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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little Shop of Horrors

In the fall of 1926 Eugenio Orgento opened a quaint little shop. It wasn’t stated what Orgento's store sold, but, most customers were interested in what could be found behind the counter as opposed to the shelves.  In the four months that he was in business Eugenio received numerous liquor violations.

Ah, but competition can be fierce. Eighty-five years ago on this date Eugenio was put out of business, for good. The building’s janitor was making his rounds and as he was performing his duties in  Orgento’s  quaint little shop, there, in the rear, he found Eugenio's body. the proprietor had been stabbed to death.

Monday, December 19, 2011

That was fast!

Now available on Amazon and Createspace.

Legs Diamond is the most comprehensive biography yet written on New York's most famous Prohibition era gangster. The book covers Legs' youth in Philadelphia, his ascension through the New York underworld, which resulted in his becoming an international celebrity, and his inevitable demise in a cheap rooming house. Along the way, the many myths and untruths that have been written about Diamond over the years are corrected.

Detailed in the book are:

- Full accounts of all four attempts on his life.

- The war between Diamond and his one time protégé Dutch Schultz, which resulted in the almost assassination of Legs' brother Eddie.

-The famous Hotsy-Totsy murder case.

- Diamond's ill-fated trip to Europe to purchase drugs.

-His bid to monopolize bootlegging in New York's Greene County.

-The death of his brother Eddie.

-New information on Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll and his possible partnership with Diamond.

-Jack's final night.

-The origin of the nick name Legs.

-His relationship with Ziegfeld showgirl Kiki Roberts

And much more.

Now available

The DGIS Institure is happy to announce that:

Legs Diamond: Gangster is now available through Createspace. 

Legs Diamond is the most comprehensive biography yet written on New York's most famous Prohibition era gangster. The book covers Legs' youth in Philadelphia, his ascension through the New York underworld, which resulted in his becoming an international celebrity, and his inevitable demise in a cheap rooming house. Along the way, the many myths and untruths that have been written about Diamond over the years are corrected.

Detailed in the book are:
- Full accounts of all four attempts on his life.
- The war between Diamond and his one time protégé Dutch Schultz, which resulted in the almost assassination of Legs' brother Eddie.
-The famous Hotsy-Totsy murder case.
- Diamond's ill-fated trip to Europe to purchase drugs.
-His bid to monopolize bootlegging in New York's Greene County.
-The death of his brother Eddie.
-New information on Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll and his possible partnership with Diamond.
-Jack's final night.
-The origin of the nick name Legs.
-His relationship with Ziegfeld showgirl Kiki Roberts
And much more.

As of right now it is only available through Createspace. It should be available on Amazon within the week. In the coming weeks it will be available through other sales channels.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

One door's open slay

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Don't mess with the police

If there is one thing we here at DGIS keep harping on it's; don't mess with the police. Especially if you're in the early Twentieth Century. 24 year old James Stevens, a member of Brooklyn's Sanford Street gang did not heed this advise.

It started two weeks previously when off duty police officer Francis Walsh was on his way home from a friends house. Hearing a gunshot he ran to the scene and arrested a young man named James Rubianto. James' friend, the aforementioned James Stevens, was on hand and verbally taunted Walsh. Walsh told Stevens to butt out. Stevens then threatened to "plug" the officer.

Two weeks later, this date in 1913, Walsh stepped out of his building an started on his way to work. A guy approached him and told him that Stevens was in a doorway a couple of blocks away and said that he was going to get Walsh that night.

Walsh decided to settle things that morning. He went to the building where Stevens was but was met at the door by Rubianto. The latter tried to bar his entrance so the officer arrested him. As they were exiting the building Stevens fired two shots from inside.

Rubianto made a break for it and Walsh gave chase. Meanwhile Stevens ran from the building. Another cop, responding to the shots, turned the corner and saw Stevens taking aim at Walsh and yelled to his brother officer. Walsh spun around and plugged Stevens in the abdomen with a shot. Steven's ran a half dozen steps and dropped dead.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Labor pains

Benjamin Levinsky was twenty-nine years old when murdered on this date back in 1922. He first came on to police radar when he was a wee lad of nine and sent to a juvenile asylum in 1902 for “incorrigibility”. He was arrested five years later as a pickpocket and also served terms for both petty and grand larceny.

He was involved in a labor dispute on the union side of a garment manufacturer and as he was entering the shop he was shot just under the heart and in the stomach by William Levine alias Willie Lipschitz, a nineteen year old gunman with previous arrest. Levinsky’s family hired an attorney because it was their belief that he was killed by clothing contractors because he was a, “Thorn in their side.” The police however thought that that entailed far to much paper work so chalk up the murder to a falling out between fellow gangsters.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks

Frank “Skinny” Partuese & Frank “Blackie” Stillo have the destinction of being New York’s last gangland victims of the Prohibition Era. On this date back in 1933 “Blackie” had just parked his car when two gunmen came up from behind and started blasting away as they advanced up the side of the automobile. After firing about ten shots the gunmen fled. Hit a number of times, “Skinny”,  managed to get out of the passenger seat and run up Prince Street before dropping dead. “Blackie”  made it out of the car and collapsed in the gutter. He was still alive when found and sent to the hospital where doctors said he would die. Blackie appears to have had a bit of the Yogi Berra in him because, as he was being transported to the hospital he was quoted as saying, “I don’t know why I should get it, but I had it coming to me.”

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday finale

Peter Gioe is one of those mystery victims. Other than he was an importer there is nothing else known about him but somebody wanted him out of the way and succeeded in this quest back on this date in 1925. It appears that he was set up by somebody he knew because he pulled up in front of a building and as he was getting out of his car two men emerged from a doorway and shot him in the head.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Four, make that three, fierce Flanagans

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

Inside the hospital Tom was questioned about the shooting but, having memorized the Official Rules of the Underworld Volumes I-IV, he refused to say anything about it and passed out of this life at the ripe old age of thirty.
     If you wanna know more about Tom and the other Flanagan brothers you can read all about it, as the newsies would say, in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another boxer KOed

Barney Solomon immigrated to the USA from England around 1908 and became a boxer under the moniker of Barney Smith. Following his career in the ring he became a starker, hiring out goons to bust heads during clothing strikes.

Rival gangsters wanted Solomon out of the way and gave him a beating as a warning. Being a boxer Solomon received his fair share of beatings and was undeterred in his gooning affairs. Their first warning unheeded Solomon's rivals decided that Barney should go the way of the dinosaur.

After a night of drinking, Barney was found on a lower east side curb, ninety-three years ago this morning, suffering from gun shot wounds. He was taken to the hospital but threw in the towel during surgery. Solomon Goons was out of business.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I ain't talkin' (or writing for that matter)

On this date back in 1930 Frank Calibrese and his cohorts were involved in a shooting with rival gangsters. Five bullets plowed into various parts of Frank, one of which smashed into his mouth, severing 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 translates to "Your wasting your time." The police however, thought Frank was asking for a pencil and paper. Writing implements procured, Frank scribbled down his name, address and the location of where he was shot but not his assailants. Then Frank died.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's all in the name

He didn't have an underworld moniker that invoked fear but let us mark the passing of James "Pinhead" Cauley who was extinguished from gangland in 1927. Pinhead had just finished serving five years for robbery and was working as a boss stevedore on a west side pier. How does one walk out of prison and become a boss stevedore? Connections my friends connections.

Pinhead was making the rounds on his beloved west side at around nine that night when somebody came up and pumped three bullets into him. Why? Well the coppers say it was because he was vying for leadership of a bootleg gang. But to this day there are some grisly old dock workers with gnarled hands who spend their days hoisting shells of cheap beer and eating pickled eggs who swear that back in their day when Irish gangsters had nick names like "Killer", "Mad Dog" and "Peg Leg" they simply couldn't be embarrassed with a mug named "Pinhead".

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Requiem for a fighter

Eighty-one years ago this morning a milk man was making his rounds in Queens when he came up on the the corpse of Felix Lopresti. The twenty-five-year-old ex-boxer had been garroted with a sash chord and his throat had been slit.

Police believed that Felix was lured into a car in Manhattan and strangled. His killers then drove to Queens to dump the body. There they slit his throat to ensure death. the knife was found a short distance away in a vacant lot.

Judging by his shabby clothes it appears that Felix was down on his luck at the time of the murder. In addition to boxing the dead man was also known as a gambler and crook. He had been arrested three times in the past three years for robbery, assault and felonious assault but was acquitted in each case. At a loss for a reason behind Lopresti's murder, the authorities wrote down a handful of motives and put them into the chief of detectives hat. The slip of paper chosen said, "Killed for welching on a gambling debt." Everyone agreed that that sounded like a good choice so they went with that.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

The DGIS Institute will be closing early for festivities.  Fedex please leave packages next door. Happy Hauntings. Remember: It ain't no sin to take off your skin and rattle around in your bones.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Bad Seed Buys it.

Back on this date in 1935 newspapers were filled with stories regarding the shooting of Dutch Schultz and his cohorts in a Newark tavern. 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 the killings. Some papers erroneously stated 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 true story on Stern can be found in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Breaking bad was a bad idea

What is a life-guard to do after beach season? Twenty-five year old Arthur Siegelman decided that bootlegging was the way to go.  Arthur 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 and thought bootlegging would be a good way to support his widowed mother and six siblings. He was wrong. Needless to say the neophyte gangster did not last long where the gun and knife rule. What he did to seal his fate is unknown but he disappeared on this day in 1932 and his body was never found.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Looking for more gangster reading material? Check out the current issue of Informer. The quarterly magazine specialising in the history of crime and law enforcement. I write a column for the magazine and this issue's article is entitled "Flaming Finales." It is about those DGIS who perished by fire. Also included are articles on the New England Mafia, Thirties desperado Tommy Carroll and much more.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A boss is removed.

On this date in 1928 Mafia boss Salvatore D’Aquila, said by his family to be a cheese importer, was at a doctor’s office in the East Village. While his family was inside, he returned to the street to inspect the engine of his car. According to a witness, D’Aquila was looking under his hood when three men approached him. The quartet conversed for a number of minutes. The conversation escalated into an argument. Suddenly, the three men drew pistols and fired a total of nine shots into the gangster killing him.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Checking out of the Harding Hotel

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

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

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

Friday, September 30, 2011

The good old days.

Who the intended victim was is unknown, but the shooting spree that took place on this date in 1927 was  a fine example of the rampant lawlessness which took place in America’s cities during the Dry Era.

At 7:30pm while the lower East Side streets were teeming with people, a large Lincoln sedan pulled up to the curb. Five gunmen leaned out the windows and began blasting away at someone. 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 at their target. They eventually gave up and sped away leaving four wounded bystanders, one of whom died, in their wake.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not so handy Manny

Eighty nine-years ago this evening at 6:20pm. Fred Kautz was wall mounting his new 48" flat screen tv when he heard a loud noise coming from the rooming house next door. Being a good neighbor, he went over and told the rooming house keeper, Joe Epst, all about it.

Epst went up stairs and opened the door to the room in question and there found two bodies on the floor. One belonging to a burglar and Sing Sing alumnus known as Benny “Big Nose Mannie” Rosner. The other was that of his twenty-two year old sweety 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. Since no shots were heard it was assumed that the killer(s) used a silencer. The room was being rented to a chap named John Farone, who, for some reason couldn't be found.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Who Shot JR?

In Europe, the Guns of August had moved into September, and in New York the guns of September claimed twenty-six year old John Randazzo on this date. The victim 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. Don't like that one? Ok, how about he may have been related to a snitch that was found with twenty-two stab wounds in a saloon in that proximity earlier in the year. (perhaps snitching was in his blood).  If you have any theories on who shot JR let us know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The bell rings for the Bell

Hard to believe it was eighty years ago but it was. Yup, eighty years ago that 22-year old Brooklyn gangster Benjamin “The Bell” Meyerson was bumped off while walking with his girlfriend in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. The couple stopped at a corner and 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. Perhaps it was some of Coco's boys looking to even the score or, being that it was Brownsville, maybe some of them Murder Inc. fellas had something to do with it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Late to the game

As Prohibition was winding down Edward Patterson, called a “Petty and ambitious beer runner” with a long list of arrest dating back to 1920, 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. Those long established bootleggers in the region did not appreciate the competition. They thought perhaps coupons, or customer appreciation day might help them retain their clients but then they just decided it would be easier to kill Patterson.

The first attempt came on September 3. Patterson was in a speakeasy when gunmen came in-a-blastin' but they only managed to wound him while accidentally killing the bartender. No such mistakes were made on this date back in 1932. Patterson was exiting 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.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Four scored, ninety three years ago

The year was 1918 and forty-year old Arnold Grunde (artist rendition below) 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. (let's see, four guys + four shots = ...carry the one....a dead Grunde) The gunmen got back into the car and took off.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


One hundred and four years ago there was a feud on between Whitey Brennan’s dock gang and the gang headed by 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 the spectators who were expecting only a fistfight  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.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Here's your chance to do the Humpty

Way back on this date in aught four, a thoroughly frightened lumber man named Frederick Keller arrived at an East Village Police station. He complained 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 and ordered 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. 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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mob justice

Seventy-six years ago today Benny Holinksy, Frank Dolak and Fred Miller went for a drive in the Bronx. The trio were flush with cash as they were part of a kidnap gang that had recently ransomed a bookie named Bart Salvo.

Unbeknownst to the gang who believed that Salvo was a lone wolf operator, the victim was in fact connected with the mob and it wasn't long before Salvo's benefactors were looking for vengeance.

After a bit driving Holinksy, who was at the wheel, mentioned that they were being tailed. What he assumed was a car full of detectives was actually gunmen out to get them. He pulled over to see if the were indeed being followed. Seizing the opportunity the mob guys pulled up and in a flash they were running up to the car with guns drawn. Miller, who was riding shotgun, saw what was happening right away and rolled out of his side of the car and ran away as one of the gunmen fired a number of shots in his direction.

Holinksy and Dolak had no such luck. Trapped in the car, they covered themselves the best they could as two gunmen pumped bullet after bullet into them. They died a short time later in the hospital. If you want to read the full story of the kidnapping and what happened to the rest of the gang pick up a copy of Bad Seeds in the Big Apple.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Memoriam

They wore capes, they entertained, they each died on this date. The DGIS institute remembers E & Bela.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stomping in the Boneyard

On this date back in 1919 a number of some patrolmen heard shots coming from a vacant lot that was previously part of a cemetery. When they arrived they found 28-year old Tony Santino lying on the ground with five holes in his person.

Tony gave a brief description of his killers and then joined whatever ghost remained in the area from the graveyard days. Down at the morgue they took Tony's finger prints and found him in the rogues gallery under the name of Tony Contino and ex-convict who served a term in Elmira for robbery.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Birthday Boy

You lucky dogs, guest post today from Dutch Schultz biographer Alana Atterbury

Today would have been the 110th birthday of the mobster known to his mother as Arthur Flegenheimer, but in the underworld hall of fame he is best remembered under his adopted moniker Dutch Schultz.

