Murder Incorporated

Thursday, July 20, 2006

About Steve Kaplan

Not far away, up in Atlanta, the lights to the Gold Club have finally gone out. The club, once a prominent Atlanta strip club, was strung by a federal indictment which claimed the bar was a front for prostitution, that it over billed patrons, provides free sex to celebrities, bribed police officers and bought protection from the Gambino organized crime family and laundered its money.

The clubs owner is Steven Kaplan, a longtime associate of John A. Gotti Jr. and 15 others, including two strippers, were charged in a federal indictment that alleges the Gold Club was controlled by New York's Gambino crime family. Law Enforcement official identify Kaplan as a longtime associate who worked in Junior Gotti's crew when Junior was a capo.

The indictment said that the elder Gotti collected payment from clubs that Kaplan owned in Manhattan and Boca Raton, Florida and that after the elder Gotti was convicted of murder and racketeering in 1992, his son took over the family and the collection of the payments from Kaplan.

The indictment says Kaplan paid the Gambinos protection money, bribed Atlanta police, overbilled patrons and laundered millions in illegal profits since 1988. Prosecutors also allege that after John Gotti, Jr. was indicted in New York one of his subordinates used Kaplan to keep a potential witness quiet about the Gambinos' control of Scores, a Manhattan strip club.

Kaplan is accused of providing dancers and hookers to celebrities and athletes as part of a $50 million criminal operation with ties to the Gambino family. NBA stars cooperated with the FBI agents who were investigating the Gold Club and said that the club's owner, Steve Kaplan, procured hookers for pro basketball players at least seven times between 1994 and 1998.

The indictment against Kaplan stated that in April of 1997, Kaplan brought strippers to the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, to perform a lesbian sex show. Afterwards the women offered sex to some of the Knicks players.

It also alleges that Kaplan provided strippers as prostitutes to NBA players at an Augusta, Georgia hotel, at the Gold Club's Gold Room and inside the Atlanta Swiss Hotel.

According to the 97-page indictment, Kaplan provided strippers to perform oral sex on unnamed pro basketball players inside his Gold Rooms which the players allegedly "rented" using "Gold Bucks" or fake money that the club normally sold to patrons to slip into strippers' G-strings or "rent" one of the club's 19 VIP Gold Rooms for watching nude lap dances in private. On one occasion, Kaplan approved comp slips for "Patrick Ewing and friends" for a total bill of $2,233, including a $991 tab in a single night, and that he also authorized free liquor and sex shows to former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman and professional wrestlers Randy (Macho Man) Savage, Diamond Dallas Page, Lou Sabh, Scott Steiner and Saturn.

Officials say that the favors were probably provided to attract celebrities to the club rather then to influence athletes to throw games or to divulge information that could help gamblers. The indictment describes Kaplan handing a bag of $20 bills packaged in $2,000 bundles to a Gambino capo identified as "M.D." during a ride to LaGuardia Airport in 1997.

It also described a scheme by club employees to charge thousands of dollars to unsuspecting customers on their credit cards for food and drinks, which were never authorized. Some club members of club management were also charged with double-billing, fraudulently obtaining signatures and altering credit card receipts.

The racketeering indictment charges that Kaplan intimidated his competitors by using his Mafia ties and corrupted two Atlanta police officers in return for special favors and that he skimmed cash from his businesses to evade paying taxes.

The government has moved to seize Kaplan's Oyster Bay Cove, Long Island, home. Otherwise, Kaplan is an American success story. The son of a magazine stand operator inside New York's Grand Central Terminal, he earned enough money in his life to consider making a bid to purchase an NBA franchise.

Maxie Eisen

Maxie Eisen was a Jewish Prohibition gangster and labor racketeer allied with Dion O'Banion in the early 1920s and later for the Saltis-McErlane Gang after O'Banion's death in 1924. As President of the Kosher Meat Peddler's Association, Eisen helped O'Banion infiltrate several trade unions, and later for other gangsters, until the end of Prohibition becoming an important Chigago political "fixer" for the Chicago Outfit. Shortly after Hymie Weiss's death Eisen, with Unione Siciliana President Antonio Lombardo, was partly responsible for arranging a truce between the North Side Gang and the Chicago Outfit in 1926.

Mike Heitler

Michael "The Pike" Heitler was a Prohibition gangster involved in prostitution for the Chicago Outfit.

Michael Heitler began operating brothels in Chicago during the early 1900s based out of West Madison Avenue. By 1911 he had become a leading crime figure as a top liutenant to Chicago racketeer Jacob "Mont" Tennes, later driving rival Jack Zuta out of business with then ally Jake Guzik. Although arrested briefly for white slavery, Heitler continued to run independently of Jim Colosimo, and later Johnny Torrio, until the early 1920s after the formation of the Chicago Outfit.

Reluctantly joining Capone's organization, Heitler began informing Chicago police of criminal activities after rival Jake Guzik gained control of the organizations prostitution operations informing Judge John H. Lyle of extortion and other illegal activities in the Four Deuces nightclub. Heitler was soon found out by Capone after receiving a letter to the state's attorney office detailing Capone's prostitution operations and subsequently fired. Heitler continued to send information to police later claiming Capone's involvement in the death of Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle which was received by Capone. Heitler may have also been involved in the conviction of Jack Guzik and Ralph Capone for tax evasion in 1930. Heitler, last seen with Capone associate Lawrence Mangano, was later found dead after a fire in his home on April 30, 1931.

Jack "Legs" Diamond (Not Jewish)

Jack "Legs" Diamond also known as Gentleman Jack, was the alias of Jack Moran, an Irish-American gangster based out of New York City. A bootlegger and close associate of gambler Arnold Rothstein, he survived a number of attempts on his life between 1919 and 1931, causing him to be known as the "clay pigeon of the underworld." In 1930, Diamond's nemesis Dutch Schultz remarked to his own gang, "Ain't there nobody what can shoot this guy so he don't bounce back?"

Diamond entered crime as a member of a gang called the Hudson Dusters. In 1918-1919, he was jailed for being a US Army deserter. Hired by "Little Augie" Jacob Orgen to murder an enemy, Diamond became Augie's personal bodyguard. He was shot twice when Louis Buchalter, seeking to move in on the labor rackets that Orgen was running in the garment district, shot and killed Orgen.

Diamond then went to work for Buchalter overseeing bootleg alcohol sales in downtown Manhattan. That brought him into conflict with Dutch Schultz, who planned to move beyond his base in Harlem. Diamond was shot five times on one occasion when Schultz's men surprised him at a private dinner and three times on another, when Schultz gunmen opened up with machine guns, killing two bystanders.

On December 18, 1931, Diamond's enemies finally caught up with him, shooting him after he had passed out at a hideout on Dove Street in Albany, New York. The killers shot him three times in the back of the head at approximately 5:30 AM.

There has been much speculation as to who was responsible for the murder, including Dutch Shultz, the Oley Brothers (local thugs), and the Albany Police Department. According to William Kennedy's O Albany, Democratic Party Chairman Dan O'Connell, who ran the local political machine, ordered Diamond's execution, which was carried out by the Albany Police. The following are Dan O'Connell's own words recorded during a 1974 interview by Kennedy and appears on pages 203 and 204:

In order for the Mafia to move in they had to have protection, and they know they'll never get it in this town. We settled that years ago. Legs Diamond...called up one day and said he wanted to go into the 'insurance' business here. He was going to sell strong-arm 'protection' to the merchants. I sent word to him that he wasn't going to do any business in Albany and we didn't expect to see him in town the next morning. He never started anything here.
"Prior brought him around here...but he brought him around once too often. Fitzpatrick finished Legs." O'Connell added that Fitzpatrick (a Police sergeant and future chief) and Diamond were "sitting in the same room and (Fitzpatrick) followed him out. Fitzpatrick told him he'd kill him if he didn't keep going."

Given the power that the O'Connell machine held in Albany and their determination to prevent organized crime from establishing itself in the city and threatening their monopoly of vice, most people accept this account of the story. In addition it has been confirmed by other former machine officials.

Owney Madden ( Jewish by Association)

Owney "The Killer" Madden was a leading Irish gangster in Manhattan during Prohibition. He also ran the famous Cotton Club and was a leading boxing promoter in the 1930s.
Early life and the Gopher Gang.

Born in Leeds, England to an Irish-born dockworker in 1892 and christened Owen Victor Madden, Owney Madden emigrated with his family to the United States in 1903. Settling in New York's Hell's Kitchen, Madden soon joined the Gopher Gang with his brother later that year. Described by associates as "that little banty rooster from hell", Madden quickly became a fierce fighter known for his skill with a lead pipe and gun in fights with rivals the Hudson Dusters.

By 1910, at age eighteen, Madden had become a prominent member of the Gophers and was suspected in the deaths of five rival gang members. His reputation soon gained him leadership of one of the three factions of the Gophers. He was earning as much as $200 a day from the Gophers' criminal activities, such as the gang's protection racket which forced local businessmen to pay in the face of firebomb threats.

During this time Madden enjoyed an opulent lifestyle and he was often accompanied by several women. However, he became known for his violent jealousy when he shot and killed a store clerk named William Henshaw who had asked out one of the girls often seen with Madden, while onboard a trolley. Henshaw initially survived the attack and was able to identify Madden as his assailant. When Henshaw later died of his wounds, police arrested Madden. Despite the attack having happened before dozens of people, the case had to be dismissed after no corroborating witnesses came forward.

Over the next three years, the Gophers reached the height of their power as Madden recruited various gunmen into the gang. As Madden began encroaching into rivals' territory, particularly the Hudson Dusters, he was ambushed and shot eight times on November 6, 1912 outside of a 52nd Street dance hall by eleven members of the Dusters. Madden survived the attack, however, and refused to identify his attackers to police, stating "Nothing doing. The boys'll get 'em. It's nobody's business but mine who put these slugs in me !". Within a week of his release, six members of the Hudson Dusters had been killed.

In 1914, Madden became involved in a dispute with Patsy Doyle, a prominent member of the Hudson Dusters, over a woman named Freda Horner. In a breach of gangland ethics (later known in Cosa Nostra-related circles as Omertà), Doyle informed police of Madden's operations. Following Doyle's assault on Madden's close friend Tony Romanello, Madden arranged for Doyle's murder. Madden relayed a message to Doyle through a friend of Freda Horner's named Margaret Everdeane to meet him , supposedly in order to reconcile. As Doyle arrived on November 28, 1914, Madden ambushed Doyle killing him. The police questioned Horner and Everdeane who both confessed to their role. Madden was eventually sentenced to twenty years at Sing Sing Prison.

