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One of New York’s most notorious gamblers is shot to death

One of New York’s most notorious gamblers is shot to death



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Arnold Rothstein, New York’s most notorious gambler, is shot and killed during a poker game at the Park Central Hotel in Manhattan. After finding Rothstein bleeding profusely at the service entrance of the hotel, police followed his trail of blood back to a suite where a group of men were playing cards. Reportedly, Rothstein had nothing good in his final hand.

From an early age, Rothstein had a talent for playing numbers. As a teenager, he built a small fortune gambling in craps and poker games, and by age 20 he owned and operated his own casino. Rothstein became a legendary figure in New York because of his unparalleled winning streak in bets and card games. However, it is believed that he usually won by fixing the events. The most famous instance of this was in 1919 when the World Series was fixed. Abe Attell, a friend and employee of Rothstein, paid some of the key players on the Chicago White Sox to throw the games. When the scandal was uncovered, Rothstein fiercely denied any involvement to a grand jury and escaped indictment. In private, however, Rothstein never denied his role, preferring to enjoy the outlaw image.

READ MORE: The Roaring Twenties: Culture, Life & Economy

In the 1920s, Rothstein began purchasing nightclubs, racehorses, and brothels. He had such a formidable presence in the criminal underworld that he was reportedly once paid half a million dollars to mediate a gang war. As Rothstein’s fortune grew to an estimated $50 million, he became a high-level loan shark, liberally padding the pockets of police and judges to evade the law. He is fabled to have carried around $200,000 in pocket money at all times.

Rothstein’s luck finally ran out in 1928 when he encountered an unprecedented losing streak. At a poker game in September, Rothstein lost a cool $320,000 and then refused to pay on the grounds that the game had been rigged. Two months later, his gambling buddy, George McManus invited Rothstein to play what would be his final poker game.

Asked who had shot him before dying, Rothstein reportedly put his finger to his lips, keeping the gangsters’ code of silence. McManus was later tried and acquitted of the crime.


One of New York’s most notorious gamblers is shot to death - HISTORY

Family Handout/Flickr The NYPD is offering a $10,000 reward for information about Henryk Siwiak’s murder.

More than two thousand people died in New York City on September 11, 2001. But one death stands out in particular — that of Henryk Siwiak. The Polish immigrant didn’t die in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was murdered that night in Brooklyn.

In the horrific aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Siwiak’s death was lost in the shuffle. The world was consumed by the images of billowing gray smoke in downtown Manhattan. The NYPD was stretched thin, and could only offer a feeble response when Siwiak was shot.

To this day, no one knows who killed Siwiak. His case remains unsolved. Siwiak is popularly remembered as the last man murdered on 9/11.


Francesco Cali, Reputed Boss Of Gambino Crime Family, Gunned Down In New York

Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, believed to be the boss of the notorious Gambino crime family, was killed on Staten Island late Wednesday, the New York Police Department said.

Cali, 53, was shot six times outside his home shortly after 9 p.m. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, an NYPD official told HuffPost.

Although a blue pickup was reportedly spotted leaving the scene shortly after the shooting, authorities have not yet released details about a suspect.

Cali was arrested in 2008 as part of a sweeping indictment by the Justice Department against organized crime. According to The Associated Press, he pleaded guilty in an extortion conspiracy involving a failed attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. He was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison and released in 2009.

Six years later, Cali took over the Gambino crime family, replacing 68-year-old Domenico Cefalu, Gang Land News reported.

The Gambinos were once one of the most notorious and powerful crime syndicates in America and one of New York’s five major Mafia families. Then, in the 1980s, the federal government unleashed a sweeping crackdown on the mob. Former U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani won a highly-publicized criminal trial in 1986 that saw the heads of all five families indicted on charges of racketeering, murder and extortion. That victory would help Giuliani win the New York City mayoral race in 1993.

Cali’s death was the first major shooting of a crime boss since 1985 when then-Gambino chief Paul Castellano was assassinated outside a steak house, Pix 11 reported. Castellano’s murder was arranged by John Gotti, who then took over as the family’s leader. Gotti himself was convicted of racketeering and murder in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison. He died a decade later.

Cali’s murder also occurred on the same day Joseph Cammarano, thought to be the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, was acquitted of racketeering and conspiracy to commit extortion charges, The New York Times reported. Cammarano’s attorneys had argued that federal prosecutors were unfairly profiling their client, and said that the Mafia no longer existed in New York.

Last week, Carmine J. Persico, the 85-year-old former head of the Colombo crime family, died in a North Carolina prison where he was serving a 139-year sentence. Authorities believe Persico had a hand in the assassinations of mob bosses Albert Anastasia and Joey Gallo. According to The Times, the gang reportedly made millions in illegal payoffs from labor racketeering, gambling, loan-sharking and drug trafficking during Persico’s tenure.


19 Manny Pacquiao

Years before he was publicly speaking about his faith, Manny Pacquiao was living a secret life that included a nasty gambling habit. It was alleged that Pacquiao once required a $2 million advance from one of the purses of a fight in order to pay off gambling debts. That version of the fighter is now said to be gone, and Pacquiao has credited his strong religious beliefs for helping turn his life around. Regardless of whether or not he has conquered such demons, boxing fans are still left with a bitter taste in their mouths after the so-called “Fight of the Century” involving Pacquiao and another fighter in this list failed to deliver inside of the ring.


Harry &ldquoPittsburgh Phil&rdquo Strauss was a feared enforcer for Murder, Inc., the gang of killers employed by various organized crime groups in the 1930s and 1940s, primarily in New York. Strauss was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1909 and quickly fell into a life of crime. By the age of 25, Strauss had already been arrested 17 times in New York City. As was typical of organized crime figures of the day, Strauss was never convicted for any of these early transgressions. An Assistant District Attorney in New York said Strauss &ldquohad never been convicted of so much as smoking on a subway platform.&rdquo

&ldquoPittsburgh Phil&rdquo Strass on the right. Pinterest

By the time Strauss was a full-blown assassin for Murder, Inc., he used many tools to get rid of witness, enemies, and anyone else who had crossed the mafia. He carried a knife, gun, and an icepick so he could choose between weapons when killing a target. Strauss was sometimes sent out of town to conduct business, including the high-profile murder of Harry Millman of the Purple Gang in a diner in Detroit.

Strauss continued to murder throughout the 1930s, until a fellow Murder, Inc. associate decided to talk to authorities and pin a number of crimes on his fellow gang members. Abe &ldquoKid Twist&rdquo Reles cooperated with police, and Strauss was just one of the names he named. Strauss was arrested for the murder of gangster Irving &ldquoPuggy&rdquo Feinstein in 1940. Reles&rsquo account of the murder could be counted on by police: he had participated in Feinstein&rsquos killing.

During his trial, &ldquoPittsburgh Phil&rdquo Strauss attempted to convince the judge and jury that he was insane. He grew a long beard, stopped showering, and made a point of chewing on a leather briefcase strap throughout the ordeal. The jury wasn&rsquot buying the act, however, and Strauss, along with his companion Martin &ldquoBugsy&rdquo Goldstein, was sentenced to death in Sing Sing Prison&rsquos electric chair, known as &ldquoOld Sparky.&rdquo On June 12, 1941, Strauss and Goldstein were executed. As for the informant, Abe &ldquoKid Twist&rdquo Reles he mysteriously fell from a window and died while under police protection in November 1941.


“So Sweet and So Vicious,” Mae West and Owney Madden

Although it’s pure speculation, Owney Madden probably fell in love with Mae West during her 1916 White Rats benefit in Sing Sing. In those days, Madden was nothing more than a small time hood with a chest full of bullets and a hacking, bloody cough. However, Madden and Mae would soon be together again. In 1928 after Madden acquired the Hotel, Mae and her mother were some of his first residents. Texas Guinan and Mae held a seance there in which Ethel Barrymore and Heywood Broun helped conjure the spirits of Rudolph Valentino and Arnold Rothstein.

A love affair soon blossomed in the Harding Hotel. Mae affectionately nicknamed madden “her clay pigeon” for all of the bullets in his chest, later saying he was “so sweet and so vicious.” Madden invested in her plays and backed the actress when the cops jailed Mae for her risque show, Sex. The gangster’s connections with Blackwell’s Island warden earned Mae a private cell and silk underwear. Mae was of course a regular at the Club Intime downstairs.


Chin’s Townhouse

By the 1980s, Chin grew even more eccentric. He had two separate families, and a wife and a mistress both named Olympia. One family lived in Old Tappan New Jersey and the other in a posh Upper East Side townhouse, just off Park Avenue, located at 67 East 77th Street. The luxurious white bricked home was purchased by record executive Morris Levy in 1983 for $490,000 and gifted to Gigante’s mistress for a mere $16,000.

Despite the 20 year crazy act, the FBI eventually caught up with the Chin, convicting him of racketeering in 1997. He would die in the same penitentiary as his mentor Genovese.

Gigante’s townhouse was located at 67 East 77th Street.

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20. JAMES ‘WHITEY’ BULGER

James ‘Whitey’ Bulger was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for 12 years before being captured in 2011. Bulger was an Irish-American crime boss of the Winter Hill Gang in Boston. Bulger’s crimes are too many to count – murder, drug trafficking, links to the IRA. In 1994, the DEA launched an investigation into Bulger’s activities. Gradually, bookmakers who were subject to a protection racket ran by Bulger began to testify against him. Due to close personal links with the FBI, Bulger was tipped off and fled Boston. He grew tired of life on the run and according to his replacement Boss, Kevin Weeks, he would have rather gone out in a blaze of glory than spend the rest of his life in prison. Unfortunately for Bulger, that’s where he remains to this day, after being charged with 19 counts of murder among numerous other crimes. He is 87 years old.


Most Notorious! A True Crime History Podcast Blue Ewe Media

Serial killers. Gangsters. Gunslingers. Victorian-era murderers. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Each week, the Most Notorious podcast features true-life tales of crime, criminals, tragedies and disasters throughout history. This is an interview show, spotlighting authors and historians who have studied their subjects for years, and whose stories are offered with unique insight, detail, and historical accuracy.

1933 California's Lamson Murder Case w/ Tom Zaniello - A True Crime History Podcast

When sheriff's deputies arrived at David and Allene Lamson's Palo Alto home on Memorial Day, 1933, they found David frantic over what he said was a terrible accident in their bathroom. Allene, he explained, had slipped when getting out of the bathtub and bashed her head on the sink, resulting in her death. Investigators, however, believed something far more sinister had taken place.

My guest is Tom Zaniello, and he shares details from his book "California's Lamson Murder Mystery: The Depression Era Case that Divided Santa Clara County".

More information can be found here: https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467136532

The 1912 Arkansas Murder of Ella Barham w/ Nita Gould - A True Crime History Podcast

In November of 1912, a young woman named Ella Barham journeyed home, on her horse, to her family farm in Boone County, Arkansas, but never arrived. After her body was discovered, murdered and dismembered, suspicions quickly centered on a neighbor, Odus Davidson, who was rumored to have been in love with Ella, a love never returned.

My guest, Nita Gould, has a very personal connection to Ella, one that led to her write the book she joins us to discuss today, called "Remembering Ella: A 1912 Murder and Mystery in the Arkansas Ozarks."

More information can be found on her website, here: https://www.rememberingella.com/

Escape from Yozgad w/ Margalit Fox - A True Crime History Podcast

Imprisoned in a Turkish war camp during WW1, two British officers pull off an unbelievable con against their captors involving a Ouija board, an angry ghost and feigned madness - leading to a truly astonishing escape.

My guest is bestselling author Margalit Fox, author of "Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History."

More information about Margalit Fox and her work can be found at: http://margalitfox.com/

Canada's Famous "Mad Trapper" Manhunt w/ Helena Katz - A True Crime History Podcast

Albert Johnson is famous in Canadian crime history for leading Mounties on a sensational and deadly chase through the Yukon and Northwest Territories during the winter of 1931-32. How he managed to elude police over hundreds of kilometers in subzero temperatures through a mountainous wilderness is as much a mystery as his real identity. To this day, very little is known about the man nicknamed "The Mad Trapper".

My guest, Helena Katz, Canadian historian and author, joins me to talk about her book, "The Mad Trapper: The Incredible Tale of a Famous Canadian Manhunt". More information can be found at her website at http://www.katzcommunications.ca/ .

Happy Victoria Day to all of my northern friends and listeners!

Catch Me If You Can's Frank Abagnale - Perpetrator of the Ultimate Hoax? w/ Alan C. Logan

Most of us are familiar with the critically acclaimed film called Catch Me If You Can, based on the autobiography of legendary confidence man Frank Abagnale. It's the story of a brazen teenage imposter who through charm and intellect was able to pass as an attorney, a doctor, a pilot and a university professor in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

My guest, Alan C. Logan, has done extensive research into Frank Abagnale's well-known and near-mythical narrative, found it riddled with holes, and lays out some of what he has discovered for us on this week's episode of Most Notorious.

Alan Logan's book is called "The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth, While We Can", and can be ordered in bookstores, online retailers, and through his website at: http://www.greatesthoax.com/

The Belgica's Ill-Fated 1897 Expedition to the South Pole w/ Julian Sancton - A True Crime History Podcast

In 1897 a Belgian named Adrien de Gerlache, in command of a ship called the Belgica, sailed to Antarctica with the intent to be the first to reach the south magnetic pole. On the expedition was Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who would later become one of the world's most famous explorers, and Doctor Frederick Cook, who would become one of America's greatest charlatans.

