, alleging that Vito beat her frequently, once breaking her nose, setting her hair on fire with a cigarette, and on another occasion he “blacked both her eyes.” She added, “he threatened to put me in an insane asylum, drive me to suicide or kill me.” Anna stated she was warned that if she testified to Vito earning anything beyond the $107 per week he claimed, Thomas Calandriello “would come with a shotgun and blow my head off.”
Anna’s testimony was substantiated by her mother, who spoke through an interpreter, as well as by her daughter Marie from her first marriage. In counter-testimony, Vito’s witnesses attempted to discredit Anna’s character, describing Anna as an “untrustworthy, hot-tempered” woman who slept with other women. Talking to reporters at the close of the day’s testimony, “she was anxious about one thing. Be sure to say she is a brunette, she urged, for newsmen have always called her a blonde.”
Vito Key Racketeer Wife Says in Court. (1953) Asbury Park Press, March 3, 1953, P. 1.
Judge to Decide Genovese Case. (1953). Asbury Park Evening Press, March 4, 1953, P. 1, 2.
Wife Fears Genovese, Rejects Reconciliation. (1953). The Record (Hackensack, N.J.), March 4, 1953, P. 1.