Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

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Friday, February 26, 2016

This wasn't in the brochure


Ninety-three years ago today a busload of tourist got to witness a gangland killing first hand while perusing Little Italy. The victim was Joseph Marone, who was walking 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 with the divvying up of 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 24, 2016

Big Mac Attack

Ninety-two-years ago bookie Joe "Big Mac" Mahoney had a falling out with his partner and fellow bookie John Quigley. In happier days they both noshed 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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sullivan's final travel

Ninety-one years ago as this morning, around 9:00am,three shots rang out in the rear room of a speakeasy. This was followed by about eight guys vacating the parlor in speedy fashion. Other fellers who were enjoying their morning hooch hopped off their bar stools and ventured to the back  room where they found Mike Sullivan unconscious on the floor. They sent him to the hospital but he died.

Mike was an interesting guy. A good 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 caused his demise?

Monday, February 22, 2016

AA Meeting

On this date in 1931 gangster brothers Al and Abe Wagner and 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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Don't eat the red snow

Eighty-six years ago this morning an employee of a Brooklyn lumber yard showed up for work and found a trail of blood. His curiosity piqued, 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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Welcome back

According to police, Alphonse Respivo was a small time racketeer who, although a native New Yorker, having lived both on Manhattan's eastside and in Brooklyn, divided his time between the Big Apple and Chicago.

In 1921 Respivo was arrested for robbery and sentenced to a term of eight to sixteen years but was released in 1927. He was also arrested in Chicago in 1931 for carrying a gun, an offense that cost him six months in jail and a $100 fine.

Back in New York, where he was wanted for violation of his 1927 parole, Restivo returned to the eastside and at 4 p.m. on this date in 1935 he was crossing the street when two men came up from behind and shot him in the back numerous times. The gunmen then tossed their guns (a .38 and a .45) in the street and ran in opposite directions.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Newsie

Today's victim, Louis DeMaria, whose body was found on this date in 1932, was considered by police to be a small time racketeer. That may have been true but he also may have some how been involved with Vincent Coll or his murder five days before.

DeMaria had been shot three times and his body dumped on a road, where it was spotted by a bus driver. Oddly, earlier that day the car used for the murder was found just a hundred feet away, wrecked, with bloodstains and a pistol missing three shots. Apparently the killers tossed DeMaria's corpse out of the car and then crashed moments later. No one inspecting the car however, found the dead man.

How does Coll fit in? Glad you asked. DeMaria's body was found amidst a number of newspaper clippings pertaining to the Coll murder. Police were unable to place the dead man in either Coll's or Dutch Schultz's gangs so were unable to say with any certainty whether his death was a result of the murder. Perhaps he was some how involved either as a spotter or as the mystery man who entered the London Chemist drug store with the "Mad Dog" only to walk out moments later when Coll's killer entered. If in fact DeMaria was involved with Coll then there are three motives for his murder.

One, he was a Coll guy who simply liked to carry around news clippings of his boss and was a natural target as all Coll guys were.
Two, if DeMaria was the mystery man who walked out of the drug store, then the remaining members of the Coll mob figured out that he was the double crosser who set up their leader and meted out their own justice.
Three, if the news clippings were DeMaria's, chances are he was talking about it to anyone who would listen as well, perhaps bragging in his neighborhood to show that he was more than the petty racketeer the police considered him. If the killers of Coll did use him in some capacity they probably decided that his loose tongue was liability and rubbed him out.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Couple buys it in the Bronx

Carmine Barelli and May Smith had been a couple for about two years. Barelli was a safecracker and gambler and Smith was a hostess at the Dreamland Dance Academy on 125th Street. February 12, 1930 found the couple returning from somewhere and parking their car in the garage at 1416 Inwood Avenue, the Bronx. The couple was exiting the garage when a large sedan pulled up to the curb. The duo must have recognized the men in the car because the attendant on duty said that Barelli and May took off running in opposite directions with panic stricken faces. Four men jumped out of the sedan and two began to chase Smith and two went after Barelli. Smith only managed to run a few yards before tripping and falling down. The gunmen approached her and shot her in the back of the neck and between the shoulder blades. Meanwhile the two men who were chasing Barelli caught up with him on a ramp in the garage and fired five shots at him hitting him in both the chin and the chest, killing him instantly. After the killers got away Miss Smith was placed in a cab and died en-route to the hospital. Vincent Coll was picked up as one of the killers but nothing ever came of it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

No dumping

With a bullet in the head, the dead body of Joe Galas was carelessly tossed in the street on this date back in 1928. Leave it to gangsters to ignore all those "Do Not Litter" signs all over New York. Police said that Joe was the victim of a bootleggers feud. Police said a lot of things that weren't necessarily true but we will take their word for it in Joe's case

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Black Hand red blood

At 11:20pm 109-years ago today 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. 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 fight cop Lt. Petrosino put his entire sixteen man Italian Squad on the case and soon 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 were faster and took care of him first.

