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January 1, 2022

Gangland Wire 2021

I wish all you guys a Happy and Prosperous 2022. Like everybody else, I feel like I just lost a year and more. The podcast kept me going and all of your emails, comments on the Gangland Wire Facebook page and the website, your emails, and every other way you sent me good wishes made my work worthwhile. I was able to finish my third documentary film, Ballot Theft: Burglary, Murder, Coverup. I especially thank every wiretapper who invested their time and money into making this a better production. My friend and fellow filmmaker, Terence O’Malley were able to put on the third annual Mafia Film Festival and premiere Ballot Theft in November. We are almost back to normal. I appreciate every PayPal and Venmo donation more than you will ever know.  Some of the highlights over the year were the Montreal Mafia with Cam Robinson, the four-part series on the Pizza Connection, the Elaine Smith interview on Ken Eto, One of my personal favorites was with Steve St. John and Joe Pistone on Lefty Ruggerio, My last interview ever with my recently deceased friend Denny Griffin as a tribute to Frank Culotta, and the two-part interview with Michael DiLeonardo.

Gangland Wire 2022

This next year, I will continue researching stories and finding great guests who lived the life of a mobster or a copper or agent who investigated the mob. Please feel free to send me suggestions for guests and mob stories. I plan on spending a little more time with my YouTube channel, Gangland Wire. Until this last year, I had looked at this as a method to entice folks to my audio podcast. I have learned that many folks watch YouTube and never go to the podcast apps. I plan on another motorcycle tour of mob sties in the spring with my friend Kate Kozal. We are heading south through Hot Springs Arkansas (Owney Madden and the prohibition era resort for many mobsters). We will travel south into Louisana and end up in New Orleans where we will look at many mob sites along the way.

Basil Banghart Chicago Mobster

Basil Banghart was known as “The Owl” because of his unusually large eyes. In the 19202 and 30s, the cops and the press knew him as an underworld legend. He was a man that escaped from every prison from Atlanta to Soledad. He could fly planes, drive like a race car driver while shooting a machine gun with deadly accuracy. He committed mail heists that totaled at least a million dollars. Prison officials labeled him a professional criminal with an unfavorable prognosis. In short, Basil Bqnhart was an astute criminal who was without social conscience or scruples. Additionally, they reported his I.Q to be 107.

A couple of older professional thieves named Gerald Chapman and George Dutch Anderson took a liking to Basil Banghart in the Atlanta Federal pen. They tutored him in the fine arts of mail robbery and prison escapes. In this first sentence at the federal pen in Atlanta, Banghart made his first escape attempt by jumping 25 feet from a window into a marsh area outside the walls. Authorities captured him across the county in Montana shortly. He escaped again with George Chapman in 1927 and the police caught him a year later trying to steal a car in Pittsburgh. Adding insult to injury, during this arrest and transport back to Atlanta, Banghart escaped again. He was being escorted by an F.B.I. agent. He was able to get to a phone alone and he called the local police and claim he was an F.B.I. agent who was escorting a prisoner he had been overpowered by the prisoner and the prisoner had taken the agent’s gun and credentials then handcuffed the real agent. He described the agent and claimed he was really the prisoner. When the cops arrived with drawn guns and confronted the agent, Banghart was able to walk out during the confusion and melee.   The police found him a few months later in Knoxville in February of 1930. After he returned to Atlanta, Banghart escaped again and was arrested less than a year later in January 1932 committing an armed robbery in Detroit. He escaped that arrest by throwing pepper in the guard’s face then shooting his way to freedom with a borrowed machine gun. He will live a life of crime and walk out of his last prison in 1960.

 

Show notes by Gary Jenkins

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