Like many of his contemporaries, Schultz was the son of immigrants who came to this land looking for a better life. And also like his contemporaries, he didn't settle on a profession that guaranteed a pension and a retirement party at the end of a 30-year career. Instead, by his late twenties, he had assumed the title of mob boss and was raking in millions of dollars a year in the beer business, the policy racket, restaurant shakedowns and a bail bond racket to name a few of the achievements dotting his resume.

It wasn't easy being the Dutchman, as is learned by a succession of highly publicized events, from former underlings gunning after him all over town (led by the trigger happy youth Vincent Coll), a deadly misunderstanding with two men sitting on a park bench (who knew they were cops?) to Uncle Sam knocking on the door and saying, "You owe me my money, even if it was made illegally."

How did it all pay off?

Well on October 23, 1935 his fellow contemporaries gave him an early retirement party in Newark's Palace Chop House. The going away gift? A rusty bullet. All this roughly two months after celebrating his 34th birthday with a not guilty verdict in an income tax evasion case. All because he wanted to knock off a nosey Special Prosecutor named Tom Dewey.

You will be able to read more about the drama and escapades in the life of Mr. Flegenheimer in the bio I am presently working on about the man. It'll be coming your way real soon!

Thank you Alana! Looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Coffee can be bad for you

Ninety years ago today Frank Lorrella (probably an alias) was the victim of a one-way park. A one-way park is sort of like a one-way ride but the car isn't moving.

Anyways it went down like this: Frank pulled up to a deli and ran in for a sandwich and coffee. He returned to his car with the chow and released the break. Before he could pull out however a "Squat, swarthy man" appeared and opened fire with a .25 automatic pistol.

The first shot missed and Frank ducked down. Pedestrians ran helter-skelter as the gunman cooly approached Frank's car and pumped three bullets into him. Frank died on an empty stomach.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wonder if there was a second date?

Out of the "Wow, imagine that! file comes this -

Ninety-nine years ago today one Arbin Barber sat in an ice-cream parlor with a Mrs. Miller. Where was Mr. Miller? Who knows. Perhaps the two were merely friends or perhaps...

Anyways it seems that Arbin ordered some ice-cream for Mrs. Miller. The refreshment was delivered but the demure Mrs. Miller decided that she didn't want any.

Of course you do, eat some.

No, thank you.

Come now, it is hot, have some of this ice cream that I purchased for you.

No really, I've changed my mind.

It's melting, and there are no refunds.

Arbin, dear, it is only ice cream.

But I paid good money for it.

Arbin dear, you're scaring me.

East the god damn ice cream.

Arbin, what are you doing?

Angered by Mrs. Miller's refusal to eat the ice cream, Arbin pulled out his pistol and fired at Mrs. Miller's head. Fortunately his aim was a little off and Mrs. Miller spent the rest of her life minus a piece of ear.

Arbin made a run for it but was captured a few hours later.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Johnny gets Droppered

Wow, time flies. Seems like only a year ago we were discussing the demise of Johnny Spanish on this date back in 1919. But here we are again. Yep it was ninety-two years ago today that Spanish was hanging at restaurant with his wife and pal when who should appear but his old crony Nathan Kaplan (Caplin for you enthusiast) also known as Kid Dropper.

The Kid had a bit of business with Spanish. "Hey John, step outside for a minute?" Kaplan didn't say. "Sure thing." Spanish didn't respond. So Johnny went outside and began to chit chat with Spanish. As they talked over gang business some of the gang loitered about. One of the loiterers casually strolled behind Johnny and then Bang! Bang! a car back fired. "They really need to invent unleaded gas." Spanish didn't say. "Agreed." Kaplan didn't respond. It was the last thing Spanish didn't say for after that a bullet flew into the back of his brain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dempsey gets KOed

Ninety-eight years ago this morning around 1:00am there was some shooting taking place. Apparently some I-talian fellers, Jim Monico and Jim Scaraco, said to be linked with Paul Kelly, had the audacity to venture over into Gopher i.e. Irish territory and Ed Dempsey and Charlie Smith didn't like it.

Bang, bang went the Irish and Messrs. Monico and Scaraco hobbled down the street and into the arms of a cop. "They winged us!" Monico said, grabbing his leg. Scaraco concurred as blood dripped from his coat. "Serves you right for coming into our neighborhood." Said the cop, no wait thats not what happend. What happened was bullets began to richochet around the trio as Dempsey and Smith took potshots from the roof of a nearby building. Silly Gophers, tricks are for kids.

Another cop responding to the shots ran past the trio and into the building, where at this time Dempsey and Smith were on their way down the stairs. As the officer started to climb the steps he saw a flash and felt a bullet whiz by his head. He fired towards the flash and heard a thump. Then he heard Charlie say, "Did they get you Eddie?" Then he heard no more. Eddie was got.

Charlie surrendered and was forced to carry Eddie outside. An "auto-ambulance" was summonded and under its headlights the three wounded men were prepped for the ride back to the hospital. It proved to be Eddie last ride.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bad Luck for Chuck

Ninety-nine years ago Chuck Jow, a former member of the On Leong Tong who had switched allegiances to the Hip Sings, was sitting in the rear of a restaurant peeling potatoes. (Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.)

How did the On Leong feel about a member switching sides? Not good. Across the way was a man with a rifle. As Jow peeled the gunman took aim. Five shots rang out. Two hit Jow in the neck and third went into his head. Taters were off the menu.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

She was a V-A-M-P, vamp!

At around 4:00 am ninety-years ago this morning. Marguerite McDonald, a singer by trade, woke up when she heard somebody rifling the bureau drawer in her living room. Peering through the darkness she saw a man standing over the bureau.

"What are you doing there?" she called, following up with, "Mother , get the revolver!"

This was a bluff on Ms. McDonald's part as they didn't have a gun,but mother ran to the window and yelled for somebody to call the police which was done.

In the meantime Marguerite slipped on a kimono and went into the the front room to confront the intruder who was 18- year old John Bjorkman. Instead of jumping back out the window in which he entered Bjorkman simply through up his hands. (chances are the fact that he was 18 and a woman in a kimono was a few feet away probably played a part in his not wanting to flee)

Marguerite started a dialogue with the Bjorkman who insisted this was his first criminal venture and the only reason he did it was because he was out of work and living on the waterfront and...

After about twenty minutes a cop showed up and punched Bjorkman in the face twice knocking him out (If we said it once we said it a thousand times, when in old New York, never make a cop have to do his job.)

Bjorkman was dragged to the station and pleaded guilty to burglary. When asked why he didn't try to escape the apartment he said, "I must have been vamped by the girl."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Big Curly gets KOed for good

Big Curly Guargadatti was known as a boxer in Little Italy but may have dabbled in some nefarious enterprises. Early in the evening on this date back in 1913 Big Curly, like the rest of the neighborhood, was lounging outside. The stoops were full of people, the sidewalks crowded and children ran about playing.

As all this took place somebody walked up to Big Curly and fired two bullets into his heart. Big Curly went to the boxing ring in the sky and the killer escaped through the myriad of pedestrians who would later swear to police that they neither saw nor heard anything.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rise and shoot

Ninety-one years ago this morning Edward Cassidy, an off duty police officer, escorted a young lady to her apartment at 2077 Eighth Avenue after what one can assume was a night of frolics and gaiety. Then, perhaps because he was a romantic, or creepy, or simply tired, or a combination of all three he layed down on her stoop and went to sleep.

His dreams however were interupted when two guys stuck a pistol in his face and demanded any valuables he had on his person. Cassidy handed over his gold watch and $37 in cash but held onto his own shooting iron.

After the two hoodlums took off down the street Cassidy drew his revolver and fired a shot over their heads. When the didn't stop he lowered the barrel and sent a pill through one of the robber's, Tommy Malone's, back. He stopped although his pal got away with the goods.

