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, April 30, 2008

Knock your Block off

Harry Block was an associate of Owney Madden's who owned a piece of both the Cotton Club and the Silver Slipper nightclubs. In addition to these activities Block was also a bootlegger and police felt that this may have been the reason he was put on the spot. Judging by his movements Block didn't know he was a marked man. Seventy-eight years ago tonight he picked his wife up at 7th Ave and 47th Street and they had dinner in the restaurant at the Paramount hotel, which was followed by the late show at the Capitol Theater. After the show they went to Dave's Blue Room for more food and finally caught a taxi for the ride home to the Sherman Square Apartments at 173 West 73rd Street. It was 3:00am when the Blocks arrived at the apartment and the doorman unlocked the front door and escorted them onto the elevator. Mrs. Block stepped in and to the side behind the doorman who was by the controls. Mr. Block stepped in and turned around to face the door. Just as the doors were shutting two men appeared out of nowhere each brandishing two pistols. One of the gunmen yelled an insult at Block who, seeing the pistols, let out a scream and instinctively threw up his arm to protect his face. The gunmen let loose with a barrage of twenty three shots, some of which hit the gangster in the neck and forearm. The hitmen then ran out and escaped in a tan sedan that was waiting for them. The doorman wanted to call an ambulance but Mrs. Block said no since it would attract the police so instead Harry was loaded into a cab and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sleeping with the fishes

Just as New York gangsters on the lam could be bumped off in other cities so to could gangsters from other cities be knocked off in the Big Apple. Such was the case of Isidor Kantrowitz from Detroit. His story begins back in the Motor City where he had become a successful bootlegger and turned the profits into a fortune by controlling the raw sugar that was used by bootleggers in Detroit and the surrounding areas in the preparation of whiskey.
Out on bail following the murder of a colleague, which he witnessed, Kantrowitz was offered $5000 by his rivals to leave town. He refused to go and what's more agreed to testify against the killers. A short time later he appeared in New York at an apartment shared by his brother and a few cousins and said, "The mob from Detroit are after me. I've got to hide somewhere." He was with another man and told his brother, "This fellow is going to take me over to Brooklyn." That was the last time he was seen alive.
Around the middle of April the police got an underworld tip that Kantrowitz's body could be found in the East River. Sure enough the body of a murdered man was fished out of the river but it proved to be some one other than Kantrowitz. The police went back to the underworld informant with the news and were told, "When you find his body it will be in the East River and it will have five bullets in it."
Two more weeks passed but finally, on April 28, 1924, a body did pop up and was fished out by a police boat. This corpse proved to be Isidor Kantrowitz and true to the informants words he had five bullets in him, one in the back of the head and four in the body.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More dead guys in suits (and some gals) coming this summer! The finishing touches are being put on my new book Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers and Chaos in New York City 1920-1940 as we speak. This book details the un-organized crime element in NYC in the years between the world wars. Scheduled for a July 1, release.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Clap for the Wolfman gonna dig him til the day you die.
Found out that they [they being Hollywood] are remaking the Wolfman and here is a shot of star Benicio del Toro in make-up. I like the fact that they are going back to standard makeup as opposed to the CGI werewolf business thats been the status quo for the past 20 some years.
What does this have to do with dead guys in suits you ask? Well, nothing. I just thought it was cool.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

If you wanna get down, get down on the ground

A large drug operation was uncovered on this date in 1920 when dealer Salvatore Messina was shot down at 4:30 that Saturday afternoon in what detectives called "a fight over cocaine." Their investigation led them to the Brooklyn home of father and son traffickers Giovanni and Louis Mauro, where they found seventy-five thousand dollars worth of the drug as well as a .45. From there the detectives went down the block to in-law Giuseppe Gangarossa's house and uncovered another one hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of the white powder and an Italian model double barreled .45.
After the raids police said that they had proof that Gangarossa had killed Messina. Louis Mauro admitted to being part of a five hundred-person drug smuggling ring that operated along the Brooklyn water front. He said that sailors mainly brought the stuff in from Italy but that his last shipment came in from Germany. Once he had the cocaine he would sell it to small dealers in New York as well as send larger shipments to a man in Philadelphia.

