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Alberta Scene

Who was FILUMENA ?

FILUMENA was a young, Italian immigrant to Southern Alberta. Born at the beginning of the twentieth century in Southern Italy, she went to her death on the gallows at Fort Saskatchewan penitentiary when she was not yet 23 years old.

During the autumn of 1915, when still only a teenager, she married Charlie Lassandro, a man 10 years her senior, in the small town of Crowsnest Pass. This was not a happy marriage, but it did bring her into contact with one of Southern Alberta’s greatest characters, Emilio Picariello, “The Emperor Pic.”

Picariello was a modern-day Robin Hood, who engaged in activities both legal and illegal. Prohibition legislation was enacted in Alberta in 1915, and Emperor Pic, who had been among other things an hotelier in Blairmore and an ice cream manufacturer, continued his business of providing entertainment, food and beverage to the local populace, except now some of the beverage business had to be done under the table. Illicit alcohol was imported from British Columbia, where the laws were looser, to Alberta. Charlie Lassandro was one of Emperor Pic’s employees and Filumena eventually became involved in bootlegging through her love for Emperor Pic’s son, Steve.

In September 1921 a bizarre police chase ended with Steve Picariello being shot in the wrist by Constable Lawson. Steve fled across the border to B.C., leaving rumours swirling as to how serious his injuries were. Steve’s father, Emperor Pic and Filumena went to confront Constable Lawson and a physical dispute ensued. Lawson was fatally shot, dying in front of his wife and children.

Emilio Picariello and Filumena Lassandro were jointly convicted of murder, although their trial was confusing and contradictory. Neither one testified in their own defence and both were sentenced to hang. During the final six months of their lives, both sought the clemency of the courts and then the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister, but to no avail.

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