Joe Bruno on the Mob – Ray Enright – The Man Who Took Down Vito Genovese- Or Did He?

The article below is about the man who supposedly “took down” famed Mafia Boss Vito Genovese. Maybe John Ray Enright, with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs at the time of Genovese’s arrested, actually did put the cuffs on Genovese, but it was his old cronies in the Mafia who actually took Don Vitone down.

Vito Genovese did not make too many friends in his nearly 50 years in the Mafia. He was so vicious, he allegedly killed his first wife, then made her body disappear. Then he fell in love with a lovely woman named Anna. The only problem — Anna was already married to a legitimate guy named Gerard Vernotico. So Don Vitone killedVernotico on a lower east side rooftop, then married Anna two weeks later.

A 1934 murder forced Genovese, in 1937, to go on the lam to Sicily.. When he returned in 1945, Genovese wanted his old mob family back from Frank Costello. But Costello would have none of that.

Costello had friends in high places, like Meyer Lansky and Albert Anastasia, who was as brutal a killer as Genovese. In 1957, Genovese arranged for Anastasia to be gunned down in the midtown barber shop. Then he sent Vincent “The Chin” Gigante to kill Costello as he entered his midtown apartment building. But Gigante was a lousy shot and he only gave Costello a superficial head wound.

As payback for Genovese’s treachery, Costello and Lansky, with Lucky Luciano’s blessing from his exile in Italy, set up Genovese for the fall. They enlisted the aid of Carlo Gambino to involve Genovese in a very lucrative drug deal. Genovese, as greedy as he was murderous, agreed to the deal, and when he was knee deep in dope, his former pals called in the feds. They even paid off a low level drug dealer to testify against Genovese in court.

The trial was a slum-dunk for the prosecution, and in 1959, Genovese was give a 15-year prison sentence in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. Genovese died in prison in 1969.

In 1959, after Genovese was incarcerated, Gambino was given his own crew to head, as payment for services rendered, which was called the Gambino Crime Family, and still is to this day.

So John Ray Enright may have put the cuffs on Genovese, but he certainly didn’t, in any sense of the term, “take down” Genovese.

Genovese’s pals in organized crime did that dirty deed.

You can see the article below at:

Ray Enright, R.I.P.: Remembering the top drug cop who took down Vito Genovese

By Alan Prendergast Tue., Nov. 15 2011 at 2:59 PM

John Ray Enright died this past weekend at the age of 85, leading to some polite tributes here and there, with most focusing on his years as director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in the 1970s and 1980s and his subsequent service as a member of the Colorado Parole Board. But I remember Enright in a different context as well — as a smart, funny and extremely modest man who somehow survived decades in the trenches of America’s war on drugs and emerged with his integrity intact.

I didn’t have much interaction with Enright when he was at CBI. But after his retirement, we had some conversations about a possible collaboration on a book about his law enforcement career, most of which had been spent as a federal drug warrior. He’d started in 1951 as a field agent in New York City for the Bureau of Narcotics, later known as the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and then as the Drug Enforcement Administration, and worked his way up to assistant director of the entire DEA before requesting a return to the field and ending up as a regional director in Colorado. That’s how Governor Richard Lamm ended up luring him to the CBI.

Enright had a wealth of stories about the joys and frustrations of being a drug cop, from the rough-and-tumble futility of street buys to the elaborate investigations of major cartels that often ended in frustration and compromise. In the 1950s, he’d played a lead role in probing the role of the Mafia (or La Cosa Nostra, as J. Edgar liked to call it) in drug trafficking and the ruthless ascension of Vito Genovese over other family bosses. In 1958, when Genovese was taken down in a major heroin deal, it was Enright who made the arrest. Genovese, who died in prison a decade later, always maintained that he was framed; Enright insisted that it was a righteous case.

But Enright’s best stories weren’t about his triumphs; he was not a born braggart. They were the strange and often darkly comic adventures of a wide-eyed, small-town boy from Jersey getting an education on the street. He joined the Bureau of Narcotics when agents were still expected to make a quota of undercover buys, no matter how paltry or risky. During his second night on the job, he was sent to Harlem with a junkie informant to buy heroin. Although he practiced his lines carefully, all about having some “bread” to buy “horse,” he nearly got sliced up by some takedown artists in an alley. Later that night, he ended up making his first suspected narcotic purchase from one of his assailants. It turned out to be three capsules of sugar.

Another story involved thousands of morphine pills being hawked by a shady doctor in Atlanta, with the assistance of a strongarm thug named Bright and a woman described in reports as the “Lesbian bootleg whisky queen of South Georgia.” Enright’s men busted the tuxedo-clad Dr. Feelgood in the parking lot of a church, shortly before he was to serve as an usher in a wedding.

The stories were entertaining and revealing. Enright acknowledged that the street busts had little impact on the drug trade, but investigations of figures higher up the supply chain sometimes turned up corruption of local government — and even of federal agents. Although he proved himself a solid administrator, I got the feeling he often missed the simpler shades of gray on the street.

I don’t remember exactly what happened with the book project. Enright had no axes to grind and was too much of a gentleman to propose a tell-all book, so maybe there was a mutual decision not to pursue it. But they were good stories, from a cop’s cop who had a front seat in the theater of the absurd — and knew exactly what he was looking at.

More from our Follow That Story archive: “Philip Van Cise’s crime busting to be remembered at Bill Ritter-led dedication of new justice center named for him.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: