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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Weiners and losers

Today marks the 80th anniversary of New York City hoodlum Robert Weiner taking his final bow on the Gangster City stage.

Weiner first came to attention in 1926 when he was arrested for his participation in the botched Tombs breakout by his pal Hyman Amberg and the latter’s associates Robert Berg and Mike McKenna which resulted in the death of the warden and all three escapees. After being interrogated by Sgt. Rubberhose and Lt. Blackjack he signed a confession stating that he supplied the guns used in the deadly break out.

He spent thirteen months on death row because of the confession but was subsequently released after a retrial. At the very least it seems that he was going to act as getaway driver for the escapees.

In December of 1928 Weiner was arrested with three other bandits during an attempted safe blowing. Since they were picked up before they actually got into the safe they only received two years for having guns.

Weiner next shows up in custody in 1932 for his part in trying to organize a pharmacy racket. Nothing came of it. The Weinster managed to stay out of sight until April 20, 1935 when he was taking part in a supposed drug deal. Something went awry and Weiner pulled his gun and fired two shots into another guy’s throat. Some one else pulled out his roscoe and sent a .38 caliber telegram into Weiner’s windpipe which led to his demise three days later.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pop gets popped

John “Pop” Egan had been out of Sing Sing for four months when he was sleeping in the rear of Samuel Zournagian’s grocery store (which police said also doubled as a gang hangout) on this date back in 1927.

At about 9:15 pm three fellas came into the rear of the building and woke Pop up. As the ex-con was rising one of them drew a pistol and popped Pop twice in the head.

Pop went back to sleep.

Two men, James Durkin and Thomas “Scrub” Morrissey, were both subsequently arrested for the murder but both were acquitted June 19, 1928 for lack of evidence.

Wonder why they woke him up first?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just Chopper and me, and fifty-round drum makes three


Ah, the 1930s, when a fella could be chauffeured around town cradling his beloved Tommy gun. A little dinner, a little dancing, I'll check my hat but keep my gat thank you.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bag man

With robberies being a near daily occurrence on Manhattan's lower west side eight plus decades ago, saloon keeper Tony Renali got a gun and placed it near his cash register. A week or so later, 93-years ago today to be exact, three local bandits armed with gats entered his bar and held up the joint. They took $90 from Renali's register and whatever the customers had.

Once they had the goods the banditti - Angelo Sposato, John Drinane and Mike Swift aka "Mike the Burglar"- exited the premises promising to kill anyone who tried to follow. As the trio fled, Swift in the rear, Renali grabbed his pistol and let it say goodbye for him. Swift caught both parting sentiments in the back. He staggered and then fell. His pals turned and sent some lead at Renali and his patrons who ran into the rear of the saloon. Picking up their wounded partner Sposato and Drinane took off.

Renali called the police and while he was on the phone, a couple of blocks away two cops saw Sposato and Drinane lift a large burlap sack off of a delivery wagon and start for a tenement building. Something didn't look right so they approached the guys and, looking in the bag, found "Mike the burglar" suffering from his wounds. Mike was shipped off to the hospital and his confederates to the police station where Renali ID'd both of them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Gotchya!

John Lewis, known to his Lower East Side contemporaries as Spanish Louis, was walking along Second Avenue early on this date in 1910. As he was making his way somebody came up and said a "friend" wanted to see him around the corner. Louis made the turn and walked a couple yards up the block when, April Fools!!!, the "friend" turned out to be three rival gangsters hired to kill him. Louis caught on to the joke at the last moment because he managed to draw his gun before a bullet pierced his head. Ah, those funny gangsters.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Out Like A Lion

Thirty-seven year old Louis Greenberg had a long police record and was known as a bookie. On this date in 1924 he was hanging out in an East Village pool hall when somebody outside called for him. He and his friend, Max Kanowitz, proprietor of said pool hall, went outside to see what was what. Across the street stood a taxi. Two men were inside the cab and two men were standing on the running board; All opened fire on the duo. Greenberg dropped dead with a bullet in the head and Kanowitz dropped with a couple of wounds and died en-route to the hospital. Police felt that the killers had intended on just getting Greenberg and that it was Kanowitz's bad luck for following him outside. The only motive the cops could come up with was that it was either a bootlegging feud or some more warring between the "Little Augie" gang and the remnants of "Kid Dropper's" gang.
 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Elmer's Tune

Called a "card sharp and petty racketeer" by police, Forty-three year old Elmer Johnson was also a bandit and it was his part in a speakeasy robbery that cost him his life on this date in 1933. Johnson had been rushed to the hospital at 2:00am with five bullet wounds in his back after being shot down on the street. Since he was just a petty racketeer, Elmer did not feel bound by the unwritten rules of the underworld and broke the first gangster commandment, Though Shalt Not Squeal, and named his attackers. They were Ernest Snyder and Carl Christianson. A squad car was sent out and the two men were quickly apprehended and brought to the hospital where Johnson identified Snyder as the actual shooter before dying. Snyder of course remained mum on the issue but Christianson, impressed with Elmer's singing ability, let go with an aria of his own entitled I Saw Snyder Shooting Santa Claus Elmer Cause (he participated in speakeasy robbery last night).