"He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." - Chicago Gangster Ted Newberry. Rubbed out January 7, 1933

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

There was a crooked man

Just as it had been all year, 1931 ended on a bloody note when lower Eastside gambler Louis “Crooked Neck” Levine was gunned down in a mid-town gaming resort early New Year’s Eve morning. “Crooked Neck”, so called because of a physical deformity, appeared at a club known as the Pups Kennel Yard, which was basically a private speakeasy where members, who needed a card to enter, could drink and gamble. Through out the evening Levine was called away from his poker table three times to take a phone calls. During his last call he was over heard saying, “No, I won’t meet you. I’m going to stay here.” “Crooked Neck” returned to his table and once again commenced to playing cards. At about 4:00am as Levine sat behind his approximately $400 in chips three men arrived at the club. The men however were not members and in lieu of cards showed the doorman their pistols and were granted immediate entrance. Recognizing Levine from behind the men walked up and fired three bullets into the back of his head.

On that note, Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dishonest Abe

It must have been a tough holiday season for Waxey Gordon’s family. The month started off with Waxey being sentenced to ten years in prison and ended with the murder of his twenty-two year old nephew Abraham Volk.
Volk, whom police called “A small time racketeer and a cheap petty-larceny thief.” Was the son of Gordon’s sister in-law whom Waxey put to work washing barrels in one of his New Jersey breweries. He had been arrested six times since 1926 for vagrancy and theft but always managed, probably because of his Uncle’s pull, to receive a suspended sentence or have the charge reduced.
Since the fall of his Uncle’s empire he tried to cash in on his relations by organizing “social” clubs in the Bronx and shaking down businesses for protection money.
As the clock struck midnight ushering in Christmas Eve 1933 Volk entered a Bronx candy shop and spoke with the proprietor for a bit telling him he that he had an appointment to keep. Volk then left the store and moments later the proprietor saw him crouched over running back towards the store. Then he heard five shots ring out and saw Volk fall.
Waxey’s nephew was rushed to the hospital where, even though only a small timer, he kept true to the gangster code and died without telling the cops anything.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bye bye Legs, correction

Whoops, got a head of myself, Legs bought it 77 years ago this morning. So if you went by 67 Dove Street yesterday, go by again today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bye, bye Legs

Early on this morning back in 1931 three shots were fired into Jack Diamond's head as he lay in bed, bringing to an end, imo, one of the more colorful of the Prohibition Gangsters. If your in Albany today take a walk by 67 Dove Street and see where the "King Cobra" of crime was finally snuffed out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

He led them down the streets of town right to the traffic cop

and he only paused a moment when he heard him holler, "Stop"

Twas eighty-two years ago this morning at 3:00am when a patrolman was walking his beat in Harlem and a large touring car sped past him. He immediately blew his whistle and the car came to a stop. As the officer approached the auto the door opened and what looked like a bundle of laundry was tossed out. The cop ran up but Frosty the hitman & co. sped off. What looked like a bundle of laundry turned out to be thirty-four year old Dominick Alvero. He had been shot four times in the head, once in the neck and once in the hip.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Unlucky Luciano (spoilers for Bad Seeds)

Seventy-eight years ago last night, also a Sunday, 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. 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.

Why was Cheeks in seclusion? What was his history and why did someone want him dead? All the answers can be found in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

End of an era, and of a couple of Franks

Frank "Skinny" Partuese and Frank "Blackie" Stillo have the distinction of being New York City’s last gangland victims of the Prohibition Era. The day before Repeal went into effect (75 years ago tomorrow Dec. 5) “Blackie” had just parked his car when two gunmen came up from behind and started blasting away. After firing about ten shots the gunmen fled. Hit a number of times, “Skinny”, who was in the passenger seat, managed to get out of the sedan and run up a block or so before dropping dead. “Blackie” also made it out of the car but collapsed in the gutter. He was still alive when found and sent to the hospital where doctors said he would die.
The police believed that Parteuse was responsible for a killing three weeks previous and that he and Stillo were put on the spot for retribution. Whether or not Stillo played a part in the murder is unknown but he was a bit of a Yogi Berra as is evident by a quote he made while being transported to the hospital, “I don’t know why I should get it, but I had it coming to me.”

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Don't blame Reles it was 'cuz Strauss was cheap

Yesterday marked the 75th Anniversary of one of New York City's most important gangland executions. The murder of Alexander "Red" Alpert. Even though his death barely made the news in 1933 it would prove to be one of the most significant in New York history because “Red's” was the slaying that started the whole Murder Inc. investigation in 1940, which resulted in the downfall of the Brownsville and Ocean Hill Combination, not mention the deaths of most of the major players.
By the age of nineteen “Red” was already a seasoned hoodlum with a number of arrests but no convictions. He was known as a cop hater and his disdain for the officers of the law was so great, the authors of Murder Inc. tell us, that he wouldn’t even wear a blue suit.
His end came after he pulled off a jewel heist and had a collection of gems worth probably upwards of $10,000. Not having the connections to move the merchandise himself "Red" went to Brownsville and paid a visit to Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss. “Red” showed the Murder Inc. executioner his jewels and told Strauss he could have them at the bargain rate of $3000. Strauss in turn offered only $700. Alpert in no polite terms told Strauss what he could do with his offer and went on his way.
Strauss sent two guys to bring “Red” back but Alpert was wise and managed to elude them. Still wanting the gems Strauss had Abe Reles and Buggsy Goldstein pay the youthful crook a visit. The two killers told Alpert that Strauss wanted the jewels and he wanted them for the $700 he originally offered but the stubborned “Red” told Reles and Goldstein they could go to hell with Strauss. This of course sealed his fate and the contract was given to Walter Sage, whom Alpert knew and had no reason to fear. The next day Sage met “Red” at the latter's house and the two men walked off together. After they had gone about a block Sage drew a gun and killed the young hoodlum.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jack "Legs" Diamond

Greetings all. One of the nice benefits of my research has been corresponding with the descendants of some of the guys I've written about. Normally any communications take place after the book or article has been written but I'm trying to reverse the trend. I am currently writing a bio of Legs Diamond and would love to hear from anybody who was related directly, in-directly, not at all but your grandpa, grandma, mom or dad, great aunt or uncle etc. knew him or his cohorts. If you have any sort of connection to Legs Diamond, no matter how tenuous (Grandpa said that Legs bought ice cream for all the kiddies in Cairo NY...), and would be willing to chat with me please contact me: dgis1931@yahoo.com

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Since man can't live on gangsters alone

I started a new blog celebrating the discovery of cool historic stuff. Stop by and be sure to tell me that I sent you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Say it ain't so Joe,

Today marks the 79th anniversary of the passing of "Baby" Joe Flanagan. The youngest of 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 he 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. For more on Baby Joe and the other three fierce Flanagans check out Bad Seeds in the Big Apple.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An interrogation with Rick "Mad Dog" Mattix

Not long ago we here at the DGIS studio were pleasantly surprised when gangster author and criminal historian Rick Mattix stopped by the studio. Rick is the co-author of The Complete Public Enemy Almanac as well as the founder and editor of the On the Spot Journal. Since Rick is interested in both early law enforcement as well as the criminals I thought it would be fun to interview him in true early 20th century New York Detective fashion. To that end Rick was escorted into a sound proof room with a solitary light bulb. Fifteen minutes later I entered with a couple of brutes. Following is a transcription of the actually tape.

Dead Guys In Suits: Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.

Rick Mattix: Yer getting’ nothin’ from me, copper. Get that light outta my face! I’m no rat.

DGIS: Ok Mattix, make it easy on yourself. When did you get into 1920’s and 1930’s gangsters and what attracted you to the subject?…come on quit stalling….fine that’s the way you wanna play it.

SFX – fists connecting with flesh.

Rick Mattix: OW! -- WHAT THE -- ? O.K., I'll spill it. Enuff of the rough stuff, already. Ever since I was a little tyke, I've had a historical bent. Always fascinated with the likes of Napoleon, Davy Crockett, Battle of New Orleans, etc. Somehow got even more bent, only in the direction of historical crime.

