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George Peter Metesky became known in the press as the Mad Bomber when he  terrorized New York City for 16 years in the 1940s and 1950s with explosives that he planted in phone booths, storage lockers, and restrooms in public buildings, including Grand Central TerminalPennsylvania StationRadio City Music Hall, the New York Public Library, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the RCA Building, and in the New York City Subway. Metesky also bombed movie theaters, where he cut into seat upholstery and slipped his explosive devices inside. Watch the below film and learn how law enforcement made use of a psychological profile to catch this disgruntled employee of the Con-Edison electric utility. New York City residents were terrorized for 16 years by 33 bombs planted by the mad bomber.

 

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Dean O’Banion was born on July 8th, 1892 in Maroa Illinois. His father, Charles O’Banion was an Irish Immigrant. Charles was a house painter and took his family to Chicago and lived in a neighborhood known as Kilbubbin. Like Hell’s Kitchen in New York, it was called Little hell because its poverty and crime. Dean attended the Holy Name Parochial School and served as an altar boy at the Catholic Holy Name Cathedral.

Dean O’Banion joined the Little Hell Gang. They sold newspapers and stole from stores and often mugged other residents. It was in this gang he met future fellow Chicago mob associates, Earl ‘Hymie’ Weiss, Vincent ‘the Schemer’ Drucci and George “Bugsy” Moran.

Dean O’Banion was always known as a wild child taking chances like riding on the back bumper of the street cars. One time the street car stopped suddenly and Dean was thrown to the ground and the car ran over his leg. He survived but would walk with a limp because his left leg was an inch shorter than the other leg.

In his first encounter with the criminal justice system, a night watchman caught O’Banion stealing postage stamps from a drug store. The judge sentenced him to a 3-month term in a youth house of correction. A couple of years later when he was 19. O’Banion was arrested for assault with a blackjack. He was sentenced to a short term for assault and possession of deadly weapons. This was the last prison sentence he ever received.

When Prohibition began in 1920, O’Banion got in on the action and started his own bootlegging operation. He smuggled beer, whiskey and gin from Canada for distribution in Chicago. As a cover for bootlegging and other criminal activities, he bought into Schofields Flower Shop at 738 North State Street.  Dean, found he liked flower arranging and actually worked in the shop. He had married a beautiful young girl, Viola Kaniff and brought home many bouquets.

O’Banion acted out his street gang roots when he conducted the first known hijacking of another bootlegger’s shipment of whiskey in 1921. He spotted the truckload of booze and jumped on the running board and took the driver hostage at gun point. He pushed the driver out and drove the truck to Morton’s garage. From there, he called other speakeasies and sold all the whiskey in 20 minutes.  As his reputation as an aggressive and feared gang leader grew, he became known as the leader of the O’Banion mob, also known as the North Side Gang. He attracted more gunmen as they realized he now ruled the North Side and the Gold Coast, the wealthy area of Chicago situated on the northern lake-front. Tough men like Louis ‘Three Gun’ Alterie, Samuel “Nails” Morton, and Dan “Handsome” McCarthy joined the North Side Gang.

He soon came into conflict with the Italian mob and their boss Johnny Torrio. The new Chicago Crime Syndicate wanted to control all other gangs in Chicago. Torrio and his lieutenant Al Capone met with O’Banion and Weiss to discuss recent hijackings of whiskey shipments. Torrio asked O’Banion to join the crime syndicate, which meant that O’Banion and the other syndicate members would have to respect each other’s territories and properties.

The usual method of operation for the Italian Syndicate was for all members to pay Torrio a portion of the profits for political protection and protection from other criminals. Johnny Torrio wanted to keep the Irish gangster inside their group and he even offered to make an exception in the case of the North Side gang and not require any tribute.  O’Banion agreed to join and to consolidate their new partnership, the two sides exchanged shares in each other’s businesses. Torrio got shares in some of O’Banion’s breweries and in return, O’Banion was bought in to some of Torrio’s distilleries and gambling dens.

Meanwhile, the Genna Brothers, who controlled Little Italy west of Chicago’s down town region, began marketing their whiskey in the O’Banion’s territory on the North Side. O’Banion complained about the Gennas to Torrio, but Torrio did nothing. It was not long before Torrio caught O’Banion cheating him out of a large sum of money, as much as ½ million dollars.  O’Banion learned that the police were planning to raid The Sieben Brewery, a place O’Banion and Torrio owned jointly. Before the raid, O’Banion approached Torrio and told him he wanted to sell his share in the brewery. He claimed he wanted to leave the bootlegging racket. Torrio agreed to buy O’Banion’s share and gave him half a million dollars.

Shortly after the night of O’Banion’s last shipment, the police raided the brewery. They arrested Torrio who had to bail out himself along with six other associates. They all faced jail time while O’Banion was in the clear. Torrio demanded O’banion return the money and he refused. Torrio eventually realized he had been double-crossed. He had lost the brewery, $500,000 in cash, been indicted, and been humiliated. The Genna;s had wanted to kill O’banion for some time and Torrio had previously refused permission. After the brewery scam, Torrio finally agreed and granted permission to the Gennas’ earlier demand to kill O’Banion.

On November, the 3rd 1924 O’Banion sat in with Al Capone and other bosses like Frank Nitti, Frank Rio and others to tally the week’s profits. Nitti claimed that Angelo Genna had was short and had dropped a large amount of cash, plus a sizeable marker. Capone recommended that they cancel the marker as a professional courtesy. O’Banion refuseed to agree and called Genna demanding that he pay his debt within a week.

The Gennas sent a killer named Frankie Yale, and other gangsters visited Schofield’s, O’Banion’s flower shop, to discuss floral arrangements. However, the real purpose of these visits was to memorize the store layout for the hit on O’Banion. On November 9th of 1924, O’Bannion got a telephone order for a custom wreath to be picked up the following morning.

On the morning of November 10, 1924, O’Banion was arranging chrysanthemums in the back room. His bodyguard, Louis Alterie, had claimed he was sick with a hangover and did not come to the flower shop that morning.  Frankie Yale entered the shop with John Scalise and Albert Anselmi. “Hello, boys” greeted O’Banion, “You from Mike Merlo’s?” and stuck out his hand in greeting. Yale nodded and returned O’Banions handshake in a clasped death grip. At the same time, Scalise and Anselmi fired two bullets into O’Banion’s chest, two in his cheeks, and two in his throat.

 

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Morris A. Shenker was a St. Louis lawyer who represented Midwest mob figures in the 1950s and became a lawyer for Jimmy Hoffa and the $700 million Central States Teamster’s pension fund.

He encouraged the pension fund to invest in Las Vegas casinos.

During the 1970s, Shenker borrowed several million personally and bought the Dunes Hotel and Casino.

He was supposed to give a kickback to the Chicago Outfit through Allan Dorfman, but refused.

The F.B.I. recorded Outfit enforcer Joe Lombardo threatening his life.

Shenker declared bankruptcy in 1985.

Shenker died of natural causes in 1989 and never paid the Outfit their kickback.

Don’t forget to listen to Aaron on the Big Dumb Fun Show, live on Monday nights.

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To rent Gangland Wire, the documentary, click here

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Las Vegas Interviews

In this episode, I tell about my Las Vegas speaking engagement. I did a PowerPoint based on my recently completed book. Leaving Vegas: The True Story of How the F.B.I. Wiretaps Ended Mob Domination of Las Vegas Casinos. Additionally, I tell a good true crime story. In 2012, I was in Las Vegas to interview Commander Clifford of the las Vegas metro PD, retired F.B.I. Agents, former Stardust Casino employees, and Dr. Michael Green (UNLV) about Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, Tony Spilotro and other 1970’s era organized crime involvement in casino skimming. During the interview, Kent Clifford, told me a personal story. This story was not applicable to the casino skimming but it was a rollicking good true cops versus robbers story. I filmed that story and you can find it on the special features of my documentary, Gangland Wire. It is not in the Amazon streaming version, only on the DVD.

Kent Clifford

When a new Sheriff, John Moran, put Clifford in the Intelligence Unit and ordered him to clean up the Unit and fight organized crime. The Unit was well known to contain dirty cops. He pushed out the old guard detectives and hired in trusted officers. One of his first acts was when he arrived at work one December morning. He found cases and cases of top drawer whiskey, vodka and scotch. He learned several Strip casinos had donated this for Christmas presents to the detectives. He ordered the cases returned and for this tradition to end. He ordered an aggressive approach to harass and intimidate the Tony Spilotro Hole in the Wall Gang. He was sued six times for a total of $56 million, and all were dismissed,” he once told an audience at the Clark County Library as part of Mob Month. The most significant lawsuit was for the 1980 shooting death of Spilotro gang member Frank Bluestein. This lawsuit failed. But the lawsuit is a small part of that story.

Intelligence Unit detectives David Groover and Gene Smith were watching a Spilotro hangout known as the Upper Crust. They observed a new guy come in, talk to mobsters Tony Spilotro and Frank Cullotta, and leave with a pizza. They followed the new person’s car in order to identify the guy.

Bluestein was driving a 1979 Lincoln with Illinois license plates, making the cops very curious. With the cops following closely behind, he pulled out onto Flamingo and immediately started speeding.

Soon, the detectives had plenty of probable cause based on traffic violations. They put a portable red light on the dash and commenced to make a traffic stop. The Lincoln turned off the main road into a side street with no one around. The subject stopped and as the detectives walked up on the driver, he pulled away only to stop a short distance up the street. When the Lincoln stopped again, the detectives pulled their guns and approached the car. The driver exited with a pistol in his hand. The officers immediately shot and killed who they would learn Frank Bluestein, a 35-year-old maitre d’ at the Hacienda Hotel & Casino. At that time, the Hacienda was one of several properties controlled by the Chicago Outfit. His father, Steve Bluestein, was an official in the local Culinary Union and had been the subject of a 1978 search warrant as part of the FBI’s investigation of Tony Spilotro.

Later Clifford learned Spilotro was claiming he put a contract hit out on the two officers. Clifford took a plane to Chicago and visited several known homes of Outfit bosses. He then went to visit Chicago Outfit’s frontman and Teamster, Allen Dorfman. He told Dorfman that if anything happened to his two officers, he’d come back with 40 officers and kill anything that moved.

He was told to leave and wait in his hotel room for a call. If he got a call and the caller said, “Have a safe journey home, Commander,” the contract was off. About 2 a.m., he got that call and Clifford returned to Las Vegas. As a matter of note, nothing bad ever happened to those officers and Retired Commander Kent Clifford passed away in 2014.

He was born in Menan, Idaho, and a resident of Las Vegas since 1963. Kent served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War as a First Lieutenant. Kent Clifford won a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and the Army Commendation Medal. He also served as commander of intelligence for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. After retiring with the LVMPD, he entered commercial real estate, eventually becoming a CCIM broker for his own business. Commander Kent Clifford died in 2014. click here.
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Casey McBride is credited with this piece. He examines the three stories about how the Prime Minister of the Mob, Frank Costello inherited an interest in the Crescent City. Which of them, if any, is true I cannot say, and will leave it for the reader to decide.

Story number one:

As many readers will no doubt already know, Louisiana Senator, Huey Long, was a notorious boozer. This story claims Long was so drunk at a country club one night he got impatient waiting at a urinal, and let loose between the mans legs who was using it. Apparently, he had terrible aim and the man began stomping a hole in Huey. An attendant called for Frank Costello, who was also at the club, and Frank, as always, smoothed things over. Long was grateful, and the two struck up a mutually beneficial friendship.

Story number two:

New Orleans legend, Diamond Jim Moran received a phone call from Frank Costello, warning him of a plot to assassinate Huey Long, at the Roosevelt Hotel. Diamond Jim, passed this information on to his friend Long, who’s bodyguards immediately raided the residence at an address Costello had provided. Though they did not find their suspects, they found evidence that a plan had indeed been put in the works. Long told Moran to pass a message on to Costello, and the message was, “tell him he has a friend.”

Story number three:

In a much less dramatic, though likely more accurate telling, Frank Costello himself insisted he had met Long over dinner at a country club. Both men had a penchant for politicking, gambling and chasing women. The two simply liked each other and struck up a friendship which lasted until Long’s death.

