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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

This wasn't in the brochure

Ninety-two years ago today a busload of tourist witnessed a gangland killing first hand as their tour bus cruised through Little Italy. The victim was Joseph Marone. Mr. Marone was strolling down the street when a car containing four men pulled up behind him and fired a shot. Marone dropped to the sidewalk with a bullet in his thigh. Before any more shots could be fired the tour bus pulled up between the car and Marone and the shooters sped off.

The tourist thought they were watching the filming of a movie and didn't realize that Marone was actually hurt but a pedestrian who knew better went and fetched a cop. At first Marone's leg wound appeared superficial and he was taken to Bellevue hospital where he was arrested. But at midnight the police received word from the hospital that he had died.

During his interrogation Marone kept his mouth shut and said nothing about his affairs or the men who shot him but police believed he was part of a burglary gang and double crossed the other members when it came to divvying up the spoils. The police also said that Marone knew he was a marked man and only left his house in the daytime. The killers, they speculated had been staking out his house and that's how they got him.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Diamond's Aren't A Girls Best Friend

At approximately 11:00p.m. on this night back in 1931 titian haired (that’s fancy talk for redheaded) Vivian Gordon sashayed out of her apartment draped in a fur coat and adorned with fine jewelry. Being the sort of gal who suckered many a man out of many a dollar in the past -“Had a lovely time Saturday night. In fact it was so special I wrote it all down and am thinking of sending it to your wife…”- she believed she was on her way to add one more notch to her cigarette case to the tune of a quarter mil in diamonds.

What she didn’t realize was that she was the pigeon in this set up. The whole thing about the stones was just a ruse to get her into the back seat of a Cadillac where she was strangled to death with a clothesline.

Her killers croaked her as a favor to someone they owed money to so hoping to come out ahead they stripped Viv of her fur and jewelry and ditched her in a ravine where she was found early the next morning by someone whose resume didn’t include murder or extortion.

Did I mention you can read all about this in my book Bad Seeds in the Big Apple? No? Oh, you can read all about it in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Big Mac attack

Ninety-one 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 day in 1924.

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sulliavan's last travel

Ninety-years ago as this morning, at around 9:00am, three shots rang out in the rear room of a speakeasy.Right after the shots were fired about eight guys vacated the parlor in speedy fashion. Other fellers who were enjoying their morning hooch ventured to the back  room and found Mike Sullivan unconscious on the floor. They sent him to the hospital but he died.

Mike was an interesting guy.  He was a talented athlete who had done stunt work for D.W. Griffith, managed boxers and owned a semi pro baseball team. He also owned a speakeasy himself and a cigar store. Past achievements also included getting the vote out with some huskies from the Bronx.

Sports, movies, bootlegging, strong arm work, wonder which one did him in?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A A Meeting

On this date in 1931 gangster brothers Al and Abe Wagner along with their Brother in-law Harry Brown attended a supposed peace conference with rival gangsters at the Hatfield House Hotel in Manhattan. After a few hours of drinking and talking Abe left the room to make a phone call. While he was in the next room Al and Harry got into an argument with their rivals and bullets began to fly. Three of them slammed into Al's chest as another plowed into his head. Five found their mark in brother in-law Harry who managed to walk out of the Hotel and make his way to nearby Bellevue Hospital. Abe escaped unharmed.

For the full story on the Wagners check Gangster City

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Don't eat the red snow

Eighty-five years ago this morning an employee of a Brooklyn lumber yard showed up for work and found a trail of blood in the yard. 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.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A well armed coward killed Mr. Howard

T'was in Kansas City on this date back in 1931, yes it was when one Jimmy Howard, said to be a gangster, was sitting all by his lonesome in a taxi office. As Howard sat there thinking Howard thoughts a sedan pulled up front and stopped. Out stepped a feller with a Chicago make that KC typewiter, you know a chopper, a Tommy gun, a Thompson machine gun is what I'm getting at, strapped to his shoulder.

Guess what happened next?

If you said, the feller with the chopper politely asked for a cab. You are correct...provided that by "asked for a cab" you mean he fired fourteen shots through the window killing Mr. Howard and then jumped back into the car and sped away.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pharaoh's curse

On this date in 1929 twenty-six year old James Rocco was hanging out with four other guys at a joint in Queens known as the Pharaoh Social Club. While the five men were discussing whatever it was that men inside the Pharaoh Social Club discussed, three other fellows entered and asked if any of them knew the address of a guy named James Marino. None of the men had heard of Marino so the trio left. The question about Marino was just a ruse however because the men were just checking to see if Rocco was on the premises. Once they knew their target was inside each man drew a gun and the trio re-entered the club with guns-a-blazing in Herr Rocco's direction. Rocco dropped dead with three bullets in him as the gunmen ran out to a waiting car and sped off.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seven can be an unlucky number

On this date back in 1929 Chicago gangster Pete Locasto climbed into a sedan with his pals Sam De Salvo and Mike Medeira. Sam was driving and when the car came to the intersection of Harlem Avenue and Twenty-Second Street, Mike's right arm "dropped down in a friendly gesture". Suddenly, in an unfriendly gesture, Mike began to pump bullet after bullet (seven to be exact) into his pal. Pete caught lead in the face, neck and body.

