Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

Meet Kiki

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Marks X the spot

Murray Marks, a member of Waxey Gordon’s mob, got his on this date back in 1933. Originally from St. Louis Marks was involved in the narcotics side of the Gordon empire. He lived in the same Bronx apartment complex where Joe “The Boss” Masseria’s lieutenants Steve Ferrigno and Al Mineo were cut down by shotguns less than three years earlier during the Castellemarese War.

During the spring and summer of '33 while Gordon's herd was being thinned Marks exited a Bronx bus at the intersection of Pelham Parkway South and White Plains Avenue when a gunman ran up and fired five shots at him. Two bullets found their mark and proved fatal while the gunman jumped into a waiting sedan and sped off.


A search of Marks apartment turned up a pound of opium but more interestingly a search of an abandoned apartment across the courtyard turned up a high-powered rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun. Not only did Marks live in the same complex where Mineo and Ferrigno were gunned down but he almost met the exact same fate.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just say no, again

Return with me if you will to Harlem's little Italy, more specifically East 107th Street eighty-five years ago today. This time the victim was Angelo Marino a bootlegger and drug dealer who had recently been released from Sing Sing.

It was a little after midnight and Marino had just conducted some business in a tenement there and when he got into his car as many as six men came up along the rear and opened fire. A number of bullets peppered the car and two of them struck Marino in the head killing him. Unfortunately there were pedestrians in the street at the time and as Marino slumped over his steering wheel, a woman was killed when a bullet entered the back of her head.

The police interviewed everyone in the tenement that Marino emerged from but nobody admitted having met with him. The police did however find a shoebox on the roof of the building containing $3,000 worth of drugs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Murphy's law

John Murphy was a pretty sad gunman if you look at his record:
Arrested 1/16/02 for assault term one year
Thirteen months later arrested for burglary. Term one year
Fourteen months later arrested for shooting a guy. Term seven years released early for good behavior.
February 17, 1910 Murphy and his pal, Bill Duffy, enter a Bowery lodging house and hit up a guy named Fred Devlin for some booze money. Devlin gives them a dime, all the money he had, and they shoot him to death. Murphy flees the city for Middletown New York.

Murphy and his moll were either having a very late dinner or very early breakfast at a Middletown chop suey joint at 2:00am, one hundred years ago today, when a handful of cops walked in. They had received a description of Murphy from the NYPD and decided a guy who fit the bill had been hanging out in their town for awhile.

Seeing the law approach his table Murphy slurped his remaining noodles and made a run for it. He came to a stairwell and ran upstairs the officers close on his heals. On the landing he pulled out his gun but was unable to make it speak before the cops subdued him and dragged him off to jail.

Murphy was returned to NYC where he was placed on trial for the Devlin killing and found guilty of murder in the second degree.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Curtains for Curto

Eighty-one years ago tonight at around 10:15pm the still warm body of Gandolfo Curto was found in Queens with bullet wounds to the head and neck. Curto was known all along Broadway and in the underworld as Frankie Marlow.

He was a first rank gangster involved in bootlegging, night clubs, boxing and all those things that gangsters like to get involved with, especially showgirls. But seemingly he was always behind the eight ball and owed large amounts of money.

One of those he owed was Joe “The Boss” Masseria and by 1929 the Boss had had enough of Signore Curto. This night in 1929 found Marlow dining with some friends and a showgirl whom he had knocked up and was causing a fuss. While at the restaurant he received a phone call and said he had to go meet somebody. He walked over to the corner of Broadway & 52nd where a sedan pulled up and he got in. Forty-five minutes later he was in Queens in the previous mentioned condition.

For more on Marlowe you are invited to check out Gangster City.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

From Hal Roach studios

I’m pretty sure today’s entry was later used as a plot in a Laurel & Hardy short in the early Thirties. Here’s the rumpus- A milk man, Harry Wanders, testified against a robber named Tom Swain who received five years in Sing Sing as a result of said testimony. Swain’s pals let Wanders know that they were going to get him.

As a result of the threat Wanders went to police headquarters and asked permission to carry a gun. Whether it was granted or paper work took time was never explained but the milk man left for work the next day packing heat. Little did he know however, because the police didn’t tell him, two Detectives, lets call them Stan & Ollie were told to trail Swain and protect him from Swain's gang.

Eighty-eight years ago today as Wanders was pulling up for work he saw the detectives talking to another milk man and assumed that they were members of Swain’s gang and peeled out. Seeing Wanders speed off, Stan & Ollie assumed that he was a member of Swain’s gang and jumped in a car and went after him.

