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

Monday, April 30, 2012

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 eighty years ago today.

Judging by his movements Block didn't know he was a marked man. He picked his wife up at 7th Ave and 47th Street and they had dinner in the restaurant at the Paramount hotel. This was followed by a late show at the Capitol Theater. Afterwards 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 at 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 ran out of the foyer and escaped in a tan sedan. 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.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hello, I'm Johnny Cashel

And on this date in 1929 somebody shot me in New York City just to watch me die.
Now, let me get out my geetar and tell you all about it...Hear, that, thats the tune to Folsom Prison Blues, sing along...

Four guys done approached me,
one of them had gun
we spoke for just a second
then started all the fun.

Yeah, Four shots were fired
I was hit in my front and side
A cabby rushed me to the hospital
and that is where I died.

The guys who killed me
never did no time
A cop who said he knew me
claimed I was deep in crime.

Sure I had a record
I never said I was square
and I ended up a statistic
of Prohibition gang warfare.

Thank you! Buy a T-shirt on the way out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A motley crue chief

Way back on this date in 1911, Tom(my) Lee, the unofficial “Mayor of Chinatown” and head of the On Leong Tong was arrested while eating his lunch. The charge? Gasp! Why there was gambling going on in that (at the time) tiny little district encompassing Mott, Doyers and Pell streets.

The police were given evidence that, each week, Lee was paid tribute to the tune of $15 per gambling table in his bailiwick. And that there were nintey-five tables. Not bad. Where did the police get their info? Why none other than Mock Duck, Lee’s chief rival, and top dog in the Hip Sing tong.

It also came out that Lee didn’t actually keep all of that gambling loot either, that some of it was, surprise!, kicked upstairs to politicians. My, my who’d a thunk it.

Mock Duck may have thought he was being pretty foxy but he was also arrested. Turns out during a previous arrest for an old murder charge he had promised to leave town if given bail. So he was released and came back and apparently forgot about his promise.

Both Tong leaders were forced to sit down for a forty-five minute lecture from the Police Commissioner in which they were told that gambling in Chinatown had to stop and that the Tong members had to stop carrying guns around as well. Both Tong men assured the Commissioner that his wishes would be granted. After a moment's silence all three men started to snicker then laughter rolled out of the Commissioner's office and echoed throughout headquarters. Why nothing was gonna change you big sillies. To add to the charade Lee and Duck walked out together smiling as if they were old chums.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Not since the Dalton Brothers were shot to pieces in Coffeyville, Kansas have three siblings fell so fast before an enemies gun until the Lawlor brothers caught lead on this date back in 1930 . The Lawlors, however, were not trying to rob a bank when they were shot down. Not that they were above banditry, the brothers all had police records and were not unknown to prison, but they in fact were toiling in the Hells Kitchen speakeasy owned by their brother in-law Bartley Cronin when the end came.

Twenty-three year old Lawrence was behind the bar when gangster in training David Beadle entered the tavern and began waving a pistol around. Knowing the violent history of the Lawlor Brothers, the customers began to inch their way to the door as Lawrence began to holler at twenty-two year old Beadle. Beadle began gloating about his toughness, which only enraged Lawrence who came out from behind the bar and went for the gunman.

Beadle pointed his gun at Lawrence’s heart and pulled the trigger. Lawrence dropped in the doorway that separated the bar and the back room. Hearing the shot, brothers Michael and William ran out of the rear room and, seeing their prostrate brother, jumped over him and rushed Beadle who fired off another fusillade. Three of the bullets found their mark, Michael was hit in both the head and chest and William was critically wounded in the stomach. Beadle made his getaway but was later picked up by the police.

Lawrence was dead before the authorities arrived and Michael, age thirty, died at the hospital. Thirty-three year old William eventually recovered. While in the hospital William refused to answer any questions, which didn’t surprise the police because on the previous August 23, he was shot in the groin and refused to say anything.

Monday, April 23, 2012

And the Weiner is...

Today marks the seventy-seventh anniversary of hoodlum Robert Weiner taking his final bow on the Gangster City stage.

Weiner first came to attention in 1926 when he was arrested for his participation in the botched Tombs breakout by his pal Hyman Amberg and the latter’s associates Robert Berg and Mike McKenna. After being interrogated by Sgt. Rubberhose and Lt. Blackjack he signed a confession stating that he supplied the guns used in the deadly break out.

He spent thirteen months on death row because of the confession but was subsequently released after a retrial. At the very least it seems that he was going to act as getaway driver for the escapees.

In December of 1928 Weiner was arrested with three other bandits during an attempted safe blowing. Since they were picked up before they actually got into the safe they only received two years for having guns.

Weiner next shows up in custody in 1932 for his part in trying to organize a pharmacy racket. Nothing came of it. The Weinster managed to stay out of sight until April 20, 1935 when he was taking part in a supposed drug deal. Something went awry and Weiner pulled his gun and fired two shots into another guy’s throat. Some one else pulled out his roscoe and sent a .38 caliber telegram into Weiner’s windpipe.

Both bad men were taken to Bellevue hospital where Weiner.., well, we already know what happened to him.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pop gets popped

John “Pop” Egan had been out of Sing Sing for four months when he was sleeping in the rear of Samuel Zournagian’s grocery store on this date back in 1927. Police said that the store also doubled as a gang hangout. At about 9:15 pm three men came into the rear of the building and woke up Pop. As the ex-con was rising, one of the men drew a pistol and popped him twice in the head. Pop went back to sleep. Two men, James Durkin and Thomas “Scrub” Morrissey, were both subsequently arrested for the murder but both were acquitted June 19, 1928 for lack of evidence.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dealing in the Devil's dandruff

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 reportedly 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 waterfront. 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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Back to work...sooner or later.

Took the staff away for spring break last week. Working for a non-profit like the DGIS Institute really has it's advantages. A nice getaway paid for by the money we didn't spend on taxes.
Here we are upon arrival. Interns do like to surf...
And dance...
And swing...
While us more mature types just relax on the beach. I hate when the snap the picture before I'm ready.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Freedom or bust

Eighty-two years ago today Anthony Tarrella became an ex-con by escaping from Sing Sing prison but not in the way he intended. After dinner he and the other inmates were out in the yard when the call came to line up and return to their cells.

As the convicts were marching in Tarrella suddenly ran for the wall in full view of the machine-gun toting guards. His brothers in stripes yelled for him to stop but he made it to the wall and scaled the twelve feet and dropped over. He ran to the second wall, an eighteen footer, and climbed that one too as one of the guards raised his Tommy gun and yelled, “Stay where you are or I’ll shoot!”

Tarrella flung himself off the wall and was momentarily free as his body flew into the Hudson River, but just as he splashed down the officer with the Thompson let go with a blast. Moments later Tarrella floated to the surface, an ex-convict