Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mobster Anthony Carfano was Murdered (September 25, 1959)

This week (September 22-29) in crime history – Mid-town Slasher claims first victim (September 22, 1980); President Gerald Ford survives second assassination attempt (September 22, 1875); Outlaw Billy the Kid was arrested for the first time (September 23, 1875); Chicago Seven go on trial (September 24, 1969); Mobster Anthony Carfano was murdered (September 25, 1959); Mistrial was declared in Phil Spector murder case (September 26, 2007); Wild Bill Hickok shot and killed Samuel Strawhun in Hays City, Kansas (September 27, 1869); Pompey the Great was assassinated (September 26, 48 B.C.)

Highlighted Crime of the Week -

On September 25, 1959, mob assassins shoot Anthony Carfano, known as Little Augie Pisano, to death in New York City on Meyer Lansky's orders. Lansky, one of the few organized crime figures who managed to survive at the top for several decades, was estimated to have accumulated as much as $300,000,000 in ill-gotten gains by the 1970s. Still, the government was never able to prove any wrongdoing.

Meyer Lansky, the son of Russian immigrants, had an eighth-grade education, which put him far ahead of many other criminals. According to legend, Lansky was a straight arrow until one day in October 1918, when he joined a fight between teenagers Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano over a prostitute. After the three were charged with disorderly conduct, Lansky and Siegel became friends and began running a high-stakes craps game.

The two later expanded into bootlegging, car theft, and extortion, and helped form the New York "syndicate." Lansky, a ruthless leader who would not tolerate disloyalty, ordered the murder of a thief who failed to provide an adequate kickback. Although he was shot several times, the thief survived to name Lansky as one of the assailants. Lansky then poisoned his hospital food, and though he survived a second time, the threat was enough to change his attitude toward testifying. Later, he even rejoined Lansky's gang.

In June 1947, Lansky ordered the death of his old friend Bugsy Siegel in Beverly Hills, California. Siegel, who had been sent to the West Coast in order to establish a new mob presence, came up with the idea of building The Flamingo, Las Vegas' first major casino. The casino had been built with mob money, and Lansky was angry over the pace of Siegel's loan payments.

When Lansky ordered the murder of Anthony Carfano 12 years later, Carfano had been intruding on Lansky's gambling interests in Florida and Cuba. His death eliminated all competition and opened up emerging markets for Lansky in South America. During the 1960s and 1970s, Lansky made a special effort to stay out of the public eye and was fairly successful. He died of lung cancer in 1983.

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website for more information. The book can be ordered from Amazon through the following link.

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