Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We were already robbed today what else could possibly go wrong?

Hours after it had been robbed of $4,000 on this date back in 1928 John’s Lunchroom, which doubled as a saloon, was busy with about twenty patrons. One of those was James “Lefty” Doyle.

While Doyle enjoyed his food and drink a man wearing a gray suit and brown slouch hat entered. He calmly surveyed the lunchroom and when he spotted Lefty he pulled out a gun and started to fire.

Everyone ran for cover as Lefty was brought down with a bullet in the back. Though frightened, the other patrons had nothing to worry about as the gunman was a crack shot. His next bullet also hit Doyle in the body and this was followed up with two more shots to the head.

His job complete, the killer placed the gun in his pocket and looked about the room before calmly walking out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Don't do the crime if you can't get shot numerous times. (Don't do it)

Today marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the pass of Frank Dolak and Benny Holinksy. Who were they you ask? Well they were part of a gang of Bronx kidnappers who thought they would make some quick dough by kidnapping a bookie named Bart Salvo and ransoming him back to his outfit. Unfortunately for they gang they either didn’t know or care that Salvo was a connected mob guy.

To make a long story short, Salvo was snatched and ransomed then it was retribution time. Flush with cash the gang was planning their next move. Dolak and Holinsky picked up a third member of the gang named Miller and they went for a ride. Holinsky at the wheel, Miller riding shotgun and Dolak in the rear.

After a bit Holinksy announced that they were being tailed by whom he thought were cops but were in fact gun toting gangsters sent to kill them. Holinksy pulled over to see if the cops were indeed following them.

Seizing the opportunity the gangster car pulled up alongside and three men, armed with pistols, jumped out. Miller saw what was happening right away and jumped out his door and rolled on the sidewalk, got up and took off as one of the gunmen fired some shots in his direction. Holinsky and Dolak were trapped on the other hand were trapped and the two remaining gunmen pumped bullet after bullet into their bodies. They lingered in the hospital a few hours before expiring.

The full story behind the kidnapping and other depredations of Holinksy & Dolak’s gang can be found in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I ain't afraid of no ghost...Ok maybe this one.

Saturday night 8/28 at 10:00pm
tune in to the Biography Channel's
Find out where Mad Dog Coll can currently be found hanging out.
A unique story we assure you.
Our blogfather Pat Downey supplied the show's producers with some back ground info on the subject's living years which can be found in Gangster City. He may also be seen on the show as a dollar bill slinging club patron along with this guy (providing that they didn't end up on the cutting room floor.)

Happy Days

The summer of 1930 was rich with gangland murder. One of the wars going on at that time was fought in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn between the Shapiro Brothers and what would become Murder Inc.

During the war a Shapiro man named Joey Silvers tried unsuccessfully to kill Harry “Happy” Maione. Maione however squared things with Silvers on this date eighty-years ago. Silvers had just pulled his car out into traffic when Maione and three other men ran up and jumped on his running boards, “You’re the guy who was gonna put me on the spot for Meyer Shapiro and now I’m gonna give it to you.” Maione was heard to yell. Then he gave it to him, a .45 slug in the chest. The gunmen jumped off of Silver’s car and got into a getaway car, which was driving along side, and disappeared.

As AAA will tell you, driving with a .45 slug in the chest is not safe. Silvers careened into some parked cars. An ambulance was called and Silvers was rushed to a hospital where he lingered on long enough to break the underworld code of silence. When asked who shot him the dying gangster replied, “Hap. A guy named Happy.” Of course it took more than the word of an expiring hood to send a guy to jail so Maione remained a free man

Want more about the Shapiro-Murder Inc. war? Check out Gangster City

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wong did it wrong

During the summer of 1921 there was a notorious case in which some Black Handers kidnapped a young boy named Giuseppi Varotta and killed him after his father didn’t pay the ransom.

In Chinatown a twenty-one year old ship’s steward named Hong Wong followed the story and got the idea that black handing shouldn’t be simply an Italian enterprise so got himself some paper and a pen.

Wong however didn’t really understand the intricacies of black mailing; the three or so anonymous letters telling where to drop the money etc. Instead he wrote a note saying, in effect, “Give Hong Wong $350 or meet instant death.” and hand delivered the note to Kong Chong Wing an importer.

Wing read the note while Wong stood by waiting for the payoff. Wing, not doubt perplexed, didn’t do anything right away so Wong whipped out a knife and started slashing away. Luckily for Wing a cop was nearby and subdued the would be black hander.

On this date back in the summer of ’21 Wong pleaded guilty to felonious assault and was shipped off to Sing Sing for 2.5-5 years.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Only Moe knows

In the past twenty-six year old Moe Schwartz was involved in a number of transportation companies and was currently half owner of sight seeing business. On this date back in 1923 Moe told his partner that he had to meet some people on the lower eastside at 9:00pm.

While Moe was waiting at the designated spot two men slipped up behind him and fired three bullets into his back. Schwartz fell face down on the sidewalk as the two gunmen escaped in the pandemonium that followed.

Two cops who happened to be near by took him to the station and then thought it might be prudent to take a man with three bullets in his back to the hospital. Moe cashed in before making it or saying anything about the shooting.

Authorities were perplexed by the shooting because Schwartz didn’t have a police record and was known as an upstanding citizen. Other than the fact that Moe told him that he had a “business engagement” his partner couldn’t (or wouldn’t) shed any light on the murder. Like a lot of the murders on the lower eastside that summer this one was chalked up to Kid Dropper although no motive was given.

Seeing that his killers knew exactly where he was going to be at a certain time it is obvious that he was set up. Perhaps he was a legitimate businessman and was bucking The Dropper’s attempts at extortion or even though he had a clean record, maybe Moe was involved in some dirty dealings after all he kept mum till the end.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Five to one, baby

In the old Whitehand territory of Brooklyn known as Irishtown, now called Dumbo, thirty-four year old Felix Deegan was drunk and arguing with five guys at 10:30pm on this date back in 1924.*

A beat cop came along and shooed away the five guys and told Deegan to go home. An hour later the same officer responded to four gunshots and found Deegan sprawled on the sidewalk with two bullets in his head and two in his chest. Seeing the five men escaping in a taxi the cop commandeered another and gave chase but, alas, the gangsters escaped.

Deegan died during the ambulance ride to the hospital. Even though a .38 was found on his body and his family admitted that he was most likely killed in a gang feud, they denied he was a gangster. In fact he had just passed examinations and was awaiting an appointment in either the police or fire department.

*I have to doubt this portion of the story. Who ever heard of Irish guys getting drunk and arguing?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wrong place wrong time

New York had their very own version of the St. Valentines Day Massacre when three men were kidnapped from a dance club, driven to a remote area, lined up against a wall and mowed down with machine guns. Wow! A mini-massacre. How come we never heard of that before. Well, cause it didn’t really happen that way, but the editors of the daily rags thought it sounded good and, really when you think about it, why bother with facts. However, when only one of the victims died it was learned that .38’s were used and not machine guns so the public was un-impressed and the story was quickly forgotten…til now.

Anthony Ferrara stepped out of a Brooklyn Dance with friends Angelo Ciurrani and Murray Leonardi and he was jumped by two men and dragged to a sedan and tossed into the rear tonneau where gang leader Barney Wolfson and two others waited.

Wolfson informed the two kidnappers that they grabbed the wrong guy, it was Ciurrani that he wanted not Ferrara. You see Wolfson lead a gang of desperadoes that did some robbin’ and supposedly some killin’ and Ciurrani was a former member of a Wolfson mob who had “failed to connect” on a couple of jobs and to make matters worse was now bad mouthing Wolfson. So, with pistols drawn the two men went back and got Ciurrani and Leonardi and forced them into the car at gun point. They only wanted one but since there were three and dead men tell no yarns…

The three amigos were taken to a lumberyard in a secluded part of Brooklyn and lined up against the wall. Unfortunately for Ferrara, Wolfson an ex-marine with much gun experience, stood behind him while Ciurrani and Leonordi had average gun-toting schmoes behind them. The signal was given and Ferrara dropped with a bullet in the head while Ciurrani and Leonardi’s would be executioners missed completely and the duo made a run for it. However, Wolfson managed to bring both down with two shots a piece before they got far.

The killers drove away while Ciurrani and Leonardi, both still alive, began to crawl to safety. Luckily for the wounded men the night watchman from the slaughterhouse across the street heard the shooting and called the authorities who arrived in minutes. Although unconscious when the ambulance arrived, Ciurrani came to in the hospital and told the police what happened.

Five days later police got a tip that a group of gangsters were holing up in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn . With upwards of thirty officers armed with shotguns, riot guns and tear gas the authorities surrounded the building. Three detectives made their way to the second story apartment and, hearing voices inside, knocked on the door. No one responded to the knock so the detectives proceeded to blow the lock off the door with a shotgun.

Inside they found seven members of the gang, one, Harry Liebowitz, on the floor screaming over a superficial wound. The others, including Wolfson, were all found hidden around the apartment and gave up without a fight. In addition to a number of robberies and two murders, the police tried to blame the lumber yard shooting on them and after nineteen hours of "questioning" the gang admitted to the shooting.

