"He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." - Chicago Gangster Ted Newberry. Rubbed out January 7, 1933

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

It's In The Bag


On October 21, 1932 one time Legs Diamond associate Dominick "Wicky" Bifano was found trussed up in a burlap sack in the back seat of a car. Prior to being bagged he was shot through the head. Bifano was with Legs' brother Eddie in Denver, Colorado back in 1928 when Dutch Schultz gunmen Joe Piteo and Gene Moran failed to bump off the younger Diamond brother. Both Eddie and Bifano barely escaped execution.

What Bifano was up to following Legs' death is unknown but he was well dressed and the recent recipient of a manicure.  It was assumed that foes of Legs Diamond finally caught up with him.

 

Dominick "Wicky" Bifano

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Don't Bank On It

 

It was supposed to be an easy job; run into the Kraft Bank located in Menomonie, Wisconsin, make everyone lie on the floor, grab the money and run. Driving the getaway car was Frank Webber, going inside were veteran bank robbers Charles Harmon, Francis Keating and Tommy Holden. The date of execution- October 20, 1931.

As planned, Webber parked the car and his three confederates alighted and entered the bank. The drew their guns and demanded money. Above the main floor was a guard who had been ordered not to do any shooting in the event of a robbery. After grabbing less than $10,000 in cash, one of the robbers demanded more money. The bank president, Sam Kraft, declared there was no more. Unsatisfied with the answer, one of the bandits fired into him.

Meantime the guard set off the alarm and headed to the roof of the bank with a rifle. Hearing this, Webber pulled the car up to the bank and stepped out with a Thompson machine-gun and began spraying the streets to ward off any would be heroes. The bandits grabbed a cashier, James Kraft, one of the bank president's sons, and another woman to use as human shields.

Running to the car the woman fell and they left her there, the cashier was pushed into the car. The desired effect of having a human shield didn't work. The guard and various towns people opened fire on the car as it drove away.

About six miles out of town, the posse found the dead bodies of Frankie Webber and James Kraft. Webber had been hit in the head by a vigilante's bullet. It was believed that the bandits had killed Kraft in retaliation. The following day, the body of Charles Harmon was found, he too, it was assumed, hit by bullets while fleeing.

Frankie Webber        Charles Harmon

 


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Northwest Passage


Matt Kolb was described as the Czar of crime on Chicago's northwest side and the northwest portion of Cook County. He grew to prominence in 1927 when his former business associate, Charles Graydon, became sheriff. As the sheriff's man, he was able to collect tribute and dole out favors. After Jack Zuta was shot to pieces in 1930, amongst his records were notations regarding payments made to Kolb.

One Capone biographer states that Kolb's enterprise was basically a subsidiary of Capone's organization. Another states that he was an independent whom Capone told to get out and stay out or else. Judging by the description of his murder it appears that he didn't fear his killers.

On October 18, 1931, the day after Capone was sentenced to prison, two men entered Kolb's resort, the Club Morton, located in Morton Grove. They brushed by the doorman stating that they "wanted to see Matt." Kolb was stationed near the dance floor by a door. They approached him and one of the guys said, "Hello Matt." and extended his hand. Kolb shook hands with him. The man said something which made Kolb chuckle and lean in closer. As this happened the other guy pulled out a pistol and shot Kolb a number of times in the head.

Kolb fell to the floor and the men started to leave. After a few steps the gunman said, "I'd better make sure." and went back and pumped another shot into Kolb. The two men walked out. Witnesses told police that the room was too dark and that they couldn't identify the men.


Matt Kolb

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Orgen Transplant


October 15, 1927 saw the demise of New York City gang leader Jacob Little Augie Orgen who, following the 1923 murder of his rival - Nathan Kid Dropper Kaplan, was the most powerful labor racketeer in the city. 

By 1927 Orgen was branching out into new fields. He had befriended Jack Legs Diamond who was one of Arnold Rothstein's top guys. Legs made a handful of trips to Europe as part of Rothstein's narcotic ring. Diamond was letting Orgen in on some drug deals and, in return, Little Augie was letting Diamond into the labor rackets. This didn't sit well with Orgen's chief lieutenants Lepke Buchalter and Gurrah Shapiro who were losing money on the jobs that went to Diamond.

Lepke and Shapiro decided that their boss had to go. Orgen had an appointment to meet Diamond on the lower eastside. Diamond showed up and met Orgen and the men began to walk. A sedan followed them. After a bit, a number of gunmen got out of the car and ran up behind the two gangsters. Orgen was shot in the head. Legs turned and was shot in the stomach. This was to neutralize him. They wanted him dead he would have been killed outright like Orgen.

The gunmen jumped back in the car and sped away. Diamond picked himself up off the sidewalk and staggered to a nearby hospital. 


Jacob "Little Augie" Orgen

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Show Time In Branson


October 14, 1930 saw justice brought down on mid-west desperado Jake Fleagle. Along with his brother Ralph and two other confederates, Fleagle robbed a bank in Lamar, Colorado in 1928. It didn't go well. The bank president opened fire on the gang, and before they made their getaway, the president and his son, also a bank employee, were dead. One of the Fleagle gang had been shot in the face. The bandits did manage to get away with thousands of dollars in cash and securities. For safety, they also brought a hostage.

After the robbery, the gang fled to Fleagle's ranch in Kansas. A doctor was summoned for the wounded bandit. After he treated the wounded man, the doctor and the hostage were taken into a secluded area and executed by Fleagle. During the murders, Fleagle got some of the doctor's blood on a finger and left a smudge on the physician's car window, which they abandoned. The print was sent to to the FBI and it was identified as Fleagle's.

Over the course of two years Ralph Fleagle and the two confederates were captured but Jake was able to remain at large. Finally the law was able to track Jake to Missouri. They learned that he was going to meet an acquaintance in Branson, and set a trap. When Fleagle boarded the train to leave town they were waiting for him and approached him as he took a seat. As they shouted for him to raise his hands, Fleagle went for his gun and was shot through the stomach. The bandit was removed from the train in cuffs and leg irons and taken to a hospital where he died the following day.


Jake Fleagle

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Argonaut


Chicago hoodlum Edward Lattyak was described as bandit and possibly a member of the gang headed by Henry "Midget" Fernekes. On October 12, 1925 his bullet riddled body was found on State road outside of Chicago near the town of Argo. He had been taken for a ride and tossed from a car. Police failed to connect him to any of the bootlegging gangs so chalked his murder up to revenge of his fellow gunmen. Revenge for what wasn't speculated. Lattyak had served time in both the house of corrections and Pontiac reformatory. He had been arrested several times for robbery but managed to beat the rap.


Ed Lattyak

Monday, October 12, 2020

Drainage Trouble



James Quigley was a southside saloon keeper who was said to be a one-time member of Spike O'Donnell's gang. He had recently splintered off and formed his own gang. This move put the 45-year old former railroad man at odds with both O'Donnell as well as the Saltis-McErlane gang. It was believed that Quigley had killed McErlane's chauffer George Fitzgerald.

On October 12, 1931 Quigley was found floating in a drainage canal about thirty miles south of Chicago in the city of Lockport with a bullet in his head. The murder was credited to McErlane.


James Quigley