The 1920's

After serving nine years of his sentence, Madden was released on parole in 1923. The Gopher gang had broken up, and many members of his own faction were either in jail or working for bootlegging gangs. Madden initially became a strikebreaker for a New York taxi company but soon found work under Dutch Schultz in his fight against Jack "Legs" Diamond, Waxey Gordon, and Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll during the struggle to control New York City's bootleg liquor trade. He later opened the Cotton Club, formerly Jack Johnson's Club Deluxe, which became one of the city's most popular nightclubs. Madden also operated legitimate laundry and coal delivery businesses. With the support of Tammany Hall politician Jimmy Hines, he received considerable police protection.
The 1930s

In 1931, shortly before the end of Prohibition, Madden left Shultz's organization and entered into partnership with boxing promoters "Broadway" Bill Duffy and George Jean "Big Frenchie" DeMange. Between them, they controlled the careers of the top five boxing champions including Rocky Marciano, Max Baer, and Primo Carnera. As Primo Carneras manager, Madden arranged fixed fights which led eventually to Carnera's winning the NBA World Heavyweight Championship in 1933. Carnera held onto the title for nearly a year, until suspicions from reporters about fixed fights led to Madden deserting the Italian strongman, setting up Carnera's famous defeat at the hands of Max Baer on June 14, 1934.

In 1932, Madden was involved in the murder of Vincent Mad Dog Coll who had been extorting several mobsters including DeMange and Madden. After being arrested for a parole violation that same year, Madden began facing greater harassment from police, until he finally left New York in 1935.

Leaving behind racketeering, Madden settled in Hot Springs, Arkansas where he opened the Hotel Arkansas, a spa and casino, in 1935. He also became involved in local criminal activities. The Hotel Arkansas became a popular hideout for mobsters; Charles Luciano was apprehended there in 1935. Madden became a naturalized US citizen in 1943, and eventually married the daughter of the city postmaster. He lived in Hot Springs until his death in 1964. At the time of his death he was said to have left $3 million in assets.

Jewish Strong Arms - The Labor Slugger wars

With the industrialization of the United States and the emergence of labor unions in the late nineteenth century and into early 1900s street gangs began to be hired by companies as strikebreakers and to discourage union activity. Unions themselves would also hire labor sluggers primarily as protection from these strikebreakers and to recruit, by force if necessary, new union members. Many of these workers were recently arriving immigrants, particularly Jewish and Italians, in New York's East Side. Gangs made up of immigrants from similar backgrounds often sided with unions of their compatriots, but also were quick to exploit the lucrative opportunities for labor racketeering.

Labor Slugger War: 1913-1917

By 1912 two major gangs, one led by "Dopey" Benny Fein and another by Joe "The Greaser" Rosenzweig, dominated labor slugging in New York. The various remaining gangs, who had been largely rendered powerless by Fein and Rosenzweig's brutal tactics, united in a loose alliance in an attempt to break the monopoly held by the two gang leaders.
Declaring war, a major gunfight was fought on Grand and Forsyth Streets in late-1913 between Fein and Rosenzweig against several gangs, including Billy Lustig, Paul Phili, Little Rhody, Punk Madden (not to be confused with Prohibition gangster Owney Madden), and Moe Jewbach. While there were no casualties on either side, gang leader Paul Philip was later killed by Rosenzweig gunman Benny Snyder.

Later arrested by police, Snyder confessed to the murder and agreed to testify against Rosenzweig, who also later testified against the gang. Although Fein and Rosenzweig defeated the gangs eventually, Rosenzweig's conviction in 1915, as well as Fein's arrest on a separate murder charge soon after, would see Fein also testify against his organization as an investigation was launched on labor slugging activities. Eleven gangsters and twenty-three union officials were arrested.

Second Labor Sluggers War: 1918-1919

The subsequent investigations and imprisonment of labor sluggers Benny Fein and Joseph Rosenzweig had effectively ended labor slugging and other labor-related racketeering until the release of "Kid Dropper" Nathan Kaplan and Johnny Spanish in 1917. Former rivals, Kaplan and Spanish formed a gang made up mostly of ex-Five Points Gang members that soon dominated labor slugging in New York virtually unchallenged. However infighting between Kaplan and Spanish began again, with Spanish leaving the gang in late 1918. The two factions began fighting for several months until Spanish was killed, supposedly by Kaplan, on July 29, 1919.

Third Labor Sluggers War of 1923

With the death of Johnny Spanish, Kaplan completely controlled labor slugging operations for over four years. In the early 1920s, however, Kaplan began to face competition from rival Jacob Orgen's "Little Augies", including Jack Diamond, Louis Buchalter, and Gurrah Shapiro. In early 1923 war broke out between Kaplan and Orgen over striking "wet wash" laundry workers. Violent gunfights were fought throughout the city until Kaplan's death by Orgen gunman Louis Kushner while in police custody for a concealed weapons charge in August 1923.

Fourth Labor Slugger War of 1927

Orgen, now in complete control of labor racketeering, began expanding into bootlegging. However city officials began investigations into labor racketeering, putting pressure on labor slugging in particular. Advised by Meyer Lansky to instead infiltrate the unions, Orgen refused, continuing labor slugging operations.

In October 1927 Organ was killed by former associates Buchalter and Shapiro, who also wounded Orgen's bodyguard Jack Diamond, in a drive-by shooting. As Buchalter took over as the principal labor racketeer in New York City he began to focus on control of labor unions and extortion, while offering his services to others in organized crime, eventually becoming head of Murder, Inc., as labor racketeering was divided among members into the National Crime Syndicate in the 1930s.

Johnny Spanish

Johnny Spanish was a Jewish gangster who was a rival of former partner "Kid Dropper" Nathan Kaplan during a garment workers' strike which later become known as the Second Labor Sluggers War in 1919.

Born in 1891 as John Weyler (or Wheiler), he claimed to be related to Valeriano Weyler, the famous Cuban dictator. He became involved in labor racketeering and murder, reportedly involved in a killing at age seventeen, before organizing his own gang allied with the Five Point Gang. Spanish soon became notorious for his daring holdups of saloons and other businesses, particularly in his robbery of a Norfolk Street saloon owned by Mersher the Strong Arm. Spanish, who had earlier boasted to return and rob the saloon at a certain time, appeared at the scheduled time, shooting up the bar and assaulting several customers who resisted, before making his escape.

In 1909 Spanish started working together with "Kid Dropper" Nathan Kaplan. They fell out because of a dispute over Spanish's then girlfriend, engaging in a vicious street fight in which the Dropper nearly stabbed his rival to death. Once he recovered, Spanish began taking over control of the Lower East Side "stuss games", a variant of faro.

However during a particularly violent gunfight in one of his attempts to gain control over a particular gambling operation owned by Kid Jigger, an eight year old girl was killed. Forced to flee the city, he discovered, when he returned after several months, that his girlfriend had left him for Kaplan. Spanish abducted the woman, who was now pregnant, and drove to a marsh outside Maspeth, New York, in a rural area of Long Island, where he tied her up against a tree and shot her in the abdomen several times. The woman was found alive several hours later, giving birth to her baby who had three fingers shot off.

Spanish was arrested and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in 1911; coincidentally around the same time Kaplan was arrested for robbery. After being released from prison in 1917 Spanish rejoined Kaplan, as well as several other former Five Point Gang members, working as "labor sluggers".

However Spanish and Kaplan soon began fighting again as the gang split into two separate factions, as each attempted to gain dominance over the New York's "labor slugging" operations. Johnny Spanish during this period became one of the biggest drug dealers in Manhattan, selling both cocaine and heroin. He was assisted by his brother Joseph, appropriately nicknamed, "Joey Spanish". Yet there was too much bad blood between Spanish and the Dropper for either of them to relax. Spanish was shot and killed while entering a Manhattan restaurant at 19 Second Avenue by three unidentified men on July 29, , 1919. Charges were brought against Kaplan, who had been identified at the scene, but were later dropped.

The Boys from Brooklyn

Killing is an essential part of an organized crime racket – for criminals understand only the law which comes from the barrel of a gun. Every mob must, from time to time, mete out its own justice, either to a member of the gang or someone who threatens the gang’s security. But sometimes, a local gunman isn’t right for the job. It could be because the killing will immediately point to the mobster who ordered it or for some other reason that makes it inopportune for the local killers to take the contract. Over the years, various mobs had traded favors by sending someone to take out the bum, like Pittsburgh Phil and his trip to Florida. Other times, freelancers could be found to take the job.

The Syndicate board of directors needed the ability to enforce its edicts. Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky had a number of hired guns, but they had other interests, as well. The Bugs and Meyer mob wanted more than just to do the crime Syndicate’s dirty work. It was essential that such an enforcement arm be skilled, relentless and willing.

Thanks to Joe Adonis, the dapper gangster with the movie star looks who sat on the national Syndicate board of directors, a group of killers in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn began to pick up some of the contracts. And over time, the Syndicate members began to realize that the Brooklyn gang was almost always successful.

"The precision-like technique they had perfected came to be looked on with great respect and approbation by mob moguls the country over, for the painstaking attention to detail and its neat finality of accomplishment," Turkus wrote.

Lepke Buchalter, for example, used the Brooklyn boys exclusively, paying a flat-rate $12,000 annually for their services. "Those kids in Brooklyn got it taped real good," Lepke once told a pal. "That Reles and Pittsburgh Phil, and that Maione know how to cover up a job so nobody knows a thing." Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, one of the killers whom Lepke so admired, was a cunning, wire-haired fireplug of a man, a bootlegger who rarely touched alcohol and was tough enough to take two bullets – one in the gut and another in the back – as he ascended to his leadership role in the Brownsville mob. Kid Twist had hands that could strangle a man – and often did. His fingers were broad and flat at the ends and "one could almost imagine this low-browed bandit driving rows of nails into a board merely by snapping the fat heads of his fingers down, one by one," Turkus recalled.

