On July 10, 1947, Vito Genovese, Andrew Richard, and Louis and Dominic A. Caruso formed a new corporation called the Atlantic Highlands Wharf Company, that “handles freight and passenger transportation at the yacht harbor.” The company acquired the railroad pier in Atlantic Highlands, paying $10,000 to the borough. This dock was also known as the Sandy Hook pier because for many years the steamship SS Sandy Hook berthed there, taking passengers from New York City to Atlantic Highlands. It was also known as the “railroad pier” because it was owned by the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The pier had been out of use for some years, and the borough of Atlantic Highlands paid $2,500 to the railroad to end that contract and allow the pier’s new owners to begin operation. The new investors envisioned the return of the SS Sandy Hook and the launch of a new waterborne and waterfront gambling resort that never came to pass.
On February 27, 1953, five witnesses from Monmouth County testified before the New Jersey Law Enforcement Council in Newark regarding operations at the Naval Ammunition Depot Earle in Leonardo, also known as the Navy Pier. Among these witnesses were Pasquale and Nancy Simonetti, proprietors of the Piano Bar in Long Branch. Nancy was Vito’s daughter from his first marriage. Another witness was Thomas Calandriello of Shrewsbury, whose daughter Rose was married to Vito’s son Philip. The investigation was triggered when the Navy reported that its “elaborate security system” had failed to prevent “loan sharks, bookmakers and the numbers racket from thriving among longshoremen employed at Leonardo.” Proceedings of the hearing were not disclosed, and no charges were ever brought.
On March 3, 1953, during Anna Genovese’s divorce trial for separate maintenance, Andrew Richard, one of Vito’s partners in the Atlantic Highlands Wharf Co., testified about Anna’s allegations regarding Vito’s activities on the waterfront. Richard denied there was any intention to pursue gambling operations and said that the Company had sold the pier, which was now in use by the Monmouth Park Jockey Club. The SS Sandy Hook, according to Richard, was part of the deal, and had been purchased from the U.S. government for $10,000 and later sold to a Baltimore man for $60,000. The company also collected $63,000 from an insurance claim in connection with a fire at the pier.
On March 17, 1953, the commander of the Navy ammunition depot at Naval Station Earle formally barred Thomas Calandriello, a “loading gang boss,” from the installation, as a “poor security risk.” Capt. Paul C. Wirtz denied the ouster was connected to Vito Genovese, saying that the decision was based on an investigation that had been underway for some time, and which proceedings were not disclosed.
On May 18, 1955, Anna Genovese testified under oath at a hearing before the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor in New York City about “alleged kickback schemes” at the Naval Ammunition Depot Earle in Leonardo. Anna said she heard Vito and Thomas Calandriello talking about “bookmaking and shylocking,” or loan-sharking, as well as placing people in jobs who gave kickbacks to the mobsters. No new charges were filed.
New Corporations Are Organized. (1948). The Daily Register (Red Bank), August 26, 1948, P. 2.
Atlantic Highlands Makes Pier Deal. (1947). The Daily Register (Red Bank), July 10, 1947, P. 1.
Leonardo Pier Probe Veiled In Secrecy. (1953). The Daily Record (Long Branch), February 28, 1953, P. 1.
Judge to Decide Genovese Case. (1953). Asbury Park Evening Press, March 4, 1953, P. 1, 2.
Navy Reveals Pier Off Limits to Calandriello. (1953). Asbury Park Press, March 17, 1953, P. 1.
Mrs. Genovese Tells Commission Of Vito’s Interest in Leonardo Pier. (1955). The Daily Register (Red Bank), May 19, 1955, P. 1, 2.
Image: Atlantic Highlands Herald, http://www.ahherald.com/columns-list/history-and-happenings/22443-nws-earle-a-base-spanning-two-centuries