Showing posts with label Murder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Murder. Show all posts

25 April 2020

Sláinte: The Strange Tale of “Durable Mike” Malloy

One of my favorite criminal stories of Prohibition isn’t gangster-related, but the story of “Durable Mike” Malloy, a New York derelict who had the misfortune of being targeted for murder by a group of grubby Bronx speakeasy habitués, who intended to collect a life insurance policy upon his demise. Only trouble was, Malloy refused to die. It was as if Rasputin had relocated to the Bronx. The clumsy murder attempts of the four perpetrators, nicknamed by the tabloids “The Murder Trust,” are both disturbing and darkly funny, as if they were ripped straight from the script of a Coen Brothers movie. The saga of Durable Mike Malloy and the Murder Trust is so strange and off-the-wall; it’s the kind of story that just can’t be made up. The truth is crazy enough on its own…

New York City, like the rest of the country, was getting the shit kicked out of it by the Great Depression in the early 1930s. The carefree America of the Jazz Age had vanished like smoke. In its place, a somber populace waited in blocks-long breadlines for food. Unemployment was skyrocketing to near 30%. Banks were closing at a rapid rate. Once wealthy Wall Street bankers now sat in gutters beginning for change. Prohibition was still the law of the land, though it had no real teeth. The increasingly large block of poor and homeless transients that roamed the city often scrounged whatever free food and drink they could at their neighborhood speakeasy.

Twenty-seven-year old Anthony Marino managed to weather the Dirty Thirties by the skin of his teeth. A grungy man who suffered from perpetual financial troubles and an advancing case of syphilis, Marino ran a small, bare-bones speakeasy in the back of an abandoned storefront at 3775 Third Avenue in the Bronx. It wasn’t much; a sofa, four tables, a twelve-foot long plywood bar along the back wall, and a modest supply of bootleg liquor (the saloon was so bland and nondescript that it didn’t even have a name). Marino's bartender was a twenty-eight-year-old Joseph "Red" Murphy, an alcoholic simpleton and one-time chemist who had been a vagrant for most of his life. While Tony sporadically paid Red a dollar-a-day wage, it was unspoken yet understood that Murphy’s real payment was the free run of his boss's stock of booze behind the bar. The homeless Murphy usually crashed on the bar’s couch after he closed, curling up under a single blanket to stay warm. By his own later admission, he "had nowhere else to go."

The front of Tony Marino's Bronx speakeasy at 3775 Third Avenue (New York Daily News)
It was a miserable way to make a living. Sometimes Marino’s customers paid him, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they’d empty whatever coins they had in their pockets and put the rest of their bill on a tab. Sometimes they paid the tab, sometimes they didn't. Some nights it seemed to Tony Marino as if he was pouring his meager profits down the collective gullet of his lowly clientele.  

By the beginning of 1932, Marino was up to his asshole in bills and he couldn’t seem to find a way out of the red ink. One evening, while looking out at his cruddy barroom, he hatched a particularly odious plan. Most of the people who drank here were tough neighborhood residents or shifty bums looking to cadge free booze and sandwiches. No one would miss those latter types. Tony Marino began sizing up a young homeless woman named Mabel “Betty” Carlson. After giving her food and a place to sleep, Tony carefully questioned her about her past. She had no family, no friends, and no future.

A couple of weeks later, Marino produced an official-looking document for the inebriated Carlson. Tony explained that he was running for alderman, and his petition needed signatures so he could get on the ballot. Miss Carlson gladly obliged. Little did Betty know that she had signed a $2000 life insurance policy that made Anthony Marino the sole beneficiary in the event of her death. A week later on St. Patrick’s Day, Marino got Carlson so drunk she passed out. He then carried her to an upstairs bedroom, stripped off her clothes, and doused her with ice water. Marino then opened the window, wheeled the bed right underneath it, and let the cold March air do the rest. Betty Carlson was found dead the next day. The cause of death was listed as bronchial pneumonia, and Marino collected his $2000 without incident. This money managed to hold Marino until the summer of 1932 when the bills began piling up once again…

Anthony Marino (New York Daily News)
It all began, like many bad ideas, with drinks at a bar. Two of Tony Marino’s trusted friends, Francis Pasqua and Daniel Kreisberg, joined him for a glass of hooch at one of the saloon’s four tables on a sweltering afternoon in late July 1932. The three men discussed how hard times were and how they just couldn't catch a break. It was a grim, desperate era they were living in. Marino harped on his two foremost concerns; a bad case of blue balls and his saloon’s extreme lack of business. In fact, at that moment, they were the only customers in the place. Well…except for the tall, rail-thin Irishman standing at the end of the bar trying to wheedle another drink out of bartender Red Murphy.

No one knew much about Michael Malloy – not even Malloy himself, it seemed - other than that he was originally from Ireland. The man had no family or friends. No known date of birth (they guessed him to be about sixty). It was said that he was once a firefighter, but nowadays his chief vocation seemed to be drinking. The man was a hopeless alcoholic. From dawn to dusk and back again, Malloy would drink whatever was placed in front of him; gin, whiskey, rum, beer, or anything else that could be distilled or brewed. He got by doing occasional odd jobs such as sweeping stores or collecting garbage. He was more than happy to be paid in booze instead of money. Malloy was, according to the New York Daily Mirror, part of the “flotsam and jetsam in the swift current of underworld speakeasy life, those no-longer-responsible derelicts who stumble through the last days of their lives in a continual haze of ‘Bowery Smoke.’ ”

Frank Pasqua sipped his drink as he turned his flat, lizard-like gaze on Malloy. Twenty-four years old, Frank was an undertaker by trade who ran a funeral home on E. 116th Street in East Harlem. A clever, cold-blooded type, Pasqua was one of the only people around who knew what Tony Marino had done to Betty Carlson. As he listened to Tony go on about his penurious business, Pasqua said softly, “Why don’t you take out insurance on Malloy?” Marino looked at his friend with a kind of famished hope, as if Pasqua had just tossed him a life preserver made of cash. “I can take care of the rest,” the young undertaker assured.

Tony agreed, “He looks all in. He ain’t got much longer anyhow. The stuff is getting’ him.” Both Marino and Pasqua turned to look at the stone-faced Dan Kreisberg. A twenty-nine-year-old greengrocer with a wife and three kids at home, Dan wasn’t quite as benign as he seemed on the surface. Despite being married, Kreisberg was an accomplice of Marino’s cousin Marie Baker, known to the police and media as “The Pants Bandit.” Marie, with a Bonnie Parker-like flair, would hold up men on the street and after relieving them of their money and valuables, force them at gunpoint to remove their pants. The victims’ lack of trousers made them unable (or unwilling) to give chase to the fleeing robber. Baker’s lone male companion would stand guard during the proceedings. For that minimal task, Kreisberg was paid a small share of the take. All things considered, however, Dan Kreisberg wasn't cut out to be a criminal; he lacked Pasqua's cunning and Marino's brutality. Kreisberg would later tell police he took part in the coming shenanigans only to support his family. Nevertheless, with the specter of murder placed on the table before him, Kreisberg gave his pals a firm nod. He was in. After all, it beat being the sidekick of “The Pants Bandit.”

With the plan in place, the insurance policies had to be set up. The boys convinced Mike Malloy that he needed some insurance on himself. Malloy, who had spent untold years in an alcohol-induced haze, didn't seem to think anything was amiss and allowed Frank Pasqua to steer him towards the insurance office. Malloy was instructed to identify himself as Nicholas Mellory and claim to be a florist, a detail that one of Pasqua’s funeral business colleagues would verify. However, no amount of pomade and toilet water could clean up the pestiferous Malloy. The policy application came back stamped REJECTED. As did a half-dozen others. It occurred to the boys that if Malloy was going to be insured by some gullible company, he could not show his face.

Frank Pasqua (New York Daily News)

It ultimately took Pasqua a total of five months (and the assistance of an unscrupulous insurance agent) to secure three policies – all double indemnity- on Nicholas Mellory’s life; two with Prudential Life Insurance Company and the final one with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Marino’s barkeep, Red Murphy, was enlisted to identify the deceased man as Nicholas Mellory and claim to be his brother and beneficiary. If all went as planned, the four plotters (Pasqua, Marino, Kreisberg, and Murphy) would split $3,576 (about $67,400 by current standards).

These four initial conspirators would soon be nicknamed “The Murder Trust” by the New York tabloids. By the time D-Day approached in December 1932, their ranks had swelled to include a handful of Marino’s regulars. Two petty crooks wanted in on the scheme, John McNally and Edward “Tin Ear” Smith (his prosthetic ear was actually made of wax). A vicious lower level member of the Dutch Schultz mob called “Tough Tony” Bastone learned of the plot and coerced a piece of the pie out of the plotters. Also tagging along was Bastone’s sidekick Joseph Maglione. After this, Tony Marino’s peculiar club was closed to further memberships…for the time being.

The lethal octet assembled in Marino’s speakeasy a few days before Christmas 1932 to remove Mike Malloy from the land of the living. When the shabbily dressed target wandered into the warm saloon, he was surprised to hear Tony Marino greet him by saying he now had an open tab. A price war between other neighborhood gin mills had forced him to ease his rules. Malloy, who was more accustomed to getting the bum’s rush from local taverns, grinned with gratitude at the news and happily sat down at the bar.

The boys initially tried to get Malloy to drink himself to death, but the man had been drinking so much for so long, his tolerance for alcohol seemed inhuman. That first night, Mike had so many refills that Marino's wrist got sore from tipping bottles. After putting away enough Prohibition-era alky to paralyze the New York Giants’ entire offensive line, Mike bid his new friends farewell and staggered out into the Bronx night. For three straight evenings, Malloy returned to the saloon and drank prodigious amounts of liquor with no ill after-effects. The plotters were stumped. Perhaps Mike would choke on his vomit or fall and fracture his skull if they just kept serving him. Nothing happened. It seemed as if Tony Marino would run out of booze before Mike Malloy breathed his last.

Tough Tony Bastone grew impatient by the fourth night and suggested that they stop fucking around and just blow Malloy’s brains out on a deserted side street. Red Murphy had a cooler head and suggested they feed their target wood alcohol. As a bartender and chemist, Murphy was intimately familiar with all the lethal poisons floating around the country’s speakeasies. The main ingredient of wood alcohol is methanol, a highly toxic chemical substance often found in such industrial compounds as paint thinner and automobile antifreeze. Consuming just ten milliliters of methanol was enough to induce blindness in humans. Two to eight ounces was enough to kill a grown adult. Marino loved the idea. Even the normally staid Dan Kreisberg broke into a grin, “Yeah, feed ‘im wood alcohol cocktails and see what happens.”

