February 14, 1929: Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre

 

Ironies abound in the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre by which Chicago gangster Al Capone sought to destroy his competitor gangster Adelard Cunin, known to infamy as George “Bugs” Moran.  Moran had made a failed attempt on Capone’s life, which led to Capone, leading the Italian dominated South Side Gang, to target Moran and Moran’s Irish dominated North Side Gang.  Capone had a false call made to Moran on February 13, 1929 tempting him with a truck load of liquor from Detroit that he could have at a bargain price.  Moran ordered that the truck deliver the liquor the next morning at 10:30 AM at the garage of the S.M.C. Cartage Company on North Clark Street where Moran kept his bootlegging trucks.  Instead, two of Capone’s men, disguised as cops, appeared at the garage and ordered the seven men present to line up against a wall.  Two professional killers then entered the garage with tommy-guns and, with the aid of the two fake cops, murdered the men, only gangster Frank Gusenberg survived long enough to make it to the hospital and honor the gangland code of silence prior to his death, refusing to say anything about who was responsible.  Ironies to take note of in this example of gangland savagery:

 

  1.  If Moran hadn’t slept in that morning he would have been among the dead.  Albert Weinshank, one of the dead, looked like Moran and probably when he was seen entering the garage caused Capone’s hit squad to go into action.
  2. Two of the seven men killed had the abysmal bad luck to simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. One was optician Reinhardt Schwimmer who liked to gamble and palled around with members of the gang.  The other was mechanic John May who was working on a car.
  3. Moran was not put out of business by the murders, but kept control of his territory through the end of prohibition.  He would die in prison in 1957.
  4. The two probable Capone hit men involved in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre did not live to see another Valentine’s day.  The bodies of John Scalise and Albert Anselmi were found in the wee hours of the morning on May 8, 1929 on a lonely road near Hammond, Indiana.  They were joined in death by gangster Joseph Giunta.  The three men had been severely beaten and then shot to death.  It is likely that they had been involved in a plot against Capone.  Capone, ever a fanatic baseball fan, had worked them over with a bat before having his gunmen finish the task.
  5. Public revulsion against the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was so intense that the Federal government made a maximum effort to get Capone.  Capone’s tactical victory in the Massacre led directly to his eventual downfall for income tax evasion.
  6. Both Al Capone and Bugs Moran repented their sins before their deaths and may have stolen Heaven in the tradition established by Saint Dismas.
  7. I sat next to one of the last survivors of Al Capone’s gang back in the eighties during a Chamber of Commerce dinner.  Now a kindly great grandfather, he had gotten out of Chicago decades before and invested in farmland in Livingston County.  I resisted the temptation to ask him if any gangster bodies were buried in said farmland.

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Published in: on February 14, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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October 23, 1935: A Mobster Cheats Satan

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Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

 “The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.”

Oscar Wilde

Arthur Simon Flegenheimer was born into a Jewish family of German immigrants in New York City on August 6, 1902, the Feast of the Transfiguration.  Early in his life his father abandoned the family, and life was harsh for Arthur, his mother and his younger sister.  He dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help support the family.  He quickly fell into a life of crime and by age 18 was serving a prison sentence.  He was paroled on December 8, 1920, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Going to work for Schultz Trucking, he swiftly returned to crime.  Among his gangland colleagues he adopted the nom de crime of Dutch Schultz.  Gangster Joey Noe hired him in 1928 to work as a bouncer at a small speakeasy, Hub Social Group.  Impressed by his brutality and ruthlessness, Noe took Schultz into partnership and soon he became wealthy owning with Noe a chain of speakeasies.  The Noe-Schultz gang quickly became a power in Manhattan, the sole non-Italian gang to rival the five Italian crime organizations that would later merge as the founding five families of the American Mafia.

The expansion into the upper west side of Manhattan, brought Noe and Schultz into conflict with Irish-American gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond.  War breaking out between the gangs, Joey Noe was gunned down and died on November 21, 1928.  Schultz was crushed by the loss of his friend and mentor.

Holding his own among the murderous New York gangs, Schultz pioneered the numbers racket at the end of Prohibition and also extorted “protection” money from restaurants.  In the summer of 1935 he was successful in beating a tax evasion prosecution.  During his trial he had portrayed himself as an honest business man, and he engaged in numerous charitable activities.  Secretly he began to study Catholicism, convinced that for some unfathomable reason Jesus had spared him from prison.

On October 23, 1935 Schultz was gunned down by Murder, Inc., the gangland Commission having ordered the murder, fearing that Shultz would attempt to murder New York prosecutor Thomas Dewey in revenge for his prosecution of Schultz, and bring the wrath of the law down on their heads.

Taken to a hospital, certain he was to die, Schultz begged to die as a Catholic.  Father Cornelius McInerney was summoned, gave Schultz some simple instruction in the Faith, baptized him and gave him the Last Rites. As  Schultz went into surgery, Father McInerney stayed at the hospital and comforted the three women in the life of Schultz, his mother, his sister and his wife.  Schultz died after the surgery on October 24.  He was given a funeral mass and buried at Gate of Heaven cemetery. (more…)

Published in: on October 23, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on October 23, 1935: A Mobster Cheats Satan  
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Murder, Inc.

In the late twenties of the last century, gangsters Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lansky set up the National Crime Syndicate.  Organized crime needed a mechanism to keep anarchy from breaking out within its ranks between various gangs and factions.  Operating out of a 24 hour candy store in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, Murder Inc. ( the name was a newspaper invention) provided this mechanism.  Louis “The Judge” “Lepke” Buchalter and Albert “The Mad Hatter” Anastasia were the leaders of Murder, Inc.

The Syndicate, by majority vote, would order the slaying of an unruly gangster and Murder, Inc would carry it out.  The hitmen of Murder, Inc. operated under strict guidlines.  No innocent bystanders were to be killed.  No hits could be ordered against judges, police or prosecuting attorneys for fear of reprisals from law enforcement. (more…)

Published in: on October 5, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Murder, Inc.  
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