Part of this I attribute to a near-fatal overdose of the old Untouchables TV series with Robert Stack, when I was ten or so -- those old cars and guys shooting from the runningboards with Tommyguns are evocative images at that age. And I was always hearing stories from my mother, Mom, and my father, Dad, about John Dillinger. What a clever sumbitch he was, always evading the cops and when they did catch him breaking outta jail with a wooden gun. "Smartest bank robber since Jesse James," they say and they could only trap cuz some tramp girlfriend put on a red dress and spotted him for the cops, who shot him coming out've a Chicago movie house. At this point Mom would pontificate that obviously CRIME DOES NOT PAY. Dad would insist that the country would be better off today if we had more Dillingers instead of street punks holding up gas stations. He insisted that John had done good for the country by getting the money outta the banks and back into circulation during Hard Times…

DGIS- Hate to interrupt but just realized we haven’t hit you in awhile, boys…

SFX- Smack, punch, crash

DGIS- Please continue.

RM- Course in 1967, the movie Bonnie and Clyde came out. My parents remembered them too tho my first thought when they dragged me to a theater to see it was "Who the f--k are Bonnie and Clyde anyhow?" Not being from Texas I'd never heard of 'em but gathered from my parents' talk that much of the story took place in our home state of Iowa at about the same time as Dillinger and guessed they must be local legends.

The film, historically inaccurate as it turned out to be, was great entertainment for a teenager and a flood of sensational detective magazines appearing on the newsstands afterward confirmed for me that B&C had once been as well known as Capone, Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Legs Diamond, and a horde of others whose names at least were already familiar to me thru late-nite TV showings of old gangster movies. I started collecting and reading books to learn the truth.

DGIS- Hear that boys? We got ourselves a reader. Well see if you can read this.

SFX- Punch, slap, crunch

DGIS – Ok, get on with it.

RM- In later years, between making a mundane honest living, I started spending my vacations visiting the sites of old robberies, shootouts, etc., and doing serious research which eventually led me to the late Joe Pinkston at the old Dillinger Museum in Nashville, Indiana. I passed some of my findings on to Joe, he shared his many years of research with me and also put me in touch with a crazy sumbitch in Chicago named Bill Helmer, who worked for Playboy and spent his free time running down Dillinger, Capone, and Barker-Karpis Gang addresses in his neighborhood. Helmer I already knew by reputation as the author of the definitive classic history of the Tommygun and as founding member of the John Dillinger Died For You Society. We shared our findings and Bill put me in touch with other lunatic gang researchers around the country.

DGIS – Yeah, well let me introduce you to another crazy sumbitch. Rubberhose, please say hello to Mr. Mattix’s kidneys.

SFX – Fwaap, fwaaap, fwaaap

DGIS- Anymore about this Helmer guy?

RM – Bound by a similarly warped sense of humor, and common interests in horror films, hillbilly music, firearms, sex and violence, plus a common passion for learning the truth behind the gangster legends of old, a Helmer-Mattix literary partnership was inevitable. Hence, The Complete Public Enemy Almanac.

DGIS: Good now we’re getting somewhere. It seems that in the past ten years or so this subject has really exploded with numerous new books on various gangsters as well as legions of people who are fascinated by the era and the hoodlums themselves. What do you think accounts for the new wave of interest?....Well?...Fine, boys.

SFX – a sap slapping a skull

RM: OWWW! #^$@$*@/+=&@#!!! Cut it out. Lemme alone. I'll talk already!I think there's always been an interest. Publishers have just been slow to catch on. The release of FBI files in the 1980s I think rekindled a lot of spark in folks like us. I know it did me. It made it possible to confirm or deny a lot of the old legends we'd grown up with. And small presses and vanity publishers made writing suddenly accessible to many. A lot of the "Old West" buffs are also into gangsters and I think they provided some of the drive there too, as many of them of them belong to organizations such as NOLA or WOLA or Oklahombres who publish journals that members contribute to. It's always exciting to turn up new details or revise old accounts and writing articles is just a step toward writing a book. Now major publishers are starting to show interest, not just in gangsters but in historical crime generally.

DGIS: That’s better. Here’s a handkerchief clean yourself up.

RM: Gimme a broom handle instead and I'll show you where you can put that hanky!

DGIS: Oh, smart guy eh? Boys.

SFX – Head repeatedly knocked onto table top.

RM: OUCH!!!!!!! Motherf--ker! Enough already, I'll talk!

DGIS: Ok Mattix, I want you to spill everything regarding the On the Spot Journal. C’mon now, I’m tired of playing footsies.

RM: On the Spot Journal is a quarterly mail-order publication. Scholarly yet entertaining, it covers crime and crime control in the early Twentieth Century tho the focus is on the classic gangster era of the 1920s and '30s, a period in which technology, politics, and other factors caused a mushroom growth in both industries.

We don't glorify gangsters. We cover both sides, cops and robbers, as well as non-gangster crimes, prisons, criminology and forensics, capital punishment, the legal system, "yellow journalism" media of the day that elevated common thugs into folk heroes, etc. Our articles are as factual as possible and professionally documented.

Our contributors include both noted crime historians and talented newcomers, even relatives of a few personalities of the day. Each issue also carries a tribute to a fallen law officer whether famous or not. Besides historical articles we also carry news features on things like the Johnny Depp movie Public Enemies, the annual Bonnie & Clyde Fest in Louisiana and so forth, and book reviews.

In some ways it's an extension of The Complete Public Enemy Almanac. Too much happened in the era to ever cover in the pages of any book. Plus, publishers are mainly interested only in the headliners (Capone, Dillinger, B&C), who really comprise only a minute portion of what was happening back then. Some of the most interesting stuff is material that'll never be covered in detail in the books. And with the demise of American detective magazines, we're one of the few regular articles outlets available these days to crime historians.

We've been in business for a couple of years now and have subscribers throughout North America and Europe. Currently, it's a 50 to 60 page journal in stapled magazine format. Some past issues have varied greatly in length and until recently it was spiral bound.You can check us out at here. Tell us you saw this at DGIS or that Pat Downey sent you and we'll knock ten per cent off the subscription price.

DGIS: Ok, I lied, I actually like playing footsies, but if you tell anyone It’ll be just to bad for you. Time for some fun stuff, if you were a Prohibition era gang boss which 20’s-30’s gangsters would be on your dream team and why?

RM: Capone for sure, just for the intimidation value of his name. Legs Diamond, who I understand you're biographing at the moment, always ahead of the law with a knack for making witnesses disappear and a tough guy to kill besides. Dutch Schultz, who rose to power in an incredibly short time, had a great talent for organizing new criminal enterprises or muscling into old ones, and who probably would've saved everyone in NYC a lot of trouble if he had been allowed to knock off Tom Dewey. Gus Winkeler, who seems to have been the brainiest of the St. Valentine's Day hit team. Dean O'Banion, Bugs Moran, and all that fun North Side crowd in Chicago. I'd throw in a few outlaw types too: Alvin Karpis, the brains of the Barker-Karpis combine; Verne Miller, who'd go to any insane length to help out a friend or get revenge; and maybe Barker-Karpis gangster Lawrence DeVol, the epitome of the stone killer. I'd include Dillinger too for name value and because he seemed to get along so well with his partners. He and Karpis could handle the robbery department.

DGIS: Now, before we let you go, is there anything else we should know? Planning on writing any books? Articles? Bad checks?

RM: Only certainty is the last. Just kidding. For now On the Spot keeps me busy. I did intend at one time to do a book on the Barker-Karpis Gang and might yet, either on my own or in collaboration with someone. A couple of authors have suggested teaming with me on this project. It needs to be done but I'm not really much into book writing. I is better as an editor. But that's another thing I've considered is editing an anthology volume, possibly of old detective mag articles. There was a lot of good information in those, along with a lotta bullshit. On the Spot keeps me off the streets and outta mischief tho. Keeps the wife busy too as she's the Creative Editor and Gal Friday.

DGIS: That better be the truth or else. What the hell, give him one for the road.

