George Freeman, Lenny McPherson, Stan Smith: Sydney Australian Crime Lords
- George Freeman was born in 1935. First arrest was 1947 for theft.
- Born in 1935, he left school around 1946 and began work as a stable hand, continued petty crime, ended up in Boy’s Home, which is kind of like a Juvenile Detention Center. These places were terrible for young boys. Older boys brutalized them in a lot of ways. Many of Australia’s best-known criminals did time in these awful places. They were scarred for life. George Freeman spent most of the 1960s as a mid-level thug, racking up arrests and finding his way. He was always able to make money reliably setting odds on horse-racing.
- This is how he met Lenny McPherson and Stan Smith
Lenny McPherson (b. 1921)
McPherson was first arrested at 11. He also did time in Juvenile Detention and was brutalized by older boys and guards.
- He spent the 1950s in and out of jail for various violent crimes and made connections in the Sydney underworld.
- He became a career criminal with a network including prostitution, robbery, extortion, gambling, and protection rackets.
- He rose to power in the 1960s-1970s. McPherson committed a series of violent murders in the 1960s, eliminating his competition and consolidating his power over crime in New South Wales
- He developed contacts inside law enforcement and one time an honest cop found McPherson with an envelope containing a list of potential jurors to his murder trial.
- He had a large Protection racket, aided by officers in the notoriously corrupt New South Wales Police.
- For decades, the police literally helped criminals steal, kill rivals, and sell drugs.
Triumverate: Lenny McPherson, Stan Smith, George Freeman
Stan Smith (b. 1937)
- He was a partner in the group’s protection racket of Sydney’s King’s Cross—the night club/gambling district
- Stan Smith’s name arose in the investigations of 25 shootings during the 1950s-60s.
- He was shot in during a break-in of a rival’s home. He survived, said nothing to police, then several weeks later, the rival was machine-gunned to death on the street.
- McPherson took control of gambling in Sydney: loan-sharking and running casinos. He noticed George Freeman had a head for numbers and offered him a job as an SP Bookmaker (“starting price”) setting odds in their new casinos.
- Politicians, police, celebrities all gamble in their Sydney casinos. These three control all gambling in Sydney
- Smith puts together a massive marijuana smuggling operation, eventually integrating heroin. Freeman and McPherson do not like the drug trade.
Stuart John Regan: 1960s-70s
- Regan was a psychopath in the criminal world. He murdered indiscriminately, drawing unwanted attention to the Sydney underworld. Finally, Regan actually murdered his girlfriend’s 2-year old son. Police will look the other way for a lot, but when children start disappearing, something has to be done. Freeman and Smith got the contract, shooting him eight times, one for every person he had killed.
Connections to the Chicago Outfit
Joseph Dan Testa
- He was a “developer” or an Outfit clean man who came to Australia in 1965 and made criminal connections with McPherson and Freeman.
- Testa invested money with McPherson in Grants Constructions Pty, Ltd.
- Testa owned property throughout Florida and Chicago. He had close ties with “Milwaukee Phil” Alderisio. At this time, Alderisio was responsible for Outfit gambling holdings in the Caribbean.
- McPherson sent George Freeman and Stan Smith to Chicago for six weeks with Joseph Dan Testa in 1968.
- McPherson also visited Chicago during this time. The theory is the Outfit was attempting to finance/buy into casinos in Australia and likely discussing the distribution of video poker machines.
- Las Vegas—the story told in Freeman’s biography George Freeman: An Autobiography. George Freeman used a forged passport to travel to Las Vegas. He met with Testa and others to discuss legal casinos being set up in New South Wales.
- At this time legislation had been proposed in Australia to allow small, legal gambling parlors, similar to London.
- George Freeman and company stayed at The Dunes, where everything was comped. Freeman brought $50,000 of his own money to gamble so as not to be indebted to anyone.
- On the return trip (Las Vegas to LAX), George Freeman was arrested in the airport for flying without his passport, which was forged anyway—he had left it in a home in San Diego.
- An associate destroyed the false passport while the FBI grilled Freeman.
- Testa called to offer $240,000 in cash and another $250,000 in a couple of days. In addition, Testa advised that there was an official they could lean on for “assistance” if necessary because the passport was never found, Freeman was deported, rather than charged with “illegal entry.”
- In 1979 a masked gunman shot Freeman in the neck outside his home. The gun jammed and Freeman gave chase before seeking medical attention
- The shooter was allegedly Jacky Freeman, father of one of Freeman’s young girlfriends.
- Freeman retired from the day-to-day, but still ran odds on horse races. He had developed a Demerol addiction that lasted for years and eventually died of lung cancer in 1990.
- Stan Smith’s son OD’d in 1979 and Smith stepped away. He discovered religion and was born again, living his life as a (very wealthy) true believer. He died of natural causes in 2010.
- Lenny McPherson continued to control his criminal empire, but more in the vein of a boss, handling everything second and third hand. He was sentenced to prison in the 1990s for an attack on a business rival. He died of a heart attack in jail in 1996.
Support the Podcast
Hit me up on Venmo for a cup of coffee or a shot and a beer @ganglandwire
To go to the store or make a donation Click Here.
To rent Brothers against Brothers, the documentary, click here.
To rent Gangland Wire, the documentary, click here
To subscribe on iTunes click here, please give me a review and help others find the podcast