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THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN CRIME
AND LAW ENFORCEMENT
October 2015 Issue
Print edition: 1943-7803
Publisher / Editor
64 N. Main Street
Whiting, VT 05778
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welcome. Writers grant permission
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Copyright © 2015, Thomas Hunt
Smothered by law enforcement surveillance and infiltration
in their home territory and wary of reprisals by deposed boss
Stefano Magaddino, a rebel group of Buffalo, New York,
Mafiosi in 1969 explored racket opportunities in what they
thought were greener pastures in Florida. The move quickly
caught the attention of the FBI. Rather than provide security
for the breakaway organized crime faction, the lost time and
resources in Florida led to the collapse of the Pieri-DiCarlo
regime in the Buffalo underworld. In this issue, Thomas Hunt
and Michael A. Tona tell the story of Buffalo’s attempts to
establish a rackets colony in Florida (Page 4).
Plenty has been written over the years about Lucky
Luciano. Some accounts have been factual, some fictional, at
least one fictional pretending to be factual. In C. Joseph
Greaves’ latest novel, we find a fictional account built on a
foundation of historical research. Greaves tells readers about
his book, his approach and the cache of previously
overlooked documents that provided him a fresh window into
the subject (Page 16).
What is the oldest U.S. federal law enforcement agency?
The little known postal inspection service, formed under
Benjamin Franklin in the Colonial Era, has a claim to that
designation. Author and retired postal inspector H.K. Petschel
provides a brief history of “the Silent Service” (Page 32).
Also in this issue:
The U.S. Postal Service delivery of the Hope Diamond
Patrick Downey runs through the underworld’s greatest
“hits” of the month of October (Page 38).
Richard N. Warner reviews two recently released books,
Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and The Two Mafias (Page 40).
Rebel Buffalo Mobsters Eyed Rackets Colony in Florida
by Thomas Hunt and Michael A. Tona.
............................................................................................ 4 — 15
A Glimpse Behind the Curtain of People v. Luciano
by C. Joseph Greaves.
............................................................................................ 16 — 31
Little Known Law Enforcement Agency Works Within USPS
by H. K. Petschel.
............................................................................................ 32 — 36
Dead Guys in Suits: October’s Biggest ‘Hits’
by Patrick Downey
............................................................................................ 38 — 39
The Warner Files: New Books: ‘Bugsy Siegel’ and ‘The Two Mafias’
by Richard N. Warner
............................................................................................ 40 — 47
Following the disintegration of the Magaddino Crime Family,
Western New York’s Pieri-DiCarlo faction needed cash
Rebel Buffalo mobsters eyed
rackets colony in Florida
By Thomas Hunt
and Michael A. Tona
Editor’s note: The following article was drawn from material presented in DiCarlo: Buffalo’s First Family
of Crime, Vol. II, by Thomas Hunt and Michael A. Tona (www.buffalomob.com).
After breaking away from the Magaddino Crime Family in 1969, mobsters from Buffalo, New York, explored racketeering options in Volusia County, Florida, and entered into
negotiations with the Tampa-based Santo Trafficante organization and other Mafia groups
before law enforcement pressure triggered their retreat.
The failed effort to establish an organized crime colony in Florida left the once powerful
Buffalo Mafia struggling for revenue and relevance in the post-Valachi Era. A decade and a
half of decline followed. By 1984, the organization effectively ceased to exist.
Brothers-in-law Salvatore "Sam" Pieri and Joseph "J.D." DiCarlo led the late 1960s Buffalo Mafia mutiny. DiCarlo, son of western New York’s first known Mafia boss, was briefly
considered as heir to the regional underworld throne when his father died in 1922. Other
leaders in the criminal society decided DiCarlo, just twenty-two years
old, was not mature enough for the role of boss and awarded it to
Stefano Magaddino. DiCarlo and his Buffalo followers reluctantly accepted a subservient role to Niagara Falls-based Magaddino for decades before venturing out to seek their fortunes elsewhere. In the late
1960s, Magaddino’s health and underworld clout were in decline, and
the DiCarlo gang returned to Buffalo to incite the anti-Magaddino rebellion.
It is tempting to view the insurrection as a personal DiCarlo effort
to correct a perceived 1922 injustice, but DiCarlo actually refused the
top spot in the rebel group’s administration and served as adviser or
consigliere to Sam Pieri, ten years his junior.
Early in 1969, while still part of Magaddino’s western New York
organization, Pieri and DiCarlo were visiting and hosting important
com . But Joe Fino the opposition already was far too strong. had become inactive due to age and illness.brother Antonino and son Peter .6 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 Mafia leaders from around the country. Frank Roy Carlisi Valenti and Salvatore Bonito.. and Stefano Magaddino’s kin . When that failed.remained unquestionably loyal. Of his active lieutenants. Roy Carlisi. including Joseph Fino. only Benjamin Nicoletti. the Buffalo underworld leaders were spotted with Lucchese Crime Family lieutenant John “Johnny Dio” Dioguardi and Colombo Crime Family lieutenant John “Sonny” Franzese.blogspot. Sr. They were unaware that the FBI was watching. The old boss first attempted to force the rebellious Buffalo group back in line. The plan quickly came to the attention of Magaddino himself. Sr. a trusted Magaddino aide. During a January trip to New York City. Joseph Pieri. The rebel faction had the support of most of Magaddino’s top men in western New York. Sam Frangiamore.. The Bureau learned that Pieri and DiCarlo were seeking support for their planned overthrow of Magaddino. Strengthening Pieri’s hand were his solid long-term relationships with many of the bosses on the American Mafia’s conflictmediating Commission. a panel comprised informer-journal. Daniel Sansanese. Sam Rangatore. he attempted negotiation and manipulation. John Cammilleri.
He was less certain of Philadelphia boss Angelo Bruno and northeastern Pennsylvania boss Russell Bufalino. When Magaddino refused. But more important was informer-journal. was once labeled western New York’s “Public Enemy No. brother-in-law of Sam Pieri. DiCarlo met with Cleveland Mafia member Leo Moceri. Arizona. The rebels were unwilling to wait. 1969. that boss should replace Magaddino on the Commission. the rebel group brought charges against him to the Commission and asked it to resolve the matter. The needs of the new Mafia splinter group were substantial.” On July 9. Fino as acting underboss and DiCarlo as acting consigliere. as well as bosses in Chicago. Law enforcement surveillance made it too dangerous for the Commission to assemble for a meeting.” of the country’s leading capos. If a new boss was chosen. Cleveland and Tucson.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 7 Joseph DiCarlo. DiCarlo informed Moceri of recent developments: A demand had been delivered for Magaddino’s resignation as boss. In June. Recognition from the Commission would help ensure the Buffalo organization’s survival and would put it on an equal footing with other crime families “Trigger Mike” Coppola around the country.com . the group met and formally elected Pieri as acting boss. the group reasoned. Magaddino’s seat on the Commission was problematic. As appointed ambassador of Buffalo’s rebel group. Moceri learned that “the Buffalo Family has no intentions of bowing down to the … Commission as they feel they have the right to elect the boss they want. The rebel group felt the seat rightly belonged in a general sense to the Buffalo Mafia boss rather than to Magaddino personally. 1. Pieri felt he had the backing of New York City bosses. so the panel sent representatives to gather data and report to individual Commission members.blogspot. Sitting Commission members were not eager to approve of a plan to oust one of their own and attempted to slow the Buffalo rebellion by delaying decision on the dispute.
Milton Berle and Jimmy Durante. Entertainment was provided by Billy Daniels. DiCarlo also joined in private underworld gambling events at Miami Beach’s Wofford Hotel. The wedding of DiCarlo’s daughter on Valentine’s Day of 1955 was an extravagant affair. state and federal law enforcement agencies in Youngstown caused DiCarlo to relocate to Miami Beach full time. Sammy Davis Jr. “Trigger Mike” Coppola. Following the DiCarlo Gang’s exodus from Buffalo in 1946. Angersola and Frank Erickson. A Ciro’s spokesman estimated that the event cost $35. It was an opportune moment. in the 1940s. along with a six-foot-tall wedding cake and a flamboyant cherries jubilee dessert. the jailing of Joe Adonis and the distraction provided by the opening of hotel-casinos in Havana. a ten-year lease arrangement with owner Olive Wofford and related management contracts allowed hotel operation to fall under the direct control of Mafia investors. John “King” Angersola.” (In fact. an exclusive Miami Beach nightclub.) By 1953. he organized seasonal gambling rackets with some of the top figures in the American Mafia. The rebel regime in Buffalo needed to provide racket opportunities to satisfy lieutenants that backing the insurrection was a profitable decision. The facility became a headquarters for overseeing syndicate horse race layoff betting as well as a center of underworld recreation. Cuba. Abner “Longie” Zwilllman. Joe “Adonis” Doto. the Crime Commission of Greater Miami branded the Wofford Hotel “a meeting place for well-known racketeers and gangsters from all over the country. DiCarlo established himself as a manager of gambling operations in Youngstown. Jimmy Durante Sammy Davis Jr. a figure that appeared in local newspapers and immediately drew the attention informer-journal. in addition to the club’s own musicians. Participants in those games included Anthony “Little Augie Pisano” Carfano. Great amounts of money would also be needed if Magaddino decided to put down the uprising through force. Abundant food and drink were provided.000. as the grip of New York Mafiosi on Miami-area gambling was weakened by the recent murder of Willie Moretti. Max Weinberg and Joe Massei. Charles Fischetti. Milton Berle Billy Daniels Acquainted with Florida Joseph DiCarlo had spent considerable time in Florida.com . Alfred “Big Al” Polizzi. including Carfano. With regular guests such as Meyer Lansky.8 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 income. With his brother Sam DiCarlo and longtime friend John “Peanuts” Tronolone. Phil Kastel and William “Lefty Clark” Bischoff. Willie Moretti. Frank Costello.blogspot.. Ohio and soon began vacationing in Greater Miami. growing pressure from local. Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo. Nine hundred guests attended a reception at Ciro’s. a popular winter resort. Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo.
McShane said DiCarlo had been known to asso- Jake LaMotta Joseph DiCarlo informer-journal. An investigation showed.com . U. DiCarlo reportedly had offered $100.9 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 Angelo Bruno Frank Costello Meyer Lansky Abner Zwillman of federal prosecutors. however. Senate staffer James P. McShane called the panel’s attention to DiCarlo’s various underworld connections in western New York and southern Florida. In 1960. Senate panel exploring corruption in the sport of professional boxing.S. The Bronx Bull testified that he refused the money and won a ten-round decision. that the reception bills had been directed to New York City racketeer “Trigger Mike” Coppola.S. attorneys hoped that the lavish wedding reception could be used as evidence that DiCarlo had been lying.000 to Jake “Bronx Bull” LaMotta if LaMotta would take a dive during a June 6. 1947. DiCarlo had avoided full payment of an old 1924 federal fine by claiming he was broke. bout against Tony Janiro.blogspot. DiCarlo’s name came up before a U.
com . ciate in Miami Beach with Little Augie Pisano of New York City and the Fischetti brothers of Chicago’s Outfit. His testimony was repeatedly postponed and he was eventually released from the subpoena. On September 5. Florida. Stolen property Sam Pieri’s rapid rise to power in the breakaway Buffalo Crime Family made him a special target for FBI surveillance. Romano and Jacobs were seen meeting with Victor Randaccio informer-journal.10 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 Beginning in the 1940s. Pieri. The next morning. and a subpoena was served on him at the end of August as he played cards at the Miami Beach Mid-Town Social Club. to Greater Buffalo International Airport. the Wofford Hotel at Miami Beach was under the control of New York-area mobsters. 1969. He was accompanied by Anthony Romano and Ralph William Jacobs. Jacobs was observed carrying a brown leather bag with two leather handles and a zipper closure. agents noted that Pieri was traveling aboard Eastern Airlines Flight 328 from Daytona Beach.blogspot. Senators sought DiCarlo’s testimony. including Anthony “Little Augie Pisano” Carfano.
FBI agents arrested Pieri. After postponing preliminary hearings. Though Pieri was momentarily free of the charges. Virginia. Sources told the FBI that Pieri was in danger of being replaced as leader of the rebel faction.com . still in their possession. Jacobs and Randaccio later in the day. valued at $191. He was arraigned in Alexandria. rings and necklaces. and released on bail. The move was reportedly designed to protect the identity of a secret informant.C. They faced the possibility of one or more traitors within the Buffalo Crime Family.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 11 and Paul LaFlamme in Buffalo. was found to contain about fifty items of jewelry. his supporters in the Buffalo Mafia organization were discouraged by recent events and his local support reportedly was weakened. Pieri and the three other prisoners were arraigned on charges of interstate transportation of stolen property and released on bail. federal prosecutors decided to drop their existing complaints and pursue grand jury indictments. Seeking greener pastures Pieri and DiCarlo were troubled by their vulnerabilities both inside and outside their underworld organization. Paul LaFlamme was arrested at the Washington D. as well as their lieutenants’ growing dissatisfaction over shares of racket in- The Dream Bar of the Johnina Hotel in Miami informer-journal. Romano.blogspot.630. The bag. The same brown leather bag was brought to that meeting. National Airport after a flight from Buffalo. including watches.
The most important Mafia organization in the region was the Santo Trafficante Crime Family.12 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 Sam Pieri come. they faced intense scrutiny from law enforcement throughout western New York. Pieri felt that the State of Florida was ripe for underworld “colonization. They also needed to prepare for any aggressive moves by the Magaddino group. Pieri and DiCarlo needed to meet with representatives of various underworld organizations already established in the state and ensure that Buffalo mobsters would not be stepping on any powerful toes. Trafficante’s group was based in Tampa. It had racket interests across the state and into the islands of the Caribbean and maintained strong business relationships with Mafia clans based in New York City. At the same time. the two men began looking into gambling and loan-sharking rackets in the area of Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach.” He and other Mafia leaders expected Florida’s eastern seaboard to quickly grow into a giant metropolitan complex that could rival the northeastern United States as a source of organized crime revenue. popular seasonal vacation spots. Florida. informer-journal. Pieri once remarked that the “heat” from police agencies was enough to “fry you standing up.” In December of 1969.blogspot. In order to set up rackets in Florida.com .
law enforcement agencies continued to monitor his movements.blogspot. the Tampa boss warned DiCarlo about law enforcement activity in the state and competition from rival criminal organizations. However. Pieri and DiCarlo drove down to Miami and registered at the Johnina Hotel at Collins Avenue and Seventy-First Street. They stayed at the Howard Johnson Motel that night and headed into Tampa on the thirteenth. He was met by Pieri and some other men. DiCarlo was observed by FBI agents upon his arrival at Tampa International Airport near noon on December 13. Jr. Indelicato was the brother of Bonanno capodecina Alphonse “Sonny Red” Indelicato. Though he was far from western New York. met with Joe Indelicato.com . Preparations Ten days after Pieri’s return. Pieri drove to Daytona Beach and remained there until January 7. Victor Randaccio. The presence of boss Santo Trafficante. Trafficante reportedly “gave his blessing” to any gambling operations Buffalo Mafiosi wanted to set up in central Florida. Trafficante explained that Cuban racketeers in the state had forced him out of the lucrative “bolita” gambling racket and he planned to stay away from gambling ventures for about six months. Gino Albini. popular with visiting mobsters from New York’s Genovese Crime Family. when he returned to western New York. was not noted. speaking with DiCarlo and Pieri. That hotel was known for its Dream Bar nightclub. Joseph DiCarlo In the evening. A Miami-based member of New York’s Bonanno Crime Family. the next morning at Wolfie’s Restaurant on Lincoln Road. one of whom. and FBI agents saw a number of Trafficante associates. Pieri and his companion. DiCarlo took a United Airlines flight from Miami back to Buffalo. An informant told the FBI that DiCarlo met with Santo Trafficante.. That afternoon.. During the meeting. federal agents arrested him. and agents subsequently learned that Trafficante was in Miami that day. loanshark Frank “Poochie” Chimento. The restaurant was known to be a favorite of Tampa Mafiosi. Jr. The group traveled to the Columbia Coffee Shop on Twenty-Second Street in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood. turned out to be an FBI informant. Pieri stayed overnight at the Miami Beach Holiday Inn and drove with Chimento to Daytona Beach the next day.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 13 Pieri flew to Miami on December 11. including the Mafia boss’s brother Salvatore. Anthony Ro- informer-journal.
At the end of the month. developing contacts for the bookmaking operations and high-stakes craps games he hoped to establish. While awaiting trial. Joseph Fino. Pieri arrived in Miami in the late afternoon of January 23 accompanied by Gino Albini. DiCarlo planned to join his brother-in-law soon in Daytona Beach. informer-journal. Prosecutors had managed to link the seized jewels to robberies in Saratoga. Pieri and Romano were taken into custody at Santasiero’s Restaurant. Genovese Crime Family representative Pasquale Michael Erra. and he placed an order with a local dealership for a new Lincoln sedan. The four defendants were charged with conspiracy and with receiving and concealing stolen goods. Pieri brought about fifteen thousand dollars with him. DiCarlo was having surgery in Buffalo. Jacobs was arrested at his home at Ormond Beach. and Pittsburgh. DiCarlo. On this trip. Louis Triscaro of Cleveland. suffering at the time with severe stomach pains. Pieri left Miami for a meeting in New York City and then spent two weeks home in Buffalo before heading back to Daytona Beach. As he recuperated. Pennsylvania. He and Albini visited numerous bars and restaurants in the area. Florida. Sam Pieri made another trip to Florida. Doctors removed a non-malignant growth from the area of his gall bladder.com . from the airport to Dean Martin’s Restaurant and Lounge for a meeting with about a dozen other underworld figures. The Buffalo boss expressed an interest in buying a bar in the area. Pieri’s car was tailed by deputies of the Dade County Sheriff’s Office. New York. He looked into the purchase of a home. Fred Gabourie of Toronto and Dominic Mantell of Miami. Pieri also began planning for his underboss. Following the meeting.blogspot. and he spent it freely.14 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 mano and Ralph Jacobs. The FBI concluded the mobsters were working to clearly define racket boundaries in Florida and to protect the interests of established South Florida racketeers. Randaccio was arrested at a hotel in New York City. While Pieri was engaged in his scouting work. Along the way. Pieri. A federal grand jury had returned a six-count indictment against the men relating to the jewels recovered the previous fall. The meeting was held in a private room to the side of the restaurant. did not travel with him. Among the attendees were close Trafficante associate Norman Rothman. which he intended to use as a front for gambling operations. Rothman and some other attendees drove to the Johnina Hotel’s Dream Bar for an evening’s entertainment. Pieri and Albini went directly Santo Trafficante Jr. to visit Daytona Beach around the end of February. Money was spread around the local businesses on high-priced meals and alcohol and extravagant tips.
died on August 24.” On October 9. Lacking its longtime leaders. The DiCarlo-Pieri faction struggled to maintain control of the breakaway Buffalo Crime Family. and he was taken immediately to prison to await an October sentencing hearing. Following that sentence. 1981. Pieri’s jury-tampering trial began in federal Judge John T. the old DiCarlo-Pieri faction of the Buffalo underworld soon collapsed. It lasted only a few days. who had been in and out of prisons during the 1970s. Joseph DiCarlo.com . an informant told the FBI that Pieri had been bribing a juror. a mistrial was declared in the stolen jewels case and Pieri was arraigned for obstruction of justice. Agents gathered evidence of the bribery charge. marshals. On June 23. Pieri faced a maximum possible sentence of twenty years in prison. After two hours of deliberation in the afternoon of September 25. at age seventy. On October 11. Informants told the FBI that Pieri’s conviction was a “major strike” at the Buffalo Crime Family and could “shatter current family cohesiveness. an informant told the FBI that the Buffalo Crime Family’s plans to expand gambling operations into central Florida had been aborted.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 15 Abrupt change in plans The approach of Pieri’s trial in spring 1970 halted his travels. the organization lost its most senior member and consigliere. The trial opened on May 26. 1980. His bail was revoked. and Pieri was remanded to the custody of U. One member was then dismissed from the jury and agreed to cooperate in a jury tampering case against Pieri. informer-journal. the Buffalo Crime Family boss was sentenced to two years in prison for bribery and five years for obstruction of justice. Bail was set at $100. Three weeks later.000. as eighty-year-old Joseph DiCarlo succumbed to heart disease.S. Curtin’s courtroom on September 22. with the sentences running concurrently. Joseph Fino and other members of Pieri’s Buffalo Crime Family worked frantically in late June to raise the $100.000 for Pieri’s bail and succeeded in having their boss released. a federal jury convicted Pieri of one count of bribery and one count of jury tampering. as the prosecution was completing its case. Sam Pieri. and a number of underworld figures met with violent ends.blogspot. The attention of western New York’s Mafiosi subsequently turned inward. 1970.
casually mentioned that. Charles “Lucky” Luciano. I’d swapped my briefcase for a typewriter and embarked on a writing career that soon included both an award-winning series of legal mysteries and. 1936. to begin writing. Elise “CeCe” Levy. Would Bloomsbury. Dewey. The year was 1999. chair of the litigation department in a mid-sized Los Angeles law firm. nonfiction accounts of the trial are as common as Starbucks. nonfiction accounts of the trial are as common as Starbucks. I also wanted to bring my personal expe- I chose fiction as my platform because. I was finally ready. Dewey and the trial itself.” Within the week I was on a plane for JFK and. nestled in the back of a bottom drawer.blogspot. I found a battered “redwell” file with the handwritten inscription People v.com . a tarp covered fifteen rusted file cabinets. to be scrupulously respected. Joseph Greaves Talk about an offer I couldn’t refuse. I asked if I might have a peek at those files. after a long and winding drive with a map propped on the steering wheel. all of his office files had been moved into storage in upstate New York. all the files. As for narrative structure. but the effort paid dividends when. let’s face it. Luciano’ By C. I wanted the underlying facts. Seven years later. in 2012. at the time of this discovery. “Nobody’s even looked at them for over twenty years. the daughter of a prominent New York criminal defense attorney named George Morton Levy. let’s face it.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 17 A glimpse behind the curtain of ‘People v. I decided to take the trial’s four central characters – Lucky. Although the book would be a novel. I chose fiction as my platform because. and the setting was a sundrenched patio in Southern California.” she told me. amid slumbering farm equipment and dusty spare furniture. found myself in a cavernous wooden barn where. and after spending untold hours comparing the contents of Levy’s file with the voluminous trial and appellate records and transcripts. however. verdict and its aftermath. “Feel free. my first foray into the historical/true crime genre with a Depression -era novel of kidnapping and murder called Hard Twisted. starting in early 2013. following her father’s death in 1977. and after reading most of what had been published about Luciano. I was. informer-journal. Knowing as I did that CeCe’s father had defended Charles “Lucky” Luciano in the colorful and controversial vice trial that had effectively ended Lucky’s criminal reign and catapulted special prosecutor Thomas Dewey into the New York governor’s mansion. which had published Hard Twisted both in North America and the United Kingdom. It took the better part of a day to sift through all the drawers. where known and verified. Levy and star witness Cokey Flo Brown – and tell their life stories in alternating chapters that begin in 1914 and culminate in the June. be interested in a book about the notorious Luciano vice trial? They were.
Luciano. None. in the case of People v. I believe. for example. were apparent to me from the trial record. as we’ll see in a moment. for instance.a. Against that introductory backdrop. I wanted. let’s pause for a moment and briefly recap the case. from a law-enforcement perspective. called an extraordinary term of the state Supreme Court and appointed a special prosecutor to combat organized crime and civic corruption in New York County. the young special prosecutor. Most of these books mention George Morton Levy. By the mid-1930s.k. the machinations and emotions that. to give my readers a ringside seat. made that possible. only in passing. was a personal friend and later a speechwriter for Dewey) or from source materials (like Dewey’s papers housed in the New York City Department of Records) that flatter the prosecution. Having the Levy file. Using the vast resources at his disposal (which included twenty assistant prosecutors. heavily influenced by the Dewey propaganda machine (Powell. Dewey.blogspot. to my knowledge. Charles “Lucky” Luciano was regarded as one of the most powerful and.18 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 rience in trying long and difficult cases to bear in capturing the preparations and strategies. elusive mob Attorney George Morton Levy leaders in America. all are written either from contemporaneous accounts of the trial that were.com . was written by an actual trial lawyer. Although at least two nonfiction books have been written about the trial – Hickman Powell’s Ninety Times Guilty (1939) and Ellen Poulsen’s The Case Against Lucky Luciano (2007) – and although many more reference the trial in passing. informer-journal. focused his sights on Luciano after evidence reached his office that a “downtown bonding combination” was using violence and intimidation in an attempt to organize the theretofore freelance world of New York prostitution. in other words. under reformist pressure amplified by the hardships of the Great Depression. Salvatore Lucania a. Governor Herbert Lehman. and that reputed Luciano associates Davie Betillo and Tommy “the Bull” Pennochio were behind the effort. both inside the courtroom and behind the closed office doors of the prosecution and defense attorneys.
Arkansas on April 1.000 – $170. including Betillo and Pennochio. one by one. were held as material witnesses under threat of prosecution on bonds ranging from $10.000 to $25. ten private investigators and seventy-five police detectives). May 11. 1936. Those willing to testify were promised clemency.000 to $425. Luciano was arrested in Hot Springs. The women who refused to cooperate remained in jail. bondsmen and enforcers that constituted the racket’s middle management. had enlisted the state legislature to pass a so-called “joinder law” that would allow him to try multiple counts against multiple defendants under a single indictment. arresting eighty-seven prostitutes and madams along with the sixteen bookers. was returned to Manhattan for trial. Dewey conducted surprise raids on eighty disorderly houses.000 in today’s dollars – thereby assuring that none would ever make bail as Dewey and his team of assistants worked to convince them. Dewey then indicted Luciano and twelve co-defendants.com . Polakoff hired George Morton Levy. Moses Polakoff. Two days before jury selection. granted immunity and moved to hotels where they were wined and dined by the prosecution team. Thus armed. The trial itself lasted a month. following a heated extradition battle. meanwhile. and sixtyeight witnesses – a Runyonesque cast of Thomas Pennochio crooks and cops. to act as Luciano’s lead trial lawyer. The women. to give state’s evidence. confirming his suspicion that undue influence was afoot. many of whom were morphine or heroin addicts.blogspot. a golfing buddy of Luciano associate Frank Costello and arguably the best criminal defense attorney on Long Island. Trial was scheduled to begin on Monday. and.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 19 The women who refused to cooperate remained in jail. each on ninety counts of compulsory prostitution. hookers and madams – informer-journal. Luciano’s attorney. hired private investigators to locate and follow the witnesses who’d been released from jail. Dewey. granted immunity and moved to hotels where they were wined and dined by the prosecution team. Those willing to testify were promised clemency. a new and radical innovation in New York criminal procedure.
wrote a note from her cell at the Women’s House of Detention to Dewey assistant Barent Ten Eyck. a perjurer and a tax cheat.blogspot. Frederico. a serial hotel thief facing life in prison. against his lawyers’ advice. was any direct connection between informer-journal. asking for a meeting. that ultimately impelled Luciano. Cokey Flo. Florence “Cokey Flo” Brown. Betillo and Pennochio at which the bonding combination was supposedly discussed. age twenty-nine. While Dewey’s case against Luciano’s co-defendants appeared airtight. Once on the stand. a heroin addict and a former madam awaiting sentence on a recent prostitution conviction as well as trial on earlier drug and pandering charges on which she’d jumped bail. First. refused to testify. and then Joe Bendix. and the tabloid sensation it engendered.” Of the four eyewitnesses Dewey had hoped would directly link Luciano to the bonding combination. two blew up in his face. however. After a hasty quartet of late-night sessions with Ten Eyck. the girlfriend of Luciano co-defendant James Frederico. What Dewey failed to establish. as Dewey proved to the jury that Luciano was a gunman. Luciano was eviscerated on crossexamination. Cokey Flo took the witness stand on May 21 and testified to a series of alleged meetings between Luciano.20 INFORMER were called by the prosecution. to take the witness stand in his own defense. “Good-Time Charlie” Burke. And then Providence intervened. was mercilessly impeached. was a grifter. With only two shaky eyewitnesses left in his arsenal (Nancy Presser and Mildred Harris – both prostitutes. Dewey saw his case against Luciano evaporating into thin air. a former pimp. both heroin addicts).com OCTOBER 2015 James Frederico “Cokey Flo” Brown . the same could not be said of the evidence against the man the special prosecutor had labeled “the greatest gangster in America. It was the eleventh-hour appearance of Cokey Flo Brown.
Horvath telephoned Levy’s office. Prostitute Helen Horvath. who’d testified under the name Helen Kelly. never-filed Horvath affidavit as well as other exclusive documents from the trial. two days after the verdict. These became the centerpieces of Luciano’s motion for a new trial. Lucky Luciano. McCook. denied the motion on May 7. the bribes alleged in the Horvath affidavit – a cruise promised to Thelma and Nancy and a magazine-and-film deal promised to Mildred and Cokey Flo – appeared to be happening. received a call from a Manhattan tavern keeper who’d been slipped a note from one of the trial witnesses still in custody. July 3. (To view the original.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 21 Luciano and the bonding combination that was the actual subject of the prosecution. began to unravel almost immediately. wanted Levy to know that the testimony of Nancy Presser. the day of her release. The following Monday.chuckgreaves. June 7.com. On Friday.) As other witnesses were released from Dewey’s custody. the trial judge. spun of gossamer to begin with. As I wrote in the afterword to what would become Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo): “At the end of the day we are left with two competing but equally compelling narra- informer-journal. Eleven days later. then Nancy Presser recanted their trial testimony. Levy. Thelma Jordan and Mildred Harris was perjured. effectively ending the case. the reputed head of organized crime in America. Philip J. each on sixty-two counts. after refusing to allow the recanting witnesses to testify at the hearing and then allowing the defense fewer than three days to reply to Dewey’s 450-page opposition. you can visit my website.blogspot. which was met by indignant opposition from Dewey. First Thelma Jordan. and all nine of the remaining defendants (four pleaded guilty during trial) were found guilty. was sentenced to thirty to fifty years in state prison. 1937. Dewey’s case against Luciano. Next it was Mildred Harris and Cokey Flo Brown. www.com . Horvath gave Levy an exceptionally detailed and compelling twenty-three-page affidavit supporting her allegations of bribery. Meanwhile. coercion and witness tampering by Dewey and his staff. The jury returned its verdict on Sunday. more dominoes began to fall.
22 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 Notes taken by defense attorney George Morton Levy during the testimony of “Cokey Flo” Brown.blogspot. informer-journal.com .
a showgirl named Joy Dixon. With this novel I invite readers. His claim to having been introduced to Luciano by a “Captain Dutton” evaporated when Captain George Paul Dutton. In the other. Bendix. an intrepid prosecutor’s dogged persistence overcomes fears of mob reprisal to expose the sordid truth. they must return a verdict of not guilty for the defendant Luciano on all counts charged in the indictment. in charge of regulating night clubs for the state police. Let’s examine. the jury made its choice. the testimony of these four witnesses. and whom Bendix repeatedly claimed was present when Bendix first met with Luciano about working for the combination (a job Bendix admitted he never performed).OCTOBER 2015 23 INFORMER tives that underlie the trial and conviction of Lucky Luciano. if the jury disbelieve the testimony of the witnesses Bendix. Nancy Presser. the call-girl and heroin addict known as Nancy Presser. In that letter (which Dewey withheld from the defense for over a week before Panger brought it to their attention).com . and historians. Cokey Flo and Mildred Harris. Joy Dixon herself. In rendering its verdict. to make their own. The final nail in the testimonial coffin of Joe Bendix came when a pre-trial letter he’d written to Joy from the Tombs prison was mistakenly delivered to the office of assistant district attorney Morris Panger. a zealous prosecutor and a sycophantic judge mount a reckless crusade to win conviction at any cost. Genevieve Flesher.blogspot. a fact that even Justice McCook was forced to acknowledge when instructing the jury: Mildred Balitzer As a matter of law. but that he did know Bendix’s third wife. Bendix stressed the importance of gaining Dewey’s cooperation. whose real name was Muriel Weiss. remember. which might explain why Bendix had invoked his name. urging his wife to “think up some real clever story” to tell the prosecution. In one. was badly impeached both during and after the trial. signed a post-verdict affidavit in which she denied having attended any such meeting and even proved by her own passport that she’d been out of the country at the time it supposedly occurred. then. testified that he’d never met Bendix in his life. turned on the credibility of just four eyewitnesses. with whom Bendix had also been negotiating for clemency by offering to testify in a different high-profile case. His conviction.” Was Lucky Luciano actually guilty of skimming nickels from the hard-won earnings of two-dollar prostitutes? In interviews and statements attributed to Luciano after his deportation to Italy in 1946. he consistently maintained his innocence. as previously noted. claimed to have first met Luciano in 1928 and to have visited him professionally on numerous occa- informer-journal.
24 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 But Nancy’s credibility was destroyed by Levy on cross-examination when she was unable to describe Lucky’s hotel rooms – even. after the trial had concluded. both by a written statement she’d given on March 5. Mildred was badly impeached at trial.” but that she “had to back up Pete. Mildred testified that she went to Florida in January of 1935 and there saw Luciano at the Paddock Bar and Grill. came the disclosure of a pretrial. the wife of booker Pete Harris. Dewey assistant prosecutor Sol Gelb. a particularly embarrassing fact that NYPD officer George Heidt would later confirm on the witness stand at trial. Like Bendix and Presser before her. was allowed to drink herself stupid in restaurants and nightclubs on multiple evenings in the company of police officers and. 1936.” Then. on at least one verified occasion. all pertaining to the bonding combination.a. Mildred repeatedly denied having received a promise of immunity from the prosecution for her trial testimony: Q: I was referring to any promise concerning immunity or a reward to you for your testimony. in which she’d denied ever having met Luciano. She testified to several incriminating statements allegedly made by Lucky in or near her presence. She also testified to a second. for example. handwritten letter of immunity signed by Dewey assistants Tom Hogan and Sol Gelb – the latter of whom was present in court but sat mute even as Mildred denied the letter’s existence under oath.blogspot. Mildred. Did you receive any such promise in writing? A: No. who described a conversation in which Mildred admitted that she “didn’t know Lucky from beans.com . had agreed to testify for Dewey in exchange for leniency in his sentencing. Once moved from the House of Detention to a comfortable hotel. and later by the testimony of her former boyfriend. for example. But Nancy’s credibility was destroyed by Levy on cross-examination when she was unable to describe Lucky’s hotel rooms – even. a plea that Luciano rebuffed. informer-journal. similar conversation with Lucky outside New York’s Villanova restaurant in May of 1935. Pete was a Luciano co-defendant who’d pleaded guilty and who. sions at both the Barbazon-Plaza and the Waldorf Towers. a recovering addict. Q: Did you receive any such letter to that effect? A: No. whether they had twin beds or double beds. On cross-examination. She allegedly asked Lucky to allow Pete to quit the bonding combination. whether they had twin beds or double beds – or the way in which a visiting guest must gain access to the Waldorf Towers from the lobby of the hotel. Millie Harris.k. in a package deal with Mildred. Next came Mildred Balitzer a. Gus Franco.
to the testimony of the woman who called herself Florence Brown. Present when they arrived at the restaurant were Luciano. Luciano. informer-journal. Betillo and Pennochio. Cokey Flo then drove Fredericks. Cokey Flo drove. Gloria Moore and Florence Stern – first testified to a meeting that had allegedly occurred in the spring of 1934 at four in the morning in a Chinese restaurant the name of which she could never seem to recall. Mildred Nelson. Betillo and Pennochio at a Prosecutor Thomas Dewey table eating and were invited to join them. Frances Martin.” After some non-substantive dinner conversation in the restaurant. She and her boyfriend James Frederico a. Again. Fay Marston.k. Fredericks introduced Cokey Flo to the others as “a girlfriend of mine. Growing bored. again grew bored and entered the garage. “Have them all come down and we’ll straighten the matter out. Cokey Flo – also known as Florence Newman. as Fredericks did not have a license.blogspot. at which point she drove Fredericks home. She claimed on that occasion to have driven Fredericks and a loan shark named Benny Spiller to a garage somewhere on the Lower East Side where she parked on the street and waited while Fredericks and Spiller went inside. the men spoke mostly in Italian.a. Tommy Pennochio and Davie Betillo. finally. when she and Fredericks went to a restaurant in Chinatown that bore the street number “21. The third event occurred around Easter of 1935. Jimmy Fredericks had left her apartment at approximately three o’clock with the stated intention of going to meet Luciano.” The second event to which Cokey Flo testified is alleged to have occurred in the fall of 1934. Fredericks later emerged with Luciano. an address she somehow remembered clearly.com . where she overheard the men’s voices. but that she said was on Broadway near 130 th Street. with Fredericks complaining about bookers withholding addresses and with Luciano telling Fredericks. she left her car and entered the garage. conducted mostly in Italian (which she – unlike the others present – neither spoke nor understood). “Bring all the bookers downtown tomorrow and I’ll put them on the carpet. Betillo and Pennochio to 121 Mulberry Street. Betillo and Pennochio.” and then. The penultimate event occurred in the summer of 1935. and again saw Fredericks exit in the in the company of Luciano. It was during this drive downtown that Cokey Flo claimed that the bonding combination was discussed.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 25 Which brings us. when she again drove Fredericks to the same garage. in English.” There they encountered Luciano.
1936. the conversation took place mostly in Italian. “and it may get tough. and if things are the same.com .” Now let’s analyze Cokey Flo’s testimony in light of other facts adduced both during and after the trial. They didn’t call her “Cokey Flo” for nothing. in mid-February of 1936. you’ll have to let it drop. This gradually increased to one and a quarter grains per day. By her own admission. with her habit growing from four or five pills per month to five or six pills per day. three times per day. Dewey contended in his opening statement – before he knew Cokey Flo might testify – that Lucky Luciano was the secret mastermind behind the vice racket. She began injecting morphine in January of 1935 at the rate of one-quarter grain. which she used at the rate of one ounce per week until her arrest for solicitation on May 8.” The fifth and final event occurred in October of 1935. “Why don’t you get the madams together.” Luciano is alleged to have said. at the same Chinatown restaurant. she switched from morphine to heroin. Lucky decided. This characterization is significant because. that Lucky took great pains to insulate himself from those who actually booked. First we must consider the extent to which Cokey Flo’s various addictions must have affected her ability to recall the alleged events and conversations to which she testified in such scrupulous detail. and all of her testimony must be viewed through the compound lens of narcotic impairment. Cokey Flo was a total stranger to Lucky. When Fredericks urged patience. with Cokey Flo testifying that “the conversation switched to English when they talked about prostitution. addiction and withdrawal. at the first meeting about which she testified. “This Dewey investigation is coming on.26 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 As at the previous restaurant meeting.” Ultimately. “I’ll let it go for a couple more months. she began smoking opium in 1931. after listening to Betillo. I think we ought to fold up for a while. or that Lucky informer-journal. bonded and operated the so-called disorderly houses. and that Lucky was careful to limit knowledge of his involvement only to a small handful of trusted lieutenants. Jimmy? I told you before that being nice to them isn’t any good.blogspot. Luciano is alleged to have said. where Lucky is alleged to have again complained about the problems with the bonding racket and also complained that his name was being mentioned too frequently in connection with its operation.” Lucky is alleged to have complained to Fredericks that the racket wasn’t producing sufficient income to continue because the houses were too difficult to manage and the madams too resistant to bonding. Is it credible that Fredericks would have felt it appropriate to bring his girlfriend to such a meeting. Then.
or Pete Harris – ever corroborated such an occurrence. He could. Al Weiner. Dewey had ample opportunity to undertake an investigation to corroborate some of what he knew Cokey Flo would say. he would switch to English for that part of the conversation and for that part only? Substantively. Lucky is alleged to have instructed Fredericks to bring all the bookers downtown to be called on the carpet. The other two restaurant meetings about which Cokey Flo testified bear the same fishy taint. if no longer a stranger to him. none of them claimed to have ever met Luciano in person. had finally obtained her signed witness statement on May 20. according to Fredericks. Jack Eller. in English. Given Dewey’s meticulous nature and his penchant of leaving no stone unturned. was by then well known to be an unreliable drug addict? Cokey Flo’s testimony regarding the two meetings alleged to have taken place in a Lower East Side garage is similarly suspect. Dewey assistant Barent Ten Eyck had been in negotiations for Cokey Flo’s testimony since May 16 and. Cokey Flo testified that. having parked there long enough on both occasions to grow bored and exit the vehicle to wander. she was somehow unable to describe the location of a garage she’d more recently visited not once but twice. So shaky was her appearance on the witness stand that Justice McCook – incredi- informer-journal. While she was able to remember verbatim conversations from the restaurant meeting in the spring of 1934 – not to mention the exact time of her arrival and even the food that she’d ordered and eaten – as well as the specific address to which she allegedly drove the men after the meal. for example. With his army of attorneys and detectives. His failure to do so suggests either that he knew Cokey Flo was lying. really discuss incriminating matters in front of a woman who. So shaky was her appearance on the witness stand that Justice McCook – incredibly – allowed her to take periodic sips of brandy during breaks from her testimony. not a single one of the booker defendants – Dave Miller. at a time when no fewer than twenty-eight prosecution witnesses were still scheduled to testify. Yet despite their plea bargains and agreements to cooperate with Dewey. after multiple meetings. Would Lucky.com . Indeed. this had indeed happened shortly after the conversation in the car. this is an opportunity he could scarcely have resisted. making such an expedition pointless. have sent detectives to drive with her to find this alleged garage and in the process might have talked to the owner and his employees and perhaps have located other valuable eyewitnesses.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 27 Cokey Flo’s selective memory is perhaps the most damning of all her shortcomings as a witness.blogspot. or that he suspected as much and didn’t wish to provide the defense with an address at which exculpatory witnesses might be found and subpoenaed. Cokey Flo’s selective memory is perhaps the most damning of all her shortcomings as a witness. would have allowed it? That Lucky would discuss intimate details of the vice racket in her presence? Or that when the others present all spoke Italian.
the White House itself. a few key documents that. 1937. word-for-word precision. after seeing herself portrayed on film by Bette Davis. followed by the New York governor’s mansion and. that he thereafter discussed the possibility with Mildred and Cokey Flo. What. before winning his freedom allegedly by assisting the U. she first said $900. no smoking guns – no signed confessions or exculpatory trump cards. alas. Luciano spent almost ten years at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. very nearly. it was the Manhattan district attorney’s office. In a filed affidavit dated April 19. Mexico. voted to convict.000. and the appellate court voted to affirm. disillusioned by the Luciano verdict. she first said that it was on Friday. and that it was later still that he and Ten Eyck met with Edward Doherty. Perhaps most damning of all. soon left the law altogether to start a nighttime harness racing venture called Roosevelt Raceway. For Dewey. The fact is that the jury.blogspot. when asked on cross-examination to repeat the incriminating conversations she claimed to have overheard. Dewey. she did so almost perfectly. the question whether Cokey Flo had been promised anything more for her testimony than the clemency and immunity she admittedly received. with a rehearsed. and the trial’s cast of characters moved on to other roles. But it’s easy to play Monday-morning quarterback. Dewey swore that it was only “after the trial” that he’d first been approached by Warner Bros. however. When asked the day on which she first communicated with Dewey’s staff only a week before her testimony. When asked how much of her own money she’d put up for bail when she was arrested in January of 1936.28 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 bly – allowed her to take periodic sips of brandy during breaks from her testimony. war effort.. disappeared into obscurity and addiction in the brothels of Ciudad Juarez. where no bank existed. cast a new and jaundiced light on critical aspects of the prosecution.com . faced with the allegation that Mildred and Cokey Flo were promised a deal to sell their life stories to a magazine and movie studio. New York. Take. do the materials I found in Levy’s file tell us about the trial of Lucky Luciano almost eighty years after the fact? There were. then later said “over $2. a writer for Liberty informer-journal. Cokey Flo.S.” When asked to identify the bank account from which the funds were drawn. then. There were. flatly denied the charge. having heard much of the same evidence I’ve just described. when viewed in the fullness of time. for example. she said “Central something or other” at Broadway and Ninety-Fourth Street. then later that it was on Saturday. Levy.
together with supporting letters from both Kornbluth and Dorothy Calvit. the publisher of Liberty magazine. Later. eager for any means by which to cross-examine Cokey Flo. That the Kornbluth incident says more about the scorched-earth approach Dewey brought to the Luciano prosecution than it does about any alleged witness tampering by the defense should be obvious. which was three days before the trial was to begin. ran a banner headline in its evening edition on May 27. The New York Post. a man named Samuel Kornbluth. the daughter of legendary stage actress Lillian Russell. screaming “LAWYER HELD AS VICE RING PLOT- TER. might have yielded material benefit for both Levy and Luciano. and writers to this day continue to republish Dewey’s false allegation. even though Cokey Flo was still safely in Dewey’s custody. but that was rejected as “too much like fiction.com .” Dewey himself is quoted in the article as stating. While Levy learned little of value about Cokey Flo from Calvit via Kornbluth. of course. The Levy file contains a detailed affidavit from Kornbluth. “Kornbluth will be charged with attempted subornation of perjury. whom Levy telephoned on the evening of May 22.” The damage to Kornbluth’s professional reputation was. during the course of her three days on the witness stand – May 21 through 23 – Cokey Flo disclosed this previous employment. there is a thread that runs through the Kornbluth affidavit which. however. to seek the assistance of Calvit’s attorney. Cokey Flo had been employed as a caretaker/typist for an aspiring writer named Dorothy Russell Calvit. and Fulton Oursler. (These documents can be viewed on my website.” The significance of this statement by Calvit – made while the trial was still in progress informer-journal. I refer to a statement Dorothy Calvit made to Kornbluth on the night of May 22 to the effect that Cokey Flo had previously given Calvit “some information for the purpose of enabling [Calvit] to write a story” based on Cokey Flo’s life – a story that Calvit submitted to Macfadden Publications. Dewey appears to have been willing to smear the name of an innocent and reputable attorney of twenty-five years’ standing in order to advance a fictional narrative in which dark forces were at work behind the scenes trying to undermine his prosecutorial efforts. Immediately before her solicitation arrest on May 8. for example. 1936.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 29 magazine. the supervising editor of Macfadden Publications. both men received a lesson in the lengths to which Dewey would go to secure a conviction when Kornbluth was later arrested at his home by Dewey’s detectives for the “crime” of having met with his own client. describing the hapless lawyer’s Kafkaesque ordeal. incalculable.blogspot. 1936. if pulled at the time. Importantly. which prompted Levy.) It was widely reported the following day that Kornbluth had been arrested for attempting to solicit perjured testimony from Cokey Flo Brown. however.
’” But when the issue came up in connection with Luciano’s motion for a new trial. or the City of New York? When you get through with this case. all compliments of Dewey and his assistants.com . was not only aware of Macfadden Publications but had already attempted. at a time when she was negotiating the terms of her testimony with Ten Eyck. when she swore that. a former boyfriend of Nancy’s. through Calvit. Thanks to the Kornbluth affidavit. . . . Dewey expanded on this explanation at the April 23. and the trip to Europe? That invention was just a little too funny. when he testified: After the trial these two women [Presser and Jordan] had a telephone conversation with Mary Morris. 1936. issue. They then came to us and said. in which a crime-busting district attorney (played by Humphrey Bogart) convinces a reluctant “nightclub hostess” (played by Bette Davis) to testify against the city’s biggest gangster. when both Cokey Flo and Mildred sold their life stories to Macfadden Publications in a deal brokered by Dewey and Barent Ten Eyck. I would like to have you analyze it.30 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 – would not become apparent until after the verdict. Is it coincidence. will reflect that the stories attributed to Mildred and Cokey Flo did appear in Liberty magazine under the heading “Underworld Nights” over a period of several weeks beginning with the December 12. Helen Horvath also flagged the “cruise” issue in her affidavit of July 8. Affronted. .” . . I made the necessary arrangements and they were sent. did acquire film rights from Macfadden before releasing the movie Marked Woman in 1937.S. that. 1937. Trips to Europe! How utterly impossible and ridiculous! And that is the kind of things they invent in desperation. not incidentally. I would like to have you look at my appropriation. on the City’s salary? My assistants. They asked to be sent for a couple of months until things cooled off. Mary Morris told these girls they were on the spot and were going to be murdered . Dewey claimed in an affidavit dated April 19. It was Luciano co-defendant Ralph Liguori. to quote their exact words. we know that Cokey Flo. Dewey ridiculed the very idea. then. but some of them – who in heaven’s name is going to pay for a trip to Europe? I. “I asked Nancy Presser when she was going on her trip and she said ‘As soon as they release us. gentlemen. and that Warner Bros. “So far as I recall there was not even any mention of sending [Nancy Presser] out of the country at any time until after the trial. that the same opportunity just happened to present itself to Cokey Flo after she’d testified? Or is it equally likely that Cokey Flo had used the sale of her life story to Liberty as a bargaining chip in her negotiations with Dewey and Ten Eyck? History. some of these lies you cannot analyze. and the contingency fund. and in his closing argument to the jury stated: Oh. “We have got to get away. a prostitute of their acquaintance . hearing on the motion. We are not safe anywhere. en route to what proved to be a three-month European tour.blogspot. Samaria. 1937. 1936. They were sent. to peddle her life story there. I mean. Nancy and Thelma did find themselves first-class passengers aboard the S. who testified that Dewey’s office had offered him and Nancy an expense-paid trip to Europe in exchange for their cooperation in testifying against Luciano.” when threats had allegedly been made against her life. at a time when both women were still in custody. . Yet after the trial. The Levy file also sheds light on a benefit received by prosecution witnesses Thelma Jordan and Nancy Presser. informer-journal.
was never filed with the court.” According to Dewey’s testimony. Polakoff. took the original twenty-three-page Horvath affidavit and edited it down to nineteen pages. If I succeeded in these endeavors. shorter affidavit was then signed by Helen Horvath on March 10.chuckgreaves. 1937. deleting what he would later characterize as material “detrimental towards the People. 1936 – all within the span of a few short weeks. had no knowledge of the earlier.com. 1936. This perhaps explains the timeline Dewey laid out for the court. most recently Tom & Lucky and George & Cokey Flo (Bloomsbury). Dewey. Nancy and Thelma were thereafter released. 1936. leaving Moses Polakoff and a new team of appellate specialists headed by Francis Adams and Martin Conboy to handle the post-trial motions and appeals.” This newer. then obtained passports and steamship tickets. and filed with the court. Levy. affidavit. then negotiated their passage abroad. when the record reflects a conversation between she and Justice McCook in which McCook tells her. “one of these days I will be signing your discharge. If Horvath were lying to Levy on July 8 when she attributed to Nancy the incustody statement that she and Thelma would depart “as soon as they release us. then reported these threats to the prosecution. then finally departed for Europe on July 16. informer-journal. having been hired solely to try the case. worried about further antagonizing McCook. then the game will have been worth the candle. it appears. and if that success invites renewed examination of one of America’s more notable criminal trials. 1936. I also hoped to bring depth and color to a unique cast of characters so often depicted in twodimensional sepia. doubts too-long silenced by the lingering echo from Thomas Dewey’s prosecutorial megaphone. July 8. had stepped aside after the trial.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER It’s important to recall that the Horvath affidavit of July 8. In writing Tom & Lucky I sought not only to give readers a fresh perspective on the trial but also to give voice to the doubts I’d developed. which I found in Levy’s file. The guilt of Lucky Luciano. You can visit him at www.com 31 C. Joseph Greaves is the author of five novels. then threatened. Nancy Presser was not released from Dewey’s custody until sometime after June 17. taken for granted by so many writers and historians.” then she was certainly prescient. seemed anything but clearcut to me once I’d examined the record in its entirety. .blogspot.
the argument has raged over whether the Postal Inspection Service or the United States Marshals Service deserves to be regarded as the oldest federal law enforcement agency. has grown substantially through the years and has been prominent in the public eye. that service was merged into U. securing borders and enforcing import duties beginning in July 1789.32 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 Little-known enforcement agency works within the Postal Service By H.S.) Both of these agencies have served the public well. the enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service. The duties of post office inspectors involved overseeing the operations of post offices informer-journal. Franklin felt that he could no longer personally handle enforcement duties and created the position of “surveyor” within the postal service.com .S. Franklin’s postal enforcement arm continued through the Revolution and the founding of the new American nation. The U. also has a claim to this designation. The service claims to be the first federal agency assigned with the primary task of law enforcement. (The U. Soon after adoption of the U. Marshals Service. the position of “surveyor” was renamed “special agent. Serving under the English Crown. may have had a less specific mission but boasts a longer pedigree that stretches back into the Colonial Period. In March 2003. one of the duties of Philadelphia-based PostmasBenjamin Franklin ter General Benjamin Franklin was audit the activities of regional postmasters and bring to account any found to be mishandling the funds or mails entrusted to them.S. Customs and Border Protection. In 1772. established with the Judiciary Act in September 1789. Constitution.” Congress retitled the role as “post office inspector” in 1880. K.S. Petschel Since the earliest days of the American republic. The Postal Inspection Service. Customs Service.blogspot.
it is not easy to point to specific work in a specific case. Willie Sutton had it wrong. and audited the accounts of the various offices. Because they have federal authority.com . they have more freedom of movement and independence than personnel in other agencies. Preventing and punishing mail theft is Abraham Lincoln a colossal challenge. When you look at high dollar robberies in history. in May of 1833. The Inspection Service is notoriously press shy and well informer-journal. trained new postmasters in their duties. Over time. One postmaster who was reportedly removed from office was Abraham Lincoln. shipment of narcotics and a multitude of other sins. While they are among the least known of law enforcement agents. But sometimes they were inspectors of the U. there was concern over an office balance of $248. as well as embezzlement by postal employees. “The money” is very often in the post office. mailing of explosive devices. Historically.blogspot. In the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. These covered theft of mail. inspectors were given responsibility for enforcement of eighty-seven federal statutes. postal inspectors have been among the most effective and the most dogged. Though the inspectors have been involved in many cases.63. Lincoln was approached for this sum late in 1837 and turned it over. The young Lincoln took over as postmaster of New Salem. For a time. Another responsibility placed upon the postal inspector was criminal investigation. Inspectors established our postal routes.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 33 set up by the federal government. and they are able to work cooperatively and creatively with agencies in multiple jurisdictions. Illinois. Originally this simply involved the theft of valuables from the mails. mail fraud. financial securities and other valuables were transported using the mails. Postal Service. the two famous “Wild Bunch” train bandits repeatedly note the pursuit of a band of lawmen and ask. He was popular with patrons but somewhat casual in his duties. which evolved into state highways. They can and do pursue wrongdoers beyond local and state boundaries. usually they involve a post office or a mail train.S. “Who are those guys?” Sometimes “those guys” were privately hired agents of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. He was put out of his job and the New Salem office was closed down three years later. currency. According to biographers.
Still. securities. stamp stock and other valuables flowed through the mails on a daily basis. The “Great Plymouth Mail Truck Robbery.perhaps more press-hungry . commonly will step aside once the case is broken and allow the publicity to fall upon other enforcement officers . but returned with a vengeance in the postwar period. While many of the cases were solved and much of the stolen money returned.” It does not centrally maintain historic records of its accomplishments. Two of the more famous robberies of that era were the Rondout. In the 1920s in one twelve-month period. many of the cases involved historically significant events.local and federal agencies. $6. The robbers relented during World War II. The first case was discovered in 1894 and things went downhill from there. train robbery (by the Newton Boys gang in June 1924). There were also widely publicized robberies in Dallas and Toledo in this period.blogspot. A lesser known crime was stamp counterfeiting.com OCTOBER 2015 Butch Cassidy Gerald Chapman . Research is far more easily accomplished through court records and newspapers. I gave up sending information requests to the service about ten years ago.a pattern that benefits local sheriffs up for reelection. the “Great Post Office Robbery” on Leonard Street in New York (by the Gerald Chapman and George Anderson gang in 1921).34 INFORMER deserving of its nickname. Despite the persistence of the criminals. An inspector who has taken an active role in an investigation.” then the largest cash theft of all time. Is there any money in this criminal endeavor? Only about $140 million informer-journal.2 million was lost to robberies. This illicit industry started out with what I like to call “Mom and Pop” counterfeiting operations. helps the service in its working relationships with other .” Working behind the scenes. “the Silent Service. organized criminals soon entered the action. As a writer. was in newspaper headlines in 1962. were interrupted The only thing that slowed down or stopped the major robbery problem was World War 2. stealing from post offices remained fairly widespread during the Depression Era. Illinois. Never slow to sense a business opportunity. postal inspectors still ensured that millions in currency. Another problem with documenting individual postal inspector cases stems from the service’s lack of “institutional memory.
our friends in China and North Korea have been major sources of phony stamps.” anarchist-inclined Theodore “Ted” Kaczynski. One arrived early. Postal inspectors were not mentioned in the FBI press releases in the case. the Ted Kaczynski United States Postal Service is widely recognized as the informer-journal.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 35 each year. a major preoccupation of inspectors involved check and credit card theft and fraud. a violent anarchist organization sent mail-bombs to twenty-nine public officials and prominent American capitalists. in at least recent years. A defense attorney once defined mail fraud as walking by a mail box with evil intent. puzzled authorities with a series of seemingly random attacks with homemade explosive devices. Bank fraud gangs would run hundreds of stolen or fraudulent checks through bank accounts. but if you look at FBI press conferences. The majority of Wall Street prosecutions in the last hundred years were the product of postal investigation. postal inspectors can be spotted in the background. Inspectors managed to halt all the other packages. Of course. A number of narcotics racketeers have tried to use the mails to distribute their products. In the late spring of 1919. In the late-1970s to mid-1990s.) Before electronic banking caught on. this is mail fraud.S. (A final note on counterfeit stamps: There is reason to believe that. exploding April 28 at the home of Sen. it also exposes illegal activities to the postal inspectors. Bombs sent through the mail have earned considerable attention from public and press. Thomas Hardwick. Postal inspectors have quietly built their reputation as a highly efficient enforcement agency. Stamp counterfeiting is probably the greatest unrecognized crime out there. It probably has seemed less risky than putting kilos of drugs in the trunk of a car and driving to a distant city. Secret Service. This was also the beginning of identity theft investigations which ultimately were taken over by the U.com . When you think about it. as well as the postal inspectors who combat the outrage. If you cause the mail to be used in the commission or furtherance of a crime. The FBI took over the Unabomber investigation after a bomb was placed on an interstate American Airlines flight in 1979. at least in the past it was hard to commit any kind of sophisticated criminal activity without causing something to pass through the mail. The bombs all were scheduled to arrive at their destinations on or around May 1.blogspot. the “Unabomber. A simple visit to the local post office and shipment with express mail provides security from theft and speedy delivery. There is more than a kernel of truth in that statement. As a result.
if not the oldest.S.S. a MP-5 9mm submachine gun and a bullet-proof vest. informer-journal.blogspot. Still. Petschel is a tion and one of the most secure retired U. postal businesses in the world. inspector who has This writer spent twenty-five written numerous years as an inspector. He years. and I noted the books on the changes in job-related responsibilicounterfeiting of U. as at least one of the oldest law enforcement services. When I retired. few outsiders have any understanding of the postal inspectors’ role. Petschel volver. Mr.36 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 most secure national postal operaH. its Inspection Service has been dramatically cut back. methods and hazards over the postage stamps. It was an inarticles and several teresting trip. But the inspectors remain hard at work.com . quietly putting their lives on the line to protect the mails. I was armed with a Model Rondout Train 10 Smith & Wesson . I handed in resides in Idaho. ties. Under current financial constraints at the United States Postal Service. K. When I started with the also has written The agency.38-caliber reRobbery. enforce the laws and serve the American public.
I’ve sent gems all over the world that way. by local letter carrier James G. Todd.C. the Hope Diamond contributed to U.. The employee reportedly paid $2. “It’s the safest way to mail gems. when its donation to the Smithsonian Institution was arranged in November 1958.S.85 for a million dollars of insurance and turned the package over to the United States Postal Service. informer-journal. Harry Winston stated. Inc. dating back through the reign of King Louis XIV of France. The supposedly cursed 45-pluscarat blue diamond has a long and intriguing history. the diamond was in the possession of New York City jeweler Harry Winston. The Hope diamond was put on display in the gem collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. a Winston employee bundled up the gem in a package wrapped with brown paper.” The diamond was safely delivered to Smithsonian Secretary Leonard Carmichael in Washington. where it remains on display.INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 Diamond delivery Perhaps the most widely known gem in history. The package wrapping was turned over to the National Postal Museum.. postal history. After changing hands numerous times.44 in registered mail postage and an additional $146. Asked about his shipping choice. On November 8.blogspot.com 37 . D.
Diamond picked himself up and what was left of Joe. car. a machine gun from a second story apartgave up the ghost. his pal and former gang leader Dean O’Banion Back to Chicago and the modus operanin Mount Carmel Cemetery. didn’t cause any trouble. staggered to the nearest hospital. the aushooting some journalist pinned him tumn colors are a feast for the eyes. Weiss and Murray were killed. In an act of self-preservation. Walking up behind them. New York City racketeer ment across the street lit up the neighborhood.blogspot. the Capone gang hopped out. On October 11. were crossing the street. As the duo side of the building and headed toward the strolled along. and possibly toting a dozen or the Lower East Side with his pal and new busiso bullets in his body. Murray. who had others. After the gunmen Rumor has it they dug a pound of lead out of sped away. and pumped We’ll start in Chicago. Halloween. and Al Caon Kolmar Avenue and headed for a waiting pone was able to get some much needed rest.com . the now famous Jack “Legs” Dimonth in terms of “Dead Guys in amond. Joe skirted around the ness partner John Diamond. Though he informer-journal. Jacob “Little Augie” Orgen was walking on Thinking fast.38 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 DEAD GUYS IN SUITS October’s biggest ‘hits’ lost a friend. Cafive attempts before Legs was permanently pone thought it prudent that Weiss should join tucked away. with the moniker that would follow there’s cider and donuts and my fahim to the grave: “Legs. took another dose of lead Suits.” vorite holiday. 1930. Of course couple of apartments overlooking the flower I’m speaking of the machine gun nest techshop that Weiss continued to use as the gangs nique that so thoroughly removed Hymie headquarters were rented and gunmen were Weiss from the playing field.” A number of big gangland when a disgruntled underworld parthits took place in the tenth month of ner paid him a visit at his hotel suite our calendar. one of had considered the possible escape route and the men put a pistol to the back of Orgen’s had a second machinegun nest in a third story head and sent a bullet crashing into his skull. howA year and five days after Hymie Weiss ever. October Almost exactly three years latalso happens to be a very interesting er. Unfortunately for Joe. The weather is suing media coverage following the generally very comfortable. Before he could make it to the auto. a sedan pulled up and three men rear. on October 12. Joe exited an apartment off. including a hoodlum pal named Patrick been giving Big Al a headache for some time. It would take a total of ed him dead. Diamond got someOctober is my favorite month thing for his troubles: during the enfor many reasons. The gunner in the second nest successfulguys fired a slug into his gut to make sure he ly perforated Joe with a few dozen more shots. Like the presleeping because he knew that his vious two times he had been shot. as Weiss and three pone gang used it to erase Joe Aiello. apartment right next door for just such an occaDiamond turned at the sound. where Patrick Downey three shots into his chest and grazed Al Capone was having a hard time his skull with another. this attempt North Side nemesis Earl “Hymie” Weiss wantalso didn’t prove fatal. To this end. This time the Caplanted. guns went On October 23. and one of the sion. 1930. a di so nice they employed it twice.
A $50. his body then stuffed in his car and set ablaze. Louis “Pretty” Amberg. He may have had something to do with the 1931 snatching of John Lynch. former beer baron and current policy magnate Dutch Schultz was gunned down with three associates in the Palace Chophouse tavern. New York. skip and a jump away in Newark. New Jersey. All four would succumb to their wounds the following day.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER For those of you whose interests lie more with the desperadoes of the Public Enemy Era. he wasn’t known at all. 1934. Like the two Chicago murders previously discussed. another guy known as “Pretty” met a grisly end in Brooklyn. “Roland’s home!” Both women looked out the window and Roland waved to them just as the first shots were fired.com. was hacked to death in a Williamsburg bar.com. whose execution has been discussed in a previous column. www. the victim wasn’t as infamous as Hymie Weiss or Joe Aiello. McKenna was preparing dinner when the car containing her husband pulled up. Police considered him a minor hoodlum who made his nut by kidnapping wealthy gamblers. Bad Seeds in the Big Apple and Legs Diamond: Gangster. I would like to mention the demise of Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd. whose career came to a crashing halt on the twentysecond of October. a mere hop. A mere 366 days after “Pretty Boy” bit Ohio dust. a few other G-Men and some local law enforcement traced the “Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills” to a farm outside of East Liverpool. McKenna and her mother then gazed in horror as Roland was perforated by both machinegun and shotgun blasts. The press said his name was Roland McKenna and he may have been an associate of South Side gang leader Danny McGeoghan.com. For an exam- 39 ple. Mrs. where once again the machine gun nest proved to be a most effective method of erasing an enemy (a modus operandi so nice they used it thrice). Ohio. Mrs. what about Halloween? Would gangsters actually take time from handing out candy. Melvin Purvis. informer-journal. The crimes of his three cohorts: working for Dutch. Now. The offense that cost him his life was his desire to get the guys who orchestrated the execution of his brother Joseph the previous month. On Halloween evening. His crime: Being a successful mobster and making the other New York City gang leaders jealous. who was a cog in the racing news service. bobbing for apples and whooping it up at costume parties to knock someone off? Yup. That same night. In fact. All twenty-five issues of INFORMER remain available for purchase in print and electronic formats.blogspot. the point is that somebody wanted him dead and went the extra mile to see that it was done properly. This time.com/Informer_Journal informer-journal.magcloud.000 ransom was paid to get Lynch back. Dead Guys in Suits: deadgangster. The kidnapper was walking up to the house when his wife spied him through the window and yelled to her mother. And also possibly wanting to kill New York City prosecutor Thomas Dewey. Issues may be previewed and ordered through these locations on the Web: informer. we will return to Chicago and the All Hallows Eve of 1932. Patrick Downey is the author of Gangster City.blogspot. Whether McKenna had anything to do with it or not is not the point.blogspot. and cut him down as he made a desperate dash for the woods. He frequently writes on the subject of gangland murders for his blog.com . It happened a handful of times.scribd. a second story apartment was rented across the street from McKenna’s house in September and a long stakeout ensued. Let us return to the East Coast where October of 1935 saw a handful of major rub outs.
later movie depictions of Siegel.) While most (1992). played Siegel’s Samuel Parris (1990). NeiJennings. Warner film Bugsy. as well. and the able. Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culamong many other historical falsifications. In 2013. take a fresh look at Siegel with a biography After the introductory chapter. background and life in New ades. composed We Dean Jennings’ aforementioned work. played by the plete without addressing its reputed founder. Gragg decided it was time to leased.blogspot. however. historians and researchers found it thored biography of JFK (2011). and the tors’ teaching professor of history at Making of Las Vegas. starring Warren Beatty lutionary America. to sneak out an occaMaking of Las Vegas by Larry D. and Technology in Rolla. his book. a San Francisco newspaperman who ther film was remarkable. and that eventually led to Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel: The Professor Larry Gragg. 2010. the book dethat took advantage of the many resources velops chronologically. still in Only Kill Each Other: The Life and Bad Times the public’s mind when The Godfather was reof Bugsy Siegel. organized the Quakers in Barbados (2003). viewers found the film entertaining. the colonization of Barbados (2003). sional paper about Bugsy Siegel in Gragg (Praeger. late Alex Rocco. What rekindled America’s interest was Saturday Evening Post in 1957. has had a Gragg starts out by dismantling long-term obsession with the history the Hollywoodization of Siegel of Las Vegas. He started his career through movies such as the 1991 as a specialist on colonial and revoRichard N. His interest in frustrating and vexing with its erroneous depicLas Vegas bore fruit in 2007 with the publications of Siegel as a “kill-crazy” psychopath and tion of an article on the city. the Salem Witch scare volatile paramour.40 INFORMER OCTOBER 2015 THE WARNER FILES New books: ‘Bugsy Siegel’ and ‘The Two Mafias’ Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel: The complete the project. Gragg tells us about made available to researchers in recent decSiegel’s birth. the founder of the Las Vegas casino industry. and a coaucrime buffs. when Dean Ocean Drive and The Damned Don’t Cry. 2015). Few of us are aware that Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Virginia Hill. published by the Missouri University of Science Praeger in early 2015. and both were forinterviewed Siegel’s friend George Raft for the gotten. Gragg was Gangster. the Flamingo. such No history of Las Vegas would be comas The Godfather’s Moe Greene. was published by the University Press of Gragg’s examination includes earlier and Kansas. No full biography some fictionalizations and recreations of of the gangster had been written since 1967 Siegel’s life and death were put on the big (excluding a forgettable paperback from the screen just three years after his death in 711 early 1970s and a children’s book). the Flamingo.com . but it would some time before he could informer-journal. (Bening. His earlier writand Annette Bening. ture. ty’s soon-to-be real-life wife. the curaGangster. Beatings were on the Quakers (1980).
his children Millicent and Barbara. (He had lived at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. they in fact came from Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His one disappointment was his thinning hair. Siegel had to take care of business. Ben Siegel went to California. He stayed for a time at the opulent Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. then rented a house in Beverly Hills. Siegel dropped out of school at a young age. which afforded him ample opportunity to begin multiple affairs with Hollywood starlets and celebrities. and in Los Angeles he received help from local racketeer Mickey Cohen. Meanwhile. and with the advent of Prohibition. That same year. for which he compensated by getting regular cuts. maintained a healthy diet and dressed well. New York. He was not only classically handsome. Although many sources claim that his parents came from Russia. actor George Raft. Thanks to his boyhood friend. both physically and socially. The trial was halted with Reles’s death in 1941.com . were born. he was introduced to Holly- 41 wood’s elite and its most beautiful women. and that impulsiveness led to his meeting Meyer Lansky. leading to the name he always hated. Moe Sedway moved to Vegas in 1941 and assisted him in negotiating for control of its wire service.” He was impulsive. Siegel was helped by his movie star good looks. Siegel began taking over the race wire service in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. but because he enjoyed the climate. British actress Wendy Barrie and Marie “the Body” McDonald.blogspot. including Jean Harlow.) He was considered on a par with Luciano (who went from being one of Joe “the Boss” Masseria’s top men to his replacement) and other Jewish underworld bosses such as “Lepke” Buchalter and Dutch Schultz. Lansky noted that Siegel’s temper and rashness gave him the reputation of being “as crazy as a bedbug. That same year their men were used to kill Mafia boss of bosses Salvatore Maranzano. That included eliminating the threat of Harry Greenberg and heading to court following the revelations of Jewish mob turncoat Abe Reles. who was sent from Cleveland informer-journal.” and he was called “Bugs” behind his back. became wealthy bootleggers. there was a report that Siegel and Lansky had an “empire” that included Cleveland. “Bugsy. By the late 1920s and early 30s. where Mafia big shots Luciano and Frank Costello also resided. He was newly married to Esther Krakauer and able to afford a home in suburban Scarsdale. Gragg tells us.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER York. As early as 1931. the two most important people in his life. Beside the women. who was about three years older. He did not move his family to the Sunshine State until 1935. but worked out regularly. yet became an avid reader who was “good with numbers. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The two formed a gang that quickly expanded to include other Jewish youth. Siegel was at the top of his game. not because he was sent there.” Soon they befriended a young Sicilian thug named Charlie “Lucky Luciano” Lucania.
It was during a visit with his daughter Millicent that we find out why he was so obsessed with the hotel: it was Siegel’s opportunity to leave the gangster life informer-journal. It was in 1945 that Siegel worked his way in to finish construction on a hotel that was conceived by Billy Wilkerson. (Sedway. Casino construction was expensive during and after World War II due to a shortage of materials. fired Sedway. It probably was not Siegel’s preference to open on the day after Christmas. Siegel demanded the highest quality material and special plumbing that added a million dollars to the already impressive price tag. 1947. Siegel was spending more and more time in Vegas. including the world famous Ciro’s. had negotiated their purchase of the El Cortez Hotel and Casino. 1946. When Siegel’s Flamingo complex opened on December 26. Joe Adonis. and desperately needed investors to complete the project. Siegel had bought Wilkerson out completely.blogspot. He was OCTOBER 2015 forced to constantly beg for funds from his underworld associates. but his gangland investors were getting antsy. Wilkerson contacted Sedway and Phoenix bookie Gus Greenbaum for help. After a modestly successful opening. Meanwhile. including Frank Costello. the Chicago mob brutally monopolized the wire service there by eliminating James Ragen. Wilkerson was a “degenerate gambler” who lost a small fortune. and others not known for their tolerance of investment losses. a former grip man for Cecil B. Flamingo shows initially featured some top-tier celebrities. DeMille named Allen Smiley. but bad weather hurt the attendance figures.42 INFORMER to work with Siegel. and it was there that he likely met Virginia Hill. but it was not enough. and was almost continuously fighting with Virginia Hill. representing Lansky and Siegel. which forced Siegel to pay higher prices. Prior to the grand opening. The Flamingo was forced to close until its hotel section was completed. Siegel soon picked up another aide. By the time the Flamingo reopened on March 1. He ended up selling the El Cortez and using the profits of that sale to help. William Randolph Hearst made it known in entertainment circles that supporting a gangster like Siegel may not be good for future careers. It was also alleged that contractor Del Webb often double-charged him. even his friend Meyer Lansky suggested that he sell the casino at a loss.) Wilkerson continued to gamble and lose money and the Lansky-Siegel group invested in and quickly took over his Flamingo project. the hotel section was not yet ready. Siegel’s wife was in the process of divorcing him for abandonment.com . things quickly quieted down. The Dragna mob of Los Angeles assisted in wresting the local service from Russell Brophy. Acts at the Flamingo often performed to fewer than a dozen people. publisher of a gossip newspaper and owner of several restaurants.
Siegel shrugged it off. Much of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel: The Gangster. the oral history collection at the University of Las Vegas. Allen Smiley was in the room and grazed by a slug. Within minutes of Siegel’s murder. 18882008). who had been monitoring Siegel and his phone calls. Gragg lists the possible suspects but does not speculate about who the most likely ones were. John Dickie. to call the police and an ambulance. Sometimes. Lupo’s choice of words include those that are obsolete or rare in English (at least American English). Siegel’s FBI files and dozens of books and newspapers.30 carbine and Siegel was hit four times. Sedway. the Arizona Project at the University of Missouri. but in reality it is both a translation and an update to the earlier work. nine rounds were fired into the home from a . It is through Millicent Siegel Rosen and others that the memory of “Bugsy” Siegel survives. The latest release. As soon as the shooting stopped. Yet for those who are interested in the truth. witnesses saw two men quickly drive away. is one of the leading scholars on the Sicilian Mafia and its most frequently cited authority.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER behind and become “legitimate. helped in the revision process.” Meanwhile. The FBI. 1888-2008 by Salvatore Lupo (Palgrave Macmillan. however. Interestingly. History of the Mafia. 1888-2008. four times. Gragg was even able to personally interview Siegel’s daughter Millicent. for the most part. with Professor Gragg providing the facts and the possibilities with minimal speculation.” His friend and colleague. Siegel arrived in Los Angeles in the early morning of June 20 to move out of the rented Beverly Hills mansion as the lease was about to expire. she married Jackie Rosen. For The Two Mafias. As he notes in the acknowledgments. taking advantage of the personal library of Jane and Peter Schneider (for the unfamiliar.1888-2008 (When the Mafia Found America: History of an Intercontinental Plot.. At some point a plan was initiated and the killers moved into position. paid him a friendly visit to let him know that his life was in danger. which then was edited. now in her mid-eighties. The inaccurate myths about Siegel’s creation of Las Vegas linger. who was upstairs. Gragg provides extensive endnotes filled with the information he gathered from researching the Municipal Archives in New York. 2015) Salvatore Lupo. although it was clear that Siegel was dead. so it is intended for libraries and researchers and is. Dickie and the Schneiders are recognized scholars in Mafia studies). even more so when it is translated for his English-speaking audience. and his creditors’ patience was wearing thin. The Two Mafias: A Transatlantic History. saying that he carried a gun and no one was going to bother him. the son of the same Morris Rosen who proclaimed the takeover of the Flamingo. Lupo’s first English-language book. and he did additional research in New York. there is Gragg’s detailed biography. The Two Mafias is part of Palgrave Macmillan’s academic series on Italian and ItalianAmerican history. Greenbaum and Morris Rosen walked into the Flamingo and announced that Siegel had been killed and that they were taking over. was translated by a professional translator. She was active in the now-defunct Las Vegas Mob Experience as 43 well as the Mob Museum. is officially billed as a translation of his Quando la Mafia trovo’ l’America: Storia di un Intreccio Intercontinentale.com . Siegel still had a lot of debts to pay. So it is always a pleasure when a new work of his is published. he “basically rewrote the text of the first Italian edition. What this means is that more of Lupo’s Italian writing style is left intact and that the research is updated through 2011. and that can occasionally force the reader to consult a few dictionaries. Outside. he yelled for Virginia Hill’s brother. the Flamingo and the Making of Modern Las Vegas follows the same presentation. Lupo did his own translating and made changes to the text. Shortly before 11 p. out of informer-journal. The Two Mafias: A Transatlantic History. professor of Contemporary History at the University of Palermo.blogspot.m. revised and proofread by others.
