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

Advertisements

this day in crime history: december 9, 1935

walter-liggett

On this date in 1935, newspaperman Walter Liggett was murdered in an alley behind his home in Minneapolis. Liggett, editor and founder of a weekly newspaper called The Midwest American, published stories that exposed the links between government officials and organized crime. Liggett persisted, even after multiple warnings that included an assault and a trumped-up prosecution for a rape that never happened. On December 9th, Liggett’s enemies took action to silence him once and for all: they shot and killed him as he returned home from a shopping trip that evening. Liggett’s wife and 10 year old daughter witnessed the shooting. Mob boss Isadore “Kid Cann” Blumenfeld and one of his associates were identified as the shooters, but a (possibly intentionally) sloppy prosecution prevented their conviction.

Further reading:

“Hunt Gang in Slaying of Crusading Editor”Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 10, 1935

Stopping The Presses: The Murder Of Walter W. Liggett, by Marda Liggett Woodbury

Wikipedia – Walter Liggett

Wikipedia – Kid Cann

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 23, 1935

On this date in 1935, Arthur “Dutch Schultz” Flegenheimer and three members of his crew were shot in the Palace Chophouse Restaurant in Newark, NJ. Word on the street was the hit on the Dutchman was ordered after he asked NYC mob chieftains for permission to kill prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey (he’s the guy who did NOT defeat Harry S. Truman in the 1948 Presidential election). But let’s face it, the Dutchman had a bunch of enemies, and they each had their own reasons for wanting him dead.

Schultz and his henchmen were taken to a hospital, where they all later died of their wounds. Schultz was reportedly worth about $7 million when he died, but no money was ever found. Rumor had it that Dutch and his bodyguard buried a waterproof safe somewhere in upstate NY.  I haven’t found it yet, but I’m still looking.

Further reading:

FBI History – Arthur Flegenheimer

GANGSTER CITY PROFILES – Dutch Schultz

J-Grit – Dutch Schultz – Jewish Gangster

Wikipedia – Dutch Schultz