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, December 28, 2015

The Office

Philadelphia gangsters Sam Grossman and Al Skale sat in the office of their second story gambling and drinking resort the "Jewish Social Cub" located at the south east corner of Girard Avenue and Watts Street. Sam and Al were former lieutenants in Mickey Duffy's gang. Former because Mickey was rubbed out in an Atlantic City hotel the previous summer. Both Grossman and Skale had been picked up as material witnesses and were currently out on bail.

But eighty-four years ago today they were in their office at the club. Grossman sat at the desk, Skale  perched on top. They may have been divvying up the nights receipts as the former had $1000 in his hand as five armed men entered the club and headed directly for the office. Once inside the quintet played a hot number with their .38s. No encore required.

Police were pretty quick to respond. When they entered the office Grossman was keeled over the desk, that grand tight in one fist a gun in the other. His eyes were glazing over but, not wanting to take any chances, a cop knocked the gun from his hand. Skale was blown off the desk and found floundering on the floor amidst $400 in small bills and an ever increasing puddle of his own blood.
"Who shot you?", a cop asked,
"[expletive of your choosing] that. I don't know. Get me out of here."
Grossman was questioned but either couldn't or wouldn't respond.

Both men were taken to the hospital where they died a short time later.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

You better watch out,

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a Frankenstein* carrying a mermaid, well to me anyways. The DGIS Institute wishes everyone a Happy/Merry Holiday.

*I know technically its Frankentstein Monster but I'm not a purist.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Beware the Ides of December

T'was just about 6:00a.m., in New York City, on this date back in 1927 when Richard Lubey crossed the threshold into his apartment after a long night of managing his speakeasy. At the ripe old age of six and twenty years, Lubey had many a crime attributed to him, crimes like gun possession, robbery and counterfeiting.

Anywho-ville, his wife who slumbered in the next room, heard him enter and begin to disrobe. First his coat and then his vest. But before anymore articles of clothing could be removed there was a rapping, some might say a gentle tapping, a tapping at the apartment door. "Tis some gangster," Lubey muttered, "tapping at my apartment door. Only this and nothing more."

Mrs. Lubey heard him answer the door but paid no attention to the conversation he had with the early morning visitor.
Ah, but she would henceforth remember/what happened next in that bleak December/ when from the underworld came forth a member/ come to settle a bootlegging score.
A bullet lodged above her bed/ which first passed through her husband's head/ her husband who now lay dead, dead upon the foyer floor.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dear Sir or Madam....

The paperback version of my new book - Hollywood on the Spot: Crimes Against the Early Movie Stars is now available on Amazon.
Remember you heard it here first!

Pulpy goodness

"Ok, ok, you don't look like Leo Gorcey!!!"

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Two dead guys and a partridge in a pear tree

Was on this morning in 1928 when some early birds came to an intersection in Chicago Heights and found...a magic hat which they placed on a snowman who miraculously came to life...just kidding, it wasn't a magic hat they found but a dead body with four bullets in the head and neck.

Now I feel bad.

Here you were thinking you were going to be treated to a nice holiday story and I talk about dead gangsters...let's try again shall we? While Chicagoans were trying to figure out who was blocking their intersection on this date back in 1928, about four hundred miles away in Mount Clemens, Michigan, a trucker was hauling produce to Detroit when something off to the side of the road caught his eye. He put on the breaks. Jumping to the road he ran up and found a magic hat. He put it on the nearest snowman who then began to dance around....ok, I lied again. He didn't find a hat it was dead gangster who had been shot and then his body lit on fire.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Unlucky Luciano

Eighty-five years ago last night Nick Luciano, called “Cheeks” because of a long scar on the right side of his face, was invited to a small dinner party at a “grimy” lower Eastside restaurant. After nearly a year of seclusion in Bayonne, NJ Luciano gladly accepted the invitation. You see, the reason Nick was in Jersey was because he squealed on some former gun toters he palled around with which ended up with them going to the chair. These guys had friends and Nick knew they weren't going to let bygones be bygones.

     So into New York Nick went. The party, consisting of four other men and three women, was going well and all seemed to be having a good time when at 4:00am the next morning an undetermined number of men entered the restaurant and made their way to the back room where Luciano and his cohorts were having their fun. The men approached the party and pulled out pistols. Knowing Luciano’s history, the men and women who were a moment before partying with him all quickly vacated the premises and left “Cheeks” to his fate. Once they had him isolated the gunmen opened up and perforated Nick with twenty bullets.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Coming soon...

Hollywood On The Spot: Crimes Against the Early Movie Stars. The lives of Hollywood’s early movie stars have become the stuff of legend; the glitz and the glamour, the conspicuous consumption, the never ending carousel of parties and premieres. Rarely discussed is the dark side of their stardom; the constant fear that at any time they could become victims of gunmen, kidnappers, or extortionists. In these pages are the stories that normally get left out of the Hollywood history books: the armed robberies, home invasions and the threats of abduction, maiming, and murder that plagued Tinseltown throughout the early years. Whether it was “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford or sex siren Mae West – no star was immune. Hollywood on the Spot brings to light the nightmares inside the Dream Factory.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

They can't all have a story

Let us remember John Cody, said to be a member of St. Louis' Cuckoo gang, who was found in a ditch on this date back in 1927. What he did or didn't do to end up in a ditch on the outskirts of town wasn't stated. We here at DGIS offer a few motives.
1) Gang warfare
2) Internecine gang warfare
3) Highjacking booze
4) Somehow wronging some other underworld figure
5) Stating that "Al Jolson really sings!" in the Jazz Singer without first saying, "Spoiler alert."

Monday, November 30, 2015

Four, make that three fierce Flanagans

Ninety-three years ago today Tom Flanagan, one of the four fierce Flanagans - a quartet of gun wielding law breaking brothers- gave up the ghost after somebody pumped a bullet into his chest at Yumpsy Cunningham's saloon. His pals, being the good guys that they were, placed him in a cab and sent him to his fathers apartment. Pop Flanagan, being of sounder mind thought that a hospital would probably be a better place. He fetched a cop who saw that Tom made it to Bellevue without further ado.

Inside the hospital, Tom was questioned about the shooting but, having memorized the Official Rules of the Underworld Volumes I-IV, he refused to say anything about it and passed out of this life at the ripe old age of thirty.

Now, don't go confusing Tom with his little brother Joe who followed his brother to an early grave in November of 1929.(Remember him? He was the guy found in the hallway.)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pulpy goodness

Ever wonder why you can't buy a drink at the circus? Clowns + booze = gunplay

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dead men write no tales deux

Eighty-three years ago this evening Francis Fabrizzio sat in the Brooklyn apartment of his parents. In addition to a couple of siblings was a lawyer who was helping Francis out with a literary project. You see, Mr. Fabrizzio was a life long bad guy. Two of his younger brothers were both killed by gangster guns and Francis decided the best way to get back at the underworld was to expose them and so, to that end, he wrote a book.
    As the Fabrizzio family dined, the lawyer punched the typewriter transcribing Francis' memoir.  After a bit there was a knock at the door. The senior Mr. Fabrizzio answered. Three guys flipped some badges and said they wanted to talk to his son. Frances was summoned and asked to step into the hallway. If you guessed that the trio weren't really detectives good for you. Moments after Frances entered the hall the family heard four shots. Mr. and Mrs. Fabrizzio rushed to find their third son claimed by the gun....oh, the manuscript? Coppers took it, evidence you know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Baby Joe has left and gone away

Today marks the 86th anniversary of the passing of "Baby" Joe Flanagan. The youngest of New York City's the "Four Fierce Flanagan's ", Joe was the second brother to die by the gun. Brother Tom preceded him by seven years.
      It was Sunday when Joe was eliminated from the underworld and it was a churchgoer who found him. As the pious one was leaving his apartment he saw Joe lying in the hallway and thought he was sleeping off a drunk. When the man returned after the services the “drunk” was still there so the man took a closer look and realized that the “drunk” was in fact quite dead.
     Not quite sure why the dumped Joe in a hallway but then again not quite sure why a lot of these guys did what they did.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dead Men Write No Tales

On this date back in 1930 New York gangster Frank Calibrese and his cohorts were involved in a shooting with rivals. Frank was hit by five shots, one of which smashed into his mouth and cut off his tongue. His partners loaded him into their car and drove him to the house of one of Frank’s distant relatives, Dr. Edward Caselnova. Realizing he couldn't do much for him the doctor brought Frank to the hospital where police questioned him. Since he was missing part of his tongue Frank could only communicate with pencil and paper. In response to police questions Frank wrote down his name, address and the location where he was shot. Then he died.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cohen may have been Lucky, Fishman, not so much

On this date back in 1932 gangster Richard Fishman, said to have three notches on his shooting iron, was standing in the front parlor of Lucky Cohen's Chicago gambling joint, which doubled as a cigar store. Just as regular joe Jack Magdal entered, to either buy a cigar or gamble, a burst of machine-gun fire spat forth and Fishman dropped dead while Magdal fell with a bullet in the arm. I suspect his stogie was on the house.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Luck was not a lady to Harry

Ah, the carefree life of a gambler. All you need is a suitcase and a trunk and in the case of Chicago gambler, Harry Teuber, eyes in the back of the head would have come in handy. For it was eighty-two years ago today that Harry was seated at a table in a barbershop getting a manicure. While a young lady polished his digits another, named Annette, who polished other parts of Harry, waited in a barber's chair.

