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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas E. Dewey’

Vito-Genovese-The-Don-of-Greenwich-Village

Vito Genovese:  The Don of Greenwich Village. His Homes, Apartments and Businesses

Addresses:

43 5th Avenue- Apartment in 1935

Status: Standing

29 Washington Square- Apartment in 1937-1944

Status: Standing

180 Thompson ERB Strapping Co.- Legal Business

Status: Standing

Suave, shrewd, cunning and cruel, Vito Genovese’s tentacles stretched out across the globe from a tiny parcel of land in Manhattan’s bohemian Greenwich Village. Surrounded by clannish Sicilians on all sides and the Irish waterfront mob to the west, the Neapolitan gangster carved out a Mafia dynasty on the streets of the Village through a blend of treachery, gunplay and subterfuge.
A scoundrel until his dying breath, Genovese’s lifelong criminal career would take him from stick-up kid to Joe The Boss Masseria’s ace hitman to Mussolini’s bosom buddy. Over time, Genovese grew to be a gangland legend that would one day topple Lucky Luciano.

Vito-Genovese-Map

1. Vito and Anna Genovese’s first luxury apartment at 43 5th Avenue. 2. Vito and Anna Genovese’s second luxury apartment at 29 Washington Square West. 3. Headquarters of Genovese’s ERB Strapping corp, 180 Thompson Street.

The Streets of Greenwich Village

Born in 1897 in the outskirts of Naples, Genovese jumped a steamer bound for the United States at the age of 16 and settled in the Neapolitan Italian colony in Greenwich Village.

The bohemian neighborhood, known for its unorthodox sexuality, artists, writers and drug users, proved to be fertile incubator of the Genovese Crime Family. Vito’s first arrest sent him to the workhouse on Blackwell’s Island for carrying a loaded revolver.

The young Vito excelled in gunplay, assassinations and murder for hire, and by the time of Prohibition, his talents were in incredible demand. Collars for illegal guns, felonious assault and homicide followed, but Vito always beat the odds and the charges. According to Genovese’s 1958 Bureau of Prisons Classification Study:

“He is a suave, shrewd, cruel, calculating, cunning, ruthless individual, who would use any means to accomplish his objectives.”- Bureau of Prisons

The Greenwich Village Crew:

Tony Bender Strollo, Mike Miranda & Tommy Ryan Eboli

Prohibition was very good to Genovese and his gang tightened its grip around the Village’s rackets. Narcotics, prostitution, and bootlegging, Genovese’s Neapolitan mob ran the streets of the Prohibition Era Greenwich Village where law breaking became sheik. And pet gangsters were all the rage.

Tony Bender Strollo served as Genovese’s second in command, specializing in illegal lotteries. He eventually became wealthy beyond his wildest dreams bankrolling nightclubs, burlesque joints and gay bars. Tommy Ryan Eboli, a volatile ex-boxer and wheelman, provided the muscle battering anyone who stood in the way. In the future, Ryan would make a name for himself as a boxing promoter who cold-cocked a referee during a bout. Gunman and narcotics pusher, Mike Miranda rounded out the violent Greenwich Village heavies.

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Joe Masseria’s Top Gunman

Genovese’s penchant for solving problems with murder eventually caught the eye of Lucky Lucanio who introduced Vito to Joe Masseria a mafia kingpin warring with Toto DeAquila, the mafia’s reigning Boss of Bosses.

An old-fashioned Sicilian, Masseria preferred to work only with Sicilian gangsters but Lucky convinced Masseria to overlook Vito’s Neapolitan ancestry.

vito-genovese-mugshot

A NYPD mug shot of Vito Genovese.

On August 11, 1922 the duo put the blast on Umberto Valenti, DeAquila’s favorite assassin, at famed Italian eatery John’s of 12th Street. Later in 1928, Luciano and Genovese picked off DeAquilla on Avenue A.