The next afternoon, Murphy procured several ten-cent cans of wood alcohol from a nearby paint store. Red then spent the next hour or so transferring the poison to innocuous-looking liquor bottles. That evening, Mike Malloy arrived for his usual gargantuan ration of booze. Murphy gave him a few pops of Marino’s standard rotgut to get him “feeling good.” He then announced to Mike that some “new stuff” had just come in today. Would he like to try it? As the plotters anxiously watched, Malloy downed a shot of booze laced with wood alcohol. To their amazement, he commented that it was quite smooth. Could he have another? Red poured him another…and another. Malloy kept drinking shots of whiskey mixed with wood alcohol and showed no signs of discomfort other than the usual symptoms of drunkenness. In the coming nights, Murphy and Marino took to lacing Malloy’s drinks with stronger doses of wood alcohol. Finally throwing caution to the wind, they served Mike straight wood alcohol. Seemingly oblivious to the noxious odor and taste, Malloy guzzled this poison night after night as the Murder Trust looked on in utter disbelief, probably wondering just what the hell Malloy had been drinking all his life.


After a full week’s diet of raw wood alcohol, Malloy suddenly collapsed to the floor of the virtually empty speakeasy one night. The crew fell silent. Frank Pasqua, the undertaker, moved in close to check Malloy’s vital signs. Mike was still breathing, but slowly and erratically. The boys eagerly watched for his chest to stop moving. Malloy let out a long, seemingly final ragged exhale…and then began snoring loudly. Mike woke up early the next morning to greet Red Murphy with, “Gimme some of th’ old regular, lad!”

The plot to kill Mike Malloy was not only turning into a giant pain in the ass, but it was also costing Tony Marino increasingly large sums of money; Mike’s open bar tab, the cans of wood alcohol, the monthly insurance premiums. Marino complained that he was going to go bankrupt before they knocked off Malloy. Tough Tony Bastone flashed two pistols and proposed to cut off Malloy’s tab the easy way. Frank Pasqua had another solution. He claimed to have once seen a man die after eating raw oysters mixed with alcohol. And their target had a well-known fondness for seafood. Pasqua suggested they pickle some oysters in wood alcohol, let them sit for a few days, and feed them to the unsuspecting Malloy while he boozed. As Frank told his partners, “Alcohol taken during a meal of oysters will invariably cause acute indigestion, for the oysters tend to remain preserved.”

Per Pasqua’s plan, Mike Malloy dug into his putrid meal. He amazingly sang its praises, “You oughta open a restaurant Tony, you know first-class food!” Malloy continued to gorge himself on Oysters Ptomaine while requesting refills of that “new booze” to wash them down with. The Murder Trust dealt themselves a few hands of pinochle while waiting for their mark to finally give up the ghost. Instead of dying, Malloy downed another glass of wood alcohol and issued a loud belch.

The conspirators were growing angry and well as desperate. By this point, killing Mike Malloy was as much about pride as it was about profit. They didn't even bother giving Malloy regular booze anymore, serving him straight wood alcohol from a large jug kept behind the bar. Some of the plotters started bitching about how they’d have to divide the loot with so many people that they wouldn’t see much of a reward.

Meanwhile, a dim light flickered in the corroded neurons of Red Murphy's alcohol-sodden brain. He opened a tin of sardines, proceeded to let them spoil for several days, and then ground the sardine tin itself in tiny metal shavings, which he proceeded to mix in with the rotten sardines. Several shards of broken glass were added, as well. Chef Red then garnished his pièce de résistance with a few small carpet tacks. After smearing this abysmal concoction onto two slices of bread, Murphy served Mike Malloy the sandwich. Mike tore into it with aplomb. The Murder Trust watched him with the intensity of vampires staring at a shaving cut. Any second now, the minuscule shards of metal would begin shredding Malloy’s internal organs. Mike was unfazed, however, and after snarfing the rest of his sandwich down polished off another glass of wood alcohol. Malloy politely asked Murphy for more of both, his breath fairly reeking of fish and chemicals.

Tony Marino called the plotters together to discuss what course of action to take next. The name “Rasputin” was muttered more than once during their conversation. Just how was this fucking guy still alive? One suggested merely beating Malloy over the head until he died. They could do it while he sat at the bar, or jump him out in the street and pass it off as a random mugging. In a flair of gratuitous ultra-violence that had Tough Tony Bastone’s name written all over it, the Murder Trust discussed getting their hands on a Thompson submachine gun and giving Malloy a Chicago-style sendoff. As tough as Malloy was, he certainly wasn’t bulletproof. The boys combed the underbelly of the neighborhood until they found a young Black hoodlum who was willing to sell them a “Tommy Gun” for $50. However, the plan fell through because Marino was unwilling to part with such a large sum of money. Mike Malloy had dodged yet another bullet (pun intended).

Ironically, Malloy took a week-long break from his booze consumption during this period to seek treatment for a festering sore on his leg at Fordham Hospital. It showed the Murder Trust that despite everything, Mike Malloy was indeed physically fallible. There was still hope...

From left to right, Dan Kreisberg, Joseph "Red" Murphy, and Tony Marino (New York Daily News)
By mid-January, the city of New York was locked amid a dangerous cold snap. Tony Marino harkened back to his successful dispatching of Betty Carlson. If the ice water and cold air could kill Carson, they could kill Mike Malloy.

That very night, Marino and Frank Pasqua waited until Malloy passed out drunk at the bar and hauled him outside to Pasqua’s roadster. The weather, the worst of the winter of 1933, was perfect for their mission. An intense blizzard was in progress and a demonic wind straight from the bowels of hell blew in from the northwest. The temperature was a bone-chilling -14 Fahrenheit. The two conspirators drove in silence to Crotona Park, a few blocks to the east. Once there, they dragged the unconscious Malloy into the snowy park. This task was not as easy as it sounded. Neither Marino nor Pasqua were great physical specimens, and Malloy was not a small man. In addition to Mike’s dead weight, they were also lugging a 5-gallon jug of water. Before long, their cumbersome stroll had both men panting and popping sweat despite the Arctic-like weather conditions. After laying Malloy on a suitable park bench, they stripped off his shirt and doused his head and bare torso with the contents of the water jug. Through it all, Malloy never stirred. Confident that Mike would quickly freeze to death, Marino and Pasqua retreated to the car.

When Tony Marino arrived at his saloon the next afternoon, he was astounded to find a half-frozen Mike Malloy asleep in his basement. It seemed at some point during the night, Malloy had woken up and instinctively staggered through the snowstorm back to Marino’s Third Avenue dive bar, where a drink-befuddled Red Murphy let him in. The sheer barbarity of Marino and Pasqua’s act was overshadowed by Malloy’s mind-boggling survival. As the New York Daily News would later put it, “He didn’t even get the sniffles and was back the next day for his alky ration.”

Not long after his icy jaunt through Crotona Park, Frank Pasqua began trying to cover his ass by spending as little time at the Bronx speakeasy as possible. Probably the shrewdest passenger on the ship of fools known as the S.S. Murder Trust, Pasqua and his father-in-law had just opened a beer garden of their own to the rear of their East Harlem funeral home. It was a nice touch; the bereaved could enjoy a cold glass of suds while their loved ones were embalmed in the next room. Unlike the syphilitic Marino, Pasqua wanted to at least try to appear respectable. Unlike the slimy Pasqua, however, Tough Tony Bastone was itching to kill someone, anyone. Unable to whack Malloy, Bastone set his sights on fellow conspirator John McNally. When Tony Marino asked why, Bastone merely replied, "I don't like that Irish cocksucker." Marino was coerced into helping Tough Tony and Joe Maglione stake out McNally’s house late one cold January night before bailing on the deranged plot. The bloodthirsty Bastone managed to back off for a bit.

February rapidly approached. Another round of insurance premium payments was due. By now, the increasingly frantic Murder Trust had reached a Clausewitzian state of total war against Mike Malloy. As such, the days of tainted oysters and broken glass sandwiches were long past. Far more drastic measures were required. Joe Maglione had a friend who, on the surface, was a harmless cab driver. In reality, Harry Green was a heartless sociopath who was eager to try out murder for the first time. For a $150 cut of the insurance money, Green was willing to run Mike Malloy down in the street with his cab. It seemed that deliverance was finally at hand for the Murder Trust.

The next night, January 30, Mike Malloy was gotten near-comatose drunk and loaded into Harry Green’s cab. Five of the conspirators (Tony Marino, Red Murphy, Tough Tony Bastone, Joe Maglione, and John McNally) crammed themselves into the vehicle (the insensible Malloy was shoved down onto the floorboards to serve as a crude footrest.) Snow had just begun to gently fall as the Murder Trust headed northeast towards Baychester, then a remote, sparsely populated section of the Bronx. They stopped in the northbound lane of Baychester Avenue, not far from Gun Hill Road. The street was deserted at midnight, so there were no witnesses to worry about. Bastone and Murphy dragged Malloy out of the cab and held him upright, crucifixion-style. Green backed his cab up two full city blocks to make sure he had enough room to accelerate to a high rate of speed. The cabbie gunned his engine as the boys tensed with anticipation. Bastone and Murphy ducked out of the way. Maglione suddenly screamed, “STOP!” Green halted the cab in a loud cacophony of squealing tires. Maglione had seen a light out of the corner of his eye. It turned to be just a local woman turning on a light in her room.

Green reversed his hack the requisite two blocks for another try. Once Malloy was propped upright in the street, the cabbie floored his accelerator. The weaving drunk rapidly swelled in the windshield, looking to the plotters like some crazy camera trick at the picture show. Just at the moment of truth, the completely oblivious Malloy blundered out of the path of the speeding taxi, which rocketed past him with inches to spare. Tony Marino and his pals literally howled with frustration.

Harry Green was angrily muttering curses under his breath as he backed his cab up yet another time. Bastone and Murphy, who were bickering incessantly by this point, once again stood up poor old Mike Malloy in the middle of the street to await his miserable fate. This time, Bastone and Murphy held up Malloy until the last possible second. Green was traveling between 45 and 50 mph when his cab struck the drunken man head-on. Malloy briefly flung up on the hood before disappearing from view. The plotters felt two pronounced thuds as the cab rolled over the body. The cab came to a stop. Just to make sure Malloy was dead, Green threw his hack in reverse and shot backward directly over Malloy’s unmoving form, which was spun sideways by the force of the impact. However, the headlights of an approaching vehicle scared off the boys before they could confirm their success.

