this day in crime history: december 16, 1985

BigPaulC

On this date in 1985, Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano and his underboss/bodyguard Thomas Bilotti, were shot dead outside Sparks Steak House in Manhattan. The hit was reportedly carried out at the order of John Gotti, a captain in the Gambino family. Following Castellano’s death, Gotti would take over as the family’s teflon-covered boss. The teflon wore off in 1992, when Gotti was convicted of thirteen counts of murder, including those of Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Paul Castellano

Gangsters, Inc. – John Gotti

Sparks Steak House

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this day in crime history: november 17, 1989

On this date in 1989, drug dealer and mobster Costabile “Gus” Farace, Jr. was shot and killed in his car in Brooklyn, NY. Joseph Scalfani, an associate of Farace, was also shot, but survived the attack. Farace, a low-level associate of the Bonanno crime family, was being sought by federal agents in connection with the shooting death of DEA Agent Everett Hatcher, who was killed in Staten Island the previous February. Farace’s murder would remain unsolved until 1999, when two former Bonanno associates, James Galione and Mario Gallo, pleaded guilty to the crime. Bonanno family members reportedly ordered the hit because they feared Farace would turn informant if the feds arrested him for Agent Hatcher’s murder.

Further reading:

Office Down Memorial Page – Special Agent Everett Emerson Hatcher

New York magazine – “Death of a Hood”

New York Times“In Plea Bargain, Two Admit guilt in Mob Figure’s ’89 Killing”

Wikipedia – Costabile Farace

this day in crime history: november 14, 1957

On this date in 1957, New York State Police in Apalachin, NY interrupted a meeting of about 100 mafia luminaries from the US, Canada, and Italy. The meeting was held at the home of Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara, boss of the Scranton-Wilkes Barre, PA mob family. Over 60 of the attendees were detained by police, with an estimated 40 more fleeing into the woods.

Further reading:

Apalachin, NY

Gangsters, Inc. – Mob Meeting at Apalachin: The Big Barbeque

Wikipedia – Apalachin Meeting

this day in crime history: november 12, 1941

On this date in 1941, Murder Inc. associate-turned stool pigeon Abe “Kid Twist” Reles went on a flight. Out the window of room 623 of the Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island. It was a one-way trip. And no frequent flier miles for old Abe Reles, who had flipped on his former Murder, Inc. associates, was under police protection at the time. Did he jump, or was he pushed? Did the cops look the other way, or did they take a more “active” role? Did Reles’s fellow snitches occupying the “Squealers Suite” at the Half Moon have a hand in it? Thanks to a thoroughly shoddy investigation by the police and the Brooklyn D.A., we’ll probably never know for sure. But one thing we do know is that “Kid Twist” traded in his nickname for a new one: “The canary who sang, but couldn’t fly.”

Further Reading:

Wikipedia – Abe Reles

J-Grit – Abe “Kid Twist” Reles

The Canary Sang but Couldn’t Fly, by Edmund Elmaleh

this day in crime history: november 10, 1924

On this date in 1924, Chicago North Side gang boss Dean O’Banion was shot and killed in the back of the Schofield flower shop (pictured above), which served as his headquarters. Apparently the Chicago Outfit, which ran the South Side, decided it didn’t like the competition. They sent some of the boys to visit O’Banion in his shop. They gunned him down as he was working on a floral arrangement for mob luminary Mike Merlo’s funeral. The hit touched off a gang war between the two factions that would last five years, and would come to an end in the wake of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

My Al Capone Museum – Dean Charles O’Banion

Wikipedia – Dean O’Banion

Graveyards of Chicago – Dion “Deany” O’Banion

this day in crime history: november 4, 1928


On this date in 1928, notorious gambler Aronold Rothstein lost his biggest bet. When Rothstein, thought to be the brains behind the 1919 World Series fix, showed up at room 349 at the Park Central hotel in Manhattan, he was greeted with a bullet to the abdomen. The shooting was allegedly motivated by an unpaid gambling debt. As the story goes, Rothstein–the ultimate gambling fixer himself–thought that the poker game where he lost three hundred large was rigged. As a result, he balked at paying. Another theory has it that the Rothstein hit was perpetrated by rivals looking to take over his rackets. Either way, Rothstein died a couple days later. He refused to name the shooter, and no one was ever convicted of his murder. The case remains officially unsolved.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Arnold Rothstein

DavidPietrusza.com – Rothstein

Gangster City, by Patrick Downey

this day in crime history: october 25, 1957

madhatter

On this day in 1957, mob chieftain Albert Anastasia was gunned down while getting a haircut in New York City. Anastasia, born Umberto Anastasio in Calabria, Italy, was head of what would come to be known as the Gambino crime family. His resume also included being “Lord High Executioner” of the mob hit squad that had been dubbed Murder, Inc.

On the morning of October 25th, Anastasia arrived at the Park Sheraton hotel to get a haircut. After he sat down in the barber chair, his bodyguard conveniently went for a stroll. Minutes later, two gunmen walked into the barber shop and shot Anastasia several times. The killers walked out the door and disappeared into mid-morning traffic.

The killers were never caught, and several of Anastasia’s former allies–including his underboss, Carlo Gambino–were thought to be behind the hit. The Park Sheraton, back when it was known as the Park Central, was also the place where gambler Arnold Rothstein (architect of the 1919 Black Sox scandal) was murdered in 1928.

Further reading:

American Mafia History – Albert Anastasia

FBI – Albert Anastasia

Utica Observer-Dispatch (October 25, 1957) – Killers Cut Down Albert Anastasia In Barber’s Chair