Sam drove to a less populated area and pulled over. There he and Mike grabbed Pete and tossed him into ditch that ran along the road and went about their way. A short time later a passing car saw Pete and stopped. The drive investigated and found the gangster still breathing. He loaded Pete into his car and took him to the hospital where the wounded gangster had no qualms with filling in the whos, wheres and whys of the shooting in between bouts of unconsciousness.  Pete managed to linger on for about eleven days before finally cashing in on February 22.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Black Hand claims one of their own

One hundred and eight years ago today in New York City thirty-five year old Felipo Randazzo locked the door to his butcher shop, located at 177 Christie Street, and turned to begin his walk home. the time was 11:20p.m. (long hours back then) After a couple of steps a large caliber bullet fired from a powerful rifle plowed through his heart, went out his back, passed through the shop door and hit a column inside before coming to a rest on the floor.

At first it was thought that he was an innocent victim of the Black Hand until a search of his shop turned up a dynamite cartridge of the type used in some recent Black Hand explosions.

The NYPD's famous Mafia fighting cop Lt. Petrosino put his entire sixteen man Italian Squad on the case and soon they learned that Randazzo was indeed a member of the Black Hand. He had come over from Palermo three years previously and worked as a plasterer before hooking up with a nefarious band of extortionist. With his profits he was able to open his butcher shop three months before being shot down.

During the investigation the Italian Squad learned through one of Randazzo's friends that the dead man had had a falling out with some of the members of his gang and he [Randazzo] intended to supply the police with information that would have resulted in their arrests but his confederates to take care of him first.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sunday nights are alright for fighting

Ninety-four years ago tonight, a Sunday, a large group of guys and dolls were lining the stairwell of a lower eastside building waiting to get into the night club that occupied the third floor. As the band was preparing to play a couple of shots rang out and the throng of people ran out into the streets. One man, Michael Dimesci, ran across the street and dropped dead with a bullet in his heart.
Frankie Uale
The police sent officers to all the hospitals in the area to see if anyone else showed up. Within the hour Brooklyn mobster Frankie Uale stumbled into one with a bullet wound to the lung. Uale said he just happened to be walking by the club when the shooting took place and had no idea what it was about. Police later asserted that they believed the Brooklyn Mafioso was the intended target and that Dimesci may have been an innocent bystander.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pulpy Goodness

Why sail with El Perdido? Because when you cruise on the El Perdido you'll enjoy fine dining, top notch entertainment and on deck games such as ax-preserver.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The importance of house inspections

Back in December 1930, Federal agents raided a large still that was managed by "Jew" John Marcus, described as one of Southern Ohio's "toughest all around racketeers in criminals life."Marcus had ties to the Cincinnati underworld as well as Detroit. However once his still was raided his business associates weren't to happy with him. In fact, it appears that they were quite displeased and Marcus disappeared.

Ever since the raid authorities were searching for Marcus assuming that he went into hiding. That all changed on this date back in 1931 when a couple went to inspect a house that the were considering buying. The house had been vacant since the previous August when it was raided and another still destroyed. After their first visit the prospective buyers learned about the raid and that there were a few hidden rooms in the basement that they had missed on their first visit, so went back to investigate.

They found the hidden rooms and propped up against a wall in a sitting positions was Marcus, or what was left of him anyways. See, he'd been there for awhile. His arms were tied behind him with picture wire, and his legs were trussed up with wire that was then wrapped around his neck. He also had a gag in his mouth. There was one bullet hole in his skull above what used to be his right eye. Since he'd been there for a number of weeks and "mice had been at him", positive identification was made from a label in his suit and some letters that were still in his coat. A stain leading to a nearby drain indicated that he had been killed there.

Monday, February 2, 2015


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

Noto was released on $25,000 bail and made a deal with the authorities to testify against the rest of the gang. The gang made sure that Noto didn’t live to see the trial date. Eighty-five years ago today twenty-nine year old Noto left the house that he shared with his wife and four children and, with his hands in his pockets, began walking across a vacant lot. While he was still in the lot a Packard sedan containing three men pulled up. The doors flew open and two shotguns went off. Noto pitched forward dead.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Tide Turns

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

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

More on the Schultz-Coll war can be found in Gangster City: The History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935