Arnold's father, mother and brother Wallace
On Monday February 18, 1952 Sutton boarded the BMT subway at the Union Square station headed for Brooklyn, where he was living in a $6 a week furnished room at 340 Dean St., going about his daily affairs unrecognized despite a massive and highly publicized manhunt for him.
Albert didn't like bosses.
When he still had eyes and testicles.
Charlie "Lucky" Luciano - the exiled king
Many leads were run down and persons of interest interrogated but no arrests made as the trail went cold. That is until mob turncoat Joe Valachi testified to US Senator John McClellan’s Permanent Investigations Subcommittee on organized crime in 1963 (and publicly spoke the mob's true name of La Cosa Nostra for the first time). He revealed what went down.
So hereby lies the tale.
Arnold was buried at Montefiore Cemetery in Queens NY.
Meyer Lansky - nobody fucked with the Little Man's Havana money.
Vincent Gigante - he couldn't shoot straight but ended up the Oddfather anyway.
Genovese still dared not move against Albert because Meyer Lansky, arguably the most powerful member of the national syndicate, would not have supported Genovese under any normal circumstances as their mutual hatred went back to the twenties. But Albert began pressing Lansky for a piece of his Cuban casino gambling profits and when rebuffed decided to set up his own rival operation on the island. Lansky did not take this lightly and gave his approval for Albert’s assassination. Profaci got the assignment and left its execution to 'Crazy' Joe Gallo. Costello was persuaded to retire on May 2, 1957 when, entering the lobby of his Central Park West apartment building he was shot point blank in the head by Vincent 'The Chin' Gigante but miraculously escaped with only a minor scalp wound. On June 17, 1957 Albert's underboss Frank Scalise was gunned down while making his selections at a Bronx vegetable market . There was speculation that Albert and Scalise had opened the books and were selling new memberships for $40,000 and splitting the profits. This would have been a Mafia mortal sin punishable by death, so Albert decided to cover his tracks. Gambino became the new number two.
Willie 'The Actor' Sutton - he robbed banks because that's where they kept the money.
Part One - Strangers on a Train
Part Two - The Whyfore
On Saturday March 8th at 9:15 p.m. Arnold Schuster, after closing his father’s store was walking down 45th St. towards his front door. He was approached by an assailant who shot him twice in the groin and once in each eye. The public outrage to Schuster’s death was immediate and widespread. “This murder is an offense against all decent people in the City of New York” declaimed Mayor Vincent Impellitteri. Former Brooklyn Assistant DA Burton Turkus agreed – “No single murder, with the possible exception of the Lindbergh baby, has so shocked the American public in the last 25 years.” Even Sutton was horrified, offering to add $10,000 of his own to the growing reward pool. Authorities were puzzled by the murder – Sutton was a non-violent criminal and Queens DA Vincent Quinn wasn’t planning to have Schuster testify against him anyway. Sutton was eventually convicted of the Queens bank robbery. He was released from Attica in 1969. In his 1976 autobiography Where The Money Was he wrote that the death of Arnold Schuster still haunted him. Willie Sutton died in 1980.
Park Sheraton Hotel barber shop October 25, 1957 - good bye, Albert
Joe Profaci - was tasked with a regicidal deed.
Albert's brother Tony Anastasio after identifying the body - his power also died on that tonsorial floor.
Arnold Schuster - Brooklyn haberdasher, amateur sleuth
Albert is buried in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, Lot 38325 Section 39 Grave 18.
