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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What is the law? No spill blood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 29, 2014

Iron man

In the early hours of this date back in 1932 Aaron "Iron" Barger's bullet riddled corpse was found in an automobile on Chicago's south side. We say riddled because he was shot nine times. He was also tortured before the riddling process.

Barger was known as suspect in the Evergreen mail robbery and it was his brothers garage that the bandits used as a hideout. He went to trial but was acquitted while robbers Frances Keating and Tommy Holden were convicted.

Police say Iron was riddled and tortured because he was muscling his way into the south side beer business which was currently the theater of battle for the Spike O'Donnell and Danny McGeoghegan gangs.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Trouble with the B & T crowd

On this date in 1930 two cops were walking their beat on Manhattan's Lower Eastside when they heard a series of shots. They ran to a six story tenement from whence the shots were fired and as they entered the gunsmoke filled hallway they found the well dressed corpse of 27-year old Brooklyn gangster Joseph Bivone. The killer(s), after depositing five bullets into Bivone, escaped out of the back of the building but a trail of blood led the police to believe that another person was wounded in the fracas. Bivone had a record consisting of three arrest and, probably because he was from Brooklyn, police believed he was the victim of a battle over gang territory. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What you want is in the limo, what you get is no tomorrow

At 6:00 am on this date in 1925, Murray Goff was driving a fare in his taxi when a large limousine rear ended him. Goff got out of his cab and out of the limousine jumped the driver and two other men cursing and waving pistols at Goff, yelling at him to get back. The men took off on foot while and Goff went to find a cop. Back at the scene the officer and the hack inspected the limo. On the floor of the passenger side was 37-year old David Bram with two bullets in his head. Bram had an extensive record for dealing drugs as well as bootlegging. In addition to New York he had been arrested in Detroit, Toledo, Chicago and Pittsburgh. He was also wanted in Kansas City where he escaped from custody the previous November 20, after appealing a five year sentence for a narcotics rap.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Addy gets subtracted

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

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

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Last Supper

Let us round out the week in the Motor City where on this date back in 1930 one Marcello Castiglioni drew his final breath. Marcello was a DYI kind of guy. Why buy bootleg beer when you can make it yourself. Marcello spread the word and soon he was setting up breweries for others and instructing them on how to produce their own suds much of which, no doubt, went up for sale.

One can see how this would be problematic for fellows like the Purple gang or Mafia types who weren't keen on competition. Word got back to Marcello that he was earmarked for a slab. He moved into his cousin's house to hide out. It was during a family supper that Marcello's time ran out. Apparently he was expecting it because he had a pistol under his napkin when the family sat down to break bread.

During the meal two guys with sawed off shotguns barged into the house (probably didn't want to interrupt their dinner by knocking or ringing the bell). Marcello grabbed his pistol and charged the intruders, firing and missing. The two dinner crashers fired off a total of four rounds and didn't miss.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Little Jewish Navy loses three of its top torpedos

And so we find ourselves back in Detroit on this date in the year nineteen hundred and thirty one. What was on the docket for that day? Well the Purple gang had a rendezvous set up with the upper echelon of "the Little Jewish Navy" a gang of bootleggers who traversed the Detroit River and a few of the great lakes transporting spirits of an intoxicating nature in from Canada.

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

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

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Had his fine wife, had his ol' fiddle, sun came up and his body got riddled.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hey Batto, Batto, Batto swing.

On this date back in 1929 a group of kids were in the street playing baseball. They had a pretty clear field except for a green sedan that had been parked on the block all that day. Sure enough one of the lads got a hit and the ball bounced into an open window of the car. A boy ran over to retrieve the ball, and climbing on the running board, he opened the door and found himself looking into the eyes of a dead man. The lad let out scream and ran into a nearby tenement for help. The deadman was James Batto who had a record dating back over thirty years.

Batto, along with his partner Mortimer "Monkey" Shubert had been involved with some other gangsters, including Eugene Moran, earlier that summer. On the previous August 10, Batto, Shubert and a few others picked up Moran at his New Jersey bungalow for some job. A few hours later Moran's body was found inside a burning Packard.

Was the murder party worried about Batto so they took him out? Did friends of Moran exact revenge? Who knows. Batto's brother told police that his dead sibling had recently had a falling out with Monkey Shubert. Monkey was brought in but shrugged his shoulders and went on his way.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pulpy goodness

"Hey pal, I've been dead for two thousand years and could really go for a smoke. Got a Camel on ya?"
"Sure but you should really smoke Old Gold."
"Not a sar-cough-agus in a car load."

No need to thank me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Anniversary

So this car pulls up outside a Chicago hospital back on this date in 1933 and slows down just enough to be polite. The back door swings open and Nicholas "the Little Man" Muscato comes tumbling out. The occupants of the car would have been better off dumping the Little Man at the county morgue however  because by this time all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Muscato back together again.

