Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

When a non-stranger calls

It's March 31, 1930. Inside of 341 East 104th Street sits Theodore Pandola. Theo is thirty and owns a coffee roasting business. He also has a police record and is known as a bootlegger. With Theo is his mother and brother. The phone rings. Theo answers it. Listens for a moment. "I'll be right over." Theo tells the caller. Something is amiss as Theo rushes from the apartment. Minutes later Theo is seen walking along 106th street with another man. When they get in front of No. 409 the man pulls a pistol and shoots Theo. Theo drops to the sidewalk. The man stands over him and pumps three more shots into Theo killing him. The man blows the smoke from the barrel and drops it in his coat pocket and escapes via First Avenue.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No happy ending

On this date in 1929 small time hustler Joe Mondello got his. Joe's angle was selling tickets to spaghetti dinners and "Smokers" that never took place. Joe was at a party in Queens and in the wee hours of the morning when all the party goers were inebriated Joe pulled out his bogus tickets and began to ply his trade. He started to pitch a guy who suddenly remembered that he had bought tickets from Joe before and things became heated. What happened next none of the partiers could shed any light on. All that is known is that Joe was found the next morning in the hallway riddled with buckshot. If you like the idea of gangsters and porn, and lets be honest who doesn't, be sure to check out Johnny Porno.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

F*** You, pay me.

Eighty-nine years ago today Joseph Storch learned a fatal lesson about bootleggers. You see Joe made the mistake that they were like any other retailer and, well, heres what happened- Not all the facts are in and all we have is what Mrs. Storch knew as the bootleggers didn't bother giving their side of the story. It all started when Joe made a deal for some booze. The suppliers came to Joe demanding payment. Joe told them that he never received the product. The bootleggers insisted that the delivery had been made and they told Joe that they would be back in two hours and if he didn't pony up the dough it would be just to bad. Was the delivery made? Perhaps. Maybe since Joe was a greenhorn he told them to deliver it to a certain locale and he himself wasn't on hand. Perhaps the bootleggers took advantage of Joe's naivety and stole back the booze. We don't know. All we know is that Joe never saw the stuff. Back to Joe's apartment, a friend stopped by and he, Joe and Joe's better half were discussing the deal when the obligatory dark sedan pulled up in front of Joe's apartment building. Two guys got out leaving the driver and two others inside. They went to Joe's door and sent a tenant up to tell Joe a couple of "friends" wanted to see him. The neighbor went up and told Joe about the guys. Mrs. Joe pleaded with her husband not to go down stairs but he said, "It all right. It's most likely those bootleggers. There'll be no trouble. They didn't deliver the stuff and they can't expect me to pay for it." Assuming that the bootleggers shared the same business practices of, say, Sears, Joe went down stairs. He informed the gangsters that they would not be receiving monies owed and they responded by sending a bullets into Joe's forehead and neck. At the sound of the shots the sedan started drifting down the street and the gunmen jumped on the running boards and made their getaway. Mrs. Storch and the friend ran down and found Joe in the vestibule dying, but a little wiser.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Backyardigan

While walking to his garage, eighty years ago this morning, a Queens resident saw something peculiar in his back yard. The object turned out to be Brooklyn racketeer Joe Madonia. Madonia, who was shot once in the head, was involved in both policy and a bakers union. It was said that if bakers didn't buy their flour from vendors designated by Madonia they could expect damage to both their property and themselves. Other than a woman who claimed to hear what could have been a gunshot or a car backfiring a little after midnight, there were no other clues to the murder. Why the killers took the trouble to dump Madonia in somebod's back yard, who knows.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shoulda stuck with the cards, Elmer

Seventy-eight years ago Elmer Johnson, a "card sharp and petty racketeer" (not sure what the petty rackets were) took part in the robbery of a speakeasy. On this date back in that year Elmer was strolling down the street at 2:00a.m. as card sharps and petty racketeers are wont to do.

Elmer's walk was interrupted by not one, not two, not three nor four but five bullets, which were pumped into his back by Ernie Snyder. We know it was Ernie because Elmer said so in the hospital. There was another guy there too that Elmer knew, Carl Christianson. The police ran out and snagged Ernie and Carl and paraded them in front of Elmer.

Elmer identified Ernie and Carl backed him up stating that the shooting was the result of Elmer's participation in the speakeasy robbery. Elmer then passed. His last words being, "I own a mansion and a yacht."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Road trip

Eighty years ago Andrew D'Amato was a prosperous young owner of a Harlem speakeasy called the Bible Club. While imbibing in a another joint back on this date someone(s) pumped three bullets into his skull.

To avoid a mess a table cloth was wrapped around his head and he was loaded into a car. His killers took a road trip out near Mt. Vernon and dumped him along the road where a milkman found him the following morning.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dead drunk

Eighty-two years ago today somebody saw what they assumed to be a drunk sleeping it off in the gutter. Being the good samaritan that they were they called the cops and asked that they come and pick him up.

A cop was dispatched and, while trying to wake the drunk up, discovered that the man had had only one shot. Unfortunately it was to his head. The dead guy, Michael Candella as it would turn out, was clasping a gun and there was evidence of a shoot out. If I left out any drunk/dead puns feel free to leave them.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Two minutes with Allan May

While in Cleveland the other week for yearly protest at the Rock 'n' Roll hall of fame. (I won't rest until the Wayouts get inducted!) whom should I run into but organized crime historian Allan May. Needing a break from my picketing I ran up to Mr. May and asked him a few questions. Fortunately I had my pocket reel to reel tape recorder on me and am able to transcribe our conversation.