Kid Twist and his mobster buddy Buggsy Goldstein had been living a charmed life, by crime standards. Together, they had been arrested more than 70 times and had only served 50 months behind bars between the two of them. Unlike Pittsburgh Phil and Happy Maione, who killed merely because they liked to kill, Kid Twist only killed when necessary. He was Brooklyn’s Public Enemy Number One from 1931 to 1940, when he strolled into a borough police station and started what would become the downfall of Murder, Inc.

Kid Twist was small in stature, but large in ego. He wasn’t afraid of the law and was often openly defiant when he appeared before a court. In 1934, when he was sentenced to three years for assault, the soda-jerk-turned-crime-lord was castigated by the judge. "Reles is one of the most vicious characters we have had in years," said the judge. "I am convinced he will either be sentenced to prison for life or be put out of the way by some good detective with a couple of bullets." Reles sneered at the judge and whispered to his attorney, who then turned to the court. "I will take on any cop in the city with pistols, fists or anything else," Reles said. "A cop counts to fifteen when he puts his finger on the trigger before he shoots."

He was, Turkus claimed, a moral imbecile. Reles admitted to 11 killings and the law could link him to 14 others. In one of those, Reles protested, he had only held one end of the rope and didn't pull it, so it couldn’t possibly be considered a murder count against him.

Reles and Buggsy had taken over Brooklyn, Inc. in 1931, after killing the Shapiro brothers, who had visciously raped the woman who would later become Reles’s wife, to send the headstrong Kid Twist a message. Meyer, the elder of the Shapiros and the reigning gangster in Brownsville, escaped the Reles death squad a remarkable 19 times but succumbed in the end. He was found under the beach in Canarsie; an autopsy revealed sand in his lungs. Reles had buried the gangster alive.

The Joe Rosen Story

The quiet of the dawning Sunday morning was broken by the sound of firecrackers as the man leaned over his sleeping son. Louis Stamler, a tailor, was waking the boy so he could go to work, when he heard the sharp reports. Stamler rushed to the window of his Brownsville home in time to see a large, black sedan rush away from the front of the candy store across the street.

Curious, Stamler quickly dressed and crossed the still dark street. Looking in the window of Rosen’s Candy Store, he saw the figure of a man lying on the floor of the store. Stamler ran down the block where he saw an approaching policeman and brought the flatfoot to the store. Inside, 46-year-old Joe Rosen, a former garment industry trucker, lay covered in blood, 17 holes in his body. He was quite dead. The gunmen had been good shots; a man’s hat could cover the 10 entry wounds, police reported. The date was September 13, 1936. Rosen, who was not known to police and appeared to be unconnected to the mob, was, in fact, a Murder, Inc. rubout. Eventually, Lepke Buchalter would forfeit his own life for Rosen’s.

Lepke was in Leavenworth serving a fourteen-year term when he was turned over to Dewey for the first time. The prosecutor quickly put together a case on Louis’s union rackets and managed to get a 30-year sentence. Then New York turned the racketeer back over to the feds. It looked like Lepke was going to prison for a long, long time.

But that was before Kid Twist started singing and mentioned a Joe Rosen contract. Quickly, the New York authorities brought Reles before a grand jury and got an indictment on Lepke, Frank Costello, Louis Capone and Pittsburgh Phil, who was already in the Sing Sing death house with Happy Maione, the first victims of Kid Twist’s aria of murder.

It took sixteen months of legal wrangling between the feds and New York before Lepke was brought from Kansas to stand trial for Rosen’s slaying. When the case finally went to trial, more than five years had passed since Joe Rosen was gunned down in his candy store.
Rosen, it seemed, was not as clean as he led people to believe. And he wasn’t very smart, either. He had owned a trucking firm that brought garments to non-union shops in Pennsylvania when Lepke announced that there would be work stoppage.

"Louis," Rosen protested. "That will cost me my business."

Lepke promised Rosen that he would be taken care of. But Rosen was right; the work stoppage, which helped Lepke gain control of a garment trucking firm, forced Rosen out of business.
The trucker went to his friend, Max Rubin, who had been with him when Lepke announced the stoppage. "You and Lepke promised you would take care of me," he said. "Everyone is back at work and I’m on the streets."

Lepke got Rosen a job with Garfield Trucking, but Rosen was fired in less than a year. "This is no good," Rubin told Judge Louis. "We’ve got a desperate man on our hands." Rubin and Lepke once again helped out Rosen to keep him quiet. They set him up in the candy store, where he and his wife were able to eke out a small living. But Rosen wasn’t a businessman and the candy store soon ran into trouble. Rosen pressed his luck and demanded more help from Lepke and Rubin. He was told to get out of town and to keep his mouth shut. Sadly, Rosen didn’t listen and he ended up dead that Sunday morning.

But Lepke, the man who had helped build the national crime Syndicate, the racketeer who had his fingers in nearly every New York union – from the bakers to the garment workers – the killer who had overseen a murder squad that was responsible for nearly a thousand deaths around the country, had made a very simple mistake. Lepke, the man who had insulated himself from the lower echelon killers and who took pains never to talk when someone he didn’t trust implicitly was in the room had screwed up. He had lost his temper over the gall of a small candy store owner who threatened to talk and didn’t realize that an underling had heard him issue the order to take care of Rosen. Lepke had broken his own cardinal rule and left a witness.

When Allie Tannenbaum, the killer who had stalked Big Greenie, took the stand in Lepke’s murder trial, Judge Louis wasn’t concerned. After all, Allie had nothing to do with Rosen’s slaying and couldn’t help the prosecution’s case. But Lepke was wrong. Allie was a hanger-on in the scheme of things; he reported directly to Lepke, but he took his orders from Mendy and Gurrah. Lepke might have wanted Allie to do a job and might want to know how it turned out, but he never directly told Allie to kill anyone.

But in court that day, Allie dropped a bomb on Lepke. He told the story of the hit on Irv Ashkenaz, a Lithuanian taxicab driver who was talking to the law about Lepke’s involvement in the taxi rackets. The order for the contract came from Mendy Weiss, but Allie was required to report to Lepke about the results. He was confident that day in the fall of 1936 when he reported to Lepke’s office. The hit had gone well and he was sure the soft-eyed, quiet ganglord would be pleased. Allie was surprised by what he encountered when he strolled into the office.
Lepke on trial for Rosen's murder

"Lepke was yelling that he gave this Joe Rosen money to go away, and then he sneaks back into a candy store, after he tells him to stay away," Allie testified. "Lepke was hollering: ‘There is one son of a bitch that will never go down to talk to Dewey about me.’ Max (Rubin) was trying to calm him down. He was saying, "take it easy; take it easy Louis. I’ll handle Joe Rosen; he’s all right.’"

"What did Lepke say to that?" Turkus asked. "He says, ‘You told me that before.’ He says ‘This is the end of it. I’m fed up with that son of a bitch.’ He says, ‘and I’ll take care of him," Allie recalled.Two days later, Allie testified, he read in the morning papers that "Joe Rosen" had been killed in his candy store in Brooklyn. The papers said Dewey had been looking for Rosen. In Allie’s mind, that clinched it. Lepke had killed the shopkeeper.

The testimony of Allie Tannenbaum was good enough for the jury. Four hours after they were handed the case, at 2 a.m., the verdict came back against Lepke. The co-founder of the national Syndicate was guilty of first degree murder. The penalty for murder at the time in New York was death by electrocution.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Electric Chair at Sing Sing

On June 4, 1888, NY Gov. Daniel B. Hill signed a bill authorizing the use of the electric chair. Electrocution was considered a more humane method of execution than hanging. Thus "the chair" replaced "the rope."

The hangings had been carried out in the respective counties with relevant jurisdiction in the particular cases. But given the specialized nature of the equipment involved in electrocution, executions by electricity were carried out only at state prisons: first at three -- Auburn, Sing Sing and Dannemora -- but later only at Sing Sing.

William Kemmler, the drunken axe-murder of his girlfriend, was the first to be executed by electrocution in NYS. That was August 6 1890 at Auburn. There were 54 other electrocutions at Auburn prison, the last taking palce May 1, 1916 -- Charles Sprague.

Sing Sing's chair was first put to use on July 7, 1891, when it executed 5 men for unconnected murders -- first Harris Alonzo Smiler, and then Shibaya Jugiro, James Slocum, Joseph Wood, and Martin Loppy. Its last execution -- also NYS' last execution -- took place August 15, 1963: Eddie Lee Mays. A total 614 men and women were executed by electric chair at Sing Sing.

Louis Capone, Lepke Buchalter, Mendy Weiss died in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison on the night of Saturday, 4 March 1944. Harry Strauss, Frank Abbandando, and Harry Maione were also electrocuted in Sing Sing.

More about the leaders of Murder Inc.

