On February 23, 1937, the Middletown mansion that was home to “king of the rackets” Vito Genovese and his wife Anna, and their children, burned down. An oil burner was thought to be at fault, but the exact cause was not determined. High winds prevented the five companies of firefighters from saving the property. “Total damage, including the dwelling, partly covered by insurance, costly furnishings, paintings and other works of art, was estimated at $80,000.” Fire officials stated that Anna’s mother and the couple’s three children visited the house the previous afternoon, but this was never verified.
Anna and Vito were not in New Jersey at the time of the fire. In January of 1937, with state and federal investigators closing in, Vito had fled to Italy. Anna would later testify that Vito took $750,000 in cash with him, which he stashed in various safe deposit boxes in Europe, including $500,000 in Switzerland. After Naples fell to the Allies, Genovese succeeded in obtaining a position of interpreter/liaison officer in the U.S. Army headquarters in Naples. Vito quickly became one of the Army’s most trusted civilian employees, but meanwhile, he was taking advantage of black market opportunities and providing cocaine to Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law (see photo above of Vito [with sunglasses] with Sicilian outlaw Salvatore Giuliano). Genovese even contributed $250,000 toward the construction of a new lavish headquarters for Mussolini’s Fascist Party.
Anna moved the family back to New York City, where she resumed her successful career managing nightclubs. They returned to their $180-per-month apartment at 29 Washington Square in Greenwich Village, directly above the apartment of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Vito remained in Italy for seven years, with Anna visiting regularly to keep him supplied with cash. The Middletown property was left to deteriorate. On June 22, 1939, the Genovese property in Middletown was seized by the Monmouth County Sheriff in execution of the lawsuit of William M. Miller Co., Inc., to be sold at a sheriff’s sale, but there is no record that this took place. On February 26, 1948, while Vito and Anna were living in Atlantic Highlands, Vito sold the estate to Dominic A. Caruso, who was the contractor who had worked on the house renovations. Caruso sold the house to Mrs. Gladys Cubbage of Middletown, for a price “in the neighborhood” of $25,000. The estate changed hands several more times, and was eventually donated to the Monmouth County Park System, and is now known as Deep Cut Park.
Middletown Twp. Home Of Wealthy New Yorker Burns. (1937). The Daily Record (Long Branch). February 23, 1937, P. 1, 12.
Notorious New Jersey. (2012). Blackwell, Jon. Rivergate Books, an imprint of Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J., P. 133-136.
Mirandi Goes Free in Boccia Murder Probe. (1947). Daily News (New York, N.Y.), February 14, 1947, page B9.
Maas, Peter. (1968). The Valachi Papers. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, N.Y.
Common Law 1-319. SHERIFF’S SALE. The Daily Register, Red Bank, N.J., July 13, 1939, P. 20.
Middletown Woman Buys Vito Genovese Estate. (1949). The Daily Register, Red Bank, N.J., February 26, 1948, P. 1.
History of Deep Cut Park. (1978). https://www.monmouthcountyparks.com/page.aspx?ID=256
Image of Edward Dangler mansion courtesy Monmouth County Parks System; used by permission.