Lesson; never try to rob a cop who is sleeping on the stoop of the woman he walked home a few hours before.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rules are rules

"Chu On did wrong," claimed Chung Sam Lok, head of Chu On's Tong, the Four Brothers, "He knew he mustn't go on Mott Street. He knew he would get shot. He went there a few days ago. He got a warning, but he did not need a warning. He knew they would shoot him."

But go on Mott Street Chu On did. One hundred and one years ago this day. On was suspected of a murder the previous year and had been hiding out in Albany making periodic visits to the city and it was on one such visit that he broke Tong rules by crossing the street into rival Tong (in this case the On Leong) territory.

Chung Sam Lok assured the authorities that the Four Brothers would not be seeking revenge for the murder of their chum since he broke the rules. "This shooting today means nothing," Lok coninued, "There is no new quarrel between the On Leongs and the Four Brothers. It's just the rule, On Leongs keep off Pell Street or get shot; Four Brothers keep off Mott Street or get shot."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I have returned. I am tan, rested and ready to carry on and by that I mean that the DGIS Institute has a new batch of inturns eager to please. They get to comb the DGIS archives looking for gangster goodness to post while I do new important research.

Though things have been slow on the blog front work has been progressing on the Legs Diamond book. Currently creating an index and doing some final editing. Hopefully it will be in your library around Labor Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sorry Charlie

The police chalked Charlie Caffrey's demise, on this date back in 1926, to a "thieves fight". Mr. Caffrey, twenty-five, was an ex-convict with ten arrest on his docket. Somebody pumped a couple of bullets into his chest and dumped him in the back seat of a Chrysler sedan. Said sedan was driven to a west Harlem neighborhood and parked. The killer(s) left. Charlie stayed.

After a few hours some of the locals who didn't recognize the car as belonging to anyone in the vicinity took a closer look and thus, Charlie was discovered. Police believed that Charlie had been shot in an apartment building in another section of Harlem as they received a report of a shooting and a witness said that he saw three men walk out supporting a fourth. A hat at the apartment fit Charlie's head and two empty shells were found in an upper apartment so it looks as though Charlie did get it in that locale.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eighty-eight years ago today and doctor was in his lower Manhattan office doing what doctors back then did when a taxi pulled up outside. A couple of hard looking mugs got out and helped a third fella into his office. He was Louis Tobynan aka Tubby.

Tubby's hoodlum pals deposited him in the doctor's office and beat feet. The doctor, who worked on the right side of the law. Called the police and told them he was bringing a shooting victim to the hospital.

Tubby was still conscious when the detectives arrived at the hospital. As they approached him he said, "You guys get away from me. You ought to know that there isn't a chance of my telling you who did this. If you want to do anything for me, get me a good doctor."

Seeing that the victim wasn't gonna help the detective in charge produced a magic eightball from under his coat and asked, "What happened to Tubby?"then gave it a good shake. Emerging from the green liquid were the words "Gang Feud". It was good enough for the detectives so it is good enough for us.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pay back

Paul Saragusa was mixed up with some gangsters in Little Italy until he decided to double cross them. Paul, we are told, had ties to Frankie Uale and in 1926 he pulled his funny business and skedaddled to Norfolk, Virginia for safety after his ruse had been discovered.

Paul returned to town four years later on May 14. Four years wasn't long enough. While sitting in a restaurant on this date in 1930 Paul received a phone call. Could he meet someone at somebody on the corner? Sure.

When Paul arrived at the intersection a guy popped out of a doorway with a gun and opened fire. One bullet struck a youngster and a few went into Paul who ran for a gas station but fell down. His man down, the killer casually strolled up and pumped two more shots into Paul before making his getaway.

Police tell us it was revenge from those he double crossed.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bridge of sighs

Ninety-eight years ago today David Minzer exited the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan bridge along with a rush hour crowd. As Minzer was walking three gunmen came running up. One of the men fired his gun into the air and ordered all the pedestrians to get back. the plaza was cleared except for Minzer who took the next shot in his heart. With their man down the three gunmen pulled their hats over their eyes and began firing over the crowds head to clear a path. The escaped the bridge plaza but fourteen cops were hot their tracks and after a chase of many blocks Salvatore Anderelli, Charles Friedman and Frank McQualey were arrested.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo - Irish style

Was May 3, back in 1903 when William "Billy Argument" McMahon (gee wonder what kind of disposition he had) and some of his Cherry Hill mob came up on one Patrick "Paddy the Snake" Shea (I'm sure they meant snake in a good way) said to be a Monk Eastman man. Anyways Mr. Argument and his cronies gave the Snake a sound thrashing. Such was the beating that Paddy was taken to the hospital.

While recuperating the police arrived and questioned Paddy about the attack. They should have saved their breath. "I ain't no squealer, not me." Paddy told them, adding, "When I get out of the hospital I will attend to this matter myself and maybe I won't do a little shooting."

Two days later the snake was out and staking out Billy Argument's apartment. When Billy came out Paddy walked up behind him and "blew the top of his head off."

After the round of six shooting the Snake fled to Philadelphia where he was captured in July. On the stand he plead self defense claiming the Billy Argument would have killed him first.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Danny boy

Danny Serratelli was 39 year underworld character who was sent to Sing Sing on a three year rap back in 1921. What he did afterwards and who he crossed is unknown. What is known is that on this date in 1925 a citizen on the outskirts of New York City's Little Italy was fetching something from his cellar and he stumbled on Danny's body. Danny had been shot once in the chest and once was enough.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Jerry Maida mistake

Jerry Maida, an underworld sort known as the "Lunchman" because of his tendency to hang out at a certain restaurant, was loitering about on this day in 1913 when four fellows with ties to Chick Tricker and Paul Kelly walked up and filled him full of the proverbial lead. Rumor had it that the Lunchman was a snitch and we all know what happens to snitches.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wild Wild West

Timothy "Chuck" Looman was a walking this way, then Tommy O'Brien came a walkin' that way and then when they was just thirty feet from each other both drew their pistols and started bustin' caps.

Folks was a running to and fro and then Chuck he starts to fall as he got what they call a mortal wound. But as he's a droppin' he squeezes off one more and sure enough it finds a home in Tommy O'Brien. Tommy he gots some life in him yet though and he starts to run away. He makes it as far as St. Bernard's Church and then drop like a sack a taters.

A Monsignor and a priest walk into a bar, I mean a Monsignor and a priest were the first ones to approach Tommy and they can see he ain't long for this world so they gives him the last rites. It was too late for Chuck cause he was already dead. Tommy though, he made it till the following day before saddling up with the ghost riders.

Oh, and this all happened on this day back in 1927. Honest.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hello, I'm Johnny Cashel

And on this date in 1929 somebody shot me in New York City just to watch me die.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gangster Haiku

Bill Fusco sold drugs

on this date in thirty-two

Killed in east village

Monday, April 25, 2011


The Lawlor brothers were simply trying to run a peaceful speakeasy and then David Beadle showed up and ruined everything. The youngest of the Lawlors, Larry, 23, was behind the bar on this date back in 1930 when Beadle walked in and started waving a pistol around.

Sensing the inevitable trouble that was going to happen the patrons slowly made their way to the door. You see, the Lawlors weren't exactly alter boys, they had police records too. Anyways Larry started yelling at Beadle who responded by letting everyone know just how tough he was. After a few moments of Beadle's gloating Larry decided he had had enough and came out from behind the bar to open a can of Ye olde Kickinthebehind © but before he could pull the tab Beadle shot him in the chest.

Hearing the shot Larry's older brothers, Bill and Mike, came running out from the back room. Seeing their little brother on the floor, they jumped over him and went for Beadle, who fired a fusillade in their direction. Both brothers went down with serious wounds. In the end both Larry and Mike died and Beadle took off to live another day, (though he wouldn't survive the decade)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pop gets popped.