Through the back door of the barber shop crept a man with gun and a grudge, or, possibly just orders from above to remove Harry from Chicago's underworld. He came up through the rear of the shop, stuck a pistol through a partition and fired four shots into Harry's head. Slump went Harry across the table. The manicurist jumped up horrified, Harry's girlfriend jumped up and skedaddled. The gunman escaped out the back.

Harry's wife identified him at the morgue. Police found the apartment he shared with Annette and there they learned that Annette's father worked at the upscale gambling joint the 225 Club. The owner of which went the way of Harry the previous month. That seemed to be enough for the cops to chalk the murder up to "gamblers feud".

Monday, November 2, 2015

Paul is dead

Here's another clue for you all the walrus gangster was Paul Robinson, a Los Angeles hoodlum, whom police believed was involved in some sort of  gangland feud. This belief stemmed from the fact that Robinson's bullet riddled corpse was found in a recently dug ditch near a San Mateo golf course.

Police determined that Robinson had been killed in San Francisco and his body taken to the golf course and dropped into the ditch. (I suspect a "hole in one" joke is applicable here so if you have one, by all means leave it in the comments) After Robinson's body was deposited his slayers fired ten more shots into him. Afterwards, the dead man's auto was parked near San Francisco's Presidio district and set on fire.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pulpy goodness

"Ok Dearie, since it's your fiftieth birthday and your only three feet tall and look like George Bush, Mama's gonna buy you a human hand."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Breaking Bad is Never Good Pt II

Remember Arthur Siegelman from the other day? Sure you do, the lifeguard who wanted to try bootlegging and disappeared, well two days later, Joseph Ferro another Johnny come-lately to the bootlegging game, was put on the spot. Unlike the former life guard however there is no mystery clouding Ferro’s murder. The youthful would be gangster-he was only twenty- was walking to his East Village home with his wife and his friend. As they were approaching Ferro's building, two gunmen jumped out of a doorway, ran up to the trio and fired a bullet into Ferro’s head. Another went into his friend's stomach. Both men were rushed to Bellevue Hospital where Ferro subsequently died and his pal's wound was labeled as mortal.

Hmmm wonder if Ferro and Siegelman were pals. Lets ask the magic 8 ball....."Try again." Damn!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Breaking Bad is Never Good

Twenty-five year old Arthur Siegelman was a new comer to the New York City underworld who, after a short stay, vanished and was never heard from again. Siegelman had no former training in crime, in fact he was a life guard who, at the end of beach season, decided to break into bootlegging as a way to support his widowed mother and six siblings. Needless to say the neophyte gangster did not last long where the gun and knife rule. What he did to seal his fate is unknown but he disappeared on this day in 1932 and his body was never found.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Diamond's are not a Noe's best friend

Eighty-Seven-years ago this morning Legs Diamond had a meeting set up with his former proteges and current rivals, Joey Noe & Dutch Schultz to exchange money for territory.  Correctly assuming that Diamond might try to pull some monkey business, Noe was wearing a bullet proof vest while Dutch and possibly a few others took positions in some nearby second story windows. As Noe approached the designated meeting spot a blue Cadillac came speeding up from behind and a guy, Louis Weinberg, opened fire on him. The assassin scored a lucky shot on Noe's body where the vest wasn't covering and the Dutchman's partner went down. Dutch, and any others, in hiding opened fire on the Cadillac, which sped away. One of the bullets from above pierced the roof of the Caddy and killed Weinberg. The car, with the dead man, was ditched on the lower east side. Noe was taken to the hospital and questioned but kept to the gangster code until dying about a month later.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

In case you wondering...

Yes, gangsters did walk the streets of New York City, shoulder to shoulder, toting Thompsons. Honest engines. If it's on t.v. you can believe it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Checking out of the Harding Hotel

Tony Marlow was a bootlegger who lived in mid-town next door to the Harding Hotel. 87-years ago tonight he was standing in front of the hotel smoking a cigarette at 10:30pm apparently waiting for some one.

William White, a real estate salesman, who knew Marlow from the neighborhood saw him loitering and walked over. “Hello Tony!” White said offering his hand. As the two men were shaking hands, two more guys appeared from behind a parked car, one tall and slim and the other short and stout. Before anyone knew what was what they opened fire hitting Marlow five times before he had a chance to pull out his own gun.

A beat cop heard the shooting, ran to the scene and started after the gunmen. After a short chase the killers escaped. Returning to the Harding Hotel the officer loaded Marlow into a cab and took him to the hospital where the gangster was questioned about the shooting. When asked who shot him, Marlow responded in typical gangland fashion, “I’ll take care of them myself when I get well.” But his slayers needn’t of worried because he died the next the day.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Wake Up Call

On this date back in 1930, Sam Therina, said to be a member of the Cuckoo gang, pulled up in front of a St. Louis hospital, laid on the horn of his coupe then passed out. The reason for his passing out was multiple machine gun bullets in his pelvis. He was carried into the hospital and prepped for surgery.

During the operation police came in to question him. Guess they could do that back then. He told them that he, two other Cuckoos named Peter McTigue and James Dormandy along with William Boody, an "agent" with a plumbing union who happened to have a rap sheet matching the Cuckoo guys, and some other fella were working a still near the town of Valmeyer, Ill.

According to Therina, he and McTigue were sleeping when machine gun fire began to rake the shack they were holed up in. Therina jumped up and was immediately wounded. He heard Boody gasp, "I'm dying." and saw that McTigue was already a goner. Dormandy and the other guy hightailed it into the woods.

The gunmen left and Therina managed to get to Boody's coupe and drive himself to the hospital. Detectives went out to the shack and, sure enough, there were McTigue and Boody just like Therina said.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What is the law? No spill blood.

In the summer of 1935 Joey Amberg, a semi-big racketeering feller in Brooklyn, decided that a hoodlum named Hy Kasner had to be killed, so together with two henchmen named Jack Elliot and Frankie Teitlebaum they set out to get Kasner. The latter was snatched, killed, stuffed in a sack and dropped into a sewer. Business as usual in Brownsville back in the 1930's.

Amberg was hoping that the sack would be washed out to sea and Hy's disappearance would be but a mystery, but unfortunately for Amberg it popped up near shore and what was left of Hy was fished out. Soon the names of Kasner’s killers traveled the underworld grapevine. Problematic for Amberg was that Kasner was an associate of both Albert Anastasia and Louis Capone the director and assistant director of Murder Inc and, to paraphrase Bumpy Johnson from the film Cotton Club, "If you have Murder Inc. on your ass, you truly have somebody on your ass."*

A Syndicate hearing was called. Anastasia and Capone argued that Amberg and his murdering cohorts should themselves be put on the spot for taking syndicate law into their own hands by killing Kasner without mob approval while Joe Adonis and Bugsy Siegel argued for Amberg’s clemency.

Adonis and Siegel were overruled and a contract was put out on Joey A. Chosen for the job was “Happy” Maione, Phil Mangano,(brother of Vincent Mangano the patriarch of the Mangano crime family) and another man known as “Red” Pulvino. The location chosen for the hit was the Brownsville garage, which was partially owned by “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, where Joey Amberg parked his car.

On this day in 1935 Amberg’s sedan, chauffeured by Morris Kessler, pulled into the garage and as the men were stepping out, the killers, two dressed in khaki overalls and the third dressed in blue overalls, ran up with guns drawn and forced them to line up against the wall. As Amberg turned to face the wall he saw Maione’s face and began to say, “It’s - -” but before he could get anything else out he and Kessler were cut down by a blast from a shotgun. Once Amberg and Kessler were on the ground one of the killers ran up and shot each man in the head with a pistol. Justice, Murder Inc. style, had been served

*Johnson was actually referring to Owney Madden in the film. But you already knew that.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Addy Gets Subtracted

At fifty years of age Arthur Black, known as Addy to some of the folks in Providence, Rhode Island, had lived two lives in gangster years but when the underworld decides its time for you to go they don't really get sentimental about age, sagacity, years on the job; stuff like that.

So it was on this date back in 1932 when Addy, known to the Providence police as one of the bigger "lottery operators" of the city, was gunned down in his own home. (told you there was no sentimentality. You'd think they would have shot him down in the gutter as is every gangster's birth rite.)

No, there Addy sat at home with his bodyguard when two men rushed into the house with guns-a-blazin'. Addy took a pill to the heart and gave up the ghost. Mr. Bodyguard went to the hospital with holes in his arm and chest.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Anybody got a a head in the parachute joke I can borrow?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Little Jewish Navy loses some Torpedos

Back in Detroit on this date in the year nineteen hundred and thirty one the Purple gang had a rendezvous set up with the upper echelon of "the Little Jewish Navy" a gang of bootleggers who traversed the Detroit River and a few of the great lakes transporting spirits of an intoxicating nature in from Canada.

Turns out the Purples were not happy with the Navy fellows and meant to terminate their partnership in a most permanent way. Joe Lebowitz, Hymie Paul and Isadore Sutker,  the LJN leadership showed up at the Collingwood apartments with Sol Levine, a mutual friend of both gangs, who was in on the plan. So the quartet arrived to find a couple of Purples, Harry Keywell and Irving Milberg, waiting there and after a few minutes of light chit chat, the Purples drew guns and sunk the Little Jewish Navy.

As the gun men ran out of the building they dropped their pistols into an open can of green paint (why not purple, to obvious?) to obliterate any finger prints. They hopped into a waiting car driven by gang leader and architect of what would become known as the "Collingwood Massacre", Ray Berstein. And off they went.

After awhile Sol Levine got to thinking that the Purples might want to tuck him away for insurance so went to the cops. As a result of his squealing Bernstein, Keywell and Milberg went from selling booze to making license plates.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

DGIO (Dead Guys in Overalls)

William Paske should have stayed behind the plow on his Wisconsin spread but the thirty-year old struggling farmer decided that bootlegging was the short cut to big money. In late spring/ early summer of 1932 he got a job delivering hooch for a concern that involved underworld types from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.

Not long into his job, he was hijacked and the load lost. Tough luck for a new timer. By the end of the summer William decided that maybe stealing booze paid more than delivering it (or perhaps he wasn't really hijacked that time, hmmm). So on Sunday night, September 11, he along with a guy named Paul Zimmerman and another confederate stole 600 gallons of alcohol from a warehouse owned by the concern.

Members from the concern learned rather quickly that Paske was behind the theft. Early the next morning Paske received a phone call saying that the "Big Shots" wanted to see him in the town of Baraboo post haste. Paske drove over to Zimmerman's house to pick him up. Zimmerman told him he needed a few minutes to get dressed. While dressing, Zimmerman saw a car pull up an order Paske to leave right away for the meeting with the big shots.

Paske pulled out of the driveway and headed out followed by the other car. Zimmerman watched as Paske stopped at a nearby intersection where two other cars came from the opposite direction and stopped him As Paske idled, the auto that was following him pulled up along side the other two cars. A guy got out and jumped on Paske's running board and fired four fatal shots into the ex farmer.

Zimmerman, who had just dressed, needed to change his pants. He and the other guy involved in the robbery were taken in as witnesses and had no problem singing. As a result of the duet, concern big shots, Harry Feinberg, Horace Wrieglow and Richard Green were arrested. Green was exonerated in the spring of the following year. Last we hear of Harry and Horace they went to trial in spring of 1934. Nobody seemed to record the outcome. Voting at the DGIS Institute is 27-11 that they walked.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

He just got in town about an hour ago

Today marks the 82nd anniversary of L.A. gangster Axel Anderson's demise. Known as Three-fingered Jack, presumably because he had a trio of digits on one hand, or, perhaps he was a sloth; either way Axel was not a lucky little gangster in the city of light, but another lost angel, city at night, city at night. Why did he die? Was it a case of motel, money murder madness? It may be he was killed for hijacking a load of booze and/or that he was killed for offing another gangster. Either way we don't get to many L.A. DGISs here so lets just enjoy the moment.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Another one bites the dust

Police felt that Michael Stenson- drilled 96-years ago today in the Chelsea section of Manhattan- was a member of the Marginal gang and killed as a result of the death of "Tanner" Smith. An eyewitness to the murder stated that Stenson and another man had been walking together when an argument broke out. During the argument Stenson’s companion drew a gun and shot him then ran away as Stenson doubled over.

Stenson regained his composure and drew his own gun and began to chase his assailant but dropped dead in the middle of some streetcar tracks. To add intrigue to the killing, the rumor was floated that Stenson’s murder may have been premeditated and had the ok from powerful men because, although the police denied it, a witness said that there was a cop on the corner who watched the whole thing go down but did not interfere.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

From the hit parade

It was the third of September.
That date I’ll always remember.
Cause that was the day that Moe Howard died.
It happened way back in 1930 and the facts are few
So Mama I’m depending on you to tell us the truth.

But Mama just hung her head and said,
“Moe Howard got tossed out of a car
Enough slugs in him to fill a baby food jar
They found some coca-a-aine,
perhaps that’s why he was sla-a-ain.”

Hey Mama some people say that Moe wasn’t big on thinking
Stole booze meant for somebody else’s selling and drinking.
And Mama, bad talk going around town
Saying that Moe got arrested and threatened with life so ratted on his friends
And that ain’t right.
Heard some talk about a payroll heist and Moe holding out on his gang and that they were the ones in the car when the pistols went bang.

Mama we’re depending on you to tell us the truth.

Mama looked up with a tear in her eye and said,
“Moe Howard got tossed from a car, my sons
Enough slugs in him to fill a baby food jar.
They found some coca-a-aine
Perhaps that’s why he was sla-a-ain.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The South Pole

On this date back in 1932 Walter “the Terrible Pole” Zwolinski was found on Chicago’s south side, trussed up in the back of a car with about six bullets in his noggin. Zwolinski had been a member of the Spike O’Donnell gang and a few months previous he decided that he should be running the show.

The Terrible Pole, along with two other defectors, approached Spike on the street one day and told him he was out.  But Spike saw things different.

After a handful of attempts on his life however, Spike decided a California vacation might be nice. Meanwhile Zwolinski, now allied with the McGeogehan - Quinlan gang managed to carve out a large piece of the back of the yards locale for his beer business. Yes, the Terrible Pole was doing alright, that is until he was found trussed up in the back seat of a car with six bullets in his noggin.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The long nap

William Cusick make that Mickey Duffy was considered by some to be the Al Capone of Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. Though he grew up as Bill Cusick of Polish descent, he changed his named to Mickey Duffy because, well, because a lot of non-Irish gangsters did that in the early days. Guess when the Irish cops were handing out beatings they went a little easier on you if they thought you were green. Guess maybe it helped with the corrupt Irish politicians as well. Anyways we're getting off topic. Topic is that on this date in 1931 the Philadelphia beer baron was shot to death in his suite in the Ambassador Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Earlier in the day three men arrived and the foursome, the three men and Mickey that is, whom witnesses say were in jovial mood, went out for a stroll along the boardwalk. Later they went into Mickey's suite for lunch and at some point in the early afternoon Mickey laid down to take a nap. As he slept his pal(s) shot him to death.

It was assumed that Mickey was done in by his own gang whom were unhappy with his management. Apparently he had to close down a brewery and was also under Federal indictment for shaking down trucking lines that traversed the south Jersey roadways.  Though he had been wounded in a 1927 shooting in Philadelphia, in which his bodyguard had been killed, he felt safe in Atlantic City and didn't have any security.

Oh, for some reason everyone seems to think he was killed on the 30th or 31st, but as Mickey Duffy himself used to say, "You can't believe everything you read on the internet."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hooray for Hollywood

Yes, it was eighty-two years ago today that St. Louis gangsters Harry Mackley and Frank Keller stopped into a Hollywood eatery for their final supper. Whilst the duo broke bread three guys entered and approached their table. Each man drew a gun and emptied it into Mackley and or Keller. The trio of killers then walked out to a waiting auto and made a successful getaway.

Though both men were originally from St. Louis, Harry was known to the police of New York and New Jersey as the result of some nefarious activities. It wasn't Harry's first time in Tinsel Town either, he had been arrested as a suspect in a murder back in 1929.