During the Castellammarese Mafia War (1930-1932), Geneovese’s trigger finger served Joe The Boss well offing Gaetano “Tom” Reina with a double barrel shotgun. According to Lucky Luciano in the Last Testament of Lucky Luciano:

“Vito told me that when Reina saw him he started to smile and wave his hand. When he done that, Vito blew his head off with a shotgun.”—Lucky Luciano

However, Masseria’s lust for power would be his undoing and Vito would eventually turn his aim against the boss, helping to gun down the mafia chieftain at the Nuova Villa Tammaro restaurant in Cony Island, ending the Castellammarese War for good.

A Vito Genovese Love Story

Following the end of the Castellammarese War and the death of his first wife Donata, who died of tuberculosis, the love sick and forlorn Genovese made eyes for another bride, his cousin, Anna Vernotico. Unfortunately, Anna was already married, but that didn’t deter Genovese.

On March 16, 1932, Police officers discovered Anna’s husband, Gerard Vernotico, hog tied and strangled on the roof of 124 Thompson Street. According to The Valachi Papers:

“According to New York City Police records, one Gerard Vernotico, age twenty-nine, of 191 Prince Street, was found dead at 2:15P.M., March 16, 1932. On the roof of a building at 124 Thompson Street.

124-Thompson-Street-Vito-Genovese-Murder

To propose to his future wife Anna Vernotico, Vito Genovese had her husband strangled to death on the roof of 124 Thompson Street.

Twelve days after the homicide, the loving couple tied the knot in the Municipal Building with Tony Bender Strollo serving as best man. To celebrate, the newlyweds moved into a palatial apartment at 43 5th Avenue, just north of Washington Square Park on tony Fifth Avenue.

Anna and Vito Genovese’s Apartments

The Beaux Arts, Parisian style, apartment building defined style and sophistication. The 11-story building boasted a grand entrance with limestone lampposts, a 24-hour doorman, and apartments with soaring 10-1/2 foot ceilings. Future tenants at 43 5th Avenue would include Marlin Brando, Julia Roberts, Noah Baubach and other top flight New Yorkers. Click to see inside the building.

Vito and Anna Genovese lived in the palatial 43 5th Avenue apartment building.

Vito and Anna Genovese lived in the palatial 43 5th Avenue apartment building.

For decoration, the Mafia Chieftain began amassing an art collection that would be worth $200,000 at the time of his death, despite the fact that he filed taxes as a “surplus paper dealer.”

To be closer to his Thompson Street social clubs, Genovese moved to 29 Washington Square West. Located across the street from the Hanging Elm, the oldest tree in New York City, the apartment had views of Washington Square Park and the Empire State Building.

Anna and Vito Genovese's second apartment at 29 Washington Square West had stunning views of Washington Square Park and the Empire State Building.

Anna and Vito Genovese’s second apartment at 29 Washington Square West had stunning views of Washington Square Park and the Empire State Building.

Greenwich Village Exile

The end of prohibition left Genovese richer and more powerful than his wildest dreams, but a Boy Scout prosecutor from Michigan sent the Mafiosi on the run for over a decade.

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

In 1935, New York Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey began sweeping the streets of racketeers, winning convictions against Lucky Luciano, Waxy Gordon, Jimmy Hines, and other underworld scions.

29 Washington Square West Vito Genovese's Apartment / home for most of the 1930s

29 Washington Square West Vito Genovese’s Apartment / home for most of the 1930s

Following the conviction of Luciano, Genovese moved up to boss of the family and unwittingly climbed into Dewey’s crosshairs. To evade Dewey’s wrath, Genovese moved out of the special prosecutor’s jurisdiction to a sprawling estate in New Jersey. but Vito’s taste for blood became his undoing.

In 1937, the Ernesto “The Hawk” Rupolo admitted to murdering Ferdinand “the Shadow” Boccia at the behest of Genovese. Without missing a beat, Vito skipped town and escaped to fascist Italy, spending the Second World War as an aid to Benito Mussolini. Il Duce knighted Genovese, bestowing the rank of Commendatore upon the mobster.

After the Allied capture of Italy, Vito switched sides again, working for the Allies as a translator and as a spy, both covers for his real occupation: black marketeering. Agent O.C. Dicky, of the U.S. Army eventually caught up with Genovese and brought him back to New York to stand trial for the Murder Boccia in 1946, but like usual Genovese beat the rap.

Vito Genovese after his return to the U.S. in the 1950s.