Ah yes, April 20, 1927; I remember it like it was eighty-four years ago. I had just entered Zournagian's grocery store to purchase a can of milk. Was about 9:13pm. While walking past the rear room I saw someone back there laying on a cot. Taking a closer look I saw that it was John Egan. Everybody in the neighborhood called him Pop. Not sure why, now that I think about it, but everyone knew Pop and tried to stay out of his way. He had a bad reputation. In fact he had only been out of Sing Sing for four months at this time. Anyways I made my purchase and as I was leaving three other guys entered the store. I saw them around the neighborhood before, hell I might have even known their names but I forgot them at that moment. Before I was a couple doors down we all heard two pistol shots. Then the three guys come running out of the grocery store and went somewhere. I don't remember where. After that Zournagian came out and said to call the cops as someone one just croaked Pop. Two shots to head.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rum, Sodomy & the Hash

Ninety-eight years ago a British ship dropped anchor in New York harbor. Two of its sailors, brothers Leo and Edward Dobson, bounded down the gangplank and headed straight for Harlem's Little Italy. Tucked away on their persons were nine canisters of opium they had smuggled in from one of their voyages. They had a meeting arranged with three Italian men to sell the goods. According to Edward, they met the trio in a tenement hallway and when they told them that they wanted forty bucks a piece for the canisters the Italian guys laughed at them and then pulled out their guns. Edward was lucky, when the shooting started he was knocked over the head and fell unconscious. Leo fell next to him with a bullet in the noggin. Edward was rushed to the hospital where he told his story. He was promptly arrested on a drug charge.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We can't work it out, we can't work it out.

T'was this date in 1925 it t'was, when Frank Fedele, only twenty-two but a graduate of the New York State penal system (Sing Sing class of 1924) was speaking with two other fellers on a Brooklyn corner. The speaking turn to yelling and the yelling to shooting when the two fellers whipped out their irons and perforated Franks neck and chest. When their irons were done talking the fellers skedaddled through a tenement and got away. Frank not so much. Police flipped a coing and decided he was killed over a bootleggers feud.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Max Headboom

Ninety-eight years ago today Mrs. Wolff was awaken by three pistol shots. She shook her husband, the custodian of the tennement and a heavier sleeper, awake and told him to go investigate. Mr. Wolff shuffled out of bed and climbed the stairs to the other apartments. He met five men who were on their way down. He asked them if they heard any shooting. they told him it sounded like it came from upstairs and they exited the building. Mr. Wolff gave the building a once over, found nothing suspicious, and returned to his apartment. His wife was sure there was something amiss so a after discussing it for a few hours. Mr. Wolff went for a cop. While escorting the cop through the building he noticed that the rear apartment on the third floor had a padlock on the outside which had never been there before. The officer knocked on the door and when they received no answer he forced his way in. There, crumpled on the kitchen floor was twenty-three year old Max Levine. Somebody placed a gun to the base of his head and pulled the trigger. After he was down they put the gun under his chin and did the same. (Possibly twice since Mrs. Wolff heard three shots) The reason for the shooting is unknown. Seeing that Mr. Wolff was custodian of the building and had to clean up I think we can scratch him off the suspect list.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The not so mighty Quinn

Ninety-nine years ago today James Quinn stood at the bar telling anyone who would listen about how the Gophers wanted him dead. Jimmy was supposedly the leader of the west side gang but shot one of his own in a fight two weeks before and now the guys were mad at him. Jimmy was tough though, lifting his shirt tail he flashed his gat to the other saloon patrons and assured them that "Anyone who comes after me is going to get more than they can give." All agreed and returned their attention to their drinks. Five minutes later a quintet of Gophers walked in and shot Jimmy five times*. Giving more than they got, the Gophers ran from the bar as Jimmy gave up the ghost on saloon floor. *555 off to the lottery stand.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Smitty and Sully

Eugene Smith, we are told, was a member of a lower east side gang. Which one? Take your pick. I'll say the Cherry Hill gang. Anyways. On this date way back in the year of nineteen hundred and thirteen. Eugene was walking to a ball being held by the Italian Democratic Club of Tammany Hall. As Smith was passing a building a man stepped out of the doorway and fired a shot into the east side gangster's temple. The bullet passed through Eugene's brain and exited at the bottom of his skull. Thus ended Eugene's life. Witnesses saw a total of four men run from the murder scene. Most likely Smith's murder would have gone unsolved but the killer, Michael Sullivan, was wracked with guilt and turned himself in a few days later after confessing to a priest. He told the police it was a case of self defense as Smith was out to get him and if he didn't act first he would have been tucked away himself.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Warning: Smoking may be hazardous to your health

At 9:30pm on this date back in 1930 James Clark walked into a drug store to purchase a pack of smokes. Clark, 30, had a record going back to the preprohibition era when he used to pal around with Tanner Smith. His claim to fame was taking part in the stealing of $92,000 worth of aspirin back in 1926. His purchased complete, Clark stepped out of the store and into a bullet. Somebody was waiting for him and this somebody stuck his gun to Clark's head and pulled the trigger. Miraculously Clark wasn't killed. He was rushed to a hospital where he refused to talk to police. Though alive when the story went to press Clark's doctors gave him no chance of recovery.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool

Who says gangsters don't have a sense of humor. On April fools day back in 1910 John Lewis, known as Spanish Louis to the underworld and probably to some members of the upper world as well, was walking down Second Avenue when somebody came up and said a couple of pals wanted to see him around the corner. Thats the sort of thing that happens in the gangster biz, friends hide in doorways and what not, anyway, Louis nodded thanks and went around the corner but SURPRISE it weren't friends at all but gangsters sent to kill him. Louis caught on to the gag at the last moment as he was pulling out his gun when a bullet pierced his head.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

When a non-stranger calls

It's March 31, 1930. Inside of 341 East 104th Street sits Theodore Pandola. Theo is thirty and owns a coffee roasting business. He also has a police record and is known as a bootlegger. With Theo is his mother and brother. The phone rings. Theo answers it. Listens for a moment. "I'll be right over." Theo tells the caller. Something is amiss as Theo rushes from the apartment. Minutes later Theo is seen walking along 106th street with another man. When they get in front of No. 409 the man pulls a pistol and shoots Theo. Theo drops to the sidewalk. The man stands over him and pumps three more shots into Theo killing him. The man blows the smoke from the barrel and drops it in his coat pocket and escapes via First Avenue.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No happy ending

On this date in 1929 small time hustler Joe Mondello got his. Joe's angle was selling tickets to spaghetti dinners and "Smokers" that never took place. Joe was at a party in Queens and in the wee hours of the morning when all the party goers were inebriated Joe pulled out his bogus tickets and began to ply his trade. He started to pitch a guy who suddenly remembered that he had bought tickets from Joe before and things became heated. What happened next none of the partiers could shed any light on. All that is known is that Joe was found the next morning in the hallway riddled with buckshot. If you like the idea of gangsters and porn, and lets be honest who doesn't, be sure to check out Johnny Porno.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

F*** You, pay me.

