Wednesday, May 16, 2018

THE BUSINESS OF CRIME

5/16/1929 - After four days of meetings and discussions in New Jersey about the future of their business, one more Atlantic City get-together breaks up, its assorted attendees returning to various metropolitan areas throughout America to put into play concepts which will gain them immense lucre and eternal infamy over the next few decades ... and organized crime becomes a reality in the United States.
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Atlantic City Boardwalk

Mixing business with pleasure, when Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky (born Meier Suchowlanski in the Russian Empire town of Grodno) decides to marry Anna Citron in 1929, their honeymoon in the resort town of Atlantic City is used as an excuse for "friends" of the couple to be on hand to wish them well ... and chat about their own futures with each other too ... and so the Atlantic City Crime Conference is born.  Spending more time with his "friends" than with his new bride, Lansky organizes the meeting with Italian-American mobsters, Johnny Torrio (retired from the Chicago rackets and serving as an elderly statesman for criminal activities), Charles "Lucky" Luciano (soon to be the most powerful gangster in the land), and Frank Costello (who will one day be known as "The Prime Minister of the Underworld").  Its host however, providing rooms, food, entertainment, and a guarantee of no police interference, is Atlantic City's own crime boss, Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson.
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Lansky & Torrio
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Luciano & Costello
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Nucky Johnson

Invitations sent out, received, and attendance acknowledged, by train and car, Atlantic City fills up with hellish who's-who of gamblers, con men, strong arm gorillas, and psychopath killers.  Along with the conference's organizers and host, attendees include Giuseppe "Joe Adonis" Doto (a Luciano associate who will be sent back to Italy in 1951), Vito Genovese (the kill crazy mobster that scares Joseph Valachi into exposing the inner workings of the Mafia), Albert "The Mad Hatter" Anastasia (the man who will one day give out the hit assignments for the members of Murder, Inc., before getting hit himself in a barber shop chair), Frank "Cheech" Scalise (before being murdered, he helps Bugsy Siegel open the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 1945), Vincent Mangano (the first head of what becomes the Gambino Crime Family), Gaetano "Three Finger Brown" Lucchese (the leader of what will become the Lucchese Crime Family), Quarico "Willie Brown" Moretti (the man who one day will be alleged to get Frank Sinatra out of his contract by shoving a revolver into band leader Tommy Dorsey's mouth), Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel (a founder and leader of Murder, Inc., and the driving force in expanding Las Vegas into a gambling and entertainment mecca before being murdered in Beverly Hills, California), Louis "Lepke" Buchalter (New York's #1 labor racketeer, head of Murder, Inc., and the only mob boss to be convicted of murder and executed), Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro (Lepke's partner and thuggish muscle), Abner "Longy" Zwillman (Jewish bootlegger and one time boyfriend of actress Jean Harlow, he will one day be called "The Al Capone of New Jersey), Arthur "Dutch Schultz" Flegenheimer (Jewish bootlegger and numbers racket man, he will die in one of the mob's most famous hits for trying to disobey a Syndicate directive not to assassinate prosecutor Thomas Dewey), Frank Erickson (creator of a national gambling wire service and Arnold Rothstein right-hand associate), Owen "Owney the Killer" Madden (the infamous owner of the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York), Alphonse "Scarface" Capone (the Chicago crime boss and recent instigator of the notorious St. Valentine's Day Massacre), Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti (Capone's choice as his successor), Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik (a favored Capone associate responsible for making payoffs to cops, judges, and politicians), Frank "Frank Cline" Rio (Capone bodyguard and alleged Valentine's Day hitman), Frank McErlane (credited with introducing the Thompson sub-machine gun to Chicago's beer wars), Irving "Waxey Gordon" Wexler (a gambler and bootlegger associated with Rothstein and Luciano), Harry "Nig Rosen" Stromberg (a Philadelphia gangster and associate of Rothstein), Max "Boo Boo" Huff (Philadelphia's #1 bootlegger), Irving "Bitzy" Bitz (a Philadelphia gangster), Charles Schwartz (another Philly mobster), Morris "Moe" Dalitz (a Cleveland mobster who will one day be called "Mr. Las Vegas"), Louis "Lou Roddy"Rothkopf (another Cleveland mobster), Leo "Charles Polizzi" Berkowitz (representing the Cleveland Licavoli Crime Family), Abe Bernstein (the leader of Detroit's infamous Purple Gang of Prohibition mobsters), Joseph "Bugs Bill" Bernstein (Abe's brother), Charles "King" Solomon (Boston's Jewish-Russian mob boss), John Lazia (the king of criminal activities in Kansas City, Missouri), Santo Trafficante, Sr. (Tampa, Florida mob boss), Moses Annenberg (a Chicago businessman and income tax evading gambler), and Sylvestro "Silver Dollar Sam" Carolla (the leader of Mafia crime in New Orleans, Louisiana).  Not invited however due to their overwhelming animosity for each other and old style ways of doing business (only associating with other Sicilians) are two of the most powerful underworld characters in the land, "Mustache Petes," Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano.
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Mangano & Buchalter
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Madden & Zwillman
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Gordon & Schultz

Catering to white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, the conference gets off to a rocky start when a number of swarthy looking Italians try to register under obviously assumed names at the Atlantic City Breakers Hotel on the Boardwalk, and are denied rooms ... and of course, it is "Scarface" Capone who makes the biggest noise about the prejudice of the hotel staff.  Hearing of the problem, Johnson rushes to the scene to take care of the matter, and he then becomes the source of Capone's continuing ire.  In the screaming argument that takes place, the mobsters move outside, where the larger Johnson shoves Capone into a limo, orders everyone to follow him, gets into his own car, and takes everyone down the street to the Ritz-Carlton and Ambassador Hotels, where first-class lodgings are obtained ... not quite mollified though, Capone attempts to hit Johnson with several framed paintings and photos he rips off the walls of his new digs, just to get the last word on the matter.  From then on, the conference goes fine for the mobsters as grand food, liquor, drugs, and loose women are made available, and for those that have brought their wives and girlfriends to the resort town, Johnson provides fur capes as gifts ... and as the mask behind which everyone is in Atlantic City, honeymooning Meyer Lansky is checked in to the Presidential Suite at the Ritz and given an unlimited supply of the abode's finest illegal champagne.
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The Breakers Hotel
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The Ritz
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The Ambassador

The mobsters mollified, when not partying, the men meet in their hotels conference rooms, in private rooms, and playing vacationers, on the Boardwalk, and in the sands and wet of the Atlantic Ocean ... some are even photographed strolling about town by the local newspaper.  Murder and mayhem the topics of discussion, the group comes to a consensus to stop competing against each other and that profits can be enhanced if they pool their resources, illegal profits will be put into legitimate businesses (bars, restaurants, and nightclubs are considered plum investments), post Prohibition activities should expand into the gambling rackets involving casinos, horse racing, and bookmaking, plots of territory for plunder are assigned, the violent "beer wars" in Chicago and New York are to be brought under control (as a bit of a sacrificial lamb, Capone, after much arguing, agrees to take the public heat off the mobsters by serving a short prison sentence in Philadelphia on a minor gun charge), and that major decisions involving the rackets on a national level will be made by a group of seven powerful mob bosses, yet to be determined (though it quickly becomes obvious to all in attendance that Lucky Luciano will serve as one of the kingpins).
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Lansky, Capone, and Johnson
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Capone & Rio Take The Fall

It is also decided, that sooner rather than later, a changing of the guards must take place in New York City and warring bosses Masseria and Marazano must be removed from power ... which is exactly what happens ... horribly convenient, while his bodyguards disappear and his chief lieutenant, Luciano, excuses himself to go to the bathroom, in 1931, Masseria is gunned down at the Nuova Villa Tammaro restaurant on Coney Island by a hit group consisting of Bugsy Siegel, Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese, and Joe Adonis, and later in the same year, thinking he is meeting with government tax agents, Marazano is stabbed and shot to death by mob killers that will soon be contracting hits as members of Murder, Inc.
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Masseria
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Maranzano

Prohibition has provided the springboard for criminals to organize across the country ... and crooks from coast-to-coast jump in to the pool of illegal profits with both feet ... and it begins with the Atlantic City Crime Conference of 1929!
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A Partying Luciano