SFX – Hamfist to stomach

DGIS: Ok, well that was fun. Thanks for stopping by Rick. How’d you like your authentic 1920’s NYPD grilling…Rick?....Rick? Quick turn off the re-

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I ain't talkin', literally

On this date back in 1930 Frank Calibrese and his cohorts were involved in a shooting with rival gangsters and 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 said, "Dffe msiy wrrfyy don" which translate to "Mind if I write this down." The police concurred that that would probably be the best for all involved. Frank then wrote down his name and address, the location of where he was shot and then died.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pics from a reader

Special thanks to Andy Ferrigno for passing along the following pics and info regarding the previous post.

Stefano Ferrigno and Manfredi Mineo on the spot

For some shots of Stefano Ferrigno's tombstone and some more information on the relationship between him and Mineo check his entry at Findagrave

Andy tells us that the inscription on the tombstone translates to:

“Here lies Stefano Ferrigno. Born May 12, 1900. Died November 5, 1930. The inconsolable wife is settled by everlasting memories.”

Thank you Andy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joe the Boss loses a couple guys

We know through Joe Valachi that todays entries were definitely victims of the Castellemmares War on the Masseria side. By November of 1930 the Maranzano forces had united with the rebellious Reina gang, now headed by Tom Gagliano and, to solidify their friendship, both groups decided to unite and kill one, Stephen Ferrigno. This was Valachi’s first foray into murder. Not yet a member of the mob, Valachi was on a trial period and was told to rent an apartment in the same Bronx complex that Ferrigno lived in. The neophyte mobster took a second story apartment across the courtyard from Ferrigno's front door so that he could see if Ferrigno came or went. The plan was that when the Masseria lieutenant was spotted the Maranzano men would jump into a car, which was to be driven by Valachi, and shoot him from the street. After about a three week stake out two spotters saw Ferrigno sitting in front of the apartment complex, so with Valachi at the wheel and fellow gangster Buster from Chicago, literally riding shotgun, the death squad pulled around to complete the deed but at the last moment the doorman of the complex waved to Valachi so the murder was called off. With this failed attempt the hit squad returned to the apartment to wait for the next opportunity. The next opportunity came in a few days when a summit was held in Ferrigno’s apartment. The Maranzano men couldn’t believe there eyes as Joe Masseria himself and upwards of twenty of his men (according to the New York Times the meeting only consisted of six men) poured into Ferrigno’s apartment. The prospect of killing Masseria and ending the Castellemmarese War was to great and it was determined that if Joe “the Boss” showed himself he would be killed from Valachi’s apartment. Understandably Valachi was not happy about this prospect since his belongings were all over the place. Lady luck shined on Valachi however and none of the Masseria men exited the apartment that night, so early the next morning the gunmen commandeered the first floor apartment to ambush Masseria when he left. Not until the afternoon did the summit break up and the Masseria men began to exit in groups of two. Not seeing Joe “the Boss” leave, the gunmen decided to fulfill the original contract when they saw Ferrigno exit with a confederate named Alfred (Manfredi) Mineo. As the two gangsters passed the first floor window, Buster From Chicago, Bobby Doyle and another gang member named Nick “Nick the Thief” Capuzzi opened fire with shotguns and cut them down in their tracks, then high tailed it to safety. A search of the apartment turned up two double-barreled shotguns, a single barreled shot gun and the guitar case that was used to carrying them inside.
Stephen Ferrigno was thirty-four years old and went by the alias Sam Ferrara. His record consisted of an arrest on June 6, 1927 for grand larceny and a prior arrest for being a fugitive from justice in another grand larceny case in Newark, New Jersey on February 8, 1927. In both cases he was discharged. Even though he was carrying a gun when he died and silk gloves covered his manicured hands, his family maintained that he was an electrician.
Alfred "Manfredi" Mineo was thirty-six (according to the press his death certificate says 50) and went by the aliases Minelo and Mineo Manfredi. A business card found on him identified him as vice-president of the A.D.L. Holding Corporation of 55 West Forty Second Street. His record showed that on November 19, 1926 he was arrested in Brooklyn for carrying a dangerous weapon but was discharged. Following the murder detectives discovered that Mineo was a bootlegger and that both Mineo and Ferrigno were probably involved in the Brooklyn policy racket where both men had up until recently lived.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Clap for the Dutchman (clap clap)

Here is the Robert Treat hotel (now home to NJN tv) that the Dutchman stayed at located around the corner from the eye sore that used to be the Palace Chop House and will soon be a glorious, state of the art 14 car parking lot.

Here is shot inside of the soon to be parking lot. The metaphysical types will notice an abundance of orbs. The non believers may see some flash.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's a mistake

Went to Newark yesterday to check out the old Palace Chop House where Dutch Schultz and his boys were gunned down before it becomes a parking lot, which appears it could happen anytime as there was a wrecking machine parked right behind it. I can understand that non-gansterologist don't think places like this need to be presererved and the whole "progress" argument, but, from a strictly commercial aspect this is huge mistake. Like a lot of old city's Newark is basically dead. It is teeming with old boarded up buildings and they are trying to revitalize it. Which is why they should have saved this place as opposed to turning it into a 14 car parking lot. I was actually shocked at all the available parking in the area and don't understand the need for 14 more spots.

(Notice parking lot to extreme right)

I didn't realize until my visit how ideally located this building is. It is about a 6-10 minute walk from the train station. Four minutes from the New Jersey Center for Performing Arts and about six minutes from the Prudential center where the Devils play hockey. With some money and a little imagination this building could be restored and no doubt, with the proper marketing become a tourist attraction. Right around the corner is the old Robert Treat hotel where Schultz was staying at the time of his shooting, (now home to New Jersey Television) as well as the new Robert Treat hotel. If this place was refurbished it would be the only bar in the area, (I didn't notice any others in the neighborhood.) I would suspect that with two major entertainment venues, a high dollar hotel, and such close proximity to New York City, an enterprising entrepreneur could have made a killing. I can't believe Newark officials, who want their city to bounce back, could not see the opportunity here. Oh well, they will soon have another parking lot to go with the four I counted within a stone's throw of this building.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or treat break my feet, turn my face into mince meat

“Because of the diabolical manner in which his features were marred and his body beaten before he was murdered, detectives decided that those who killed him had a more bitter motive – a more personal hatred.” So went the description of the demise of 28-year old white slaver Joe Masella who was rubbed out on Halloween 1929. The press didn’t go into detail about the mutilations Massella suffered before his killers sent a bullet into the back of his head but suffice it to say he could only be identified by his fingerprints. The “bitter motives” the police referred to were that Massella, “a charmer who held sway over more women than any gangster in the Brooklyn underworld” Had been messing around with the women of other mobsters.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

They tore down paradise and put up a parking lot

Well half of it is true anyways.

Newark approves demolition of building where gangster was slain
by Guy Sterling/The Star-Ledger
Wednesday October 01, 2008, 9:42 PM
The building in Newark that once housed a restaurant where mobster Dutch Schultz was gunned down was approved for demolition tonight.
In a vote without dissent, the Newark Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission voted to allow new owner Miles Berger to knock down the building at 12 E. Park St. to make way for additional parking.
Voting in favor of the proposal were commissioners Robert Hartman, Diane Scotland, Gwen Moten, Richard Grossklaus and Anthonyette Hunter.
Commissioner Harrison Snell abstained, while David Abramson, commission chairman, recused himself because he occupies an office in the nearby Berger-owned Military Park Building.
Berger said demolition of the old Palace Chop House, where Schultz and three others were killed on Oct. 23, 1935, in one of America's most notorious mob hits, will add 12 to 14 parking spaces for tenants at the Military Park Building.
He also offered to install a plaque on the sidewalk in front of the building commemorating Schultz's slaying and said he may erect a garage on the site someday.
"There's no one in the city who recognizes the importance of historic buildings more than I do," Berger told the commission at its monthly meeting in City Hall.
He said he helped get the nearby Griffith, Hahne's and Firemen's Fund Insurance Co. buildings in downtown Newark placed on the state and national registers of historic places.
Berger said he tried to do the same for the Robert Treat Hotel that he also owns but failed, saying it has far greater historic value than the spot where a "bootlegger and a criminal" was killed.
A New Yorker, Schultz stayed at the Robert Treat during a self-imposed exile in Newark and used it as a headquarters to run his racketeering operation. He was 33 when he died.
In his presentation on behalf of Berger, Newark architect William Mikesell said he was mistaken in his original research that maintained the building sitting on the property today was not the same structure in which Schultz was killed. But he said the building was "just a shell of the structure that was there."
Ulana Zakalak, a historic preservationist Berger retained, said the building would need architectural significance to contribute to the Military Park Historic District in which it is situated. It was not enough for Schultz to have been slain in the building, she added.
Zakalak researched the backgrounds of all of the buildings in the area when Military Park was placed on the historic register in 2003. The building at 12 E. Park St. was judged "non-contributing."