After a bit of driving Stan and/or Ollie started to shoot at Wanders, who, fearing for his life returned the fire. After a mile long car chase with guns a-barkin’ Wanders ran out of ammo and pulled over. Stan & Ollie pulled up and flipped their badges. “Oh, you’re detectives?!?!?! I thought…”

Detective Ollie then turned to Detective Stan and said, “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” To which Detective Stan replied, whilst scratching his head and fighting back tears, “I couldn’t help it. He sped and the gun…”

Oh, and the reason we can’t be sure if Wanders got permission to carry a pistol is because even though L&H were charged with protecting him, they arrested him for violation of the Sullivan law.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Standing on the corner watching all the girls go- BYE!

A feller identified as Charles Stattler a.k.a Stadter went the way of all gangster flesh on this date back in "Bloody '31" as I like to refer to it. Charles had been a member of Little Augie Orgen's gang until the gang leaders demise and was, up until his death working as a “muscler” in a beer gang run by a gangster known as “Spunky” Weiss.

At 5:40pm Stattler was standing on a corner -reportedly humming "Flowers on the wall"-waiting for someone as the rush hour traffic passed him. Four men, each carrying a pistol, advanced from behind and when they reached Stattler, they opened fire. The ex-Little Augie henchman dropped to the curb with three bullets in the back of his head. One of the shots went wild slightly wounding a young woman.

The four killers melted into the large crowd that gathered and made their escape. The police had two theories for the murder; one that Stattler was the victim of feud between Sing Sing prisoners of which he was one in 1928 and the other being that he was put on the spot by rival bootleggers for trying to muscle in on their territory. Take your pick, or better yet share one of your own.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nothing to do to save his life, call his wife in...

Today marks the seventy-ninth anniversary of the killing of thirty-one year old John Saricelli described by the New York Herald as "a superintendent of a fleet of trucks used to transport Dutch Schultz’s beer into Harlem and Bronx speakeasies." Saricelli was a victim of the Schultz-Coll war that was raging in the summer of '31.

At 3:45 am two gunmen went to his house and rang his doorbell. Saricelli made his way downstairs and answered the door. Armed with a .45's, one of the men bid Saricelli, “Good morning.” Then both fired one shot each into the bootlegger’s chest.

The gunmen fled as Saricelli stumbled into his kitchen and had his wife light him a cigarette before allowing her to call an ambulance. Once in the "wagon" The police pumped him for information but Saricelli kept to the gangster code. “Get away. Don’t bother me. I know I’m dying but you get nothing from me.” And they didn't. Sometimes a day job doesn't seem all that bad.

Friday, June 18, 2010

If I said it once, I said it a thousand times. If you live in Prohibition Era NYC never look in the back seat of cars you don't recognize

Back on this date in 1926 a Chrysler sedan was left in a west Harlem neighborhood. Seeing that it unfamiliar to the residents the block, after a number of hours had passed some one looked inside and there in the back seat was the body of Charles Caffrey with two bullets in his chest.

Caffrey was a twenty-five year old ex-convict with a record of about ten arrests. The police were fairly certain that he was killed in a Harlem apartment house because they received a call saying that shots were fired and a resident of the building told police that he saw three men supporting a fourth exit the building and when he asked what was wrong, was told that the man was sick and they were helping him get a cab.

The only problem was that the witness said the victim was about 6 ft tall and was wearing a blue suit when Caffrey was only about 5’6 and was wearing a brown suit. Police however felt that the witnesses made an error and that the victim was indeed Caffrey because they found two spent cartridges in the upper apartment and a hat out front that fit his head perfectly. The cops called the murder a ‘Thieves fight”.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Day in the Gangster Life

I read the news today oh boy. About a lucky yegg that made the great
And though the news was rather macabre I just had to blog
They blew his mind out in a car, while he waited for the lights to change.
A crowd of people stood and stared they’d seen his face before but nobody was really sure if he was from the gallery of rogues.

I’d love to tu-rrrrrr-n you-u-u-u- o-o-o-onn

Edward Jerge woke up feeling great
on this date back in twenty-eight
Got into a car with a chick
Coulda been an automatic but I suspect it was a stick
When they stopped at Herald Square
Some rival gangsters met them there
Jumped on his running board and fired some shots
A couple missed but most of them did not

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhhhh
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhhah
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhahh
Ahhhhhh

That’s the news for today oh boy
A number of holes in Edward Jerge yegg
And though the holes were rather small
The coroner had to count them all
Now they know how many holes
It takes to make a Jerge fall

I’d love to tuuuuuuurrn youuuuuuu ooooooon

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just say no

June 16, 1921 found Vincenzo Alfano and Nick Ventura, two men tied up in the narcotics field, walking together on the lower Eastside. As the duo walked along two men fell into step behind them. After a few moments their followers ran up and shot both drug dealers in the back of the head. As pandemonium broke out on the street the killers ran away but emptied their weapons in the direction of the prostrate men, which resulted in the wounding of four civilians. Ambulances were called and the civilians and Ventura were taken to the hospital. Doctors said it was doubtful that the latter would pull through.

Meanwhile Police caught one of the gunmen and brought in numersous suspects. The gunman gave his name as Salvatore Viscone but denied that he was involved the shooting stating that a man had ran past him and thrust the pistol into his hands and well, he just kind of held on to it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bill throws in the towel

Bill Brennan was an ex-boxer who fought his last fight on November 7, 1923. In one hundred and twenty one bouts he racked up sixty-five knockouts while only being KOed four times himself. His shining moment in the ring was on December 14, 1920 when he managed to go twelve rounds with Jack Dempsey.

Retired from the ring by 1924, the thirty-one year old former pugilist and family man -he had a wife and three and half year old daughter- opened a speakeasy on the second floor of a two-story building called the Club Tia Juana.

Around 4:30 am on this date eighty-six years ago Bill was sitting with his sister Shirley and a friend named James Cullen, who was a state trooper stationed in White Plains, while the club's staff was cleaning up. A man came in an tapped Bill on the shoulder saying, “Bill can I see you a minute?” As a celebrity of sorts Brennan was used to people approaching him so he said, “Certainly.” The two men stepped into the hall way and before there was a chance to speak two shots rang out and Brennan let out a scream and fell face down with bullets in the chest and stomach.

Hearing the shots, Shirley and Cullen ran into the hallway and saw two men running for the staircase. Shirley grabbed one of them by the sleeve but he knocked her down and fired a shot that missed. Another shot was fired at Cullen, which went through his neck. He managed to chase the men about another twenty feet before collapsing.

Shirley ran back to her brother who said, “I’m dying Shirley.” “For God’s sake, Bill, you’re not!” she cried back. “My poor wife, my poor child! Poor Mary.(his wife)” He continued. Shirley tried to roll him over but the pain was to great so he remained face down. Seeing that he was about to die Shirley asked him, “Do you know who they were Bill?” “I don’t” he replied, before going unconscious. He died before he could be placed in an ambulance.

After the shooting the two gunmen ran down the stairs and found the door locked so they busted through the glass with the butts of their guns. Hearing the shattering glass, Police Lieutenant John Haggerty figured robbers were at work and ran to the scene and grabbed both the gunmen but they beat him with their pistols. They knocked the officer to the ground and kicked and stomped him until he was unconscious then, waving their pistols, they jumped on the running boards of a car containing three men who were leaving town on a fishing trip.

They forced the driver to speed away. A taxi driver who witnessed the getaway hollered to a cop who was arriving on the scene and told him to jump in and they pursued the getaway car. After a short chase the taxi crowded the getaway car to the curb and the officer jumped out and captured the gunmen who had since thrown away their guns.

The gunmen were Joe “Babe” Pioli, twenty-seven, and Terry O'Neill, thirty-one (also an ex-fighter). The men were “questioned” at the High Bridge police station before being transferred to police head quarters. When they showed up at headquarters they were so badly bruised that a doctor was called in to treat them. The police explained that the men had fallen down while leaving the station.

Both men had records and Pioli was known to be a bootlegger. That plus the fact that a barrel filled with empty whiskey bottles in the Club Tia Juana led police to believe that the shooting was a bootlegging quarrel.

Years later it would be said that Brennan was killed over a bootlegging debt owed to Legs Diamond but Pioli was a long time whackadoo who had gotten into a skuffle with Brennan earlier in the evening and came back later to get even.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Me and my shadow

Eighty-eight years ago today nineteen year old Patrick Lynch was checking into Sing Sing for a fifteen year stay. His crimes, attempted burlary and shooting. The victim of the first Edward Jewett, the victim of the second his shadow.

After being released from a stint at Elmira Lynch went right back to his nefarious work. Climbing over the roof tops he went to the home of the aforementioned Jewett and let himself in through the skylight. Lynch crept down stairs and entered the room that Jewett was in. Assuming that the young man was his son, Jewett said something to him. Spooked, Lynch made a run for it. He ran back up the stairs. The moon was shining through the skylight and as Lynch approached it threw his shadow on the wall. Assuming it was Jewett, Lynch opened fire. "Why'd you do it?" cried the shadow as it slid down the wall.

Lynch managed to climb back out the skylight and into the waiting arms of a police officer. Once in front of a Judge Lynch plead guilty to first degree burglary. In what many at the time felt was a miscarriage of justice his shadow was also sentenced to fifteen years.

Addendum: About a year into the sentence Lynch was shivved by his shadow during a riot. Though he survived he was transferred to Dannemora for his own protection while his shadow remained in Sing Sing.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dos hermanos

Eighty-eight years ago today two brothers, Mike and Ralph Latorre, were erased from gangland. For what its worth it was reported that they may have been drug dealers. What is known is that the siblings were walking down James Street and as they passed a coffee house at no. 70 ½ two gun men stepped out and blasted away at them.

Ralph fell to the sidewalk with a mortal wound to the heart. A bullet also lodged in Mike’s lung and he fell to his knees but got back up and made a run for Oak Street with the gunmen on his heels.

The killers fired indiscriminately at Mike as they chased him down the pedestrian packed street. Two innocent men dropped to the ground with wounds to the chest and head as Mike turned the corner onto Oak and headed for the police station.

The gunmen gave up on Mike and dispersed as he made his way to the police station. The killers needn’t of worried however, the one bullet to the lung was sufficient. Mike died the following day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Combination - 4, 1 on the spot, 3 left

In 1930 there was a wee bit of a gang warfare going on in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn between the established hoodlumism of the Shapiro brothers, Meyer and Irving, and the upstarts Abe Reles, Buggsy Goldstein, Harry "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss and the rest of their click which included their counterparts of Ocean Hill (the two gangs united under the moniker of the Combination) who would join the war as allies against the Shapiros.

There were shootings on both sides but on this date back in 1930 it was the Combination that took the fatality when Reles, Goldstein, two other guys named George DeFeo and Joe Ambrosia stopped into a candy store to pick up the profits of a slot machine.

While the quartet was in the store a Shapiro man crept up to their car and slit the rear driver's side tire. When the hoodlums reappeared Reles began to change the tire while his associates loitered about. Moments later a car drove by and a Thompson machine-gun began to spit a fiery death as the pulps might say. All four gangsters took a dose of lead but it was DeFeo who got the worst of it with bullets to the heart and head. Reles, Goldstein and Ambrosia lived to fight another day but DeFeo was done.

The full story on the Shapiro/Combination's battle for Brownsville can be found in Gangster City.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hello 911? Look out your window

As the proprietor of soda stand you’d think that having your business located directly across the street from Police Headquarters would be about the safest place in the city. You would think that, I would think that and 39-year old Joe Goldstein thought so to but on this date in 1920 he was proven wrong.

Joe’s stand was on Grand Street and looking up and across one could see into the office window of Deputy Police Commissioner William Lahey so when a young man with a handkerchief over his face came up to Joe and said, “Throw up your hands!” Joe figured it must be one of the local lads pulling a fast one and laughed. But when the feller with the gun reached over the counter and tried to grab the few dollars Joe had earned that day the proprietor went for him and began to wrestle with him. The gunman pointed his pistol and Joe and sent a bullet into his shoulder and ran off as Joe fell to the ground.

Not seriously wounded Joe got up and went to the sidewalk in time to see the guy high tail down to Lafayette and into the great beyond. Joe looked about wondering where the boys in blue might be. Hmm, apparently the Deputy Commissioner wasn’t in his office either. So Joe and his bullet walked around the corner of Centre Street and up to the entrance where two members of the Italian squad were discussing whether or not they should change the first word in the department’s moniker from Italian to Mod in order to keep up with the times.

The detectives took Joe in and got his story and a handful of detectives went out but were unable to find the gunman. Joe closed shop and reopened in Brownsville for his own safety.

Trivia Q for our Victorian era friends:
On this date in 1921 London reported the death of Roderick McClean who had expired in the Broadmoor Asylum. Who was he? No googling please.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's that you say Mrs. Robinson, Joltin' John has left and gone away?

Some intern here at the DGIS studio was trolling for vintage girlie pics and came up with a few we liked and since our colleague John DuMond is on hiatus and we have some crossover readers who may be jonesing for Mr. DuMond's "Babe of the Week" we thought we would pay homage to Mr. DuMond whilst helping to scratch the itch. So without any further ado please welcome the "Flappers of the week" (or month or year).




Monday, June 7, 2010

Before the storm

It was a busy day in lower Manhattan on this date ninety-eight years ago. A Lt. Becker and his strong arm squad went out on the town and raided numerous spots. The first stop was a saloon at 2 ½ James Street that was ran by Fred Lucas. Inside they found an handful of guys armed with guns, a dirk, blackjack and sap. Five of the guys were also carrying cocaine.
Becker and his boys took the arrestees to the Oak Street station and then headed out for more fun. They entered a number of places in the east village but found nothing good so headed towards Chinatown. On the way they heard a couple of gunshots and gave the neighborhood a thorough going over but found nothing and concluded that it was simply a couple of gangsters having fun at their expense.
Earlier in the day Big Jack Zelig was taken from Bellevue hospital (where he was recovering from a bullet wound) and brought to the criminal court building where he was questioned by the D.A. and Police Inspector about the shooting he was currently recovering from. “I don’t know what any one would want to kill me for.” Jack told them. They sent him back to his bed and jello.
Hmm, Becker and Zelig, wonder if these guys ever crossed paths…Nah, what are the chances? I suspect Becker had a grand career in law enforcement and retired with honors and Zelig realized a gangster’s life was a short one and went on the straight and narrow and neither were ever heard from again.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Waxy loses another

Right on the heels of the Durst and Brady murders another Gordon feller, William “Big Bill” Oppenheim, (so called because of his girth, 350 lbs. not because of his political or financial standings) caught a lethal dose of lead while his boss sat safely behind bars.

Seventy-seven years ago today Oppenheim was walking up the steps to his Patterson, New Jersey apartment when two men approached from behind and called to him. When Big Bill turned to see who it was five bullets slammed into his face. After Oppenheim dropped to the ground the shooters ran up and pumped five more shots into his chest for good measure.

Satisfied with their labors one of the shooters said, "Whew, TGIF huh? Thinning Waxy's ranks is hard work." to which his confederate replied, "Indeed. Say, I think we can still catch happy hour at Chi-Chi's. Raspberry margaritas are on me!"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mr. Gordon loses two employees

On this date in 1933 beer mogul Waxy Gordon was sitting safely in jail waiting for his income tax trial while members of his gang were being thinned out by the Bug & Meyer mob. In the early morning hours of June 2, a car was found in the Bronx containing the body of Abe Durst, a forty- year old associate of the gang leader and later on this night across the river in Passaic, New Jersey, just as patrons were exiting a local theater, a sedan drove down the street and a burst of machine gun fire left Charles Brady, said to be a Gordon associate, dead on the sidewalk. Yes, the good old days when you could go to the local movie palace and see a gangster picture then walk outside and see an actual gangster get sprayed with a tommy gun.

Also on this date in 1915 Owney Madden was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Little Patsy Doyle. If the testimony from his moll wasn't bad enough Owney unwisely took the stand himself and placed the noose that Frieda wove around his neck. After stating that he hadn't learned of Doyle's death until the following day he said that on the night of the murder he and Frieda and Margret Everdeane stayed at a certain place because the latter was afraid the cops would be after her because of the murder. Thought you didn't know about the murder Owney? When his words were served back to him he stood up and started yelling that he wasn't getting fair treatment and was then taken from the courtroom. Guilty!


More on Waxy & Madden can be found in Gangster City.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Going postal

On April 2, 1920 two carloads of yeggs from New York City, Philadelphia and Newark, NJ pulled into the town of Oxford Furnace, North Carolina. They drove up to the town’s post office and let themselves in. The night watchman yelled, “Andy!! Barney!! Quick, citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest.” But was gagged and bound.

With no more interruptions the gang spent two hours blowing the safe. (get your mind out of the gutter) and walked out with $30,000 worth of cash, liberty bonds, stamps and I love pulled pork bumper stickers. The night watchman managed to free himself and a posse was formed but the robbers had made a successful getaway.

The gang of city slickers returned to their flat at 43 Sand Street, Brooklyn and laughed and laughed at the rubes whom they had ripped off. Well, if there is one thing the Postal Service hates it’s dogs that bite. That and being robbed. So the inspectors began to investigate and through their mystical, and un-reported to the press, way they managed to trace the bandits to their Sand Street lair in early May.

Once they found the gangs hideout New York detectives were brought in and the flat was watched for three weeks until they were sure the whole gang was inside and on this date, ninety years ago, they raided the joint.

Once the captives:
John Murray
Walter Murray
Archie Birch
John O’Brien
William Dates
John Lahey
William O’Neill

Were in custody a Sheriff Taylor and his deputy from Oxford Furnace came in and got medieval on their backsides whilst whistling a jaunty little tune.