Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Lloyd Sealy Library

Lloyd Sealy Library

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Research on a Trial Transcipt in Sealy Library Reported in Newsday Article.

Any of the 3,200 examples in our Trial Transcripts Collection is sure to be an interesting read, including the few we have so far digitized.


In May, 2009 Newsday reporter Anthony DeStefano came in to the Lloyd Sealy Library to read one interesting transcript in which the defendants are charged and convicted of kidnapping and murder of 5 year old Joseph Varotta. Further research shows that they were linked by newspaper accounts to the famous "Black Hand".

DeStefano's article in Newsday today reports on the case based on his Transcript Research, but also mentions the New York Times reporting on the story.


As with most transcripts, the crime, investigation, trial and aftermath is further illuminated by these articles, as well as the fact that consistency in spelling of names was not a priority at that time. As DeStefano reports, research in the New York Times online archives or New York Times Historical File shows that the case was not over when the trial ended, and it's no surprise that it still resonates today:

Jun 12, 1921. FIND BODY IN RIVER GARBED IN CLOTHES VEROTTA BOY WORE; Father Identifies Apparel on Child Discovered by Boatman Off Piermont. DISCREPANCY IN HEIGHT Body Is Reported to Be Eight Inches Taller Than Victim of Kidnappers.WAS BURIED AT ONCE New Black Hand Letter Threatens Parent and Detective Fiaschetti With Death. New Black Hand Threat. Prays for Son's Return. BODY IN RIVER HAD LOST BOY'S CLOTHES Five in Tombs Silent. Will Exhume Body Today.

Jun 24, 1921. VAROTTA'S LIFE MENACED.; Black Hand Letter Is Sant to Father of Murdered Boy.


Jun 25, 1921 KIDNAPPING BEFORE JURY.; First-Degree Indictments Are Asked Against Five Varotta Suspects.


Aug 6, 1921. Varotta Murder Trial Tuesday.


Aug 18, 1921. VAROTTA IDENTIFIES KIDNAPPER IN COURT; Declares Raffaele Is One of Band That Demanded $500 Ransom. JUDGE CLEARS COURTROOM Precaution Taken to Protect Witness From Self-StyledBlack Handers.


Aug 19, 1921. DENIES VAROTTA CHARGES.; Raffaele Repudiates Confession in Kidnapping Case.


Aug 20, 1921. VAROTTA KIDNAPPER GUILTY OF MURDER; Jury Returns a First Degree Verdict After Considering Case for Seven Hours. PRAISED BY JUDGE TALLEY Decision Against Raffaele Is Reached After Jury Sees Photograph--Other Trials to Follow. Ransom of $500 Offered. Jury Considers Case 7 Hours.


Aug 23, 1921. VAROTTA KIDNAPPER SENTENCED TO DIE; Roberto Raffaele, First of the Band Tried for Murder of Boy, Protests Innocence. TO BE EXECUTED IN OCTOBER Prisoner, Half Blinded by Cataracts, Is Led by the Hand from Court Room to Cell.


Apr 17, 1922.  ...Varotta Kidnapping Recalled. (bottom of article)


Apr 17, 1922. VEROTTA GETS NEW BLACK HAND THREAT; Warned Against Carving Details of Crime on Monument to His Murdered Son.


Jun 16, 1922. WOMAN FRIES EGGS TO TRAIL MARINO; Mrs. Nicoletti, Police Aid, Says He Promised Return of Boy Afterward Slain.


Jun 26, 1922. VAROTTA GETS ONLY $500; Father of Kidnapped and Drowned Boy Settles $25,000 Award.


Nov 30, 1922. PUTS OFF DEATH SENTENCES; Governor Reprieves Two Until March --One Is Varotta Boy Slayer.

Jun 29, 1923 VEROTTA KIDNAPPERS RECEIVE DEATH STAY; Marino and Cusamano Get Three Months' Respite -- Slayer Gets Last-Minute Reprieve.