They were Jewish gangsters.
They grew up going to synagogue and celebrating holidays and Sabbath, but as they got older, they were anything but orthodox. Jewish gangsters didn’t think of God, ethics, being a good Jew, or even consider tikkun olam or tzedaka. They were thugs, hoodlums, criminals, and anything synonymous with these traits. Yet, Jewish gangsters of America innovated organized crime. They made it as we know it today. These people made it organized.
If you watch The Godfather series or Goodfellas or Bugsy, the crime you see is what Jews made it. They were masterminds of the mob. Jewish gangsters were descendants of immigrants trying to make a living, the “American Dream”. Other immigrants also started the life of crime, in fact, any nationality you could think of had gangsters; Italians, Irish, you name it, there were gangs for them. They were all either immigrants, or second generation Americans. You have to look at the irony of the situation. The immigrants wanted their children to lead a successful, law-abiding life, and live the “American Dream”. Now the irony was, in the time of the Depression and Prohibition, when organized crime flourished, you couldn’t be both successful and law abiding, in most cases. The only real successful people were the gangsters. The law-abiding ones were dirt poor. There is some history, not much, but definitely some history of organized crime in America.
There were gangs in New York since the 1800’s. The names and trademarks of some of these gangs are quite strange. The True Blue Americans were a gang that wore stove-pipe hats and long blue coats. The Plug Uglies wore primitive football helmets. Despite their odd names and tendencies, there were definitely vicious gangs and gangsters. The Bowery Boys were precursors to the Brownsville Gang, who would later become Murder Inc. There were mythical gangsters used to evoke fear into the hearts of other gangsters. In the 20’s and 30’s, organized crime was at its climax. This was due to the fact that America was in need because of the Depression and Prohibition was at its height. These circumstances especially benefited crime, being that people were looking for an easy way out of the Depression and some booze.
But Jewish crime, such as Murder Incorporated, all came tumbling down in the 1940’s. For Jewish organized crime in America, believe it or not, there were multiple gangs. There was the Purple Gang in Detroit, which were infamous for being super-violent and importing alcohol from Canada during prohibition. There were also many other smaller gangs. But by far, the largest, most successful one was Murder Incorporated (Murder Inc.). Few words can sum up Murder Inc., they were a driving force in America. They could control government by buying out judges, senators, and such. Murder Inc. may have only dealt with murder, but members of it dealt with every other sort of crime you could think of. The bosses usually dealt with bootlegging, gambling, and labor rackets. Everyone else dealt lightly in other things such as pimping, gambling, racketeering, and every other criminal activity. But mainly, most men of Murder Inc. were hit-men. They were all, bosses and hit-men, bad men. Murder Incorporated killed over 1000 people across the nation.
They were also known as the Combination. The term “Syndicate” is often used when talking about organized crime. The Syndicate was Murder Inc. Murder Incorporated was interesting because it truly was organized crime. It ran like a business. In fact, this business was conducted in some of the most common places. In Brooklyn, most business was run in the back-rooms of candy stores, or in the back table of an all-night lunch counter. The hit-men would get phone calls from bosses to kill somebody in the candy stores. The same candy stores that kids grew up going to, were a hot-spot for crime. Even though it consisted of mostly Jews, there were also some Italians, such as Charlie “Lucky” Luciano. There was a board of directors. This consisted of mob bosses. These were people such as Meyer Lansky, Benny Siegel, Lucky Luciano, Dutch Schultz, and Louis Lepke. Murder Inc. specialized in making contracts to murder people. There was a special process for this. First, someone had to request for another person to be killed. Then, it was voted on by the board of directors. They would set up court hearings in place such as hotel rooms. Usually, even after approved by the board of directors, the contract was passed by Meyer Lansky. No one person was killed unless Lansky approved of it. A contract could not be made because of a personal grudge. It purely had to violate the laws of the Combination. Also, you could not kill a government official, a reporter, a civilian, or anyone on the board of directors. Of course, in the case of Dutch Schultz, the rules got so twisted, that he was killed. Murder Inc.’s motto was, “We only kill our own,” which basically meant, they only kill criminals.
It was as if Murder Incorporated was a criminal league of crime fighters. Eventually, Murder Inc. was national and made many contracts across the U.S. Of course, they wouldn’t have been this successful if there wasn’t an exact and fool-proof way to kill. It was a whole special, 8-step process. First, the contract was made. A killer was then selected from a completely different state than where the murder was going to occur. Or, a friend of that person would be hired to kill him. The killer would pack a travel bag for a week’s stay. The hit-man would then keep a close eye on the mark (the victim). This was to figure out his schedule and find a good place and time to kill the mark. Find the mark in a secluded place and murder him. Popular methods were shooting, strangling, or using an icepick. This was mainly because they weren’t very messy methods. They would feel betrayal because a friend killed them, or confusion, having no idea what happened in their last moments of death. The killer would then dispose of the body. A popular way of disposing of it was burning it in a pit or open field. The killer would then get on a train and get out of the state A.S.A.P. The police would have no suspects, motives, or sometimes, not even a single witness. Usually escape from the mob was impossible. There were rarely any exceptions. If you wanted to become a family man, or found god, you would be murdered because you knew too much.
The only exception was if you were a boss. Yet, there were a few successful escapes. One of the rare escapes was that of Gangy Cohen. One day, he just disappeared. But, then a couple of small time gangsters, Pretty Levine and Dukey Maffeatore went to go see the movie Golden Boy. Pretty spotted Gangy as one of the spectators in the movie. Soon Dukey was convinced, and so were Kid Twist and Pittsburgh Phil. Gangy ran away to become a movie star. If you were lucky like Gangy, you could run away, but that was rare. Most of the time, a gangster was murdered, sent to jail, or death-row. Death-row was probably the least punishment of all. You could rot away to nothing in jail, and you have to live your life in paranoia of being killed as a gangster. It's almost as if death-row were doing gangsters a favor.
Meyer Lansky was one of the most influential men in Murder Incorporated. He was a man of many myths. One of those was that he first met Benny “Bugsy” Siegel and Charlie “Lucky” Luciano at the same time. Bugsy and Lucky were arguing. For some reason, Lansky showed up, so he hit Lucky over the head with a tool or blunt object to end the fight. Another time, but this time it actually happened, Lansky was confronted by Lucky and his gang. Lucky offered protection. It was then that Lansky defiantly told Lucky to “go (fork) yourself.” So Lucky then offered Lansky protection for free, when Meyer Lansky obstinately told Lucky to “shove your protection up your (where the sun don’t shine)” Meyer Lansky did have these two people as enemies at first, but he soon became quick friends. In fact, they were all head members of Murder Inc. Lansky was considered the “Mastermind of the Mob”. He took care of mostly the business aspect of the mob. There were many inspirations for Meyer Lansky to go into a life of crime. As a child, Lansky’s family didn’t have a big enough oven to cook the Sabbath chloent. Meyer’s mother would give him a nickel to go to the local bakery. At the bakery, the owner would let Meyer use the oven to cook the Sabbath meal. While on his way to the bakery every Friday, he would pass kids gambling and playing craps. Well, one day, curiosity got the best of young Meyer. He decided to gamble the nickel on a craps game. But, not surprisingly, he lost. That Sabbath, the Lansky family would have no chloent. He felt he let his whole family down. Especially, his mother, whom he loved dearly. He also let himself down, and swore never to lose ever again. It was pretty ambitious, and probably every young kid in history has said that at one point or another. But Meyer was actually determined to make it happen. Meyer studied the craps games carefully every chance he got. He learned the tricks and the cheats. Well, another Sabbath, he took that nickel his mother gave him, and he bet on the craps game again. He won. After that one successful time, he never gambled with Sabbath money again. He was able to gamble with his own money. He gambled all over the Lower East Side, and never lost again. Meyer was so successful, he started to keep a big wad of money in the hole of his mattress. A big wad of money was pretty good when your parents are Russian immigrants just getting by. Heck, a big wad of money was good for anyone in the 1920’s. Also, the history of Jews compelled Lansky to lead a life of crime. Jews were always being pushed around. Meyer Lansky felt it was his obligation to get back at society and make sure no one pushed Jews around in America. Meyer Lansky was also bullied by older Italian and Irish boys. This was such as the time when Lucky offered protection. Meyer felt he had an obligation. Meyer Lansky controlled everything that went on in the Combination. No one was killed until it was passed by Meyer Lansky. Meyer was close friends with both Salvatore Luciano (a.k.a.: Charlie “Lucky” Luciano) and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. In fact, at one time, they were arch-enemies, but for some reason, Meyer Lansky had a way of making enemies into his friends. Lansky was a rather short man. He earned his nickname “Little Man” because he only reached a height of about 5 foot. Even though Meyer Lansky was mainly the head of Murder Inc., he also greatly dealt with illegal gambling and other money laundering schemes. Meyer Lansky, like all other prominent figures in the Jewish mob, was taught the tools of the trade by the infamous Arnold Rothstein.
Without Rothstein, Lansky would probably have no idea how to operate organized crime. Rothstein also taught Lansky good fashion taste and etiquette. Rothstein wanted to make Lansky a gangster and a gentleman. Meyer Lansky had a historic meeting with Arnold Rothstein in 1920. It was actually two parts, but in the same day. First Rothstein met Lansky at a Bar Mitzvah. Rothstein told Lansky that he had interest in the kid’s skills. So then, they went to Rothstein’s apartment at the Park Central Hotel to have a six hour chat. Rothstein explained to Lansky that he wanted Lansky to be part of a scheme in which they would illegally import premium alcohol from various countries during the prohibition time. Lansky would be paired with Lucky Luciano. Lansky was star-struck by Rothstein the whole time, and it was an offer that he couldn’t refuse. This was before the Bugsy and Meyer mob. This was the first big time scheme of Lansky’s career. Some major gambling operations were in Havana, Cuba and Las Vegas. In Havana he operated the Montmartre Club; in Las Vegas he helped fund the Flamingo. Under the Law of Return, in 1970, Meyer Lansky moved to Israel. Even though Meyer Lansky gained a new appreciation for Jewish culture and religion, he really moved to get away from the FBI, who had him under surveillance. Meyer Lansky successfully convinced Israeli officials that he did not lead a life of crime and was able to be “just another face in the crowd”. This was until word got out that he resided in Tel Aviv. The Press found him and stalked him. The FBI also found out and started to go after him. Lansky traveled across Europe, trying to outrun the Feds. He then tried to run to Paraguay, but they would not accept him. So then, Meyer Lansky, for the first time in his life, surrendered. He flew to Panama City, Florida. He was then arrested and tried in Miami. But surprisingly, he was tried for tax evasion, and not racketeering. He was acquitted. Lansky then resided in Miami. Later, he would be tried again for tax evasion and illegal gambling, but always acquitted. Meyer Lansky died of natural causes in his home in Miami on January 15, 1983. On his deathbed, he claimed that he never personally killed a man.
Arnold Rothstein was the single most influential man in not only Murder Incorporated, but also organized crime in America. He made it the way we know it today. When you watch any movie that has to do with any gang in America that takes place in the 20th century, Arnold Rothstein made it the way it is in those movies. He talked the talk and walked the walk. He had the etiquette of an aristocrat when his parents were just poor, Jewish immigrants. Rothstein was pretty versatile when it came to crime. He dealt in almost everything. Arnold Rothstein was famous for illegal gambling and importing alcohol during Prohibition. Also, before it was a major problem, Rothstein dealt illegal drugs. Arnold Rothstein had various nicknames. Each of them had a valid reason for them being nicknames. He was called “The Big Bankroll” because he always carried a huge wad of cash with him everywhere he went. If he went to go buy an apple from a street vendor, he would leave a tip of $50. He was called “The Brain” because he made the mob what it is known as today. Finally, he was called “A.R.” as an abbreviation of his name. But this was also a show of respect. It included his first and last name. It was just easier than saying Arnold Rothstein all the time. Rothstein was an exceptional pool player. He was a pool shark on and off. One day, a few gamblers seeking vengeance on A.R. decided to bring in a true pool shark from Philly. So they brought in Jack Conway. He challenged A.R. to a game of pool. A.R. got to chose the hall. He chose John McGraw’s Billiard Hall. The game would take place Thursday evening. The stipulation was first to get 100 points wins. Like any good pool shark, A.R. let Jack Conway win. Rothstein challenged Conway to another game. He won that one, and the one after, and kept on a winning streak. By the morning, he was up by $3000. They played until Saturday morning. Jack Conway was about to challenge A.R. to another game, when John McGraw, owner of the pool hall told them to stop. By that time Jack and A.R. were both delirious, and giggled like little girls after just about every other word they said. Rothstein then put his arm around Conway and took him to the Turkish Bath. It just goes to show how much money gangsters made. Arnold Rothstein was constantly looking for new blood. If A.R. saw you, and thought he could make you an exceptional gangster, he took you in. He always paired up people, such as Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. Being recruited by Arnold Rothstein was like being sent from the minors to the majors. You were now playing with the big players. A great attribute of Rothstein was that he was racially indifferent. In his gang, there were definitely a variety of races. There were Jews, Irishmen, Blacks, Italians, even women. If A.R. liked what he saw, he would take you in. One thing that gave Arnold Rothstein his fame was the 1919 World Series. He was single-handedly responsible for the Black Sox scandal, fixing the World Series. Or, rather, so the myth goes that he fixed the World Series. The story goes that to win a bet, Arnold Rothstein paid 8 members of the starting line-up of the Chicago White Sox a large sum of money. In return, the players would throw the game. Ban Johnson convicted Rothstein of fixing the World Series. The real story is that Rothstein had nothing to do with it. The 8 players were just really mad at the cheapskate owner of the White Sox. So they threw the game. Game 7 of the World Series. Rothstein ended up suing Ban Johnson for Libel. Arnold Rothstein was shot dead November 4, 1928, in the lobby of the Park Central Hotel in New York City. It's ironic that Rothstein gave birth to a great gang when talking to Meyer Lansky in the Park Central Hotel, and he died in the same place. Rothstein was shot dead, but his legacy lives on to modern pop culture.
Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was the gangster associated with starting Las Vegas. He was a pure hothead, someone who would shoot then ask. Siegel was also a grade “A” sociopath. He could be your best friend one minute, and shoot you the next. It was for these reasons that he earned the nickname “Bugsy”. Specifically, he would “go bugs” when trouble came about. It was a derogatory nickname that he hated with a passion. Some people were shot for calling him “Bugsy”, which is sort of ironic. Even though he was a hothead, it wasn’t his only weakness. Bugsy loved the ladies. He would do anything for them. One of Bugsy Siegel’s best friends was Meyer Lansky. The were founding members of Murder Inc. They started the Bugsy and Meyer Mob. They weren’t really a gang, but more of a two-man power-trip. Meyer was the brain and Bugsy was the muscle. Even though the myth says that Bugsy made Las Vegas, he really didn’t. It was mainly his idea to put a casino in Nevada, because at the time Nevada was one of the only places you could legally gamble. He also pushed to get funding for the Flamingo Casino, which was named after his wife, Virginia Hill. But, nothing happened until after he died. The myth was made popular by the 1991 movie Bugsy. It was a great movie, and was nominated for many Oscars, but popularized the myth. Then again, the truth never stands in the way of a good story. Bugsy Siegel was the epitome of the gangster as we know it today. Like how A.R. made the mob as we know it today, Bugsy Siegel made the gangster as we know it today. He was short tempered, suave, had good taste, and was a gentleman with the ladies. One of the great true stories about Bugsy Siegel was that he had the opportunity to kill two major Nazis. They were Hermann Goring and Joseph Goebbels. One of Bugsy’s many mistresses was Dorothy DiFrasso. Her husband was close to Mussolini. The husband also invited various Nazis to stay at his house. DiFrasso invited Bugsy to stay while these two Nazis were there. Bugsy was just about to kill them when DiFrasso convinced Bugsy if he killed them, then she would be killed. Like Lansky and Luciano, Bugsy was taught style and crime by Arnold Rothstein. Bugsy Siegel mainly dealt in money laundering, gambling, and murder, even though he wasn’t a hit-man (remember, he’s called “Bugsy”, he would kill people anyway). Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was shot dead in his home June 20, 1947. The murder is unsolved.
Louis “Lepke” Buchalter was probably one of the more troubled souls of Murder Incorporated. He grew up a rough childhood. His nickname is actually short for the Yiddish word “Lepkelah”. This means “Little Louis”. Louis was a boss of Murder Inc. The only thing he really bothered with was the labor rackets. He was also taught by Arnold Rothstein. In fact, Lepke inherited the labor rackets from Rothstein. During the fall of Murder Inc., Lepke went into hiding. J. Edgar Hoover talked to one of Lepke’s reporter friends. The reporter convinced Lepke to come out of hiding. Lepke figured out it was a trick when he was sentenced to death-row. Lepke was the only mob boss ever in America to be sent to death-row. He was sent with his accomplices Mendy Weiss and Louis Capone, who had no relation to Al Capone. He was the first to go to the chair on March 2, 1944. Normal procedures went through, shaving their heads, sponging off the sweat, pouring salt on their heads to absorb sweat, and sticking electrodes on the body. A rabbi was reciting kiddish while Lepke was being electrocuted.
Abraham “Kid Twist” Reles was by far the most significant hit-man in Murder Incorporated. He was born and raised in Brooklyn. Reles took his nickname from a 19th century gangster. This gangster got his name because he would twist the life out of people. Reles preferred an ice-pick, he just liked the nickname. Reles was one of the most trustable men in Murder Inc. It was against his principals to rat on anybody. But one day, he had an epiphany. He thought, I can kill, or be killed; I can rat, or be ratted on. So he decided to confess to the police. The police brought him in. He confessed about everything he could think of about anybody he could think of. This filled up 75 notebooks. During the trials that these confessions led to, Reles had to be protected. He was guarded in the Half Moon hotel in Brooklyn with other rats such as Dukey Maeffatore, Sholem Bernstein, Allie Tannenbaum, Pretty Levine, and Mickey Sycoff. Reles kept himself entertained by playing bad practical jokes on his roomies and listening to the radio. He was getting sicker and sicker. One thing he did to irritate his roomate was coughing up tons of phlegm which was full of blood, and keeping in a glass by a window. He would wait until the glass was full to empty it out. One fateful day, Abe Reles was found dead on the ground ten stories below than the window to his bedroom. Many theories arose of how he ended up there. One was he couldn’t live with the guilt, so he jumped to his death. Another was one of his irked roomies pushed him out the window. Yet another was a guard pushed him out for various reasons. But, the reason the police department came up with was completely different. They said he was trying to pull a prank. He was probably drunk. He made a rope of bed sheets. When the guards weren’t there, he would use the rope to climb down the side of the building. He would then go through one of the windows and knock on the door of the guarded hotel room. It would be a great prank. But the rope couldn’t support his weight, so it broke. Abe Reles was found on the ground with a smirk on his face.
If you have ever heard of the Beer Baron, Arthur “Dutch Schultz” Flegenheimer was that man. He was the only boss of Murder Incorporated to be killed by Murder Inc. During prohibition, he bootlegged beer and sold it on the black market. He got his nickname from a 19th century German ganster. Like Abe Reles, he just liked the name, so he used it. In his time as a boss, he became so paranoid that he branched off of Murder Inc. and made his own gang, purely for protection. As result of his paranoia, he wanted Tom Dewey to be killed. Tom Dewey was the Attorney General of the USA at the time and he wanted to crack down on organized crime. Dutch Schultz had the right idea. But in turn he broke Murder Inc. rule number one. That was “We only kill our own”. Tom Dewey was not their own, a criminal. He was a government official. For that, Dutch Schultz had to be killed. The funny thing is, everyone else was so scared of Tom Dewey, they didn’t notice that a rule was broken until about 24 hours before Dewey was supposed to be killed. The hit-man for killing Dutch Schultz would be Charlie “The Bug” Workman. Schultz was killed in the Palace Chop House, a steak house in Hoboken, New Jersey. His body guards were shot dead, but miraculously, after being shot three times in the stomach, Dutch Schultz crawled to the bathroom. An ambulance came and rushed Schultz to the hospital. On his death bed, he converted to Catholicism. When a detective came to ask Dutch Schultz what happened, he spoke incoherently and nonsensically, and sometimes complete gibberish. The detective took all of this gibber-jabber down in his note pad. This has become a local legend. He died three days after he was shot.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Beansie Rosenthal and Charles Becker

