FBI Files Revealed: New York’s Last Jewish Gangster, Julius Bernstein
Famous for his affiliation with the Genovese crime family, his extortion of New York labor unions and the Sbarros restaurant chain, and his military service during D-Day, Julius Bernstein lived a full life.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, the New York Daily News was able to obtain the FBI’s formerly secret files on Bernstein, revealing a trove of information on “the last of New York’s great gangsters”.
Unlike many of his counterparts, Bernstein was able to avoid the police for much of his life. However, that all changed in 2005, when Bernstein’s involvement in union corruption caught up with him.
“I’ve been a thief all my life,” he once said.
Born in New York, Bernstein stormed the beaches of Normandy while serving in the U.S. military and upon returning home, he teamed up with a Genovese family friend known as Matty Ianniello. Due to Bernstein’s Jewish heritage, inclusion into the mafia wasn’t allowed. Instead, he became an “associate”, collecting money from labor unions and other entities, including the Sbarro’s restaurant chain, which at one point was being taken for $20,000 a year.
In 2007, just before his death, Bernstein worked with the FBI as an informant.
“Wiseguys trust me,” he told the bureau. “That’s why sitting here is killing me.”