My guest, Julian Sancton, shares the story of the ill-fated ship, which found itself entombed in ice and forced to face a dark polar winter, its crew suffering from scurvy, madness and death. His book is called "Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica's Journey Into the Dark Antarctic Night."


Horrifying Photos of the History’s Most Notorious Mob hits

As the bootleg liquor industry thrived during the Prohibition era in the 1920s, Italian-American gangs in New York and Chicago became the driving force behind the organized crime network. In the 1930s, it was under the control of mob boss Charles “Lucky” Luciano. He established a commission to supervise the Mafia’s various racketeering activities and maintain harmony among its component crime families.

The mid-1950s saw the escalation of tensions between rival Mafia factions threaten to erupt into a full-blown gang war. The U.S. government pursued mobsters more aggressively and on a larger scale during the 1960s and 1970s due to a series of developments. The 1968 Wiretap Act gave investigators a vital (and controversial) weapon in the war against organized crime when it allowed wiretap evidence in federal courts. In February 1985, future New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, then a federal prosecutor, used these new tools to bring to justice 11 Mafia leaders, including the heads of New York’s five dominant crime families.

Here below are some of history’s most notorious mob hits. These photographs depict how organized crime has persisted and flourished throughout history.

Also, check crime scene photos of gruesome murders from 20th century New York City.

#1 Joe Masseria, 1931

In 1930, a Sicilian faction led by Salvatore Maranzano waged war against a Sicilian-American group led by Joe Masseria for control of Mafia activity in the United States. Ultimately, in 1931, Masseria allies led by Charles "Lucky" Luciano cooperated with Maranzano and betrayed Masseria in order to end the war. Masseria was shot to death in a Coney Island restaurant, the war ended, and Luciano forged the basic structure of the American Mafia as we know it today.


Funeral held for Connecticut girl involved in 'murder-suicide'

Julio Santana dropped to his left knee and propped his right elbow on his hip, holding firm his hunting rifle until he had the man known as Yellow in his sights.

It was Aug. 6, 1971, and Santana was 17 years old.

In his village, deep in the Amazon rainforest where he lived in a hut with his parents and two brothers, he was known as a good shot. But he had only ever hunted forest rodents and monkeys for food. The man he was about to kill, Antonio Martins, was a 38-year-old fisherman with blonde hair and fair skin. Julio had been watching Yellow under a stiflingly hot forest canopy for three hours, and now wasn’t sure he could actually bring himself to pull the trigger.

Yellow had raped a 13-year-old girl in a nearby village, and her father had hired Santana’s uncle, a professional hitman, to kill him. Julio knew that in the sprawling and lawless Amazon, locals had taken the law into their own hands for hundreds of years. Still, he was shocked to find out that his favorite uncle — a military policeman — was also an assassin-for-hire. And now he was passing on his latest assignment to his nephew, hoping to recruit him as a contract killer.

Santana was reluctant, fearing that he would go to hell for killing another human being, but when his uncle, Cicero, explained how Yellow had tricked the girl, promising to take her to see the pink dolphins on the Tocantins River before raping her in his canoe, Julio began to change his mind.

To seal the deal, Cicero, too sick with malaria to do the hit on his own, told his nephew God would look the other way. All it took was 10 Hail Marys and 20 Our Fathers after the murder, he said.

“That way I guarantee you will be forgiven,” said Cicero.

Gripping his rifle, Santana stared straight at Yellow’s chest as he stood in his wooden fishing boat in a clearing near the river. He knew that at just 40 yards, he couldn’t possibly miss his target. When the shot rang out in the stillness of the forest, Santana saw a fleeting look of terror cross his victim’s face before he fell dead into the bottom of his boat. Later he would get rid of the body, gutting his victim and throwing him into the river where schools of piranhas would devour the remains.

Julio Santana killed a young Maria Lucia Petit (left) and captured militant Jose Genoino.

“Never in my life will I kill anyone, Lord,” he said. “Never again.”

Santana would remember that first kill for the rest of his blood-drenched career.

Even after he had taken nearly 500 lives to become the world’s most prolific hitman, the look on Yellow’s face in the moment before he died would haunt his dreams for decades.

Santana had few aspirations in life. Like most young men in the Brazilian hinterland, he seemed “destined to become a peaceable fisherman lost in the depths of the rainforest,” writes award-winning Brazilian reporter Klester Cavalcanti in his new book “The Name of Death,” which chronicles Santana’s career. In Brazil, the book has also been adapted as a feature film.