DGIS: Funny running into you here as I was reading your new book Gangland Gotham: New York's Notorious Mob Bosses on the bus ride down. Can you describe the book for those who have yet to pick up a copy.

Allan May: At $95 a pop, it's not an easy thing to pick up. Basically the book consist of ten biographies of New York City's most well known mob bosses.

DGIS: How did you come to write the book?

AM: I was approached by Greenwood Press to write the book back in 2005.

DGIS: How difficult was it writing about guys like Adonis, Anastasia etc. who don't have bios already written about them? Was info harder to come by?

AM: I started out by reviewing all the books in which they appeared, built a time line and then used the New York Times and other New York newspapers to create the story.

DGIS: What were some of the biggest surprises you found during your research?

AM: I guess coming across mistakes that some writers have made that get picked up and repeated over and over again. The most blatant ones being, perhaps, the murder of Joe Masseria and Dutch Schultz.

DGIS: You don't seem to feel that mob turn coat Joe Valachi is the big reservoir of mafia history that the rest of the gangster community seems to think.

AM: I've always had trouble with his memories. Take the "Joe the Baker" shooting for instance, his story just doesn't jive with most of the newspaper reportst of the time. I understand he was looking back at over 30 years, and if that is the source of his discrepancies why didn't Peter Maas check it. That would have been easy enough to do.

DGIS: Who would you rather ow money to Vito Genovese or Albert Anastasia?

AM: It doesn't matter because they're both dead. Thank God.

DGIS: What was the most uttered phrase in gangdom:

A) Who's your tailor?

B)Where's my money?

C) What's an infinitive and why does the Dutchman want his split?

D) I decline to answer on the grounds that it might incriminate me.

AM: Mayby those were the catch phrases during the first half of the 20th Century, but I think for the last 60 years it's more like, "is that the damn Feds at the door...again?"

DGIS: Seeing that you know most everything about Cleveland's crime history, I have a theory that Eliot Ness was the torso killer, thoughts?

AM: Eliot Ness was my hero from childhood days. He was the reason I began reading and researching organized crime. In 1997 I was able to get his cremated ashes, which had been sitting in his daughter-in-law's garage for some 40 years and turn them over to Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. the Cleveland Police Historic Society then held a memorial service for him, his third wife and adopted son, which included the spreading of their ashes in Wade Lagoon in September of that year.

DGIS: I'll take that as a no.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clothes unmake the man

"I tell ya fellas, after this heist you'll never have to work again." 34-year old Emilio Ferrando told his accomplices.
" Ok, we'll trust you, but if we find nothing but clothes like we did last time. We leave you in the street along with the duds. See?"
"Deal."

That's what I imagine the conversation went like on this date back in 1929 a few hours before police stumbled upon the body of gambler and small time thief Emilio Ferrando. EF was shot in the face at close range and also had bullets in his back and shoulder. On another street they found a bundle of stolen suits and coats.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Casper the deadly ghost

Because of two recent, though separate, suicides, Mrs. Farrell's tenement house was considered to be haunted. In fact only one family remained in the building everyone else moved out. Twas 6:30 in the evening on this date back in 1927 when Mrs. Farrell ascended the staircase in her task of lighting the hallway lights.

When she got to the top floor she tripped over something. That something turned out to be a man, judging by appearances, of Italian descent, about forty years old. Mrs. Farrell barrelled down the stairs and got the police.

The corpse had no identification but he did have bullets in the head, shoulder and leg. He had a gun in his pocket and two more were found on the floor near him. One missing the three bullets that now rested in the dead man. The walls and a door showed evidence of another gun being fired. Oddly, Mrs. Farrell had heard nothing. The one remaining family in the building also had heard nothing.

So we have a dead guy, who didn't live in the building, a victim of a gunfight that nobody heard. The police went next door and began to ask questions. Turns out that the woman who lived in the adjoining apartment heard a little something that morning at 10:30. That something sounded like a struggle followed by a guy yelling, "Oh my God don't! Oh my God!" followed by a number of gun shots then silence.

When asked why she didn't report anything she said she was afraid the killers would come for her. Police chalked the murder up to a bootleggers feud. But having seen one or two shows on the paranormal I think it's fairly obvious that this was the working of one pissed off incubus, or is it succubus or omnibus...well one of the buses did it anyways I'm sure.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Dead Baron

Eighty-one years ago today two hundred employees of a tin can factory near the Brooklyn waterfront, who were on their lunch break, didn't witness the murder of William "Baron" Simpson who was shot in the back of the head next to their building.

Baron was the boss of a group of dock workers and was known as a fierce street fighter. According to his brother Whitey, the dead man had just beaten up three guys an hour before the shooting. Police chalked it up to just another murder in the long line of dock racket killings which plagued the Irish waterfront.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sam I Was

Eighty-four years ago this evening the Madison Street Boys were hanging out at their club, the Madison Street Boys club. At about midnight they heard some shooting and ran into the hallway where they found one of their own, Sam Raplansky, on the floor with bullet wounds to the body, chin and left eye. Not knowing that Sam was already dead, the hailed a cab and loaded him inside for the ride to the hospital where they learned that their labors were in vain.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Up on the roof

Eight-thirty this evening will mark the 76th anniversary of Salvatore Natoli being lured to the top of a Harlem tenement and shot in the head. Sally had served a term at Elmira for robbery and, at the time of his death, had a Federal drug charge against him. Perhaps there were those who didn't want to see him go to trial.