Legal History

Law Prof Remembers His Nana's Key Role in Securing Conviction of Lucky Luciano

Yale Law School professor Stephen Carter remembers his grandma as “Nana from New York,” a woman who loved books and emphasized good table manners.

“Nana” was Eunice Hunton Carter, the first black female prosecutor in the New York District Attorney’s Office, according to a Chicago Tribune column by John Kass. Carter was relegated to “Women’s Court” but she parlayed her knowledge of prostitution into a battle against New York crime boss Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

Carter noticed that New York’s prostitutes all had the same lawyers, bail bondsmen and alibis, Kass writes. “Prostitution was an organized racket, and she figured out that organized crime was offering legal and governmental services in exchange for a percentage of the take,” Kass says. “She learned that Lucky Luciano didn’t run the prostitution. But he had given his nod of approval to the arrangement of legal services for the prostitution racket.”

Carter helped a legal team headed by Thomas Dewey prove that Luciano was a crime boss. Luciano was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison, then paroled and deported to Italy.

Kass says Carter made a difference, but she hasn’t attracted much attention as the nation commemorates Black History Month. “So she’s one of the forgotten,” Kass writes.

Stephen Carter won’t forget his Nana, however. He remembers her books, her smile and the ham she served at Christmastime. “She was fascinating,” Carter tells Kass.

Also see:

Time (2007): “Eunice Hunton Carter, Mob Buster”

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