Murder Incorporated

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

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.


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