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Monday, June 29, 2009

G-Men in New York part II

Like so many of the Public Enemies Mais and Legenza had people on the outside who were willing to help them. Guns were smuggled into the prison and on September 29, 1934 both were able to shoot their way out. One guard was killed and two others wounded in the process.
Back on the outside the first order of business was to re-arm themselves. Like the Dillinger gang and others of that ilk, this was accomplished by raiding an armory. In the case of Mais and Legenza it was the government arsenal at Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Well armed they returned to Philadelphia to commence with their crime wave. They started with a $4,000 robbery of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company that October and that same month moved into kidnapping by snatching a Philadelphia big shot by the name of William Weiss. The Victim was a former bootlegger, who after Repeal became a “Nightlife character.” On the twenty-sixth Weiss returned home from his nightly rounds and after he parked his car in the garage the Tri-State gang snatched him before he could get inside his house.
The gang demanded a hundred thousand dollar payoff. After a little while they received $8000 from some of Weiss’s friends. Letters were continually sent to his family and then they abruptly stopped. For some reason Mais and Legenza had a change of heart, perhaps the case drew to much heat, anyways Weiss was shot to death and his body weighted down in a creek beneath a bridge.
The gang was planning another kidnapping. This time the victim was going to be a Pensylvania distiller named Simon Neuman. The Distiller learned of the plan however and surrounded himself with bodyguards. Next Mais was planning on snatching another underworld sort named Sam Lazar but before they had a chance to put the plan into effect things got to hot for them.
On December 13, the local Feds and the Philadelphia police located the gangs hideout and went in. Once again Mais tried to fight but was wounded. He did manage to escape along with Legenza, who subsequently broke both his legs jumping down an embankment. Seven members of the gang however, and the weapons were captured.

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