So the Little Man, said to have been the leader of Chicago's notorious 42 gang, is no more, but why? Well, interestingly enough the date, September 9, held some significance in the gang. It all started back in the summer of 1930....(Cue harp music and transition from Chicago hospital exterior to 42 gang club)

In June of '30 seventeen year old Frank Petito, possible 42 member or maybe just a neighborhood hijacker shows up one day in a brand spanking new sparkly roadster that cost him $3,500. Where'd he get the dough? Simple, he helped himself to a load of booze from some clown named Red Bolton. Easy as pie. Well, turns out Red was paying the 42 gang to protect his stuff. You can see what kind of bind this but Muscato in. There was only one thing to do. So Muscato, along with one of his minions, Peter "the Ape" Nicastro took Frank for a ride. Frank's bullet riddled body was found on June 30. 

Now over the course of the summer the Ape let's everyone know that he was the one that put all those bullets into Petito and not the Little Man who is supposed to be so tough. Gangsters aren't known for their healthy egos and this type of chatter did not sit will with Muscato. After all, if he is going to be a big shot he must keep his reputation intact. So what to do? The Little Man invites the Ape to go for a drive. The ride concludes with the Ape being tossed from the car with four bullets in his head.

A few minutes after the Ape hit the pavement some coppers come by and look him over. By gum the Ape breaths yet!!! The Ape is hurried to a hospital where he is given an "adrenalin" shot which brings him to and he uses his final minutes to tell the police how he came to end up in a road with four extra holes in his head. The Little Man is subsequently picked up and the cops perform the Ape's aria for him. Muscato's reply, "I'll let a lawyer do my talking." and he did, and so he walked.

The date of the Ape's demise? You guessed it September 9. Exactly three years before the Little Man was pitched from the back of a car with the extra weight added to his head. The Little Man's murder? T'was vengeance and nothing more cried the press.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Trouble with Tribbles

On this date back in 1933 James "Trouble" Tribble and Thomas Touhy barged into the headquarters of the Chicago Teamsters Union. (Do I really need to continue?) Inside the office was union head Fred Sass, who had been kidnapped only a few weeks ago and held for ransom.

Some back story: The aforementioned Thomas Touhy was the brother of infamous gang leader Roger Touhy who was currently on trial for another kidnapping. Word on the street was that Sass was kidnapped by the Touhy gang to raise much needed funds for the trial. Needing more funds they informed the union head that if he didn't cough up another pile of dough he would be snatched again.

Now, where were we, oh yeah, Tribble and Touhy are in the HQ and apparently not getting their way because bullets start flying, around forty of them actually. Ten percent of which end up in Tribble. Touhy helps his comrade back to a waiting car which then went to a doctors office. A cop showed up just as Touhy and the driver were setting Tribble down at the doctors door. The officer told them to halt, they did the exact opposite and made a run for it. The cop fired some shots at them, because back then you could do stuff like that when you were a cop. But the men beat a successful retreat.

Tribble? Oh, he didn't make it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The hole truth and nuttin but the truth

James Marlo had just completed a ten year stretch in Sing Sing in the summer of 1932 and didn't want to go back. Perhaps that's the reason he took the stand and testified against three less than kind gentleman for their bending of the law. After many meetings here at the DGIS Institute we have all concluded that Marlo was probably unhappy when the three men he testified against were acquitted.

No doubt Marlo was of the feeling that the past is the past and let bygones be bygones etc, etc..  But the trio of badmen he took the stand against felt differently. Sometimes words aren't adequate at expressing one's feelings, so, unable to tell Marlo how they felt, the trio showed him by luring him into a car and stabbing him over fifty times with icepicks. After more meetings here at the Institute we feel that Marlo received the message loud and clear.

Assuming he was dead, the gruesome threesome dumped Marlo on some rich guys lawn in Westbury, Long Island. Marlo however was still amongst the living, though with all the holes in his body every time he exhaled it probably sounded like somebody sitting on an accordion. Marlo was brought to the hospital where, unlike his assailants he was able to express himself with words, and was able to identify the trio as his killers before dying.

Friday, September 5, 2014

AA Meeting

Today marks the 81st anniversary of L.A. gangster Axel Anderson's demise. Known as Three-fingered Jack, presumably because he had a trio of digits on one hand, or perhaps he was a sloth, either way Axel was not a lucky little gangster in the city of light, but another lost angel, city at night, city at night. Why did he die? Was it a case of motel, money murder madness? It may be he was killed for hijacking a load of booze and/or that he was killed for offing another gangster. Either way we don't get to many L.A. DGISs here so lets just enjoy the moment.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Another one bites the dust

Police felt that Michael Stenson- drilled 95-years ago today in the Chelsea section of Manhattan- was a member of the Marginal gang and killed as a result of the death of "Tanner" Smith. An eyewitness to the murder stated that Stenson and another man had been walking together when an argument suddenly broke out. During the argument Stenson’s companion drew a gun and shot him then ran away as Stenson doubled over.

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Temptations sing

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The South Pole

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

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

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

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pulpy goodness

"Quick, you get the jewels and I'll give him a hot foot. The practical joke gang strikes again!"