Red Murphy, who had been cast in the role of Nicholas Mellory’s “brother,” was tasked with calling the area hospitals and morgues in an attempt to locate his “sibling.” No one had heard a thing. Nor was there anything in the newspapers about a man being run down by a hit-and-run driver in Baychester. The conspirators were mystified. Mike Malloy had seemingly vanished into thin air. Five days rolled past with nary a peep.

Harry Green (New York Daily News)
On the fifth night, his mind almost audibly snapping loose from its moorings, Tony Marino sat at his bar feverishly planning to shanghai and kill another anonymous derelict – any fucking anonymous derelict would do – and pass him off as Nicholas Mellory. Bastone and the others agreed. With Mike Malloy gone to who knew where they need someone to fill in. The boys decided to search the speakeasies and dive bars across the river in Harlem, where no one would recognize them.

Joseph Patrick Murray was a thirty-one-year-old unemployed plasterer's assistant when, on the night of February 6, 1933, he unknowingly wandered into the violent, insane universe of the Murder Trust. Like Mike Malloy, he was a heavy drinker. It was his misfortune that he bore an astonishing physical resemblance to the durable barfly whom he had never (and would never) meet. Murray was approached outside a 128th Street speakeasy by a "gentleman", later identified as Tough Tony Bastone, who offered him a job. With a little urging, the tipsy Murray was coaxed into Harry Green's cab. Despite the crowd of hungry-eyed men inside, Murray leaned back and drank heavily from the whiskey bottle they offered. Amazingly, they saw fellow Trustee John McNally on the sidewalk and flagged him down. Still unaware of Bastone's threats, McNally climbed inside the crowded taxi.

By this time, the Murder Trust wasn't wasting any time on niceties. Once they arrived back at Marino's Bronx dive bar, they offered the intoxicated Joe Murray a Malloyesque line of unlimited credit. The Murder Trusters certainly didn't care; they merely wanted Murray drunk enough so he could be run over with ease. Within just an hour or so, Murray obliged them by passing out cold at the bar. Tony Marino, perhaps sensing an end to this ordeal, let out a ghoulish chuckle, "Gee, he's almost a double for Malloy!" The hapless Murray was then shoved down onto the floor of Harry Green's cab. As they set out for Trinity Avenue to do the job, the Murder Trust was dismayed to see that there were far too much vehicle and pedestrian traffic to hit their target.

Since it was still too early in the evening, the boys retreated to Marino's speakeasy, where the unconscious Joe Murray was dropped on the grimy floor like a sack of potatoes. The Murder Trust perched at the bar like vultures and guzzled booze while they waited for the slender black hands of time to move around the clock. By midnight, they set out again. Harry Green said, "I know a place by Southern Boulevard." Murray was shoved back onto the floor of the cab as they set out.

While no one who knew John McNally would argue that he was some choir boy proudly sporting a chestful of Boy Scout merit badges, this whole situation had gotten just too crazy for him. An indestructible bum, missing bodies, kidnapping...and now on his way out to God knew where to run this poor bastard down like a dog in the street. McNally barked at Green to stop the cab and let him out. At the corner of Westchester and Forest avenues, McNally opted out of the whole mess. Before long, the Murder Trust would have good reason to wish that Tough Tony Bastone had killed "the Irish cocksucker" as he had originally intended.

After finding Southern Boulevard suitably deserted for their nefarious deed, Bastone and Red Murphy shoved a phony "Nicholas Mellory" ID in Joe Murray's pocket and propped him up to receive a kiss from the Mike Malloy Express. If possible, this attempt was even sloppier than their previous runs at Malloy. Harry Green was going a mere 30 miles an hour when he hit Murray's staggering frame. After seeing the poor man crunch under all four wheels, the Murder Trust figured he had to be dead. They split from the scene after seeing the lights of an approaching car.

Not only was Joe Murray still alive, but he was also found in the street by a passing policeman. He would stay in the hospital for the next fifty-five days. Unfortunately for our grubby anti-heroes, a nearby watchman had seen this whole grisly farce from start to finish and recorded the license plate number of Harry Green's cab.

When Green and Joe Maglione returned his cab to the garage around two that morning, Harry got word that the cops wanted to see him. Both Murder Trustees blanched. Green was interviewed by NYPD Detective Lloyd of the 40th Precinct, who wanted to question him about reportedly hitting a pedestrian earlier in the evening. Unaware of the bizarre conspiracy that he had inadvertently stumbled onto, Detective Lloyd allowed Harry Green to leave around five that morning. He and Maglione promptly woke up Tony Marino and told him of their grilling. All three agreed that even if Murray died, they couldn’t collect the insurance money. While they weren’t in jail yet, the sudden prospect of heat from the cops was unsettling, to say the least.

With Joe Murray clinging to life in the hospital and Mike Malloy still missing, the Murder Trust was at a crossroads. They could either call the whole thing off or search for yet another victim. Less than two days after the Murray fiasco, the door to Tony Marino’s speakeasy flew open and in hobbled Mike Malloy. Although banged up and swathed in bandages, he was otherwise as fit as a fiddle. In a strange touch, like a hat on a horse, the downtrodden Malloy was dressed in a brand-new suit. Marino, Pasqua, and the rest of the Murder Trust could only stare, jaws agape. 

Mike didn’t remember too much. He’d been pretty tied, after all. He remembered the taste of Tony’s booze. The sharp cold of the night air. The bright gleam of car headlights. Then, bang, blackness. Next thing he knew, he was in the hospital with a broken collar bone and a concussion. A passing beat cop had come upon him and called an ambulance to take him to Fordham Hospital (it turned out that Mike Malloy had been listed in the hospital under his real name, thus explaining why Red Murphy had come up empty when he called Fordham looking for ‘Nicholas Mellory.’) A charity organization took pity and outfitted him with this here suit. Anyhoo, he was just glad to be back here with his good friends! And…“I sure am dying for a drink!”

Taking his cue, Red Murphy reached for the jug of wood alcohol and poured Malloy a stiff one. The eye-watering stench of methanol rose heavily from the bar and quickly permeated every crevice of Marino’s shitty little saloon. It was a wonder the paint on the walls hadn’t started to dissolve. It was later left to the New York Times to dryly sum it all up with this headline: GIN RESISTS MOTORCAR.

The Murder Trust was utterly defeated. Every plan they cooked up that should have succeeded ended up failing miserably. In a bitter yet fitting irony, even if their early attempts to kill Malloy had worked, they would not have been paid a cent. The insurance policies for “Nicholas Mellory” were double indemnity. While death by automobile qualified for double indemnity, death by liquid poisoning, hypothermia, tainted seafood, and carpet tack sandwich did not. The Murder Trust had been unknowingly shooting themselves in the foot since Day One. As a bonus, Malloy (blissfully ignorant of the sinister forces at work against him) was still hanging around the bar, drinking large amounts of wood alcohol. Indeed, Malloy probably thought he had never had it so good. Unlimited booze and free lunch. A warm place to hang his hat on cold winter nights. Good conversation with his friends. Never mind that he might occasionally wake up half-naked on a park bench or concussed in the middle of the street. Mike Malloy had finally found a place where he felt… at home.

It was the very definition of insanity. By mid-February, both Tony Marino and Frank Pasqua were teetering on the edge of nervous breakdowns; that point of dementia where they began to believe that Mike Malloy could not be killed under any circumstances. A small fortune was so close they could taste it. Only one apparently indestructible man stood between them and their money. Finally, they decided that Tough Tony Bastone had been right all along; only straight-up murder would work.

Late in the afternoon of February 22, 1933, all appeared to be normal in Tony Marino’s speakeasy. Red Murphy stood behind the bar helping himself to the inventory while Marino sat at a nearby table glancing indifferently over a newspaper. Tough Tony Bastone and another man named James Salone were drinking at the bar, as was charter Murder Truster Dan Kreisberg. Per usual, Mike Malloy sat at the bar nursing a drink. For a change of pace, Malloy was drinking regular whiskey; the small saloon was blessedly free of the overpowering stink of wood alcohol.

In a surprise move around suppertime, Bastone challenged Malloy to a drinking contest. Already quite sloshed, Mike eagerly accepted. Glasses of whiskey were poured. Soon after starting, Tough Tony gave Red Murphy a menacing look. The feeble bartender knew what that look meant and deftly switched out Malloy’s whiskey for wood alcohol. Bastone and Malloy slugged it out for about twenty minutes; Kreisberg later estimated that Malloy drank nearly two quarts of wood alcohol in that brief period.

As strong as he was, a survivor of so much violent incompetence over the last two months, Mike had finally reached his limit. Malloy swayed at the bar, clutching the rail as his cast-iron constitution struggled against the surfeit of methanol now coursing through his system. Mike slowly sank to the floor as he passed out, while Tough Tony whooped and raised his arms as if he had just won a title fight. Red Murphy got his arms around Malloy and half-dragged, half-carried him nearly a mile through their Bronx neighborhood to a furnished room at 1210 Fulton Avenue. Dan Kreisberg and Tough Tony Bastone trailed behind them. None of the Murder Trustees seemed too concerned that passerby would notice them dragging an unconscious derelict along the sidewalk. 

As Bastone stood guard outside (just to make sure the little fucksticks didn’t chicken out), the huffing-and-puffing Murphy lugged Malloy up to the room. The landlady of the building, Delia Murphy (no relation), heard the commotion and asked what was happening. A surprisingly quick-thinking Red told her that his brother was feeling ill and that he needed to lay down. Once inside the room, Red Murphy deposited him on the bed. Murphy and Kreisberg put into the motion the plan that Frank Pasqua had outlined over the last week. A rubber hose would be connected to a gaslight fixture and the open end fed down Malloy’s throat. The resulting stream of poisonous fumes would succeed where they had so frequently failed.

After they connected the hose to the valve, they were dismayed to discover that it wouldn’t reach the bed. Murphy and Kreisberg merely stood over the semi-conscious Malloy, blinking stupidly at each other and the too-short hose. They solved their dilemma by dragging Malloy onto the floor. Murphy then stuffed a towel in Malloy’s mouth and fed the open end of the hose down his throat while Dan Kreisberg turned on the gas valve. A hissing sound filled the room as Murphy held the hose down fast. Malloy seemed to sense what was happening and began squirming and moaning. Mike’s face turned purple as he fought valiantly to live. Suddenly Red Murphy let out a disgusted grunt, “Christ, the sonofabitch pissed all over me!” Seemingly in response, Malloy stopped struggling and breathing.

The moment they had been so desperately seeking was at hand.

The furnished room where Durable Mike Malloy met his end (New York Daily News)
Dan Kreisberg quickly exited the death room while Red Murphy dragged Malloy’s body back up onto the bed. They had to make it look good for the old bitty that would eventually find him, after all. After Kreisberg made his way back to 3775 Third Avenue, he saw Tony Marino and Tough Tony Bastone. Not saying a word and probably disgusted with what had just gone down, the mild-mannered greengrocer sat at a table and began to drink. Red Murphy followed him in about ten minutes later. Although he had just erased a human life, he seemed vaguely nonplussed. Red stepped behind the bar and poured himself a drink, as if by habit. “Well, Red, how is it?” Tough Tony asked. “I think it is all right.”

Marino and Bastone were skeptical. After all, how many times had they tried to kill Mike Malloy? For all they knew, he would be staggering in the door any minute, demanding a tall glass of whiskey and a sardine sandwich. Needless to say, all the drastic failed attempts of the last two months had made the boys more than a little paranoid. Red Murphy was instructed to spend the night with the body at 1210 Fulton Avenue, to have a proper story for the landlady who would inevitably discover the body. Red didn’t kick up a fuss; after all, how often did he get to sleep in an actual bed? After arriving back at the crime scene, Red shoved the now-dead Mike Malloy over onto the other side of the bed. Mike smelled of sweat, funk, methanol, and urine, but Red didn’t mind. The room was blessedly quiet. After drawing the single sheet over him, Red Murphy slept soundly. 

The next morning after the body was discovered, the boys got on the horn to Dr. Frank Manzella, a shady former alderman who moonlighted as a quack doctor. Manzella obligingly filled out the death certificate of “Nicholas Mellory,” citing “lobar pneumonia” as the cause of death with “alcoholism as a contributing cause.” The good doctor was to be paid a total of $150 for this deed.

It was left to undertaker Frank Pasqua to dispose of the body. Pasqua, who by now just wanted to get this mucking fess over with, didn’t even bother to embalm the corpse. Michael Malloy was unceremoniously dumped into an $18 wooden box and buried in a pauper’s grave at Ferncliff Cemetery a mere thirty-six hours after his death. Never one to pass on a quick buck, Pasqua billed his insurance company for an expensive coffin and non-existent floral arrangements.

A post-mortem shot of Mike Malloy (New York Medical Examiner's Office)
After a legendary fight, Mike Malloy had lost his battle against the Murder Trust. Ultimately, however, even though he wasn't around to see it, Malloy would win the war…

Red Murphy successfully passed himself off as the brother of “Nicholas Mellory” and collected $800 from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Murphy and Marino both spent their shares of this money on new suits. Frank Pasqua repaired to the Prudential office to inform them that “Mellory” was dead and to request payout on the other two policies. When Frank finished speaking, the agent surprised him with a question, “When can I see the body?” Pasqua quickly replied that it had already been buried. The agent furrowed his brow. An Irishman buried so quickly, and without a wake? That was unusual. It was suspicious enough to warrant some investigation. The same agent soon asked around for Nicholas Mellory’s “brother,” only to find out that he had seemingly disappeared.

Whatever ACME glue was holding the Murder Trust’s scheme together quickly began to melt away. For one thing, way too many people were involved in this thing. Some of the plotters hadn’t been given their full shares; others hadn’t gotten anything at all. Taxi driver Harry Green had been paid only a fraction of what he was owed, and he complained to friends that that meager amount wouldn’t even be enough to fix the damage incurred to his cab. Not to mention the fact that the cops had grilled him on the Murray hit-and-run. Dr. Frank Manzella had yet to be paid for services rendered. Tough Tony Bastone grew even more unstable and threatened to kill everyone involved if he didn’t get the bulk of the Prudential policies. That intrepid Prudential insurance claims investigator was sniffing around asking for “Joseph Mellory.” The beginning of the end came suddenly in the early morning hours of March 19, almost a month after Mike Malloy’s death.

Tony Marino sipped a glass of whiskey while looking around his nearly empty barroom this late night. Clad in his new suit, Marino was feeling relatively good, all things considered. Not even the ceaseless burning in his crotch could break his mood. Sure the place was almost empty, but they had finally succeeded in knocking off Mike Malloy. Ironically, the long-delayed success of this murder plan had deprived Marino of his most loyal customer. Yes, he was a customer who never paid, but he was one all the same. Everything had worked out in the end. Marino had recently confided to Red Murphy that had the gassing plan failed, he would have scrapped the whole plot. At that moment, the only people in the place were Tough Tony Bastone and Joe Maglione, who were sitting at a table heatedly arguing with each other in a mixture of English and Italian. What else was new? Marino polished off his drink and told his bartender he was heading home. Red Murphy, his blood alcohol content somewhere in the stratosphere, raised a shaky glass at his boss. Tony Marino thus left the saloon in his hands for the night. As long as everyone kept their mouths shut and their heads cool, everything would be alright.

After all these years, Joe Maglione was finally fed up with his friend’s abuse and afraid for his life. He and Tough Tony had known each other for over a decade and Maglione was sure of one thing; that Bastone would kill him when the dust settled. Tough Tony had spent the better part of the last week bitching about the lack of money from the Prudential policies. Maglione countered that Bastone didn’t deserve any more of that money than anyone else. This latest round of bickering had started when the two had gone out to beat up a numbers deadbeat in Harlem earlier in the week. Unable to find him, Maglione declined to come along on future search parties. Word spread through the grapevine that Bastone was referring to his pal as “yellow” behind his back. After running into each other tonight at Marino’s joint, they had been arguing non-stop about the money and the backbiting, getting drunker all the while.

"Tough Tony" Bastone (New York Daily News)
Maglione interrupted his dark ruminations and got up to use the restroom. Bastone refilled his whiskey glass while muttering to himself in Italian. Joe Maglione stepped into the speakeasy’s bathroom. It stank of stale piss and wasted lives. After running some cold sink water on his rough face, Joe had only one thought as he whizzed; get him before he gets me. Fucking A right. After tucking himself away and flushing the toilet, Maglione quickly pulled and inspected his .38 caliber revolver.

Red Murphy had merely stood silently behind the empty bar drinking while Tough Tony Bastone and Joe Maglione argued. Even though most of their conversation was in Italian (which he didn’t understand), Red knew that they were arguing about the money. Things were getting quite hot. A lifetime of living on the streets and excessive alcohol consumption had left Murphy an emotionally hard man, but he felt a vague sense of fear. Red was staring at Bastone’s table when Tough Tony glared at him and barked, “The fuck you lookin’ at, dummy?" Murphy said nothing in response and finished his glass of whiskey. Except for a few grunts and unintelligible sounds, that final profane question represented the last words Tough Tony Bastone would ever speak. 

Murphy heard the sound of the toilet flushing and saw Joe Maglione emerge from the can with a gun in his hand. Bastone didn’t seem him until it was too late. The first gunshot sounded thunderous in the cramped confines of the small speakeasy. Tough Tony staggered to his feet, clutching his shoulder. Maglione fired again and Bastone screamed as he fell to the floor. Frozen where he stood behind the bar, Red watched as Maglione quickly walked over. Joe ran his hands through Bastone's clothes and confiscated his famed two pistols; a .45 Colt automatic and a smaller .25 automatic. Tough Tony suddenly leaped to his feet, a wild look in his eyes. The startled Joe Maglione let out a scream of his own. It turned out both of his shots had missed. Taking advantage of his former friend’s shock, Bastone dashed out of the speakeasy’s door. Maglione quickly snapped out it and gave chase, a gun in each hand. Out on the sidewalk, Joe raised his two pistols and fired at least four quick shots. One bullet caught Bastone in the left thigh and another tore through his heart, killing him instantly. Tough Tony collapsed in a heap to the sidewalk.

Joe Maglione looked to make his escape, but a passing beat cop had heard the shots and collared him after a short foot chase. Red Murphy found himself under arrest as a material witness to the homicide of Tough Tony Bastone. Despite his chronic intoxication and mild mental retardation, Murphy suspected that the shit was going to hit the fan. As the cops led Red away in handcuffs, it may or may not have occurred to him that this was his last night as a free man.

Joe Maglione and Red Murphy were held at the Bronx County Jail (Murphy was so intoxicated it took five full days to dry him out for questioning). Tony Marino read a newspaper account of the shooting at his dive bar and felt his world begin to collapse. Now the cops were crawling over his place with a microscope. After being charged with first-degree murder, Maglione played his hole card and first revealed to police the incredible story of the barfly who just wouldn’t die.

At first, investigators refused to believe Maglione’s outrageous story. Nothing and/or no one could be that convoluted, incompetent, and just flat-out bizarre. Nevertheless, the evidence slowly started to add up from other directions. The Prudential insurance investigator confronted Frank Pasqua with his expensive funeral billing sheet and said he still couldn’t find anyone that actually knew the deceased. For a guy no one seemed to know, “Nicholas Mellory” sure had one hell of a funeral.

The cops and the D.A. sniffed around Tony Marino’s past a bit and uncovered the story of the lonely death of Betty Carlson, whose sole beneficiary just happened to be Marino. John McNally and Harry Green were picked up for carrying concealed weapons while Dan Kreisberg was arrested for his role in a recent “Pants Bandit” caper; these busts were unrelated to the Malloy case and mere blind luck on the part of the police. Frank Pasqua was arrested at his funeral home. Tony Marino, who by now had resigned himself to arrest, went quietly at his Bronx house.

Once in custody, the Murder Trust promptly turned on each other and each man attempted to shift the blame to the others involved. Mike Malloy’s body was exhumed from Ferncliff Cemetery and examined by the coroner. High levels of carbon monoxide were present in his remaining tissue samples, which indicated death by carbon monoxide poisoning, rather than lobar pneumonia. The newspapers had a field day. “Durable Mike” Malloy, as he was nicknamed by the press, was transformed into a quasi-mythic figure in Depression-era New York.