Eighty-nine years ago today Joseph Storch learned a fatal lesson about bootleggers. You see Joe made the mistake that they were like any other retailer and, well, heres what happened- Not all the facts are in and all we have is what Mrs. Storch knew as the bootleggers didn't bother giving their side of the story. It all started when Joe made a deal for some booze. The suppliers came to Joe demanding payment. Joe told them that he never received the product. The bootleggers insisted that the delivery had been made and they told Joe that they would be back in two hours and if he didn't pony up the dough it would be just to bad. Was the delivery made? Perhaps. Maybe since Joe was a greenhorn he told them to deliver it to a certain locale and he himself wasn't on hand. Perhaps the bootleggers took advantage of Joe's naivety and stole back the booze. We don't know. All we know is that Joe never saw the stuff. Back to Joe's apartment, a friend stopped by and he, Joe and Joe's better half were discussing the deal when the obligatory dark sedan pulled up in front of Joe's apartment building. Two guys got out leaving the driver and two others inside. They went to Joe's door and sent a tenant up to tell Joe a couple of "friends" wanted to see him. The neighbor went up and told Joe about the guys. Mrs. Joe pleaded with her husband not to go down stairs but he said, "It all right. It's most likely those bootleggers. There'll be no trouble. They didn't deliver the stuff and they can't expect me to pay for it." Assuming that the bootleggers shared the same business practices of, say, Sears, Joe went down stairs. He informed the gangsters that they would not be receiving monies owed and they responded by sending a bullets into Joe's forehead and neck. At the sound of the shots the sedan started drifting down the street and the gunmen jumped on the running boards and made their getaway. Mrs. Storch and the friend ran down and found Joe in the vestibule dying, but a little wiser.

Monday, March 28, 2011


While walking to his garage, eighty years ago this morning, a Queens resident saw something peculiar in his back yard. The object turned out to be Brooklyn racketeer Joe Madonia. Madonia, who was shot once in the head, was involved in both policy and a bakers union. It was said that if bakers didn't buy their flour from vendors designated by Madonia they could expect damage to both their property and themselves. Other than a woman who claimed to hear what could have been a gunshot or a car backfiring a little after midnight, there were no other clues to the murder. Why the killers took the trouble to dump Madonia in somebod's back yard, who knows.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shoulda stuck with the cards, Elmer

Seventy-eight years ago Elmer Johnson, a "card sharp and petty racketeer" (not sure what the petty rackets were) took part in the robbery of a speakeasy. On this date back in that year Elmer was strolling down the street at 2:00a.m. as card sharps and petty racketeers are wont to do.

Elmer's walk was interrupted by not one, not two, not three nor four but five bullets, which were pumped into his back by Ernie Snyder. We know it was Ernie because Elmer said so in the hospital. There was another guy there too that Elmer knew, Carl Christianson. The police ran out and snagged Ernie and Carl and paraded them in front of Elmer.

Elmer identified Ernie and Carl backed him up stating that the shooting was the result of Elmer's participation in the speakeasy robbery. Elmer then passed. His last words being, "I own a mansion and a yacht."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Road trip

Eighty years ago Andrew D'Amato was a prosperous young owner of a Harlem speakeasy called the Bible Club. While imbibing in a another joint back on this date someone(s) pumped three bullets into his skull.

To avoid a mess a table cloth was wrapped around his head and he was loaded into a car. His killers took a road trip out near Mt. Vernon and dumped him along the road where a milkman found him the following morning.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dead drunk

Eighty-two years ago today somebody saw what they assumed to be a drunk sleeping it off in the gutter. Being the good samaritan that they were they called the cops and asked that they come and pick him up.

A cop was dispatched and, while trying to wake the drunk up, discovered that the man had had only one shot. Unfortunately it was to his head. The dead guy, Michael Candella as it would turn out, was clasping a gun and there was evidence of a shoot out. If I left out any drunk/dead puns feel free to leave them.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Two minutes with Allan May

While in Cleveland the other week for yearly protest at the Rock 'n' Roll hall of fame. (I won't rest until the Wayouts get inducted!) whom should I run into but organized crime historian Allan May. Needing a break from my picketing I ran up to Mr. May and asked him a few questions. Fortunately I had my pocket reel to reel tape recorder on me and am able to transcribe our conversation.

DGIS: Funny running into you here as I was reading your new book Gangland Gotham: New York's Notorious Mob Bosses on the bus ride down. Can you describe the book for those who have yet to pick up a copy.

Allan May: At $95 a pop, it's not an easy thing to pick up. Basically the book consist of ten biographies of New York City's most well known mob bosses.

DGIS: How did you come to write the book?

AM: I was approached by Greenwood Press to write the book back in 2005.

DGIS: How difficult was it writing about guys like Adonis, Anastasia etc. who don't have bios already written about them? Was info harder to come by?

AM: I started out by reviewing all the books in which they appeared, built a time line and then used the New York Times and other New York newspapers to create the story.

DGIS: What were some of the biggest surprises you found during your research?

AM: I guess coming across mistakes that some writers have made that get picked up and repeated over and over again. The most blatant ones being, perhaps, the murder of Joe Masseria and Dutch Schultz.

DGIS: You don't seem to feel that mob turn coat Joe Valachi is the big reservoir of mafia history that the rest of the gangster community seems to think.

AM: I've always had trouble with his memories. Take the "Joe the Baker" shooting for instance, his story just doesn't jive with most of the newspaper reportst of the time. I understand he was looking back at over 30 years, and if that is the source of his discrepancies why didn't Peter Maas check it. That would have been easy enough to do.

DGIS: Who would you rather ow money to Vito Genovese or Albert Anastasia?

AM: It doesn't matter because they're both dead. Thank God.

DGIS: What was the most uttered phrase in gangdom:

A) Who's your tailor?

B)Where's my money?

C) What's an infinitive and why does the Dutchman want his split?

D) I decline to answer on the grounds that it might incriminate me.

AM: Mayby those were the catch phrases during the first half of the 20th Century, but I think for the last 60 years it's more like, "is that the damn Feds at the door...again?"

DGIS: Seeing that you know most everything about Cleveland's crime history, I have a theory that Eliot Ness was the torso killer, thoughts?

AM: Eliot Ness was my hero from childhood days. He was the reason I began reading and researching organized crime. In 1997 I was able to get his cremated ashes, which had been sitting in his daughter-in-law's garage for some 40 years and turn them over to Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. the Cleveland Police Historic Society then held a memorial service for him, his third wife and adopted son, which included the spreading of their ashes in Wade Lagoon in September of that year.

DGIS: I'll take that as a no.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clothes unmake the man

"I tell ya fellas, after this heist you'll never have to work again." 34-year old Emilio Ferrando told his accomplices.
" Ok, we'll trust you, but if we find nothing but clothes like we did last time. We leave you in the street along with the duds. See?"

That's what I imagine the conversation went like on this date back in 1929 a few hours before police stumbled upon the body of gambler and small time thief Emilio Ferrando. EF was shot in the face at close range and also had bullets in his back and shoulder. On another street they found a bundle of stolen suits and coats.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Casper the deadly ghost

Because of two recent, though separate, suicides, Mrs. Farrell's tenement house was considered to be haunted. In fact only one family remained in the building everyone else moved out. Twas 6:30 in the evening on this date back in 1927 when Mrs. Farrell ascended the staircase in her task of lighting the hallway lights.

When she got to the top floor she tripped over something. That something turned out to be a man, judging by appearances, of Italian descent, about forty years old. Mrs. Farrell barrelled down the stairs and got the police.

The corpse had no identification but he did have bullets in the head, shoulder and leg. He had a gun in his pocket and two more were found on the floor near him. One missing the three bullets that now rested in the dead man. The walls and a door showed evidence of another gun being fired. Oddly, Mrs. Farrell had heard nothing. The one remaining family in the building also had heard nothing.

So we have a dead guy, who didn't live in the building, a victim of a gunfight that nobody heard. The police went next door and began to ask questions. Turns out that the woman who lived in the adjoining apartment heard a little something that morning at 10:30. That something sounded like a struggle followed by a guy yelling, "Oh my God don't! Oh my God!" followed by a number of gun shots then silence.