Vito Genovese after his return to the U.S. in the 1950s.

The Return of Genovese

Back in Greenwich Village after a decade long exile, Vito set up shop with a bonafide business to explain his lavish lifestyle. He entered into partnership with the Erb family, owners of a dock-working firm that placed iron straps around pallets of cargo. Within a year, ERB Strapping had a virtual monopoly on iron strapping in the port of New York.

For a corporate headquarters, Genovese purchased the apartment building at 180 Thompson Street, where Joe Valachi, Vincent the Chin Gigante, and other well-known mobsters congregated.

Genovese owned this apartment building at 180 Thompson Street in Greenwich Village. It served as the headquarters for his ERB Strapping corporation, a powerhouse in the Port of New York.

Genovese owned this apartment building at 180 Thompson Street in Greenwich Village. It served as the headquarters for his ERB Strapping corporation, a powerhouse in the Port of New York.

But, being a megalomaniacal scoundrel, Vito wanted more. Not only did want to depose Frank Costello, the patriarch of the family. Genovese also wanted to overturn the Commission’s ban on narcotics and become the Boss of All Bosses. Vito’s newest acolyte, Vincent Gigante stuck on 1957, blasting Costello in his Central Park West apartment building.

However, Vito’s reign was short. In 1958, Genovese was sentenced to 15 years for narcotics trafficking. He would never see Greenwich Village, or freedom, again.

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Lucky Luciano Apartment Waldorf Astoria

Status: Standing

Location: 301 Park Avenue, Suite 39C

 

Sidestepping bullets, one-way rides and innumerable gang wars, he grew to be the master of prohibition era New York. He was vain, narcissistic, and volatile, a textbook sociopath, but he was also fabulously wealthy, an attribute about which most people could not boast during the Great Depression.

 

By the mid-1930s, Salvatore Lucky Luciano wanted to kickback and enjoy the fruits of his ill-gotten swindles. He had outgrown his “modest” suite in the Barbizon Plaza overlooking the Lake in Central Park and he wanted something a little nicer.

 

800px-Lucky_Luciano_mugshot_1931

 

The Toniest Address in New York

 

Driven by a massive inferiority complex, Lucky needed something bigger, something better, something swankier. He wanted no less than the toniest address in the whole City of New York. He wanted to live in the Waldorf Astoria Towers.

 

He later reminisced to Richard Hammer and Martin Gosch, authors of The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano:

 “I figured if everybody was gonna call me the boss, I was entitled to live in an apartment that was above Frank’s… the Towers was the best class address in New York.”

According the to Waldorf’s website:

“The Waldorf Towers represents the pinnacle of New York grandeur, with a long-established legacy of providing guests with exceptional privacy and personalized service.”

 

Privacy and personalized service were exactly what Luciano received at the Waldorf. He rented apartment 39C as Mr. Charles Ross and paid his $800 a month rent in hundred dollar bills.

 

Lucky Luciano Apartment, Frank Costello, Longy Zwillman, Meyer Lansky

Lucky Luciano lived in apartment 39c under the alias Charles Ross.

 

The gang lord could count on secrecy in his rooms where he entertained the moguls of the mob such as Longy Zwillman, Tony Bender, Vito Genovese, Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello. His criminal conspirators could then sneak out of Lucky’s pad and disappear into the city through the hotel’s packed arcade. A parking garage allowed the gangster to park his car and ride a private elevator to his room.

 

Lucky Luciano Waldorf Hotel

 

For kicks, Lucky would give the famed madam Polly Adler a ring and she would dispatch her best call girls. When Lucky felt more domestic, he spent evenings with his showgirl girlfriend, Gay Orlova.

 

Waldorf Int

 

It was a gangland dream come true, but things nearly went south when one of Lucky’s goons showed up at the front desk asking for Charlie Lucky. An outraged clerk stormed up to Luciano’s suite demanding answers.

 

Lucky recalled in The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano:

“…I knew the towers wasn’t gonna throw me out. After all, I was payin’ my rent regular, which was more than they could say about some of the bluebloods that was freeloadin’ there. So I figured it was payoff time.”

