"Undying Loyalty"

Oct 14, 2009 - by Allan May - 0 Comments

Thomas A. Aurelio

Thomas A. Aurelio

In August 1943, Thomas A. Aurelio stood at the threshold of a dream. After nine years as an assistant prosecutor and 12 as a judge in New York City, he was about to be elected to a seat on the Supreme Court for the State of New York. Then Aurelio, in a wiretapped conversation, was overheard swearing his undying loyalty to gangster Frank Costello.
by Allan May

In August 1943, Thomas A. Aurelio stood at the threshold of a dream. After nine years as an assistant prosecutor and 12 as a judge in New York City, he was about to be elected to a seat on the Supreme Court for the State of New York. As the nominee of both the Democratic and the Republican parties, the election of the 48-year-old father of two appeared to be a formality.

Aurelio’s career had the sense of manifest destiny to it. He was a native New Yorker who grew up on the city’s East Side. Educated in the public school system, he went to college at New York University where he also earned a law degree. During World War I he served in Company F of the 51st Infantry Regiment. After the armistice, he taught American soldiers commercial law in a military school in Germany.

Returning home, Aurelio was admitted to the bar. In 1922, he was appointed assistant district attorney at the age of 27. Mayor Jimmy Walker appointed him a judge in 1931 and four years later he was re-appointed by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. During a glowing swearing-in ceremony La Guardia stated, "I have re-appointed you because I know of your record, and have known you as a boy and a law student. You are the kind of career man I want on the bench." A review of Aurelio’s record as a judge showed his strong support of the police when their efforts brought them into conflict with big-name criminals.

As impeccable as Auerlio’s career had been, a seemingly unrelated event – the murder in January 1943 of Italian-language newspaper editor Carlo Tresca – would inadvertently snare Auerlio and derail his cake walk to the New York Supreme Court.

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