Need more dead guys in suits? If you have a copy of gangster city check out pages 160-161

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Harlem Scuffle

Ninety-six years ago two guys, Jerry Goillo and Leonardo Crimni, were shot down in Harlem by two other men but other then the names of the victims not much info was given about the shooting.(Most newspaper space was devoted to news about the Titanic) Police however felt that the gun battle fought later that day between Calogerro Morello and rival Charley Baker was a direct result of the shooting. For info on the latter gun battle and the participants check out Gangster City.


Today marks the 77th anniversary of Joe "the Boss" Masseria getting gun downed in a Coney Island eatery. But since that story has been told hundreds of times we will instead commerate the putting on the spot of 32-year old Tony De Palma who got his this day six years prior to Masseria.

Pedestrians walking along Mulberry Street noticed a man pacing back and forth as if he was waiting for someone. After a time Tony, a former café owner, turned the corner from Hester street and the pacing man ran up, shot him six times in the face and escaped. The shooting also resulted in the wounding of an innocent bystander when a woman walking across the street dropped after a bullet deflected off the sidewalk and hit her in the ankle.

For the story on Joe "the Boss" Masseria check out Gangster City.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sans Francisco

Todays subject is Frank Feddelle. Francisco had been out of jail for five months following a two year stretch in Sing Sing. On this date in 1925 The twenty-four year old gangster, who lived at 178 Union Street, Brooklyn, was talking with two men outside a tenement on the corner of President and Hicks streets when the conversation turned into an argument. At the same time the two men speaking to Feddelle drew their guns and killed the ex-convict with shots to the neck, chest and heart. The gunmen then ran through a tenement and hopped some fences for an escape. Police believed that Feddelle was killed over a bootleggers feud.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Good help is hard to find

The back story- On December 8, 1933 Peter Turigiano, the owner of a beer garden, was playing cards at the home of Giacomo Zanco with the latter and two other guys Giuseppe Gionalla and Felice Corrola. Gionalla left the game and was found dead the next morning in a snowdrift on Long Island. His three companions from the previous night were quickly arrested as material witnesses. Just what they knew about the murder is unknown but Zanco, realizing he was safe where he was, stayed in jail while Turigiano and Corrola fought for and were granted their release.
Once out of jail Turigiano supplied underworld information to the DA's office but declined any sort of protection. On March 27, 1934 the saloonkeeper was in the back room of his bar, the Roma Gardens, when a gunman came in and slightly wounded him along with one of his customers. This attempt on his life shook him up but he still refused to go to the state for protection deciding instead to hire a bodyguard named Pietro Calito.
Calito proved to be an ineffectual bodyguard however because seventy-four years ago this morning both men were found in the back seat of Turigiano's sedan under a pile of rags and burlap sacks. Each man bore the signature Murder Inc. sash cord trussing* plus a bullet in the head for good measure.

*For more on Murder Inc. and their unique execution methods check out Gangster City

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mandatory retirement

Normally those gangsters put on the spot are spry young fellers in their 20's or 30's but todays victim, in a later era, would have qualified for the senior citizens discount at McDonald's. Sixty-five year old Frank Lauritano was called a "Well-to-do" resident of the Brownsville –East New York section of Brooklyn and had been arrested three years previously for his connection with a policy game.
After he finished his dinner on this date in 1930, he took a walk to the jewelry store to have his eye glasses fixed. On his way back as he approached his house three men fired anywhere from four to seven shots which killed the aging gangster. Hearing the shots, neighbors rushed out on their porches in time to see three men running to a car, which whisked them away.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Smoking kills

30 year-old James Clark was a former member of Tanner Smith's gang* whose claim to fame was having took part in a theft of $92,000 worth of aspirin in 1926. On this date in 1929 at 9:30pm Clark walked into a drug store at 383 8th Avenue for a pack of cigarettes. When he stepped back outside some one placed a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Miraculously Clark wasn't killed out right and was rushed to the hospital where he refused to talk to police. Although he was still alive at the time the story hit the presses he was given no chance of recovery.

*For the low down on the Tanner Smith gang check out Gangster City

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


John Lewis, known to his contemporaries as Spanish Louis, was walking along Second Avenue early on this date in 1910. As he was making his way somebody came up and said a "friend" wanted to see him around the corner. Louis made the turn and walked a couple yards up the block when, April Fools!!!, the "friend" turned out to be three rival gangsters hired to kill him. Louis caught on to the joke at the last moment because he managed to draw his gun before a bullet pierced his head. Ah, those funny gangsters.

For more on Spanish Louis and the guys who killed him check out Gangster City.