Seems like somebody could do allright reverting it back into a bar and playing up the Schultz angle but a 14 car parking lot sounds like just as much fun.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Update

Went to NYC this weekend to sign some books at some local Barnes & Nobles. If you are interested they are usually found in the "New York" section of the stores. Also did some research on my next project.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

L.A. Confidential

M-I-C, here's a C-note now keep your f@#&ing mouth shut.
K-E-Y, Why? Cuz if you don't I'll f#@^ing kill you.

Here's a little something from our friends out West.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Bad Seed buys it

Back on this date in 1935, while papers were filled with stories regarding the shooting of Dutch Schultz and his cohorts, across town a small time hood named Al Stern, was found dead in a cheap boarding house.
Since he was found in the same city where the Schultz massacre took place, right away it was assumed that he some how played a part in it. Some papers said that he was the gunman who mowed down the Dutchman and his confederates while others said that he may have been the man who acted as a spotter for the killers and was killed himself afterwards. The full story on Stern can be found in:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stick to what you know part II

Two days after his partner Arthur Siegelman disappeared, 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 the Ferro’s building, two gunmen jumped out of a doorway, ran up to the trio an fired a bullet into Ferro’s head and his friend's stomach. Both men were rushed to Bellevue Hospital where Ferro subsequently died and his pal's wound was labeled as mortal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stick to what you know

Twenty-five year old Arthur Siegelman was a new comer to the 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.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"I'd like to register a complaint."

Frank Paresi was a life long gangster who was awarded a political appointment for services rendered to Tammany Hall. Paresi’s record dated back to 1904 when he was sent to the House of Corrections for petty larceny. He was arrested again in 1909 for assault and robbery but released. In 1912 he was sent to Sing Sing for ten years for robbery but his record shows he didn’t serve the full sentence because he was arrested for grand larceny in Brooklyn in 1920. By 1922 however he had been appointed a Market Supervisor by Market Commissioner O’Malley, a Tammany man.
Eighty-six years ago today, Paresi was making his rounds amongst the pushcart vendors in his district, who at the time were complaining that they were the victims of municipal graft, when a gunman walked up behind him and shot him down. The killer slipped away with the crowds as they ran for shelter.
The first one at the dead man’s side was his brother Thomas who yelled, “It’s my brother Frank!” Thomas and some others carried Frank into a store then transferred him to a nearby hospital where he died.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Diamonds aren't a Noe's best friend

A year and a day after he caught a bullet in the stomach whilst walking on the lower eastside with Little Augie Orgen, Legs Diamond was on the other side of the hit. He had an appointment this morning with Joey Noe & Dutch Schultz to exchange some money for territory. Figuring 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 eastside. Noe was taken to the hospital and questioned but kept to the gangster code until dying about a month later.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Orgen grinder

Twas eighty-one years ago this night that Messrs. Little Augie Orgen and Jack Diamond were walking together on the lower East Side. Diamond was a bootlegger, drug dealer and loft thief. The former a labor racketeer. They became pals and let each other in on their crimes. Orgen gave Diamond a labor contract which caused strife within his own gang. His two lieutenants , Lepke Buchalter and Gurrah Shapiro, decided that they should be running the show so a sedan containing gunmen drifting through the street until sighting Orgen and Diamond. It slowed down behind them and the guns stepped out and made their ways up behind the duo. One placed his gun behind Orgen's head and pulled the trigger, the gangleader's hat was blown three feet into the air while its owner was blown into oblivion. Diamond turned and was shot in the stomach lest he try to intervene in any way.

Friday, October 10, 2008

D'Aquila sunrise or is that sunset?

On this date in the year that Batman himself, Adam West, was born, Salvatore D’Aquila, said by his family to be a cheese importer, was at his doctor’s office in the East Village. D’Aquila and his wife had been visiting the doctor every day at the same time because of some heart disease and although he was cured his wife still needed treatment. On this trip the fifty-year old gangster drove down from his house in the Bronx, with four of his six children in addition to his wife.
Once at the doctor’s office he walked his wife and kids inside and then returned to the street because something was wrong with his car and he wanted to inspect the engine. According to a witness, D’Aquila was looking under his hood when three men approached him. The quartet conversed for a number of minutes when it escalated into an argument. Suddenly the three men each drew a pistol and fired a total of nine shots into the gangster killing him.
Seeing that he owned three cars as well as an “elaborately furnished” home in the Bronx the police felt he was surely involved in some illegal activity but couldn’t figure out what. They knew for certain that he had been arrested in 1906 for being a confidence man and again in 1909 for being a suspect but was discharged each time and even though the police could find no record for it they believed that he had been arrested in 1915 as well.
Little did police know at the time but Salvatore D’Aquila was actually the patriarch of what would one day become known as the Gambino crime family. Exactly why he was killed is unknown but since he was the head of the family and was replaced by Alfred Mineo, a Masseria loyalist, the hit was probably ordered by Joe “the Boss” Masseria. The reasons for the killing can be guessed at but may be some how related to the murder of Frankie Uale from the previous July. Up until 1926 D’Aquila lived in the Bath Beach section of Brooklyn, which was also Uale’s baliwick.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Draggin' Heart

On this date the year that Frankenstein with Boris Karloff hit the movie houses, Charles Pasquino was found in a remote part of the Bronx at the bottom of a nineteen-foot embankment. A bloody trail in the unpaved road showed where he was dragged from a car and tossed down the mound. Like the majority of ride victims he had been shot behind the left ear. Two other bullets had pierced his left arm and neck. His record showed that he had been arrested twice in 1922 for grand larceny,

Friday, October 3, 2008

Funeral homebrew

Angelo Lapi was an ex-con, who served sentences for both felonious assault and carrying a gun. Out of jail, forty-five year old Lapi took a job as night man at his brother in-laws funeral parlor. In addition to his duties at the parlor, Lapi made wine and home brew, which he in turn sold to a local speakeasy and he was also a money collector for the local policy racketeer.
The funeral home was connected to a tenement where Lapi lived with his wife, Maria, who also happened to be the janitress of the building. On the evening of the October 2, Maria was with her husband in the funeral parlor until midnight and then she went up to bed. The following morning as she started her daily chores she walked through the undertaking parlor and found her husband’s body on a couch in the back room. Lapi had been tied and gagged with a handkerchief then stabbed eleven times in the back.
Police were at a loss for a motive but chances are Lapi either pocketed some of the policy earnings or failed to heed warnings not to sell his own spirits to the local speakeasy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Now available!

Just in time for the 96th anniversary of his murder (October 5, 1912) the long anticipated biography of Big Jack Zelig is on the market. If, like me, you always yearned to know more about the the pre-prohibition era gangsters like, Monk Eastman, Kid Twist, Zel and the Boys of the Avenue you are in for a treat. I had the extreme pleasure of writing the foreward for the book so can attest to the fact that this tome is chockful of new information and not a simple rehash of other books. Also because of Rose Keefe's writing ability the narrative flows fast and the book doesn't read like a stale college doctorite. Anyone interested in that era of gangland, the Rosenthal-Becker affair or simply a great read can't go wrong with this book.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drive by

Who the intended victim was, is unknown but the shooting spree that took place on this date in the year that Ford unveiled the Model A is a fine example of the rampant lawlessness which took place in America’s cities during the Dry Era.
At 7:30pm while the lower Eastside streets were teeming with people, a large Lincoln sedan pulled up and five gunmen began to open fire on some one. Men, women and children ran in all directions. Having missed their target with the first volley, the gunmen jumped out onto the running board of the car and continued firing before giving up and speeding off leaving in there wake four wounded bystanders, one of whom died.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Trouble with B & T crowd

On this date in the year that Betty Boop made her debut, two cops were walking their beat on the Lower Eastside when they heard a series of shots. They ran to a six story tenement where the shots came from and as they entered the gunsmoke filled hallway lying on the floor, with five bullet wounds, was the well dressed 27 year old Brooklyn gangster Joseph Bivone. The killer(s) escaped out of the back of the building but a trail of blood led the police to believe that another person was wounded in the fracas. Bivone had a record consisting of three arrest and, probably because he was from Brooklyn, police believed he was the victim of a battle over gang territory.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blam! Blam! Bram.