com . An example of this is the pseudo-etymology that claims that the word mafia comes from Ma fia. Whyte. Here he rejects any notion that gangsters should be considered defenders of their communities. and his associates Ignazio Lupo. Bugsy Siegel.” While he discusses other cities. who now include Calabrians and Campanians among their ranks. Lupo’s book is a study of how the organizations “evolved in an ongoing process of interconnection and hybridization with an intercontinental network that linked individuals. the killing of Antonino Flaccomio in 1888. The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano. with xenophobia on the one hand and a tendency to romanticize “our bad people” on the other.” He shows that counterarguments existed then.” So why use it at all? A more critical source that was missed was Tim Newark’s Lucky Luciano: The Real and the Fake Gangster (republished in 2010 as Boardwalk Gangster: The Real Lucky Luciano). especially the Mafia.44 INFORMER the price range of the general public. of course. Meyer Lansky. including Arnold Rothstein. which unfortunately came out after Lupo completed his research. When Lupo makes these challenges. and is one of the book’s more intriguing sections. especially the wealth and corruption that came with Prohibition. Despite the frequent citations. such as Giuseppe Morello. often challenging the theses put out by a previous generation of sociologists and historians.blogspot. Lupo sees this as an antiimmigrant trend that was meant to “sever the link between the immigrants and their homeland. Some of Lupo’s previous research in this area served as a stimulus for a lengthy 2014 piece in this journal that examined the early New York Mafia and took Sicilian-American connections farther using genealogical records and archival sources. and Dutch Schultz are discussed and compared with Sicilian mobsters. The second chapter concerns the 1920s. he uses the terms myth and falsification. a 1921 work that asserted Italian immigrants resisted assimilation. A myth can be a false history created by writers and adopted by Mafiosi as truth. Lupo then examines Old World Traits Transplanted. and places. Lupo suggests a combination of factors. It not only deals with history but with theory. the major Jewish bootleggers and gangsters.” The book’s seven chapters start with a reference to a New York Italian restaurant named La Trinacria. Cosa Nostra. from Arthur C. or some other synonym. In the April 2012 issue of Informer. as Lupo writes. The Last Testament was informer-journal. who suggested that poverty created crime. which was the site of what is believed to be one of America’s first Mafia murders. or one concocted by the Mafiosi themselves. Lupo does recognize that it is a “pseudo-testament. Train. is relied upon to explain Luciano’s life and experiences. the Sicilian Mafia and the American Mafia. who left Corleone for New York in the 1890s. focusing on Antonino Giammona and an 1864 report by Turrisi Colonna. Next. interests. meaning “My daughter” in Italian. Lupo accurately points out that organized crime. his primary focus is on the “main centers” of Palermo and Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily and New York in the United States. early immigrant Mafiosi. The two Mafias are. one of Lupo’s frequently used sources. Falsification is the assertion that refuting the myths also disproves the existence of a criminal organization known as the Mafia. Vito Cascio Ferro and Francesco Motisi. especially since the concept of Fordism is essentially a caricature of Henry Ford’s manufacturing model. This begins his chapter on the origin of the Sicilian Mafia. was still transatlantic in nature. and the coordination of American and Sicilian Mafiosi in the assassination of Detective Jo- OCTOBER 2015 seph Petrosino in 1909. and later from John Landesco and William F. It is debatable that everyone was forced to conform to a Fordist model. ideas. then switches to the murder of Chief David Hennessy and eleven Italians in New Orleans in 1890-91.” likewise when law enforcement agencies started coordinating their efforts (like in the Pizza Connection case) they “scored some very important victories against both Mafias. He notes that “the two Mafias gained significant advantages by interacting within a transnational space. Regrettably.
Nevertheless. military and the Mafia in World War II. actually lost many of his connections who were killed off. who was the capo of the province of Trapani before he came to America. Another valuable work that was released after Lupo’s is C. his father was not the influential figure he made him out to be.blogspot. so these are two missed opportunities. Lupo’s next chapter focuses on the myths of organized crime and begins with Dutch Schultz’s attorney and brief successor.S. Lupo overlooks its origin in Chicago. Contrary to Bonanno’s claim. The Magaddinos played a more significant role in Castellammare. Vincenzo Troia (Lupo spells his surname Troja) who was later murdered in New Jersey after attempting to take over the Italian lottery. Many of the Sicilian leaders met and discussed strategy at the Birreria Italia café in Palermo. and Sicilian bosses such as Antonino Grillo. the arrests did not necessarily result in harsh sentences.” Lupo covers the investigation and findings of the Kefauver Committee of 195051 and McClellan Committee hearing that featured Joe Valachi in 1963. In the chapter titled “Looking for and at the Enemy. Some of the myths that were repeated in different forms 45 originated with Davis. and even Salvatore Maranzano. the New York mob boss.com . Alexander Hortis’ The Mob and the City. Lupo. Lupo analyzes Davis’s use of Unione Siciliana as a name for the Mafia. Lupo brings to light previously undiscovered (or not widely known) connections between Salvatore D’Aquila. “Dixie” Davis. the American boss of bosses from 1912 to 1928. but as Lupo points out. such as the mass killings in the Mafia after Maranzano was slain in 1931. Ciccio Cuccia (who antagonized Mussolini). Joe Profaci. sees that the evidence does not support it. and it makes a fascinating read. He calls Bonanno’s version the “vulgate” and shows that much of the background Bonanno provided is far from the truth. yet he still managed to climb to the top of the criminal ladder. Bonanno also made much of how he escaped the wave of arrests by the Fascists under Mussolini.OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER exposed as a fraud and a work that should not be used as a source for anything. In the 1930s. In examining the supposed conspiracy between the U. Francesco Motisi (who spent time in New Orleans and Liverpool). justifiably. Davis wrote a series of articles in Collier’s about his experiences and the gossip that he heard. It is in this chapter that Lupo separates the autobiographical version of Joe Bonanno’s life story from the truth. and the Minore family was even more important. Since much of the information that the Kefauver Committee relied on came from the Federal Bureau of Nar- informer-journal. and this would have been the perfect place to debunk The Last Testament. which utilized forgotten archival records. a name also used by Luciano in The Last Testament. Richard J. Lupo shows that Joe Bonanno even provided information to the Fascist authorities in the 1930s. Later.
with support from Nick Gentile (however. he refers to a Carlo Gioiosa. when he probably means “these people remained. who claimed there was nothing there and it was nothing more the Cold War hysteria. ma fia.blogspot. The Two Mafias does contain some factual errors and language/typographical errors that can hopefully be corrected in a future printing. dangerous and needs to be aggressively challenged by law enforcement in all parts of the globe. He has been a columnist for Informer since February 2011 and is a frequent contributor of articles on Mafia history. Later on Page 41. Lupo successfully takes on the critics who assert that Valachi was not in a position to know the information that he had. The penultimate chapter deals with the Sicilian wave and covers the interconnectedness of Mafia smugglers in the post-World War II era to the Pizza Connection. but then on the next page his name is spelled “Giacosa. and the FBN. he writes that John Torrio was from Campania. he writes that OCTOBER 2015 Masseria was born in 1880. but never Stephan. The many names can overwhelm the reader. the sources that claim a relationship state that they were cousins. On Page 27 he gives the years of birth of Joe Masseria and Salvatore D’Aquila as 1887 and 1877 when they were born in 1886 and 1873. which claimed a larger role for Luciano than what he actually had. he also uses Luciano to bolster his case). he wrote of the “Cherry Hills. Most importantly. and attacking and refuting the myths created by the mobsters themselves. he called Vincent Teresa a member of the New England Family. likewise Stefano Magaddino may have been known as Steve. and it is the best summation of the transnational Mafia in a few short pages available. based on past successes. Next he tries to find the origin of the term La Cosa Nostra. Lupo recognizes that the Mafia. informer-journal. on Mafia ideology. Overall. and going back to the difference between the myths and the falsification. respectively. cosa nostra. he says that Willie Moretti was Frank Costello’s brother-in-law.com . outdated theories. and Tomasso Buscetta. Lupo writes “this people remained” on Page 153. he covers the alleged heroin pipeline that Luciano headed. and turning it into a label. The Two Mafias is a significant and important contribution to the scholarly literature on the Mafia and general organized crime. On Pages 29 and 41. rejects mythical origins such as Bonanno’s “Ma fia. Lupo ends the section with an examination of how the rules are followed within the Mafia. but based on Moretti’s testimony in the Kefauver hearings this is also unlikely. makes it clear that because the rules were not always followed does not mean there were no rules. On Page 148 and several other pages. Warner has been researching the history of organized crime for three decades.46 INFORMER cotics (FBN). but overlooks the possibility that the FBI created it by taking a common euphemism. and they probably were not related at all. It is a fair position backed by the evidence. The final chapter. he was from Matera in the region of Basilicata. he was only known as Carlo or Carl and to my knowledge was never called Charles. Lupo takes a middle ground between the critics.” and considers family relationships (citing the Iannis) and their role within the Mafia. there is a printing error where a paragraph is broken up into two by splitting the word “traditional.” None of these errors affect his arguments. On Page 120. On multiple pages. Richard N. the Bonannos.” meaning “My daughter. that Italian-American cooperation in prosecuting the Mafia will result in its eventual eradication. It corrects many of the old.” so the reader is not going to know which spelling is correct. Lupo ends with the hope. presenting us with little-known historical facts that increase our understanding of the past. Gambino clan instead of Cherry Hill. but Lupo narrows his focus to the Gambino-Inzerillo clan (including a relationship chart). is real. on Page 170.” New Jersey. but readers should be aware of them. when he was an associate. he has Carlo Gambino renamed Charles Gambino. Finally. On Page 62. further analyzes the terms Mafia and La Cosa Nostra. by whatever name.” On Page 176. my daughter.
is shot to death. They arrest Antonio Impoluzzo (who is convicted of murder and electrocuted at Sing Sing Prison in May 1917). New York. He is sentenced to a term in San Quentin Prison. March 2 . 26 assaulted a police officer who was attempting to make an arrest. Frank Abarno and Carmine Carbone. Moretti is convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and given a suspended sentence. Detectives track one of the gunmen to an apartment at 336 East 115th Street. California. June 26 . “Big Jim” Colosimo is granted a license to reopen his cafe at 2128 Wabash Avenue. as he walks with cousin Rose Lomonte along East 116th Street in East Harlem. Lomonte later dies of his wounds.New York police thwart an anarchist plot to bomb St.blogspot.Parole is denied to imprisoned Mafia counterfeiter Antonio Cecala.1915 January 3 .Ippolito Greco. Greco had been a suspect in the earlier murder of poultryman Barnet Baff.Ignazio “Jack Rizzotto” Dragna is convicted of extortion in Los Angeles.Ignazio “Jack Rizzotto” Dragna is arrested in Los Angeles. is born in Brooklyn. (He later wins a legal appeal and is freed. He and two other men on Feb. he is found to be in possession of a handgun that fell from Lomonte's pocket. are arrested. Mafioso Angelo Palmeri is one of three men . affiliated with the anarchist Bresci Circle of East Harlem. future boss of the Gambino Crime Family. New York.Buffalo. February 26 . May 17 . Patrick's Cathedral. July .OCTOBER 2015 INFORMER 47 100 YEARS AGO .East Harlem crime boss / political leader Giosue Gallucci and his son Lucca are shot by rivals within Lucca's cafe.Gunmen open fire on Thomas Lomonte. November 19 . He is carried across the street to Suydenham Hospital by twenty-year-old Willie Jack Dragna Moretti.Paul Castellano. October 7 .all residents of 68 Dante Place arrested for assaulting a police officer. along with San Pedro gang leader Salvatore Streva and Ben Streva. 336 East 109th Street.Angelo Palmeri of Buffalo. California. As Moretti leaves the hospital.) informer-journal. who reportedly happened to be walking by. January 27 .After a lengthy legal battle with Chicago officials. for extortion.com . March 5 . October 13 . East Harlem underworld fig- ure. is convicted of third degree assault. Thomas Lomonte is critically injured. Both succumb to their wounds at Bellevue Hospital.
blogspot.com OCTOBER 2015 .48 INFORMER informer-journal.
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