Showing posts with label Thompson machine-gun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thompson machine-gun. Show all posts

10 May 2017

There is a First Time for Everything

A little after midnight on this date back in 1931, Luigi Piazza pulled into a gas station near Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Greensburg is a small town in western PA outside of the city of Jeanette. At this time Jeanette, located in Westmoreland County, was home to numerous glass factories and a large portion of it's fifteen thousand inhabitants supplied much of America with it's glass. It was Piazza's job to supply these inhabitants with alcohol.

As Piazza sat in his car listening to the gas pump ding, I like to imagine him thinking to himself, "Gee wiz, there has never been a gangster bumped off with a Tommy gun in all of Westmoreland County. Being a bootlegger here sure beats doing it in Chicago."

Obviously we don't know what Piazza was thinking at the time but while he was thinking whatever it was that he thought, a large touring sedan pulled into the station and parked next to him with the back window curtains closed. After it came to a stop the curtains parted and the muzzle of a Thompson machine-gun, said to be the first ever used in Westmoreland County, came forth. As the station attendant continued to pump petrol into Piazza's car,the gunman pumped a number of rounds into Piazza. 

Mission completed, the sedan pulled away as Piazza slumped to the floor of his car. An ambulance was called and the bootlegger was rushed to the hospital where he died later in the day.

01 December 2016

He Done Her Wrong

When one thinks of the Golden Age of Hollywood, one doesn’t normally think about crime but Hollywood’s top stars lived with a constant fear that they could become the victims of armed robbers, extortionist or kidnappers. One of the most preyed upon movie stars was Mae West. She was the victim of both extortionists and armed bandits. Regarding the latter, in 1932 Mae was set up by a man named Harry Voiler, whom she considered to be a friend. Voiler was the manager of famed speakeasy hostess Tex Guinan and had ties to Chicago’s underworld. He moved to Hollywood in 1932 along with Guinan in search of Hollywood riches.
A bad guy at heart, Voiler just couldn’t help himself when it came to easy dough. Because Mae’s limousine was in the garage Voiler took to chauffeuring the actress around. On one occasion Mae opened her purse and pulled out a wad of $3,400. This plus the thousands in jewelry that Mae was always draped in was too much for Voiler to ignore. Knowing that he would be driving her around that night he got in touch with a couple of Los Angeles hoodlums and set up a robbery.  That evening, September 28, Voiler picked up Mae at the Paramount Studios and drove her and her manager back to Mae’s house. As Mae’s manager ran up to her apartment to feed her pet monkey, a man stepped up to the car and jerked open Mae’s door. With a gun hidden under a handkerchief, he demanded Mae’s purse and her jewelry.  Once he got what he was after he he told Voiler to take off.
Mae wanted to go to the police but Voiler said that she should wait to see if the robbers try to ransom back her jewelry, he even volunteered to act as her go between,  so the star agreed to wait. In the following weeks Voiler said that the bandits were willing to negotiate and that he would have to fly to Arizona to meet with them, so Mae sent him. Once there he called Mae and said that they had all her jewelry and were demanding $3,200 for it and were not willing to negotiate. Mae refused. With his plan backfired, Voiler was forced to sell the stuff elsewhere.
After the incident with Voiler Mae went to the police and, although it took over a year, Voiler was finally uncovered as the master mind behind the crime. Unfortunately for Mae, by that time, he was back in Chicago and the police were unable to extradite him.
                        Mae West shows the underworld that they won't be able to mess with her.