Both men flew in from St. Louis the week before and checked into one of the city's premier hotels. They also got in touch with a woman who had moved there from Kansas City about three years earlier. It was her car that the men used to drive to the restaurant. Cops traced it back to her and through her they learned that Mackley and Keller also had an apartment in town. They checked it out and found $1000 worth of drugs. That's nearly eighteen grand in today's dollars. So perhaps local drug dealers wanted them out of the way or maybe, as the police believed, the murder was retribution from the 1929 killing. Either way, that was a wrap!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A double

 Joseph Cigna and Anthony Justiano were standing on a corner in New York City's Little Italy on this date back in 1931. Eight other guys were chatting it up with the duo when a quartet of of gunmen walked up and pulled out some pistols.

Cigna and Justiano apparently knew they were the targets because both of them immediately fled. The gunmen followed letting loose with a barrage of gunfire. One of the duo almost made it into a tenement but dropped dead at the door while the other pitched forward on the sidewalk. Autopsies proved the gunmen to be competent marksmen. Cigna was hit by eight bullets and Justiano ten.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Two Vacancies

Vincent Pisano and Oresta DeRobertis were former members of the "Forty Thieves" gang that operated out of the Gowanus area of Brooklyn. By this date in 1934 both men were living in the same rooming house and each had a room on the top floor.

At 4:00am, eighty-one years ago this morning, two gun men gained entrance to the house. They made their way upstairs then split up. One went into Pisano's room, the other DeRoberis's. All the tenants of the house were suddenly awakened by numerous shots, twelve actually. Six of which lodged in Pisano's abdomen while three, out of the six that were fired at him, crashed in DeRobertis' skull.

Why? Who knows, maybe the "Forty Thieves" didn't take kindly to becoming the "Thirty Eight Thieves" or maybe the landlord knew she could get more money for the top two rooms. I suspect they had the best view.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Take a cha-cha-cha-chance

Happy boithday to me, happy boithday to me! Why am I da only one singing?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Bozo Show

Twas this day in 1929 it twas when Chicago's cop Sgt. Murrin, was walking to work on the west side and came across three guys banging away at each other in Madison Street. He ran up just as one of the guys staggered into a car with a woman at the wheel and sped off.  Left at the scene were  bootlegger James "Bozo" Shupe and his partner George Riggins, proprietor of the cigar shop out front of which the shooting took place. Both men had been hit. George collapsed on the riding board of a parked car and Bozo simply collapsed.

The cop took the wounded gangsters to the hospital where a short time later a woman pulled up and dropped off Thomas "Big Six" McNichols, also said to be in the beer business. Big Six said he was standing on a corner when some guy whom he didn't know shot him. When asked about Bozo and George snarled, "Don't bother me".

Bozo was the first go followed a few hour later by Big Six. Before the latter gave up the ghost he told his mother that he had two grand in cash and a $3000 ring on his person when brought in. She brought this up with the Police who told her that he had nothing of the sort when he got to the hospital.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mad Max (Schreck)

Just in case you wondering if Hollywood was running out of remake ideas, there is this.
They are remaking classics silent horror film, Nosferatu. Seeing that Nosferatu is basically Dracula with a different name, I guess it means they are going to remake Dracula and copy the "Count Orlok" character. Or perhaps I'm just being cynical...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chicken run

Eighty-seven years ago this afternoon three St. Louis gangsters were keeping a rendezvous in what was called a "chicken yard" on the outskirts of the city in Wellston. The trio, James Russo, Mike Longo and Jack Griffin pulled into the yard at 2:00pm and waited. After a moment two cars pulled up and blocked the only way out.

The threesome seemed to realize they were on the spot and jumped from their auto with their guns out and began firing at the cars that just pulled up. From inside a nearby chicken coop a Thompson went off. Longo dropped by the car fatally wounded as Russo and Griffin ran for cover. The former caught an extra crispy dose of lead while heading for a tree and dropped dead.  The latter caught six bullets but managed to make it to a nearby house.

A witness to the shootout described the machine gunner to a police sketch artist:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sleep tight, don't let the ice-pick bite

On this day back in 1931 Chicago bootlegger John Bakovatz took a nap. Bootlegging generally means long nights so we can see why John would snooze during the day. Little did John know that his nap would last an eternity.

Since the young kiddies were napping in the same room as pop, Mrs. Bakovatz took the opportunity to go visit the neighbors leaving a quiet house with no one to raise an alarm should somebody like, I don't know, an underworld hitman come by. One wonders what John may have been dreaming about. Perhaps visions of his ex partner, Sherlock (yes Sherlock) Gasparino - who had recently fled the country because he was afraid that he was going to be put on the spot - danced in his head. By the way, as his name would imply, Sherlock was the smarter of the two for there was indeed danger afoot.

As John lay there sawing logs, into his room crept one of those fellows whom Sherlock feared. He approached the sleeping bootlegger and, wanting to do his deed in silence, plunged an ice-pick into John. Nothing wakes a man quicker than an ice pick in his person and now that John was awake there was no need to be quiet so the killer pulled a gun and sent a bullet into John's throat. John went back to sleep.

The melee didn't wake the kiddies, anyone who has had small children knows that the tykes can sleep through anything. Not until John's brother in-law showed up did anyone know something was amiss.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Job Opening

Phillip Plazza was said to be the top gangster of Chicago Heights with a couple of hundred guys on his payroll. He had "scores" of alky cookers working for him and in a raid on one of his "cafes", Prohibition agents uncovered one of the largest stills on record along with 10,000 gallons of hooch and another 1,000 gallons of wine.The wealthy gangster was also under indictment for his booze biz.

Plazza also owned two roadhouses where he sold his goods, the Milano cafe and the Derby Inn. A month and half earlier a jeweler and his date were killed in a drive-by as they walked out of the Derby. Police believed that the bullets were meant for Plazza.

On this date back in 1926 Plazza stepped outside of the Milano, which was only four short blocks from the police station. As he stood outside his cafe a sedan drove by and a number of guns went off. The next day the Chicago Heights newspaper help wanted section had an ad seeking a new underworld gang chief. Great pay but no job security.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Love Stinks

On this date back in 1928 Philadelphia gangster John Farrar alias Johnny the Wop was at the Black Horse tavern in Easton Pennsylvania having a swell time with a blonde. Johnny excused himself to use the phone. While Johnny conversed four guys toting sawed off shotguns entered the Black Horse. Patrons hit the dirt and the blonde commenced to screaming cause she put two and two together real quick and figured out the reason for the arrival of the hogleg quartet.

Johnny was still on the phone when the guns went off. After a series of loud noises what was left of Johnny slumped to the ground as the gunmen ran out to a car with New York license plates and sped off. Police said that Johnny was erased due to some gang feud in Brooklyn, but... Pssst, come closer...can you keep a secret? Good, just between us, word on the underworld grapevine was that the blonde Johnny was making time with, well she was the main squeeze of a Philadelphia big shot who didn't like the fact that Johnny took his sweetie away so he called in some fellows from New York to help mend his broken heart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Choose your friends wisely

Eighty five years ago today marks the exit of one Peter "Ash Can Pete" Inserio from the Chicago underworld. Now before you go making assumptions about Pete's hygiene please know that he was known as Ash Can Pete because he was proprietor of the Ash Can club. Now if you would like to make assumptions about a drinking hole called the Ash Can, go ahead. Others possibly did because Pete changed the name to the Idle Hour club by this date in 1930.

So here we have Ash Can Pete, (Perhaps if he lived longer he would have become Idle Hour Pete, we'll never know) Sitting outside his club when somebody(ies) came up and fired six bullets into him. Police arrived and Pete was still kicking. They took him to the hospital and along the way asked who it was who shot him. "I don't know," said Pete, "but they did a good job." and so they did, Pete died a short time later.

When asked for a motive the police stated that Pete had recently aligned himself with the Moran-Aiello gang. They, by the way, were Al Capone's top enemies. If true, not a good move on Pete's part.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Goodbye Larry

At 2:00am on this date back in 1931 Cincinnati gangster Larry Coates had just left a camp on the outskirts of town. In the car with him was his father. They met outside of town because Larry was persona non grata in Cinncy. Why? Well for a number of reasons but mainly because a gun  found in his possession after an arrest in Florida was found by ballistic experts to have fired the bullets that killed another Southern Ohio gangster by the name of Jew John Marcus earlier that year.

After the campground rendezvous, Coates was giving the old man a ride home in his high dollar sedan complete with bullet proof windows. However, if bullet proof windows are to be effective they must be rolled up. Being that this was a warm July night, Larry had his window down.

As they approached the city limits another car pulled up alongside them. Larry looked over and didn't care for what he saw and hit the gas. The other car did like wise and caught up. A shotgun, and possibly other guns, went off and Larry slumped over the wheel with shot in the back of his head, neck and shoulder. The elder Coates grabbed the wheel and managed to steer the car into an embankment.

