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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What is the Law? No spill blood. (not without syndicate approval anyways.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Room to let

Fred Kautz heard a loud noise coming from the rooming house next door (Paper thin walls you know) at 6:20 pm on this date back in 1922 so, being a good neighbor, he went next door and told Joe Epst the rooming house keeper.

Epst went up stairs and opened the door to the room in question and there found two bodies on the floor. One belonging to burglar and Sing Sing alumnus Benny “Big Nose Mannie” Rosner and a twenty-two year old sweety named Lillian Schmidt known as “the Polish Queen”. Both had been shot through the head. The fact that a bureau had been over turned (the noise Kautz heard) and some clothes and other articles had been tossed about the room lead police to believe there was a struggle before the murders.

Oddly, though the over turning of the bureau was heard no shots were. The pistol probably had a silencer. Word went out to pick up a John Farone who was renting the room. (they didn’t find him though they found a box of shells in one of his coats) As to why the murders took place. I’m open to suggestions…

Friday, September 24, 2010

Murder on the NY Central Express

In 1931 the New York Central Rail Road had an elevated train that ran up Park Avenue. On this date as the 6:15 was passing overhead Harlem pedestrians were shocked to see a man fall from tracks.

At first it was considered a freak accident until the Doctor performing the autopsy discovered that the dead man, David Mazzer, had actually been shot behind the left ear, the bullet exiting through his right cheek. For the first time in gangland history someone had been taken for a “train ride”.

Once the police learned that the death was actually a murder Mazzer’s fingerprints were taken and it was found that the dead man had quite an extensive record. Mazzer spent a large amount of his adulthood behind bars. He was arrested in 1912 for robbery and sent to Sing Sing for seven years. Upon his release he was arrested for burglary and sent back for another two years. This sentence was followed by another four year stretch for another burglary charge and then he went back yet again for another two years in 1926 for attempted burglary.

Amazingly Mazzer’s bad luck with the law doesn’t stop there. He was arrested again in 1928 for illegal entry and larceny but this time jumped bail and was next arrested in Philadelphia for cracking a safe but again he jumped bail. He remained free until he was picked up again in New York on October 11, 1930.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who says Subway is healthy?

One hundred years ago this morning just after midnight, Edward Gallagher was inside his subway cashier’s kiosk at the Worth Street station waiting to accept nickels from any night owls looking to train uptown. He had just started his shift and completed his first task; Counting the money from the previous shift and putting it into a bag for the subway collection man who would come around 2:00am to pick it up.

Moments later a masked man appeared at his window and pushed the nozzle of a pistol through the grate and ordered him to open the door of his booth. Three other masked men stood behind the first. Gallagher opened the door to the cage and the first of the bandits ran in at him. The clerk put his hands up to defend himself and felt the butt of a pistol come down on his head. Then he felt no more…twenty minutes later he woke up in a pool of his own blood and called the dispatchers office to report the crime. After a minute of explaining Gallagher knew he was about to go unconscious again and told the dispatcher to send the down town man over - the “down town man” was the clerk selling fairs for the down town train. His kiosk was across the tracks and down around a curve. He didn’t see anything. – he then passed out again.

The down town man and some custodians showed up and brought Gallagher around with some cold water to the face. He told them what happened and passed out again. The bag of money and anything Gallagher had collecting during his shift was gone. The clerk was taken to the hospital with a broken nose and five scalp wounds. He apparently took a beating after the first blow.

The bandits, obviously aware that Gallagher had a bag of money at the beginning of each shift and also knew nobody would see the robbery, got away. Gallagher was fired for not putting up a better fight. Ok, not really.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Bell tolls for Bell

Twenty-two year old Brooklyn gangster Benjamin “The Bell” Meyerson was walking with his girlfriend in Brownsville on this date back in 1931. When the couple reached the corner a car pulled up to the curb, two men jumped out and began firing at “The Bell”. Two bullets slammed into his head and he dropped dead as the gunmen escaped.

The Bell had recently served a prison term for burglary and was currently out on $10,000 bail for shooting and wounding a hood named Max “Coco” Prince at Coney Island. As for motives this killing took place less than a week after Brownsville big shot Meyer Shapiro was bumped off by the future Murder Inc. boys. Perhaps the Bell was a Shapiro gang alumnus and was sent packing along with Meyer. Or maybe it was some of Coco's boys evening the score.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Late to the party

As Prohibition was winding down Edward Patterson, called a “Petty and ambitious beer runner” with a long list of arrest dating back to 1920 for assault, unlawful entry, robbery and drug use, decided that he would try to break into the business by muscling into the south Brooklyn beer racket. He started dropping in on speakeasy owners and tried forcing his beer on them, which caused the established bootleggers in the region to take action.

