By Katie Honan
Manny Balestrero, an Elmhurst father, husband and musician who was cast into the spotlight after he was falsely accused of a robbery in 1953, will be honored with Manny “The Wrong Man” Balestrero Way at 73rd Street and 41st Avenue.
According to Balestrero’s youngest son Greg, the renaming on Saturday, Sept. 27 is a great honor, and will serve to further exonerate him from the decades-old crime.
Balestrero lived with his wife and two children on 73rd Street in the 1950s and played the bull fiddle at the famed Stork Club in Manhattan, according to his son.
He was arrested on Jan. 14, 1953 for a robbery of the Prudential Insurance Company office on 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, which he had visited to borrow money from his wife’s insurance policy, according to a Life Magazine article.
The teller thought she recognized him as a man who had robbed them twice before, and two other witnesses identified him.
But the police and the witnesses had the wrong man.
Balestrero, who was played in the film by Henry Fonda, was later exonerated when the real robber, Charles Daniell, was arrested during an attempted robbery of an Astoria deli.
At the precinct Daniell reportedly told officers “name any stickup in Jackson Heights, and I did it.”
The renaming was proposed by Councilman Danny Dromm, who said he wanted to highlight some of Elmhurst’s history while also bringing attention to the plight of those wrongfully convicted.
“It’s kind of a way to make up for the pain and suffering they went through,” he said.
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