At 6:00 am on this date five years after the Prohibition went into affect, Murray Goff was driving a fare in his taxi when a large limousine rear ended him. Goff got out of his cab to investigate when out of the limousine jumped the driver and two other men who were cursing and waving pistols at Goff yelling at him to get back. The men took off on foot while Goff summoned a cop. The cop and the hack inspected the limo. On the floor of the passenger side was 37 year old David Bram with two bullets in his head. Bram had an extensive record for dealing drugs as well as bootlegging. In addition to New York he had been arrested in Detroit, Toledo, Chicago and Pittsburgh. He was also wanted in Kansas City where he escaped from custody the previous November 20, after appealing a five year sentence for a narcotics rap.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ta Da!

On this date in the year that Europe erupted into global conflict, twenty-six year old John Randazzo was shot and killed while walking in the east village. The only motives were speculative. It's possible that Randazzo was a member of the Goldmine Jimmy Gang knocked off by the Kenmare Street Gang. He may have also been related to a snitch who was found with twenty-two stab wounds in a saloon in that proximity earlier in the year(post coming in 2009). I posit that he was killed because his name sounded to much like that of a magician "Randazzo the Great!" and the underworld couldn't live with it. If you have any theories as to why JR was put on the spot please post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Watch out Casesy Kasem

For those in the NY area I'm going to be on NPR's WFUV 90.7FM this Saturday morning at 7:30 discussing Bad Seeds in the Big Apple. For those sinners and fornicators who are still in bed at that hour, or for those who live outside the broadcast area, you can get it on the their website at your convenience.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This quartet looks friendly enough, D'oh

On this date in the year that the Red Baron was shot down for good, Forty-year old Arnold Grunde was standing outside his saloon at 11:00pm. A car pulled up and four men got out. Each man drew a gun and fired a shot into Grunde. The gunmen got back into the car and took off. Rumor has it they went to a saloon and after a few drinks, one of the guys, whom was known as Charlie the Clairvoyant, went into a trance and repeated, "blog, internet, edit post" as a glob of drool hung down his chin. After thirty seconds one of his chums slapped him upside the head and he came out of it. "Did I say anything good?" He asked, "Nah, more jibberish dat don't mean nuttin', finish your suds."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The House of Corleone - A Universal Picture

"You talkin' to us?" "Whoa"
Is it just me or does the above picture look like a scene from a Saturday Night Live skit? Now I haven't seen Righteous Kill - it may be a great film but this pic looks like two self parodies - but the teaming of DeNiro and Pacino seems like a move from the old days of the movie system. "Hey, nobody is really paying to see Dracula and Frankenstein seperately anymore, but if we put them together..." If the film makes any money it'll just be a matter of time before they come out with Abbott & Costello meet the Mob. But since A&C are dead it'll be Will Ferrell and Jack Black in the comedic roles and D & P playing the Mob guys with a title like Men of Dishonor or Not So Wise Guys.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Do the Humpty Hump

A thoroughly frightened lumber man named Frederick Keller arrived at an East Village Police station on this date, 39-nine years after the Lincoln assassination, (Editors note. Tired of using the same lingo ie. "years ago") complaining that while walking past the local cemetery that the Humpty Jackson gang used as a hideout, he was accosted by about twenty of the young hoodlums who ordered him to hand over his money. One of the ruffians went so far as to press a gun against his head and pull the trigger. After the click of the empty gun, Keller high tailed it to the station house.
Five undercover officers were dispatched to the graveyard but by time they got there the gang had dispersed. Being familiar with the Humpty Jacksons the officers headed to the east end of 14th street where they found and arrested gang leader Thomas “Humpty” Jackson, along with three other gang members.
With their prisoners in tow, the cops began their parade back to the police station when suddenly they found themselves in the midst of an ambush as approximately twenty five other gang members fired at them from behind the doors and windows of the neighboring tenements. Once the shooting started the prisoners themselves drew guns and started to fire. The officers returned the fire and for several minutes the street resembled the wild west until reserves showed up and forced the gangsters to flee with the exception of “Humpty” and the original three who had been arrested. Miraculously no one was injured except one of the men arrested with Jackson whose “head was laid open” by an officer’s night stick.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hey Batto, Batto, hey Batto, Batto; Swing!

On this date back in 1929 a group of kids were in the street playing baseball. They had a pretty clear field with the exception of green sedan that had been parked on the block all that day. Sure enough someone got a hit and the ball bounced into an open window of the car. One of the kids went to retrieve the ball, and climbing on the running board, he opened the door and found himself looking into the eyes of a dead man. The lad let out scream and ran into a nearby tenement for help. The deadman was James Batto who had a record dating back over thirty years. The full story on Batto can be found in Gangster City: History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935. Coming in paperback March of 2009.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Walk This Way

And it starts with a little kiss like this- Hey all lets get some fresh air and do a walking tour. I'm dusting off my Gangsters of Second Avenue tour and inviting ya'll to come along.

Gangsters highlighted on the tour-
-Joe "the Boss" Masseria
-Paul Kelly
-Big Jack Zelig
-Johnny Spanish
-Kid Dropper and many more.

The only catch, you have to buy a copy of my new book Bad Seeds in the Big Apple. For the price of one book you get the best collection of bandits, gunmen and molls between two covers and a walking tour. Doesn't matter where or when you bought it just show up with it and you're all set. If you don't have one and don't have time to get it, let me know and I'll bring one along for you. Price $25. So lets get together, we'll laugh, we'll cry, we'll get a couple of drinks.

Saturday September 27, 2:00pm

RSVP to dgis1931@yahoo.com For meeting location.

Let me know if you'll need a book.

See you there.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Out with old

Forgot to tell you. Friday Sept. 5 was the 78th anniversary of the killing of Joe Pinzolo. Who was Pinzolo? Glad you asked. He was the man Joe “the Boss” Masseria put in charge of the Reina (or Rina or Reena, take your pick) family after he, Masseria, ordered the Ice racketeer’s death back in February. Although Reina’s gang accepted Pinzolo as their leader, quietly they planned his overthrow. We get an unglamorous view of Pinzolo from Joe Valachi who met him once when the latter was being looked over for possible membership into the mob. Valachi referred to him as being an ugly “greaseball”, which author of The Valachi Papers, Peter Maas tells us was a term used by the younger Italian gangsters when referring to the older generation Mafioso.
Pinzolo’s actual name was Pinzolo Bonaventura and his criminal career dated back to the first decade of the century when he gained a bit of notoriety in 1908 for being the first black hander ever to be captured in the act of trying to blow up a building. On July 14, of that year he was sent to blow up a tenement building because the owner, Francisco Spinella, had ignored numerous black hand letters demanding $4000. Spinella, who owned other properties that had been bombed by the black hand, turned the letters over to the police. Detective Petrosino and two members of his detective squad were staking out his tenement and at about 11:00pm they saw Pinzolo walk down the street and pass the building twice, then on the third pass after making sure no one was on the street he dashed inside. The three detectives immediately ran in after him and caught him in the act of lighting a fuse to some dynamite. Two of the detectives grappled with the gangster who reportedly “fought like a tiger” while the other doused the lit fuse. In the melee Spinella came out of his apartment with a rifle thinking he was under attack. He wanted to shoot Pinzolo but the detectives intervened and at one point the barrel of a gun was pressed so hard against Pinzolo’s face that it actually went through his cheek. Reports are conflicting as to who inflicted the wound one report says it was Spinella and another says it was Petrosino either way the young gangster was sent off to prison and after his release worked his way up in the mafia becoming a lieutenant to Joe “the Boss” Masseria.
On September 5, (not September 9 as reported in The Valachi Papers) Pinzolo was knocked off in a suite that was leased to Thomas Lucchese, who was one of the late Reina’s lieutenants, but according to Valachi another of Reina’s lieutenants did the actual shooting, Girolamo Santucci, known as “Bobby Doyle”. Who afterwards told Valachi, “I got the break of my life. I caught him alone in the office.” (More on this in Gangster City. Paperback edition coming in March 2009)

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Health to all Neapolitans and death and destruction to all Sicilians!"

