Official Blog of Author MICHAEL THOMAS BARRY.
A blog which discusses varied topics that are related to the authors many books. Michael is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Mobster Louis "Lepke" Buchwalter was Executed - 1944
On March 4, 1944, mobster Louis "Lepke"
Buchalter, was executed at Sing Sing Prison in New York. Lepke was the leader
of the country's largest crime syndicate dubbed “Murder, Inc.” throughout the 1930s.
His downfall came when several members of his notorious killing squad turned states
witness for the government. Buchwalter began his criminal career robbing
pushcarts as a teenager. When he met Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro
while trying to rob the same pushcart, the two quickly became a formidable
team. With Shapiro's brute strength, the two established an extortion business,
forcing pushcart owners to pay for protection. He and Shapiro then joined Jacob
"Little Augie" Orgen's Lower East Side gang and turned their
attention to bigger enterprises. They took over control of the garment unions
and forced kickback payments from both the members and the employers. In the 1920s,
they added liquor bootlegging and gambling and later began importing heroin and
He assembled a large team of hired killers to enforce his
control. At one time, this team may have included as many as 250 hit men. Buchwalter
also began to coordinate operations with the other mob bosses around the
nation. With Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Dutch Schultz, he virtually
controlled organized crime throughout the country. In 1933 he started Murder,
Inc. which was authorized to kill anyone (approved by the syndicate) for a
started on September 13, 1936, when men acting on his orders, gunned down
Joseph Rosen, a Brooklyn candy store owner. Although no proof exists that Rosen
was cooperating with District Attorney Thomas Dewey, Buchalter nevertheless
believed it to be true. Then on November 8, 1936, he and Shapiro were convicted
of violating federal anti-trust laws. While out on bail, both Buchalter and
Shapiro disappeared. On November 13, both men were sentenced while absent to
two years in federal prison. On December 1, 1937, the fugitive Buchalter was
indicted in federal court on conspiracy to smuggle heroin into the United
States. On April 14, 1938, Shapiro surrendered to authorities in New York.
However, Buchalter remained a fugitive.
Over the next
two years, an extensive manhunt was conducted in both the United States and
Europe. On July 29, 1939, Thomas Dewey requested that the City of New York
offer a $25,000 reward for Buchalter's capture, citing a string of unsolved
gangland murders. On August 24, 1939, Buchalter surrendered to FBI chief J.
Edgar Hoover in New York City. After his conviction on the federal narcotics
trafficking charges, federal authorities turned him over to New York State for
trial on labor extortion charges. On April 5, 1940, he was sentenced to 30
years to life in state prison on those charges. On May 9, 1941, Buchalter was
arraigned in New York state court on the 1936 Rosen murder along with three
other murders. After only four hours of deliberation the jury found him guilty of
first degree murder and was sentenced to death. He was executed in the electric
chair at Sing Sing Prison on March 4, 1944.
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the
author of numerous books that include Murder
and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. The
book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link: