Archive for Moe Sedway

Joe Bruno on the Mob – Virginia Hill – Part Four

Posted in Cosa Nostra, criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, labor unions, mafia, Mexico, mobs, Mobsters, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, police, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

On June 10, 1947, Hill was summoned by the mob to fly to Chicago. They didn’t tell her the reason, but Hill, being a seasoned mob moll, figured it must have something to do with Bugsy Siegel. Once in Chicago, Hill was ordered to fly straight to France. If Siegel asked any questions, she was to tell him she was going to France to buy expensive wine for the Flamingo, which she had done in the past.

In France, Hill phoned Siegel about her “plans.” It’s not clear if Siegel bought her explanation or not, but he pleaded with Hill to come back to California and stay with him at her home in Beverly Hills. Hill refused, knowing if she was right about Siegel’s eminent demise, she might get caught in the crossfire. Hill was too experienced a mob associate to risk her life for a man who maybe she loved and maybe she didn’t love. Besides, with Siegel gone, Hill figured she’d get more opportunities to make money with the mob. What Hill didn’t know was that the mob didn’t trust her either, but that they figured Hill could be useful to them in the future, even if only for bedtime escapades with the top mobsters she had previously sexually serviced.

On the night of June 20, 1947, a sharpshooter named Frank Carranzo held an army carbine and waited patiently outside the back window of 810 N. Linden Drive in Beverly Hills, a house rented by Hill that once belonged to silent movie star Rudolph Valentino. Carranzo had been laying down on his stomach military style for hours waiting for his prey.

In the upstairs bedrooms of the house was Hill’s brother Chick, bedding down Hill’s secretary Jeri Mason. Also upstairs was a West Coast gangster named Allen Smiley.

Around 10:30 pm, Siegel, wearing a brown pinstriped three-piece suit, turned the key in the lock of the front door. He slipped into the house and sauntered into the living room. Siegel switched on the living room lights and slouched comfortably on the couch; his left profile facing the sniper’s window. He picked up a copy of the local newspaper, and before he could turn a single page, Carranzo fired four .30-06 caliber bullets into Siegel’s body. The first bullet hit Siegel in the left side of the face. The second bullet shattered Siegel’s nose, and the other two bullets broke his ribs and tore apart his lungs. The gangster died instantly.

 At exactly 11:00 A.M., Jack Dragna got a call from Carranzo, who said, “The insect was killed.” Without saying another word, Carranzo hung up the phone.

The Los Angeles’ Coroner’s Report (#37448) stated the cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage. His death certificate (Registrar’s #816192) stated the cause of death was “homicide- gunshot wounds to the head.”

Even though Siegel’s death made the front page of all the newspapers, the police hardly cared a famous gangster was hit in their jurisdiction

One hardened flatfoot told the nationwide press, “When you stick your finger into a buzz saw you can hardly tell which tooth of the saw hit it. This rat, Siegel, didn’t have a friend in the world outside of a couple of movie stars. He double crossed everybody in the narcotics rackets, not to mention bookmaking and slot machines.

“Who killed him? Well, you might say he killed himself – by degrees. The process started

in New York when he got to be a big shot in a West Side mob. He had a gang that would

break the arm of a man they had never seen for as little as $10; kill a stranger for $50.

“Siegel was the boss, but he wasn’t content to give orders and collect the fee. He had to see the victim suffer, sometimes die. He liked to do the job himself. That’s how he got the name of ‘Bugsy.’ Other mobsters said he was crazy to take such chances, but Siegel seemed to delight in hurting people—as long as he couldn’t get hurt in the process.

“He had a hand in the vice racket and, as a lad, he stole from blind men’s cups. Any one of a thousand persons had a reason for killing him and would have if they could. But if you really want some information, talk to Virginia Hill.”

Yet, certain people saw a softer and kinder side of the man known as “Bugsy.”

Lou Wiener Jr., Siegel’s Las Vegas attorney, told the press, “When Siegel got killed you wouldn’t believe how many employees of the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund broke down in tears  (Siegel gave liberally to this fund- with stolen money, of course). He was very generous with the help and very well-liked. He was good to people. He was good to me and my wife.”

Siegel was so well-liked, only five blood relatives attended his  funeral. All his mob associates, some of whom had ordered his death, gave Siegel the ultimate insult – they ignored his death.      

Within minutes of Siegel’s demise, the mob took over the Flamingo’s operation. Moe Sedway, Gus Greenbaum, and a  mob associate named Morris Rosen, stormed into the Flamingo and announced to everyone that they were the new bosses. Rosen assembled a group of investors, including Sedway, Greenbaum, and Meyer Lansky, to raise $3.9 million to buy the property from Siegel’s Nevada Projects Corporation.        

The resort was renamed “The Fabulous Flamingo” and the hotel’s gaming license was

issued to Sanford Adler, who served as operator and “front man” for the mobsters/investors until 1948, when Greenbaum took over the show. With Greenbaum in charge and Siegel not there to skim the profits,  and the Fabulous Flamingo showed a profit of $4 million in Greenbaum’s first year as boss.

To add insult to injury, when it was renovated in 1993, the Fabulous Flamingo’s leadership, now the Hilton Corporation, tore down Siegel’s private suite near the pool. In 1997, the Flamingo celebrated its 50th anniversary and not a word was mentioned about Siegel. It was as if Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel had never existed.

A spokesman for the hotel explained to the press, “The ‘Bugsy’ image was not something that was particularly endearing to the Flamingo or Hilton. This was not George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. We’re talking about a robber, rapist, and murderer. Those are not endearing qualities.”


Joe Bruno on the Mob – Bugsy Siegel

Posted in criminals, crooks, Gangs, gangsters, labor unions, mafia, mobs, Mobsters, murder, New York City, New York City murder, organized crime, police, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel is the man most responsible for the re-birth of the city of Las Vegas, as the gambling capitol of the world.

Siegel was born Benjamin Siegelbaum on February 28, 1906, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. As a teenager, he crossed the bridge to Manhattan and started a gang on Lafayette Street, which skirted the boarder of Little Italy, with another thug named Moe Sedway. Their main racket was shaking down pushcart owners for protection money, and if they weren’t paid quickly, they burnt down the poor owner’s pushcart.

Soon Siegel teamed up with Meyer Lansky, the man who would shape his life, and eventually, his death. Together they formed the “Bugs and Meyer Gang,” which started out in auto theft, and ended up handling hit contracts for bootleggers, who were having their shipments hijacked. This tidy little killing business was the forerunner to the infamous Murder Incorporated, which handled hundreds of contract murders during the 1930’s.

In the late 1920’s, Siegel and Lansky hooked up with ambitious Italian mobsters Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese, Albert Anastasia and Tommy Lucchese. Together they formed a National Crime Commission, which controlled all organized crime in America for many years to come. Siegel was the main hit man for the group, and he led the four-man team, who riddled Joe “The Boss” Masseria’s body with bullets in a Coney Island Restaurant. Siegel developed the reputation as a man who not only killed frequently, but enjoy killing, with a glee of a schoolboy on his first date.

In the late 1930’s, The Commission sent Siegel to California to take over their West Coast rackets, including the lucrative racing wire, which ran horse race results to thousands of bookie joints throughout the country. Siegel pushed aside West Coast mob boss Jack Dragna, who was told by Lansky and Luciano, if he didn’t step down and hand the reins over to Siegel, bad things would happen to him quick. Dragna did as he was told.

While in Hollywood, Siegel, who was movie-star-good-looking, was renowned ladies-man, who sometimes bedding down three or four starlets at a time. He hung around with such movie hunks as Clark Cable, Gary Cooper, George Raft and Cary Grant. The girls he bedded included Jean Harlow, Wendy Barry, Marie McDonald, Virginia Hill and Italian Countess Dorothy diFrasso. Even though Siegel was busy with the broads, he always found the time to do a little killing on the side. In 1939, on orders from New York City Jewish mob boss Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, Siegel whacked Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg, who was singing like a canary to the feds. Siegel was arrested for murder, but after a witness conveniently disappeared, he was acquitted of all charges.

The bad publicity from the Greenberg trial ruined Siegel’s man-about-town reputation in Hollywood, so The Commission sent Siegel to Las Vegas, to scout locations for a hotel/casino they wanted to build. Siegel found the perfect place, and he convinced the boys from New York City, including his pal Lansky, to invest millions in a opulent night club he dubbed The Flamingo. The building of the The Flamingo was a disaster from the start. His insistence on only the best of everything skyrocketed the costs to a staggering $6 million, which annoyed his partners in New York City more than just a little. Plus, there were concerns that maybe Siegel was skimming a little construction money off the top, to fund his actions with the ladies.

Opening night in December, 1946, was an unmitigated disaster. Siegel had moved up the opening date from March 1947, while the hotel was still in the late stages of being built. Since The Flamingo did not show well (the lobby was draped with ugly drop cloths), the Hollywood crowd stayed away, and in a few months, The Flamingo was more than a quarter of a million dollars in the red. Losing money on gambling was unheard of in the mob, so The Commission made a business decision that Siegel’s days on earth had to end. Longtime pal Lansky had no problem signing off on his childhood pal’s death warrant. Business is business and Siegel was bad for business.

On June 20, 1947, in Beverly Hills, Siegel was sitting on the living room couch, in the home of his girlfriend Virginia Hill, reading the Los Angeles Times. Suddenly, two rifle bullets fired from an open window struck Siegel straight in the face. One bullet hit his right cheek and settled in his brain. The second hit him in the nose and pierced his right eye. The eye was found on the floor, fifteen feet from Siegel’s lifeless body.