That's not my credo mind you. We here at the DGIS studio maintain a Hard Rock Cafe, love all serve all mentality. The Camorra members who made up the Navy Street gang back in 1910's however...Back in the days prior to the U.S. entering WWI the title of this post was a common toast at Neapolitan drinking fest. This coming Sunday marks the 92 anniversary of the Navy Street gang putting the latter part of their motto into effect. Earlier in the month the Terranova family received and invitation in the mail, a copy of which still exist, which read:

Dear Sicilians you are cordially invited to send either Ciro, Vincent or Nicholas to a dinner we are having. Don't worry we won't kill you. Honest, you can trust us. - Yours truly, the Navy street gang.

PS Whomever you choose please have them bring Charles Ubriaca as well. - TNSG

The Terranova brothers then played rock, paper, scissors to see who got to go to the party. Nicholas won and he and Ubriaca went to Brooklyn and enjoyed a find banquet. After leaving the premises Terranova and Ubriaca were ambushed and shot to pieces. Later a Navy street canary named Ralph Daniello would sing and the murderers would be placed on trial. Antonio Vollero , one of the bosses would do about 14 years in jail and another Tony Paretti would end up in the chair. (for more coverage check out Gangster City pgs 34-36, don't have it? The paper back edition is coming March 2009)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Curse of Tanner Smith

Police felt that Michael Stenson- drilled 89 years ago today- was a member of the Marginal gang and killed as a result of the death of “Tanner” Smith. An eyewitness to the murder said that Stenson and another man had been walking together when an argument suddenly broke out. During the argument Stenson’s companion drew a gun and shot him and began to run away as Stenson doubled over. The wounded man regained his composure and drew his own gun and began to chase his assailant but dropped dead in the middle of the street between some streetcar tracks. 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 but did not interfere.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The envelope please...

And the winner of the first annual Dead Guys in Suits art contest is...rip rip tear....receiving two out of three votes, it's entry #5. Congratulations to Scott I. and thank you to all who participated.

Hey Moe, hey Moe

On this date in 1930 a sedan containing five men and a woman pulled up in front of a residential building and, in front of a number of witnesses, tossed the bullet riddled body of Moe Howard out onto the street. He had been shot five times and a small amount of cocaine was found on him. Police say he was wanted for a murder from the previous February (what murder wasn't divulged) so perhaps it was a case of revenge. Autopsy reports also showed that prior to death the victim had also been poked in the eye and scrapings from under the finger nails showed evidence that he had recently been in a pie fight.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Take a seat boys, we'll be done playing in a minute

Antonia Zaraca had only been out of Elmira for a number of weeks and was staying in a room above Giuseppi Jacko’s café in Harlem’s Little Italy. The former rarely left the latter's premises unless he was accompanied by a number of friends. This day September 2, 1912, his friends were off at a party so Zaraca stayed in the café playing cards with Jacko. During the game four men entered and took seats. A short time later a group of about twenty more men, some of them known through out the neighborhood as gunmen, also entered. They watched Zaraca and Jacko play a hand and then cheered for Jacko when he won the game. As the ex-con and café proprietor shuffled the cards and prepared for the next round one of the onlookers drew a gun and fired into Zaraca’s face. The bullet ripped through his left jaw and tore into his head. The wounded man attempted to rise but fell over dead. Jacko kicked over his chair and turned to run but another gunman fired and brought him down with a shot to his left temple.
Seeing that the large gang of men, which included known gunmen, that entered the café did not alarm Zaraca and Jacko and that these men cheered for Jacko after he won the game, it appears that the victims were either members of the same gang or allied with them. Perhaps the victims were some how double crossers in the feud between the Morello-Terranova’s and the “Charley Bakers”. {Gangster City pgs 32-33}
One police theory was that it was a revenge killing for a gang leader known as "Coney Island". According to police it was after this guys murder that Zaraca refused to leave Jacko's without an escort of friends.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The stars that we reached were just starfish on the beach

We had joy we had fun we had dead guys in the sun. Well summer is over, but thats ok cause I always liked fall better and what better way to kick off the season than by introducing the three celebrity judges for the first annual dead guys in suits art contest. Lets say hello to, (cue theme music)

Judge #1 Matilda Downey Matilda is an actress who visitors to this sight would most likely know as Yaryna, Phil Leotardo's goomar who got whacked in the second from last episode of the Sopranos.

Judge #2 Mario Gomes Mario is an Al Capone enthusiast and researcher who has appeared on the History channel, Fox and Court TV.

Judge #3 Greg Vaccariello Greg is a Stand-Up comic, TV actor and great grand-nephew of New York City's own Five Point alumnus Paul Kelly.

The criteria for the judging is that there is no criteria. Whatever picture tickles your fancy, or fancy's your tickle. It's all for fun, games and a book. The judges will now go over the pics and when a decision is made it will be sealed in an envelope and passed to me through a Price Waterhouse representative. (are they the ones that do the Oscars? If not pretend I said the company that does the Oscars.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Last Summer Fling

The Dead Guys in Suits office staff is off for their final summer fling.
We will be back to the grindstone Tuesday September 2.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Todd Browning's nightmare

We here at the DGIS studio would like to remember another DGIC (dead guy in cape) that left us in August. On this date in 1930 Lon Chaney Sr. the man of a thousand faces, like the man of a thousand voices, kept perfectly still. Old timers will tell you that it was his make-up that killed him. His autopsy report however will say it was throat cancer.
Chaney was a big proponent of prison reform, feeling that the institutions of his day did not rehabilitate criminals they only made them harder.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bill O

There was an upper west side feud on between the “Midway Mob” and the “White Roses” the latter being an uptown faction of the Gophers and ninety-five years ago tonight the boys of the “Midway Mob” were holding a dance at the Midway clubhouse with about one hundred couples in attendance. After a while a bouncer noticed that two members of the “White Roses” were in attendance and he and some “Midway Mob” boys threw them out of the club house in a less than polite manner. The “White Roses” pledged vengeance as they walked away.
A few hours later the two gangsters returned with five friends in a large touring sedan. The driver dropped them off and then drove away as the seven gangsters pushed the doorman aside and entered the clubhouse. When they reached the dance floor they whipped out their shooting irons and blasted away. A “Midway Mobster” quickly doused the lights and everyone scattered whilst a gunfight erupted. When the lights came back on William O’Shaughnessy was lying on the dance floor and while the rest of the “White Roses” covered the crowd two of them grabbed him by the collar and dragged him outside just as another car was pulling up. They tossed the dead or dying gangster into the car, which then took off leaving two of the gang members stranded. The car proceeded to Roosevelt Hospital where the gansters propped O’Shaughnessy’s body up in sitting position against the door and beeped the horn until a doctor came out and stumbled over the corpse.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

pics & books

This is the last full week to submit a picture for the first annual Dead Guys in Suits art "contest". We currently have four entries so if you've been hemming or hawing now is the time to draw, paint, scribble a dead guy in a hat and send it off to dgis1931@yahoo.com winner gets a free copy of my new book Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers & Chaos in New York City 1920-1940. Celebrity judges will be introduced in September. Though hosting the extravaganza I will not be a member of the judging panel.