Coates was rushed to the hospital After the crash senior Coates stood around waiting for help. After some time a cab pulled over saw the dying gangster and took off. Once back in town he called the cops who sent an ambulance. Coates was taken to the hospital where he lingered until shedding his mortal coil on July 28.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


It was a good old fashion duel in Chicago's 19th ward  back in the USA, back in the bad old days.
It happened like this friends, In the heat of a summer night, in the land of the dollar bill...wait, that's a different Chicago story.

Those shooting it up cowboy style on this date in 1925 were James Vinci and Joseph "Machine gun Joe" Grannada. Chicagoans were already familiar with Vinci. He drove the car of shooters who murdered labor racketeer Mossy Enright in 1920. As for Grannada, well, his moniker says it all. Both men were in a saloon when a fight broke out between them and they took to the streets to let their guns finish the argument.

What were they fighting about? Apparently one of them was eating out of a tub of peanut butter while the other was eating a chocolate bar and they bumped into each other and said chocolate bar went into the peanut butter. While they were shooting each other, another guy, Willie "Candy Man" Reese took a bite of the peanut butter drenched chocolate bar and the world would never be the same again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Unholy Toledo

Today in 1931 the body of "Cleveland Beer Baron" Al Jaffee, (not to be confused with Mad Magazine artist Al Jaffee) was found on a lonely Toledo road just south of the Michigan border. He wasn't by himself either. the fellers who bound, gagged and fired a couple of .45 bullets into his head figured they should send him off with a companion and so did the same to his body guard Harry "The Carpenter" Gertzlin.

A couple reasons offered for the offing were that they were trying to muscle in on the Toledo alcohol scene and that they were there to settle a situation regarding the hijacking of one of their liquor trucks. If it was the latter then I doubt they were satisfied with resolution.

*Didn't come up with that one ourselves, it's a title of book about Toledo gangsters.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gas, Guns and Gus

Gus Buselaki owned a filling station in downtown St. Louis back when you didn't have to pump your own gas. You just sat back while some guy in an appropriate outfit filled your tank, washed your windshield and probably even thanked you for coming in.

Yes, Gus was a proprietor of just such a place. Gus was some other things too. Gus was also an organizer for the "Service Car Drivers Association". "Gangster" was also listed as one of Gus's occupations.

So there Gus was standing about his station just after midnight back on this date in 1931 when a sedan drove by and either two machine-guns with 25 round drums or one gun with a 50 round drum opened fire from a window spraying both Gus and his establishment with upwards of fifty bullets.

Nine other people were on hand and two woman were slightly wounded. As for Gus, a good percentage of the fifty bullets came to rest in him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Let us remember today one Edgar "Spiker" Smith who went the way of all gangster flesh on this date back in 1931.

Yes friends it was eighty-four years ago this evening that a citizen of Chicago's south side went to the coppers and reported that he saw, right in front of his own house mind you,  a man get shot in a sedan. Later that night, said car was found with "Spiker" (not to be confused with Edward "Spike" O'Donnell, another Chicago hoodlum and survivor of numerous assassination attempts) slumped over in the front passenger side.

Spiker was called both a Capone hoodlum as well as the body guard of Danny Stanton. Regarding the latter, both he and Spiker were wanted in Waukesha, Wisconsin for the murder of prominent Chicago nogoodnik Jack Zuta who got a fatal dose of lead while hiding out there in a resort. Together with Danny, Spiker was fighting extradition to Wisconsin to stand trial.

Police said that Spiker was bumped off because of a south side beer war or possibly for retaliation for killing a film projectionist in a labor feud. Being sentimentalists we here at the institute like to think he got it from his "friends". Maybe he was getting nervous about the Zuta business and they thought it would be better if he went on a one way vacation.

Monday, June 29, 2015

No parlay for Parlow

At 4:30am on this date back in 1929 Mrs. Albert Parlow, of Point Place, Ohio (a suburb of Toledo) received a phone call. "Hurry over to the Riverview Inn," the anonymous caller said, "Your husband has been injured." Mrs. Parlow in turn, called two of her husband's friends, picked them up, and together they drove to the Riverview.

When the trio arrived they found the front door of the inn wide open. Inside were signs that a terrific fight took place, the most obvious indication that there had been trouble was her husband's corpse on the floor with a bullet in the back of the head. Police decided that Albert, aka "Dago Holly", known as a bootlegger and gambler, was killed due to a liquor feud... or was it over money... or a private matter with a business associate...or....

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The big one that didn't get away

Early to bed, early to rise, makes one healthy, wealthy and a finder of dead guys. I think that's how it goes. Well anyways, that's how it went for a couple of Ohio fisherman who were going to get an early start eighty-four years ago today.

In the Cleveland suburb of Moreland Hills the previously mentioned anglers were driving along River Road at about 2:00am when their head lights shone on the body of one Jack "Kibby" Langman. Kibby had been tossed into the road a few minutes earlier with two bullets in the back of his head.

According to police Kibby was a "gunman, gambler and a gangster member of a notorious east side mob". An Associate of his murdered a local council man and police thought that maybe Kibby was taken for a ride  because the killer was afraid he was gonna do a little singing that might cook a few more gooses. Another theory was that he had moved from gambling into bootlegging.  So take your pick.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Chicago double

Was on this date in the summer of 1928 that Joe Salamone and John Oliveri were put on the spot in Chicago's Little Italy. According to police, Salamone and Oliveri were bootleggers who were enemies of the Aiello brothers but joined with them when they believed that the Aiellos were going topple Al Capone. After some time passed Salamone and Oliveri switched allegiance to Big Al & Co. and it was because of this that they were rubbed out. So said the police.

What IS known is that the duo had just stepped out of a market and headed towards Salamone's car. As Salamone climbed behind the wheel a guy, we'll call him "Decoy", came up and engaged the duo in conversation. During the short chat two other guys, we'll call them "the shotgun twins" stepped out of a nearby doorway. Decoy took a few steps back and the guns went off. Salamone fell over dead as Oliveri, wounded, made a run for it but another quick blast brought him down.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Crayola color - On the Spot Yellow

Tony Greco was visiting his cousin, Mrs. Perconti, in Gary, Indiana on this evening in 1931. Mr. Perconti was not there having been taken for a ride a year and half previously. According to the press the late Mr. Perconti was one of the top bootleggers of Gary, Indiana and Tony was his body guard.

After his visit, Tony stepped out on to the porch and into two shotgun blasts fired from the basement window of the vacant house across the street. Some of the pellets missed Tony and hit Mrs. Perconti, seriously wounding her.

While inspecting the crime scene police noticed that someone had drawn a cross on Mrs. Perconti's door with a yellow crayon. Across the street there was also a yellow cross drawn on the window that the gunmen fired from, leading police to believe that the killers were out-of-towners brought in for the job. They were definitely good shots.

Friday, June 12, 2015

St. Louis Jones and the bundle of doom

At around five a.m on this date in 1927 T.P. McCarthy was traveling along the Collinsville Rd. in East St. Louis. When he was a block north of the terminal railroad tracks he saw a dark object about three feet off the road. Being of a curious nature McCarthy pulled over and went to investigate. Guess what the "bundle" was?

If you guessed St. Louis gangster Michael Jones aka Mickey Joe Morris you win. Jones, we are told, was well known by the St. Louis police having been arrested fifty-three times in a few short years. Jones had been shot four times in the head after being conked over said noggin with some heavy instrument. Police say he was killed elsewhere and dumped.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

DGIS in Cincinnati

Back when the 1920s were roaring George “Fat” Wrassman was a big wheel in the Cincinnati underworld, as well as that in nearby Hamilton, in fact some said he was the biggest wheel of Southern Ohio. Like most wheels of any respectable size he was able to beat a number of raps over the years, including murder. “It was self-defense your Honor, honest. Cross my heart, hope to die squirt some seltzer in my eye.” 
Well as the mobsters would have it, a handful of gangland killings took place in the spring of 1929, out around the rural areas of Butler County where people liked to take it easy in a cabin, you know, fish, swim, relax and oh yeah, drink at night in the many roadhouses.
Anyways, detectives wanted to talk to Wrassman about the recent uptick in dead guys in suits in the vicinity but Wrassman didn’t want to be talked to, savvy? Thus, the authorities had to go looking for him. It was on the night of June 10, that detective Joe Schaefer and his partner Walter Fricke were cruising downtown Cinncy and they saw Wrassman’s car parked. The detectives took to the streets in search of the rotund gangster. Fricke perched himself in a doorway while Schaefer loitered across the street. A handful of minutes into the new day, Schaefer was getting ready to call it quits when he heard someone holler, “I’m going to kill you, you dirty--”* It was Wrassman and he saw Schaefer before the detective saw him. The gangster pulled his pistol and fired off two shots, both of which missed. Schaefer un-holstered his piece and fired off five shots all of which hit.  Wrassman collapsed muttering, “Joe, you got me at last.” Then he said no more, forever.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