Albert Anastasia’s unbridled brutality served him well as did his unquestioned loyalty to both Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello, who succeeded as boss when Lucky was released from prison and deported to Italy in 1946. He was born Umberto Anastasio on September 26, 1902 in Calabria, Italy. Around 1919 Albert arrived at New York City working on a freighter. Deserting ship he soon started working as a longshoreman on the Brooklyn waterfront. He was convicted of murder, sentenced to death and sent to Sing Sing Prison in Ossining NY for execution. Due to a legal technicality Albert won a retrial in 1922. Because four of the original prosecution witnesses had disappeared in the interim, Albert was released from custody. He was charged again with murder in 1928, but again the witnesses either disappeared or refused to testify in court. By then Albert had become a top leader of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), controlling several union local chapters in Brooklyn. He joined up with Joe “The Boss” Masseria, a powerful Brooklyn gang chief, but that was only temporary. Albert (along with Genovese) is believed to be one of the trigger men hitting Masseria on April 15, 1931 and ending the Castellammarese War with his rival Salvatore Maranzano, who now proclaimed himself the Capo di tutti capi (Boss of all bosses) over the five New York crime borgatas (these were his own with Joe Bonanno as boss, one headed by Joe Profaci, another by Vincent Mangano, the former Masseria gang by Luciano and the old Tommy Reina outfit by Tommy Gagliano). Considered an old-fashioned Mustache Pete by Luciano and his Young Turks faction, Maranzano and many of his soldati were killed on September 10, 1931 - the Night of Sicilian Vespers. Luciano was now in charge, a first among equals and the architect of the National Crime Syndicate to come, serving as long time chairman of its governing Commisson. Costello in turn wholeheartedly supported Albert’s rise to the leadership of the Mangano family after his staunch ally Willie Moretti, boss of New Jersey, was euthanized in 1951 to relieve his suffering from a progressive debilitating syphilitic condition, which made his behavior (and talk) unpredictable. Albert had served Mangano as underboss for many years, but the two men detested each other. Albert often worked independently, first with Joe Adonis on bootleg operations during Prohibition and later with Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter running the mob hit squads (Murder, Inc. was thought to be responsible for hundreds of contract killings in the '30s and '40s). Albert now ruled the New York waterfront through his brother 'Tough' Tony (who kept the original spelling of the family surname), a vice president of the ILA and the head of Local 1814. Mangano disappeared in 1951. Albert claimed he acted in self defense and ascended to the throne. Costello needed Albert’s ferocity to face the challenge by Vito Genovese for the control of the Luciano family now that Lucky was in exile.
Albert Anastasia - the Mad Hatter, Lord High Executioner of Murder Incorporated and John Gotti's hero
Frank Costello - the Prime Minister of the Underworld and a
Costello's reputation and prestige were damaged by his poor performance in 1951 at the televised hearings of the first Senate Investigating Committee on Organized Crime, chaired by Senator Estes Kefauver. Opting not to take the Fifth against his lawyer's advice he answered some questions but refused to do so for others, leading to his being cited for contempt of Congress.
The two officers approached Sutton, who showed them identification for a Charles Gordon. Satisfied, they returned to Arnold and told him it was a case of mistaken identity. Shea and McClellan then went to their station house on Bergen St. and reported to third grade detective Louis Weiner what had just happened. Weiner decided that the three of them should have another look at Mr. Gordon. After speaking to Gordon himself, Weiner asked him to come to the station for further questioning. When he realized this also included being fingerprinted, Charles Gordon admitted who he really was.
Aniello 'Mr. Neil' Dellacroce
Joe Valachi - Mob canary
Detective Weiner, Sutton, Officers Shea and McClellan
Albert stopped by the barber shop in the Park Central Hotel across the street from Carnegie Hall for a hot towel shave. His bodyguard Tony Coppola decided to be elsewhere after parking the car in an underground garage. As Albert relaxed in a chair two men entered the shop and told the owner Arthur Grasso to keep his mouth shut if he didn't want his head blown off, then pushed the barber aside and dispatched Albert with several shots. A human bull, Albert 's final act was to get up and lunge at the mirror mistaking its image for the shooters themselves. If not legally, morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead (after thoroughly examining him a coroner averred he was not only merely but quite sincerely so) Albert doubtless would have approved of his assassins' workmanship.