The Murder Trust on trial: Dan Kriesberg (A), Joseph "Red" Murphy (B), Tony Marino (C), Frank Pasqua (D) - (New York Daily News)
Harry Green, Joseph Maglione, Edward “Tin Ear” Smith, John McNally, and Dr. Frank Manzella all turned state’s evidence, and in exchange for reduced prison sentences, agreed to testify against the Murder Trust. The now-recovered Joseph Murray told of his run-in with the Keystone Killers from the Bronx. In their trial that autumn, the boys tried to pin the whole scheme on the deceased Tough Tony Bastone. In what had become something of a pattern over the last year, they came up snake eyes. Anthony Marino, Francis Pasqua, Daniel Kreisberg, and Joseph “Red” Murphy were all found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. As the now ashen-faced young men were led out of the courtroom, one could almost hear Durable Mike Malloy cackling with glee.

On June 7, 1934, three core members of the Murder Trust (Pasqua, Marino, and Kreisberg) were strapped into Sing Sing Prison’s electric chair. Red Murphy, beneficiary of a brief reprieve, followed them on July 5.  As a New York Daily Mirror reporter wrote, "Elliot, the official killer, twirls the wheel of death. The 'kwe-e-e-' of the dynamo. Ten-thousand volts and 10 amperes. The rip-saw current that tears one apart. Three shocks."

In a final irony, the electric chair killed all four of them on the very first try.


Sources

Read, Simon. On the House: The Bizarre Killing of Michael Malloy. New York, Berkley Books, 2005.

Bronx Home News, March 20, 1933; May 13-14, 18, 1933; October 10-16, 1933.

New York Daily Mirror, June 8, 1934.

New York Daily News, March 20, October 29, 1933.

New York Herald Tribune, May 13, 26, 1933; October 20, 1933.

New York Times, May 14, 26, 1933; October 3, 5, 11, 14, 17, 20, 1933; June 8, 1934; July 6, 1934.

23 December 2019

Calamia caught, called killing conspirator

Despite D.A. claims, DeJohn murder remains unsolved

On this date in 1948...

San Francisco Examiner, Dec. 24, 1948.
A fugitive, indicted for conspiring in the May 1947 San Francisco gangland murder of Nick DeJohn, was captured in New Mexico on December 23, 1948.

The FBI and Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies arrested Leonard Calamia, aged thirty-two, on a federal warrant. Acting on a tip received from San Francisco, authorities sought Calamia at his new place of employment, the driver's license department of the New Mexico State Revenue Bureau in Albuquerque, but he was not there. They found him next door in the State Highway Department building adjoining the offices of the New Mexico State Police. They learned that Calamia, under the assumed name of Len Tallone, had held two government jobs in the year and a half he lived in New Mexico.

Calamia admitted his identity and his criminal history - he was an ex-convict, former narcotics peddler and Chicago hoodlum. Police determined that Calamia returned to Chicago briefly after the DeJohn murder and then relocated to Albuquerque, adopting his wife's maiden name of Tallone as his own surname.

He was placed in the Bernalillo County sheriff's office lockup. Bail was set at $50,000. Calamia waived a removal hearing and was turned over to San Francisco police on December 29.

Nick DeJohn
The plot against DeJohn

Calamia was one of five men indicted one month earlier for conspiring in the DeJohn murder. Two of his codefendants, Sicilian immigrants Sebastiano Nani and Michele Abati, were arrested in November. Two others, Frank Scappatura and Tony Lima, remained at large. (There were rumors that Lima was prepared to surrender to authorities at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, but that did not occur. Scappatura and Lima were never arrested in connection with this case.)

According to prosecutors, Nick DeJohn, a former member of the Capone Outfit in Chicago, had been trying to take over underworld rackets in the San Francisco area and was killed by rivals. DeJohn's body was found stuffed into the trunk of his Chrysler Town & Country convertible on May 9, 1947. Evidence indicated he had been strangled to death two days earlier.

Prosecutors believed that Calamia, known to be a close friend of DeJohn, was called upon to serve as the "finger man" in the murder, leading DeJohn to his killers. Calamia reportedly spent much of May 7, 1947, with DeJohn. The Calamia and DeJohn families had dinner together at the Calamia residence. Leonard Calamia and Nick DeJohn went out for drinks to the Poodle Dog restaurant and bar at 1125 Polk Street and then to LaRocca's Corner at 957 Columbus Avenue in the North Beach section. They parted at LaRocca's Corner. DeJohn was last seen alive as he was walking from the tavern.

Reports, later disputed, claimed that at the time of DeJohn's murder, Calamia was home having coffee and cake with DeJohn's son.

Calamia had been arrested almost immediately after the discovery of DeJohn's body. But he had been released May 31, 1947, due to insufficient evidence.

Authorities insisted for some time that the DeJohn murder was essentially solved. They claimed to know where DeJohn was killed, why he was killed and who was responsible. But assembling a convincing case proved to be a problem.

Trial

Prosecutors thought they had a winning case when Calamia, Nani and Abati were brought to trial. But they found that some of their important witnesses were unreliable and could not withstand cross examination.

Leonard Calamia
As jury deliberations started in early March 1949, the district attorney admitted that he did not believe the testimony of some of his own witnesses. Judge Preston Devine denounced witnesses from both sides for giving obviously false testimony.

After thirty hours of deliberations, the jury stood deadlocked and Judge Devine declared a mistrial.

No retrial

The most inconsistent prosecution witness also was the key witness in the grand jury proceedings that resulted in the original indictments.

Mrs. Anita Rocchia Venza claimed that she had overheard the five men plotting to kill DeJohn. She was in a basement apartment near La Rocca's Corner at the time and heard the conversation from an adjoining room. She claimed that the plotters learned of her presence and offered her $500 to forget what she heard and leave the state.

When her statements were determined to be unreliable, the original indictments were quashed, any chance of a retrial was lost and the fugitive warrants against the two at-large defendants, Scappatura and Lima, were voided.

The murder of Nick DeJohn remained officially unsolved.

See also:
Valin, Edmond, "Former San Francisco boss supplied info to federal agents," Rat Trap, mafiahistory.us.

Sources:
  • "Calamia arraigned here with two other suspects in De John slaying," San Francisco Examiner, Jan. 1, 1949, p. 5.
  • "Calamia ask high court for freedom," San Mateo Times, Jan. 20, 1949, p. 1.
  • "Calamia faces further quiz," San Francisco Examiner, June 1, 1947, p. 3.
  • "Calamia loses plea," San Mateo Times, Jan. 21, 1949, p. 5.
  • "Calamia silent in S.F. prison," San Mateo Times, Dec. 31, 1948, p. 4.
  • "DeJohn case jury dismissed; stood 7 to 5 for acquittal," San Francisco Examiner, March 9, 1949, p. 1.
  • "Delay asked in trial of Nani," San Mateo Times, Dec. 28, 1948, p. 5.
  • "Delay granted in DeJohn trial," Oakland Tribune, Dec. 30, 1948, p. 17.
  • "FBI nabs Calamia, accused as 'finger man' in DeJohn case," San Francisco Examiner, Dec. 24, 1948, p. 1.
  • "Five indicted for De John murder; woman testifies that she overheard plot," San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 30, 1948, p. 1.
  • "Hunt pushed for trio in DeJohn case," San Mateo Times, Dec. 1, 1948.
  • "New evidence in Nick DeJohn case," Santa Rosa CA Press Democrat, April 2, 1949, p. 1.
  • "Police hunt 4 suspects in De John case," San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 24, 1948, p. 1.
  • "Police move to wind up De John case as 'solved,'" Oakland Tribune, Nov. 22, 1948, p. 7.
  • "S.M. man held brains of Nick DeJohn murder," San Mateo Times, Nov. 22, 1948, p. 1.
  • "State to use Calamia story to police at gangland trial," San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 7, 1949, p. 17.
  • "Third DeJohn fugitive caught," San Mateo Times, Dec. 23, 1948, p. 1.
  • "U.S. warrants issued for 2 in DeJohn hunt," San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 23, 1948, p. 1.
  • "Warrants voided in DeJohn case," Santa Rosa CA Press Democrat, April 20, 1949, p. 5.
  • Pearce, Dick, "Calamia dislosures key to De John trial," San Francisco Examiner, Jan. 29, 1949, p. 1.

28 November 2019

Lost his love and then lost his life

How the Gophers got 'Patsy Doyle'

On this date in 1914...


NY Times, Nov. 29, 1914.

William Moore, better known by his Manhattan gangland alias of "Patsy Doyle," was relaxing at his favorite West Side watering hole early Saturday evening, November 28, 1914, when the bartender called him to the telephone. Moore had been chatting with two women but left them to take the phone call at about seven-thirty. The bartender overheard a portion of the brief conversation that followed. It sounded like Moore was arranging a meeting. "That's the man I'm looking for," the gangster said, "and I'll be here."

Committing to remain in a particular location while in the middle of a gang war - effectively putting himself "on the spot" - was not Moore's best idea, but evidently he felt comfortable in his surroundings and considered himself beyond the reach of his enemies in Owen "the Killer" Madden's Gophers gang. The base of Madden's Gophers was nearly a mile away.

A short time later, about eight-thirty, Moore was approached by twenty-two-year-old Margaret Everdeane. Everdeane had recently ended a relationship with Moore's lieutenant, William "Willie the Sailor" Mott, prefering to hang out with Owen Madden's faction and a Madden aide named Arthur "the King" Stein. (Mott was reportedly an active-duty U.S. seaman, who lost Everdeane when his vessel took him from New York harbor into action in the U.S. occupation of Veracruz, Mexico.) Mott was determined either to get her back or punish her in some severe way for her disloyalty. He had just sent her an ultimatum letter and was awaiting a reply.

Owen Madden
Everdeane greeted Moore, slipped him a note and then left the saloon. A more experienced underworld figure might have been alarmed that Everdeane knew his location, particularly given her recent fondness for Madden's Gophers. But this too seems not to have troubled him.

Moore might have thought that the note was intended to be passed along to "Willie the Sailor," a response to the ultimatum, but he found that it was for him, written by his own ex-paramour Frieda Horner, who over the summer had left Moore to become Madden's mistress (Madden was married to another woman, with whom he had a baby girl).