In other news the paperback version of Gangster City will be available in March of 2009. That is only seven months away so you may want to put in your order now to beat the multitudes who will no doubt dress up like their favorite character and campout in front of the local bookstore so they can snatch up the first copies.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Diamonds weren't Harry's best friend

10:00 p.m. tonight will mark the 78th anniversary that Greene County, NY inn-keeper Harry Western received a phone call from Legs Diamond. The celestial gods have worked it out that the calendar for 1930 is the same as that of this year. So it was also a Friday. I love when things work out like that. Anyhoo, Legs was in the process of trying to monopolize the Catskills beer and alky racket and Western just wasn't playing ball. Western was at his inn, called the Chateau, near Lake Katrine when the call came saying get on over to Acra (Legs's house) pronto. Harry got in his car and headed over. Nobody ever saw Harry again. They saw his car with some blood in it, but nobody ever saw Harry again. One of Diamond's associates went to jail because he was caught with the car, but nobody ever saw Harry again. Authorities and the public both knew that Harry was killed by Diamond, but nobody ever saw Harry again. Nobody ever paid for what was done to Harry because no body no case. But some of the old timers say, especially after a few Ballantines, that some nights, especially August 22nd's that land on Friday, some people have seen a spectral figure wandering the cat roads of Greene County looking for his car. But the way I figures it, it can't be Harry cause nobody ever saw Harry again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Freddy's dead

On this morning back in 1920 Staten Island motorist passed a car with what appeared to be guy sleeping in the front passenger seat. Car after car passed assuming that the figure was tired driver who had pulled over to get some rest. One more observant passerby noticed some blood on sleepy Pete's face and called the cops. Turns out the exhausted driver was Frederick Eckert. The leader of a New Jersey car theft ring who had become booze hijacker extraordinaire. On his last ride someone in the back seat (this was the early days of Prohibition when you could still have someone sit behind you without worry) placed a gun to the base of Fred's head and pulled the trigger. The gun was then placed in his left ear and the trigger again pulled. The job complete the car pulled over, but what the hell, lets give him another. Bang a third and final pill to the forehead. Mr. Eckert's demise was quite a story at the time as it involved dirty cops and political intrigue. If you would like to learn more about Eckert I wrote an article about him that can be obtain ed at the On The Spot quarterly journal's past issues.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mustache Petes

I seem to be getting some mobofiles stopping by lately so will chat about that. Contrary to popular belief the mafia wasn't a 20th century invention. One need only to look at a sensational Mafia trial from back in the summer of '96, 1896 that is. One Salvator Serio was shot and killed in Brooklyn by a guy named Antonino Cincotta and a few other guys. During the trial terms like omerta and mafia were tossed around. Cincotta was even asked if he was a "captain" of a group of men. Of course he denied it. Like the mafia trials to follow in the 2oth Century Cincotta & co. walked on Nov. 23, 1896, the headline reading Mafia Suspects Acquitted, but it wasn't the last NYC heard of him. The following June 1, Cincotta was again involved in a shooting -Talk of Mafia Conspiracy- the media reported.

Cincotta would have a long reign in Brooklyn, his crime of note was trying to shake down opera star Enrico Caruso for thousands of dollars and ending up in jail. Like any good mafia boss (technically he was called a black-hander) Ol' Cincotta got his comeuppance on February, 16, 1915, at the ripe old age of 47, when he was shot down while exiting a theatre. In the article disucssing his murder the New York Times described him as having, "a wide influence among the Italian residents of that borough (Brooklyn) and his power was almost absolute." Sounds like a mob boss to me. 1915-1916 were big years for mob hits there was a couple of LoMontes, a Terranova, the Gallucci's. Perhaps Cincotta was the first of the series. Lets have a seance and ask Ciro Terranova.

Anyways this is a long winded way to say that if you are into early mafia than you will want to know Tom Hunt he is the premier mob historian and in addition to his newsletter be sure to check out his site on the Morello-Terranova clan.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Greased is the word

Summmer killing eighteen loud bla-a-a-ast, summer killing it happened so fa-a-ast... Death cruised into Little Italy on this day back in 1931 when Joseph Cigna and Anthony Justiano were brought down in a hail of lead. Wellawellawell Huh tell me more, tell me more. How old was each guy. Tell me more tell me more. Are they both gonna die? Uh huh, uh huh...Twenty-one year old Cigna and twenty-five year old Justiano were standing on a corner with about eight other guys when four men approached the group and drew pistols. Both Cigna and Justiano seemed to know that they were the targets because they both took off down the street followed by the gunmen who let loose a barrage of gunfire. Wellawellawella huh, tell me more tell me more. Did they get very far? Tell me more tell me more. Was there a getaway car?..uh huh uh huh. One of the victims tried to make it into a tenement but dropped dead while the other was felled in front of another building. The gunmen were exceptional shots because the autopsies showed that Cigna was hit by eight bullets and Justiano by ten. The shooters disappeared on foot. But oh, those hot summer Ni-hiiiites....Tell me more, tell me more tell me mo-o-o-ore....

Friday, August 15, 2008

DGIS Weekend Extra

Tomorrow, August 16, marks the passing of two iconic figures and we here at the DGIS studio would like to take a moment to remember the two most important DGIC (Dead Guys in Capes ) of the 20th Century. As most people know Elvis died on this date thirty one years ago but what most people don’t know is that twenty one years before that the world lost its original most famous caped icon; Bela Lugosi. That’s right Dracula himself cashed in his chips August 16, 1956.

The similarities between the two stars doesn’t end there either. You thought that the Lincoln –Kennedy coincidences were eerie just examine these facts:

1- Bela Lugosi was the king of horror until he was usurped by a Brit. One William Henry Pratt, better known as Boris Karloff. Elvis was the king of rock until usurped by four Brits*, those lovely lads from Liverpool , Freddie & The Dreamers.
2- Bela died in 1956. Elvis’s career was born in 1956.
3- Bela was born in Hungary and in his last years Elvis was always hungry
4- They both wore capes.
5- Bela played a carny in Murders in the Rue Morgue, Elvis played a carny in Roustabout.
6- Both have two vowels in their first name
7- Both had sex with Marilyn Monroe in the White house
8- Bela drove a Presley and Elvis drove a Lugosi
9- Bela shot heroin. Elvis shot tvs
10- Bela made “the Black Cat”. Elvis was a Black Belt

You can’t make this Dead Guys in Suits copyrighted material up folks. Just try to sleep tonight knowing what you now know.

* BTW, shave and a hair cut? Thats two Brits.

I'm Pat Downey and I approve this message

In 1915 there was a battle between two small time pols in lower Manhattan named Foley and Driscoll. On August 15, of that year, thirty-year old Timothy Sullivan, a member of Foley’s Downtown Democratic Club, was walking past the Home Rule Democratic Club, a hangout for Driscoll supporters, with Benjamin Metzger, a thirty-one year old follower of a pol in the Driscoll machine.
Whether or not Sullivan realized Metzger was in the Driscoll camp is unknown but as the two men passed the club five shots rang out and Sullivan dropped to the sidewalk mortally wounded. Metzger ran off with slight wounds to his stomach and wrist.
Police were quick to arrest the gunman, Patrick Murphy and although he had no political affiliations with anyone he was known down town as a never-do-well.
While Sullivan was in the hospital Murphy was brought in but the dying man said he didn’t recognize him. The Police suspected Metzger of leading Sullivan into the trap and when he came in to have his wounds treated they arrested him and placed him in the same cell as Murphy.
Like a number of gangsters at the time both Murphy and Metzger were Italians who adopted Americanized names and Metzger was heard scolding Murphy in their native tongue for being a lousy shot and wounding him.

post script
Scroll down to see entry #4 in art contest

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Up to three art pics

Scroll down to see #3. Keep 'em coming folks. Don't be shy. Remember its all for fun no such thing as a bad entry.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What to much starch?

One hundred and three years ago today one of the most perverse murders took place when five members of the On Leong tong stopped in to visit Hop Lee, a Hip Sing tong member, in his laundry shop. Lee was asleep in his den when his five adversaries surprised him early in the morning. They dragged him to his ironing table and as four of the men held him while the fifth went to work on him with a hatchet. First he cut off Lee's nose and then began swiping at the rest of his face and body all the while the two men holding Lee’s legs tickled his bare feet with feathers. Before they had a chance to finish him off however they were interrupted by a policeman who had been informed that five members of the On Leong were on mission of murder. When the Tong members saw the cop they ran up to the roof where two of them managed to escape after a chase. Lee was able to indentify two before cashing in later.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Death Wish VI: The prequel

Just as Charles Bronson got fed up with crime and decided to mete out his own brand of justice so to did Gaetano Cricchio, a 5o-year old proprietor of a family pastry shop, take the law into his own hands. On August 7, 1934 the baker received a letter from a small time racketeer named Joe Caputo that said he would be stopping in the coming Saturday August 11, to collect $40 and that if he didn't have it it would "land you or some of your family in the cemetery." On the appointed day Caputo arrived, Cricchio's 25-year old daughter was in the shop and the hoodlum made some improper advances towards her while her father nervously tried to explain that he couldn't afford the shake down. Turning his attention to the elder Cricchio, Caputo stuck his hand in his pocket and demanded the money. With shaky hands the baker handed over the dough. Caputo took it and turned his back on the baker and began counting. While he did so Cricchio drew a .25 pistol and fired four shots in the thugs back. That was the last thing Caputo expected which was evident by the shocked look on his face when he turned to look his executioner who fired another shot into his chest. Five slugs heavier Caputo collapsed on his face. Not yet satisfied the baker leaned over the counter and fired a sixth shot into the back Caputo's head. The police showed up and found the dazed baker standing over the dead gangster while his daughter sobbed. The police said that Cricchio deserved medal for ridding society of a character like Caputo but laws being what they are instead of celebrated he was arrested for both homicide and gun possession.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Entry #2

We have our second entry to the Dead Guys in Suits art competition. Scroll down to check out an outstanding pic of The Brady Gang and their car. Pic saved kinda small. Click on it to see it and more of the artist work in a size that does it justice.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Rooming house blues

Former members of the “Forty Thieves” gang, that operated in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, Vincent Pisano, twenty, and Oresta DeRobertis, twenty-one, had lived in various places in that area and ended up a short time before August 7, 1934 at small rooming house. They each had a room on the top floor flanking the room of Mrs. Kathleen Wagermann and her children. At 4:00 a.m. two killers, each armed with a revolver, managed to gain entrance to the house. Then, climbing up the stairs they split up. One entered Pisano’s room and the other DeRobertis’s. All the inhabitants of the boarding house were suddenly woken up when the gunmen simultaneously emptied their guns into their targets. Five of the six bullets fired at Pisano lodged in his abdomen while three out of the six fired at DeRobertis pierced his head

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Happy birfday to youse

Happy birfday to youse

Happy birfday dear Dutch

Happy birfday to youse!

Aw Boys, you should'nta! Who wants cake!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Boxing Harry

Welcome to Hugh Quinn's saloon fight fans. The number one place in Queens for a good brawl on this balmy 1917 evening.
In this corner Long Island City resident, boxer and election day goon Harry Alexander (Yay! Yay!)
In this corner six guys who wanna take Harry out. (Boo boo hiss)
There's the bell
Harry comes out swinging. His boxing and strong arm skills are coming in handy...down goes one of his opponents, another, yet another it looks like Harry might actually clean the place up with all six of his attackers!!! It's amazing one against six who would of thought...uh oh whats this...one of the six just drew a gun...Harry doesn't see it as the man is behind him...he wouldn't actually shoot would he?...Yep he would. Harry goes down with a bullet in the back.
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 It's all over for Harry...literally.

Edit: Got my dates mixed up. This actually happened on Aug. 6, so forget it and come back and read it on Wednesday

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dead Guy Art

We have our first entry! Scroll down past all the advertisements for lasik surgery that nobody ever reads to check it out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thats a wrap for Spanish

Exterior- Second Ave. 4:00pm 89-years ago today. JOHNNY SPANISH approaches a cafe where is WIFE and a FRIEND are waiting for him. Before he has a chance to enter KID DROPPER approaches him.


Hey John got a minute?


Just one, what's up.

As the Dropper begins to speak FOUR HOODLUMS walk up and fan out around him and Spanish. Spanish doesn't pay any mind to it as this is the status quo with guys like them.


Some of the boys and me were thinking.


Well don't think to hard you might hurt yourself.


Thats funny, you always were good for a laugh. I got a joke of my own.


Let's hear it. I always-

BAM! Before Spanish can finish his thought a bullet slams into the back of his head. Dropper and his henchmen casually turn the corner and walk away.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Its in the bag

With normal summer doings and what not some DGIS's have been neglected. So we'll play catch up, In the summertime when the weather is fine we go fishing we go swimming in the sea ... On July 23, 1902 four young boys were preparing to go swimming at the foot of 73rd Street in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. As was their habit, they removed their clothes and began searching for places to hide them prior to jumping in the water. As one of the lads was seeking his spot he came across a potato sack that was filled with something. Being curious he pulled out his pocketknife and slit the bag only to find another bag inside. He called out to his chums who all gathered around as he opened the inner sack. As the young boy slit the inner sack they all jumped back in horror as part of a naked man plopped out of the bag. (Editors note: DNGIBs [Dead Naked Guys in Bags] qualify for mention on the DGIS forum) (Editors 2nd note: Mungo Jerry never said anything about finding dead guys while fishing and swimming in the sea.)
The man in the bag was forty-year old Giuseppe Catania, a Brooklyn green grocer. Just what the husband and father did to deserve such a fate is unknown (neighborhood gossip had him killing one or two guys back in Sicily) but on the morning of his final day he told his wife that he was going into Manhattan because a man had stolen a case of preserved tomato paste for him from the Custom’s House. The lure of the free tomato paste was just a ruse because when Catania arrived at his destination he was beaten to a pulp and his throat was slit from ear to ear. The grocer was then stripped and his clothes were used to mop up the blood. The killers then trussed him up by tying his head to his knees. A flour sack was then tied over his head and his body placed on a floor mat. Another floor mat was placed over him and the two mats were sewn together with Catania inside. This bundle was then placed into a larger sack and loaded onto a wagon. (No small feat considering Catania weighed 240 lbs.) The police believed that the grisly package was then transported back to Brooklyn on the wagon during the night for disposal in the Ocean.
In 1902 the foot of 73rd Street in Bay Ridge stopped at a twenty-foot embankment, which led down to the shore. It was the opinion of the police that the killers stopped the wagon here and pushed the bundle over the side thinking that it would roll into the surf and be taken out with the tide. However instead it got tangled up in some bushes and was there for the kids to find the next day. Undoubtedly a Mafia victim it’s not known whether or not Catania was himself a member of the organization or a non-partisan who some how crossed them. Personally I smell a Morrello and a Lupo but thats just me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tanner Smith meets the Mummy

Opening August 1, is the MUMMY 3 with Brendan Fraser. As an apreciator of dead guys in suits I can get behind three thousand year old dead guys in a suit. I didn't care for the first one when I saw it but it has since grown on me as a late night cable flick. Mummy 2 blew. This one looks like the first installment with a change of geography but I may check it out. So what does the Mummy have to do with this blog? I'm getting there... thoughts of horror films turned to memories of the local monster movie host in Detroit Sir Graves Ghastly. I remembered one segment where he would show monster art work sent in by kids. What a great idea thought I, so I would like to announce the first annual Dead Guys in Suits art contest. Any budding artist who wants to send in a pic of a dead guy in a suit will be entered. First prize is a signed copy of Bad Seeds in the big Apple. Second prize, a set of steak knives, third prize is you're fired...wait, thats something else. First prize a book. All (tasteful) pics will be posted on this blog. A panel of celebrity* judges will decide the winner.


All pics must be of a dead gangster, real or imagined, but the time frame must be 1900-1940. Medium is up to the artist, crayon, pencil, paint- It's your call. All entries must be received by August 31, winner will be chosen shortly there after.

One possible subject for someone out there is today's Dead Guy; Westside gang leader Thomas "Tanner" Smith. 89 years ago tonight Tanner was playing cards in the gang's rendesvous, the Marginal club, when Robert Shaw (Shore) came up behind him and sent a couple bullets into his back and then fled. Shaw got his a few nights later in Hoboken, NJ by some Tanner Loyalist. Gangster City owners can check out the full story pgs 88-94

* Pat Downey's definition of celebrity is basically whomever he chooses to be a judge.