Saturday, March 31, 2012
"Alleged Greek Thugs' Nest" article - New York Times, February 6, 1898
Published in The New York Times, February 6, 1898
ALLEGED GREEK THUGS’ NEST.
An Immigration Official Thinks He
Has Discovered a Band
Of Fugitives from Justice.
Chief Registry Clerk Lederhilger of the Immigration Bureau says that he believes that he has discovered a nest of Greek thugs, pirates, and general fugitives from justice in a Greek boarding house at 95, 97, and 99 Cherry Street. He made the discovery while investigating the case of a debarred Greek immigrant names Christo Laganos, one of about 100 of his countrymen who attempted to land by representing that they had relatives here.
Mr. Lederhilger visited the Cherry Street boarding house on Friday, and learned then that Georgi Kalinas and Petros Pantaselos, two Greek padrones, carried on a lively business in bringing over Greeks, who they employed here as pushcart men and bootblacks or hired them out to other Greek employers. These two padrones were in partnership with the Mayor of a town in Greece. This individual is said to be a userer, who has acquired a great deal of wealth. He is said to represent to Greeks of small means that they can easily make fortunes in America, and offers to advance them money on their property at 50 to 70 per cent interest. Whatever property they may mortgage to him is soon foreclosed upon and passes into his possession. If the money that is advanced is just enough to pay for their passage, or even less, this Mayor gives them, it is said, enough money to comply with the requirements of the law that every immigrant must show a certain amount of money on landing. This money is taken away from them by the padrones as soon as they get out of the Barge Office. The padrones, it is said, also resort to the old trick of sending agents to the Barge Office to represent themselves as relatives of arriving immigrants, and promise to look after their assumed relatives.
“There is one of the toughest-looking crowds in that boarding house that I ever saw,” remarked Mr. Lederhilger. “I saw about sixty men there, and the forbidding appearance of many of them fully justifies the reports of the detectives, that there are among them murders and other criminals who have escaped from justice in their country.
“What are we going to do about it? Why, we cannot do anything with those men who have already landed, but we will be doubly watchful over other Greek immigrants that arrive.”
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The New York Times - Archive 1851 - 1980