After the loss of Horner, an enraged Moore lashed out at whatever Madden men he happened to find. He beat up several of them. When Tony Romanello, of 431 West Thirty-sixth Street, made the mistake of taunting Moore about the relationship on August 19, Moore stabbed him. Moore would have gone to prison for the stabbing, but Romanello refused to cooperate with prosecutors and went into hiding rather than appear in court.

In the note passed by Everdeane, Frieda Horner expressed an interest in returning to Moore. What Moore thought of the idea was never revealed; he had no time to express it.

At about eight-forty, three Madden men, reportedly John Vincent "Hoppo" McArdle (also called Thomas McArdle, some say he became known as "Hoppo" or "Hoppy" because of opium use, while others suggest the nickname sprang from a leg disability), Arthur "Jimmy Ward" Bieler and William Mulhall, entered Otner Brothers saloon (also known as Nash's saloon), 640 Eighth Avenue just north of Forty-first Street. McArdle pointed out Moore, and Bieler drew a pistol and fired two bullets into Moore's chest.

The Madden men quickly left the saloon, headed south on Eighth Avenue, turned west on Thirty-ninth Street and disappeared into some tenements near Ninth Avenue.

In his final seconds, Moore turned, moved through a side door and staggered up a stairway leading to apartments over the saloon. He collapsed and fell dead on the stairs.

Early accounts
Early accounts of the "Patsy Doyle" killing contained a number of details later shown to be errors.

New York County Coroner Israel Lewis Feinberg repeatedly pulled the investigation in an incorrect direction by insisting that the shooting death of Moore was connected somehow with the murder of independent poultryman Barnet Baff at West Washington Market a few days earlier. Feinberg's efforts resulted in a number of confused press accounts. The local press proved itself capable of confusing things all on its own.

The morning after the murder, the Brooklyn Standard Union reported that Moore was killed following a drunken squabble over the Great War, recently erupted in Europe.

Brooklyn Standard Union, Nov. 29, 1914.
The New York Times reported that Moore was killed as he was on his way out of the saloon and that he was attacked by five gunmen. The idea that Moore was leaving probably grew out of his final position on the stairs. Feinberg later resolved the issue by indicating that Moore moved out of an unconscious reflex after being shot.

The New York Sun described the attack as a two-way gunfight, in which Moore's attackers were fired upon and wounded by some of Moore's men.

Investigation
While the coroner continued to try to link the Moore and Baff murders, the police were convinced that Moore was killed as the result of West Side gang warfare. They initially took six witnesses in for questioning. These included saloon staff and proprietor Morris Otner (Morris partnered with his brother Oscar in a number of alcohol-related businesses in Manhattan). These witnesses were released after questioning.

Detectives then began rounding up Gophers gang members. By the end of the month of November, nine gang members were in custody, held at the West Thirty-Seventh Street Police Station as material witnesses. Police attention then turned to several women who had knowledge of the Moore killing.

These women were Horner, nineteen, of 355 East Eighty-first Street; Everdeane, of 355 West Forty-third Street; Mrs. Edwin Hill, twenty-six, of 2299 Eighth Avenue; Mary O'Donnell, twenty-six, of the same Eighth Avenue address; and Josephine Moore of West Twentieth Street.

Hill and O'Donnell appear to be the women who were speaking with Moore at the saloon when he was summoned to the telephone call. Horner and Everdeane were the women who had jilted Moore and Mott in favor of Madden gangsters. Josephine Moore identified herself as the widow of the slain man.

Fear, jealousy and a bit of chivalry merged into detectives' working theory of the case, though vengeance and underworld rivalry were probably bigger factors. Detectives reasoned that Horner and Everdeane had been threatened by their ex-lovers. They and Buckley communicated the threats to Madden's gang. Madden supposedly sought to protect the women - and avenge harms previously done to them - by acting against Moore and Mott. Madden hoped to use the women to locate his targets and hold them in place while he dispatched gunmen to eliminate them.

Looking into Moore's background, police found that he previously lived in Brooklyn, where he was briefly associated with the Red Onion Gang of Myrtle Avenue. He reportedly had been convicted of selling narcotics (one source says he was convicted of carrying firearms) around 1912 and served a prison sentence. Following his release from prison, he moved to Manhattan's West Side, where some said he associated with the Hudson Dusters gang and others indicated his membership in a branch of the Gophers at war with Madden.

On December 16, 1914, indictments for first-degree murder were returned against Owen Madden, Arthur Bieler and John McArdle. William Mulhall had escaped. The indictments were announced by Assistant District Attorney Walter Deuel at a long-delayed inquest presided over by Coroner Feinberg.

Owen Madden
 First trials
The first Gopher defendants to be tried were Bieler and McArdle, charged with direct involvement in the killing of Moore. Their cases went before Judge Thomas Crain in General Sessions Court early in 1915.

Bieler employed a bit of trickery to ensure that neither he nor McArdle would be convicted of first-degree murder and face the death penalty. He offered to make a full confession and assist in the prosecution of the other defendants in exchange for a plea deal on the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter.

The deal was arranged. and Bieler was convicted and sentenced to eighteen years in prison. He was brought to the witness stand to testify about McArdle's role in the crime. But Bieler's testimony put the entire blame for the Moore murder on himself. He claimed that McArdle, unaware of Bieler's anger toward Moore and unaware that Bieler was armed, merely pointed out Moore for him. Bieler stated that he was carrying a pistol not intending to use it against Moore but for personal safety at a dance later in the evening. (Gang violence frequently erupted at dances, also known as "rackets.") When he approached Moore, Bieler said, a shot was fired at him and he drew his weapon and fired it in self-defense.

McArdle was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to thirteen years in prison. Bieler was received at Sing Sing on March 26. McArdle was received there on April 7.

NY Evening World, May 24, 1915

Madden trial
Owen Madden's murder trial began May 24 in General Sessions before Judge Charles Nott. He was charged with ordering and supervising the murder of Moore. He was represented by attorney Charles Colligan, a former prosecutor.

Assistant District Attorney W.H.L. Edwards delivered the opening statement for the prosecution. In it, Edwards said Madden set out to kill Moore because he considered him "a rat." According to Edwards, Madden was known to have said, "I have had it planned to croak Patsy Doyle because he is a squealer... When he had a fight he called a cop and I wouldn't dare trust him."

The state's key witnesses were "Willie the Sailor" Mott, Margaret Everdeane and Frieda Horner. While they had sought Madden's protection from Moore and Mott, Everdeane and Horner evidently did not want to see anyone killed. Their feelings about Madden and his gang changed abruptly following Moore's death.

Mott testified that he personally saw Madden waiting across the street from the saloon where Moore was shot. Everdeane and Horner told of their changing relationships with West Side gangsters. Everdeane said she responded to Mott's threatening letter by going to Madden's gang hangout, a lunchroom at Thirty-third Street and Tenth Avenue and speaking about it directly to Madden. Madden then hatched the plan to attack Moore and Mott in the saloon.

According to her testimony, Mott saw her in the saloon and immediately took her outside. That may have saved his life.

Horner testified about the conflict between Moore and Madden. She said that, when Moore was released following the Romanello stabbing, Madden sent him a note revealing that "Madden had got him out of trouble..., so that he could have the pleasure of getting Patsy himself."

Horner admitted that she telephoned Moore at the saloon the night he was killed.

On cross examination, prosecutors established that Horner had altered her story between the McArdle and Madden trials. Horner said that she lied in the earlier case but was being truthful in the Madden trial.

Madden (back row, center) and his Gophers.

Bieler and McArdle were brought from Sing Sing by the defense to testify that Madden was not near saloon when Moore was shot. Madden gangsters Owen Lawlor, "Dodie" Fitzsimmons and Martin Ellis testified that Madden had not been aware of Mulhall, Bieler and McArdle heading out to the saloon because Madden was not at his lunchroom headquarters that night.

As the defense brought its case to a close on May 31, Madden took the stand in his own defense. He claimed that he had not been involved in the Moore shooting and had not been near his lunchroom or the saloon that night. That Saturday night, he went to a dance at Park Avenue and Fifty-first Street and then to another dance in the Bronx. He returned to Manhattan about two o'clock the next morning.

Madden got into an argument with prosecutor Deuel during cross examination. He stood up and accused the assistant district attorney of trying to frame him: "I'm not getting a fair chance. Why can't you give me a fair show? You might as well take me out and kill me and get it over with!" The gang boss completed his outburst by kicking over the witness chair. Judge Nott ordered that Madden be taken out of the courtroom and then called a recess.

The defendant was more composed when court resumed. He answered most of the questions put to him on cross examination by claiming he did not remember.

Madden's jury went into deliberations on June 2. After seven hours, the verdict was returned.

NY Tribune, June 3, 1915 (shows Madden, Everdeane, Horner).

Conviction and sentence
Reporters noted that Madden seemed anxious about the verdict and then relieved to learn that he was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter. That conviction called for a lengthy prison sentence but removed the possibility of an end in the electric chair.

He was sentenced on June 8. Before announcing the punishment, Judge Nott spoke to Madden, discussing his foreign birth (he was born in Leeds, England, to Irish parents) and his youth in New York City. Two versions of the judge's remarks were published in the press.

The New York Sunday News quote - containing an error about Madden being born in New York -  read:
You are a young man, only 23 years old. You were born and brought up in a great city with good schools for your education and every chance to be a comfort to your family, but you chose deliberately a career of crime. Such a course brings its own reward and you are to receive it now. You meet the fate of all who choose to make of themselves menaces to the public welfare and nuisances to the citizens of New York.

The New York Press recalled the statement differently but perhaps more correctly:
The sentence I am about to pronounce is going to be such that I hope it will be a warning to men of Madden's class. He had all the advantages of an education in this city, coming here as a small lad, but he disregarded those advantages. He belongs to a class that has for years terrorized the section in which he lives. He did not work, and in some way or another he lived. I have examined the testimony in the case thoroughly and I find no extenuating circumstances. Madden has been such a pest in the neighborhood and an annoyance to God-fearing and honest citizens that I feel, however disagreeable the circumstances, I must give him the limit.

Judge Nott sentenced Madden to the maximum penalty allowed under the law, a period of ten to twenty years in prison. Madden began his term at Sing Sing on June 16.

Perjury
But the story of the "Patsy Doyle" murder case does not end there. In October, the state's key witnesses against Madden changed their views of events and supported Madden's request for a new trial.

Interestingly, Margaret Everdeane and Frieda Horner, the women who had been involved with Moore the faction and then switched to the Madden group and then testified against Madden at trial, went to Judge Nott and admitted to lying on the stand. (This was a more troublesome position for Horner, who had admitted to lying in the McArdle matter before reversing herself in the Madden case.)