 

Greasing the Waldorf’s Wheels

Lucky placed the Astoria’s desk clerk on the payroll, greasing him with $200 a month.The bribes eventually paid off in March of 1936 when detectives from Thomas E. Dewey’s office stormed the lobby looking for the gangster. The clerk tipped off Luciano, and he hopped into his private elevator and roared off in his car.

 

Dewey eventually caught up with Lucky Luciano in Hot Springs Arkansas. He was sentence to 30 to 50 years for operating a massive prostitution ring. Lucky was sent to the frigid Dannemora Prison on the Canadian border where hoped for a day when he could return to linens, massages and private elevators.

 

Luciano would eventually return to the lap of luxury courtesy of the United States Navy.

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Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution,

Location: 233 Broadway

Status: Landmarked 

 

On the night of July 30, 1935, the voice of special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey sailed out of Manhattan and poured out of tens of thousands of radios across the Five Boroughs. For a half hour, the Special Prosecutor sang an imperative plea, a call to arms for all New Yorkers to take back the city from the racketeers strangling it to death.

 

He explained that the foul stench of organized crime was suffocating New York, levying a “huge and unofficial sales tax” on everything from ice and coal to chicken and fish. He concluded his broadcast with an invitation for anyone who wanted help to visit him at his office.

 

 If you have evidence of organized crime,” he concluded, “bring it to us…The rest is our job. We will do our best.”

 

A Cathedral of Crime Fighting

 

Personally hired by Governor Lehman and championed by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Dewey would wage a war against organized crime from a command post on the 14th floor of the Woolworth Building, transforming the Cathedral of Commerce into a cathedral of crime fighting.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

Dewey’s Office was located on the 14th floor of the Woolworth Building where he would successfully prosecute Lucky Luciano.

 

Fort Dewey

 

Located far enough away from City Hall to thwart Tammany Hall spies, the 10,000 square foot fortress of an office had an untapable phone cable and tamper proof filing cabinets locked inside of a state-of-the-art, Holmes Alarm bank vault. Venetian blinds prevented telescope equipped gangsters from spying on informants, while plainclothes detectives patrolled the lobby 27/7.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

Dewey’s Office was located on the 14th floor of the Woolworth Building where he would successfully prosecute Lucky Luciano.

 

The Man Who Had Never Tasted Pastrami

 

With his castle built, Dewey, a farm boy from Owosso, Michigan, who had never heard of pastrami, set about building a multi-ethnic crime fighting army. He brought in Eunice Carter, one of the first African American female attorneys in America, and the future Irish Catholic D.A., Frank Hogan. Half of Dewey’s team was Jewish, seven held Phi Beta Kappas, and fourteen graduated from Harvard or Columbia.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

 

He staffed the office with twenty assistants, four process servers, ten investigators, four clerks, nineteen stenographers, a filing system wizard and sixty three NYPD officers hand picked by La Guardia’s police chief, Lewis Valentine. The underworld was screwed.

 

The office’s first target was Arthur Flegenheimer, a gangland heavy mostly known as Dutch Schultz. Soon, Dewey had his team shadowing Schultz, bugging his offices and phones, causing the gangster to take out a contract on Dewey’s life. Gangland intervened on behalf of the Special Prosecutor, and Schultz was gunned down in a Newark chophouse.

 

A Tsunami of Prostitutes

 

With the Dutchman dead, Dewey zeroed in on Lucky Luciano, New York’s overload of vice. After months of reconnaissance, Dewey’s team simultaneously raided 200 brothels around the city and herded hundreds of prostitutes up to the 14th floor of the Woolworth building to hear their stories, and boy did they sing.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

Plainclothes detectives patrolled the Woolworth Building’s lobby 24/7 to ferret out gangster spies.

 

In the office’s crowning achievement, Lucky Luciano would be sentenced to 30 to 50 years for compulsory prostitution. Using the successes of his racket-busting prosecutions, Thomas E. Dewey would become Governor of New York and launch two unsuccessful presidential bids. But Dewey and Luciano weren’t done with each other by a long shot.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

After a brilliant surprise raid on Lucky Luciano’s brothels, these elevator banks were used to shuttle hundreds of prostitutes up to the 14th floor.

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