One out of four

In 1930 there was a wee bit of a gang warfare going on in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn between the established hoodlumarchy 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 neighboring Ocean Hill (the two gangs united under the moniker of the Combination)

Eighty-five years ago on this date Reles, Goldstein and  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 gangsters reappeared Reles began to change the tire while his associates loitered about. Moments later a car drove by and a Thompson machine-gun spat 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 in 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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Surgeon General's Warning: Smoking can be harmful to gangsters

Cigarette in hand, Chicago racketeer Aloysius Kearney, was walking along South Troy Street on this date back in 1930 after a hard day/night of making collections from area garage owners. Yes, there was a garage racket officially known as the National Association of Garage Owners. (Other than not getting bombed or shot, I wonder what the garage owners got for their dues?) Anyways, as Aloysius made his way along the sidewalk a car pulled up and a number of shots rang out. Five of which hit Kearny in the chest and one in the head. With cigarette still clenched in his hand,  Aloysius crumbled to the ground dead.

Friday, June 5, 2015

A good gangster is always prepared for the worst

Alberto Ricci, or Al Ritchie, as he was popularly known, was an underworld big shot in the region of Olean, New York and Bradford, Pennsylvania. It was in the latter that he was rubbed out on this date in 1931. 
Al was known to have a loose tongue around cops when it came to his rivals. And we all know what happens to squealers right? No? Keep reading then.

Al was sitting behind the wheel of his car chatting with one of his minions, Tony Maccio, when, “A big fellow pushed right up, stuck a gun in the car and started firing.” Three shots slammed into Ritchie’s head and a fourth went into his shoulder. Maccio turned away from the blasts and received two bullets in the back after they had passed through his boss.
After the gunman fled, Ritchie miraculously stepped from his car. Maccio too clamored out and collapsed on the sidewalk. Ritchie was able to walk to the ambulance that arrived shortly but died a few hours later. Maccio would succumb to his wounds in the coming weeks.
Al, who knew he was on the spot, was laid to rest in a bronze coffin he had picked out for himself just a few weeks previously. While paying his last respects to one of his guys, who was also sent the way of all gangster flesh, he told the mortuary proprietor that he might as well pick out a box for himself since it was only a matter of time.
Oh, and by the way, the “Big Fellow” who did the shootin’ would prove to be one Antonio Lorenzo Demaio aka Tony Lorenzo. Maccio, like his boss, had no problem spilling to cops. Tony Lorenzo claimed self-defense.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Waxey loses a couple of guys

On this date in 1933 beer mogul Waxy Gordon was sitting safely in jail waiting for his income tax trial to commence while members of his gang were being thinned out by the Bug & Meyer mob. In the early morning hours this day, 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. Ah, 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.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gangsters on a bender

Eighty–nine years ago today somebody(ies) picked up Harry Bender at the hotel he was living in and an hour later somebody(ies) dumped Harry in an empty lot in Queens with two bullets in his body and one in his head. Miraculously he was still conscious when taken to the hospital but, like a good gangster, he refused to tell the police anything. Even when his wife knelt at his bedside and begged him to tell the cops who shot him he responded by saying, "Never mind, that will be taken care of." Was it "taken care of"? Who knows, but there is no shortage of dead guys in suits so if you want to believe so I ain't gonna talk you out of it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pierced ear

Police called twenty-year old Leon Goldstein a "small time racketeer". His domain was the East New York section of Brooklyn where he extorted money from brothels, ran some smaller rackets and took part in a number of shootings. Since he was such a braggart his nickname around his neighborhood was "Ear Bender" and he often boasted that he would kill anyone for $50. Speaking of ears Leon caught a bullet behind his left one eighty-three years ago today and was dumped in Queens. He also took one to the chest. Police suspected that the murder was revenge for the killing of another hoodlum from the previous fall.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yegg on his face

Now I did a few things during my college years that in retrospect probably weren’t to smart. I suspect most of us have but getting shot in the head by cop because of my own stupidity wasn’t one of them. Anyone else who can say the same please step forward... Not so fast Edgar Cook.

On this date way back in aught eight (of the previous century that is) eighteen year old Edgar Cook and his pal, twenty-one year old Howard Cole, both students of Columbia University decided that some collegiate nonsense was in order. So instead of getting drunk and paddling each others asses or going on a panty raid they figured it would be funsies to break into a small sundries booth that sold soda, tobacco and candy located at 123rd Street and Riverside Drive.

So there the brainiacs were trying to break into this kiosk when a cop, officer Hurton, shows up. They see him and run off. Hurton fires a shot into the air and Cole freezes. Hearing the shot another cop runs up and grabs Cole while Hurton chases Cook. Hurton fires another warning shot. College boy continues to run. Hurton ends both the chase and Cook’s semester by drilling him in the back of the head with a third and final shot.

“It’s my fault,” Cook admitted while laying in his own blood. “I was a blamed fool to run.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


     At 4:30 am on this date in 1930, Patrolman Henry Steger was walking his beat in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. He approached the police box at Gardner and Meeker Avenues to report in to his station and there waiting for him, one on top of the other, were the bodies of 26-year old Anthony Calderone and 29-year old Salvatore Tavolino.

      At first officer Steger thought they were victims of a hit and run but his flashlight soon showed the bullet holes in their backs and necks. There was no blood at the scene and both men were from Manhattan so police determined that they had been killed in that city and brought over to Brooklyn to be dumped. At some point prior to his murder Calderone had done some shooting himself because a gun was found on his person with three shots missing. One reason for the shooting may have been revenge. Calderone and Tavolino were involved with six other men in a robbery and both men were released while the others were convicted so they may have been put on the spot for possibly squealing

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Let's Twist again.

Has it been 107 years already? Well well time does fly. Anyways as it turns out, on this evening back in '08 (1900 and that is), 'Ol Kid Twist Zweifach himself went out to Coney Island for opening day with his pal Cyclone Louie. In tow were a couple of dames who earned their coinage as singers in the Coney Island resorts. The warbler with Kid Twist was the former twist for an Italian hood named Louie the Lump. To make a short story shorter guntoting Louie caught up with Kid Twist on the boardwalk and perforated both him and Cyclone Louie but good. If memory serves, once the Kid and Cyclone got their shares of lead they stumbled into a hotel's grand re-opening day flower display and spilled themselves amongst the blooms and bunting before expiring from this life. I guess they didn't see the sign in the lobby that read: No Spitting, No Cursing, No Getting Killed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Two barrels for a two timer

Steve Spano was thirty-one years old, lived with his wife, three kids and his mother and was known as a leader of Italian voters. How being a leader of Italian voters results in a pay check, well, we'll assume there is a lot of paper work.
     While walking down the street on this date in 1921 Spano was cut down by a blast from a sawed off double barrel shotgun. Two men ran from the building where the shots came from and, there, police found the weapon. Perhaps it's the dangerous aspect of the job and not so much the paperwork that leads to a paycheck.
      While searching Spano's affects the police came across a picture of a woman in his pocket watch but it was not Mrs. Spano. When confronted with the photo Mrs. Spano, who said she was unaware that her husband carried around another woman's picture, said, "There was no other woman. No, no. Steve was a good man. We were married fifteen years. We were happy oh, so happy." The woman whose photo appeared in the watch was not questioned so could neither confirm nor deny the statement.

Monday, May 11, 2015


Told ya, creepy clowns have been around for ages. This one seems serial killer sinister where as the last one was more or less a desperate, disgruntled, knife toting clown. You can tell by the time consuming makeup and costuming that this guy takes his clowning and murdering very seriously.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mothers Day!

To any mothers who may stop by, enjoy your day.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

IT.....started long ago.