Even Moore's buddy, "Willie the Sailor," recanted. He claimed that he lied about seeing Madden near the saloon when Moore was killed. He did so, he told Judge Nott, because that is what Assistant District Attorney Deuel wanted him to say. Willie Mott, removed from duty in order to participate in the case, was prepared to say whatever was necessary in order to get out of the trial and back aboard his ship. Mott revealed that Deuel paid him $60 before the trial as compensation for the pay he was losing as a Navy gunner.

Everdeane and Horner told the judge that they, too, were compelled to testify falsely by Deuel. Everdeane claimed that Deuel wrote out her testimony and delivered it through a Marian M. Goldman, who instructed her to memorize it.

Judge Nott saw no reason to believe the recanting witnesses. On November 4, he denied Madden's request for a new trial and denounced Everdeane, Horner and Mott for falsely accusing public officials of wrongdoing. That day, Everdeane and Horner were arrested on perjury warrants and locked up in the Tombs prison. They were indicted on charges of perjury a few days later. (The outcome of the perjury cases is unknown.)

Madden
Owen Madden did not serve his entire prison term at Sing Sing. His registration card for the U.S. World War I draft was filed from Auburn State Prison. He was soon transferred back to Sing Sing and then was paroled from there in 1923, after serving about seven years of the ten-to-twenty-year sentence.

His time in prison kept him from the underworld hazards and the underworld rewards of the opening years of the Prohibition Era. But he was released just at the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance. Madden became a part owner of a number of popular Harlem entertainment spots, including the famous Cotton Club. It is said that he became involved in organizing bootlegging activity and gambling.

In the early 1930s, Madden was sent back to Sing Sing for a year as a parole violator. Following his release in July 1933, he turned his attention to the spa city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. That city - specifically 506 West Grand Street - was his home for much of the rest of his life. He died of lung disease at Hot Springs on April 24, 1965.


Sources:

  • Asbury, Herbert, The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld, Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing, 1928, p. 352-355.
  • Levins, Peter, "Justice versus Owney Madden," New York Sunday News, Nov. 6, 1932, p. 52.
  • "Arthur Bieler," World War I Draft Registration Card, No. 606, Sing Sing Prison, Westchester County, New York, June 5, 1917.
  • "Doyle witnesses give Baff clues," New York Tribune, Dec. 7, 1914, p. 12.
  • "Dry padlocks snapped on nine wet doors; 'Owney' Madden's 'Club' is one of them," New York Times, June 23, 1925, p. 23.
  • "Gangsters seek writs to gain their freedom," New York Evening World, Dec. 14, 1914, p. 4.
  • "Gangsters take stand to prove alibi for Madden," New York Evening World, May 28, 1915, p. 12.
  • "Girl acted as lure in a gang killing," New York Times, May 27, 1915, p. 20.
  • "Girl admits luring a man to his death," New York Press, May 27, 1915, p. 3.
  • "Girl death Delilah to 2 gang Samsons," New York Press, May 28, 1915, p. 12.
  • "Girl says she lied when told to do so at murder trial," New York Evening World, Oct. 7, 1915, p. 2.
  • "Girl tells how gang victim was lured to death," New York Evening World, May 27, 1915, p. 3.
  • "Girl tells jury she gave signal for gang murder," New York Evening World, May 26, 1915, p. 1.
  • "Girl's taunt sent gunmen to killing," New York Times, May 28, 1915, p. 6.
  • "Girls arrested for perjury in murder case," Brooklyn Standard Union, Nov. 4, 1915, p. 10.
  • "Girls in Owney Madden case indicted," New York Evening World, Nov. 8, 1915, p. 3.
  • "Girls link murders of Baff and Doyle," New York Sun, Dec. 7, 1914, p. 12.
  • "Guards district attorney," New York Times, May 29, 1915, p. 11.
  • "James Ward," Sing Sing Prison Receiving Blotter, no. 65324, received March 26, 1915.
  • "John McArdle," Sing Sing Prison Receiving Blotter, no. 65887, received April 7, 1915.
  • "Killed gunman and then danced, Bielder asserts," New York Evening World, March 18, 1915, p. 8.
  • "Madden convicted of manslaughter," New York Sun, June 3, 1915, p. 14.
  • "Madden gets limit for gang murder," New York Press, June 9, 1915, p. 14.
  • "Madden gets ten to twenty years," New York Tribune, June 9, 1915, p. 16.
  • "Madden on trial as promoter of murder," New York Sun, May 25, 1915, p. 11.
  • "Owen Madden," World War I Draft Registration Card, No. 255 (No. 123 N.Y. City is written on top), June 5, 1917.
  • "Owen Madden sentenced," New York Sun, June 9, 1915, p. 7.
  • "Owen V. Madden," Sing Sing Prison Receiving Blotter, no. 66164, received June 16, 1915.
  • "'Owney' Madden arrested in Baff murder quest," New York Tribune, Dec. 1, 1914, p. 14.
  • "Owney Madden goes on trial for murder," New York Evening World, May 24, 1915, p. 3.
  • "Owney Madden is put on defensive," New York Sun, May 28, 1915, p. 5.
  • "Owney Madden, 73, ex-gangster, dead," New York Times, April 24, 1965, p. 1.
  • "Owney Madden, found guilty in gang killing, escapes chair by manslaughter verdict," New York Tribune, June 3, 1915, p. 14.
  • "Owney Madden's girl witnesses held for perjury," New York Evening World, Nov. 4, 1915, p. 8.
  • "Says love led to band murder," New York Herald, May 25, 1915, p. 6.
  • "Shot dead by five men," New York Times, Nov. 29, 1914, p. 13.
  • "Shot dead in row over armies of war," Brooklyn Standard Union, Nov. 29, 1914, p. 1.
  • "Slayer, he tells jury, but it finds his friend guilty," New York Herald, March 19, 1915, p. 6.
  • "Takes back testimony against Owen Madden," New York Sun, Oct. 19, 1915, p. 5.
  • "Ten trapped in Baff murder," New York Tribune, Dec. 17, 1915, p. 5.
  • United States Census of 1920, Westchester County, Town of Ossining, Enumeration District 159, Sing Sing Prison.
  • "William Moore," New York City Extracted Death Index, certificate no. 33926, Nov. 28, 1914.
  • "Woman held as Doyle witness; hunt gangmen," New York Sun, Nov. 30, 1914, p. 5.
  • "Woods to direct detective bureau," New York Tribune, Dec. 10, 1914, p. 3.

26 October 2019

The Jersey Kid


“Are you hurt buddy? Are you hurt?”
George Lee, twenty-six-year-old over-night cashier for the Public Service Coordinated Transport, was indeed hurt, mortally.  A .32 caliber bullet had just ripped into his side and the man who fired it, Frank McBrien, stood over him, panicking. Miller didn’t answer, so McBrien tore the wounded man’s shirt open and tried to staunch the flow of blood. McBrien’s confederates, momentarily stunned, continued with the task at hand, looting the garage of its money. One entered the cashier’s cage where McBrien and Lee were and asked about the pillow cases that were brought along to carry out the loot.
“To hell with the money,” McBrien told his confederate, “this poor guy is dying. I’m going to call the cops,” turning again to the prostrate figure on the floor, he pleaded again, “Gee Buddy, are you hurt?”
     The job wasn’t supposed to go down like this. They planned it for three weeks. McBrien was a careful bandit, he liked to rehearse the robbery repeatedly so each man in the gang knew what to do and they could be in and out without trouble. The mob’s previous job went much smoother. On September 24, 1928, they hit the Alderney Dairy Corporation, also located in Newark. In this caper they managed to herd around twenty employees into a vault, another ten or so were covered while the gunmen collected five thousand dollars. McBrien fired his gun here as well, but not to hurt anyone. Only one employee was slightly injured, a woman, who was smacked across the head with a pistol butt because she wasn’t moving as fast as the bandits wished.
    After the Alderney job, the gang rendezvoused back at the rooming house where McBrien, the only tenant, lived to divvy up the loot. High on success and swimming in greenbacks, they decided the next target would be Newark’s, Public Service Coordinated Transport garage. The location where the city bus drivers, after finishing their shifts, came to deposit the day’s fares. It was decided that the time, around 2 a.m. Monday morning, would be the most lucrative because the weekend receipts would still be on hand. The gang consisted of six men: Frank McBrien, known in the underworld as the “Jersey Kid”, Frank “the Wop” Orlando, Victor Giampietro, Louis “Lefty” Malanga, Andy “Red” Silesia and Joe Rado. The idea to rob the Public Service garage probably came from Giampietro, a former bus driver.
        In preparation for the robbery Giampietro and Orlando stole a car on October 12 and parked it in a garage. On Sunday afternoon, Giampietro also gave his old bus driver outfit to Orlando, who would wear it during the heist. Around midnight of the Fifteenth, the gang gathered at McBrien’s room where the land lady made them all breakfast. After eating, the men left the house individually so as not to cause suspicion. Giampietro and Lefty Malanga went to retrieve the stolen car. Orlando left followed by McBrien and Rado, who were all picked up by Giampietro and Malanga at different spots. For some reason Red Silesia stayed behind in McBrien’s room. A decision that would save his life.
     Arriving at the garage, Orlando, dressed as a bus driver, went in to case the place. After a few minutes he returned to the street and told his confederates that two men were in the drivers’ room and six in the garage.
                “Let’s wait until later when the last bus has pulled in,” said Giampietro.
                “The hell with it,” McBrien retorted, “let’s get in and get it over with.”
The five men, all wearing gloves, exited the car and approached the garage. Lefty Malanga stayed at the door to keep guard. Orlando and Rado went down stairs and approached the cashier while Giampietro and McBrien went into the drivers’ room, which had since been vacated. After a moment they heard a shot. In an attempt to intimidate George Lee, the cashier, Orlando had fired through his screen. Entering the room, Giampietro saw Lee, peeking out from a rear room.
                “Put your hands up!” Giampietro barked.
Lee complied. Taking command, McBrien ran up to Lee and, wanting to get the cashier over to the safe, thrust his gun into his side and snarled, “Get over there.” As the last word was leaving McBrien’s lips, he accidentally pulled the trigger to his gun.
Hearing the shooting, Lefty Malanga ran down and met Giampietro who told him, “Mac shot that fellow.” The bandits quickly filled the pillowcases with cash boxes and coins. Too many coins in fact, as one of the cases ripped and spilled money across the floor. While this was taking place, McBrien picked up the phone and dialed the company operator. “There’s a robbery at the Lake Street garage, a man was shot, call the cops or send an ambulance.”
     Dropping the phone, McBrien ran from the garage and joined his confederates who were already in the car. Orlando took off the bus drivers hat and puttees and tossed them from the window. “I hope the cashier doesn’t die,” McBrien said. Afterwards the car was ditched, and the men split up.
     Returning to McBrien’s room by twos, the men gathered to divvy up the proceeds from the robbery, which amounted to about eight hundred dollars per man. After a while, McBrien went out and bought a paper, returning to the group he said, “Well, the man is dead, you know what that means.” 

