Jersey City’s master numbers banker, Joseph “Newsboy” Moriarty

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Jersey City’s master numbers banker, Joseph “Newsboy” Moriarty, lived with his sister in a house close to Hamilton Park (conveniently, next door to J.V. Kenny). One day, the none too responsible Miss Moriarty by mistake turned on the furnace. The house filled with smoke and the Fire Department was alerted. The firemen soon found the trouble’s cause. The flue was stuffed with bags full of cash.

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“Newsboy” always dressed in well-worn work clothes. During the Depression, Joe Moriarty walked into a local bank to inquire about opening an account. The not very enthusiastic bank officer, expecting something along the lines of the usual thirty-eight or forty-nine cents, asked how much the initial deposit was going to be. Moriarty opened a satchel and started to pile large denomination bills on the desk. The shocked banker screamed for the guard to lock the door.

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Millions of dollars (more loot than any pirate’s buried treasure on record) was found in an old car in a garage in Jersey City. People at the scene told how they saw the police remove five duffel bags. Four were carried into the police station. All the police directly involved with the transportation of the money retired within a year.

For years, Moriarty denied that the cash was his. Many branches of government attempted to grab the money. An IRS agent visited “Newsboy” while he was on trial for a gambling charge. The revenuer explained to Moriarty that he was going to be convicted — whether or not he claimed the money. But, if Newsboy asserted ownership of the funds, then the IRS would take half the money for taxes and return the rest to him. That “Newsboy” bought a new Cadillac when he got out of jail is given as proof of this Moriarty episode. Never having had a legitimate source of income before, Moriarty always drove old cars.

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One of the Moriarty’s secrets of success — and longevity — was that he did not tally his numbers records during normal business hours — when the gambling squad worked. Instead, “Newsboy” hid everything during the daylight hours. He’d recover and go through the slips during the dead of night when most detectives were sleeping — and any unusual activity was easy to spot.

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3 Responses to Jersey City’s master numbers banker, Joseph “Newsboy” Moriarty

  1. Joseph E. Colford III says:

    Great story, but just a slight correction: Newsboy did not live right next door to John v. Kenny. My grandparents (Frank and Loretta Lipsett) and my mother (Catherine Lipsett) lived (from 1923-1965) at 20 West Hamilton Place BETWEEN Newsboy and Kenny. So they were flanked on either side by two real characters. My grandparents became great friends with Kenny and his wife and kept close ties with her after Kenny’s death. My 96-year-old mother has great stories about growing up there and of the very eccentric mother of Newsboy. In fact, my mother married Joe Colford, Jr, one of Hague’s commissioners for many years. Apparently her relationship with a Hague guy’s son caused some consternation among her friends and neighbors who were mostly Kenny-ites.

  2. john j moriarty says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I went to High School at St Michaels High School
    from 1957 -1961.My friends during called me newsboy.I Met newsboy once and it was aa you described with the heavy overcoat you described, his sister was with him,drunk and vulgar,I Lived at 123 Mercer street and my next door neighbor was a runner for newsboy.he came out of his house every day as I returned from school.
    He gave newsboy all the days take(unknown to me until years later)
    I played little league with Joey Olszewski and we went to ST Bridgets grammarschool.Thank you for bringing back some memorable years in jersey city.Is Joey a relative????
    thanks again
    John (not newsboy) Moriarty

  3. jkevinmoran says:

    I lived at 280 Pavonia Ave, right around the corner from Joe. I knew him prior to becoming a cop in JC. I’m fascinated with all the urban myth’s relative to Joe, who was no ones fool. Joe did not communicate with people that wanted to write about him. He wasn’t shy just smart and did not want the publicity. He passed away but ran his business until he couldn’t anymore. It was willed to Billy, of which Anna was a part. The action was moved to NYC where the penalty was much less, problem was getting it there.

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