Clowns are always the creepy bad guys. I think, in the name of political correctness, we need some red nosed sleuths to show that not every man who dons a pair of size 36 shoes, a baggy polka dot suit and whatever that collar thing the guy in the pic has is an evil menace. Perhaps Columbozo, Ko-Kojack, the Hardy Har Har Boys... DGIS now accepting all clown detective puns while supplies last.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Big Bad John

Thirty-three year old “Big” John Comstock, who police described as a “Notorious swindler at the wire tapping game.” was killed on this date back in 1904 as a result of his coming to the aid of young lady.
During the evening of May 4, another West side gangster named William “Lefty Donnelly” Donlon, attacked a young woman and Comstock, along with a few other men, came to her aid. Afterwards, Comstock retired to a saloon for the evening. At 8:30 the following morning Comstock was still sitting at the bar ( an enviable life) when “Lefty Donnelly” entered and shot him twice. Unfortunately for “Lefty” two cops were nearby and arrested him as he tried to leave. Fortunately for "Lefty" “Big” John adhered to that old gangster code and died later that evening refusing to name Donlon as his killer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Was this date in 1927, it was, when Timothy Looman was walking on the lower West side when one Thomas O’Brien, approached him from the opposite direction. When the two men were about thirty feet away from each other, both pulled out a gun and started blasting away in true old west fashion.

Witness’s said up to thirty shots were fired, (but can you really trust a witness?) and Looman collapsed on the corner (not unlike Rocky Raccoon who collapsed "in the corner") but before dropping dead he managed to hit O'Brien. Severely wounded, O’Brien tried to run away but only got as far as the St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church, before crumpling to the sidewalk. A Monsignor and a priest (who bore striking resemblances to Pat O'Brien and Spencer Tracy) were the first ones to reach O’Brien and after viewing his wounds, administered the last rights, which was good cause he died the following day.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Weiners and losers

Today marks the 80th anniversary of New York City 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 which resulted in the death of the warden and all three escapees. 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 which led to his demise three days later.

Monday, April 20, 2015

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 (which police said also doubled as a gang hangout) on this date back in 1927.

At about 9:15 pm three fellas came into the rear of the building and woke Pop up. As the ex-con was rising one of them drew a pistol and popped Pop 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.

Wonder why they woke him up first?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just Chopper and me, and fifty-round drum makes three

Ah, the 1930s, when a fella could be chauffeured around town cradling his beloved Tommy gun. A little dinner, a little dancing, I'll check my hat but keep my gat thank you.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bag man

With robberies being a near daily occurrence on Manhattan's lower west side eight plus decades ago, saloon keeper Tony Renali got a gun and placed it near his cash register. A week or so later, 93-years ago today to be exact, three local bandits armed with gats entered his bar and held up the joint. They took $90 from Renali's register and whatever the customers had.

Once they had the goods the banditti - Angelo Sposato, John Drinane and Mike Swift aka "Mike the Burglar"- exited the premises promising to kill anyone who tried to follow. As the trio fled, Swift in the rear, Renali grabbed his pistol and let it say goodbye for him. Swift caught both parting sentiments in the back. He staggered and then fell. His pals turned and sent some lead at Renali and his patrons who ran into the rear of the saloon. Picking up their wounded partner Sposato and Drinane took off.

Renali called the police and while he was on the phone, a couple of blocks away two cops saw Sposato and Drinane lift a large burlap sack off of a delivery wagon and start for a tenement building. Something didn't look right so they approached the guys and, looking in the bag, found "Mike the burglar" suffering from his wounds. Mike was shipped off to the hospital and his confederates to the police station where Renali ID'd both of them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


John Lewis, known to his Lower East Side contemporaries as Spanish Louis, was walking along Second Avenue early on this date in 1910. As he was making his way somebody came up and said a "friend" wanted to see him around the corner. Louis made the turn and walked a couple yards up the block when, April Fools!!!, the "friend" turned out to be three rival gangsters hired to kill him. Louis caught on to the joke at the last moment because he managed to draw his gun before a bullet pierced his head. Ah, those funny gangsters.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Out Like A Lion

Thirty-seven year old Louis Greenberg had a long police record and was known as a bookie. On this date in 1924 he was hanging out in an East Village pool hall when somebody outside called for him. He and his friend, Max Kanowitz, proprietor of said pool hall, went outside to see what was what. Across the street stood a taxi. Two men were inside the cab and two men were standing on the running board; All opened fire on the duo. Greenberg dropped dead with a bullet in the head and Kanowitz dropped with a couple of wounds and died en-route to the hospital. Police felt that the killers had intended on just getting Greenberg and that it was Kanowitz's bad luck for following him outside. The only motive the cops could come up with was that it was either a bootlegging feud or some more warring between the "Little Augie" gang and the remnants of "Kid Dropper's" gang.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Elmer's Tune

Called a "card sharp and petty racketeer" by police, Forty-three year old Elmer Johnson was also a bandit and it was his part in a speakeasy robbery that cost him his life on this date in 1933. Johnson had been rushed to the hospital at 2:00am with five bullet wounds in his back after being shot down on the street. Since he was just a petty racketeer, Elmer did not feel bound by the unwritten rules of the underworld and broke the first gangster commandment, Though Shalt Not Squeal, and named his attackers. They were Ernest Snyder and Carl Christianson. A squad car was sent out and the two men were quickly apprehended and brought to the hospital where Johnson identified Snyder as the actual shooter before dying. Snyder of course remained mum on the issue but Christianson, impressed with Elmer's singing ability, let go with an aria of his own entitled I Saw Snyder Shooting Santa Claus Elmer Cause (he participated in speakeasy robbery last night).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pulpy Goodness

"Any last request before we pull the switch Muggsy?"

"I'd like a blonde with a tommy gun and a crooked cop with a revolver and a knife. That about does it...oh and, if it's not asking too much, a gat for myself."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sam I Was

On this date in 1927 Sam Raplansky, a thirty-year old member of a gang called the Madison Street Boys, was hanging out at the mob's HQ, the Madison Street Boys club, until about 10:00 pm when he left for a while. At around midnight Sam returned to the clubhouse, which was crowded with various club members including his brother Harry. While in the hallway somebody came up to Sam and shot him in the face twice and once in the body.  Rushing into the hallway, Harry and other gang members found Sam and carried him outside to a cab for a rushed trip to the hospital. All was for naught however as Samuel had been killed instantly.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fat lady sings for the Fats

The day after Frank Devlin's body was discovered in 1929 [see yesterday's entry] Thomas Walsh, another portly New York gangster, was knocked off in Coral Gables, Florida. Besides girth, "Fatty" or "Fats" as he was also called, had another thing in common with Devlin, both men had ties to Arnold Rothstein.

Walsh, who was thirty-three at the time of his death, was a former body guard of Rothstein's who moved to Florida a few weeks after the latter's death. In the Sunshine State Walsh and another New York gangster, Arthur "Chick" Clark, owned a piece of a gambling room ran out of the Biltmore Hotel. In addition to an anonymous partner two other men, K.L. Gaylord and Eddie Wilson were also involved in the enterprise.

At 12:20 a.m., as Walsh and Clark were seated amongst the gamblers watching the nights play, partner Eddie Wilson appeared in the doorway brandishing a pistol. Once he sighted Walsh he raised the gun and fired five times. Two of the bullets hit the stout gangster in the abdomen and one nicked Clark in the arm. Walsh tried to get on his feet but fell forward on his face dead. The first reaction of the press and the police was to say that the killing was some how related to the Rothstein murder but as the investigation went on it was determined that Eddie Wilson was unhappy with Walsh because the latter was trying to shake down Wilson's share in the gambling enterprise.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Frankie goes to Whitehouse

On this date back in 1929 a man was walking in a field near what was known as the Somerville-Clinton Highway in Whitehouse, New Jersey when he saw what he thought to be a pile of clothes near a clump of pine trees. [Long time readers of DGIS have probably already figured out what it was]. Investigating, he made the grisly discovery that it was a frozen DGIS who had been shot in the left temple three times.

Police identified the dead man as Frank "Blubber" Devlin and figured that he had been "taken for a ride" roughly forty-eight hours earlier. The condition of his pants and coat showed that he had been dumped from a car and dragged to his resting spot by the pine trees.

"Legs" Diamond was credited with killing Devlin although it was never proved. Revenge was given as the reason because Devlin, supposedly on orders from Arnold Rothstein, was sent to Denver, Colorado with fellow gangsters Eugene Moran and Joe Piteo, to kill Legs' brother Eddie who was convalescing there with a case of tuberculosis. [Moran and Piteo were definitely on the hit team. There was a third man but as of yet he hasn't been positively identified]

Devlin had an extensive record dating back to the September 6,1921 murder of Walter Vogel with whom he shot it out with at the Transfer saloon. Since that time police said that he had been involved with Owney Madden's gang as well as keeping busy as a robber. When he left his home for the last time on February 6, he had three indictments against him from the previous year, one for assault and robbery, one for robbery  and one  for grand larceny. Where he was going that February 6, is unknown but after he said good-bye to his mother and brother he went to the bank, withdrew $1000 and disappeared.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Up on the roof

Salvatore Natoli was a twenty-four year old drug dealer who had served a term in the Elmira Reformatory for a robbery and, at the time of his death, had a Federal narcotics charge pending against him. The impending drug trial may have been the reason Natoli was bumped off. Perhaps the men he worked for were afraid of what he might say when in custody. Whatever the reason, at about 8:30pm on this date in 1935 Natoli was lured to the roof of a Harlem tenement and shot in the head. He was found about eight hours later by one of the building's tenants.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

This wasn't in the brochure

Ninety-two years ago today a busload of tourist witnessed a gangland killing first hand as their tour bus cruised through Little Italy. The victim was Joseph Marone. Mr. Marone was strolling down the street when a car containing four men pulled up behind him and fired a shot. Marone dropped to the sidewalk with a bullet in his thigh. Before any more shots could be fired the tour bus pulled up between the car and Marone and the shooters sped off.