So I suppose the answer to Joe Gallow’s question would be, Huey Long. He would invite Costello to bring his slot machines to Louisiana in 1935, and the pair would prove to be a successful partnership; but that is another story…

By Casey Robert McBride

Curator at Uncle Frank’s Place

https://www.facebook.com/unclefranksplace/

http://www.nationalcrimesyndicate.com/frankcostello

Lead editor at the NCS, Casey was the first blogger to set foot in the Social Club, and is the curator at Uncle Frank’s Place, that little corner of the NCS dedicated to the discussion and preservation of the life and times of racketeer Frank Costello. Casey’s philosophy is to specialize. “There is simply too much information for one person to know it all.” he claims. “That’s the beauty of the NCS. We have folks from all walks of life, all with different interests and expertise, and it’s growing all the time.”

Gaspipe Casso last days

To learn more about Gaspipe Casso please go to my two-part podcast on the life and times of Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso. “Gaspipe” Casso hated John Gotti and tried to avenge the death of Paul Castellano. He also disclosed that two retired NYPD detectives had been on the Lucchese payroll. These detectives were later determined to be Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa committed eight of the eleven murders Casso had ordered. Carracappa and Eppolito had also given Casso information which led to many others as well, revealing the names of potential informants. They were subsequently found guilty on all charges and sentenced to life in prison.  Casso enraged the US government by accusing Gambino turncoat Sammy Gravano of committing multiple felonies. Gravino would deny those crimes under cross-examination by Gotti’s lawyers. Casso claimed to have sold large amounts of narcotics to Gravano over two decades. The government was not interested and thought Casso was trying to discredit Gravano as a witness. Casso was vindicated later when Gravano pleaded guilty in 2000 to operating a massive narcotics ring while in Witness Protection. Casso was the second confessed underboss of a New York crime family to break his blood oath and turn informer, after Gambino underboss Gravano.

The government has enough of Gaspipe

In 1997, Casso was thrown out of the Witness Protection Program. Prosecutors found he had been bribing guards, assaulting other inmates, plus they added in the aforementioned false statements about Gravano and false statements discrediting another Lucchese turncoat witness named Alphonse D’Arco. the prosecutors sent him back for sentencing and Judge Block sentenced Casso to 455 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Casso later told mafia author Selwyn Raab, “I help them and I get life without parole,” he said. “This is really a fuckin’ joke.”

In a 2006 letter to Casso said he regretted his decision to cooperate.

I am truly regretful for my decision to cooperate with the Government. It was against all my beliefs and upbringing. I know for certain, had my father been alive, I would never have done so. I have disgraced my family heritage, lost the respect of my children and close friends, and most probably added to the sudden death of my wife and confidant for more than 35 years. I wish the clock could be turned back only to bring her back. I have never in my life informed on anyone. I have always hated rats and as strange as it may sound I still do. I surely hate myself, day after day. It would have definitely been different if the Government had honest witnesses from inception. I would have had a second chance to start a new life, and my wife Lillian would still be alive. It seems that the only people the Government awards freedom to are the ones who give prejudiced testimony to win convictions. “The Truth Will Set You Free,” means nothing in the Federal courts. Even at this point in my life, I consider myself to be a better man than most of the people on the streets these days.

He made several attempts to appeal this decision, but he had no luck. Casso tried to redeem himself in 1998 and talked to 60 Minutes. 

Anthony Casso was a member of the Lucchese crime family. He is currently serving several life sentences. He was at a Supermax prison in Colorado. In 2013, he was transferred to a Residential Reentry Management (RRM) facility in Minneapolis. RRM is a type of halfway house for inmates in federal custody. However, it is doubtful if he will be released.

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Aaron and I want to include our fans on the show. Either record and email the audio file or call me at 816-931-3535 and I will record you announcing the show on the phone or via skype for our international friends. Below is the suggested announcement.

Hello, this is (your name) and I welcome you to another thrilling episode of Gangland Wire Crime Stores with Gary and Aaron, so sit back and be entertained. 

Plus the password for the free calendar is stardust.

Gary