On September 3, Patterson was put on the spot in a speakeasy but the gunmen only managed to wound him while accidentally killing the bartender. There were no mistakes on this date back in 1932 however when he exited his second floor room at a Brooklyn boarding house and someone fired two shots into the back of his head, then judging by the powder burns, the gunman placed the pistol against “the petty and ambitious beer runner’s” skull and fired twice more. Patterson Beer Distribution was officially out of business

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You say Hello, we say Goodbye.

Forty year old Nicolo Gruppuso, described by police as a “small time gangster”, was seated at a table in a Bowery eatery on this date back in 1935 enjoying a cup of coffee and a cigarette while waiting for some companions.

Around 11:00pm two men entered the crowded establishment. Nicolo saw them enter and put his cigarette and coffee to the side before standing up and extending a hand to greet them. One of the new comers took Nicolo's hand and the other drew a pistol and shot the “Small time gangster” directly in the face.

Mission completed the gunman dropped his weapon and hurried out of the restaurant. His accomplice however casually picked up the weapon and fired four more shots into the prostrate gangster before making his exit. (Seems to have been a wee bit personal)

An off duty cop was summoned and gave a futile chase as the two killers escaped.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you're doing time hey Mickey

One hundred and three years ago there was a feud on between Whitey Brennan’s dock gang and that of Micky Nesty. You remember them don’t you? Of course you do. Any hoo the opposing hoodlums had previously rumbled on the East 32nd Street docks but nothing was settled.

So on this date back in ’07 (1900 that is) the hoodlums met on 32nd Street between First & Second Aves and went at it again. The brouhaha brought a couple thousand spectators out of the tenements to watch the carnage. After some battling, the two gangs parted to opposite sides of the street.

As the gangs were deciding on how best to carry on someone whipped out a shooting iron and let it bark. Another scallywag answered by pulling out his noisemaker and let 'er rip. Bullets flew and people ran helter skelter. Two young girls were wounded in the melee as well as Micky Nesty himself who was arrested at Bellevue whilst having a bullet wound attended too. He may or may not of had blisters on his fingers. Oh, another cat named Charlie Grimm was arrested an hour or so later when police found him with a bandaged head, because as we all know a bandaged head = gang banger.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big Ben's time runs out

Big Benny Befanti was a Bronx big shot who, in addition to being a delegate of the barbers union, “held considerable sway in the Italian colony in Fordham”. The forty-one year old sway holder had converted his basement into a club house and was having a card game with eight men on this date in 1926. at 9:00 pm another man, Frank Mazzola, showed up and got into the game.

The men drank wine, played cards and bad mouthed the Irish* until about midnight when everyone got up to leave. After five men had left Mazzola approached Befanti and asked, “What have you against me?” “Not a thing.” Big Benny replied. At that Mazzola drew a pistol and fired a single fatal shot into Befanti's head.

Mazzola turned the gun on the remaining three players and threatened to kill them if they tried to stop him. Mazzola then climbed hrough a window and escaped down the alley.

A search of the alley produced a fully loaded pistol and police believed that it was dropped by an accomplice of Mazzola’s who was on hand to help him escape. Mazzola was picked up later.

*This is pure paranoid speculation, they may have been drinking something else.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bugs is out

James Donovan, known around town as Bugs, was part owner in some New Jersey breweries. A lucrative business back in 1929. Rumor has it that NYC gangster Waxey Gordon was attempting to monopolize the Jersey beer racket and couldn't work out a monetary deal with Bugs and his confederates so resorted to bulletary deal.

Donovan had a sweety in Manhattan's Chelsea district and could be found at her digs quite often. The men assigned to kill him found this out so waited outside her apartment. Eighty-one years ago tonight Bugs kissed his honey goodbye and went out to his car. As he was starting it a sedan pulled up and ... well, you know.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Was some dirty cowards killed Mr. Howard

It was the third of September.
That date I’ll always remember.
Cause that was the day that Moe Howard died. (No that one)
It happened way back in 1930 and the facts are few
So Mama I’m depending on you to tell us the truth.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Frankie and Johnny

Twenty-four year old Frank Napolitani was sitting in the front seat of sedan with fellow mobster John Gagnese, twenty-five and in the back seat was Angelo Eterni. At about 12:30am on this date back in 1934 another car pulled up to them and a series of shots rang out. Both Napolitani and Gagnese slumped over dead with bullets through their heads.

A cop who happened to be nearby saw Eterni jump out of the car and run away, throwing something into an empty lot as he ran, while the car with the killers sped off. The officer caught Eterni and a subsequent sweep of the lot turned up two guns. The car in which the two men were killed belonged to Frank Perez, who happened to be a block away at a “political meeting” when the killings took place. Mr. Perez denied knowing either of victims and had no idea what they were doing in his car.

Both Napolitani and Gagnese had police records. The former had been arrested numerous times for assault and the latter had only been out of jail for a week when killed. According to Mob informer Ernest “The Hawk” Rupolo the double murder was ordered by Frank Costello, Mike Miranda and Vito Genovese.