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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Curly gets straightened out

Though identified as coal miners, Frank  "Curly" Hines, 28, was under bond in some central Illinois cities for auto theft, he was also a suspected bootlegger as well as hijacker. His brother in-law, 27-year old Smith Tucker had no police record.

On this date in 1929, Hines and Tucker were driving near Wilsonville, Illinois, Hines at the wheel when a large blue sedan came up from behind. On version has it that someone from the sedan called to Hines, who pulled over. Two guys got out of the car and, as Hines approached then, a machine gun opened fire. With numerous wounds, including four to the head. Hines fell to the ground. The gun man then turned his weapon towards the car and let forth another burst which took car of Tucker. The other version is that the killers opened fire as the sedan passed the duo and Hines dropped over the wheel dead, while Tucker took a blast trying to get out of the car. Either way, the boys were done.

It's possible that Hines may have hijacked some good hooch from the wrong St. Louis's gang and paid the price.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Pittsburgh not interested in Brotherly Love

With over 30 arrests, Joe "Woggles" Jacobs was a Philadelphia hoodlum and former chauffeur for Boo Boo Hoff, who left the City of Brotherly Love and headed to Pittsburgh in search of new opportunities. On March 2, there was a raid on some dive and Jacobs was arrested with two other guys. Police found some guns, wire tapping devices and telephone receivers. Their racket seems to have been attempting to tap the lines of bookies.

Jacobs was ordered to leave town, but he didn't. He should have. Apparently the local underworld wasn't happy with having an outsider in their midst tapping their phones. On this night in 1932, a motorcycle cop riding along a deserted road in the Pittsburgh area town of Penn Township, looking for "Spooners" heard five gun shots. Stopping his bike, the cop saw a man jump from a car and enter a coupe and drive away. Inspecting the other auto, the officer found Jacobs slumped over with bullet wounds in his jaw and neck. Oh, and he was dead.

woggles -
Joseph "Woggles" Jacobs

Friday, March 29, 2019

Baby Daddy

Ninety-one  years ago today a sedan pulled over on a lonely road in the Chicago suburb of Homewood and a body was pulled from the car. In addition to five bullets in the back of the head, the man had been severely beaten; his nose, jaw and right arm had all been fractured. Before leaving, the killers doused the body in alcohol and set a match to it.

There wasn't any identification on the dead man but there was picture of a baby. With photo in hand, a cop went through Chicago's Italian west side trying to find anyone who might recognized the baby.  A woman did and directed the cop to Maria Adragna. Maria accompanied the cop to the morgue and identified the dead man as her husband Charles Adragna. She told police that her husband had been a bootlegger. According to the Maria, Charles had been friends with Diamond Joe Esposito, who had been bumped off himself a short time before, as well as Samoots Amatuna, another gangster who went to his final reward. Mrs. Adragna also said that she had her husband arrested a week earlier on March 24, because he beat her and threatened to kill her. Police didn't rule out that friends of Maria may have killed her husband.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Go Fish

Frank Wright, a gunman from out west was in his room at the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit when he received a phone call. - On the previous Saturday, March 26, 1927, Meyer "Fish" Blumfield, who worked at a gambling resort run by a guy named Charles "Doc" Brady had been kidnapped. It appears that Doc had hired Wright to handle the situation- The caller stated that Fish could be found in apartment #3 at 106 Alexandrine Street. Doc Brady, not wanting to pay a ransom, gave Wright the information.

Wright, together with two other out-of-town gunmen, William Harrison, aka George Cohen and Isaac Reisfeld aka Joe Bloom. headed to the apartment. The trio entered the building. Apparently the kidnappers were on guard for just just such a trick because as the men were in the hallway approaching apartment 3, a machine gun erupted and the men, riddled with bullets, fell to the floor. Harrison and Reisfeld were killed outright while Wright lingered for a day or so before succumbing to his wounds.

After that, Doc Brady saw things differently. The ransom was paid and Blumfield was released within a few days.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Boss Buys it

Eighty-nine years ago today one of New York's Mafia bosses was bumped off in Brooklyn. Giuseppe Piraino, known as the "Clutching Hand" because of some gnarled fingers on his right hand, was said to have inherited the Bay Ridge liquor traffic after the demise of Frankie Yale. Supposedly he had just exited a gangland summit where he agreed to stop operating in other Mafiosis territory but refused to split the profits he made from venturing into their locale.  It is also possible that he was a victim of the Castellammarese War, that was then in progress.