In the history of the United States, there has been relatively few police officers convicted and executed for a crime. One such officer was Charles Becker, a high-profile lieutenant for the New York City Police Department during the heydays of Tammany Hall, who was convicted of murder. . . . His trial and re-trial were the biggest to ever hit New York. . . . For three years it would dominate the headlines of a frenzied press.

Whether or not he was actually guilty remains an open question. Yet his sinister ties with The Tenderloin underworld cannot be denied. . . . Becker had much against him: a blindly ambitious District Attorney who astutely saw a death sentence for Becker as a free pass to the Governor’s Mansion, a hostile press dedicated to the ruin of a corrupt police lieutenant, and a devil’s pact hatched in New York vilest prison, The Tombs, by three desperate killers eager to trade Becker’s life to save themselves from the electric chair. . .
The original building that earned the name "The Tombs" for itself and succeeding jails on the same site in Lower Manhattan (Centre, Elm, Franklin and Leonard streets) was inspired by an ancient Egyptian mausoleum a travel writer described and drew in a book. The Tenderloin, the area now known as Times Square, which is centered at 42nd Street and Broadway, had hundreds of gambling casinos and was under siege by a virtual army of prostitutes. . . . It was common practice for pimps and casino owners to seek protection from prosecution by paying off the Police Department.