When asked why she didn't report anything she said she was afraid the killers would come for her. Police chalked the murder up to a bootleggers feud. But having seen one or two shows on the paranormal I think it's fairly obvious that this was the working of one pissed off incubus, or is it succubus or omnibus...well one of the buses did it anyways I'm sure.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Dead Baron

Eighty-one years ago today two hundred employees of a tin can factory near the Brooklyn waterfront, who were on their lunch break, didn't witness the murder of William "Baron" Simpson who was shot in the back of the head next to their building.

Baron was the boss of a group of dock workers and was known as a fierce street fighter. According to his brother Whitey, the dead man had just beaten up three guys an hour before the shooting. Police chalked it up to just another murder in the long line of dock racket killings which plagued the Irish waterfront.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sam I Was

Eighty-four years ago this evening the Madison Street Boys were hanging out at their club, the Madison Street Boys club. At about midnight they heard some shooting and ran into the hallway where they found one of their own, Sam Raplansky, on the floor with bullet wounds to the body, chin and left eye. Not knowing that Sam was already dead, the hailed a cab and loaded him inside for the ride to the hospital where they learned that their labors were in vain.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Up on the roof

Eight-thirty this evening will mark the 76th anniversary of Salvatore Natoli being lured to the top of a Harlem tenement and shot in the head. Sally had served a term at Elmira for robbery and, at the time of his death, had a Federal drug charge against him. Perhaps there were those who didn't want to see him go to trial.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Big Mac attack

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

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sullivan's travels are over

Eighty-six years ago as this is being written (9:00am) three shots rang out in the rear room of a speakeasy. About eight guys vacated the parlor. Other fellers who were enjoying their morning hooch ventured back and found Mike Sullivan on the floor and unconscious. They sent him to the hospital but he died.

Mike was an interesting guy. A good athlete who had done stunt work for D.W. Griffith, managed boxers and owned semi pro baseball team. He also owned a speakeasy himself and a cigar store. Past achievements also included getting the vote out with some huskies from the Bronx. Sports, movies, bootlegging, strong arm work...wonder which one caused his demise?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not so fast Eddie

After spending three years in Sing Sing for a robbery Eddie Fallon was on the outside and earning dough as a bootlegger. Somebody didn't care for Eddie however and on this date back in 1927 he was standing on a corner seemingly waiting for somebody. Somebody that tricked him.

While Eddie loitered about a sedan pulled up to the corner and a pistol came out the window. One shot then another and the car zoomed away. With bullets in the back and hip Eddie was unable to zoom, only stagger, which he did into a nearby leather goods shop before dropping dead.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aces draws the ace of spades

Four score and no more years ago tonight John "Aces" Mazza did enter a restaurant looking for some familiar faces. Seeing them not he ventured back into the night where two un-friendly faces were waiting for him. The duo opened fire on young Mr. Mazza (only 20) who produced his own barking iron (more mature than he at .45) and returned their greetings.

The murderous duo had both the element of surprise and better aim resulting in Aces collapsing in front of the restaurant. A religious man, Mazza was wearing some medals of the ecclesiastic variety one of which read "St. Joseph patron of the grace of a happy death. Protect me." It would appear that St. Joseph had the night off.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snow Job

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Look all ways before crossing

At about 4:00p.m. on this day back in 1935 Alphonso Respivo was crossing the street in lower Manhattan when two guys armed with a .38 and .45 walked up behind him and started blasting. One shot from the .38 and five from the .45 found their mark in Respivo's back. The job complete both men fled in opposite directions.

According to police Respivo was a small time racketeer who divided his time between New York and Chicago. He was arrested in 1921 for robbery and served six years. He also did six months in Chicago in 1931 for carrying a gun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fun new site

From our friends at Murder by Gaslight comes the National Night Stick a groovy place to catch up on your footpads, gonnofs and kirkbuzzers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Two valentines for Lefty

Valentine's Day 1925 found Lefty Kanter walking along the street with his hands thrust in his pockets, sneaking furtive glances while a cigarette hung from his mouth. An ex-con who sold drugs and committed robbery, Lefty was a former member of Johnny Spanish's gang. In 1921 he was picked up for the murder of one of Kid Dropper's minions but was released. After that he moved to Bronx and away from the dangers of the lower east side.

Early in 1925 he began to revisit his old haunts. What business was transpiring this day is unknown but Kanter walked about stopping in front of a building for a few moments to listen to some musicians play before continuing along. A few minutes later two guys approached him and after a short dialogue they began to argue. During the exchange a woman came up and said something to one of the men arguing with Lefty.

When the woman finished speaking the guy stepped forward and revealed a pistol he had up his sleeve. He delivered a valentine to Lefty's chest. Lefty fell back and the man stepped up and fired another into his neck. Lefty was dead by time the cops arrived.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Darn bootleggers littering again

The dead body of Joe Galas was carelessly tossed in the street on this date back in 1928 with a bullet in the head. Police said that Joe was the victim of a bootleggers feud. Police said a lot of things that weren't necessarily true but will take their word for it in Joe's case.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Things you find on the beat II

Four score and five years ago today a cop was making the rounds when he found what he figured to be a drunk face down in the snow. He went to rouse him and discovered that the man had been doing shots of a different sort, four to be exact. He took the guy the to hospital but all was for naught as the man was DOA. Finger prints showed that his name was Vincent Matoli and, according to police, he was associated with a gang of bootleggers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Imported from Detroit

No, not the new Chrysler 2oo but some gangster who was found in sack on this date back in 1927. His hands and feet were tied behind his back and a sash cord was wrapped around his neck. Identification wasn't immediately known but all his clothes contained labels from Motor City haberdashers leading authorities to believe he was one of them thar gangsters from the D.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Scarface — Boris Karloff's last strike

Life at the DGIS Institute can be challenging. When not hunkered down in research there is always an old monster movie that needs watching. Occasionally we get to incorporate the two.

Two days ago marked the forty-second anniversary of the passing of Boris Karloff, though famous as a star of the horror pictures (as my grand daddy used to say) Boris also played the roll of Bugs Moran/Hymie Weiss, err I mean Gaffney, the Northside crime boss to Paul Muni's Scarface.

So a belated tip of the hat today to Mr. Karloff

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ciro's Nephew

Twas eighty years ago today in the Bronx that Joe "the Baker" Catania walked out of a bail bond office or store, take your pick, and into a couple of shotgun blast of rival gangsters. The Baker was the nephew of Ciro Terranova and a victim of the Castellammarese war. According to Joe Valachi, Salvatore Maranzano, Valachi's boss, claimed that Catania was hijacking his liquor shipments and had to be removed. For more on the Baker and his demise check the Valachi Papers.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The price of turning

In June of 1930 Leo Noto and some others kidnapped the son of a wealthy Brooklyn baker. The boy was released after the baker paid $7,000 and promised the remaining balance. After he got his son back the baker went to the police and a trap was set for the kidnappers when they came to collect the $3000. Six of them, including Noto, were apprehended.

Noto agreed to testify against the rest of his gang and was released on a $25,000 bail. Remnants of the gang decided it would be in their favor if the turn coat didn't make it into the courtroom. On this date back in 1931 they made it so. Noto had just left his house and was crossing a vacant lot when a sedan pulled up. Two shot guns were discharged and Noto was no more.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The things you find when walking the beat

A couple of cops were walking along Thompson street on this date back in 1930 when who should they happened to stumbled upon? None other than Gabriel Nucci, 49-year old leader of the "Thompson Street gang". Who were they? Who knows, according to police they were a minor black hand unit.

Anyways there was Nucci lying on the sidewalk with bullets in his belly and back. The cops took him to St. Vincent's where he refused to say anything about the shooting. It was obvious that the end was near so they sent in a priest to administer the last rites but Nucci didn't want anything to do with him either so had him removed. He died the next morning...Nucci, not the priest.

