Excerpt # 10 – Murder and Mayhem in the Big Apple – From the Black Hand to Murder Incorporated


With Louis Capone serving as the intermediary to keep peace between Kid Twist and Happy, the Boys from Brownsville thrived. When Albert Anastasia needed someone murdered, he relayed this information to Capone, who gave the contract to Reles and Maione, who then used their stable of killers, including themselves, to do the dirty deeds.

However, the Boys from Brownsville’s main source of income was shylocking (loaning money out at usurious rates), bookmaking (taking illegals bets on sporting events), and floating craps (dice) games. The “floating” craps games took place on street corners and in vacant lots. The more expensive games were run in car garages, or in any building that was vacant for the night.

The shylocking and bookmaking businesses were run from the backroom of a Brownsville candy store called “Midnight Rose’s.” The store was owned by a cranky old lady named Rose, who was the mother of one of the minor members of the crew known only as “The Dapper.” Rose was hassled several times by the law over the types of people who frequented her establishment.

“Why do you let hoodlums hang out in your store?” detectives once asked her.

“Why don’t the police keep them out?” she said. “Can I help it who comes into my store?”

Another time she was asked by the police if she knew anyone named “Pittsburgh Phil.”

“Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Francisco…what do I know about them?” she said. “I was never out of Brooklyn in my life. All I know is I got ‘syracuse’ veins. I’m a sick woman.”

It was stated in a 1942 corruption report to New York Governor Herbert Lehman – written by Special Assistant Attorney John Harlan – that in 1938 alone, more than $400,000 in loans were handled by Midnight Rose herself.

There was also a Boys from Brownsville “stolen-car department,” run by the younger members of the crew, who were basically go-fers for Reles, Happy Maione, Pittsburgh Phil, and the rest of the higher-ups. Teenagers like Dukey Maffetore and Pretty Levine stole cars on a regular basis, as did “Blue Jaw” Magoon and stolen-car-specialist Sholem Bernstein. Some cars were broken down and sold as parts, but most were used as transportation in murder contracts.

It was around the time of the Willie Shapiro murder that the Boys from Brownsville moved up in stature in the National Crime Commission. Through intermediary Louis Capone, the Boys from Brownsville were given numerous murder contracts by the Commission, which culminated in the Boys from Brownsville being given more territories in Brooklyn in which to run their rackets.

There is no doubt that the Boys from Brownsville’s elimination of the Shapiro brothers spurred their transition from strictly small-timers into the major leagues of organized crime, and especially murder.


This brings us to…


Murder Inc.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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: