Archive for Happy Maione

Mob Rats – Abe “Kid Twist” Reles ” Part 5

Posted in criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, labor unions, mafia, mobs, Mobsters, murder, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2013 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

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Soon after Rosen’s death, with Dewey and his men closing in on Lepke and Murder Inc., Lepke went on the lam for almost four years. While Lepke was hiding in plain sight in Brooklyn, one-by-one his Murder Inc. killers were arrested by the police. Most clammed up, but some started singing to save their own skins.

Happy Maione, Dasher Abbandando, and Mendy Weiss played dumb to the cops. But Blue Jaw Magoon and Allie Tannenbaum were eager to cut deals in order to avoid Sing Sing’s electric chair.

On Jan. 24, 1940, Reles was picked up for the murder of small-time crook, Red Alpert. Reles was smug about the pinch, figuring there was no independent corroboration of his involvement in Alpert’s murder, which had taken place way back in 1933.

Reles was wrong.

Two Murder Inc. flunkies had run to the Feds and implicated Reles in Alpert’s murder: small-time thug Harry Rudolph, who had witnessed the Alpert killing, and car-thief Dukey Maffetore. Both men also connected Happy Maione to the Alpert hit.

Maione, who had been nabbed on vagrancy charge and not yet charged with Alpert’s murder, and Reles were housed together in the Tombs Prison on Center Street. Lying through his teeth, Reles told Maione, “Don’t worry Hap. Everything’s okay.”

On March 21, after a visit from his lawyer in prison, Reles sat down and wrote a letter to his wife, Rose. The letter said: “Dear Rose, Go and see (New York District Attorney) O’Dwyer, and tell him I want to talk with him.”

The next day Rose Reles paid a visit to the New York City District Attorney’s office. There she met Brooklyn assistant District Attorney Burton Turkus.

Rose Reles told Turkus, “I want to talk to O’Dwyer personally. I want to save my husband from the electric chair. My baby is coming in June.”

Turkus nearly broke a leg rushing to tell O’Dwyer about their good fortune. Hours later, Abe Reles signed a “Consent to Be Interviewed” form, and the ball was rolling to put Murder Inc. out of business for good.

 

*****

 

While his world was crumbling around him, Louie “Lepke” Buchalter was in limbo; moving from place to place in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, still hiding from the law. To make matters worse, there was a $50,000 bounty on his head. Things were so bad for Lepke, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, ignoring Adolph Hitler, called Lepke “The Most Dangerous Man on Earth.” New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia added to Lepke’s angst when he ordered his police commissioner, Lewis J. Valentine, to wage a “war on hoodlums.”

The National Crime Commission was in trouble because of Lepke, and they knew it. Word reached Luciano (who was in prison on a trumped-up prostitution charge orchestrated by Dewey) for advice as to how to handle the Lepke situation. Luciano knew there was only two ways for the heat to die down. Either Lepke had to surrender to the Feds, or Lepke had to be killed and left on the streets.

However, convincing Lepke to do the right thing would take serious conniving.

“Dimples” Wolensky was a long-time pal of Lepke’s; whom Lepke trusted without question. The Commission sent Wolensky to meet Lepke in hiding and to convince the fugitive the fix was in. Wolensky told Lepke if Lepke surrendered, he would be tried only on the narcotics charge; netting him five years in prison, at most. Wolensky also told Lepke if Lepke surrendered directly to Hoover, Dewey would then be completely out of the picture.

Lepke was skeptical and he told Wolensky he’d think it over.

Lepke conferred with his closest pal in Murder Inc. – Albert Anastasia. Anastasia told Lepke the plan sounded screwy.

Anastasia told Lepke, “As long as they can’t get you, they can’t hurt you.”

However, the pressure was on from the law, and Lepke knew if he didn’t turn himself in, his pals on the National Crime Commission would do him in instead.

On Aug. 5, 1940, gossip columnist and radio host Walter Winchell received a phone call at his nightly headquarters: the Stork Club, at 3 East 53rd Street. Although he didn’t know it at the time, the voice on the phone was that of Albert Anastasia.

Anastasia told Winchell, “Don’t ask who I am, but Lepke wants to come in. Contact Hoover and tell him Lepke wants a guarantee he will not be harmed if he surrenders to Hoover.”

            The following day, Winchell said on his national syndicated radio show, “Your reporter is reliably informed that Lepke, the fugitive, is on the verge of surrender, possibly this week. If Lepke can find someone he can trust, I am told, he will come in. I am authorized by the G-men that Lepke is assured of safe delivery.”

            On Aug. 24, 1940, Winchell received another phone call at the Stork Club; telling him to go to a drug store on Eighth Avenue and 19th Street and to sit in a phone booth in the back. Winchell did as he was directed. At 9 pm, a customer casually strolled up to Winchell and told him to phone Hoover and to tell Hoover to be on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 29th Street at 10:20 pm. Winchell himself was directed to drive at once to the corner of Madison Avenue and 23rd Street.

Winchell followed the instructions, and at 10:15 pm, Lepke, wearing a mustache, and 20 pounds heavier than Winchell had remembered him, entered Winchell’s car. Minutes later, the two men exited Winchell’s car and walked to a parked black limousine. Hoover was sitting alone in the back seat.

Winchell opened the back door of the limo and said, “Mr. Hoover, this is Lepke.”

Hoover said to Lepke, “How do you do?”

Lepke said to Hoover, “Glad to meet you. Let’s go.”

            Minutes after Lepke had entered the limo, he realized he had been screwed. But there was nothing he could do.

 

*****

           

With Abe Reles and Allie Tannenbaum doing most of the squealing in court, and with Blue Jaw Magoon thrown in for good measure, one-by-one Murder Inc. killers were tried and convicted.

Buggsy Goldstein and Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss were indicted for the murder of small-time hood Puggy Feinstein. At their trial, Magoon, who became Goldstein’s best friend in the mob, testified against Goldstein.

While Magoon was babbling away in front of the jury, Goldstein jumped to his feet and screamed, “For God sake Seymour, that’s some story you’re telling. You’re burning me!”

            Both Goldstein and Strauss were found guilty, and at sentencing, the judge asked Goldstein if he had any final words to say.

Goldstein stood tall and smiled, “Yeah Judge, I’d like to pee up your leg.”

            On the night of June 12, 1941, both Goldstein and Strauss were fried in Sing Sing’s electric chair.

            Partners for life until death, Harry “Happy” Maione and Frank “The Dasher” Abbandando, went on trial next for the 1937 murder of gambler George Rudnick. The main witness against them was Abe “Kid Twist” Reles, who himself was in on the Rudnick murder.

While Reles was on the stand telling intimate details of the Rudnick slaying, Maione’s face turned a deep red at the treachery of his former partner. Several times, Maione jumped to his feet, ready to attack Reles. But court officers subdued him before Maione could do any damage to Reles.

After being convicted of murder and sentenced to the chair, Maione yelled in court, “I don’t mind going to the chair, but I wish I was holding onto Reles’s leg when they put on the juice.”

After several appeals were denied, on Feb. 19, 1942, both Maione and Abbandando were executed at Sing Sing Prison.

While waiting for him to testify at several trials, including those of Albert Anastasia and Bugsy Siegel, the New York City‘s District Attorney’s Office had Abe “Kid Twist” Reles locked under 24-hour police guard at the Half Moon Hotel, in Coney Island. Also there in custody were songbirds Allie Tannenbaum, Sholem Bernstein, and Mikey Syckoff. All four men had separate rooms in the hotel, and all were constantly in the presence of lawmen; even when they slept.

On the evening of Nov. 11, 1941, Rose Reles visited her husband in his sixth-floor room. According to a policeman on duty, Rose and Abe engaged in a heated argument, which the policeman characterized as “quite a fight.”

The following morning, at 6:45 am, the assistant manager of the Half Moon Hotel, Al Litzberg, heard a loud thud from the direction of an extension roof, which lay four stories below Reles’s window.

            According to the Nov. 13, 1941 edition of the New York Times:

“Sometime after daylight yesterday, Abe Reles, squat bulgy-jawed informer against the Brooklyn murder ring, climbed out on a window edge of the sixth floor of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island, fully dressed, but hatless. Strong wind from the gray sea tugged at his long, crisp black hair and tore at his gray suit.

“Behind him, in his room, lights still burned. Behind him the little radio that had played all night, still blared and babbled. The informer, looking southward, could see the surf break against the jetties. He could hear the dolorous clanging of the buoy as it rocked in the tide. He could see far down the deserted boardwalk. It was shrouded in the morning mist.

“Reles let the two bed sheets down the hotel’s east wall, two windows north of the hotel’s Boardwalk front. Around one end of the upper bed sheet he had twisted a four-foot length of radio lead-in wire. He had wound the free end of the wire on a radio valve under the window.

“He let himself down on the sheets to the fifth floor. One hand desperately clung to the sheet. With the other, Reles tugged at the screen and at the window of the vacant fifth-floor room. He worked them up six inches. He tugged again with his full 160-pound weight.

“The strain was too much for the amateur wire knot on the valve. Little by little, it came undone. Reles tried to save himself. He kicked towards the fifth-floor window ledge with his left foot, but merely brushed the shoe leather from toe to heal. He plunged to the hotel’s concrete kitchen roof, a two-story extension, 42 feet below. He landed on his back, breaking his spine.”

Of course, this was total nonsense fed to the newspapers by the crooked police, who, in fact, had picked Reles up and flung him, kicking and screaming, out the window (Reles landed 20 feet from the base of the building. If he had fallen accidentally, he would’ve dropped straight down.).

It had been a $50,000 bribe, paid by Italian mobster Frank Costello to stop Reles from testifying at any more Murder Inc. trials, which had induced several New York City officers of the law to act in such an unprofessional manner.

 

*****

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Mob Rats – Abe “Kid Twist” Reles – Part 3

Posted in criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, mobs, Mobsters, murder, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, United Kingdom with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2013 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Nine days later, on July 19, 1931, Meyer Shapiro was strolling down Church Avenue and East 58th Street in the East New York section of Brooklyn, when a dark sedan pulled up next to him, and three gunmen started firing.

Shapiro jumped into his car and tried to escape; with the dark sedan speeding after him.

Policeman Harold Schreck was driving nearby when he heard gunfire. He rushed to where the shots had come from, and he spotted the dark sedan careening straight toward him.

Not seeing Meyer Shapiro speeding away for his life, Policeman Schreck ordered the driver of the sedan to pull over. But the sedan whizzed past him.

Policeman Schreck made a U-turn and gave chase; his right hand driving and his left hand firing a gun at the speeding sedan.

Soon, Schreck was joined by another police car manned by policemen Joe Fleming, with his partner Harry Phelps riding shotgun. The two police cars chased the sedan onto the streetcar tracks.

The sedan skidded all over the road, almost tipping over several times, but it remained straight on the tracks. At one point, Policeman Schreck spotted a pistol being flung from the car into an empty lot on Sutter Avenue.

The chase ended at Livonia and Howard Avenues; where the three gangsters sprang from the car and tried to flee on foot. The cops jumped out of their two cars and caught all three men before they could get too far.

The three men turned out to be Abe Reles, Harry Strauss, and Dasher Abbandando (who had diminished skills at “dashing”). The cops also found a sawed-off shotgun near the sedan, which had been stolen six days earlier at the corner of Pitkin and Stone. It was obvious the hot shotgun had recently been discharged.

The cops arrested the three thugs and took them to the station house. But all three refused to squeal.

The police had information Reles and his boys were “out to get” Meyer Shapiro, but Shapiro, only slightly wounded, went into hiding. With no dead body, and no one to issue a complaint, Brooklyn District Attorney Geoghan was forced to let Reles and his men go.

That made it 20 times Meyer Shapiro had survived a Reles-led pistol attack.

As a consolation prize, a few days later, Reles and Happy Maione cornered Joey Silvers on a Brownsville Street corner, and up close, they blew his head almost completely off his shoulders.

But, Meyer Shapiro was still on the loose; with Reles and his boys in hot pursuit.

Meyer Shapiro decided Brooklyn was too hot for him, so he holed up in Manhattan where he figured he was safe. Shapiro figured he could establish himself in Manhattan; a little loansharking, a few slot machines, and maybe even a speakeasy on the side. While attempting to set up shop in Manhattan, Shapiro exposed himself to the underworld element; not a smart thing to do for a man with a bullseye on his back.

On Sept. 17, 1931, Meyer Shapiro stopped in a Manhattan speakeasy for a drink. It’s not clear who spotted him first, but soon Kid Twist Reles, Happy Maione, and Buggsy Goldstein abducted Shapiro and took him to a Lower East Side cellar, located at 7 Manhattan Avenue.

The next morning a newsboy found Shapiro’s body. He had been shot once behind the left ear at close range, verified by deep powder burns where the bullet had entered Shapiro’s skull. As was his plan, Reles fired the fatal bullet. Even Abe Reles couldn’t miss with his gun pressed up against Shapiro’s noggin.

Scratch Shapiro brother No. 2.

 

*****

 

Now all that was left of the Shapiro gang was Willie Shapiro, who had been making noise he was out to get Reles and his crew, despite the fact Willie had disappeared from the streets of Brownsville.

Willie Shapiro was considered the weakest of the Shapiro brothers, and was not a top priority on the Boys from Brownsville’s list of things to do. Reles and Happy Maione were too busy strengthening their organizations to put much effort in locating Willie, who by this time had embarked on a career as a prizefighter. Unfortunately for Willie Shapiro, he spent most of his ring time on his back staring at the overhead lights.

By 1934, Willie Shapiro knew he was dead if he insisted on going after the men who had killed his two brothers.

He told his sister Rose, “What’s the use? I can’t make it alone. I’m out of the rackets. I’m going to forget about those bums.”

It turned out Willie had waited too long to announce his retirement from a life of crime.

Although Reles and his boys were not actively seeking Willie Shapiro, he was still unfinished business, and Reles hated unfinished business.

On July 18, 1934, the day after Willie Shapiro had spoken to his sister Rose, Vito Gurino met Reles and Strauss on a Brownsville street corner.

He told them, “I just spotted Willie going into a place near Herkimer. You know, we’ve got nothing to do now. Why don’t we take him tonight and be done with it?”

Reles and Strauss agreed with Gurino’s assessment, and a few hours later they abducted Willie Shapiro from a Brownsville bar and brought him to the basement of a bar-and-grill on Rockaway Avenue, which Gurino owned with Happy Maione and Happy’s brother-in-law, Joe Daddonna.

The hulking Gurino, Happy Maione, Pep Strauss, and the Dasher beat the crap out of Willie Shapiro. When Willie had been rendered unconscious, Happy put a stop to the festivities.

“This bum’s done for,” Happy told his pals.

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That was the cue for Strauss to demonstrate his neat rope trick.

“Pittsburgh Phil” trussed up Willie Shapiro like a Thanksgiving turkey; then the killers watched Willie’s dance of death. When Willie stopped struggling and fell limp, the killers stuffed Willie into a laundry bag to make it easier to transport his body. They flung the laundry bag into the trunk of their car, and drove to the sand dunes in a secluded area of Canarsie Flats. There they dumped the laundry bag containing Willie’s body onto a sand dune, and commenced digging.

A Canarsie resident, who was having trouble sleeping, decided to go for a stroll near the sand dunes. He was startled when he thought he had detected movement on top of one of the dunes. The stroller crept closer, and he spotted four men digging in the sand.

Suddenly, Happy lifted his head and spotted the witness. He whispered to his pals, “Somebody made us.”

The four killers sprinted to their car, jumped in, and sped back to Brownsville.

The witness ran over to where the men had been digging, and he noticed the laundry bag in the half-dug hole. He bent down, pulled open the top of the bag, and there was Willie, all trussed up and not looking too chipper.

The witness ran to the local police station, and when the police arrived at the dunes, Willie Shapiro was declared dead. His body was brought to the Medical Examiner, who discovered sand in Willie’s lungs; meaning Willie had been buried alive.

Scratch Shapiro brother No. 3.

 

Mob Rats – Abe “Kid Twist” Reles – Part 2

Posted in criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, mafia, mobs, Mobsters, murder, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

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So the alliance was created, and Abe Reles’s and Happy Maione’s gangs merged into one formidable group of killers. The Shapiros had a few proficient gunslingers of their own, but with the addition of Reles’s new torpedoes, the tide seemed to be turning in Reles’s favor.

Word spread quickly through Brownsville about Reles’s and Maione’s ambitions and Meyer Shapiro was not too happy.

“Brownsville belongs to us,” Meyer told his brothers. “Nobody moves in here.”

Reles’s first order of business was to approach a young punk named Joey Silvers (Silverstein); one of the dupes the Shapiros used to do their dirty work. Reles paid Silvers, and he paid him well, to tip off Reles whenever there was an opportunity to ambush the Shapiros and kill all three brothers at one time. Soon, Silvers contacted Reles, and he told Reles the three Shapiros were holed up in a gambling house and would be leaving shortly, making them naked to a sneak attack.

Not having time to assemble the rest of the crew, Reles and Buggsy brought along a new confederate named George DeFeo. When they arrived at the gambling house, the Shapiros’ car was parked right out front. Reles’s plans were to icepick the tires, and then nail the Shapiros as they approached their car.

However, before Reles could even pull out his icepick, the Shapiros opened fire from the safety of the house. Buggsy took a bullet in his nose, and Reles absorbed another one in his stomach. After taking a single bullet in the head; DeFeo was dead.

Reles and Buggsy made it to safety, and with the help of a mobbed-up doctor, they licked their wounds and began figuring out how to take out Silvers for his betrayal, along with the Shapiros.

However, Reles had underestimated the depravity of Meyer Shapiro.

One cool autumn night, Meyer Shapiro jumped into his luxury sedan and scanned the streets of Brownsville, looking to hurt Reles where it hurt most: below the belt. Meyer Shapiro spotted the pretty young thing while she was window shopping at a local clothing store. She was the 18-year-old girlfriend of Abe “Kid Twist” Reles.

Shapiro swerved his car to the curb, and before the girl knew what was happening, she was in Shapiro’s car, kicking and screaming, but no match for a hardened thug like Shapiro.

Shapiro drove with one hand, and with his free hand he slapped and punched the girl into submission.

Shapiro then sped to a secluded area on the outskirts of Brownsville and raped Abe Reles’s girlfriend. As an added message to Reles, Shapiro pummeled the young girl’s face with both fists, as if she were a man.

Finished with his assault, Shapiro opened the passenger door and kicked the young girl to curb. She lay there for a while, and then dragged herself to her feet and staggered back to Brownsville, where she told Reles what had happened.

Reles was incensed; women were supposed to be off limits.

His anger intensifying, Reles plotted his revenge.

 

*****

 

Reles’s first order of business was to recruit another strong-arm for his crew. He picked a beaut in Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, destined to be the most deranged killer in the history of Brownsville, if not in the entire United States of America.

Strauss, who had never been to Pittsburgh (he just liked the name), was called “Pep” by his friends. It was later said Strauss enjoyed committing murder so much (it was reported he killed anywhere from 100 to 500 people), he often volunteered for murder contracts because, as District Attorney William O’Dwyer once said, “Just for the lust to kill.”

Strauss was a connoisseur in the art of killing. He used whatever weapons available. But his favorites were the ice pick (for immediate death), and a length of rope, which Strauss used to truss up his battered victims backwards from ankles to throat, and then watch them struggle as they strangled themselves to death.

Reles said, “When we got Pep it was like we put on a whole new troupe.”

Reles also recruited a nasty Irish killer named Seymour “Blue Jaw” Magoon, who got his moniker due to the fact he had a five-o’clock-shadow all day long.

After he healed from his wounds, Reles called for a meeting with Happy and both crews.

            “Now what happens?” Happy said.

“Well, the Shapiros have to be hit,” Reles said. “We can’t just muscle them out; they got to go. And remember, the first one is Meyer. I got something to square him for.”

The Shapiros knew they were hunted men. But they were lucky Reles and his crew couldn’t hit the Statue of Liberty with a scattergun at five paces.

For the next year, Reles and his boys stalked the streets of Brownsville looking for the Shapiros; especially Meyer Shapiro. They spotted Meyer 18 times, and 18 times their bullets missed their mark. On the 19th try, Reles wounded Meyer Shapiro and two innocent bystanders. But Shapiro’s wound was superficial and he escaped.

In early July of 1931, Irving Shapiro convinced his brother Meyer they should relax and take a ride for the day to Monticello in the Catskill Mountains to visit old pal, Jack Siegal, who was on trial for running illegal slot machines.

“You look a little jumpy, Meyer,” Irving said. “We can run up and see if we can do anything for Jack. The ride will do you good.”

Since he was tired of being a clay pigeon for Reles’s shooting gallery, Meyer agreed to take the day off to breathe the clean, fresh, upstate air.

By this time, Abe Reles had his long tentacles stretched throughout Brownsville and his ears planted to the ground. Minutes after Irving and Meyer Shapiro left town, Reles knew about their country excursion. Realizing this was an excellent opportunity to whack the Shapiros, Reles assembled his crew and presented his plan.

“There’s a card game at the Democratic Club on Sheffield Avenue tonight,” Reles said. “Those rats are sure to be back for it. They figure to leave Monticello around four-five o’clock. That would get them down here about eight. They’ll eat and be at the club, say, ten-eleven o’clock. We’ll be there when they come out.”

Reles was almost exact in his calculations.

Around 1 am, with Reles and his crew loaded for bear, Irving and Meyer Shapiro exited the Democratic Club and headed for their cars. However, about a dozen other card players exited at the same time, forming a shield around the Shapiro brothers. Before Reles and his crew could get off a clean shot, the Shapiro brother were in their car and gone.

“Quick, over to their house,” Reles told his crew. “They’ll head there.”

Reles and his men sped over to 691 Blake Avenue; the apartment building where the Shapiros lived. The Shapiros’ car was nowhere in sight.

“Good, we beat them here,” Reles said. “Now we go in the hall and wait. Remember, Meyer goes first.”

They snuck into the hallway of the apartment building, removed the overhead light bulb, and waited in the dark. No other residents entered the apartment building, and luckily for Meyer Shapiro, he had decided he needed a nice rubdown at a nearby bathhouse.

“I don’t think I’ll go home,” Meyer had told Irving in the car. “I’m still jumpy. Drop me off at the Cleveland Baths. I’ll stay there overnight. Maybe it will loosen me up.”

Irving Shapiro did as his brother said, and after he parked his car near the entrance to his apartment building, Irving entered the darkened vestibule.

Reles hesitated; realizing it was Irving and not Meyer Shapiro. But before Reles could say anything, the rest of his crew commenced firing.  When the shooting stopped, Irving Shapiro, hit 18 times, lay dead on the tiled floor.

Scratch Shapiro brother No. 1.

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

Posted in criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, mafia, mobs, Mobsters, murder, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, police, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

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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.

Excerpt # 9 – Murder and Mayhem in the Big Apple – From the Black Hand to Murder Incorporated

Posted in criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, mafia, mobs, Mobsters, murder, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, police, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2012 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

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Now all that was left of the Shapiro gang was Willie Shapiro, who had been making noise that he was out to get Reles and his crew, despite the fact that Willie had disappeared from the streets of Brownsville.

Willie Shapiro was considered the weakest of the Shapiro brothers and not a top priority on the Boys from Brownsville’s list of things to do. Reles and Happy Maione were too busy strengthening their organization to put much effort in locating Willie, who by this time had embarked on a career as a prizefighter. Unfortunately for Willie Shapiro, he spent most of his ring time on his back staring at the overhead lights.

By 1934, Willie Shapiro knew he was dead in the water if he insisted on going after the men who had killed his two brothers.

He told his sister Rose, “What’s the use? I can’t make it alone. I’m out of the rackets. I’m going to forget about those bums.”

It turned out that Willie had waited too long to announce his retirement from a life of crime.

Although Reles and his boys were not actively seeking Willie, he was still unfinished business, and Reles hated unfinished business.

On July 18, 1934, the day after Willie Shapiro had spoken to his sister Rose, Vito Gurino met Reles and Strauss on a Brownsville street corner.

He told them, “I just spotted Willie going into a place near Herkimer. You know, we’ve got nothing to do now (meaning killing). Why don’t we take him tonight and be done with it?”

Reles and Strauss agreed with Gurino’s assessment, and a few hours later they abducted Willie Shapiro from a Brownsville bar and brought him to the basement of a bar-and-grill on Rockaway Avenue, which Gurino owned with Happy Maione and Happy’s brother-in-law, Joe Daddonna.

In the basement, working over Willie pretty good, were the hulking Gurino, Happy, Strauss, and the Dasher. The beating was most brutal, and when Willie was finally rendered unconscious, Happy put a stop to the festivities; at least for a while.

“This bum’s done for,” Happy said.

That was the cue for Strauss to perform his neat rope trick.

“Pittsburgh Phil” trussed up Willie Shapiro like a Thanksgiving turkey; then the killers watched Willie’s dance of death. When Willie stopped struggling and fell limp, the killers stuffed Willie into a laundry bag to make it easier to transport his body. They flung the laundry bag into the trunk of their car and drove to the sand dunes in a secluded area of Canarsie Flats. There they dumped the laundry bag containing Willie onto a sand dune and commenced digging.

Shortly after, a Canarsie resident, who was having trouble sleeping, decided to go for a stroll near the sand dunes. Suddenly, he was startled when he thought he detected movement on top of one of the dunes. He crept closer and spotted four men digging in the sand.

Suddenly, one of the men lifted his head and spotted the witness. It was Happy and he yelled, “Somebody made us.”

The four killers sprinted to their car, jumped in, and sped back to Brownsville

The witness ran over to where the men had been digging and he noticed the laundry bag in the half-dug hole. He bent down, pulled open the top of the bag, and there was Willie, all trussed up and not looking too chipper.

The witness ran to the local police station, and when the police arrived soon after, Willie Shapiro was definitely dead. His body was brought to the Medical Examiner, who discovered sand in Willie’s lungs; meaning Willie had been buried alive.

Scratch Shapiro brother No. 3.

 

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Excerpt # 8 – Murder and Mayhem in the Big Apple – From the Black Hand to Murder Incorporated

Posted in criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, mafia, mobs, Mobsters, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, police, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2012 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

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Nine days later, on July 19, 1931, Meyer Shapiro was strolling down Church Avenue and East 58th Street in the East New York section of Brooklyn, when a dark sedan pulled up next to him and three gunman started firing.

Shapiro jumped into his car and tried to escape, with the sedan speeding after him.

Policeman Harold Schreck was driving nearby when he heard the gunfire. He rushed to where the shots had come from and spotted the dark sedan careening straight toward him.

Not seeing Shapiro speeding away for his life, Policeman Schreck ordered the driver of the sedan to pull over, but the sedan whizzed past him.

Policeman Schreck made a U-turn and gave case; his right hand driving and his left hand firing a gun at the speeding sedan.

Soon, Schreck was joined by another police car manned by policemen Joe Fleming, with his partner Harry Phelps riding shotgun. The two police cars chased the sedan onto the streetcar tracks.

The sedan skidded all over the road, almost tipping over several times, but it always regained its balance. At one point, Policeman Schreck spotted a pistol being flung from the car into an empty lot on Sutter Avenue.

The chase ended at Livonia and Howard Avenues, where the three gangsters sprung from the car and tried to flee on foot. The cops jumped out of their two cars and caught all three men before they could get very far.

The three men turned out to be Abe Reles, Harry Strauss, and Dasher Abbandando, who had obviously lost his skills at “dashing.” The cops also found a sawed-off shotgun near the sedan (which had been stolen six days earlier at the corner of Pitkin and Stone). It was obvious; the hot shotgun had recently been discharged.

The three thugs were arrested, but they refused to talk.

The police had information that Reles and his boys were “out to get” Meyer Shapiro, but Shapiro, only slightly wounded, went into hiding. With no dead body and no one to issue a complaint, Brooklyn District Attorney Geoghan was forced to let Reles and his men go.

That made it 20 times that Meyer Shapiro had survived a Reles-led pistol attack.

As a consolation prize, a few days later, Reles and Happy Maione cornered Joey Silvers on a Brownville Street corner, and up close, they blew his head almost completely off his shoulders.

However, Meyer Shapiro was still on the loose, with Reles and his boys in fiery pursuit.

Meyer Shapiro decided Brooklyn was too hot for him, so he holed up in Manhattan where he thought he was safe; and he was – for a while.

While in Manhattan, Shapiro, his gang shrinking quickly, figured maybe he could establish himself in Manhattan; a little loansharking, a few slot machines, and maybe even a speakeasy he could call his own. While attempting to set up shop in Manhattan, Shapiro exposed himself to the underworld element; not a smart thing to do for a man with a bull’s-eye on his back.

On Sept. 17, Shapiro stopped in a Manhattan speakeasy for a drink. It’s not clear who spotted him first, but soon Kid Twist, Happy, and Buggsy abducted Shapiro and took him to a Lower East Side cellar located at 7 Manhattan Avenue.

The next morning a newsboy found Shapiro’s body in that cellar. He had been shot once behind the left ear at extremely close range, which was verified by deep powder burns where the bullet had entered Shapiro’s skull. As was his plan, Reles fired the fatal shot himself, and even Reles couldn’t miss with his gun pressed up against Shapiro’s noggin.

Scratch Shapiro brother No. 2.

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Excerpt # 7 – Murder and Mayhem in the Big Apple – From the Black Hand to Murder Incorporated

Posted in criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, mafia, mobs, murder, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, police, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2012 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

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Word spread quickly around Brownsville about Reles’ and Maione’s ambitions, and Meyer Shapiro was not too happy.

“Brownsville belongs to us,” Meyer told his brothers. “Nobody moves in here.”

Reles’ first order of business was to approach a young punk named Joey Silvers (Silverstein), who was one of the dupes the Shapiros used for their small stuff. Reles paid Silvers, and he paid him well, to tip off Reles whenever there was an opportunity to ambush the Shapiros and kill all three brothers in one place at one time. Soon, Silvers contacted Reles and told Reles that all three Shapiros were holed up in a gambling house and would be leaving shortly, making them naked to a sneak attack.

Not having time to assemble the rest of the crew, Reles and Buggsy brought along a new confederate named George DeFeo. When they arrived at the gambling house, sure enough, the Shapiros’ car was parked right out front. Reles’ plans were to icepick the tires and then nail the Shapiros as they approached their car.

However, before Reles could even pull out the icepick, the Shapiros opened fire from the safety of the house. Buggsy took a bullet in his nose and Reles absorbed another one in his stomach. DeFeo was shot dead instantly.

Reles and Buggsy made it to safety, and with the help of a mobbed-up doctor, they slowly licked their wounds and began figuring out how to take out Silvers for his betrayal, along with the Shapiros.

However, Reles had underestimated the depravity of Meyer Shapiro.

One cool autumn night, Meyer Shapiro jumped into his jalopy and scanned the streets of Brownsville, looking to hurt Reles where it hurt most: below the belt. He spotted the pretty young thing while she was window shopping at a local clothing store. She was the 18-year-old girlfriend of Abe “Kid Twist” Reles.

Shapiro swerved his car to the curb, and before the girl knew what was happening, she was inside Shapiro’s car, kicking and screaming, but no match for a hardened thug like Shapiro.

Shapiro drove with one hand, and with his free hand he slapped and punched the girl into submission.

Then Shapiro sped to a secluded area on the outskirts of Brownville and raped Abe Reles’ girlfriend. And if that wasn’t enough, as an added message, Shapiro pummeled the young girl’s face with both fists, as if she were a man.

After the young girl’s face was a grotesque mask of blood, bumps, and bruises, Shapiro opened the passenger door and kicked her to curb. She lay there for a while, and then dragged herself to her feet and staggered back to Brownsville.

She told Reles what had happened, but her swollen face told everything.

Reles was incensed; women were off limits.

Reles slowly plotted his revenge.

Reles’ first order of business was to recruit another strong-arm for his crew. He picked a dilly in Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, destined to be the most deranged killer in the history of Brownsville, if not in the entire United States of America.

Strauss, who had never been to Pittsburgh (he just liked the name), was called “Pep” by his friends. It was later said Strauss liked committing murder so much (it was reported he killed anywhere from 100 to 500 people), he often volunteered for murder contracts because, as District Attorney William O’Dwyer once said, “Just for the lust to kill.”

Strauss was a connoisseur in the art of killing. He used whatever weapon available, but his favorites were the ice pick (like his compatriot Dasher), and a length of rope, which Strauss used to truss up his victims backwards from ankles to throat, and then let them linger there as he watched them strangle themselves to death.

Reles later said, “When we got Pep it was like we put on a whole new troupe.”

Reles also recruited a nasty Irish killer named Seymour “Blue Jaw” Magoon, who got his moniker from the fact that he had a five o’clock shadow all-day long.

Healed from his wounds, Reles called for a meeting with Happy and both crews.

“Now what happens?” Happy said.

“Well, the Shapiros have to be hit,” Reles said. “We can’t just muscle them out; they got to go. And remember, the first one is Meyer. I got something to square him for.”

The Shapiros knew they were hunted men, but they were lucky Reles and his crew couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a scatter-gun at five paces.

For the next year, Reles and his boys stalked the streets of Brownville looking for the Shapiros; especially Meyer Shapiro. They spotted Meyer 18 times and 18 times their bullets missed the mark. On the 19th  try, Reles finally wounded Shapiro and two innocent bystanders, but the wound was superficial and Meyer Shapiro escaped, still very much alive.

In early July of 1931, Irving Shapiro convinced Meyer that maybe they should relax and take a ride for the day to Monticello in the Catskill Mountains to visit old pal Jack Siegal, who was on trial for running illegal slot machines.

“You look a little jumpy, Meyer,” Irv said. “We can run up and see if we can do anything for Jack. The ride will do you good.”

Since he was tired of being a clay pigeon for Reles’ inept shooting gallery, Meyer agreed to take the day off and breathe in some of that clean, fresh, upstate country air.

By this time, Abe Reles had his long tentacles throughout Brownville and his ears firmly to the ground. Minutes after Irv and Meyer Shapiro left town, Reles knew about their little country excursion. Reles quickly assembled his crew and presented his plan.

“There’s a card game at the Democratic Club on Sheffield Avenue tonight,” Reles said. “Those rats are sure to be back for it. They figure to leave Monticello around four-five o’clock. That would get them down here about eight. They’ll eat and be at the club say, 10-11 o’clock. We’ll be there when they come out.”

Reles was almost exact in his calculations.

Around 1 a.m., with Reles and his crew loaded for bear, Irv and Meyer Shapiro exited the Democratic Club and headed for their cars. The only problem was – about a dozen other card players exited at the same time, forming a shield around the Shapiro brothers. Before Reles and his crew could get off a clean shot, the Shapiro brother were safely in their car and gone.

Reles was steaming mad, but he would not be deterred.

“Quick, over to their house,” Reles told his crew. “They’ll head there.”

Reles and his men sped over to 691 Blake Avenue; the apartment building where the Shapiros lived. The Shapiros’ car was nowhere in sight.

“Good, we beat them here,” Reles said. “Now we go in the hall and wait. Remember, Meyer goes first.”

They snuck into the hallway of the apartment building, removed the overhead light bulb, and waited in the dark. Luckily, no other residents entered the apartment building, and luckily for Meyer Shapiro, he had decided he needed a nice rubdown at a nearby bath house.

“I don’t think I’ll go home,” Meyer had told Irv in the car. “I’m still jumpy. Drop me off at the Cleveland Baths. I’ll stay there overnight. Maybe it will loosen me up.”

Irv Shapiro did as his brother requested, and after he parked his car near the entrance to his apartment building, Irv entered the darkened vestibule.

Reles hesitated, realizing it was Irv and not Meyer Shapiro, whom he wanted badly. However, before he could say anything, the rest of his crew commenced firing.

When the smoke cleared, Irving Shapiro, hit 18 times, was splattered dead on the tiled floor.

Scratch Shapiro brother No. 1.

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