Chicago gangster Ted Newberry says: "He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." Ted was rubbed out on January 7, 1933

Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

Meet Kiki

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Twenty-eight year old Mariano Bennedetto had been arrested in 1923 for a carrying a gun. Other than that we don't what he was involved in however it appears that eighty-one years ago today he was set up and killed by those he knew. Bennedetto walked up to an intersection in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and stood around as if waiting for someone. A large sedan with two men pulled up and one of the guys jumped out and shot him four times killing him. The killers then escaped in the excitement that followed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And another one gone and another one gone...

Twenty-five year old Joseph Amastasi was well known in Harlem’s Little Italy, as “a liberal spender whose source of income was unknown”. At 11:00pm, seventy-seven years ago tonight, two employees of a coal company heard a couple of shots and went to investigate. They found Amastasi dead with two bullets in his back. Since his source of deep pockets was a mystery its impossible to say for sure what Amastasi was involved in but apparently it involved guys who had no qualms about killing.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Catch up time

Here's what was missed over the weekend. Both of these took place in 1932:

John Doyle, known as both Jocko Doyle and Jackie Doyle, was a career criminal with fourteen arrests and three convictions on his record. The three convictions were for burglary and assault with intent to kill but it was for moving into the drug trade that police believe he was put on the spot.
At the time of his death Doyle was out on bail following an arrest in Philadelphia for a hold up. It was also in the City of Brotherly Love nine years previous that Doyle and a partner named “Big Frank” Watkins were sought for a gangland murder and police traced them to a house on the west side where they had to shoot it out with duo. Watkins was killed and Doyle was arrested but later cleared of the killing. Philly police also said that Doyle was active in South Jersey as a beer runner.
The end came at 3:00 am the morning of the 26th when two gunmen entered the restaurant that he was eating in and shot him seven times. Other then saying that they thought Doyle was stealing drug customers from established dealers the police didn’t elaborate on their theory as to why he was killed or who killed him but the number one drug lord in the city at that time was “Lucky” Luciano so perhaps it was on his order that Doyle was hit.

And on the following day

A group of children in Harlem were brought face to face with gangland when they encountered twenty-four year old Anthony Sancione in the hall way of a tenement with two bullets in his head. The kids quickly ran for a policeman who came up and found that the gangster was still alive. An ambulance was called but the gangster died en-route to the hospital. His record showed that he had been arrested numerous times but never convicted.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

..And it goes like this, 'ere it goes-

Three fellas, Thomas Abbruzzo, Mathew Casselli and Thomas Costello, robbed a Fourth Avenue saloon and then fled to Boston with the loot. While in Bean Town some bad blood arose between Abbruzzo and Costello and the former killed the latter in front of Casselli. Minus their Irish partner the two Italian hoods returned to New York.
Once they were back in New York however Abbruzzo started to worry about his partner. Would he be able to keep his mouth shut about that little piece of business back in Boston? After pondering it for a while Abbruzzo decided that the best way to keep Casselli quiet was to silence him for good. So ninety years ago today he lured his partner in crime to a room in mid-town Manhattan and slit his throat. Abbruzzo was subsequently arrested and found guilty, not for the murder of Costello for which he was worried about, but for the slaying of Casselli which was supposed to guarantee his safety.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Everything is Hotsy-Totsy now

Girls listen to your mamas but don't take it from me take it from Kiki.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

..and to your left Bugsy Siegel's eye. No flash photograph please

A mob museum in Vegas. Why not? The mob built the town its only right they should be celebrated. Local school children can take field trips out to the desert and leave the teacher’s pet in a hole with three bullets in the back of his head. Just kidding, anymore than two would be excessive.
Actually it’ll probably work. Americans (and the world in general) are curious about our outlaws. Every city and town has their dark side and in most cases people will pay to learn about it. Plus it’s not like Vegas is a cultural center. I can’t see anyone saying, “A mob museum? Look I come here to gamble, get drunk and bang hookers, I don’t need any mob museum to sully my pursuits. I’ll take my business to Reno!”.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Miami vice

Ninety-nine years ago today Pasquale Miami, said to be a “barber”, was walking down the street when a man stepped out of a doorway and shot him. A beat cop who was nearby gave chase but the gunman ran into a tenement and escaped over the roof tops.
Miami was rushed to Bellevue Hospital where he died half an hour later. His body was identified by his friend Nicola Giaroffa who stated that the two men had been in the States for three years and that Miami had been involved in an Italian feud for the six months leading up to his death.

Lt. Petrosino

After viewing the body, America's first mafia busting cop, Lt. Petrosino of the NYPD Italian Squad stated that Miami (which wasn’t his real name. His real name wasn’t given) was one of the leading Black Hand agents in the city. Police felt this was bore out when twenty-five men came to the morgue to view the dead man and almost half of them raised their hands and vowed to avenge his murder.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I wonder if you needed reservations to get in?

There used to be a saloon in the Bowery known as the “Tub of Blood” and on this night ninety-four years ago it lived up to it’s name when five men entered and blew past the bartender and two women patrons (ah to meet a gal who would hang out at the T.O.B.) and entered the rear room. A moment later the women and bartender heard one of the men yell, “You’re a squealer! You sent him to Dannemora! (a prison in upstate NY)” the yelling was followed by a series of shots and then four of the five men came running out and fled from the saloon.

The police were summoned and in the back room was the body of Thomas Murphy age thirty-six. There was also a trail of blood leading out of the saloon so police figured some one else had been injured in the shooting. A short time after the killing a man named Michael Matera walked into the Mulberry Street Police station and said that he had been shot in the leg while exiting the subway but the police decided that he was probably the wounded guy who made a separate exit and held him for the Murphy slaying.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Today's special: Murder

According to the New York Daily News Giuseppi Parrino, who was gunned down 77-years ago today, was involved in “The tile racket”, what exactly the tile racket was I don't know, one would have to assume a contractor/construction something or other. Mob boss Joe Bonanno tells us that he was a victim of the Castellemmarese War.
The details of the killing are thus, three “hard faced men” entered a restaurant called Del Pezzo, which was said to be popular with opera stars, and took a table. A half hour later Joe Parrino arrived and sat two tables away from the trio. At approximately 6:00pm while Parrino was eating alone, one of the three “hard faced men” began insulting him and an argument broke out. One of the trio then broke up the fight and Parrino went back to his meal. Moments later the peace-maker pulled out a .32 and began firing at the gangster. The first shot went wild but as Parrino got up to defend himself, the second shot caught him between the eyes. Parrino dropped to the floor and the gunman deposited two more shots into the back of his head. Mission accomplished the killer tossed the gun to the floor and he and his confederates calmly walked out.
Parrino’s brother Sasa was also a victim of the war having been murdered the previous May 30, in Detroit with fellow gangster Gaspar Milazzo. It was after these two murders, Bonanno tells us, that the Castellemmarese gangs fell into line with Maranzano

Friday, January 18, 2008


The bullets were flying on this date back in 1915. In Manhattan four members of either the Gophers or Hudson Dusters waited outside of the Miner’s Eighth Avenue Theatre for a guy named Martin Sullivan to emerge from the show so they could kill him. Why? Who knows but when Martin exited, with approximately two hundred other people, the four gunmen opened fire and succeeded in only wounding their target with two bullets in the hip and one in the thigh. The gunmen then took off running but there was a couple of cops nearby who managed to captured two of them (Wm. MacNamara age 16 & Henry Thompson, 17) after a running gunfight. Sullivan was taken to Bellevue Hospital but did not comment on the shooting.

Meanwhile in Brooklyn
There was another shoot out when members of the White Hand gang ambushed members of a gang known as the Never Come Home Boys. The latter gang was holding a dance and when members, Joseph Martini, James McNealy and Thomas Ryan left the hall, a half dozen White Handers opened fire on them. The three Never Come Home Boys fought back but were all wounded, the New York Herald stated that Ryan would probably die.

It wasn't all Irish that day.

Brooklyn was also the scene of the one sure murder. Frank Solli came walking up to his house when two men opened fire on him. One of the killers was in front of him and used a pistol while the other man came up from behind with a shotgun. Sadly, Solli’s daughter was watching from a window when her father was cut down.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Public Enemy Movie Update

Christian Bale is in talks to play Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who is credited with bringing both Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd to justice. Having Purvis as a caped crusader is a bold move on Mann's part. I'm not sure it is historically accurate however ( I believe the FBI didn't start wearing capes and masks until the late 1930's) but should be fun nonetheless.

Speaking of Pretty Boy Floyd, having tread the boards myself (I was Uncle Sam in a second grade play followed by a reindeer in the fifth grade) I figured who better to play the Oklahoma desperado than myself so have forwarded a headshot to the casting director of Public Enemies. I think it is no brainer. Hopefully will be posting from the set this spring.

PB Floyd Me

Monday, January 14, 2008

Angie folds

Known as “Angie the controller” twenty-nine year old Angelo Pezzulo worked in the policy racket as a foreman over a staff of number runners and was described by the police as a “petty operator”. Chances are, since Angelo was operating in the Bronx/Harlem territory, he was either working for Dutch Schultz or Ciro Terranova and ripped them off or, if a renegade was visited a few times by ambassadors of the Dutchman and/or Terranova and told that if he knew what was good for him he would turn over his policy business or pay for protection. Either way it appears that Pezzulo didn’t know what was good for him and paid the ultimate price.
The end for “Angie” came on this date back in 1934 in the rear of his brother Fred's candy store. Just before 6:00 am Angelo his brothers Fred and Dominick and two other men were playing their last hand of an all night poker game when two men, one of whom had a gun, entered. The gunman ordered the card players to, “Line up and face the wall.” Assuming it was a run of the mill robbery the men dropped their cards and did as they were told. After the men put their noses to the wall the gunman walked the line pulling each head back to inspect the face. When he got to Angelo he fired into the back of his head and his back. When Pezzulo hit the floor the gunman took another look at him, then, satisfied with his work, placed the gun in his pocket and walked out with his partner.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gangs of New York

On this date in 1918 Police of the Upper Westside caught wind that there was going to be a battle fought between two mid-town gangs; the San Jaun Hill Gang and the West Side Butchers. In an attempt to nip the fight in the bud searches were done of the local saloons for gang members who may have been carrying guns but no arrest were made. The violence still came however when the two gangs managed to clash despite police efforts and a gunfight ensued. when the smoke cleared two gang members, of which gang is unknown, William Reddington and Nicholas Moore were lying dead in the street.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Loose lips sinks snitch

With information provided by a snitch named Joseph Randazzo police raided an apartment and arrested a drug dealer named James Di Lorenzo who was said to be the top cocaine dealer in the city. Also arrested was Di Lorenzo’s brother in-law John Gravino who had a history of selling opium. Di Lorenzo was released on bail. Perhaps coincidentally or not, ninety-four years ago today Randazzo was found in an east side saloon with twenty-two stab wounds. Police didn't feel that it was a coincidence.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gangster City Profile

Name: John Lewis

AKA: Spanish Louis

Time frame: 1900-1910

Claim to Fame: One of the first gangster murders where a car was used.

Date Killed: It's coming

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not Everyone was Wild About Harry

With his neat clothes, spectacles and mild disposition Harry Veasey appeared more like an accountant than a gangster and killer but as the saying goes, looks can be deceiving, and in the case of Veasey they were. Known to police and hoodlums alike as “The giant killer” (who he slew to get that moniker is unknown) Veasey had been arrested four times for murder as well as having arrests for felonious assault and grand larceny. The latter was the only offense he was found guilty of and for that he received a suspended sentence.
Though he lived in Woodside, Queens he was active in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn where as a member of the Jacob’s gang he worked at bootlegging, bookmaking, car and jewelry thefts and labor racketeering. Attesting to his stature in the Brooklyn underworld, when Frankie Uale was killed in 1928, the New York Herald stated that Veasey was now the biggest gangster in that Borough.
Looking like an accountant didn’t save Veasey from a gangster death however. On January 9, he got into his sedan and left Greenpoint. The following morning, seventy-eight years ago today, two Hoboken, New Jersey police officers were walking their beat and came upon his car. They peered inside and there dead in the back seat was the mild mannered gangster with his head resting on his overcoat.
Police could tell by the condition of his body and clothes that “the Giant Killer” had fought hard before being killed. His face and head were battered and bloody from some implement before a bullet was fired into his shoulder and two more were deposited into his head. Since he wasn’t wearing his coat at the time it appears that he was killed inside then carried out to his car, which was then driven to Hoboken and dumped. The best motive the police could come up with for the murder was that Veasey was encroaching on Hoboken territory with his beer and the local gangsters dealt with him appropriately. Another thought was that he was put out of the way by rival New York gangsters who killed him in New York and dumped him in Jersey. Ten days prior to his murder Veasey was arrested in Brooklyn for interfering with labor elections so perhaps it was a Brooklyn gang involved in the same affair that wanted him out of the way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

X-Files revisted

There has always been speculation as to whether or not it was John Dillinger that was killed outside the Biograph theater that hot July night. I feel for certain that it was. Have no doubts about it though there was one Depression era outlaw who did outsmart the police and cunningly had a another man shot in his place, but this goes much deeper than a simple bandit out foxing the law and high tailing it to Mexico. No, this involves the Government and in fact may have an impact on us come next November. I’m going to give you a chance to leave this blog right now. If you continue I can’t guarantee your safety…Fine, here it is then; I have irrefutable proof that Clyde Barrow wasn’t shot to pieces in May of 1934 but instead high tailed east to Ohio and after letting things blow over for about four decades got involved in politics and is currently running again, but this time for President of the United States of America.