Whatever the reason, Piraino was crossing the street when the shots rang out. Three slugs entered the area of his heart and two more went into his chest. According to a witness, after Piraino was struck, the mob boss swayed, then turned back to where the shots came from and fell face up into the gutter dead.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Two in the Trunk

On this date back in 1930 A coupe was found sitting in a field in the town of  Brecksville, about fifteen or so miles outside of Cleveland. Crammed the in trunk, or turtle back, as they were then called, were the bodies of Anthony Borsellino, 40,  and his 39 year-old cousin Joe*. Both men were described as Cleveland gangsters and both had been garroted with a cord and there wrists tied to their feet.

The last anyone had heard of them they said they were on their way to Akron to meet some people. Obviously they never made it. Cops thought that perhaps Akron gangsters took them out. It was also speculated that Cleveland gangsters may have taken them out. There was strife in the Cleveland underworld at the time and one paper stated that Anthony had replaced the recently dispatched Big Joe Lonardo as Mafia boss. Seeing that both men were executed in the same fashion as Sam Monastero, Pittsburgh authorities felt that perhaps there was an inter-state rum war going on and the Borsellinos fell victim to the same killers as Monestero. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sunday, March 24, 2019

X Marks the spot for an Ex-Cop and Pal

Three hundred miles or so southwest of Chicago is the town of Collinsville, Illinois. There, lived a 42 year old ex-policeman and ex-deputy sheriff named Joseph Colone. After turning in his badge he became involved in a racing book. Charles Bowers, 40, was a friend and associate who owned a bar. Bowers was having some trouble with law, and had plead not guilty to a liquor charge on March 23, 1932. They left the court at Springfield and headed back to Collinsville in Colone's Studebaker.

Back home, they stopped at a tavern for a while before continuing with their night. At approximately 1:45AM on the 24th, Colone's car was forced to the side of the road by another car and a man with Thompson machine gun let her rip. Colone took the brunt of the blast with thirty-five bullets riddling his body. Bowers managed to get out of the car and run twenty feet before collapsing with eight bullets in him. Ir was said that, at the morgue, numerous bullets fell out of Colone's clothes as they were stripping him down. Why were they killed? To paraphrase Chicago gangster Ted Newberry, "They must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." We have a sneaking suspicion that the answers lied with some St. Louis gangsters.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Dammit Jim, I'm a gangster not a...

A cop knew him as "Bones." and according to the police he was a minor member of Joe Saltis' gang. Other than that there was no identification of the body found on this date in 1930 at 94th Street and Roberts Road. About a mile or so away from where Dingbat Oberta and Sam Malaga were found a few weeks before hand. It was theorized that his killing was a result of Dingbat Oberta's demise, but one never knows.

Friday, March 22, 2019

A 1932 Two-fer

On this date in 1932, Cleveland police approached a car assuming that the man slumped in the front seat was drunk. By 1932 they should have known better. The drunk turned out to be Frank Capillo who was an underworld power in the policy racket. Authorities also thought that he may have been involved in the corn sugar racket. According to his wife he left home the previous evening at 6.

Meanwhile, a little farther west in Chicago the body of Otto Fernick, Dutch Bill, to his cronies, was found in the back seat of a sedan with a number of bullets in his head.

Known as a conman, pickpocket who grew into a gangster, Dutch Bill previously chauffeured for Timothy Lynch, head of the Central Teamsters and Chauffeurs union, who was bumped off the previous spring. Police guessed that Fernick was bumped off for running beer through territory controlled by another gang while detectives felt that he got the works because of his association with the union.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Southside Johnny

Johnny Genero was called a minor Southside racketeer. Southside of Chicago that is. For a minor racketeer he was involved in some major trouble. In addition to whatever nefarious activities he took part in, he was brought in for questioning regarding the murder of Brooklyn mob boss Frankie Yale as well as being indicted (but exonerated) for election day terrorism.

Genero also kept bad company. He was involved somehow with James Belcastro, aka "King of the Bombers." This relationship went south however because Belcastro set up a meeting with Genero  on January 29, 1930. The reason? Belcastro wanted Johnny to meet a few guys. They met at a restaurant and a few minutes after Belcastro left, Genero walked out to his car and met the two men. Instead of handshakes, the two men greeted Johnny with bullets. Five of them. Genero went to the hospital and the family gathered. He was given the Last Rites. We know Belcastro set up Johnny because Johnny sang to the police. Assuming that he was dying he told the law that Belcastro "Put him on the spot" and that the shooters were, Louis De Lucca and Angelo Lucia. To everyone's surprise Genero pulled through. Apparently Johnny got amnesia during his recovery, because nothing came of his statement.

About a year later on January 11, 1931, Belcastro was shot numerous times by two guys as he entered his car outside his brother in-laws house. Was Genero behind the shooting? Who knows, unlike Johnny, Belcastro didn't talk. However, a few months later, eighty-eight years ago tonight to be exact, Genero was driving his car, a companion in the seat next him, when a roadster containing four men, two in the front, two in the rumble seat pulled up. After a short chase the roadster caught up to Genero's car and the men opened fire. This time the Last Rites were for the last time.