Paul 'The Pope' Castellano
When hearing of the arrest Schuster called the police station but was unable to speak to anyone about his role. He hired a lawyer in an effort to obtain the $70,000 reward reported in the newspapers (erroneously though, as there was no prize). Within a few days, the police admitted they made a mistake in not crediting Arnold and he soon emerged as the City’s newest hero. Monaghan commended him ‘for the great help he gave the police force in ridding the land of one of its most notorious criminals’. Arnold told interviewers that he had studied the F.B.I. flyer sent to his father’s store in Borough Park. Schuster’s story was carried nationally in newspapers, on radio and the new medium of television, granting him celebrity status.
Joe Gallo - planned the wetwork. His birthday meal at Umberto's Clam House on Mulberry St. in Manhattan's Little Italy some years after was his last.
Although Luciano and Costello were horrified by this senseless act, they could not disavow their homicidal ally as he was their counterbalance to Genovese’s growing power and ambition. Genovese bided his time, making the case that Schuster’s rubout proved Albert was too unstable to hold a top spot. He cultivated a relationship with Anastasia capo Carlo Gambino, who in turn recruited boss Joe Profaci into the Genovese camp. In a sane moment Albert realized the gravity of his indiscretion and cut his losses by having Tenuto put in the ground.
The Schuster family sued the City for $1 million in what was considered to be the first negligence case brought against a municipality for failure to assure the safety of a resident. Although the courts ruled against them, the City eventually settled with the Schusters for $41,000.
Genovese’s victory was short-lived. He called for a national syndicate meeting to acknowledge his new position of boss (of all bosses to his way of thinking). It was held in Magaddino family member Joseph 'The Barber' Barbara's upstate New York estate on November 14, 1957 but was discovered and raided by the State Police. This put the media spotlight directly on the mob, triggering both state and federal hearings. As a result FBI director J. Edgar Hoover could no longer ignore its existence in the United States. Gambino conspired with Lansky, Luciano and Costello to entrap Genovese in a narcotics conviction that sent him to prison for the rest of his life. Gambino became his family’s boss and under a long and capable leadership it grew to be the most powerful Mafia organization in the United States, eventually assuming his namesake. After Luciano's death in 1962 Gambino became chairman of the Commission. By the early 70s, through the installation of servile allies to top spots, he effectively controlled all but the Bonanno family.
Gambino died on October 15, 1976. Paul Castellano, Don Carlo's cousin, brother-in-law and chosen successor, became boss. To make peace with Aniello Dellacroce, the powerful and ruthless underboss who had been bypassed, Big Paul confirmed his control (granted by Gambino) of some of the most lucrative rackets and top moneymaking crews in Manhattan and Queens (10 of the total 23), virtually giving him a family within the family. One of these was Carmine Fatico's Ozone Park gang, to which John Gotti belonged and who became its capo when straightend out in 1977, sponsored for membership in La Cosa Nostra by his mentor Mr. Neil. Dellacroce died of lung cancer on December 2, 1985. Castellano died of bullets two weeks later. Gotti, soon to be dubbed the Dapper Don by the media, was now the godfather. On April 1, 1992 Gotti was convicted of 13 counts of murder and racketeering (including Costellano's) in the United States vs. John Gotti case tried in Brooklyn Federal Court. Key to this was the testimony of his underboss Sammy Gravano, who became a government witness in exchange for having the same counts against him dropped. On June 23 Gotti was sentenced to life imprisonment without chance of parole, plus fined $250,000 to cover court costs. The next day he was delivered to the warden of of the federal penitentiary in Marion Illinois, a maximum security facility, to be held in solitary confinement 23 hours of every day. On October 8 the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction. John Gotti died of throat cancer on June 10, 2002 at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield Missouri.
William Francis Sutton, Brooklyn born and Hell’s Kitchen bred, had been on the F.B.I. Most Wanted List since his escape from the Philadelphia County Prison in 1947. He enjoyed folk hero status in his day, the dapper gentleman bandit who robbed scores of banks sometimes disguised as a policeman or telegram messenger. He reportedly stole $2 million dollars in a 25 year career. Beloved by the tabloids he was known variously as the Babe Ruth of Bank Robbers, the Field Marshal of Crime, Willie the Actor and Slick Willie. In 1950 he relieved the Queens branch of the Manufacturers Trust Bank of $64,000.
By the beginning of Gotti's rule the Gambino crime conglomerate, in little more than a half century, had achieved a stranglehold on many industries including meat distribution, building construction, waste disposal , garment trucking, concrete pouring, the waterfront, Kennedy Airport, and hotels and restaurants through the control of union locals. About 500 made men, along with thousands of 'associates', worked in the 23 regimes. Some crews were specialized; one dealt exclusively with stock market fraud and securities theft, another with pornography, a third with luxury car theft for delivery to the Middle East, still others in narcotics trafficking. Most crews carried out the basics of the business - loansharking, gambling, hijacking and shakedowns. All money flowed up, with each caporegime getting a piece of his soldiers' earnings. The boss, underboss and consigliere got a cut from every caporegime. It was estimated that the borgata grossed in excess of $500 million annually. Two bellwether events led to the eventual successful crackdown of the Mafia by the U.S. government - the Congressional enactment of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in 1970 and the death of the great denier Hoover in 1972.
The present day names of the New York five families come from Valachi's testimony and refer to the bosses at that time: Genovese, Gambino, Bonanno, Profaci and Lucchese (Tommy Lucchese was the long-time underboss to Gagliano, taking the reigns at the latter's death in 1951). Profaci had died in 1962; when his successor Joe Magliocco was stripped of his powers by the Commission during the so-called Banana War and Joe Colombo took over, the family was so rechristened by law enforcement authorities.
Salvatore 'Sammy the Bull' Gravano was up to that time the highest ranking Mafioso turncoat.
Neither did Lucky
This page is dedicated to the memory of Len Galiulo, the Mercy College professor who introduced Your Humble Webmaster to Bloodletters and Badmen (first published in 1973 and last revised in 1995) by Jay Robert Nash - a wellspring that led to eight of our chronicles - during his Gangster Literature course in 1975, hanging himself at home on the afternoon of that spring's commencement. Non sequitur anyone?
I hate squealers. Hit that guy!
When the train pulled into the DeKalb Ave. station Arnold Schuster got on for the short trip to his Borough Park home. The 24 year old Coast Guard veteran lived with his parents and worked at his father’s tailor shop, Mac’s Pants on Fifth Ave., as a salesman. A true crime aficionado, Arnold thought he recognized Willie. When he looked at Sutton Willie lowered his head, further arousing Arnold’s suspicions. Sutton got off at the Pacific Ave. stop and Schuster decided to follow him. Arnold tailed his man to a gas station at Third Ave. and Bergen St., where Sutton bought a battery to replace the dead one in his 1951 Chevrolet sedan parked nearby.
Arnold flagged down radio patrolmen Donald Shea and Joseph McClellan and told them who he thought he’d seen, crazy as though it may seem.
Vito Genovese - he saw an opening and made his move.
Albert watched Arnold Schuster taking his bows on television one day and became enraged. He hated rats and was looking at a dead man. He told Frederick Tenuto to leave him where he found him. In ordering the hit Albert violated one of the cardinal syndicate rules – police, prosecutors, reporters and the public in general were not to be killed. Willie Sutton was not affiliated with the mob, so there could be no exception made for business reasons either.
For an excellent one volume compendium on All Things Gangster Related (although current only to 1987) you want to read The Mafia Encyclopedia From Accardo To Zwillman by Carl Safakis. You also need to get Mafia Dynasty: the Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family by John H. Davis (1993).
Carlo Gambino - meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss.
Frederick Tenuto - shooter, loose end
Word of Sutton’s arrest spread quickly. At a press conference, Police Commissioner George Monaghan praised the three officers, who were all immediately promoted to first grade detectives. He also announced that a City Hall ceremony to honor them was being scheduled.