Monday, February 8, 2016

If they only had cell phones back then

It was 84-years ago today, a mere week after the bloodbath in the Bronx where some of his gang was decimated [see Feb. 1], that New York City rid itself of Vince "the Mick" Coll, or "Irish" as his contemporaries also called him (It was the press that dubbed him Mad Dog.) after he and an associate entered a drug store on Manhattan's W. 23rd Street.

The victim of a double cross, Irish entered a phone booth to make a prearranged call to underworld powerhouse Owney Madden while his pal took a seat at the counter. While the Mad Dog and Owney were conversing, a car containing a hit squad pulled up front. Gunmen hopped out and covered the store's front door. Coll's pal was allowed to leave as a machine-gun toting hoodlum made his way back to the phone booths. Finding the booth containing Coll the gunman lined himself up and blasted the Mick into gangster history.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sunday Night is Alright for Fighting

Ninety-five years ago tonight, a Sunday it was, a large group of guys and dolls were lining the stairwell of a lower eastside building waiting to get into a night club on the third floor. As the band was getting ready 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 the 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 believe the Brooklyn Mafioso was the intended target and that Dimesci may have been an innocent bystander.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

In case anyone has insomnia tonight

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond is on TCM at 3:30am

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Owney earns a nickname

Owney Madden, one of the top New York City mobsters of the prohibition era picked up the moniker "Killer" in his younger days as leader of the Gopher gang. 104-years ago today he lived up to his nom de guerre. Twenty-one year old William Henshaw was preparing to board a streetcar when two men came up and shot him. He didn't die outright and was taken to the hospital. On his death bed, he identified Madden as his killer but for some reason the police didn't try to hard to find him, which confounded the dead man’s father, who told the press, “It seems queer to me that the police can not catch the murderer of my boy. This band of Gophers had it in for my boy for some time. I don’t know why they wanted to kill him but he often told me he was afraid of them.”

A little more than a week after the murder police captured Madden on the Westside after a brief chase. The cops could have saved their breath however as he was released and never called to trial for the murder.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Prosecution loses a witness

In June of 1930 reputed olive oil dealer Leo Noto and some accomplices kidnapped the son of a wealthy Brooklyn baker that lived just down the street from him. The kidnappers demanded $10,000 and released the boy after $7000 was paid with the promise to make up the $3000 in the near future. In the interim the baker went to the police and a trap was laid to catch the gang when they came to claim the additional three grand. The trap worked and six members of the kidnap gang, including Noto, were apprehended.

Noto was released on $25,000 bail and made a deal with the authorities to testify against the rest of the gang. Leo's ex pals decided that it might be best for them if Leo didn't make the court date. To that end, eighty-five years ago today twenty-nine year old Noto left the house that he shared with his wife and four children and, with his hands in his pockets, began walking across a vacant lot. While he was still in the lot a Packard sedan containing three men pulled up. The doors flew open and two shotguns went off. Leo dropped and never got up.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Somebodies ringing the bell

In the spring of 1931 Vincent Coll and a contingent of disgruntled gunmen broke off from Dutch Schultz's gang and waged war against their former boss. Over the course of the summer the Dutchman's boys started popping up dead. On this date back in 1932 however, Schultz gunmen delivered a crippling blow to their foe.

Coll gang members Louis and Fiore Basile and Patsy Del Greco (center of photo) were holed up in one of the gangs Bronx hideouts with a man named Joseph Paronne (whether or not he was part of the gang is unknown) and a couple of women and some children. At approximately 9:30pm the doorbell rang. One of the gang answered the door and four or five gunmen pushed their way into the apartment and opened fire. Del Greco and the Basile Brothers were the main targets and took the majority of the lead. Patsy was killed with three shots and Louis Basile with four. His brother Fiore was severely wounded with bullets over the heart and in the left arm. Trying to escape, one of the women ran into the line of fire and was killed when a bullet pierced her head. The other woman and Paronne received non-life threatening wounds. The killer’s main target however had not been on the premises for two days. How the killers found out where the Coll gang was has never been ascertained but chances are there was a traitor in the midst.