Johnny Genero

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

42 Skidoo

Eighty-seven years ago this morning, the body of Frank Battaglia, a member of Chicago's infamous 42 gang, was found face down in a frozen puddle with four bullets in his head, give or take. He had been taken to a spot that one paper referred to as "Gangland's Graveyard." a desolate stretch of road in Worth Township at 87th Street and Harlem Avenue, where a number of other Chicago gangsters supposedly met their demise. (We'll try to find a few.)

What exactly Frank did to deserve his one-way ride is unknown. Being in the 42 gang there was no depredation off limits. He did four months in 1926 on a burglary charge and in 1930 he got a year for carrying a gun. Police said that at the time of his death he was hijacking merchandise trucks and taking both the merchandise and the trucks. They felt he could have been bumped off by other members of the 42 gang, or perhaps it was a booze deal gone wrong, or perhaps he ripped off the wrong guys, or perhaps... There were no shortage of possibilities. Though Frank's gangland career was abruptly cut short, his younger brother Sam went on to have a long prosperous career in the Capone organization.

Frank Battaglia

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

California dreaming

In 1926, twenty-seven year old Dominic Di Ciolla headed from Chicago to L.A. more than two thousand miles all the way. Whether or not he got his kicks on Route 66 or not is unknown but the former Windy City bad man was attempting to get his piece of Los Angeles bootlegging pie. An ambition that cost him his life; his body was found on this date back in 1931.

Di Ciolla, according to law enforcement, sought to be the criminal king of Los Angeles's Italian colony. He was arrested numerous times on "liquor charges" and twice on suspicion of murder. Reconstructing his death, police believe that he was lured to a remote road about five miles outside of Van Nuys. He put his car in park, got out and crossed the street to a waiting car. As he approached the other car he took off one of his gloves, probably to shake someone's hand. Instead of a friendly handshake however he was greeted with a blast from a shotgun that took off a chunk of his head.

Di Ciolla's killers drove off and left him in the road where he was found in the morning. The head lights of his car still burning.

Dominic Di Ciolla

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sam's (Swan) Song

Sam Monastero took precautions. He wasn't naive. His brother was a Pittsburgh Mafia boss who was gunned down. He knew the life, so he took measures to protect himself. His coupe was bullet proof and the glass shatterproof. There was a shot gun strapped to the inside door in case some enemies pulled up along side him. But none of these safeguards are effective when your killers don't come at you on the road, so Sam met a gangsters fate on this date back in 1930.

A witness stated that Sam's car sped his own and a short time later the driver saw two kids flagging him down, and the coupe in a ditch. The rear compartment was on the fire and the driver doused the flames and went to check on Sam who he considered to be an unconscious drunk. Turns out that Sam had been garroted, either in his car, or elsewhere, and his body transferred to the car. Either way before he could be delivered to his final resting spot the driver of coupe crashed and got away unseen.

Sam Monastero

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Rocky Mountain Die (Colorado)

On this St. Patrick's Day back in 1932, four of Denver, Colorado's providers of intoxicating spirits were driving about town. At the wheel was Vincent Mortellaro, unknown to police, but assumed to be a bootlegger. In the back were Joe Barry and Roxy Stone, both known gangsters. Riding shotgun was Mortellaro's brother in-law, Frank Mortelli. Speaking of shotguns, as the quartet motored along, a black sedan pulled up along side them and a shotgun barked. The blast instantly killed Mortellaro and, as his car careened into the curb, the black auto pulled up along side and opened fire again. Barry and Stone were slightly wounded as they jumped out and ran. Mortelli was injured by the volley that killed his brother in-law, but not seriously.

Stone was still recovering from a wound he received a week previous and Barry lost two other associates, Sam and Pete Carlino, to gangster bullets a year or so earlier.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

From the depths

On this date back in 1930, the body of  Windy City gangster John Rito broke free from the constraints holding it under and surfaced to the top of the Chicago River. Known as the "Billiken", Rito was a subordinate in the outfit run by Northside gang boss Ted Newberry.

On the the previous November 30, 1929, Newberry was slightly wounded in a drive-by. A little
 over a month later, according to the Chicago Tribune, Newberry learned of a machinegun nest that was planted in an apartment across the street from his headquarters. Once this was found out, Newberry high tailed it to Canada and his second in command, Al Shimberg, fled to Michigan. Left to run things were a guy named Benny Bennett and Rito.

Around the first of February Bennett disappeared. About a month later, Rito likewise disappeared until this date back in 1930.

John The Billiken Rito