The tourist thought they were watching the filming of a movie and didn't realize that Marone was actually hurt but a pedestrian who knew better went and fetched a cop. At first Marone's leg wound appeared superficial and he was taken to Bellevue hospital where he was arrested. But at midnight the police received word from the hospital that he had died.

During his interrogation Marone kept his mouth shut and said nothing about his affairs or the men who shot him but police believed he was part of a burglary gang and double crossed the other members when it came to divvying up the spoils. The police also said that Marone knew he was a marked man and only left his house in the daytime. The killers, they speculated had been staking out his house and that's how they got him.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Diamond's Aren't A Girls Best Friend

At approximately 11:00p.m. on this night back in 1931 titian haired (that’s fancy talk for redheaded) Vivian Gordon sashayed out of her apartment draped in a fur coat and adorned with fine jewelry. Being the sort of gal who suckered many a man out of many a dollar in the past -“Had a lovely time Saturday night. In fact it was so special I wrote it all down and am thinking of sending it to your wife…”- she believed she was on her way to add one more notch to her cigarette case to the tune of a quarter mil in diamonds.

What she didn’t realize was that she was the pigeon in this set up. The whole thing about the stones was just a ruse to get her into the back seat of a Cadillac where she was strangled to death with a clothesline.

Her killers croaked her as a favor to someone they owed money to so hoping to come out ahead they stripped Viv of her fur and jewelry and ditched her in a ravine where she was found early the next morning by someone whose resume didn’t include murder or extortion.

Did I mention you can read all about this in my book Bad Seeds in the Big Apple? No? Oh, you can read all about it in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Big Mac attack

Ninety-one years ago bookie Joe "Big Mac" Mahoney had a falling out with his partner John Quigley. In better days they both hung out at the same restaurant but since the break up Mahoney was asked to stay away. He did until this day in 1924.

Mahoney entered the place and started talking to Quigley, talk turned to arguing which lead to physical contact. "Big Mac" drew a .32.  Quigley grabbed him before he could pull the trigger and the men began  to wrestle. Quigley pinned Mac's arm behind his back and that's when the gun went off. That was Quigley's story anyways, Mahoney never got back up so we don't know his version.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sulliavan's last travel

Ninety-years ago as this morning, at around 9:00am, three shots rang out in the rear room of a speakeasy.Right after the shots were fired about eight guys vacated the parlor in speedy fashion. Other fellers who were enjoying their morning hooch ventured to the back  room and found Mike Sullivan unconscious on the floor. They sent him to the hospital but he died.

Mike was an interesting guy.  He was a talented athlete who had done stunt work for D.W. Griffith, managed boxers and owned a semi pro baseball team. He also owned a speakeasy himself and a cigar store. Past achievements also included getting the vote out with some huskies from the Bronx.

Sports, movies, bootlegging, strong arm work, wonder which one did him in?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A A Meeting

On this date in 1931 gangster brothers Al and Abe Wagner along with their Brother in-law Harry Brown attended a supposed peace conference with rival gangsters at the Hatfield House Hotel in Manhattan. After a few hours of drinking and talking Abe left the room to make a phone call. While he was in the next room Al and Harry got into an argument with their rivals and bullets began to fly. Three of them slammed into Al's chest as another plowed into his head. Five found their mark in brother in-law Harry who managed to walk out of the Hotel and make his way to nearby Bellevue Hospital. Abe escaped unharmed.

For the full story on the Wagners check Gangster City

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Don't eat the red snow

Eighty-five years ago this morning an employee of a Brooklyn lumber yard showed up for work and found a trail of blood in the yard. His curiosity peeked, he followed said trail which led to a pile of snow. Digging he found one James Tinorello who had been shot three times in the back of the head. Police said that Tinorello, who was 27 and had six arrest under his belt, was involved in a liquor syndicate that operated in Brooklyn and Queens.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A well armed coward killed Mr. Howard

T'was in Kansas City on this date back in 1931, yes it was when one Jimmy Howard, said to be a gangster, was sitting all by his lonesome in a taxi office. As Howard sat there thinking Howard thoughts a sedan pulled up front and stopped. Out stepped a feller with a Chicago make that KC typewiter, you know a chopper, a Tommy gun, a Thompson machine gun is what I'm getting at, strapped to his shoulder.

Guess what happened next?

If you said, the feller with the chopper politely asked for a cab. You are correct...provided that by "asked for a cab" you mean he fired fourteen shots through the window killing Mr. Howard and then jumped back into the car and sped away.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pharaoh's curse

On this date in 1929 twenty-six year old James Rocco was hanging out with four other guys at a joint in Queens known as the Pharaoh Social Club. While the five men were discussing whatever it was that men inside the Pharaoh Social Club discussed, three other fellows entered and asked if any of them knew the address of a guy named James Marino. None of the men had heard of Marino so the trio left. The question about Marino was just a ruse however because the men were just checking to see if Rocco was on the premises. Once they knew their target was inside each man drew a gun and the trio re-entered the club with guns-a-blazing in Herr Rocco's direction. Rocco dropped dead with three bullets in him as the gunmen ran out to a waiting car and sped off.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seven can be an unlucky number

On this date back in 1929 Chicago gangster Pete Locasto climbed into a sedan with his pals Sam De Salvo and Mike Medeira. Sam was driving and when the car came to the intersection of Harlem Avenue and Twenty-Second Street, Mike's right arm "dropped down in a friendly gesture". Suddenly, in an unfriendly gesture, Mike began to pump bullet after bullet (seven to be exact) into his pal. Pete caught lead in the face, neck and body.

Sam drove to a less populated area and pulled over. There he and Mike grabbed Pete and tossed him into ditch that ran along the road and went about their way. A short time later a passing car saw Pete and stopped. The drive investigated and found the gangster still breathing. He loaded Pete into his car and took him to the hospital where the wounded gangster had no qualms with filling in the whos, wheres and whys of the shooting in between bouts of unconsciousness.  Pete managed to linger on for about eleven days before finally cashing in on February 22.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Black Hand claims one of their own

One hundred and eight years ago today in New York City thirty-five year old Felipo Randazzo locked the door to his butcher shop, located at 177 Christie Street, and turned to begin his walk home. the time was 11:20p.m. (long hours back then) After a couple of steps a large caliber bullet fired from a powerful rifle plowed through his heart, went out his back, passed through the shop door and hit a column inside before coming to a rest on the floor.

At first it was thought that he was an innocent victim of the Black Hand until a search of his shop turned up a dynamite cartridge of the type used in some recent Black Hand explosions.

The NYPD's famous Mafia fighting cop Lt. Petrosino put his entire sixteen man Italian Squad on the case and soon they learned that Randazzo was indeed a member of the Black Hand. He had come over from Palermo three years previously and worked as a plasterer before hooking up with a nefarious band of extortionist. With his profits he was able to open his butcher shop three months before being shot down.

During the investigation the Italian Squad learned through one of Randazzo's friends that the dead man had had a falling out with some of the members of his gang and he [Randazzo] intended to supply the police with information that would have resulted in their arrests but his confederates to take care of him first.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sunday nights are alright for fighting

Ninety-four years ago tonight, a Sunday, a large group of guys and dolls were lining the stairwell of a lower eastside building waiting to get into the night club that occupied the third floor. As the band was preparing to play a couple of shots rang out and the throng of people ran out into the streets. One man, Michael Dimesci, ran across the street and dropped dead with a bullet in his heart.
Frankie Uale
The police sent officers to all the hospitals in the area to see if anyone else showed up. Within the hour Brooklyn mobster Frankie Uale stumbled into one with a bullet wound to the lung. Uale said he just happened to be walking by the club when the shooting took place and had no idea what it was about. Police later asserted that they believed the Brooklyn Mafioso was the intended target and that Dimesci may have been an innocent bystander.