Twenty-four year old Ferrara, although killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, was a member of the underworld. He had a record dating back to 1922 when he was arrested as a juvenile delinquent. He was arrested again on November 27, 1929 for assault and robbery but discharged only to be arrested a month later with Leonardi for robbery for which both young men were sent to Elmira.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Great Chase

Eighty-nine years ago today at about 5:15 pm thirty-three year old James Savarino came barreling around the corner of Hester Street and starting running up Christie, knocking down whoever got in his way. A few seconds later another man holding a gun turned the corner. He paused for a moment then catching sight of Savarino began the chase anew.

To the witnesses it appeared that Savarino was going to get away but then a Packard touring sedan turned the corner and proceeded to speed the wrong way up the one way street, dodging the on coming cars. As the Packard reached the gunman he fired off one shot to no effect and then jumped on the running board. Savarino was quickly approaching the next corner when the Packard pulled along side him and, as it continued to weave in an out of traffic, the gunman blasted away at the running man.

The first shot from the car hit a woman in the chest causing what doctors considered to be a fatal injury. Two more innocent bystanders were hit before the final shot caught Savarino in the right breast bringing him down.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Murder in da Bronx

In the Bronx back on this date in 1922 twenty-one year old Daniel DeManna was arguing with a couple of other Italian fellers at the intersection of Arthur Avenue and 183rd Street a little before 8:00pm.

The quarrel ended with the two guys issuing threats to DeManna. As the latter went his way they twosome followed him on the other side of the street. Just before they reached Hughes Avenue the two men drew pistols and started banging away at DeManna, who in turn pulled out a .45 and returned the fire.

During the exchange of led DeManna caught a slug under the heart and staggered a few feet before dropping. His assailants fled.

DeManna was taken to the hospital where the police charged him violation of the Sullivan law. They also told him he was probably gonna die and that he should name the guys who perforated him. “I don’t know what it was all about.” He told the detective. He escaped the mandatory jail term for the gun law by dying the next day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gone in 240 seconds

Way back in the days of old one of the Starbucks of the era was the United Cigar Store. You couldn't swing a dead cat in NYC without hitting one. Since nearly everyone smoked back then they did a thriving business and were a constant target of bandits.

During evening rush hour on this date back in 1921 Victor Milch was behind the counter at the shop located at 2095 Eighth Ave. at 113th Street when three young men "correct in their dress and manner" entered.

One of the trio asked for a specific brand of cigarette and when Milch bent over to get them the guy stepped around the counter with a gun. His confederates drew their irons as well. "Get into the back room." Milch was ordered. On the way one of the bandits tripped him and they all jumped on him. One stuffed a gag in his mouth while the other two tied his hands and feet with clothesline.

Once Milch was on the floor the bandits helped themselves to the $45 in the register and sauntered out. Fifteen bucks per man for a possible prison term of fifteen years for armed robbery...Not sure that was worth it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Graveyard shift

At about 3:00 am, on this date back in 1919, police responded to shots heard in a vacant lot that was previously part of a cemetery. There they found a prostrate twenty-eight year old man who identified himself as Tony Santino.

Though shot five times, Tony was still drawing air when police arrived. He gave a brief description of his assailants before yielding up the ghost. Down at the morgue police took his fingerprints and his picture was located in the Rogue’s Gallery under the name of Tony Contino. He had served a sentence in 1916 at Elmira for robbery.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wild wild west

You got your saloon.
You got your swinging doors
You got your six shooter.

But you ain’t got your cowboys. You got New York boys, literally.

On today’s date, a century plus two years ago, eighteen year old Billy Clayborn was standing at the bar of Cohen’s saloon at 103rd & Madison. He was chewing the rag with his pal Harry Weinreid when the swinging doors opened and a pistol popped into view.

A shot was fired and the mirror behind the bar shattered (shadooby). The second one hit Clayborn in the gut. The bartender ran to the doors but was unable to see the shooter. Weinreid hoisted his buddy up and took him to Harlem Hospital where he got all patched up and lived to gang bang another day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Snack attack

Twas this day back in 1921 it twas, that 29-year old nogoodnik Frank Lorrella (probably an alias) was rubbed out in a park job. A park job is kind of like ride job but the car is parked when the victim is killed.

Lorella pulled up to a deli for a sandwich and coffee. After making his purchase he got back in his auto and released the break. As he did so a “squat, swarthy man” appeared and opened fire with a .25 automatic pistol. The first shot missed and Lorella ducked down in the car.

Pedestrians started going bananas but the gunman ignored the mayhem going on around him and walked up to the car and fired four more times hitting Lorella in the throat, arm, side and heart. Frank was done.His mission complete, the killer then escaped through a nearby tenement.

According to his police record Lorella, who had been arrested about ten times over the years, did a ten-month stretch starting on October10, 1910 and got another two years on July 30, 1913. He was last in police custody the previous April 16, when he was arrested for carrying a gun.