The Jersey Kid

     Deciding that Newark would be too hot for them, the gang headed to Detroit where they hid out for a short time. Deciding that it would be better if they split up, Giampietro, Lefty Malanga and Red Silesia headed for upstate New York; Giampietro, carrying the gun McBrien used to kill the cashier. The remaining three men, McBrien, Orlando and Rado headed to Chicago.

     After the operator at the Public Service received the phone message from McBrien, a man was sent to the basement to see what it was all about. There he found Lee dead and the police were called. After sunrise there was a search of the neighborhood and detectives found the hat and puttees that Orlando had jettisoned from the car. All bus drivers working for the company were investigated and none were missing the items that the police had found. Next there was a check on former employees and Victor Giampietro’s name came up, working on a hunch, investigators also looked up former employees of the Alderney Dairy Company and there too was Giampietro’s name. They rushed to his house only to learn that he hadn’t been seen there since the day after the robbery.
     Detectives visited the haunts in Giampietro’s neighborhood and learned that he hung around with Red Silesia and Lefty Malanga. Follow up investigations proved that both men were also missing since the robbery. Wanted posters of the three men were produced and sent around the country. At the homes of the wanted men the mail was watched, and the phones were tapped but nothing came of it.
    On November 10, 1928, Newark detectives received a break. In the upstate town of Lackawanna, New York, Giampietro, Silesia and Malanga had gone into a roadhouse and, while there, they got into a fight with another patron. The police were called. When they arrived, Silesia was still there so they took him into custody. Back at the station Silesia remained silent, but one of the cops recognized him from one of the recent wanted circular the station had received. They also found a slip of paper with the address where he had been staying. The officers went to the house and managed to capture Giampietro and Malanga as they were leaving with their suitcases in hand. All three were returned to New Jersey where, in hopes of leniency, Giampietro turn states evidence and spilled the story on the robbery and murder.
     Seven weeks after the capture of their confederates, McBrien, Rado and Orlando were lunching in a restaurant in Chicago. They finished their meal and stepped to the counter to pay. Perhaps it was planned or a spur the moment decision since two cashiers were counting up receipts. Anyhow, one of the bandits punched one of the cashiers in the face while another grabbed the money. Orlando drew a pistol and held the crowd at bay while his cohorts ran out.
     When they hit the streets, McBrien and Rado ran in one direction and Orlando in the opposite. Orlando was pointed out to two nearby cops who saw him run into a furniture store. As they entered, the officers saw Orlando speaking to a salesman, pretending to be interested in a radio. As they neared him, Orlando spun around and, using the salesman as a human shield, opened fire on the police, hitting one in the groin. The clerk managed to pull away from Orlando and then the police opened fire. With bullets in his stomach, chest and forehead, Orlando crumbled to the floor mortally wounded.

     The following summer found McBrien back in New Jersey with a new gang. Taking part with McBrien was a former seaman named Robert Tully, a hardened gunman named James Sargert, who went by the nick name “California Eddie”, and Frank “Lefty” Long. There was a successful robbery in Philadelphia on June 17, but things started to go awry after that job. A robbery of a Philadelphia shoe factory was planned for August 2 and a payroll heist planned for Neptune, New Jersey to take place the following day. Philadelphia police learned about the shoe factory robbery and set a trap but at the last moment the bandits became aware of the ploy and fled the scene, returning to New Jersey. Though they were unable to arrest the gang police got a look at the getaway car and license plate. The gang’s driver, Robert Tully, had used his brother’s car and never bothered to change the plates.
     The very next day the gang was in New Jersey executing a payroll robbery that had been in the works for ten days. Tully was friendly with Russell Baxter, an employee of Steiner and Sons, Company; a pajama factory located in Neptune City. Through him the gang learned that the company’s $7000 payroll was delivered by sixty-five-year old George Danielson who transferred the money from the bank by himself, armed only with a revolver. At approximately 9 a.m. on Saturday August 3, Danielson was approaching the Steiner and Sons factory. Some witnesses claims say that two of the bandits were loitering in front of the factory prior to Danielson’s arrival, others have them pulling up in a sedan as Danielson approached. What is known as that the sixty-five-year old messenger found himself surrounded. The bandits demanded the payroll and Danielson went for this gun; two shots rang out in quick succession and Danielson dropped to the pavement as one of the bandits grabbed the payroll. The gunmen jumped back into their sedan and drove off.


     After the heist the gang rendezvoused at the Verdgemere hotel in Asbury Park to divide the loot. The men had some drinks during the split and sent Tully out for some gin. When he returned McBrien, California Eddy and Lefty Long were gone. He had been double crossed. Tully grabbed his bag and headed out of town. While fleeing he pulled over and tossed his grip into the Shark River. Unbeknownst to him, somebody saw him do it and had the wherewithal to remember part of his license number. The following morning the witness returned to the river and retrieved the bag and turned it over to the police along with the license number.
     Since Tully foolishly used his brother’s car in both the botched Philadelphia robbery and the Neptune City job, authorities quickly arrested his sibling, who in turn informed them that he had lent his car to his brother. Detectives managed to trace Tully to his boarding house located at 116 North Fourth Street in Camden, New Jersey.  They surrounded the place at 2 a.m. August 9 and arrested him without any resistance.

Robert Tully 

    After Tully’s arrest, Baxter turned himself in and admitted to being the tipster. Through testimony police learned that the McBrien, James “California Eddie” Sargert, and Frank “Lefty” Long were the other participants in the Danielson killing. By this time however, all had successfully escaped.
    Police got their next break on August 28 when New Jersey State Trooper David Reed entered a roadhouse in the New Jersey hamlet of Iona near Vineland. Wearing civilian clothes, his presence caused no alarm. After a bit, Reed’s attention was drawn to a table of men and, having worked in Newark the previous year, he recognized Joseph Rado at the table. Drawing his gun, Reed approached the table and announced that he was arresting Rado, who surrendered without a fight, while his companions fled. Back at the station it was determine that one of the men who had been with Rado was the Jersey Kid, whom Reed failed to recognize.
    With Rado in custody police began combing the Vineland area for McBrien but their search was in vain as he managed to allude capture again. As 1929 was winding up, in regard to the Public Service Co-Ordinated Transport job in Newark, authorities had Giampietro, Silesia, Malanga and Rado under arrest but for the Danielson murder, Tully was the only major participant in custody. That changed on November 20, when Lefty Long attempted to single handedly rob a bank in East Orange. The gunman handed a teller a note demanding money then fled empty handed when the clerk pressed an alarm. Police were able to trace him to a speakeasy a short time later and arrest him without trouble.
     After the arrest of Long, it was only two weeks before the law caught up with the Jersey Kid. In the end it was Philadelphia detectives that got him. They learned that the Kid’s paramour had moved from Philadelphia to 196th Street in New York City. They began a stakeout of the apartment and learned that the Kid was indeed inside. At 4:30 a.m. on December 4, both New York City and Philadelphia detectives surrounded the building. The element of surprise was lost when the Kid noticed two detectives in the court yard and took  a couple of shots at them. They returned the fire. After that a truce was called so that the Kid’s girlfriend could surrender and leave via the rear fire escape. The Kid used that time to barricade the front door and prepare for a battle. Intent on killing himself before allowing capture he penned a quick goodbye note to his mother. Detectives at the door informed him that they were getting ready to open fire with tear gas. Realizing that there was no escape and losing the nerve to commit suicide. The Kid surrendered.
The Kid is Captured

     Newark, Neptune City and Philadelphia all wanted the kid, but in the end Newark won out, so the Kid, along with Giampietro, Malanga and Rado went on trial for the murder of transportation clerk George Lee. Hoping to save himself from the electric chair, Giampietro turned States ‘evidence and testified against his codefendants. All were found guilty of murder and all, including Giampietro, were sentenced to death.
     All four men were scheduled to be executed on July 22, 1930. When the time came Giampietro was the first to go, which suited the Kid just fine since Giampietro implicated all of them in the murder in an attempt to get out with his skin intact. Hoping against a last-minute reprieve that might save the man who helped put him in the chair the Kid told the warden he wanted Giampietro to go first saying, “ He’s not going to get out of this, the rat.”    
     Giampietro entered the death chamber at 8:08 p.m. three minutes later he was declared dead. A trio of guards removed the body to the autopsy room and hoisted it onto a large marble slab and forced it to the far side in order to make room for his former confederates who would be joining him.  After Giampietro they came for the Kid. “Take it easy, Mac,” Rado and Malanga shouted to their one time leader. “O.k. boys, so long,” he replied. Entering the death chamber at 8:21 p.m., the Kid bit off the end of a cigar and threw it at the witnesses. Taking a seat in the electric chair, the wet helmet was placed on his head and a strap to his right knee. After a moment he relaxed and then the wheel was turned. The Kid shot out of the seat as two thousand volts went through his body. The executioner turned the wheel to off and the Kid slumped back into the chair unconscious. Another sixteen hundred volts were sent through the body and this was followed by another two thousand. In all it a took only a minute. The Kid then took his spot next to Giampietro on the slab. Next came Malanga who went calmly. Rado was the only one of the condemned men to speak out. Claiming he was innocent until the end he addressed the witnesses. “Spectators to the fact,” he announced, “Look at the gate crashers. Well before I go I want you newspaper guys to tell the world I’m innocent as God himself. I was framed. I hope you all enjoy the show.” As they strapped him into the chair, he continued his diatribe but it was cut short as the electricity coursed through his body. Smoke rose from his skull and leg as the executioner turned the wheel off. A second charge sent him from his chair like it did the Kid. The doctor checked his heart, the two jolts were enough.