Police guessed that the shooting was the result of either, the Thompson Street gang encroaching on another gangs territory or perhaps revenge because of a murder for which Nucci had been acquitted. The DGIS staff has a sneaky suspicion that Vito Genovese has the answers.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Meet John Doe

Four score and one year ago this very day three fellers sat in a sedan. Passing pedestrians paid them no mind until they heard three shots. All eyes turned to the car as two men jumped out and high tailed it away. Left inside was forty-year old Nathan Gordon with two bullets in his person.

Nate was a life long criminal with a record spanning back to 1905 when during his midnight rambler phase he was arrested for grand larceny and sent to Elmira. Periodic arrest and prison terms followed over the following quarter century.

Cops arrived on the scene and found that Gordon was still alive. He was rushed to the hospital where he gave the name John Doe. He said no more and passed out of this life. Since he refused to talk the police were forced to turn to his finger prints, who had absolutely no trouble divulging his true identity.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My way or the hallway

A little more than twenty-four hours after Jocko Doyle was rubbed out whilst dining some kids found Anthony Sancione in the hallway of an east Harlem tenement on this date in 1932. Two bullets had shattered his skull but he was still alive. The kiddies went for a cop who in turn called an ambulance for the young hood but it was to no avail Ant gave up the ghost enroute to the hospital. His record showed that the had been arrested numerous times but was never convicted.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Doyle's last meal

John "Jocko" Doyle was a career criminal with fourteen arrest and three convictions under his belt. Though the latter were for burglary and assault with intent to kill, it was his entrance into the drug trade that police believed was the reason for Jocko being rubbed out on this date back in 1932.

At the time of his demise Jocko was out on bail for a hold up in Philadelphia. He had a history in the City of Brotherly love as a beer runner and gunman. Of late though he apparently was pushing some brown sugar in Manhattan which ruffled some feathers. So much so that whilst he was chowing down at some eatery a couple of mugs came in and gave him seven bullets for dessert.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A voice says, "Hi, hello, how are you?" Well I guess I'm doing fi--

On this night back in 1920, ex-boxer Willie Lewis was wounded in his cabaret in what is the earliest phone booth set up the DGIS staff has yet uncovered.

Credited as the man who introduced American boxing to France prior to WWI Willie climbed into the ring for the first time in 1900 at the age of sixteen. During the war he promoted boxing matches in Paris for U.S. troops on leave.

Since the war he and some others opened the Chateau Thierry Cafe. Word had it that somebody was mad at Willie over a falling out over either a diamond ring or a girl or both. Either way on the evening in question things were slow at the club and Willie was joking around with the musicians and dancing girls when the phone in a rear booth rang. It was a call for Willie.

Just as he entered the booth two men entered the cafe. One headed straight for the phone booth while the other strode to the center of the dance floor and looked the joint over. The bartender didn't like the looks of the fellow on the dance floor so left his post to confront him. Before he made it a few steps however shots were heard.

Willie dropped with three pills in his back as the guy on the dance floor ran to the door, pulled out a pistol and covered the room until his associate made it out. Then he followed.

Mourn not for Willie folks, he made a full recovery and continued in the boxing game for years to come.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Barrel of wine fruit of the vine

Ninety years ago today a couple of cops were walking the beat when they heard four gunshots. Entering the building from where the shots were heard they found Dominick Ponto leaning against the wall. Not thinking that Ponto was seriously wounded they took him to the police station for questioning instead of the hospital.

The wounded man told the police that he and another guy, whom he refused to name, got into an argument over ten barrels of wine. Ponto said they were his and the other guy claimed owner ship. Ponto went on to say that the man had threatened to shoot him so he got a gun. When the two came together Ponto drew first and fired (the first three shots the police heard) his adversary then drew his gat and fired back.

With that Ponto collapsed. The police then figured it might be a good idea to get him to the hospital. Unlike the Glimmer Twins, time was not on Ponto's side. He yielded ownership of the wine for good two hours later.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

train tracks

Frances Bruce was a young heroin addict who ditched her husband, an orangeade salesman in Atlantic City, for a life on the dark side. In the months since she absconded from her marital bonds she trafficked in both narcotics and liquor, bringing both in from Boston.

Eighty-nine years ago today she was heading for New York City aboard the Montreal Express. Sharing a berth with her was 21-year old "actress" Dorothy Wardell. Though Fran claimed that she and Dorothy knew each other only slightly this probably was a lie. Like Fran, Dorothy was a a heroin addict as well as a smuggler of drugs and hooch. Both were returning from Montreal where they stayed at the Hotel Windsor.

Dorothy was in fact part of a drug/alky ring that used Burlesque theater as a front for their operations. She was indeed part of the act but when the show finished its run in Canada and returned to the Big Apple the trunks containing wardrobe, props etc. also contained H and booze.

How do we know this? Well, as mentioned Fran and Dottie were users and as the Montreal Express was chugging towards NYC, somewhere along the line, the latter told the former, "At last I found some real dope." Both women indulged.

The following morning as the train pulled into the town of Harmon, NY a Pullman porter knocked on the women's door to wake them up. They didn't wake up. Dorothy was dead of an overdose and Fran needed medical care. The decision was made to keep them on the train and when it arrived at Grand Central Station Dorothy went to the morgue and Francis to Bellevue where she gave her story and said that the heroin that she and the late actress used must have been "undiluted".

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Drive safely or else

Today we'll hear from the right side of the law. BTW, if it isn't already, seeing Junior Brown live should be on your bucket list.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Decisions, decisions.

We're at a bit of an impasse here at the DGIS. After numerous staff meetings we're not sure how we want to proceed with this blog. Some feel we need to change direction and freshen things up with a new...well, direction . Others feel that we should stay the course, brand loyalty and all that.

Something that we all agreed upon is that the culinary skills of the hoodlums of yesteryear is all but overlooked by modern authors, academics and skeeball champions. So being that I have recently uncovered a lost Herbert Asbury tome entitled "In the Kitchen with the Gangsters of New York" I would like to share with you a recipe dating back to 1909.
Spanish Louis's Red Wine-and-Apricot Braised Short Ribs

Makes 4 servings. Working time 20 min. Total time 3 1/2 hours.

3/12 pounds short ribs

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups dry red wine

3 tablespoons coarse-grain dijon mustard

2 cups dried apricots

1) Season short ribs with s&p . Working in batches, brown ribs in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

2) Go out and make some collections while ribs cool.

3) Add garlic to pot and cook over medium heat until browned, about two minutes. Add wine and mustard and stir. (Don't forget to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add apricots and reserved ribs and increase heat to high, bringing liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until ribs are so tender they fall off the bone. (Three hours or so, so go ahead and polish your gat.)

4)Skim excess fat from braising sauce. Serve meat and apricots in shallow bowl with braising sauce.

If you give it a try please let us know how it turns out.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Avenue I'm taking you to

Happy New Year from the DGIS Institute. What a fine New Year's Eve we had last night. The bubbly was flowing and a swinging time was had by all. At midnight we went outside and banged pots and pans until the police showed up. Then we went inside and watched the 1933 version of 42nd Street. During the the final number some intern who hadn't been indulging noticed that at the 2:58 mark a drunk stumbles out of a speakeasy called "The Hotsy-Totsy club".

What does that mean to us? Well the Hotsy Totsy club was the name of Mr. Legs Diamond's New York City drinking hole where less than four years before this movie premiered a couple of fellers were put on the spot. So take a gander fer yerself. I suggest watching the whole movie if you get the chance. Chock full of tough talkin dames with swell gams.