Originally from Sullivan County, Charles Becker . . . moved to the big city in 1888. Tall and handsome, Becker was a powerfully built man with huge shoulders. He got his first job as a bartender on the Bowery, but soon graduated to bouncer . . . . There Becker met Monk Eastman, a deranged killer who ruled a vicious gang of murderers and outlaws. . . .
Through this friendship, Becker met other criminals, including several politicians. One of these was Big Tim Sullivan, a state senator, who was regarded as the King of the Tenderloin and the overseer of all graft and bribery in Manhattan. Sullivan took a liking to Becker, and in 1893, arranged for Becker’s entry into the Police Department.

As a police officer, Becker had a checkered career; several times he was investigated and brought to departmental trials on charges of brutality and false arrest. In 1896 he mistakenly shot and killed an innocent bystander while chasing a burglar. Becker attempted to cover up by trying to pass off the dead man as a known burglar. He was suspended for 30 days. . . . In 1898, the Police Department transferred him to the 16th Precinct, The Tenderloin, plunging him into the depths of the corruption cesspool.

At the 16th in January 1907, Commissioner Theodore Bingham promoted Becker to sergeant for assisting in an earlier investigation. . . . It led shortly to his becoming the bagman for the precinct captain. Becker’s cut was 10 percent of the take. In the first year he made $8,000. While at the 16th he also met Helen Lynch, a Manhattan school teacher he would soon marry.
Mark S. Gado is a detective with the City of New Rochelle Police Department, where he has been employed for 22 years. He recently was assigned to the Westchester County D.E.A. Task Force in White Plains, N.Y. Mark Gado has been a freelance writer for 20 years. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Strange Days magazine and The Law Enforcement Journal.
Then in 1910, Police Commissioner Rhinelander Waldo formed special squads to break up the street gangs that ruled Lower Manhattan. Becker was made commander of one team. . . . Waldo expanded their duties to include crackdowns of the West Side gambling dens. Instead, Becker used his squad to shake down the casino owners. . . .

Becker hired Big Jack Zelig, a known murderer who took over part of the Monk Eastman gang after Eastman was gunned down outside a Manhattan bar by unknown killers. Zelig used his boys to make the collection rounds. One of them was Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz. His specialty was to place the recalcitrant in his lap and break the man’s back, a lesson he often put on display in East Side saloons. Gyp the Blood frequented these clubs with his sidekicks, Lefty Louie, Dago Frank and Whitey Lewis. Together they had little trouble enforcing Becker’s rules over the Broadway gambling dens.

In the summer of 1912 a low-level gambler named Hertman "Beansie" Rosenthal was given permission by State Sen. Big Tim Sullivan to open a new casino at 104 W. 45th St. named the Hesper Club. . . .When Sullivan became gravely ill and unable to run the show any longer, Becker swiftly reasserted himself. . . . Instead of cowering, as Becker had assumed, Rosenthal began to complain loudly to Tammany Hall politicians, saying he would not stand for such shoddy treatment at the hands of a renegade cop.

Meanwhile, Becker was receiving pressure from Police Commissioner Waldo to raid The Hesper. Finally, Becker raided the club and shut it down. . . . Rosenthal was insane with rage. . . .On the night of July 15, 1912, Rosenthal went to the District Attorney’s office . . . . After meeting with District Attorney Charles Whitman, Rosenthal left the Criminal Courts building at 11 p.m. and headed to the Cafe Metropole on W. 43rd St., a local hangout for gamblers. News of Rosenthal’s meeting with the DA had already spread throughout the Tenderloin. Newspaper in hand, Rosenthal walked into the Metropole, took a seat alone in the back of the room and began to read. . . . A few minutes before 2 a.m., a waiter approached him.

"There’s someone in front to see you, Beansie" he said. Rosenthal walked to the front door. He saw several men lurking in the shadows to his left. "Over here Beansie!" one of them said. As he moved closer, four quick shots rang out. Rosenthal collapsed to the sidewalk. One of the killers strolled over to the body, aimed a pistol at Rosenthal’s head and fired one shot into it. The gunmen then raced across the street to the getaway car, jumped in and roared off down 43rd Street. . . . The killers escaped down 6th Avenue even though police had commandeered a passing auto and had given chase . . . .

Since it was common knowledge that Rosenthal was ratting on Lt. Becker to the D.A. just hours before he was murdered, it was widely assumed that Becker was the killer. Conveniently for Becker, however, he was home in bed at the time of the shooting, an alibi that was later corroborated by a newspaperman. . . .

Whitman found that several witnesses had noticed the license number of the getaway car. It was traced to Boulevard Taxi Service at 2nd Avenue and 10th Street. Records there showed the car had been leased to Bald Jack Rose, Becker’s collection man. The actual driver was William Shapiro, a small-time hood . . . . Whitman also discovered that Bridgey Webber and Harry Vallon, former opium dealers from Chinatown, were seen hanging around the Metropole a few minutes before the shooting and that it was Vallon who sent the message inside the bar for Rosenthal. Based on this information, Webber and Vallon were arrested.

Two days after being implicated in the killing, Bald Jack Rose surrendered to the D.A. Through Rose, Whitman found out where Shapiro was hiding. When he was jailed, Shapiro denied any complicity in the killing. Whitman, in exchange for information, gave Rose, Webber, Vallon and Shapiro immunity. Shapiro then confessed. He admitted that he drove the Packard that carried the killers to the Metropole. He identified the men in the car with him as Louis "Lefty" Rosenberg, Frank "Dago Frank" Cirofici, Jacob "Whitey Lewis" Seidenschmer and Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz. All were rounded up by the police and thrown into The Tombs, Manhattan’s most dreadful prison. Vallon, Webber and Rose were locked up together in a separate part of The Tombs, a circumstance that allowed the three to develop one, rock-solid story. Whatever hopes Whitman had, if indeed he had any, of uncovering the truth were destroyed by this one decision. . . .

On July 29, 1912, based largely on a written statement by Bald Jack Rose, Lt. Charles Becker was indicted. Later that day Becker was picked up at the Bathgate Avenue Station in the Bronx where he was on duty. Brought into court for arraignment, he uttered two words: "Not Guilty!" and whisked away before hoards of reporters could question him.

Virtually every newspaper in New York allied itself with the crusading D.A., who was taking on the status of a mythical hero. . . .

Slightly over two months after his arraignment, Becker’s trial began. On the bench sat Judge John W. Goff, an avowed enemy of the underworld and veteran of the 1894 investigation into New York City corruption. Becker’s attorney was John F. McIntyre, a prominent criminal attorney and a former D.A. himself. . . . With Goff ruling almost exclusively in the prosecution’s favor, the trial would make a mockery of justice.

On Oct. 12, 1912, Bald Jack Rose . . . mesmerized the courtroom with a detailed account of Becker’s sinful ties with the West Side underworld. He testified that Becker had said to him: "He (Rosenthal) ought to be put off this earth. There is a fellow I would like to have croaked! Have him murdered! Cut his throat, dynamite him or anything!"

Rose said he called on Gyp the Blood and Whitey Lewis. Rose said they, in turn, recruited Lefty Louie and Dago Frank. Rose testified they all accepted the contract for $1,000. With Shapiro at the wheel of the Packard, Rose said the five of them went to the Metropole on the night of July 15 and killed Rosenthal.

In the following days, dozens of implicated people took the stand. A sea of contradictory testimony overwhelmed the court, for each witness wanted to save himself. . . .
McIntyre based his defense on destroying the credibility of the prosecution’s three main witnesses: Bald Jack Rose, Webber and Vallon, urging the jury not to believe three criminals who had spent their lives hustling on Tenderloin streets. "You can recognize what self-confessed murderers and perjurers will do when they realize their necks are about to go to the halters," McIntyre argued, making much of the fact that these three were locked up together in The Tombs prior to trial. There, he said, they held several meetings to coordinate their story. McIntyre said the real murderers were Webber and Vallon, both of whom had been granted immunity by Whitman on condition they make Becker the fall guy. McIntyre said that all Webber and Vallon had to do to save their own necks was to stick to their story, for Whitman had no evidence against Becker except the statements of these men.

After nearly four days of instruction by Judge Goff, the case was given to the jury. . . . By midnight the jury reached a verdict. Goff turned to the jury: "And how do you find the defendant?" he said.

"Guilty, your honor!"

Five days later, Becker appeared before Goff for sentencing. . . . Becker was sent to Sing Sing prison on the banks of the Hudson to await execution on Dec. 12, 1912, just six weeks after the sentencing.

Following Becker’s trial, the prosecution put Gyp the Blood, Lefty Rosenberg, Dago Frank and Whitey Lewis on trial for Rosenthal’s death. The trial lasted seven days and was presided over by Judge Goff, who displayed the same bias and iron-fisted rule as he did at Becker’s trial. All four were sentenced to die. The press responded in a chorus of approval. . . .

Becker’s case was brought before the State Court of Appeals. On February 24, 1914, the conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered. Citing Judge Goff’s shocking bias, the court launched a blistering attack on the judge’s behavior . . . . The next trial would begin on May 6, 1914.

Becker and his wife were elated. . . . But there was a cloud on the horizon. The same Court of Appeals rejected another trial for the four gunmen. . . .

On the early morning of April 13, 1914, Dago Frank, Whitey Lewis, Lefty Louie and Gyp the Blood had a last meeting with their loved ones. From his cell, Dago Frank issued a final disturbing statement: "So far as I know, Becker had nothing to do with the case. It was a gambler’s fight. I told some lies on the stand to prove an alibi for the rest of the boys." . . . Despite a last minute sabotage of the electric chair by person unknown, the sentence was carried out.

Becker’s new trial began on schedule. Bald Jack Rose, now a born-again Christian and heavily in demand on the lecture circuit, was resurrected to repeat his damning testimony. Bourke Cockran, a famous criminal, handled the defense. The prosecuting attorney was once again Whitman . . . . On the bench sat Judge Samuel Seabury, who had a reputation of being fair to both defense and prosecution.
On May 22, 1914, in the very first re-conviction in the city’s history, Becker again was found guilty of murder. . . . He was sentenced to die on July 16, 1914, and was taken back to Sing Sing. But again death would have to wait. More appeals were filed and the execution was postponed.
In November of that same year, Whitman was elected governor of the state of New York. . . .
Bald Jack Rose was barnstorming around the country playing the criminal lecturer. Shapiro was in New Jersey and had started a farm. Gyp the Blood and the others were all dead. . . . Whitman sat in the Governor’s chair and Becker, marooned in the dungeons of Sing Sing, awaited his fate.
Becker had exhausted all the appeals that were possible and his death seemed imminent. But there was still one way out. Under state law, a death sentence may be commuted to life by a stroke of the Governor’s pen. Ironically, the Governor in this case was also the former prosecutor. Never before in American history had such a bizarre turn of events taken place. How could Whitman decide on the issue when it was he who put Becker on death row in the first place? Some of the press echoed this sentiment. . . . It was suggested that the appeal for clemency be turned over to the lieutenant governor for review. But Whitman wouldn’t hear of it.

The execution had been reset for July 30, 1915. . . . In a final declaration of innocence, Becker wrote a letter to Whitman: "I am innocent as you of having murdered Herman Rosenthal or having counseled, procured or aided his murder or having any knowledge of that dreadful crime."

At last, the day before Becker’s scheduled execution, Helen Becker herself visited the Governor’s office to plead for her husband’s life. . . . Still Whitman would not change his mind.
At 5:30 a.m. on July 30, 1915, Becker, dressed in black, his trousers slit up the sides, walked down death row. While dozens of reporters watched, he was hastily strapped into the electric chair. His last words were: "Into thy hands O Lord, I commend my spirit!" . . . . Becker was strong, so much so that the voltage needed to kill him had been misjudged. . . The execution was becoming a nightmare. The voltage was increased and mercifully, the third jolt finally killed him. It had taken eight minutes, each one faithfully recorded by the newsmen assigned to witness the execution. Lt. Charles Becker of the New York City Police Department was dead.

Isadore " Kid Cann" Blumenfeld

Isadore Blumenfeld commonly known as Kid Cann, was the most notorious mobster in the history of Minnesota.
He was born in the shtetl of Rumnesk, Romania, but was brought to the United States at the age of two. By his 20s, Blumenfeld and his brother (Harry "Yiddy Bloom" Blumenfeld) held considerable power in north Minneapolis, and oversaw illegal activities such as bootlegging, prostitution, and labor racketeering. A number of deaths are attributed to him or his gang, including prominent journalists who were killed after writing articles explaining the inner workings of his organization. Blumenfeld was Jewish, and associated himself with many other Jewish mafia men.

There was a high degree of political and civil corruption in the region in the 1920s and 1930s. The main newspapers in the area hardly mentioned what was going on, as any outlet that published articles critical of the status quo were threatened. Some small alternative newspapers attempted to report what was going on, but reporters and editors quickly became targets.
Howard Guilford of the Twin City Reporter was shot and killed on September 6, 1934. A decade later the paper lost another reporter when Arthur Kasherman was killed on January 22, 1945.
The most notorious death was that of Walter W. Liggett, founder and editor of the weekly paper The Midwest American. He had been threatened and offered bribes to stay quiet, but he persisted in reporting on links he found between area crime syndicates and the governor of Minnesota, Floyd B. Olson. Liggett was beaten up, framed, and finally died after being shot in the alley behind his home on December 9, 1935. His wife and daughter were nearby when it happened and witnessed the assassination.
Cann was indicted by a grand jury, but poor investigative work and a careless trial meant that he wasn't touched.

Blumenfeld was indicted for the killing of a taxicab driver, and was also believed to be responsible for the attempted murder of police officer James H. Trepanier.
As the area streetcar system, operated by Twin City Rapid Transit, was being dismantled in the early 1950s and replaced with diesel buses, Blumenfeld owned a 16% stake in the company. Some people believe he held considerable responsibility for what happened, but when a court case years later led some people from the company to go to prison, Blumenfeld was not convicted.

In 1959, he was convicted on charges related to prostitution activities. After his release from prison, he moved to Miami Beach, Florida with his friend Meyer Lansky. They reportedly continued to make money through illegal activities, though they changed tack, focusing instead on stock market fraud, money laundering, and questionable real-estate dealings. He died in Minneapolis in 1981

Max Zwerbach - The Original "Kid Twist"

Max "Kid Twist" Zwerbach was a gangster in the around the turn of the century who belonged to the Eastman Gang. Virtually nothing is known of Zwerbach's early life and origins. He appears to have been the bad seed of an upstanding Jewish family from Brooklyn who fell into a life of crime on the Lower East Side. Zwerbach joined the Eastman Gang. Due to the fact that he possessed a unique mix of brains and brutality, Kid Twist carved out a high position in the gang, becoming Monk Eastman's right hand man.

Zwerbach first fully enters the picture three weeks after the great Rivington Street gun battle between the Eastman and Five Points Gang, which occurred on September 17, 1903. Monk Eastman had been arrested in New Jersey and when Kid Twist learned he was locked up, he gathered up fifty men and led several carriage loads of them across the river, with the intention of storming the jail to free the boss. Cooler heads prevailed and the scheme never came off.
When Eastman was locked up for robbery the next year, Kid Twist found himself at odds with an old pal named Richie Fitzpatrick over the leadership of the gang. The two met in a peace conference in a Sheriff Street saloon on the night of November 1, 1904. Fitzpatrick wound up shot to death by one of Twist's men, Harris Stahl aka Kid Dahl.

Kid Twist maintained the Eastman Gang's supremacy in the New York underworld. His chief aide was a Coney Island brute named Vach Lewis (nicknamed Cyclone Louie) a former wrestler and sideshow strongman who was famous for twisting iron bars around his arms and neck. As a reward for the hit on Fitzpatrick, Kid Dahl was made an active partner in the Suffolk Street stuss game of a Five Points gangster named The Bottler. Some time later, Kid Twist muscled in another friend of his, named The Nailer, and The Bottler finally had enough. Barricading the doors of his game, he loudly dared Zwerbach to try and kill him. One night a short while later, While Kid Twist argued in a police station with a detective, and Kid Dahl was in a restaurant loudly complaining about the food, Cyclone Louie (then unknown on the Lower East Side) entered the stuss hall and shot The Bottler to death in front of twenty players. Both Twist and Dahl loudly mourned the passing of their "friend" and festooned the stuss house with crepe.

Despite having a wife and child at his Williamsburg home, Kid Twist was known as a ladies man around town, and it was this that would prove the end of him. Zwerbach's regular girlfriend was a Canadian dancer named Carroll Terry, who also happened to be seeing Louis Pioggi aka Louie The Lump, an up-and-coming member of the Five Points Gang. In the early evening of May 14, 1908, Pioggi met with Terry in a Coney Island dance hall one last time, when she let him know that she preferred the company of Kid Twist. Burning with jealously, Louie The Lump went to a Surf Avenue saloon and began drinking. As he boozed, in walked Kid Twist and Cyclone Louie. They slid up next to their rival and began viciously taunting him with crude remarks about his failed relationship. When Louie The Lump looked as if he wanted to fight, the Eastmans drew pistols and forced Pioggi to jump out of the second story window. Louie The Lump went out the window, breaking his ankle when he hit the pavement. He staggered off as Kid Twist and Cyclone Louie stuck their heads out the window and laughed uproariously.

Shortly before 8:30 that night, is that the two Eastmans were still in the saloon drinking and chuckling over Louie the Lump's dive, when a young boy delivered them a note, saying Carroll Terry was outside and wanted to see them. The two men strolled out into the night, when Louie The Lump, holding two revolvers, charged forward and opened fire. One bullet struck Kid Twist in the head, and Cyclone Louie was hit five times before he moved a step. Both men collapsed dead in the doorway underneath a large, ornamental horseshoe. Just then, none other than Carroll Terry herself arrived on the scene. Louie shot her through the hip. As the gangster limped away, a police officer yelled for him to halt. Pioggi whirled around and fired one shot, which ripped off the officer's helmet.

After his initial humilation, according to legend (contemporary newspaper accounts make no mention of these events) Louie The Lump got on the phone to Paul Kelly, boss of the Five Points Gang, and told them what happened and asked permission to kill Kid Twist. A trolley car full of Italian gangsters soon arrived at Coney Island, ready for action. It was also said that the anonymous gangsters also did a good deal of shooting, although witnesses and police made it clear that Pioggi did all the killing himself.

Louie The Lump was arrested almost a year later and pleaded guilty, receiving eleven months in jail, sneering that, "I could to that standin' on me head!" After the death of Kid Twist, the Eastman Gang split into factions, continuing their feud with the Five Pointers. Leadership of the largest faction fell to Zwerbach's young protege, Jack Zelig.

Years later, gangster Abe Reles was said to have taken his nickname "Kid Twist" from the long-dead Zwerbach.

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal

Frank Larry 'Lefty' Rosenthal, born on June 12, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois, is a renowned sports handicapper and a former Las Vegas casino executive. He secretly ran the Stardust, Fremont and Hacienda casinos when they were controlled by the mafia.
He was the first to bring a sports book into the casino, making the Stardust one of the world's leading centers for sports gambling as well as allowing women to be blackjack dealers which doubled the income of the Stardust within a year. Frank is also known as one of the leading sports bettors in the world as he has the ability to predict the outcome of sporting events through his knowledge and statistical analysis of the sports world.

Rosenthal earned the nickname "Lefty" during a Supreme Court hearing where he pleaded the Fifth Amendment 37 times, not even revealing whether or not he was left-handed.
Rosenthal married Geraldine McGee and they had two children. The marriage ultimately ended in divorce, with Rosenthal attributing the failure primarily to McGee's inability to escape her drug addictions. McGee eventually died in the early 1980s following an apparent drug overdose at a motel after leaving Rosenthal and stealing a significant portion of his savings. It was ruled that her death was accidental and that is was from a combination of cocaine, valium, and Jack Daniel's whiskey.

After surviving attempted murder following a car bomb attack and then being forced out of Las Vegas, Rosenthal retired to Laguna Niguel, California, and then to Boca Raton, Florida, where he continues to handicap sports events, marketing his picks to gamblers through his own website.
Rosenthal was put in Nevada's Black Book in 1988, making him persona non grata in the state's casinos since that time.

The 1995 Martin Scorsese film Casino, based on the book by Nicholas Pileggi, was based on Rosenthal's career in Las Vegas. Rosenthal (renamed "Sam 'Ace' Rothstein" in the fictionalized account) was played by Robert De Niro and his associate Anthony Spilotro (renamed "Nicky Santoro") was played by Joe Pesci.

