Joseph Quartieri was an associate of the Gambino crime family. He robbed jewelry stores and passed the proceeds to mob fences. He’d been arrested a total of 24 times before landing at Nassau County Jail in 1980.
On March 4, 1980, Quartieri and fellow inmate James McQuade walked back from the visitors’ area of the jail. They broke into a new cafeteria under construction, changed into clothing left behind by construction workers, and busted an 8-foot length of pipe to smash a window and winch the bars apart. Then they climbed into an exercise yard and shimmied up a 16-foot-wall using rope made of bed sheets. Walking along an unguarded section of the jail’s rear, they hopped into a neighboring backyard and were free. James McQuade was apprehended 8 days later.
Quartieri remains at large. He robbed a Dunkin’ Donuts the day he escaped, and then he disappeared. Nassau County Jail now requires guards to escort prisoners from the visitors’ area to their cells.
In case this profile has lent the impression that Joseph Quartieri was a criminal mastermind who rode into the sunset and is sipping cold Coronas in Mexico, let us elaborate: Quartieri was a 5’3”, 140-pound heroin addict with a history of mental illness. He had digestive problems and allergies. Although US Marshals continue to hunt him, and although he was featured on America’s Most Wanted, it’s quite likely he died by the same sword he lived by, disposed of as a loose end by the Mafia.