Proof? Sure lots of it:

Clyde’s death certificate list his middle name as Chestnut when in actuality it was Champion. Ohio is the Buckeye State. What is a buckeye but a glorified chestnut.

Kucinich is simply an anagram for chickiun (chicken) Clyde and his brother Buck (Buckeye State again) used to steal chickens, not being much of speller Clyde would write his words out phonetically and with his Texas accent (with some Cajun thrown in) there you have it.

Bonnie Parker was a cute red head. Mrs. Chickiun is an attractive redhead.

Clyde Barrow’s weapon of choice was a BAR, Congressman Chickiun passed the Bar.

There you have it. I could go on but there is a non-descript sedan parked outside with two guys in dark suits and sunglasses. I’ll go see what they want.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Frankie Goes to City Morgue

Frank Shaeffer (also known as Grey) and Dave Bacharach were standing near a Westside bar at 2:00am on this date back in 1934 when a taxi-cab brimming with gunmen pulled up and opened fire. Frank and Burt, I mean Dave, took off running. The cab followed them and the gunmen continued shooting causing bystanders to dive to the ground or jump into doorways for cover. After a brief chase Frank pitched forward on the sidewalk and lay still while Burt, I mean Dave, kept running. With Shaeffer down the taxi took off and disappeared into the Broadway traffic.
When the coast was clear people came out of their hiding spots and crowds began to pour out of the nearby restaurants, nightclubs and other buildings. They gathered around Shaeffer and rolled him over. It appeared to them that he fell down and cut his head and was unconscious. An ambulance was called and the doctor who arrived with it informed them that what they thought was a cut was actually a bullet wound and that the man was in fact dead. An examination showed that he had also been hit under the left armpit.
Dave, I mean Bur-, I mean Dave took a superficial wound to the chest and walked to the hospital for treatment. The police were notified and took the wounded man into custody and at first he said that he was a Bronx real estate man and he didn't even know that he’d been shot until he undid his coat to get a nickel for a newspaper and found blood. After more questioning however, he broke down, identified himself then clammed up.
What Shaeffer was involved with at the end is unknown but when killed he was “shabbily dressed” and only had a few dollars on him. He had a record of fourteen arrests and five convictions and was known to the police as a forger and mail thief who in 1921 was sentenced to the Atlanta Penitentiary. In 1923 he gained a bit of notoriety when he managed to escape from there with the infamous robber Gerald Chapman. His freedom, however was short lived as he was captured a short time later.

The story of Frank Schaeffer’s escape from the Atlanta big house with Gerald Chapman is included in my next book Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers & Chaos in New York City 1920-1940 which should be released this summer.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Chanel No. .45 or possibly .38

After a short New Year’s respite the gangsters of New York got back to the business of killing each other. By all accounts Frank Macaluso was an upstanding member of society, he was President of the Columbia Republican Club and owned his own perfume business, but according to the police, he was also a bootlegger,(police felt that his perfume shop doubled as a alcohol drop) and it was the latter profession that probably cost him his life.
On this date back in 1932 Pietro Vello, the janitor at the Columbia Republican Club, was preparing to lock up the club for the night when Macaluso stepped outside into the cold without bothering to put on his overcoat. Since he exited sans coat he was probably going to briefly meet with someone. But a double cross lay in wait. A few moments later the perfume entrepreneur staggered into the pool hall next door, dropped himself into a chair, and whispered to the owner, “Get me a cab. I’m shot.” Detectives quickly arrived on the scene, commandeered a taxi and rushed Macaluso to the hospital where he died a few minutes later of a bullet wound in the back. Who shot him and why remains a mystery.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Two scoops of Desperados

Now that there is a whiff of Dillinger in the air thanks to Mann & Depp The History Channel is going to give us a taste of the Public Enemy Era with:

This should give a good introduction for the novice gangster enthusiast. For those who watch and get gangster fever I would suggest reading, in this order:

John Dillinger Slept Here (Parts One-Seven) By Paul Maccabbee
The Union Station Massacre by Robert Unger
Verne Miller: From Lawman to Outlaw* by Brad Smith
The Tri-State Terror: The Life and Crimes of Wilbur Underhill* by R.D. Morgan
Dillinger the Untold Story By G. Russell Girardin & William Helmer
Running with Bonnie and Clyde by John Neal Phillips
The Life and Death of Pretty Boy Floyd by Jeff King
Baby Face Nelson: Portrait of a Public Enemy By Steve Nickel & William Helmer
John Dillinger Slept Here (Part Eight - Conclusion)

* These are great books on two of the era's most overlooked outlaws. Every bit as desperate as Pretty Boy Floyd if not more so than Dillinger.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Mafia Book

No dead guys in suits today. Seems like the whole “goodwill towards men” thing rolled over to the early days of January with the gangsters of yesteryear. I have consulted my magic 8 ball however and it assured me, after three “Try Agains”, that there will indeed be some dead guys coming for the weekend.

In the meantime since you came here’s a brand new book you might be interested in checking out.

The Mafia and the MachineThe Story of the Kansas City Mob Frank Hayde

The story of the American Mafia is not complete without a chapter on Kansas City. Even Hollywood gives a nod to the "City of Fountains," in films like The Godfather, Casino, and on HBO's "The Sopranos." Events unfolding in Kansas City have affected the fortunes of all the Mafia "families," shaping the entire underworld along the way. The history of La Cosa Nostra is a web of intrigue, with Kansas City right in the thick of it. In The Mafia and the Machine, author Frank Hayde chronicles the connection between organized crime and politics that originated with the alliance between political boss Tom Pendergast, and mob boss Johnny Lazia, the "Lucky Luciano" of Kansas City. The story continues up to the present time. Hayde ties in every major name in organized crime--Luciano, Bugsy, Lansky--and highlights the corrupt Kansas City police force.

As far as I know this is the first look at the KC underworld since Tom's Town (The above mentioned Tom Pendergast) was released in the late 1940's. So should be chock full of new info covering the past 60-years.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Breaking news for the mobophiles

Bill Bonanno died

Coming to a theater near you

For those who haven’t heard director/producer Michael Mann will start shooting Public Enemies in Chicago this March. Johnny Depp is playing Public Enemy #1 himself, John Dillinger. I like Johnny Depp and am interested in seeing his acting choices. This will be Hollywood’s first big take on Dillinger since 1973 with Warren Oates. I’m definitely looking forward to the film but have already resigned myself to the fact that in the 120 or so minutes allotted to the screenwriter (Mann) he can’t tell the full story. That’s why historians would make bad directors they would want to squeeze everything in and you’d end up with some Eric von Stroheimish six hour snoozefest for the average movie goer. High on content low on story.

The movie is based on Bryan Burrough’s book of the same name. If you haven’t read it and are the least bit interested in the public enemies of the early Thirties like Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie & Clyde etc. Then check out this book. If I had to guess, and since its my blog I will, I would think that in his preparation for his role Johnny Depp will probably read Dillinger the Untold Story by G. Russell Girardin and William Helmer. This has been one of my favorite gangster/outlaw books for about a dozen years or so. If you want to catch up on your Dillinger before the film comes out. I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A short new year for Larry Fay

1933 lasted all of 20 and 1/2 hours for Larry Fay, who was designated New York City's Public Enemy #3, I think it was #3, let me check my book Gangster City...yes there it is pg. 258 Public Enemy #3. Anyways by the end of 1932 Larry was part owner in a night club called the Casa Blanca (he seemed to have a thing for Spanish names, a previous club was called the El Fay) Like a lot of business' during the Depression the Casa Blanca saw some financial hardships and on New Year's Eve Fay informed the staff that they would be receiving a 30% pay cut(Happy New Year!). This didn't sit well with one of the club's doormen who spent the first day of 1933 getting drunk and angry. After stewing for a number of hours the doorman did what a number of angry Americans do when they are mad at their employer. He returned that evening with a gun. He confronted Fay in the lobby of the club and demanded some money. Fay was going to comply but for some reason Mr. Drunk Angry Guy pulled his pistol and shot his boss a number of times killing him.

You can read more about Larry Fay in Gangster City: History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935