The Lenox Avenue Gang

The Lenox Avenue Gang was an early 20th Century New York street gang led by Gyp the Blood, one of the most violent gangs of the pre-Prohibition era.

The Lenox Avenue Gang was started sometime during the early 1900s by Gyp the Blood as an independent group of around twenty members, consisting mostly of pickpockets and burglars, under Jack Zelig's Eastman Gang. Mainly operating around 125th Street, the gang generally committed muggings and robberies although they were occasionally hired out for murder by Zelig.
Under Gyp the Blood's guidance the gang produced many of the top criminals of the early century, including Jacob "Whitey Lewis" Seidenshner, Louis "Lefty Louie" Rosenberg, and Francesco "Dago Frank" Cirofisi. Prominent New York police detective Val O'Farrell had stated Cerofisi was "one of the toughest men in the world"; police suspected Cirofisi of at least 6 homicides, however they were unable to charge him due to lack of evidence. An associate of the gang, Cirofisi's girlfriend Dutch Sadie was the prominent female member, known to carry a butcher knife in her clothing; she assisted Cirofisi in several muggings.

While successful in its early years, the gangs downfall began when they were hired to murder gambler Herman "Beansie" Rosenthal, a suspected police informant. Horowitz, along with Seidenshner, Rosenberg, and Cirofisi, drove to the Metropole Hotel on July 16, 1912 and, calling out to Rosenthal, shot him several times as he appeared onto the street, before fleeing the scene. The gangsters, seen by dozens of witnesses, were soon arrested however and, after being questioned, it was admitted that they were hired out by NYPD Lt. Charles Becker who had ordered Rosenthal's death after he had informed on Becker.

Charged with the murder of Rosenthal, Gyp the Blood, Jacob Seidenshner, Louis Rosenberg, and Francesco Cirofesi were sentenced to the electric chair and executed for the murder of Rosenthal in 1914. With the loss of their leaders, the gang disbanded entirely within several months.

The Purple Gang of Detroit

The Purple Gang was a notorious mob of (mostly Jewish) bootleggers and hijackers in the 1920s. Under the leadership of Abe Bernstein, the gang operated out of Detroit, Michigan, in the United States, which was a major port for running cached alcohol products across during Prohibition, since it is on the border with Canada.
The history of the organization was recounted vividly in Paul R. Kavieff's The Purple Gang : Organized Crime in Detroit 1910-1945.

Perhaps the most ruthless bootleggers of their time, they may have killed over 500 members of rival bootlegging gangs during Detroit's bootleg wars. Originally, the mob came from young impoverished Detroit immigrants, who engaged in theft and armed robbery along Detroit's notorious Hastings Street. The gang supposedly received their name during a conversation between two Detroit market owners, each of whom had been victimized by the gang in its early days. One of them made a comment, "They're rotten, purple like the color of bad meat."

"The Purples were really a very loose confederation of mostly, but not exclusively, Jewish gangsters. Well, the gang started as a group of juvenile delinquents on the lower east side of Detroit, a group of about 16 or 17 children from the same neighborhood. Mostly they were involved in the usual petty crime of juveniles. . .rolling drunks and stealing from hucksters", according to Paul Kavieff .

With their murderous reputation, Al Capone supposedly borrowed Purple Gang members George Lewis and brothers Phil and Harry Keywell for the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Bootlegging netted the gang millions of dollars, but the mob was also involved in extortion, hijackings, and jewelry thefts. After the end of Prohibition, Purple Gang members were invited into the growing national crime syndicate in the 1930s, which was replacing the old mafia that had been dominated by the Mustache Petes. Purple Gang members accepted the invitation and eventually began running the crime syndicate's gambling empire.

"The Purples ruled the Detroit underworld for approximately five years from 1927 to 1932...jealousies, egos, and inter-gang quarrels would eventually cause the Purple Gang to self-destruct. In 1931 an inter-gang dispute ended in the murder of three Purples by members of their own gang. The three men had violated underworld code by operating outside the territory allotted to them by the Purple Gang leadership. Three members of the "Little Jewish Navy," a group of Purples who owned several boats and participated in rumrunning as well as hijacking, decided they would break away from the gang and become an underworld power themselves... The predecessors of Detroit's modern day Mafia family simply stepped in and filled the void once the Purple Gang self-destructed.

Joseph "Doc" Stacher

Joseph "Doc" Stacher was a Jewish syndicate leader who helped bring together the Jewish and Italian Mafia into a national organized crime syndicate.

Born in Poland around 1902, Stacher immigrated with his family to the United States in 1912. As a teenager living in Newark, New Jersey he became known as a pushcart thief, later befriending future Jewish gangsters such as Meyer Lansky and Abner Zwillman. By the 1920s Stacher was running much of Zwillman's gambling operations.

In 1931 Stacher helped Meyer Lansky organize a conference of Jewish organized crime leaders at the Franconia Hotel, which later would see the merging of the Jewish and Italian Mafia into a national crime syndicate. Running West Coast and Caribbean gambling operations for Lansky during the 1930s, as well as becoming a silent partner of movie studio Columbia Pictures in the late 1930s, Stacher would later supervise gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada, particularly the Sands and Fremont Casinos.

Stacher continued running Mafia gambling operations until 1964, when Federal authorities arrested him for tax evasion. While the Government was in favor of deporting him federal law prohibited deporting anyone to a communist controlled country. However, because of the "Law of Return" Stacher was allowed citizenship in Israel, supposedly with the help of singer Frank Sinatra, who was allegedly instrumental in persuading an Orthodox member of the Israeli parliament to support Stacher, who immgrated there in 1965.
While living in Israel he served as the primary source of Israeli journalists Dennis Eisenberg, Uri Dan, and Eli Landau for a biography of Meyer Lansky. Stacher continued living in Israel until his death in 1977.

Moe Dalitz

Morris Barney "Moe" Dalitz was a bootlegger and racketeer who was one of the major figures that helped shape Las Vegas, Nevada in the 20th century.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Michigan, Dalitz worked in his family's laundry business early on, but began his career in bootlegging when Prohibition began in 1919, and capitalized on his access to the laundry trucks in the family business. He operated primarily between Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan. While converting his profits into legitimate businesses, he also owned several illegal casinos in Cleveland.

His investment in Las Vegas began in the late 1940s with the Desert Inn when the original builder of the resort, Wilbur Clark, ran out of money, and Dalitz took over the construction. When it opened in 1950, Clark remained the public face and frontman of the resort, while Dalitz quietly remained in the background as the real owner. He also ran the Stardust Resort & Casino for a time after the death of Tony Cornero. Dalitz owned the Desert Inn until 1967, when he sold it to the billionaire Howard Hughes. Since he had been under constant pressure from law enforcement for many years, selling the resort was seen as an opportunity to get the authorities off his back.

Dalitz continued to be active in the Las Vegas community. When he died in 1989 many organizations received substantial donations he left in his will.

Fighting Back !

Of the Jewsih Gangster in organized crine, few of these men were religiously observant. They rarely attended services, although they did support congregations financially. They did not keep kosher or send their children to day schools. However, at crucial moments they protected other Jews, in America and around the world.

The 1930s were a period of rampant anti-Semitism in America, particularly in the Midwest. Father Charles Coughlin, the Radio Priest in Detroit, and William Pelley of Minneapolis, among others, openly called for Jews to be driven from positions of responsibility, if not from the country itself. Organized Brown Shirts in New York and Silver Shirts in Minneapolis outraged and terrorized American Jewry. While the older and more respectable Jewish organizations pondered a response that would not alienate non-Jewish supporters, others – including a few rabbis –asked the gangsters to break up American Nazi rallies.

Historian Robert Rockaway, writing in the journal of the American Jewish Historical Society, notes that German-American Bund rallies in the New York City area posed a dilemma for mainstream Jewish leaders. They wanted the rallies stopped, but had no legal grounds on which to do so. New York State Judge Nathan Perlman personally contacted Meyer Lansky to ask him to disrupt the Bund rallies, with the proviso that Lansky’s henchmen stop short of killing any Bundists.
Enthusiastic for the assignment, if disappointed by the restraints, Lansky accepted all of Perlman’s terms except one: he would take no money for the work. Lansky later observed, "I was a Jew and felt for those Jews in Europe who were suffering. They were my brothers." For months, Lansky’s workmen effectively broke up one Nazi rally after another. As Rockaway notes, "Nazi arms, legs and ribs were broken and skulls were cracked, but no one died."
Lansky recalled breaking up a Brown Shirt rally in the Yorkville section of Manhattan: "The stage was decorated with a swastika and a picture of Hitler. The speakers started ranting. There were only fifteen of us, but we went into action. We … threw some of them out the windows. . . . Most of the Nazis panicked and ran out. We chased them and beat them up. . . . We wanted to show them that Jews would not always sit back and accept insults."

In Minneapolis, William Dudley Pelley organized a Silver Shirt Legion to "rescue" America from an imaginary Jewish-Communist conspiracy. In Pelley’s own words, just as "Mussolini and his Black Shirts saved Italy and as Hitler and his Brown Shirts saved Germany," he would save America from Jewish communists. Minneapolis gambling czar David Berman confronted Pelley’s Silver Shirts on behalf of the Minneapolis Jewish community.

Berman learned that Silver Shirts were mounting a rally at a nearby Elks’ Lodge. When the Nazi leader called for all the "Jew bastards" in the city to be expelled, or worse, Berman and his associates burst in to the room and started cracking heads. After ten minutes, they had emptied the hall. His suit covered in blood, Berman took the microphone and announced, "This is a warning. Anybody who says anything against Jews gets the same treatment. Only next time it will be worse." After Berman broke up two more rallies, there were no more public Silver Shirt meetings in Minneapolis.

Jewish gangsters also helped establish Israel after the war. One famous example is a meeting between Bugsy Siegel and Reuven Dafne, a Haganah emissary, in 1945. Dafne was seeking funds and guns to help liberate Palestine from British rule. A mutual friend arranged for the two men to meet. "You mean to tell me Jews are fighting?" Siegel asked. "You mean fighting as in killing?" Dafne answered in the affirmative. Siegel replied, "I’m with you." For weeks, Dafne received suitcases filled with $5 and $10 bills -- $50,000 in all -- from Siegel.