Cavalcanti said he came across Julio on a reporting trip to the Amazon 10 years ago to investigate modern-day slave labor.

“A federal police officer told me that it was very common in that region for ranchers to contract hired hit men to kill fugitive slaves,” Cavalcanti, 49, told The Post. “I told the officer that I would really like to interview a hitman and he gave me a number for a pay phone and told me to call it at a certain date and time.”

When Santana answered the pay phone in Porto Franco, the small town in the outback Brazilian state of Maranhao where he was living at the time, he was reluctant to speak to the reporter.

“I spent seven years convincing him to talk to me about his life,” Cavalcanti said. “We spoke about everything and not just about his job. He spoke about his childhood, his relationship with his parents and his brothers and the quiet life he lived in the forest as well as the internal drama that he faced when he started to work as a hired killer.”

For his part, Santana, now 64, told The Post in an interview over e-mail last week that while he was pleased with the “honest” way in which Cavalcanti told his story, he was less pleased with the film that seemed to glamorize his profession.

“The true story of my life is much sadder than anything you can imagine,” he said.

Hitman Julio Santana spent some time living in this simple home in Porto Franco, Brazil.

After the first kill, Santana’s uncle offered him up as an assassin for the Brazilian government in its battle against communist insurgents in the Araguaia River basin in the Amazon. From 1967 to 1974, the so-called Araguaia Guerrillas tried to establish a rural stronghold in order to topple Brazil’s military dictatorship, recruiting farmers and fishermen to their cause.

In the early 1970s, Santana was contracted first as a guide to track down guerrilla encampments. In one case, he helped capture leftist militant Jose Genoino, a law student and one of the guerrilla leaders. Santana watched in horror as soldiers spent days waterboarding him at a secret location in the rainforest. Years later, Genoino became a congressman and president of the left-wing Worker’s Party. In an interview with Cavalcanti he remembered the “boy” in the group who had captured him in the Amazon. Julio was barely 18 at the time, and was partly rewarded for his work with a bottle of Coca Cola — his favorite drink and a luxury that his impoverished family could never afford.

Shortly after the Genoino capture, Santana shot and killed another communist militant, a 22-year-old school teacher named Maria Lucia Petit. For almost two decades Petit was simply listed as “disappeared.” The full story of how she ended up in a mass grave in a dusty cemetery, her body wrapped in an old parachute, only recently came to light after her family pressed a Brazilian truth commission to exhume bodies.

After civilian rule was restored to Brazil in 1985, Santana’s victims turned from political targets to larcenous wildcat gold miners and cheating spouses. In 1987, after he killed a married woman suspected of having an affair, Santana was caught by local police and spent a night in jail. He was released after giving up his new motorbike as a bribe.

It was around this time that Santana says he discovered his uncle was cheating him by arranging the hits but only giving Santana a tiny fraction of the amount he was being paid in advance. On average, Santana says he earned between $60 and $80 per hit, which in the years he was active would have been equivalent to a monthly minimum salary in Brazil. After he confronted his uncle about exploiting him for more than 20 years, he never spoke to him again, he said.

Santana stopped dealing in death in 2006 when he turned 52 and after his wife gave him an ultimatum.

“Either he gave up that life or he could forget her and their children,” writes Cavalcanti. “His wife repeatedly told him that his ruse of saying 10 Hail Marys and 20 Our Fathers, which Julio continued to do after every murder, was not proper repentance.”

Santana, who had been raised a Catholic, turned to an Evangelical cult to help him reform his ways.

“I have always believed in God,” he told The Post. “I believe that God gave me the strength to endure everything I suffered in my life because of that evil job. I know what I did was wrong.”

He said he has never told his two adult children or his own parents, who have long since passed away, about his career. He credits his wife, whom he met while she was working as a waitress at a bar in the Amazon, with encouraging him to leave his line of work and embrace their faith.

“She is the love of my life, the person who has given me strength to overcome everything I have been through,” he said. “Without her, I would be nothing.”

Today, he lives quietly in a town he won’t name in the Brazilian interior. He refuses to have his full photo taken because he says none of his neighbors know about his past. He and his wife now own a small farm where he grows vegetables, he said.

At one point in his life, he took meticulous notes of each kill in a school notebook, writing down who had hired him, where the hit took place and how much he was paid.

After he got to the number 492, he stopped logging the deaths.

“I don’t like to think about it anymore,” he said. “That part of my life is over.”